Final E2000 ($45): Final have a winner with the E2000, it is undoubtedly one of the best earphones I’ve heard around this price at the cost of a fragile build. When compared to the Hibiki, it is clearly more v-shaped though clarity is excellent as is technicality. The E2K’s bass is fuller, more separated and better extended than the Hibiki. On the flipside, though both are agile, the cleaner Hibiki is appreciably more defined. Mids are clearer on the Hibiki but arguably pushed a little too far towards clarity while the Final is pleasantly clear but more full-bodied. The Hibiki has slightly better resolution but the E2000 is more detailed, natural and linear. Highs are considerably more detailed on the Final and slightly more extended. The Hibiki is once again clearer in the higher frequencies but a lot of instruments are too thin. The semi-open E2000 has a considerably larger stage, especially depth though they lean out completely when outdoors due to their poor isolation.
Shozy Zero ($60): The Zero is a more natural earphone with a considerably darker tonality. The Zero is considerably bassier with a mid-bass vs deep bass focus though it isn’t nearly as clean as the Hibiki. That said, both are very textured though the Hibiki is much tighter and more defined. Mids are quite the opposite, the Zero is more laid-back and organic while the Hibiki is brighter and thinner but also much clearer. While the Zero is very well voiced, the Hibiki has more resolution at the cost of realistic timbre. The Zero has a more typical lower treble bump though, in terms of technicality, the Zero is both more aggressive and more detailed, it simply has more body and texture to these elements. That said, the Hibiki has a lot more air and clarity to higher elements even if extension is similar on both. The Zero and Hibiki have a similar width biased stage, the Zero has a little more depth while the Hibiki is wider with superior imaging.
Pinnacle P2 ($99): The P2 makes for interesting comparison since it carries a similar kind of sound but also one that’s more accessible. This starts with the P2’s low-end that is warmer and more extended though also more balanced than the aforementioned models. The P2 is more linear in its lower frequencies, it isn’t quite Hibiki clean but is more technically impressive in almost every way. Mids are more forward on the Hibiki but also a bit oddly voiced and thin, the P2 is similarly clear but smoother and more bodied throughout. Highs are a little uneven on the P2 but immediately better bodied and more aggressively detailed than the Hibiki. Neither are especially well extended but the P2 resolves higher details better while the Hibiki is airier due to the nature of their tuning. The P2 doesn’t have the largest soundstage, similar to the Hibiki but with slightly greater depth though it is appreciably more coherent.
The Hibiki is a revealing, tonally unique earphone with an extensive feature set. Their carbon fibre faceplates belie their asking price as does their excellent removable cable. Though their brighter, thinner sound won’t be to every listener’s preference, after some adjustment, they do make a lot of similarly priced in-ears sound quite bloated and buyers who value utmost midrange resolution and clarity now have a very strong contender at a very reasonable asking price. The Hibiki is purported as a commuter’s earphone and though I feel their low-end is a little too lean to compensate for ambient noise, their great isolation, stable fit and rock solid build make them a perfect affordable daily. Moreover, their smooth treble, though far from the most technically impressive around this price, does a lot to help the forward Hibiki avoid fatigue during longer listening sessions.
Verdict – 8.5/10, Shozy’s affordable in-ear makes for a strong investment perhaps not due to sound alone, but the culmination of a well-considered build, extensive feature set and accessible asking price that make the Hibiki Shozy’s most versatile earphone yet.