NiceHCK HC5 review
The NiceHCK HC5, Great Look, Good Sound, Reasonable Price
The NiceHCK HC5 is a Multi Driver IEM with 5 Balanced Armature Drivers and a custom (CIEM) like acrilik shell.
About NiceHCK Audio:
The company NICEHCK Audio was founded in 2015 in Shenzhen and is a professional dealer and trader of Chinese Hi-Fi Audio products, such as: Hi-Fi Earphone, Portable Player, Amplifier, Cable, Accessories. The main goal of NiceHCK is to provide Global Audiophiles with the best Chinese Hi-Fi Audio products through online stores like Aliexpress and Amazon.
The NiceHCK HC5 can be purchased on HCK Audio Store for 167 USD.
Purchase Link: NiceHCK Store / Amazon Japan
The NiceHCK HC5 was provided to me for free of charge by HCK Store as a review sample. I am not affiliated with HCK Store beyond this review and these words reflect my true, unaltered, but subjective (I am a Human) opinions about the product.
Package and Accessories:
The NiceHCK HC5 comes in a small brown chard box that has a silver NiceHCK logo printed at the top.
This box contains the following items;
- 1 x NiceHCK HC5
- 6 x (pairs) Silicone Ear Tips
- 1 x 3.5mm Gold Plated SPC (Silver Plated Copper) Cable with MMCX Connectors
- 1 x Leather Cable Strap
- 1 x Carrying case
The stock silicone eartips are surprisingly soft and comfortable. The only downside about it is the white colour, which makes it prone to yellowing.
The carrying case with the NiceHCK is well made and there is enough space to put all the accessories in to this package.
The Leather strap that is included in this box looks pretty nice and is a useful addition.
Design, Fit and Build Quality:
The NiceHCK HC5 is a nice looking IEM with a CIEM like design and finish. The transparent acrylic shell is very well made and you can see all the divers and cables, etc. inside it, which is a nice experience. The HC5 is available in 3 different faceplate color options and those are Blue, Red and Black. There is also a HCK logo on the top that is in gold color.
The HC5 has MMCX connectors that are cold plated and feel sturdy. The nozzle is made of metal and has a relative small and short profile. On the top of the nozzle is a small build in filter. What has me surprised is that most of my silicone eartips that I have collected are compatible except my old Dunu double flange eatips that have a relative large profile.
As I motioned before, the HC5 has a CIEM like design and the fit and comfort of this IEM is pretty good and reminds me to this of the HiFi BOY OS V3 that are also very good regarding to fit and comfort.
The isolation of the NiceHCK HC5 is quite good and ideal for relative loud environments.
The stock cable of the NiceHCK HC5 is 4 (four) braided and is made of Silver Plated Cooper Material (in short SPC) with a very soft and transparent TPU coating that avoids microphonic effects.
The cable comes with MMCX connectors and 3.5mm single ended jack. The headphone jack has a straight profile and silver aluminium housing that has a premium feel.
- Drive unit : 5BA drive unit (1 x 22955 BA + 4 x Chinese-made BA)
- Sensitivity : 118 db/mW
- Impedance : 22 Ohm
- Frequency range : 20-40000Hz
- Cable Interface : SPC Cable with MMCX interface and 3.5mm TRS headphone jack
- Cable Length : 1.2m±5cm
- Available Colours : Blue, Red, Black
- Weight : 18g
The NiceHCK HC5 is a Universal In-Ear Monitor (in short UIEM) with 5 balanced armature drivers. 1 of these drivers is a Knowles 22955 model BA. There are no details about the other 4 BA’s that are identified as Chinese-made Balanced Armature drivers.
The NiceHCK HC5 is an easy to drive, quite sensitive and efficient Universal IEM with an impedance of 22 Ohm. The HC5 is an ideal In Ear Monitor for all type portable sources. My Samsung Galaxy S8+ and the IPad Air 2 could push the HC5 to very high volumes without any noticeable struggling.
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Saskia Bruin – The Look of Love (Apple Music)
- Emmanuel Pahud (Claude Debussy) – Syrinx (Apple Music)
- Melody Gardot – Who Will Comfort Me (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
- Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Apple Music)
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- George Michal – Older “Album” (Apple Music)
- Bryan Adams – MTV Unplugged Version Album (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Otto Liebert & Luna Negra – Up Close “Album” (DSF) – Binaural Recording
- Alboran Trio’s – Cinque Lunghissimi Minuti (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
- Lazarus A.D. – The Onslaught (ALAC)
- Opeth – Damnation (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Metallica – The Black Album (Flac 24bit/96Hz)
- Daft Punk – Get Lucky (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Twenty One Pilots – Fairly Local (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (DSF)
- Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
- In Ear Monitor : NiceHCK HC5, MEE audio Pinnacle P1, Whizzer A15 Pro
- DAP/DAC : Aune M2 Pro, Chord Mojo, Zishan Z2, Ipad Air2, Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus
Sound Analysis and Comparisons:
I am one of the sort of people who believes in burn-in and this review is written after an intensive burn-in process of 150 hours. I have used the stock provided silicone ear tips due this review.
Sound Signature and Tonality:
The NiceHCK HC5 is a quite balanced sounding IEM with a smooth and relaxed sound signature that has a tonality that tends slightly to the warmer side than neutral that is a very popular tuning these days.
The sub-bass of the NiceHCK HC5 have good extension with a nice textured rumble. It sounds a bit rolled off, but there is a nicely balanced presentation. The sub-bass region is tonally accurate and doesn’t cause to any remarkable distortion.
The bass on the other hand is tight, well controlled and has nice definition that performs above its price point. The best thing about it is, that is doesn’t overshadowing the midrange. I can easily say that the bass extension is one of the best I have listened at this price range.
The Mid-bass of the NiceHCK HC5 is quite fast and doesn’t overpowering the other frequencies that could result to a muffled midrange presentation. The mid-bass of the HC5 are only there when it’s needed and adds a hint of warmness that is noticeable in the midrange.
The midrange of the NiceHCK HC5 sounds quite balanced. The presentation of vocals and instruments doesn’t sound recessed or too upfront. Maybe some of us will prefer a more V shaped presentation with more bass and treble presence, but this sort of midrange tuning is very rare to find for multi BA IEM’s in this price range.
The female vocal performance of the NiceHCK HC5 while listening to Aretha Franklin, Diana Krall or Saskia Bruin etc. is quite impressive with its intimate and emotional presentation. The male vocal presentation is pretty good but not as impressive as the female performance that I heared with the HC5.
For example; Male vocals like George Michael or Bryan Adams sounding a touch warmer than in natural. The overall midrange resolution is pretty good for a IEM with a multi BA configuration at this price range.
The upper midrange is where the HC5 really shines. There is a small roll off, but it sounds quite controlled in almost any track I have listened with it. There is only a low amount of stress that is noticeable in some instrument intensive passages where instruments like cymbals, bells, etc. are used.
The treble range of the NiceHCK HC5 sounds coherent and balanced. The clarity level and overall definition around 4.5 – 5 kHz range is quite good. There is only a little stress with some instruments that share higher notes like piano, cymbal or violin etc. There is a slightly roll of that avoids harshness without to lose much of detail.
There is a small amount of roll-off around the 15 kHz region that avoids an upper treble harshness, without to lose much of detail and sparkle.
Soundstage and Imaging:
The soundstage of the NiceHCK HC5 is not the widest, tallest or deepest I have heard in this price range. But it sounds in a quite realistic way without to be claustrophobic. The stage is quite close to the listener that makes vocals presentations intimate.
There is enough space and air between instruments. The overall imaging, instument placement and separation is pretty good and It is possible to locate each ones position without any problem, even in some complex passages like in Alboran Trio’s – Cinque Lunghissimi Minuti performance.
Vs. Whizzer A15 Pro (125 USD):
The Whizzer has a very good price to performance ratio. The build quality, accessories and detail level that is provided for this price makes it to a very good value.
The first noticeable difference in sound is the tonality. The Whizzer A15 Pro and the NiceHCK HC5 sounding totally different. The A15 Pro sounds more analytical and has a brighter and colder sound signature compared to the warmer and more musical presentation of the HC5.
The A15 Pro sounds a bit bass shy in direct comparison to the NiceHCK HC5. The HC5 has more sub-bass and bass quantity with better extension and definition compared to the A15 Pro, which performs better in the speed department. The HC5 has a little more micro detail then the A15 Pro that is otherwise quite good in presentation.
The midrange of both sounds quite different. The HC5 sounds warmer and more intimate than Whizzer A15 Pro, which has a midrange tuning that has a more forward in presentation. The vocal and instrument presentation of the HC5 sounds fuller, while the sound of the A15 Pro has a more analytical and transparent tuning.
The Treble range of the Whizzer A15 sounds dry and transparent, while the Nice HCK HC5 sounds softer and warmer. The treble control of both IEM’s is very good for this price range. Both IEM’s sharing similar level of detail with good separation. The upper treble range of the A15 Pro sounds a bit harsh compared to the softer tuning of the HC5.
When it comes to soundstage and imagine, both are quite capable in its own way. The A15 Pro has a wider soundstage, while the HC5 wins in depth. Imagine of the A15 Pro with its single dynamic driver is quite good and on par with the NiceHCK HC5.
Vs. MEE audio Pinnacle P1 (200 USD)
The MEE audio Pinnacle P1 is a very capable IEM for the price. It has a very good accessory package, great build quality and a great looking stock cable.
The Pinnacle P1 is a very capable IEM with its single dynamic driver but needs a lot of juice to show it real performance due its the relative high impedance. The Pinnacle P1 is the brighter and more analytical sounding IEM of this two.
The sub-bass of the P1 are not as present as those of the HC5, but have good definition. The HC5 goes deeper and has also the better sub-bass extension. The sub-bass speed and control of the HC5 and the P1 are on par.
The bass quantity, speed and resolution of the HC5 are superior, compared to those of the Pinnacle P1, which has also the better weight and extension. The bass of both IEM’s doesn’t bleed in to the midrange that could cause to a muddy presentation.
The midrange of the NiceHCK HC5 is more forward in its presentation and the vocal presentation of the HC5 sounds more emotional due the slightly warmer tuning. This difference is not as high like the A15 Pro, but it is pretty noticeable. The Pinnacle P1 sounds airier in the midrange that gives a better sense of space, especially for instrument. The upper midrange of the P1 has some additional stress compared to the HC5.
The treble range of the P1 sounds a touch brighter and has some additional definition. Both IEM’s doesn’t sound harsh or ear piercing, but the NiceHCK HC5 sounds more relaxing due the overall warmer tuning. The upper treble range of the HC5 sounds more controlled. This is noticeable in instruments with high notes like pianos, violin or cymbals.
I can easily say that the treble extension, micro detail level and overall sped at the treble range is pretty good for both IEM’s in this price range.
The soundstage of both IEM’s is not monstrous or in a claustrophobic level. They do there job quite good for this price range. The Pinnacle P1 has a slightly wider and deeper presentation than HC5.
The NiceHCK HC5 is a very nice looking IEM with its custom like design and finish, which has also a pretty good overall sound presentation with nice detail level and relaxing sound signature.
Pros and Cons:
+ Beautiful CIEM like Design
+ Great Fit and Comfort
+ Good Amount of Detail
+ Nice / Emotional Vocal Presentation
– Not the biggest soundstage
– Missing of some detail at the treble range