Base Price: $1100
Country of Manufacture: Korea
Hidition is a Korean based custom in-ear monitor manufacturer with a decent size lineup, with two of the products previously reviewed, the NT-6 and NT-6 Pro (NT stands for New Tears). The owner of Hidition, Sung ByeoungHa, is very friendly and enjoys meeting audiophiles that can visit Hidition. He will happily let visitors audition his various models, and has been known to hire translators for certain pre-arranged meetings.
The previous products have exhibited excellent detail, resolution, and overall performance with a brighter, more analytical sound signature that retains musicality. The NT-6 is well suited for studio work as it is quite neutral and the NT-6 Pro’s enhancement on the extremes of both ends of the spectrum makes for a more fun albeit colored performance.
The latest product, the Hidition Viento-R offers switches to change the tone by changing the prominence of the bass and/or midrange. The R stands for Reference, and given the Hidition pedigree, the name seems fitting. Why sound tuning on a reference monitor? Possibly to adjust for equipment, preference, or environment, and when have a group of people agreed on what is truly “reference” when given multiple options to choose from?
Using a lower driver count of four vs. six for the two flagships, can the Viento-R keep up? We shall find out! A special thank you to Sung ByeoungHa of Hidition for providing the review sample.
HOW TO ORDER & OPTIONS
The Hidition Viento-R cost 1,100,000 won plus VAT in Korea and $1100 internationally. You can change the language from Korean to English at the bottom left of each page, although not every page translates well. International ordering is done through the www.hidition.co.kr website, selecting your items, then selecting buy from the product page.
Options: Selected on the product page. There are some awesome artwork options, which you can see at the gallery, although they look better in person than in the images.
International shipping: $30; $40 for shipping with insurance
Warranty: 1 year parts/labor; 30 days for fit
The Viento-R is an acrylic shelled custom in-ear monitor utilizing 4 balanced armature drivers with a vent in the shell and utilizing 3 sound tubes, two of which open into a recessed chamber. The cable is detachable, with a slightly protruding socket. There are two switches on the inside of each shell to adjust the tuning, with one switch for bass and one for the midrange. They can be changed with a small object, such as the metal end of a cleaning tool or a very small screwdriver.
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
The packaging has a nice presentation, as is typical from Hidition, with their metal case in foam within a box. The metal case is very classy looking, but on the smaller side of the spectrum, which can make it difficult to fit larger shelled CIEMs into quickly. This can lead to potential damage if they aren’t oriented properly and the case is put in a travel case that applies pressure on the shells. Also, the case is not water resistant/proof like the standard Otter Box or Pelican case. The Viento-R also comes with a cleaning cloth, cleaning tool, and desiccant in a soft pouch. While the case may work great for some, the potential of damage if improperly put in the case lower the score a solid 2 points. 3/10
The cable is the same as the previous Hidition cables, which is subtle with a good feel and ergonomics, but on the thinner side. I haven’t experienced any issues with my previous Hidition cables, which are the same. 5/10
FIT & FINISH
The Viento-R build quality is excellent, with a pristine fit and finish level that ranks very high. The black faceplates and a blue shell are well done and issue free, even upon close inspection. I did experience what I consider a minor issue, but an issue none-the-less. The right 2-pin connector slowly backs out about 1-2 mm after some time, and I did have it completely come out once. While this sounds serious, it can be fixed with either a drop of super glue or preferably a light clamping of the pins, which will slightly flatten them for a better hold. Of course this shouldn’t happen, so a score deduction is in order. The issue is with the sockets, as I another cable exhibited the same issue, but I haven’t experienced this with other Hidition products. 6/10
The Viento-R uses two switches per channel, with one for changing the bass quantity to be adjusted and the other to change the midrange presentation. The switches are inside the shell and are quite small. It is relatively easy to change them with the metal loop side of a cleaning tool. I also used the screwdriver that came with the EarSonics Velvet, and while it worked, it wasn’t quite as easy as the loop on the cleaning tool since the switches are very small and the screwdriver was much larger than the switches.
The Viento-R’s hollow acrylic shell has an outward facing vent and solid acrylic filled canals. The filled canals help with isolation, but the vent did result in less isolation for the female vocal frequency region. A comparison with the Lear LCM BD4.2, which has a side vent, outside noises for the Viento-R were about 1-2 dB louder in the vocal range. 4.5/10
Disclaimer: My review is done in a comparative way using similarly priced IEMs and/or CIEMs for perspective and to determine performance. In this review I try to accurately portray the product under review, presenting strengths and weaknesses, the sound signature, characteristics, and technical performance as opposed to providing flowery dialog of performance without perspective. My ultimate goal is to enable you to make an informed decision about what product is right for you. Take the review as a critical look at the product and not a sales pitch or marketing fluff. I believe gear should be selected based on the sound signature you want and/or the specific use, not solely on technical performance or unsubstantiated hype. Here are some quick references for more information: My review technique, Thoughts on reading a review, Custom IEM information
The Hidition Viento-Reference received 100+ hours of burn in as is customary before I do my serious listening. The following custom IEMs were used for comparison: Hidition NT-6, Hidition NT-6 Pro, Custom Art Harmony 8 Pro, Spiral Ear SE 5-way Reference, Lear LCM BD4.2, Rhines Custom Monitors Stage 3, Ultimate Ears In-Ear Reference Monitors, EarSonics EM32, and EarWerkz Legend (see page 2 for detailed comparisons).
Bass: The bass of the Viento-R has two settings: neutral and boosted. With either setting, the bass is tight, deep, well controlled, and textured. The quantity with the switch off is similar to the NT-6’s neutral presentation, with plenty of authority and emotion but with slightly less deep bass reverberation. Changing the switch to the up position adds a subtle but noticeable boost from mid-bass on down resulting in a warmer sound than both the NT-6 and NT-6 Pro, but with less deep bass emphasis than the NT-6 Pro. While the bass quantity increases, the reverberation remains constant. Integration of the bass with the midrange is exceptional regardless of the switch position, and the overall feel is fast, accurate, and detailed but never too prominent.
Midrange: The midrange is very neutral and balanced both in frequency response and presentation perspective. Changing the switch to boost the midrange results in a more forward midrange that switches the relatively spacious “reference” style sound and a more mid-forward presentation while keeping the tonality. The midrange is crisp and clear, with excellent resolution and focus within the soundstage for a very precise feel that can leave other CIEMs sounding a bit muddy. While there is plenty of detail that is well articulated, the details are presented in a very natural way that isn’t as analytical as the slightly more detailed NT-6 and NT-6 Pro. The Spiral Ear SE5 is less articulated and warmer while the Custom Art Harmony 8 Pro is not as smooth and refined.
Imaging is excellent and coherence across the soundstage is the best I have heard, in part accentuated by the exceptional focus. Tone of both male and female vocals sounds spot-on in most comparisons and improves upon the NT-6 and NT-6 Pro due to less upper midrange presence and a longer note decay. Overall, the midrange is exceptional and is among the best I have heard.
Treble: The treble of the Viento-R is on the brighter side of neutral, but not by too much. The notes are natural and smooth yet still detailed for an overall exceptional performance unmatched by other “brighter” CIEMs and only bested by CIEMs that are on the warmer side including the Spiral Ear SE 5-way Reference, Fit Ear PS-5, and The Lear LCM BD4.2, which is closest in brightness. Notes are smoother and more natural than the NT-6 and NT-6 Pro but give up a slight bit of detail in the process.
Presentation: The Viento-R shares a similar soundstage presentation to the NT-6 and NT-6 Pro, but the vented design results in a spaciousness the others don’t have. The standout of the VR is the focus within the soundstage and soundstage coherence across it, which is the best I have heard, leading to an exceptionally clear presentation without being as analytical as the NT-6 and NT-6 Pro. Spatially, the presentation size of the VR is good, but about on par with the other Hiditions. While the other Hiditions focus more on individual instruments, the VR provides a bit better balance between instrument and overall presentation.
Note capability is superior with the ability to adjust to the average ADSR recorded in different masters while retaining a natural sound and providing almost as much detail as much more analytical sounding CIEMs. Transparency is exceptional and coherence across the frequency spectrum is very good, falling between the NT-6 and NT-6 Pro. The VR has an overall performance that is impressive and competitive with the best.
Volume performance: The Viento-R sensitivity is about average for CIEMs, and noise floors and low volume channel imbalances should be taken into account when selecting a source. At lower volumes (120 and below on the DX100 for example) the VR performs well with the bass switch up, as the bass boost overcomes some of the bass quantity issues many BA driver CIEMs exhibit. Performance is relatively consistent through what I consider loud volumes (over 200 on the iBasso DX100). Above that point, the clarity of the sound starts to diminish; but I can’t listen at that level for longer than several seconds.
Sound Summary: The Hidition Viento-R epitomizes a clean, precise, and focused recreation of music with a natural sounding note and somewhat laid-back “reference” presentation. While not overly bright, the treble quantity is a bit north of neutral but still give a natural tonality to both male and female vocals. The vented design adds a high level of openness to the relatively large soundstage size. Detail and resolution aren’t quite as high as some of the other competitors, but the VR makes up for it with superior focus and imaging.
Turning the bass switch to the up position adds warmth while the midrange switch makes the midrange a bit more mid-forward, although the changes aren’t huge. The Viento-R is a more easy to listen to sibling of the NT-6 that may just be what those that think the NT-6 is a bit too aggressive. The VR competes with other top of the line custom in-ear monitors, and as everything in this range, there are slight gives and takes.