Review: Hippo ProOne - Great new single BA IEM

Hippo ProOne Review:

I would like to thank Jaben for sending me a sample of their first BA IEM, I will write as honest a review possible.

They have had well over 50hrs of burn-in and no differences were noticed.

Gear Used:
IPod Classic 160gb (rockboxed) > Hippo ProOne (shure olive tips)
IPod Classic 160gb (rockboxed) > silver LOD > JDS Labs C5 > Hippo ProOne (shure olive tips)

Specs:
Driver: Single Balanced Armature
Frequency Response: 20Hz - 18kHz
Sensitivity: 112dB/mW
Impedance: 16 ohms
Cord length: 1.2m
MSRP: $128


Packaging, accessories and build quality:
Packaging is a small black box with a flap that opens to a window showing the IEM’s, specifications are on the side, and information and list of accessories are listed on the back. The IEM’s are held in a plastic intray with accessories stored in the carry case, the box is simple and effective and actually quite eye catching with the black and orange colour scheme.

Accessories are ok, but not great. They come with a semi-hard clamshell case, 3 pairs of single flange tips (S, M, L) and also a wax cleaning loop for the canals. I think they could have included more tips (they usually come with hippo foam tips but mine didn’t) and also some adapters like aeroplane/3.5mm to 6.3mm.

Build quality is nothing to write home about, the plastic housing is lightweight and feels quite sturdy, the cable is of the twisted type that tangles quite easily but feels strong and also strain relief on the housing is super flexible and on the jack it is very good also. I don’t have any problems with the build quality, the cable could be a bit thicker and not tangle as easily, but the plastic housing feels fine, just you might want to look after them a bit more than some of the better built options out there.


Comfort, isolation, driver flex and cable noise:
Comfort is excellent, the light housing with over the ear cable combines for a great fit. With different tips you can vary the depth of insertion, I like these with a medium insertion depth. They feel great when in and I don’t get any discomfort after long listening sessions, no memory wire to get in the way and the flexible strain relief if very comfortable.

Isolation is quite good, as they are fully sealed with a good insertion depth and isolate very well for normal use and work really well on public transport and the likes, but the plastic housing isn’t thick so they don’t isolate brilliantly.

Driver flex is not present because this is not usually a problem with BA IEM’s.

Cable noise is also not a problem as the cable goes over your ear.


Sound:

Lows:
When I first put these in, I felt that the lows were lacking in presence and also extension, but after longer listening I found that the extension was actually very good extending right down to 25 Hz just not in huge quantity. The lows are tight and punchy with good presence and also they blend very well with the rest of the spectrum. I am impressed by the extension from a single BA driver, and presence is not lacking either, it is just right for my tastes. The lows are well separated, kick drums don’t have a lot of punch but are soft and well bodied, with bass guitars sounding very articulate and the bass is very fast in attack and recovery.

Mids:
The mids are slightly forward in presence but never get warmed from the lows. The lows are what grab your attention the most, very clean and precise without any sibilance to be detected. Both male and female vocals sound excellent with great detail retrieval and and guitars come through with great authority, and vocals cut through very clean. They are well separated and don’t become congested with faster music.

Highs:
Highs have good presence but after listening for longer I find they lack a bit of extension, they only extend to roughly 15 KHz. I really like the presentation of the highs, they are present and airy without becoming splashy, but they do lack the extension, finer details are picked out easily. Listening to Diana Krall in FLAC is a pleasure as you never miss a tap of the cymbals or a brush of a snare.


Instrument separation, soundstage and imaging:
Instrument separation is very good as the presentation is fairly airy and doesn’t become congested with faster music.
Soundstage is nothing too special, it really depends on the track as most of the time it is all quite close together but sometimes there are some very subtle special queues that sometimes they come out of nowhere and really impress me.
Imaging is well done though, and both channels portray a very convincing image.

Conclusion:
For their first BA IEM, I’m impressed, they have a smooth but very well balanced sound with a slight mid hump. They are super sensitive and don’t benefit a lot from amping, but in conjunction with my C5 they become slightly more refined with slightly better soundstage, and when bass boost is switched on they become very fun to listen to. Well done Hippo, in terms of sound and comfort they have made some very impressive IEM’s, now they just need to work on the build quality.

Tracks Used:
Skrillex – First Of The Year (Equinox) (320kbps MP3)
Paramore – Franklin (320kbps MP3)
Diana Krall – The Girl In The Other Room (FLAC)
Deolinda – Passou Por Mim E Sorriu (live) (ALAC)
Suicide Silence – Unanswered (FLAC)
Massive Attack – Angel (ALAC)
Eat Static – Dzhopa Dream (ALAC)
The XX – Crystalised (FLAC)
Funeral For A Friend – Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings (ALAC)
Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man (FLAC)
The Scene Aesthetic – Humans (259kbps MP3)
A Hero A Fake – Swallowed By The Sea (254kbps MP3)
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, Spring Allegro (ALAC)
Johnny Craig – Children Of Divorce (161kbps MP3)
Deadmau5 + Kaskade – I Remember (Caspa Remix) (320kbps MP3)
Black Uhuru – Utterance (ALAC)
We Are The In Crowd – Never Be What You Want (226kbps MP3)
Silverstein – Discovering The Waterfront (320kbps MP3)
Concept Of Thought – Our Thought (FLAC)
Nirvana – Something In The Way (Unplugged) (ALAC)

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