Hello fellow audio enthusiasts, today I am reviewing the latest five driver hybrid iem from Hidizs, the Hidizs MS5. I have to add a big “thank you” to Bella and to Hidizs themselves as I was one of the reviewers chosen to take part in this public review. Thank you so very much for providing the MS5 in exchange for a fair and honest opinion. I received the MS5 around a month ago and have had quite a lot of time with them in my ears preparing for this review. I promise to give you my exact personal opinion and objectively subjective thoughts about this set. I’ll give you the good and the bad. I will also try my best to answer the ultimate question… is the Hidizs MS5 worth the asking price? With that said, my friends, the Hidizs MS5…
Hidizs has been around for quite some time with an array of dac/amps, daps, iem and similar audio devices. As a company they seem to always have quality in mind using materials that feel and look premium no matter if it’s entry level products or more expensive products. I have personally reviewed a couple Hidizs products in the past, the latest was the budget priced Hidizs MM2 (Review HERE). However, I have actually owned quite a few more and have enjoyed all of the sets that I’ve had the pleasure of owning. Today we look at a brand new five driver hybrid iem in the Mid-Fi price point that really brings quality to the forefront.
The MS5 is affectionately referred to as the “Dark Angel”. Hidizs obviously went all-out in trying to create an earphone which embodied the name it was assigned. A “Dark Angel” is actually an angel who almost acts as a “special ops” soldier in God’s army. Much different from a “fallen angel” or “demon”. Dark Angel’s enforce the Will of God by any means necessary and…they don’t lose. This is the vein with which the MS5 Dark Angel is to be perceived. From the top class build to the ornate and gothic design, the MS5 perfectly embodies the overall motif or theme and I am more than happy to publish my thoughts.
Love a good theme
I love a theme to follow, especially a creative theme. Whether it be a mythos or a narrative, whether it be a story line or a plot, I love when visionary people mesh their artistry with technical skills to create something that the rest of us can understand and follow. Hidizs has done just that. They actually correlate each of the five drivers to “Angels in a Choir” which is a unique idea that I have yet to see in a set of earphones. “The hymn came, the chant rang out” is sort of a mantra which Hidizs uses to emphasize the design aesthetic and to build the overarching premise. Dark Angel wings embody the look of the MS5, and I have to admit…the design is bold, promethean, intricate, very original and simply… creative. Nice job Hidizs!
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-Build is exceptional
-Design is very innovative and creative
-Packaging and accessories
-The cable is absolutely beautiful
-The carrying case is very nice
-Bass slams and keeps it tight
-Great layering throughout
-Imaging is on point
-Separation of instruments & voices
-Very detailed presentation all the way through
-Macro dynamics & micro-dynamics
-The cable may be too fat and heavy for some
-I would like to see a modular cable at this price
-May come across veiled to those who like an airier sound
-Altogether different sound sig than what we normally see
-Bass may be too much for some
-Treble effects the whole frequency and effects timbre
-Slight sibilance, especially in tracks prone to it
-Requires burn-in (200 hours for me)
The MS5 arrived at my door in a good sized rectangular black box which is kept mostly simple. There is a picture of one MS5 earphone on the cover along with different driver labels, the Hidizs branding and some specs for the MS5. I like the simpleness of the box and also the high-quality nature of the packaging itself. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say that the unboxing is one of the better that I have had within the price point. Similar to a Fiio type presentation yet with little accents to make it pop a bit more, or better.
Once you remove the top off the box, you’ll be met right away with the MS5 themselves and boy do they look stunning. The earphones sit comfortably in a cardboard/foam cut-out as if on display, as they should be. Next you lift off that layer only to be met with another layer where you’ll instantly see the gorgeous carrying case, the many eartips and the tuning nozzles. This package wreaks of guilty pleasure and screams premium quality and luxury. Inside the case you’ll also find that beefy cable but I’ll speak more on that later.
To be honest, I never really use any case that I’ve received with a set of earphones. However, the beautiful case that Hidizs provides has me rethinking this. It is absolutely beautiful! Made entirely of a white PU Leather material that feels so rugged yet almost feels like an indulgence because of its classy design. I love the stainless-steel zipper which contrasts so perfectly the white PU-Leather. You’ll notice stitching on the top and bottom as well as along the sides of the carrying case which always adds a sense of exorbitant luxury. A delicacy for the eyes if you will. Also, I love the size. Thank you Hidizs for giving us a case which can actually hold the massive cable and earphones. Hidizs also promotes this case as being waterproof, I have not tested this claim.
Hidizs went along and added nine pairs of tips which is actually three sets of three different kinds of tips, and they are labeled according to their tuning purposes. I think all included tips are of very nice quality, they are firm at the flanges which is great for sealing purposes. The tips come packaged in a nicely organized foam tray with labels to each tips’ corresponding tuning. Again, I liken this packaging to an upscale Fiio presentation, just very nicely done.
You get three pairs (S, M, L) of a shallow fit and wide bore tips which Hidizs calls “Vocal Tips”. I didn’t use these tips, but I will at some point with something else. The next pair of tips are the “Bass Tips” (S, M, L) and these tips are a hair longer with more of a semi-wide bore which has a harder and more rigid stem and also has a firm flange. I did actually use these tips in some of my critical listening as they do well to level out and balance the treble activity a bit. The last set is the “Balanced Tips” (S, M, L) which actually feel very similar and look very similar (except the color) to the KBear 07 tips. If anyone has read anything from me, you’ll know that I am partial to the 07’s.
What I used
However, besides the bass tips I quite literally tried about fifty different sets of tips. I did end up using the medium sized foam tips. I also found during the painstakingly long tip finding process that getting the deepest fit possible with the MS5 does wonders for the sound and so I had to go to a smaller size tip than usual. There are a handful of other tip choices which work great. I am partial to three different tips which I thought helps the MS5 sound at its best… the bass tips (in the packaging), Final E-tips, or the foam tips. For the most part, for myself, I find the Final tips or foams work the best. I realize in my pictures I have some wide bore tips but please disregard as I took those pictures before I went heavy with critical listening.
My word this cable! What a beauty it is and wow is it a thicky-thicky! The cable is fat y’all! Just a wonderful cable which conjures apex feelings of grandeur as it is so beefy and durable to the touch and a feast for the eyes which perfectly matches the colorway and aesthetic of the MS5. Hidizs design team decided on a beautiful cable that feels and looks premium in every way and every angle.
The only thing I’d like to see is a modular cable, that would’ve been nice. Most companies provide a modular cable at this price. If I had one other complaint about the MS5 cable it would be the ear hooks and how ridiculously tight the turn is. It truly makes it a pain to get on. Rest assured I am able to get past my tiny complaint by forging ahead and twisting and turning and shifting and eye-rolling until they are on and not going anywhere. Moving on…
The cable itself is a 2-pin, .078, 3.5 single ended 504 wires of 6N single-crystal-copper which is Plated in silver wire along with 6N single crystal copper wires which comes out to be 8 strands in total. The cable has a very tight braid with a black and very soft plastic type sheath covering the braided wires which evokes a sense of durability and permanence. This thing is gorgeous my friends. It has a two-toned colorway. Brown coupled with dark gray along with a handsome looking gun-metal strain relief and a copper/gold plated jack. The Y-split is also that slick looking gun-metal color as well as the chin slider. You will see “Hidizs” written in that golden brass color at the strain relief with subtle golden accents here and there. Have I mentioned that the cable is beautiful yet?
It’s great but….
The only thing which may be a problem is also one of the strong points of this cable and that is its size. I could certainly see this cable being entirely too fat for some people or too heavy for long periods of listening. Not everyone wants a mammoth cable hanging from their neck adding weight. As for me I don’t mind it, I love a nice and thick cable. However, I’ve been in this hobby long enough to know that some will find the size cumbersome and annoying. Granted, that is a handful of people, but it should be noted. I think the vast majority of hobbyists will adore it for its durable feel and exquisite looks. Also, again, I wish it was a modular cable, or at the very least it would’ve been nice to have a choice of what jack we wanted.
So, for balanced listening I looked for a cable that is good enough for the MS5 and can match the colors and that cable was the Kinera Leyding modular cable. It is the perfect side piece to the MS5 and looks like they were made for each other, truly. Less fat and beefy but perfectly suitable to use with the MS5. However, for any 3.5 single ended usage I of course went with the included cable. There aren’t many downsides and all things considered… Hidizs knocked this one out of the park!
One of the huge benefits of the MS5 is the fact that you can further dial-in the tuning using the included tuning nozzles which can be screwed on and off rather easily. You get this cool little slab of aluminum which houses the nozzles themselves. You’ll see labels next to each female threaded set of holes labeled “Bass” & “Treble”. It should be assumed that the 3rd set is for “Balanced” listening. It seems the tuning nozzles only really affect the sound from around 5k-8k as far as sonics are concerned. More on that later.
Bass Nozzle it is…
I do want to note that the majority of this review was completed using the “Bass” nozzle. I have gone back and forth with all three quite often. In fact, at first I strayed away from the bass nozzle thinking I wouldn’t want any more veil cast on the sound and so I simply didn’t give it a shot. However, I reluctantly did end up using the bass filter and low & behold… I never went back.
I hear a more organic type of replay using the bass nozzle and the treble seems to level out a bit. The sound simply is more balanced to my ears with this nozzle. I used the treble nozzle for quite a while, and it simply adds too much of a tinsley sheen to everything and it also throws off the rest of the mix a bit. Treble junkies may enjoy it but it is a bit too much for me. The balanced nozzle was the same issue but to a lesser degree and is my second favorite option. It was the bass nozzle which eventually stole my heart.
If I were you, I would take the time to dial in the sound to your liking. Hidizs has provided a multitude of ways to get the MS5 performing well to most preferences. From tip-rolling to nozzle swapping there is likely a way to make the sound work for you. So do your homework and take the time (I’m sure you will) to test every aspect of each combination. The MS5 is worth it. I will say that tips make an enormous difference with the MS5. I personally prefer a smaller bore tip and the bass nozzle, but you may want something more open and airier. Perhaps you are a true-blue treble junkie, if so, I promise the MS5 will work for you.
Good sized nozzles
The nozzles are of a good size to where I can actually get my fingers on them. To me this is nice to see. I like not having to sweat trying to thread them off and on. Some sets which offer tuning nozzles are so darn small (cough-cough… Fiio FH9) that it is almost impossible to quickly take on and off. The MS5 nozzles are perfectly sized. The nozzle width is actually wider than most so bare that in mind when selecting 3rd party tips should you decide to do so.
The treble filter is a silver color, the balanced is a brass color and the bass nozzle is colored red. Each function pretty well and does slightly alter the sound. Now, you will notice it isn’t a drastic difference. You aren’t getting three different tunings here. Instead, you’re getting three slightly different versions of the same tuning. Again, for this review I used mostly the bass filter as it aligns with my preferences the best.
Build / Design / Internals / Fit / Drivability
Boy oh boy, Hidizs looked at the standard builds out there in the ‘audioverse’ and must’ve laughed. Then they went ahead and absolutely obliterated the status quo. I hear the song “Whatever you can do I can do better…” replaying in my mind while thinking about the people creating the MS5. The Shell cavity was made from one piece of solid aluminum which helps keep the MS5 very light yet also extremely durable. The body is very smooth with an almost matte black color that looks pleasing next to the brass colored accents.
Next, we come to the Faceplate area which was actually formed with black resin and functions as a semi-open back design. Under the beautiful Faceplate you’ll notice a brass-colored metal mesh vent screen. I see one small threaded damper towards the rear as well. The nozzles reach pretty deep but nothing which creates discomfort, I’d say they are a hair longer than most. The shape of the MS5 is said to mimic that of the human ear and by my estimation I’d say that Hidizs did the legwork they needed to do to accomplish that. Of course, I don’t think this set is altogether much different in shape than many other sets out in the Audio-verse. All in all, the Hidizs MS5 is structurally built like a tank yet very light.
Hidizs Exclusive Soldering
One thing to note is the Hidizs exclusive soldering process. This may not seem very important but in the overall structure of the earphones this presents a huge advantage. Hidizs actually uses a gold-tin soldering wire which doesn’t oxidize over time and also, it’s very stable in structure as well and helps to provide a stable electronic signal transmission. The stuff you don’t see is often times the very thing which can set something apart. It’s the small things my friends.
The overarching theme is very dark, but also very bold, and so the design must portray this. Hidizs paid close attention to the aesthetic and all the little intricate details and nuances which goes into the actual styling of the MS5. Like I mentioned earlier, Hidizs is working on a premise, or a theme which revolves around the “Dark Angel” epithet. A lot can be derived from such a name as far as tuning is concerned. More-so, Hidizs went all-out in their effort to use this theme to create the framework for the composition as well as the make-up and construction using different robust materials.
You’ll notice a very clever artistic expression put into the motif. I’ll be perfectly honest with you (as always), the MS5 is FLAT-OUT DOPE!!! Somebody shake the hand of the artists involved or maybe even a good fist bump, in fact, everyone gets a fist bump.
Dark Angel Wings
The faceplates are where you’ll see the theme come to life as they are quite literally formed to depict Dark Angel wings. The whole of the faceplate is formed into the shape of a wing and each cut-out portion is done so to intricately mimic the feathers. Between each cut-out section you can see the brass-colored grill underneath which strikes a stark and visibly pleasing contrast against the black of the wing. Also around the black wings is a strip of brass colored border that really stands out and I think is a very well thought out design choice. C’mon folks, brass on black & premium materials with one of the most imaginative designs that my eyes have ever seen and you have yourself a STUD.
Dark Angel was a cool idea in an artistic way but does this theme correlate into actual tuning of this set? I will explain later how this semi-open structure helps the MS5 and how it may affect the sound, but right now we are only speaking of the design itself. I truly think that the MS5 is one of the more uniquely created iems in any price point and Hidizs oughta be proud of what they have created.
Inside of the aluminum shells is a total of five drivers. The MS5 is a Hybrid setup consisting of one Dynamic Driver as well as four Balanced Armature Drivers. The Dynamic Driver is a 10mm in size using Liquid Silicone which is said to be made with a “sandwich injection molding process” which is very cool to see at this price point. I personally haven’t listened to a set with such a driver prior to this review. Not that I can remember anyways.
One layer of the Diaphragm is made of Kevlar with a thickness of only .03 mm with a .045 mm layer of liquid silicone injected in between. So basically, you have this Kevlar material acting as a house for the liquid silicone to be injected into. These materials are touted to have great elasticity, great sensitivity, and a quick transient response. The Kevlar is actually theorized to absorb much of the vibration which ultimately helps the sound to come across softer and smoother. We shall see.
Hidizs went with a fan favorite and used Sonion Balanced Armature Drivers to control the rest of the spectrum. They use a “17A003” low frequency BA which obviously is supposed to bolster the low-end bass by adding that BA snappiness and punch. Hidizs went with two “2389” mid-high frequency BA’s and a “E50DT” BA used for the high frequency. I personally love the choice of using Sonion drivers and adore the sound of them on most any set that is using them. Let’s put it this way, if I see “Sonion” used to promote any earphone… I’m interested.
One thing which matters more than almost anything is that the fit an earphone has to be a good one. I do have a hard time telling people that “THE FIT IS GREAT” when in reality we are all very much different, at least to a small degree. However, the MS5 is so snug in my ears that it is worth noting.
One thing I did after playing around for a long time was finally reducing the size of the eartips that I was using and really pushing these bad boys inside my ears as deep as I could. The fit is so perfect, as if the MS5 grew there. So, will the MS5 fit you? I have no way of knowing, but what I will say with confidence is that they should fit the vast majority of people within the hobby. The shape of the MS5 is such that it is almost perfectly molded to my ears at least, which helps tremendously.
When I have the MS5 in my ears and I’m jamming out to my favorite tracks I of course hear nothing of the outside world. Now, does the outside world hear my favorite tracks? Kind of. My daughter could faintly pick up what I was listening to and she was sitting right next to me so… Faintly is my answer. As far as isolation goes, you have to understand that Hidizs didn’t exactly build these for perfect stage use. The MS5 are built for casual listening and enjoyment. That being said, the isolation isn’t bad for a set with a semi-open design. Still, the MS5 will not attenuate like some “Shure” type earphones for example. I do think that the MS5 is perfect for casually enjoying my music and that is all that matters to me.
How easy is it to properly drive the MS5 to it’s best fidelity and auditory enjoyment? With an impedance of only 5.3 ohms and a sensitivity of 104 dB’s I find the MS5 does need a bit more power to properly push them to its best sound. I suppose a good and powerful dongle dac would suffice, much like my Moondrop Dawn 4.4. This pairing is actually quite nice as the warmer sound of the MS5 exists nicely against the more neutral Dawn and I get no hiss, even with the more sensitive rating. Using the IFi Go Blu I had plenty of power listening on either single ended or balanced. Even the Qudelix 5k had more than enough output power for the MS5 and they actually sounded quite nice together.
I don’t think you need anything with Uber power. The MS5 is extremely sensitive. However, I have gathered that the MS5 opens up and adds so much with more power as dynamism and macro-dynamics increases as well.
Moving into more powerful daps I obviously had no problem driving the MS5 whether on single ended or balanced. I basically split time going from balanced to single ended during my listening, and I also spent most of my time using my iBasso DX240 or my Shanling M6 Ultra. I personally found that using the 4.4 balanced Kinera Leyding cable was a step up to my ears with both devices.
One thing which is a must to touch on is how the MS5 reacts to different sources. There is a definite difference in how it sounded through my Shanling M6 Ultra and how it sounds through my iBasso DX240. This is normally the case with any iem and source however I think it is exaggerated a bit more on the MS5.
I began listening with my Shanling M6 Ultra as it is the DAP I use the most. The M6 Ultra uses the AK4493SEQ Dac chip which has that “velvet sound”. The sound comes across a hint more warm and slightly fuller in the low-end. When I switched to the iBasso DX240 which uses the amazing ES9038Pro chip created a nice difference. The sound is more open, a hair crisper, just as dynamic, but the timbre is slightly closer to organic. Not a world of difference, but it is large enough to speak on here and add to this review. However, either one of these two daps sounds nicely warm and resolving with a big stage.
Another nice option is something like the Moondrop Dawn 4.4 which really synergizes with the MS5. Of course, you’ll need a balanced 4.4 cable, but the sound is so crisp and vivid using the Dawn. In my opinion for $69 you simply cannot beat the sound of it, especially paired with the MS5 as it effects nice synergy. I do think that the MS5 does much better paired with a more neutral source to combat some of the overlaying warmth. However, I need to stress that no matter what source I used or how the MS5 reacted to those sources…the dynamism and fidelity remains very well achieved.
In a Nutshell Sound Impressions
Note: All critical listening impressions were done using foam tips. It should also be noted that I used the “Bass” nozzle during my listening. I also used flac files stored on my devices.
U-shaped or L-shaped
I’ve already stated this but the MS5 comes across very warm, lush and full with slight dashes of treble sheen and brightness. Warm down low with a smooth timbre and tonality yet crispy and bright from the upper-mids on-out which is affected by the brighter treble. I would consider the MS5 to be a U-shaped sounding set to even an L-shaped sound to my ears. I’ve listened to this set for a ton of hours, and I am still trying to confirm either U or L shape.
The MS5 is warmer than it is bright, and highly detailed. The MS5 has good note definition and comes across smoother down low and crisper up top. Tone and timbre are what I would call slightly “off-natural”. The MS5 timbre is not off-putting to me or too drastically colored to give bad marks for the way they sound. I feel the MS5 has good timbre, not organic but good, not completely natural but pleasing to listen to. The MS5 is a very highly resolving iem that has a holographic sound which reaches deep and wide with very good layering to my ears.
By the way, I gave the MS5 over 200 hours of burn-in with multiple stops to check for improvements. I can say that without question the treble has leveled off a bit. Albeit, not completely, but they also sound much better balanced because of the time I took to burn-in. This is one set which pays off to be patient and wait out the burn-in or listen-in process before judgements. I’m sure many will listen without doing so and judge a bit too early.
The bass hits with CRAZY AUTHORITY and has a seismic impact while also having a great amount of haptic feel to the sub-bass. I get no sense of distortion down low as it mostly comes across nimble and clean.
The midrange replays slightly further back and not up in your face which contributes to the openness of the staging. Normally I wouldn’t like a stage such as this, however I find the MS5 does a good job with vocal distance. Not too forward and not too recessed. Most male singers have good note weight and females come across more svelte and thinner yet also more shimmery.
The treble region is where things can get pretty bright on the right tracks, and they do seem to affect the midrange quite a bit. We will cover that later. However, the treble is snappy and crisp and mature with a very detailed response.
The MS5 is technically a well accomplished iem with quicker drivers and good clarity for such a warm, lush and full sound. The MS5 has an uncanny ability to portray the macro-dynamics as profuse with a grand musicality while also being well adept to focus on the micro-dynamics leading to nice micro-details. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get into each 3rd of the mix.
The low-end of the MS5 “Dark Angel” is one of its greatest attributes. This is certainly an iem which requires the buyer to enjoy a bigger bass section and all which that entails. The bass is certainly emphasized with right around a 10db bass shelf give or take with a slight mid-bass priority. The low-end can flat out bang! In fact, I’m almost ready to call the graph a liar as I could’ve sworn the low-end had a few more db’s. Basically… she hits hard my friends! There is some very slight bleed into the midrange which is more of a benefit than it is a detriment as the upper parts of the frequency do add quite a bit of energy and so the offset works. The bass sets the tone for the whole frequency as a layer of warmth lays the groundwork for the final sound.
The sub-bass has a jarring rumble that stays clean and tight. I can quite easily hear every undulating rumbling drone in the song “Golden Child” by Lil Durk. The sub-bass has a reverberating and deep haptic energy that adds such a haunting character to this track. I think this song needs that sonorous growl to really help Lil Durk’s lyrics pop. Another track which displays this fantastic characteristic is “Rich Off Pain” by Lil Baby. The extension into the lowest of lows is evident here when you hear that first bass drop. My head bobs as though it’s on command listening on the MS5! I’m not kidding.
These are two songs which require that tactile vibration. They require that chasmic, seismic and bold sound to jar loose the funk from within, and the MS5 does so with ease. I’ll say that again… with ease! As though it’s effortless due to quality drivers and the MS5’s nimble transient attack and release.
There is a layered sharing of the bass region between mid & sub-bass. The mid-bass can boom with a hard impact which is perfect for bass slams adding unrelenting color and bone cracking boom to any track. The leading edge on attack has a bite to it, while decay/sustain evaporates quick enough to call it fast for its quantity yet slow enough to call it atmospheric.
The kick-drums in “Old Man Gillich” by Muscadine Bloodline are deft, round, solid and resounding. I love a good kick-drum and the MS5 seems to replay them nicely. Or “Billie Jean” by Weezer, the kick drum in that song is so booming. The MS5 is one of the more satisfying sets I’ve replayed that song on. It sounds very thunderous, but also tight, round, and tactile. It’s a great track to listen closely for note definition, authority and speed of a kick drum.
Bass guitar replays well too. In fact it can be downright gravely, guttural and gruff on the MS5. Kinda like in “All of it All” by Lukas Graham. Every finger slide and pluck are easily heard, quickly followed by a resonant and full bass guitar. I’m telling you; bass guitar can get downright nasty on this set.
There is a certain fullness that not every iem can replay, and on the MS5 it is definitely a guilty pleasure type sound. There is such a nice texture to each track in my “Low-end Playlist” that I could hardly get myself out of it. The MS5 didn’t simply just “survive” my gauntlet of tracks, it celebrated them! The MS5 is so clean, so warm, so full, and so meaty, that anything within the lower 3rd of the spectrum is about to get an awakening.
Would I call the MS5 a basshead set? Umm…sure. However, this isn’t just a one trick pony, and while there are certainly issues that I hear across the mix, I can’t help but run through some good low-end tracks. The bass has layers, and details, and it’s bone-thick in its density and hard lined on its note edges. It’s certainly not one-noted and not even remotely muddy sounding while keeping great control. It’s a good one y’all.
Without question the MS5 will have too much low end for some. Still, that doesn’t make it bad, just not for those who don’t need a ton of bass. Also, calling this set “bass head” may give it the wrong stigma. This is a high-fidelity, high-resolution bass on the MS5. More like bass enhanced. Really, the bass is well layered with nice depth to the sound and great resolution to my ears. This is certainly a guilty pleasure type listen. Sure, it will be too much for neutral lovers, and not everyone has my taste, but seriously Hidizs, all I have to say is… Respect!
I think Hidizs did a phenomenal job in presenting a beefy low end which is deep and extended, yet also nimble and agile. Like a defensive tackle who runs a 4.5/40. It can hit hard, and with speed, and it can do so using any tuning nozzle. To go back to it though, yes, the MS5 will be too much down low for some. There is also some bleed into the lower midrange which in my opinion suits the overall MS5 timbre well. Especially since the treble region is so juiced up. Still, I’m saying it first (or not), not everyone will be a fan. Remember folks, this isn’t some cookie cutter tuning. It may take a bit to render your brain and listening ear to the beauty of the MS5, but when you do…you may say the same thing I did. Hey Hidizs… Respect!
The midrange comes across relatively forward to the whole of the mix. It isn’t the type of forward which is presented “in your face” either, as the midrange expression and presence is more laid back yet it nicely refined. Resolution and clarity sound great and is very clean and believable with dense enough note weight. Note definition sounds very good both with voices and instrumentation. I do find that the excessive treble does make some females and even higher pitch tenors come across as slightly sharp depending on the track.
Some male vocals have a softer edge to them which is pretty smooth as well as a very full sound, with ample vocal weight. They can be both lush and profuse, or sometimes even lean and dry, depending on the artist. For instance, “Blue Wall” by Noah Guthrie comes across very clean but not super robust in note weight. I say that but there is a nice density to his voice, or a sturdiness which sounds compact and not flat. There is also a smoothness to his vocal rendering. Noah’s voice comes across as accurate to life as far as the inflections in his voice and the density of his vocals are concerned. In louder passages of the song, I do hear some “sizz” surfacing his note outlines. Nothing that I pay much attention to but it should be added to this review.
I hear a more thick and robust quality in males such as Lewis Capaldi in “Maybe“. His voice mostly hangs a titch lower in the mix and holds onto some of the huskiness from the low-end. Then you look at tenors like The Avett Brothers in the track “Morning Song (Demo)“. They sound very clear and very transparent with a detailed display of the lead singer’s voice, which is sharp sounding and also very exact, while sounding a hint thinner in weight. I actually really enjoy the way it sounds. Perhaps a bit different than we are used to.
“Any Love” by Dermot Kennedy is more of a contemporary pop track with an emotional tilted theme and his voice is mostly singled out during the course of the song. His light baritone voice has a boldness to it, or a brogue type accentuation which carries a melodic roughness to it. Listening on the MS5 he sounds gruff, warm, distinct, and sharply defined, with clean edges rendered more forward than usual. Bass voices like Avi Kaplan sound great. His deep and resonant voice pulls from the low-end with very nice definition, which is very satisfying to listen to on the MS5.
Baritones/Bass singers like Josh Turner in “Your Man” or even “Would You Go With Me” have a guttural deepness that comes across very canorous in its amplitude and rotund in weight. Especially when Josh drops his voice into the bass region, as it is something that he does in most of his tracks. The MS5 emphasizes the sound of the bass in his voice, and it comes across great with a softer leading edge on attack.
Females can be vibrant, clean, and they can even have a luminance to them. In rare times they can be a touch shrill (depending on the track), but mostly they are svelte, silvery and unblemished. It’s actually not the most simple thing to explain. Based on the graph you’d think that females would be withdrawn, and laid back, but the lift in the treble region adds some bright timbre to females which is nice to my ears, but not 100% organic in timbre either. They have a nice tone color and texture. I don’t get that “BA timbre”or that “metallic timbre” from the MS5, which I’m sure is helped by using quality Sonion drivers. Certainly, this is an area which may be a point of contention for some who are used to more conventional tunings. This is also not your run-of-the-mill Harman sound my friends.
Gabrielle Aplin’s voice is rendered a bit more forward in the mix. Her voice comes across sharper than on other sets, but also, she sounds more highlighted as though the focus is on her. A spotlight I suppose. In “Half in Half Out” there is an almost forthcoming sense of emotion that the MS5 replays very well. This is sort of a softball type song, as most sets can at least minimally pull this off. However, what the MS5 does better is… it does so in a very resolute way, with a crispness which is sweet, articulate, delicate and defined, rather than coarse and grainy. The MS5 is simply a different take and tuning on a library of music that I know very well, and from a set that I am enjoying getting used to.
Also in “Breathing Song” by Samia, again we see a more sharp but focused presentation. There is this edgy sweetness to her voice with very nice energy and enhanced with shimmery harmonics as the rolling intonations and fluctuations in her vocals are very well executed. The softness within her head voice echoes with supple and soft emotion and the MS5 captures this performance well. Again, resolution is very nice as her voice is brought into the spotlight and I hear a very natural sounding note weight.
Now, can the MS5 become too sharp? You bet. There are moments that sound more shrill, shriek or hissy. They are few but they come around. Rarely with the bass nozzle and foam tips I should add, and more so with the other nozzles in my experience. “Good 4 You” by Olivia Rodrigo gets a bit HOT during the chorus of the song. You will also hear some sibilance in S and Z’s at times as there is almost a static note decay which can come and go before you even recognize it, unless you are paying attention to it and listening for it. However, the benefits and strong suits of the MS5 far outweigh the problem areas. If you even want to call them that.
I just want to be 100% transparent. I’ve spent a multitude of hours dissecting the sound, listening to tracks I’ve heard a thousand times before. The songs I use aren’t even necessarily tracks that I would usually enjoy, but they are simply good for testing. I promise, this is not at all a bad set. The midrange is very detailed and very transparent, and resolution is very well accomplished on the MS5. This is most definitely a mid-fi experience which ranks up there with the big boys of the price point.
A nice mental image
In the song “Unstoppable” by Sia she comes across very bold and melodically raspy as her voice is very well separated from the surrounding melody and chaos of this song. Really this track has a lot going on, and the MS5 delineates her voice like a surgeon with a fine lined note edge and a powerful sound. The MS5 does a very nice job at capturing her sharper rasp in both the calmer beginning moments of the song and into the more ballad style chorus section. Instrumentation around her is very well bordered and easy to mentally picture, as the MS5 literally puts me 10 rows back in my mind. The transient agility is obvious on this set. I hear great macro-dynamics which simply have a fullness that is great, and it shows in a track such as this.
The upper-mids is the area which carries the fundamental frequency of a cymbal strike, and one thing is for sure, the treble adds new and different life to them. The body of a cymbal strike on most tracks comes across vivid enough and energized with a solid quality to them. Strings are well captured, yet do come across a hair thin, or possibly a bit brighter than I am used to, but they still have a solid rebound and consistency. Snares pang a hue brighter too but do so with sunstantial enough body. This makes for a very fun and engaging listen. No, it isn’t 100% accurate but there is a high degree of transparency, with a very detail-oriented sound which still holds onto the dynamics of most instrumentation.
The treble is very resolving, mature, crisp and energetic with a very detailed approach up top. You can quite easily see how the MS5 shows off its pedigree compared to more budget sets.
Depending on your nozzle choice it really will impact the sense of brightness and overall luster up top. Like I said, I use the bass nozzle which slightly levels off some of the peaks up top, and balances the entire mix for me. Now, the treble is not the most organic in timbre which seems to be a running theme. Still the other “running theme” is that it doesn’t come across as completely unnatural either. I quite like it actually. Also, please give me your best shot at explaining what “natural” is. Everything is subjective my friends. The point is, the MS5 is a slightly different spin then I am used to but still very nice to my ears.
Instruments in this region have a definite and decisive snappiness to them which adds a lot to the overall tonality of this set. This type of treble adds a certain validity and depth to my music, or a more realistic feel I suppose. Violin has an energetic glow and a nicely waning decay to my ears. Secondary harmonics of a cymbal strike can sound a hint tizzy but it’s a short-lived issue as there is an immediacy to notes within the treble.
I hear good treble punch, which in my mind gives a sense of depth to many recordings. This is a high fidelity and high accuracy type of treble, with a certain exactness to the sound. Like I said, the treble can be nice and snappy, adding a nice “icing on the cake” type of replay up top. I do believe that this region (treble emphasis) cascades into many areas of the mix and adds that lighter and brighter hue to other areas. For instance, females have that thinner yet bodied shine to them, which is certainly aided by the upper parts of the frequency.
Now, there are some issues which can arise. One being that the treble may be a tad too much for anyone treble sensitive, or for anyone who appreciates a more warm, smooth, and dialed back treble. Personally, I don’t have this issue and I don’t consider the treble to be too bright, but I could easily see how one would. Certainly, when I used the treble nozzles, they added some peaky behavior to the sound. Another issue is the sibilance which rears its ugly head in tracks which are prone to it. I hear slight sibilance using the treble nozzle and even with the balanced nozzle for that matter, as they exaggerate the S & Z sounds which can be a problem for some. However, I do believe that treble lovers will likely enjoy this presentation quite a lot.
The MS5’s treble is definitely highly resolving, almost an analytical type treble, and able to pick up the tiniest of minutia within a track which resolves any slight issues I may have. To be honest, the MS5 is perfectly justified in the upper 3rd of the mix for a mid-fi type sound. Great separation up top, a nice sense of texture, great pace and timing, and a nice contrast to the low-end.
The sound of the MS5 is dynamic and boisterous all the way to the outer edges of the sound field. We have good extension both ways which aids in an above average stage width. Height is pretty good as well. Something which I was impressed by is the perceived depth within the imaginary stage which does well to layer everything that I hear from front to back. Obviously the semi-open back structure helps in giving the MS5 a sense of air and space, but I don’t know how open the mesh on the faceplate truly is.
All in all, the size of the stage is pretty darn nice, yet you shouldn’t expect a stadium sized expanse of acoustic joy. These are iems after all. However, the psycho-acoustic perception of the stage size is very satisfying to me. I can say with certainty that the stage does NOT feel closed in, or cramped, or congested at all. The MS5 is fun sounding, with a big and dynamic auditory expression which should please most listeners.
Separation / Imaging
Separation is one of the MS5’s “Pros” in my mind. I can hear each element of a stage (instruments/vocals) are nicely separated without any congestion. Another strong suit of the Hidizs MS5 is its ability to create a precise image of the stage. I should remind you that any earphone within this price segment should be able to do so. Some sets are better than others, but a clean and separated and well partitioned off stage should at least be moderately well done on any set in the price point. Separation and imaging should be a foregone conclusion. Thankfully the MS5 excels at this.
I use different tracks in my “congested” Playlist using flac files stored on my devices. For example, “I’m Not Okay” by My Chemical Romance gets pretty blistery, and the MS5 keeps right up with the chaotic mess of sound. With its clean delivery, pacing, resolution, and due to the use of good drivers, the MS5 is very well accomplished.
I think I’ve already spelled this out for you, but details are very well illuminated and defined within most any track and in most any genre within my music library. Each 3rd of the frequency (Bass, mids, treble) the MS5 is able to draw out the subtleties. I wouldn’t call the MS5 an absolute “detail king” but I will say that it performs much better than expected when listening with my sources and to my music library. The MS5 does very well in the details arena. The breath in a vocal, the finger slides of guitar strings, the little secondary harmonics of different instruments all adds a certain life to my music.
The only time there is any type of overshadowing happening is in busy tracks with a lot of low-end activity. However, the bass is honestly fast enough, clean enough, and separated enough from the rest of the mix that it is hardly an issue. Or, at the very least, it isn’t something that I see as a problem at all.
Note: all ratings are based upon my subjective judgment. These ratings are garnered against either similarly priced sets (that I’ve actually heard) or with similar driver implementations or styles. In the case of the MS5 that would be $300-$400 iems in any configuration. Keep in mind, a “5.0” is exactly average within the parameters that I’ve stated.
-Build Quality: 10.0
Is it worth the asking price?
This is always a tough question to answer and even more tough to answer for the collective of hobbyists. Let me explain. The Hidizs MS5 is a very well imagined, well implemented, well designed, and well packaged iem which has a tuning befitting a Mif-Fi priced iem. No doubt about it. However, the tuning is not the run-of-the-mill type of tuning. It’s different.
The asking price of $499 is quite a lot for the average consumer and most people are looking for their “totl” set at this price. Not everyone has $400-$500 burning a hole in their wallets. Most people will be looking for a refined version of sets that they are used to. Better said, they will likely be in the market for a Mid-Fi “escalated and enhanced” version of typical tunings they know and understand. With that said, I absolutely think the asking price is fair, as the MS5 can stand in the midst of the big boys in the price point. I have seen worse iems that are priced much more than the MS5, in fact, a lot more. To be perfectly, unabashedly, and completely honest… I adore the sound of the MS5!! I love it. For me, without question the MS5 is worth the asking price.
No doubt about it
I also adore the look and the build as well as all accessories. Other than the exclusion of a modular cable. It is the market trend and is an easy addition which should’ve come with the packaging in my opinion. However, everything else screams high-end in my opinion. Hidizs went the extra mile to add the finishing touches, and made sure to release the MS5 when it was ready to be released. Are there flaws? Absolutely there is. Does every iem have flaws? 100% they do. Is there enough great qualities to the MS5 to recommend such an earphone? Absolutely there is. Does the MS5 perform well against its peers within the price point? No doubt about it.
Ya know, you start looking at the field of earphones in this loaded price point ($400-$500). There are so many safely tuned, repeated and regurgitated sets. Obviously there are also some bona-fide beasts which are simply phenomenal too. The Hidizs MS5 fights for relevancy in this loaded market, and I’d say that Hidizs went an interesting and genius route to gain that market share. I love the fact that they created an iem which can only bolster a collection by adding a set that isn’t the cookie cutter type. In addition to your safe earphones which you’ve collected and enjoy, you can also have the new MS5 which will give you an excellent and refined earphone which bucks the tuning trend, if you will.
Personally, I have had the joy of being able to go through my huge library of music, listening to my favorite tracks the “MS5 way”. A slightly different take on my music, but wonderfully detailed, punchy & deep, warm, lush and very resolute. I say that, but I will also say that the MS5 will not be for everyone. Like everything, not everyone will enjoy this type of sound. Which is fine. That is what makes this hobby a great one. For me though, the first sentence of this paragraph says it all. I enjoy the sound and welcome Hidizs take on a true Mid-fi caliber iem. It is totally worth it, especially at the introductory price of $379.
To conclude this review, I have to once again thank Bella for her timely and informative messages as well as Hidizs for choosing me to be one of the reviewers for the brand new Hidizs MS5. Thank you so very much. I have not been asked to skew my words. I have not been asked to go against my integrity at all and for that I thank Hidizs. They took a wild chance in this little venture and by all accounts I do believe their “chance” will pay off. Hidizs stands behind their product. Simple as that. They let the merits of their creation (MS5) do the talking and that is something which is respectable. Obviously, a lot of work, energy, thought and time has been put into this earphone, so I want to say… Great job!
Please take in other views of the Hidizs MS5. Listen, read or watch other perspectives as we all have different likes and dislikes, we all have different hearing abilities, we can have different gear and we all haven’t been down the same audio journey. I believe it will be a huge help for you to do so. Also, thank you for reading and clicking on the link. I truly enjoy writing my little blurbs about the hobby that we all love. Please take good care and do your best to stay safe.