HZSOUND WAIST DRUM Review: Warm accuracy with lush musicality

THE PLUS:
-Lush, natural and well balanced tonality
-Guilty pleasure warm bass
-Good effortless resolution
-above average technicalities
-dense natural timbre
-smooth yet snappy and detailed treble
-Very beautifull male and female vocal
-No sibilance, no splashyness, no harshness
-Very versatile musicality
-ultra small IEM
-great construction and usefull accessories
-High sound value

THE MINUS:
-not the cleanest sound (don’t except HZ Mirror crisp resolution)
-bass is a bit sloppy-bleedy and lack linear extension down to 20hz
-highs lack sparkle-decay-extension-air
-2pin connector choice is questionable

TONALITY: 8.5/10
TECHNICALITIES: 8/10
CONSTRUCTION: 8.2/10
SOUND VALUE: 8.8/10

HZsound isn’t as known as lot of other chifi audio company, at least here in western world. Still, it make years that they are around and even if HZsound Hearth Mirror well deserve acclaim put them on the map, they are still an underdog with about half of their IEM and earbuds available to western market.
It’s no secret that I consider their HZsound Mirror as sub-100$ unbeatable IEM benchmark in term of technical performance, so when I know they have a new IEM available on Taobao, I do everything to speed up it’s western accessibility, thanks to Keephifi for taking my words seriously and be the first to offer them even if now they are widly available.
No wonder now that my expectation about the new HZsound Waist Drum can be too pumped up, why would HZ price it 20$ lower than HZ Mirror if it’s to make them as impressive technically?
Let’s see what was the goal of HZsound with this ultra budget IEM offering in this review.

CONSTRUCTION

HZsound is not only impressive in term of sound quality but built quality too, they seem to love metal housing and the Waist Drum is no exception apart the fact its VERY small! This is what hit me. They are about same size as Moondrop Spaceship with a smaller nozzle and bigger body. Perfect sleeper IEM in all sens of the word.


As well, they are true open back and have 2pin connector. Here, the 2pin connector choice is a bit questionnable in term of practicality and durability. This limit over ear wearing style possibility, so any cable with ear hook will be impossible to use (for me at least). As well, since 2pin isn’t embeded in metal body, it is prompt to breaking if you do a wrong move.
Open back mean sound leakage too, while it inflict on isolation too, I don’t find it problematic unless in super loud noisy environement like a factory or traffic hour in Montreal street.
All in all, construction is excellent for the price, unique and ultra portable including lying on your pillow portable.

Cable included doesn’t really justify urgent upgrade, one thing I note, is that HZ know what they do and don’t throw random cable (nor random eartips) with their well crafted IEM. The silver plated cable is the one I use always with them, I try some litz copper and it wasn’t good since it affect negatively the resolution and timbre is plenty good in stock form.


Packaging while minimalist is PRO in their ear tips choice, all of them offer good fit and good sound, it’s always a joy to get those sony eartips too which are a bit similar to Final E tips. The carrying pouch is made of ”jean” material and quite cute even if i will never use it. Extra nozzle mesh is a welcome addition too. All in all, we can’t complaint here and the cable and eartips make use smile enough.

SOUND IMPRESSIONS

I give alot of listen to those and since day one, i find them highly musical and easy to love, i was surprise to find them warm too, but this is compared to HZ Mirror crisp expectation. Let say HZ here have in mind to produce an easy to love and safe enough musicality that will not be underwhelming in technical performance and they achieve this like real champ. Tonal balance is more similar to their earbuds, the HZsound Bell Rhyme, than HZ Mirror vivid neutral presentation. To note that these scale up with amping and the driver can handle all type of loudness without going distort or messy, within their stock limitation. I suggest clean crisp source with those, not dark or warm or too laid back.

TONALITY
Balanced sligth V shape, with warm bass slam, lush mids and gently bright treble. It is one of those IEM with an ”analog tone” to them, but not in a dirty way like the Whizzer BS1, more organic and natural in timbre. Let say the tuner of those seem to be a vocal lover since both male and female vocal are full bodied and very musical. This is the warm side, while the bright sid of spectrum that mix cohesively is from it’s capable treble that offer good amount of details. These are near mid centric yet the bass and highs are energic in dynamic too, very unique safe tuning, very refined and easy to love unless your an extremist like a basshead or treble head.

BASS is very impressive, especially if we look at the size of the DD, which is only 6mm. These move lot of air and the slam and rumble is plenty thick and present, weight is authoritative yet the slam doesn’t feel muddy or boomy, it’s not too boosted for that. Sure, presentation is a bit warm, not very detailed in texture nor perfectly separated, it gently embrace lower mid in natural transition and attack while a bit slow isn’t sloppy. Let say bass while hard hitting have a soft edge and stay in the back, but mids and treble sit on it, so it do stole some clarity and clean air which will affect sens of instrument separation wideness. As well, extension is not very linear, it’s a thick mid bass impact that darken kick drum presence and definition, making it more physical than visual-cerebral if we can say. This type of bass isn’t problematic for cello which will have good grunt and body vibrancy, more for acoustic bass line that need transparent natural resonance down to 20hz. Slap bass to will lack a bit of speed and texture grip. Any digital big kick will be nicely restitue and head banging in a lavish way, syth sub will be thick and well extrack in density, sub rumble will but heavy but cut short in resonance.

MIDS are perhaps best part of the show here, and this wasn’t expected at all! Gone are thin mids of HZ Mirror, here it’s lush, dense, weighty and very musical due to a natural timbre free of grain or timbral imbalance. As a fan of female vocal, i’m open minded about 2 type of vocal presentation: bright fowards and density fowards, here it’s density of presence that HZ choose, their a hint of low harmonic breathyness to female vocal that make them full bodied, favorize in presence and never sibilant, artificial or thin sounding. These might be the best sub-50$ IEM in term of female vocal for my taste, since nothing about them make me lift an eyebrow about their timbre or tone naturalness. Quite similar to Moondrop Starfield or Tanchjim Tanya vocal in that regard, cleaner less warm way. Another aspect of the mids is the note weight, yep, we have this too, piano drop hit is felt. When female sound well rounded, an IEM tend to restitue well woodwind instrument too, and this is the case with the HZ, saxophone sound full and natural, dense yet not opaque.

TREBLE is understated yet very capable and suprising when needed too, let say extremely well balanced with overall colour of the tonality. We don’t lack details with the HZ yet it will not find them for us, percussion will sit on the back but be fully restitute, perhaps lacking in natural decay sometime or ultra fast snap limitation. Still, clavicord sound excellent, full, rich and with enough decay to be natural, without any annoying spike that often occur with treble fowards tuning that boost too much high harmonic. Laid back and detailed, is it possible? Well, yes, with those HZ it is. But this smooth clarity can lack a bit of energy for the most abrasive and (non timbral harmonic) instrument of all: the electric guitar. Yep, metal head, perhaps these aren’t for you, the bite is a bit tamed and muffled here, tone isn’t right even if when it go acoustic or non distorted crazy guitar it can sound even. This underline a bit of lack of snap with high too, so attack control on top can have limitation in extreme case. That plus the not so tigh bass is sure not a perfect mix for fast complex rock and metal. Even if percussion line are very well restitute and some passage of let say ”The physic house band” are in near eargasm territory.

SOUNDSTAGE is average wide and tall and lack deepness, choice of ear tips will permit to open it more but not drastically. HZ aren’t that impressive when it come to open sound presentation.

IMAGING is better in layering than static instrument placement due to softed edge of definition, aka warm overall energic tonality. It doesnt soudn dark, muffled or compressed, yet lack of air is a real issue with these Waist Drum….even if open back!

TECHNICALITY wise, these are above average in term of price range and superior to Tanya, and even Final E1000. Yet, it’s not a master, since even Lea or Chu seem faster in attack and more extended in bass and treble. In fact, tonality is so good that it shadow the competency of technical performance, these HZ can deal with complex track without going messy, but in an densely layered heterogeneous and understated way. I do think open back design mitiged my judgement of technical performance here, due to different attack control presentation which is more similar to living room speaker that doesn’t underline definition edge and clarity of background but let the sound be wild yet never distorted (unless crappy speakers, which HZ isn’t at all.) Simply put: when I listen to HZ Waist Drum, i think attack is slow when bass occur, and fast when its about treble and higher mid spectrum. To have this sens of fastly extracted full sound layers is a sign of dynamic driver greatness.

COMPARISONS

VS HZSOUND MIRROR

For those dreaming of a cheaper master of technicalities, I’ll tell you right away the Waist Drum isn’t that and is inferior in all technical aspect like lower resolution, slower attack speed and control, less extended bass and treble and notably less precise, clean and accurate imaging.
But does it mean tonality is less musical or immersive? Absolutely not, since here the balance is in fact more organic, euphonic and cohesive with the HZ Waist Drum.
The Waist Drum is a hint warmer and slightly more V shape against vivid W shape of HZ Mirror. Mid bass is more boosted and have heavier yet warmer slam, it isn’t as well separated and clean and doesn’t extend as low in a linear way like the Mirror.
Mid range of Waist Drum is lusher, denser with more natural timbre, making the vocal fuller in presence and less cold and lean than HZ Mirror, but clarity and separation as well as transparency is inferior, still, mids are better rounded and less prompt to sibilance. Strangely, male vocal seem to have more lower harmonic with the HZ Mirror.

Treble is very different here, way more focus and peaky and analytical with the Mirror, while fuller, rounder, smoother with the Waist Drum, it’s better balanced and less in your face, yet it have good brilliance and snap too but not as much sparkle and resonance. Soundstage wise, the Waist Drum is more open in wideness tallness, while HZ Mirror have deeper cleaner spatiality. Imaging as said is from another league with HZ Mirror, yet the layers are thinner. This underline a big difference in timbre restitution and balance here, the Waist Drum have lusher, denser, warmer and more natural timbre.

All in all, these 2 are different beast, so if you find too bright and anlytical the HZ Sound Hearth Mirror, the lusher less technical and more V shape HZ Waist Drum will surely suit your taste better since it’s tonality is less energic, more organically cohesive and more laid back in dynamic heft.

VS TANCHJIM TANYA

Those 2 are a bit similar in signature, tough the HZ Waist Drum is just a hint brighter and more resolved and less warm and thick sounding as a whole.
So, Tanya is more V shape and warm yet with greater mids presence and even denser fuller timbre. Bass have more slam authority and better texture but similar lack of clean separation. HZ seem to extend more and doesn’t mix up as much with lower mids.
Mids are cleaner with HZ and better separated, while they are fuller, warmer and more upfront with Tanya, the denser timbre tend to veil a bit macro-resolution unlike the HZ.
Treble is where the HZ is notably superior and show it’s technical talent too, we have greater amoung of micro details, more sparkle and brilliance and highs like percussions are less dark and recessed, with better micro definition, yet overall treble of Tanya is thicker and more grainy, more rounded.
These 2 are open back IEM, which inflict on similar soundstage presentation, wide open and airy, but less deep with Tanya.
Imaging is again notably superior with HZ, way more precise and sound layers are better separated too while mixed in a more homogeneous opaque warm way with the Tanya.
Both sound very good tonaly, though vocal are a bit thicker with Tanya, where HZ stand out is in technical performance that are superior in all aspect. I love both, for a more physical presentation, ill go Tanya since pop and soul can be more pleasant, for everything else that need versatile technicalities Ill go Waist Drum.

VS MOONDROP CHU (1DD-22$)

HZ is slightly more V shape and warmer, with thicker timbre, thicker weightier slam and overall rounder less crisp neutral tonality. Resolution seem higher and cleaner with CHU, this is due to more tamed bass impact that doesnt move air nor touch the mids, which are notably lusher and more natural with HZ as well as more organic in timbral balance.
CHU is colder dryier brighter with more artificial sounding vocal (high harmonic unbalance) that are thin and uneven compared to HZ W. Treble is more agressive and detailed, highs have more sparkle and snap as well as faster attack it seem, here HZ seem a bit dark on top and less abrasive and boosted in upper mids, so while male vocal are more fowards and full sounding with HZ, female vocal are just a hint less energic and upfront yet lusher and more bodied and overall more pleasant as said.
Imaging is more precise with the CHU, soundstage is wider and deeper too.
Technicaly, this is a hard comparison since dynamic weight as well as sens of layering is better with HZ while attack speed and control is better with the CHU.
While tonality is better balanced, more cohesive and musical with the HZ Drum, resolution and overall technical performance is higher with the CHU, which confirm a legit hype alert.

CONCLUSION

HZSOUND have done it again, and now confirm their legitimacy to be call one of the best chifi audio company by having a diversify IEM and earbuds catalogue that are all well tuned and offer very high sound value. This company need to be recognize more since it doesn’t follow hyped mass tuning like badly balanced V or W shape or boring harman target. No, HZsound follow it’s own sound approach wich is more similar to Final audio acoustic quest, where the focus is not only about technical wow effet nor overly safe tonality, but a balance between sound performance accuracy and cohesive musicality.
The HZsound Waist Drum is organically cohesive in it’s balance, with beautifull warmth that thicken the timbre, it offer an highly immersive sound experience that cuddle the listener and fascinate him with rich layering and details. I find it very interesting that HZ didn’t try to mimic the crisp neutral and vivid tonality of their best seller Hearth Mirror and choose instead a warmer musicality that will complement well it’s big brother.
At about 30$, the Waist Drum represent a no brainer bargain as well as very safe buy due to it’s versatile, lush and engaging musicality.
Highly recommended, and bravo HZ, bravo!

———

PS: I wanna thanks Keephifi for this review sample that they send me after my (very pumped up) request. As always, i’m free minded and not affiliated nor compensate in money for writing this review.
You can order the HZsound Waist Drum here:https://keephifi.com/products/hzsound-waist-drum

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