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Some time passed since we’ve first tested and reviewed hybrid IEMs after decades of using dynamic headphones with short jumps to pure balanced armature models. Recent technologies allow many companies to step in to this battle and to experiment with different IEMs design and driver combinations.

Unfortunately, our first attempt to familiarize ourselves with hybrid driver combination wasn’t too promising — we’ve chosen KZ ED16 to start with and were very disappointed with its sound quality despite spending only $18 for a pair. You can read our KZ ED16 review here.

Today we are giving another try to low budget hybrid technology IEMs — MaGaosi HLSX-808. With a cost of less than $20, would this pair of IEMs outperform KZ ED16 rival and would it manage to bring back the hope? Let’s find out!

You can purchase MaGaosi HLSX-808 at PenonAudio store   

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MaGaosi HLSX-808 technical specifications:

  • Type: Balanced Armature + Dynamic Driver
  • Impedance: 32Ω±15%
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Sensitivity: 101±1db
  • L&R Channel Balance Sensitivity: ≤2db
  • Max Input Power: 10mW
  • Wire length: 120cm±5cm
  • Wire material: TPE
  • Plug material: 3.5mm gold-plated
  • Distortion: ≤1%
  • Versions: gold with mic&remote | black with mic&remote | black without mic&remote

Unfortunately, seems that MaGaosi brand has not yet launched their website dedicated for IEMs and other Hi-Fi profucts. The only official page we’ve managed to find is on Facebook. Neither there is much of additional technical infromation about HLSX-808 in terms of audio quality tests, components used, etc. As PenonAudio shop states — it is 3rd anniversary of MaGaosi brand establishment and it is a right time to widely introduce themselves to public 🙂  Anyway, not much to worry about as long as the product is good.

Box contents:

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MaGaosi HLSX-808 comes in a small black carton box with brand and tech.specs stickers on it. The box is totally ok and does the job of product protection, but hey — we hope that the future releases would be more eye catching in terms of packaging as we all have already used to despite the budget price. First impression always stays for a long…

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No problems with the box contents, though:

  • HLSX-808 IEMs
  • Storage case
  • 3.5mm jack protection cap
  • 3 pairs of silicone eartips (S/M/L) with matt and rough finish
  • 1 pair of silicone eartip (M-size) with slick and glossy finish

Having storage&carrying case as a part of standard shipment is very surprising in this price segment and does compensate some simple box design.

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We strognly believe that storage case is a must for any IEMs to prevent excessive dirt and accidental damage. Well done, MaGaosi!

Design and materials:

Perfect! Nothing to complain about here. It seems that low cost of a product is not an obstacle for a company to create great design and provide adequate amount and quality of final crafting.

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HLXS-808 are totally made of CNC-aluminum, with lots of tiny details, perfect finish and good weight balance. Patterned surface for a better grip, additional grooves on body and 3.5mm jack, labeling — everything shows that MaGaosi cares about aesthetics as well as comfort.

There are two compensation openings — one is right in the middle of rear side and another one is nearby sound output nozzle. Output filters/grills are not detachable, neither is the cable. Seems that this is the only disadvantage — we would prefer to be able to exchange the cable in case of damaging it. Moreover, the cable is straight (not twisted) and a bit prone to microphone effect especially when placed close to a smartphone radio module.

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We haven’t found any problems with how do HLSX-808 fit. Selecting the right size of eartips is the initial and only thing to care about. As soon as the appropriate tip is found — those IEMs feel very comfortable and lightweight. Even during long listening sessions — 4 hours and more — there was no pain or headache caused by wearing it.

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Just to compare — KZ ED16 are significantly larger in size and not so comfortable to wear due to overall dimensions.

Sound quality:

Our testing equipment: Hidizs AP80 HiRES DAP + Hidizs AP200 HiRES DAP.

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We have approached this part with the idea in mind that hybrid technology is not yet developed enough to impress. Such prejudice was built upon our first experience with KZ ED16 IEMs… So, we took the same material — mostly FLAC and DSD files from special headphone testing albums, prepared a couple of pills to fight the expected headache and jumped into HLSX-808 audio tests…

Bass section:  

Indeed there is… Low bass is present thanks to the dynamic driver that does a good job and balances treble. It is not too deep, more like slightly touching lowest frequencies and mostly acting in midbass section. Texture, speed and articulation is on a good level. While not smeared, moderate amount of details are present. Dynamics is good and there is a pleasing tightness when drums step into play.

Mids section:

A bit laid back and seems more distant at first. Five minutes spent with HLSX-808 and balance came to a normal state. Vocals are rich, natural and detailed. Especially with male singer. Female vocals are mostly pleasing with a bit of sibilances but not distructing. Instruments and voices in mids have good amount of air and no signs of promiscuity.

Treble section:

Plenty of highs here. This is in nature of balanced armature driver — the ability to deliver crisp and clear treble with lots of details and tiny sounds. Although, should be carefully tuned to stay away from enourmous amount of sibilances, too bright delivery and extreme disbalance in regard to other frequencies.

MaGaosi did a great job here if to consider the price of HLSX-808 IEMs — detailing of highs and presence of sibilances are kept on very accepatabe level. There are no overhelming amount of hisses that would result into headache and overall sound picture doesn’t have extremely bright signature.

The only drawback is that sometimes treble would still tend to mix in so that there would be a slight audio disorder. This happens mostly to electronic music tracks. Another problem is the amount of noise — vinyl rips would suffer the most as the needle noise usually located in upper mids or treble seciton and would be amplified further by armature driver.

Sound in overall:

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MaGaosi HLSX-808 IEMs have a bright sound signature and apparent V-shape with a tendency to overemphasize on highs. We wouldn’t capitalize «V» because middle section is not too distant and has an adequate presence. Highs still are the most obvious here, as well as the most detailed. Their extent is not extreme but might have been muted a bit more to create a perfect «v». The listening experience wasn’t painfull and there was no headache even after four hours of listening to different genres of music but some genres would definitely require a bit more warmth in overall tuning.

Channel separation and scene width are both excellent. As we believe, this would be true for many hybrid IEMs because of different types of drivers desynchronization — this creates a better feel of channel separation and more room which results in a wider stage. Let’s call it a technical bug that surely grows into feature.

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By the way — we have tried to push the sound quality further by using Hidizs Sonata DH1000 external DAC&AMP but haven’t found any significant difference in sound quality. As have been stated many times — balanced armature drivers have a different nature and usually would not deliver better quality with more capable amplifiers. At the same time our test DAPs are both totally enough to drive 38Ohms HLSX-808 IEMs with such sensivity level.

Compared to KZ ED16:

Despite almost the same pricing and huge KZ ED16 amount of drivers advantage — MaGaosi HLSX-808 is a clear winner in this fight. KZ ED16 listening experience was very painfull… These IEMs require heavy tuning to get rid of all mess it produces on treble, extreme sibilances, extreme and very loud noise level and total imbalance between frequencies. MaGaosi are deprived of most of those shortcomings, much more balanced, much better tuned which results in pleasing and long listening sessions.

Conclusion: 

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Much better now… HLSX-808 showed that hybrid technology is worthy to try and that such IEMs can deliver very good SQ if tuned in an appropriate way. MaGaosi has done a great job here and was able to deliver a product with impressive sound at very low cost. Moreover, they showed other brands that such price point is not a reason to avoid additional labor investments on crafting and tuning the product.

Now there is something that we can confidently recommend for those who would like to understand what is a hybrid technology while not spending much on such an experiment — MeGaosi HLSX-808.

You can purchase MaGaosi HLSX-808 at PenonAudio store   

 

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