Disclaimer: I purchased the NiceHCK EB2 during a lucky box sale on Aliexpress. I received no discounts beyond the sale price or other incentives for this review. I also purchased the EBX (big brother) from NiceHCK and did receive a discounted rate on it. Thoughts here are my own and not coerced in anyway.
Earbuds had all but faded from memory when awhile back a flurry of new designs reintroduced me to the possibilities of what can be done with an earbud. Models like the FiiO EM3, the VE Monk, and the Edifier H185 all brought new life to the earbud segment and proved that earbuds still had a lot to offer the listening public. Best of all, these were all models that were priced low enough that for the price a lunch you could take them home. The drawback to that is that we cannot expect high end sound with a low end budget. (Hope for sure, but expect?) This reawakening was enough to make me wonder if you put a bit more budget into an earbud, what can you expect. For that reason, I have been listening to several recently released earbuds ranging up to $150.
Today’s subject is the NiceHCK Eb2 which dispenses with some of the high-end features of its bigger siblings and brings the price down into the $35 range (Sometimes less if you catch a good sale as I did).
Unboxing / Packaging:
The EBX ships in a small white cardboard box with a line drawing of the earbuds and the company logo and model name on the front. The reverse of the box has all the pertinent details in english and Chinese. The left side of the box has the indicator for color (silver or black). Opening the box reveals a small black rubberized soft case bearing the NiceHCK logo. All other items are tucked neatly inside the case. Unzipping the case finds the earbuds themselves and a bag of solid and donut foams.
The earpieces are cone shaped with vents on either side of the rear of the cone. The grate is black ceramic with two large slots on the rear face to allow air flow (similar to its larger brother). The first inch of cable is housed inside a metal stem that attaches near the rear of the cone and has a color coded ring to identify right and left. The cable itself is a very thin stranded silver plated wire with chrome plated fixtures to match the earbuds themselves. The coating on the cable is well done as it is neither sticky or tangle prone as some others are. A chin slider is provided above the rectangular splitter block and could be missed at first glance as it blends nearly perfectly with it. at the far end is the standard 3.5 TRS connector also in a matching polished chrome finish with a short but robust strain relief. Personal preference would be for a 90 degree jack here. The EB2 uses a the same single 14.8mm PET dynamic driver rated at 32Ω with a sensitivity listed as either 116 or 106 dB/mW depending on which source is correct.
The EB2, unlike its larger brother, is designed with only tip down wear in mind. The extended metal stems around the cable all but preclude wearing them tip up. For me, the fit is more natural than what I get with the EBX as it sit a bit lower in the ear than the EBX when worn tip down. This is due to the difference in positioning of the cable. On the EB2 it exists near the rear of the housing and drops out of the body of the bud. On it larger sibling the Connector is offset to the front and forces a more shallow fit in my ear. I was able to do a 30 minute jog on the treadmill without jarring these out of my ear without foams installed. I was concerned about this as they are extremely lightweight.
All of my listening notes are done without any foams installed. If you use the EB2 with foams, except some differences between my notes and your listening experience. If you have already read my EBX review, you’ll recognize a few of the comments as they are very similar but not quite exact duplicates.
Bass is very well controlled and proportioned. Sub-bass is light, but present with mid-bass providing 90% of the low end. I think the combination of housing shape, depth of fit, and lack of seal all conspire to minimize sub-bass. Mid-bass is slightly forward of the lower mids and a small amount of bleed into the mids provides some warmth without obscuring too much.
As previously mentioned, the lower mids are slightly recessed and there is perceptible bleed that provides a bit of extra warmth and body to the overall presentation. As we move into the upper-mids the detail level is exceptional and as a result the upper-mids and lower treble sound extremely clear. The combination of really well done upper mids and lower treble make vocals stand out without detracting from the other instruments in the mix.
Lower treble is again well in sync with the mids and gives a nice unified feel to vocals without a lot of differentiation between lower and upper register vocals. As we move up, the upper treble steps back just a bit and while still providing plenty of air and sparkle avoids sounding metallic or strident. Cymbals have a nice crisp sound without coming off as digital in their reproduction which is a tough thing to do. I found no tendency toward sibilance even when intentionally trying to EQ it into the mix.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Soundstage is very good with a bit more width than depth while a sense of height is present as well. Instrument separation is very good and the EB2 had no trouble keeping up with tracks like Blues hand me down that can get muddy if not up to the task. Layering is also equally good when compared to the flagship EBX. the EB2 and its larger brother both show no signs of congestion even with orchestral pieces and imaging is accurate.
vs MrZ. Tomahawk
bass is more controlled on EB2 with less bleed than Tomahawk.
Tomahawk is more forward treble and may be harsh at times.
Layering and imaging are better on EB2 (by a good margin)
vs NiceHCK EBX
build quality and cable are far better on EBX
Eb2 has 95% of the sound quality of the EBX for less than 1/2 the price
Thoughts / Conclusion:
NiceHCK set out to make a flagship earbud in the EBX and then to make the same sound signature affordable to a broader range of people with the EB2. I think they succeeded on both counts. The EBX is certainly on par with other flagship earbuds and the EB2 loses very little of that sound signature to the changes made to lower the price. While I have some concerns about the durability of the EB2 with its non-removable and extremely lightweight cable, I love the fit in my ear and the fact that I can forget I have them in and just listen to the music. I dare say I like the EB2 a bit better than the EBX as it just fits me better. If you have had a desire to try a flagship earbud, the EB2 is an excellent way to try out the breed without spending flagship money to do so. The problem for NiceHCK well may be the toughest competition for their EBX is their EB2, I guess that’s a good problem to have as either way, they sell a great earbud.