There are a lot of brands I haven’t worked with. In this booming world of audio products it’s hard to keep track of brands. I know, I know Hidizs is not new but they haven’t been able to capture the imagination of the market like other chi-fi brands. But it’s seems like this is about to change. They used to have a good range of DAPs but it’s limited to AP80 series now. What they have been improving with are their USB dongles and IEMs and their new planar based IEM, MP145 housing a 14.5mm planar driver has taken the industry by storm. Currently available on Kickstarter with various combo offers and early adaptors discount, it comes in 2 colors, currently available at $159 and goes up to $200. It goes head on against a lot of IEMs in this price and I will compare it with the Akoustyx S-6, DDHIFI Janus 3 and Tri i3 pro IEMs.
The best thing I can tell is, it’s much better than the wolly, thick and blurry sounding 7hz Timeless and has much better control and composure than the Moondrop Kato. It has better definition and clarity than the Dunu Falcon Pro. It definitely looks like a superb IEM at this point of time. Let’s find out about this IEM.
Get one from here:
ACCESSORIES AND UNBOXING:
This IEM has me baffled. I had never seen an IEM with hard case. This is the first and it’s much easier to understand why no brand likes this ship their IEMs in hard packaging. They are easy to break and my unit too had chips coming out of it. They are nicks, nothing serious but it’s not ideal.
Nevertheless, open the box and we get to see the IEMs upfront. We have the tuning filters and the cable placed inside a paper box under the IEM while the tips are stuffed inside a paper box at the bottom. We are getting a generous set of tips, 3 pair of vocal, 3 pair of bass and 3 pair of balanced tips in S/M/L sizes.
MP145 ships with a 4 core silver plated single crystal OFC cable and as available in both 3.5mm and 4.4mm versions. I have the 4.4mm version with me and I like this cable. Its light weight and the cable has little to no memory issues, isn’t bouncy and one doesn’t need to worry about microphonics either. The parts used are of decent quality too. The 4.4mm jack is a bit on the larger side but the Y splitter, cable slider and 2pin connectors are minimal in size. The cable guides are fairly relaxed and don’t exert much pressure on the ear.
This IEM follows the build quality norms of both Hidizs and other competing IEMs in this price. Hidizs has made a lot of IEMs with metal shell and just like the Shuoer S12 pro, Tri i3 pro and 7hz Timeless we are getting an all metal build quality. Thanks to this one doesn’t need to worry about durability, it will take good amount of rough handling without much issues. We are getting an interesting looking back plate while the nozzle has swappable filters to take care of the tuning flexibilities. One thing I would like to mention is the size, it’s big, and will not fit those with small and shallow ears.
Ergonomics are decent too. There are no annoying edges to worry about. Thanks to the well managed weight and aptly deep nozzle, the ear pieces do not feel heavy.
PAIRING WITH SOURCES:
We have a huge 14.5mm planar driver to power here but guess what, it’s not super hard to drive. We have a respectable sensitivity of 104db and resistance of 30ohm which makes this a reasonably easier IEM to drive out of our mid range USB dongles and I am having a blast with them. I got the DH80s bundle and this pairing is very good. Yes, getting a more capable source will definitely bring improvements of it’s own, even the more capable Beam 3 plus has better air between instruments and a bigger stage but the DH80s doesn’t leave a lot to be desired. I am getting very good layering and separation with good amount of air between instruments. The stage isn’t small or clumsy, imaging too is very good.
Is it wise to drive a planar driver IEM out of a mobile phone? No, definitely not. It’s ignorance of the fact that planar drivers need power and even if this IEM doesn’t need much power, it still is a planar and needs more power than usual IEMs.
I am not new to this type of IEMs. I have seen brands doing a lot if things with their planar based IEMs but I have to admit, after the Akoustyx S-6 the MP145 is the next Planar based that has impressed me the most. It’s 14.5 mm drivers are tuned to deliver class leading SQ with a reasonably V shaped signature that doesn’t feel aggressive or lean at any point. We do not get a dull region either and the best thing I noticed is it’s softer edged presentation.
Tonality and timber are very similar to what we get with other Planar based IEMs. I am using vocal tips and DH80s and Shanling UA5 as source for this review.
MP145 has a typical planar tuning yet it is different. We get full bodied notes but true to planar IEMs these notes decay so fast that it doesn’t move a lot of air, leaving a lot of air for the rest of the spectrum to breathe.
End to end extension is decent. Sub-bass is good and has decent rumble but isn’t very deep. Mid bass is more prominent with a sizeable body. The area of impact is big but it isn’t heavy or very punchy. Dynamics are decent, they do tend to end up in the mid bass region. I have heard better dynamics from similarly priced IEMs but MP145 makes up with it’s control and discipline. We do get a below average layered hits, the notes do not have enough air and separation between them. It doesn’t get tiring or boring but those looking for a heavy hitter will find this not heavy enough. Upper bass is nicely presented with decent clarity and details but I wish the mid bass was a bit less dominant.
Oh.. the clarity!! It puts a smile on my face. It delivers so much goodness that if we do not mind the limitations of the bass notes, this IEM can easily take on $250 IEMs without breaking a sweat.
Unlike most of the Planar based IEMs, MP145 doesn’t have any obvious flaws. Yes, the V shaped signature has a bit of pop to the vocals but we are getting excellent clarity and details. The drop in energy is much less and doesn’t sound sharp like the Shuoer S12/pro, while the clarity, layering and separation are similarly brilliant. We get reasonably accurate sounding vocals. It’s faster decay does take away the extra bit of throatiness and grunt, making the timber and tonality a bit dry while enhancing the transparency. Even when timber and tonality are slightly on the less fuller side we still get beutiful texture with both male and female vocals, they are a bit subtle but if you are paying attention, it’s highly enjoyable. Notes are sooooo beautifully presented that it’s hard to complaint about minor niggles. Yes, this is not a very analogue sounding IEM but the contrast and layering are brilliant enough to stand out.
Instruments have very good clarity yet have no sharpness or aggression to worry about. In fact this presentation of instruments is more contrasty and cohesive than the DDhifi Janus 3. There is a bit more energy in the upper mids but has no sibilance or sharpness to write about. It’s not dull or smooth. If you want silky smooth and relaxed mids, planar drivers are just not it.
What these planar drivers are capable of are some of the best treble response and MP145 is no exception. We get excellent transparency and superb control too. It has sparkly notes, impressive clarity, clear of any unwanted sharpness while being cohesive and engaging. Treble extension is superb too, yes it doesn’t carry a lot of energy into the upper treble, especially to keep the harshness away but the lower and mid treble regions aren’t rough or raw. They feel a lot more uniform and sorted than the competition. MP145 has superior control and is nowhere as sharp as the S12/pro and Talos in hybrid mode. It isn’t as dull and lifeless as the SeekReal Dawn and Timeless either. Notes have very good finishing definition but aren’t sharp or too energetic.
Layering and separation are superb with class leading amount of air between instruments.
This is a decent way to induce changes in frequency and I am liking it. It doesn’t feel odd or off with any of the filters but it’s not much different either.
RED FILTER (BASS): The red filter is supposed to be bassy but what we get is a bit more weight behind the lower end notes. The do not gain extension but have better texture and more layers making the whole experience more gripping while the mid range and vocals remains exactly same. We get a bit of changes with the treble though. The lower treble is nearly same but the mid and upper treble are a bit less energetic. The upper treble can feel a bit dark to some but It is plenty good. The do not have tall notes but do not compromise with the transparency or air either.
SILVER FILTER (HIGHS): Now this is the kind of treble presentation we get with the Shuoer S12/pro.
Oh man.. It’s hard to tell the two IEMs apart except the bass. S12 pro is more bassy and more V shaped.
We get exactly same bass and mid range but the treble gains the extra sharpness and notes gain height. These notes are borderline tiring and can be uncomfortable for most of us.
I usually feel the stock filters to be the best but this time around I find the Bass filters to be the best suited for longer listening sessions. The Red filter is calm and relaxed, doesn’t hound, delivers a more contrasty and sonically better experience.
STAGE AND IMAGING:
Few years ago it was criminal to expect a well developed stage at this price but guess what, MP145 has one of the best stage expansion and imaging. Aided by one of the best layering, separation, control and precision, we are treated with one of the airiest presentation. It has well expanded 3D imaging with accurate cue placement. Yes, the notes in the mid range are a bit less tall while the bass and treble notes are taller. Most of the bass and vocals are placed inside the head while some of the mid range and treble notes are projected out of the head. Notes have a more complex presentation with presence both over the head and behind the neck. Instrumental distribution is not the most even but there isn’t much to complaint about either.
In general this stage has superb height, very good width and class leading Z axis depth. Depth is much better than anything else in this price range.
I have tried a lot of planar based IEMs. I have reviewed a wide variety of these. Starting with the 7hz Timeless I have reviewed the S12/pro, Akoustyx S-6 planar only IEMs. I have reviewed a couple of Planar based hybrid IEMs too, Dunu Talos and SeekReal Dawn to name them. All these IEMs were either sharp and aggressive or dull and smooth. They weren’t something one can label as “Good for all”. It’s the temperamental nature that most of the consumers were happy with, mostly because there wasn’t a decently balanced option. S12/pro and Talos are V shaped with sharp highs and thin mid range notes while the Timeless and Dawn were unnaturally thick and smooth. Timeless is seriously veiled, the worst of the lot.
MP145 is in the V too. It has a bit of pop to the vocals too but guess what.. We are getting some of the best control and definition from a planar driver IEM. The highs aren’t sharp and sibilant like S12/pro and Talos without compromising with extension or clarity. The only other planar IEM that matches up to the MP145 is the Akoustyx S-6. While the S-6 a bit more balanced with leveled mid range, MP145 has less tall mid range notes.
If I have to recommend two Planar based IEMs, they have to be MP145 and Akoustyx S-6. These two can be easily recommended to anyone and they won’t feel like missing out or being hounded at.
What we usually want from an IEM? Good details, good clarity, engagement and it should not sound harsh or uncomfortable. MP145 has superb details, excellent clarity and much better control over sharpness than S12 pro and Talos.
I have no issues crowning it as the best planar based IEM under $200. It and the Akoustyx S-6 are the two best IEMs in this price, planar or not.
If you enjoy details and a slightly aggressive presentation, MP145 is the best IEM to get.