Here I am again with another Hi Fri set: 122. I really wanted to keep it short but after listening to these, I wanted to do them justice as much as I could. 122 has 1 DD 2 BA 2 EST driver setup.
I will not go into detail about the built and trivia since Mahir already did in his review which you can read here.
I did not read Mahir’s review nor did I check out the graph for 122 before listening and taking my notes. After checking out the frequency response graph, I was not suprised. It is exactly as my ears heard them.
- Very Wide Soundstage
- Airy Presentation
- Very High Detail Level Without Getting Too Bright
- Impactful Bass
- Not Muddy or Bloated
- Scales Very Well With Power
- Very Balanced Sound
- Natural Timbre
- Zingy and Can be Fatiguing after Long Listening Sessions
- Slightly Recessed in the Mids (Subjective)
Without boring you too much, I don’t necessarily have a sound preference. I tend to enjoy different sound profiles as long as they do well at what they intend to do. I’m not very sensitive to treble so I can enjoy the most notoriously bright headphones, however I’m somewhat sensitive to upper mids area. Please keep these in mind. As I mentioned earlier, these IEMS are again prototypes and not available to buy as far as I know. I will update here if anything changes. Still you can contact Hi Fri through his facebook to ask 122’s availability. After this review, 122s are going back to their maker, literally!
Before delving into it deeper, I want mention that I tried these IEMs on several different setups, but I’m writing my impressions based on my experience with my desktop DAC/Amp Da-art Aurora and SMSL SP400. Tips I used first were Spinfit CP100s. Cable I used was BQEYZ Autumn’s 4.4 mm balanced cable.
If you ever owned a pair of Hifimans, this review is already over for you. 122s reminded me my Edition XS very much from the first few minutes I listened to them. They are airy, zingy up top, very clear sounding and have slightly recessed mids. Overall they have a very balanced sound.
The only part 122s are different from a Hifiman is their bass. Bass on 122 is elevated as you would expect from an IEM. However most IEMs are essentially closed back with a few exceptions so I would assume if you closed a Hifiman’s cup off, these would be more similar than different. Bass is done with the dynamic driver and it is as good as a dynamic driver can get. Not as fast as a planar, say Letshuoer S12 but just as impactful if not more, especialy with enough power.
Bass on 122 is subbass focused. Subbass is indistinguishable from S12’s in quantity. However midbass is noticably lower, therefore cleaner. It doesn’t bleed into the mids.
122’s mids are slightly recessed. Again this attibute is very reminicent of Hifimans. Dip in the mids also affects soundstage positively so it is not necessarily a negative aspect. Guitars are present but vocals take a step back. If you want an intimate presentation from your IEMs, 122s are not for you. Again I would like to emphasize the word “slightly” as this recession is not too much. Upper mids are closer to neutral. Female vocalist can be shouty if you push too hard but again I would like to remind you I’m pretty sensitive in this area. Your mileage may vary. Even for me it happened when I was vibing and cranked the volume above my usual listening levels.
Treble on 122 is another one of its strong points but not perfect to be honest. It is not sibilant unless you listen your music very loudly. For comparison I don’t find S12 sibilant but it gets sibilant more easily than 122. Cymbals and high hats are full of energy on 122. In 1+3 they were a little over emphasized but not here. That said, the upper treble is zingy, again just like Hifimans. At first I didn’t mind it much but it became fatiguing after a while. My small ears didn’t help much either. Other than that rest of the treble is close to neutral.
Another easy part to assess for 122 is its technical performance. They are clear sounding and highly detailed. Soundstage is one of the widest I have ever heard in an IEM. Imaging is also very good. 1+3 was brighter, therefore shove the detail in your face. 122 is not like that, treble is close to neutral but still very detailed. I would say even more detailed. Timbre is very natural. I didn’t notice anything off. Indeed the parts Jeff used are very high quality.
Hi Fri 122 vs. Shuoer S12
S12 is noticable bassier but subbass is about the same. S12 is warmer and thicker sounding. Transience is faster on S12 especially on bass but for rest of the frequency response gap closes. 122 is more detailed and clear. Vocals are more forward on S12. 122 is wider. S12 is not necessarily sibilant but can get sibilant more easiliy than 122.
I did most of my listening with Spinfit CP100 tips. Last day I tried foam tips. Bass became mushier and less impactful. Mids were pretty much the same. Treble might have become a tiny bit tamer. Still it was one of the rare occasions I preferred silicon tips to foam ones. Isolation was better with foam tips though.
122 suprised me in a very good way. Actually Mahir warned me from the beginning, not to listen to 122 before 1+3 so I won’t get underwhelmed by it. So after sending 1+3 to the giveaway winner, I began listening 122, thus review took this long. At the very first few minutes they wowed me. After giving them a long listen I can definitely say their technical capability is very high and sound is very balanced.