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Today I will review a fascinating TWS earphones. The very first one launched from high end audio company HIFIMAN.
Its call Hifiman TWS600 and while it was originally priced 200$, it can be found for around 100$ on amazon.com right now.
HIFIMAN are known for pushing audio technology boundaries further and further, should it be with their Planar Headphones using ultra thin diaphragm or top of the line earphones using Topology diaphragm technology.
With Hifiman, we can always hope for supreme budget audiophile sound, because once they patent new audio drivers, it will most likely be use in their budget line up one day or another. The Hifiman HE400 planar headphones is the best example. But what about earphones?
Well, until now, their topology drivers technology was only use for expensive earphones like the RE-800 and RE-2000.Until they decide to use these extremely promising drivers into a TWS earphones.
As a first step into Bluetooth earphones, Hifiman literally reinvent TWS iem for two reasons: they use high end topology drivers and include a charging carrying case delivering a total of 38H of battery life.
Have they been too audacious?
Well, it really depend your music preference, because the sound signature of TWS600, which I personally find fascinating, might not be for everyone. Let’s see why in this review.
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
- Weight: 5.9g per side
- Play Time: 5.5+33 hours
- Charge Time (earphones): 1 hour
- Charging time (Charging box): 1.5 hours
- Standby Time: 110 hours
- Transmission width: Up to 150m (depending on environmental conditions)
Box presentation is simple but nicely done. When we open it we see what we got : the TWS600 and the Charging carrying case. What is impressive too, it is the VERY generous number of eartips, we have a lot of them in all shape possible, so you will certainly find the right one for you.
If you pay 200$ for the TWS600, I think the all plastic built will feel a little underwhelming. Simply put, it just don’t look like an high end TWS iem and I’m afraid it can break easily if we drop it on hard floor multiple time….which is something that happen often with TWS earphones.
The choice of a very light alloy housing, or mix of alloy and plastic would have been more on par what consumer could expect at this price range.
In other hand, the carrying charging case is impressively built and do look sturdy and luxurious.
Inner built of TWS600 is where things became interesting and more ‘’high end ‘’.
The fact this model use topological drivers nanotechnology and sell for 200$ make it the cheaper Hifiman earphones using top of the line dynamic drivers.
Before this model, only the RE-800 (700$) and RE-2000 (about 2000$) use topology drivers. Topology drivers is literally being able to draw on speakers diaphragm with coating to sculpt the tuning as you want, it permit to lower distortion or modulate specific frequencies range.
Having heard both RE-800 and RE-2000, I can say the sound signature of TWS600 have similarities to the one of RE-800, which is bright and detailed with punchy bass.
Here is how Hifiman explain their fascinating nanotechnology:
‘’The “Topology Diaphragm” refers to a diaphragm with a special Nano particle coating applied to its surface. The distribution of the coating has distinct geometric patterns. By varying the surface pattern and the compound used, the thickness or geometric pattern sound wave formation can be manipulated to achieve the desired audio effect and control. The result is a more natural and detailed sound than what is typically achieved with True Wireless earphones. ‘’
My complaint about light plastic material used is in fact an advantage in term of design, because it permit a fit that tend to stay there even if the housing is rather big.
If the housing was heavier, it could not stay securely fit in ears, as well, it would get cold in lower temperature and be problematic in winter.
Housing share is well think and fit easily the ears, as well, it’s not as protuberant as we could think, its sit in the ears naturally and never move (which explain perhaps why Hifiman say its the choice of a Taekwondo world champion).
When I insert the TWS600, i do not press the button involuntarily. For me, the fact they are small is a plus.
The charging carrying case is well crafted, with a compact design and magnetic sealing that feel secure.
As well, it have a 4 step indicator that show charging state of the iem. I really like the design of this case which make the TWS600 ultra-portable and well protected.
One could think that 5-6 hours of standalone battery life is just average, and I would say this too if the genius charging case wasn’t included.
This could only be problematic to people that wear TWS iem non stop for more than 6H, but for people like me using it 1 or 2 hours multiple time per day, the TWS600 battery really expend to 38H….or infinity if you charge carrying case one time a day.
To fully charge complete emptied battery of the TWS600, it take 1hour and an half, but you will never go empty if you put it back in your charging case after your listening session.
To me, this way of charging TWS earphones is nothing less than revolutionary and merit big applause. It open new doors to battery length and really work smoothly.
So, like near every TWS buds, we most deal with 2 buttons to control everything. 1 press is for play-pause, 2 press is to reduce or increase volume and 3 press is for changing tracks.
I do not encounter any issue with the control, but I don’t like the 2 second holding option that activate (annoying) google assistant. I would have prefer 3 seconds so we have less risk to accidentally activate it.
MIC look like to work well as I do not struggle to be heard by interlocutor. As well, I heard him very clearly.
CONNECTIVITY is effortless, unless you have a DAP that only send APTX or Ldac.
With the Tempotec V1A it take me a little time to understand I most select SBC to make it work properly.
With my phone it select the proper codec automatically and once I get it connected one time, it will automatically connect when I start TWS600.
Unlike cheaper TWS earphones, I never encounter any type of sound cutting or clipping, which is really appreciate.
SIGNAL distance is stated to go up to 50 meter, and this is kind of true when in open space.
As always, Bluetooth transmission cannot pass through every type of wall, but one thing sure, it is a powerful signal.
The TWS600 aren’t for bass head, neither for bass lover, neither for balanced bass light audiophile.
If you like bass, stay away from them because you will be underwhelmed and even if you struggle with EQ to bump bass response, it will not be a rewarding experience.
Nope, they aren’t neutral too, because here the bass is voluntarily tamed, here, the sound coloring is about dropping bass presence to improve overall clarity of Everything Else.
And you know what?
With the right music: I like the final result.
So, my first impression was more positive than expected, because I was ready to (NOT) rumble! I had read multiple so-so reviews underlining weak bass.
But, it’s not that bass is weak, it’s there, in the background, shy, dry, clear and super controlled. The ‘’everything else’’ is where the TWS show its true nature, for folk, classical, indie rock, they can really deliver an immersive and revealing sound experience.
SOUNDSTAGE is very impressive, not only for a Bluetooth iem, it really is above average of a lot of sub-200$ normal earphones too. It have it all: wideness, tallness and deepness. It’s not hall like enormous, but have a realist sense of specialty that sound out of your head and immersive.
IMAGING too is excellent and take full advantage of its spacious soundstage. From lower mids to higher treble every instrument sound well separated, with clear accurate presence and sharp layering.
CLARITY is bright, vivid, but never too grainy or forced. You don’t need to crank volume up to have snappy resolution, it hyper-realist in an effortless way.
TIMBRE is bright, have good transparency, hint of dryness and it isn’t very thick.
So, the BASS is kinda there, in the background, like a little kid put in home corner for a punishment.
It’s a sad lifeless bass with poor extension and zero rumble. No slam, no weight, but a little hint of lower mid bass punch to inject some life.
Listening to ‘’Ametsub’’ electronic music, I easily hear sub bass line, but it do not feel right, as if in other side of a tunnel while mids and treble are the tunnel.
Kick is very soft too, which do not help to offer a dynamic presentation, not for rap but not for rock too? What do we do! Well : you deal with it and try to find perfect fit will help to improve presence, which is why I can confidently say : the bass is there, but it really don’t want you to get distract by its dropped presence.
MID RANGE is so well resolved, sharp, lively, revealing and extremely well controlled that it take all your attention even if timbre is rather thin.
Again, Hifiman do an audacious tuning move here, but unlike the bass: it work. It’s not the most balanced mid-range but feel like it is, level of clarity is high but tend to extract vocal with extra presence attack, without sounding shouty the voice jump at you in a very centered way while all other instruments are sharply separated.
I like this mid-range even if the timbre isn’t my type, i do not hear upper mids sibilance, everything sound as much lively than effortless. Mid-range is a vast universe to discover and level of accuracy is from another league compared to other TWS iem I heard….but the fact TWS600 cannot benefit from APTX of Ldac higher bit-rate do compromise tremendous potential of its talented technicalities.
TREBLE is less emphasized than the mid-range, tough it’s a very detailed one you will not find lot of highs sparkle or decay. They are sure not as roll off as the bass, but you can thanks their softness because they avoid any aggressive peaks. Most of treble energy came from lower highs, after 10khz it gently drop without disappearing.
All in all, while the TWS600 have a very capricious tuning that isn’t versatile for different music style, the soundstage, imaging and level of details make it a good bet for audiophile that listen to instrumental music, classical, some jazz, indie rock and folk as well as singer songwriter.
For anything that need good bass extension or weighty slam, as well as warm thick timbre, the TWS600 will be a disappointment. This type of unique sound signature will please more mature audiophile than audio enthusiast searching for fun sounding iem.
I will not repeat myself here about tamed bass response of TWS600 (oups I do), but if you can deal with this particular sound signature and even love it like I can with specific music style, the TWS600 have plenty of positive side to it like the comfortable secure fit, the charging carrying case extending battery life up to 38 hours, the use of Bluetooth 5.0 that permit long distance signal and yes, a very immersive, detailed and holographic sound experience.
My real drawback is the lack of APTX or Ldac codec support, which I feel would benefit such clear sounding high end TWS earphones. Who know….perhaps it would even improve bass response?
If you can find the Hifiman TWS600 for 100$, i would say: give it a serious try, you might find its resolving near neutral sound very fascinating.
At 200$, I would say: the sound tuning is very very risky as well as lack of higher quality Bluetooth codec support is a serious audiophile compromise.