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Hippo 10EB

Hippo 10EB 400x300.jpg
Reviewed Mar 2012

Details: Short-lived half-in-ear model from Hippo
Current Price: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $70)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 110 dB | Freq: 20-23k Hz | Cable: 4.3′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down

Accessories (2.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes), shirt clip, and soft carrying pouch
Build Quality (4.5/5) – Well-made plastic-and-metal housings, supple strain reliefs, a smooth and flexible cable, and heavy-duty 3.5mm L-plug all make the 10 an impressively well-constructed monitor
Isolation (2.5/5) – Not bad for a shallow-fit IEM
Microphonics (2.5/5) – Quite bothersome and difficult to avoid with over-the-ear wear
Comfort (4/5) – Half-in-ear design with a shallow fit makes the 10 very comfortable

Sound (7.3/10) – The Hippo 10EB is a very well-balanced earphone with a neutral tonality and impressive resolution. The low end has decent depth and no discernable mid-bass lift. It is quick and punchy – low on body but high on resolution and detail. The mids are in balance with the low end and again offer great clarity and detail at the expense of a bit of note thickness. Those looking for a full, warm sound definitely won’t find it with the 10EBs. The response is rather flat overall and the tone is neutral or even slightly on the cool side. There is a small amount of treble sparkle but nothing like what a Brainwavz Beta produces. The top end is smooth and extended – perfectly pleasant for a mid-level dynamic.

The soundstage has good air and conveys a sense of space well. Instruments are well-separated and clearly distinguishable. However, the presentation is much wider than it is deep, resulting in minimal layering and rather poor imaging. The 10EB does not fare well at portraying intimacy and doesn’t offer much of a center image – a common theme with many half in-ear designs I’ve tried. Its presentation is laid-back and distancing. Worth noting also is that the specs can be a bit misleading – though it doesn’t need to be amped, the Hippo 10EB is not a particularly sensitive earphone and requires several volume notches above most similarly-priced sets to reach listening volume.

Value (7/10) – The Hippo 10EB is a solid mid-level monitor with a flat sound profile and a wide, airy presentation. Its low note thickness and cooler tonality mean that accuracy is emphasized over musicality and the heavy-duty build indicates a studio application. The only real complaint is that the ergonomic shells can make over-the-ear wear tough, which in turns leads to problems mitigating cord contact noise.

Pros: Well-built and comfortable; clean and balanced sound
Cons: High microphonics; difficult to wear cord-up





Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.


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