YHC S600: An earphone that has no right to be this good
Today we are going to be taking a quick and dirty look at the YHC S600, yet another outstanding hyper-budget earphone worthy of consideration.
What the S600 brings to the table is excellent build quality, a great soundstage, and a fun, bass-heavy signature done well all for around 5 USD. It’s stupidly good for the price and gives Knowledge Zenith products a healthy run for their money, especially since it’s even cheaper than many of those budget champs (and better built to boot).
I purchased the S600 on AliExpress from this seller. I’m not affiliated with them in any way nor did I receive a discount for writing this review. The thoughts and opinions within this review are mine and mine alone and do not represent YHC or anyone else.
A Little About Me:
Over the last couple years I decided to dive head first into the world of portable audio. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI’s multi-earphone review thread and being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own reviews. Fast forward a couple years and I’ve had the opportunity to write about some great products for wonderful companies like RHA, Havi, FiiO, NarMoo, Brainwavz, and Meze. I don’t do it for money or free stuff, but because I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to an earphone that makes them happy, I’ll consider that a job well done.
The gear I use for testing is pretty basic composing of an HTC One M8 cellphone, Topping NX1 portable amplifier, and my aging Asus G73 gaming laptop paired with a Plantronics Rig USB amp. An XDuoo X3 (shout out to my cousin Rob!) has recently been added to the crew, and was used for the majority of my testing. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. When it comes to signature preference I tend to lean towards aggressive and energetic, but I try not to limit myself to one signature only. I also tend to listen at lower than average volumes.
Enough preamble. Let us dive into the good stuff shall we?
Packaging and Accessories:
The YHC S600 arrived in a package befitting of such a cheap earphone. To be honest, I was expecting them to arrive in a little plastic bag, so it was a pleasant surprise to see retail packaging included. As you would expect there isn’t much to it. You get a thin cardboard skin with a hyper-cheap plastic insert holding the headphones. It looks like something you would find in a dollar store. But, to it’s credit it covers the important parts; a window to view the earphones and on the rear, specifications.
Accessories are limited to a twist tie and one pair of tips; medium, preinstalled. Yup…
Build, Design, Isolation and Comfort:
You might recognize the housing YHC went with. Yes, it is the same as the one used on Shure’s discontinued E2 model. This is actually why I bought them. I wanted a comfortable housing that could be gutted so I could install a higher quality driver. To my pleasant surprise, a better driver isn’t needed and that’s why this review exists.
This thing is built to a standard far exceeding it’s meager price tag. The plastic chosen for the housing looks attractive with a matte, smoked finish. They also feel very solid and any worry I had of them being weak or brittle was quelled the moment I held them. They also isolate extremely well, enough to frustrate my fiancée more than a couple times while she was trying to get my attention. Sorry babe!
The cable is even better. It’s of average thickness above the y-split and much thicker below. At least on par, if not a touch thicker, than the cable Brainwavz uses with their Jive and XF200 models.There is even some thread wound in there which I suspect would further improve durability. Picture a VSonic VSD2 cable but much, much thicker. It is a little bouncy, but seriously, this cable does not belong on a five dollar product. My new favorite hyper-budget cable? I think so.
Strain relief is non-existent at the straight jack or y-split, but is excellent leading into the housings themselves.
Microphone and Controls:
Normally I group this in with the previous section, unless of course it does something to stand out. Well, the S600 gets it’s own section, so that should tell you where this is going.
Let’s first talk features; volume slider, Android/iDevice switch, microphone, single button control unit. Not bad. The volume slider adjusts with a silky smoothness befitting a more expensive product and unlike some doesn’t throw out balance at low volumes. I don’t have a functioning iDevice at the moment so I couldn’t test the switch beyond making the earphone sound horrendous with Android devices. That’s a good an indication as any that it will work with an iPhone…I guess. The control button worked perfectly with my HTC One M8. I could answer and hang up calls, switch back and forth between tracks with ease, and even access Google voice functions. The only qualms I have are that the button is slightly difficult to locate as it’s slightly above centre in an odd spot. Muscle memory will eventually address that. The device support switch is also hilariously small.
Now for the best part; microphone quality. I recently reviewed the LZ A2S and praised the recording quality of the inline microphone. Well, the S600 performs on a nearly identical level, but with a touch of static in the background where the A2S had none. It’s also a touch quieter, but not so much that you’re hard to hear. Other than that, voices are clear and carry some weight and body. It sounds surprisingly natural.
If you like bassy earphones then read on. If you were hoping for something neutral, you should have read the pros and cons before making it this far. This is an earphone you turn down the seriousness for and just enjoy.
The S600 is unapologetically warm and bassy, bringing forth a similar signature to the Rhapsodio Clipper. As with the Clipper, the S600’s bass is the star of the show. Its impactful and digs deep. Unlike the Clipper, bass on the S600 can be a little loose and boomy, especially with songs that naturally focus on mid-bass but it still somehow manages to mostly leave the midrange alone. How!? At this price this bass is very well done and easily outperforms many other more expensive bass emphasized earphones like the Sony XB50.
The midrange takes a small step back but is wonderfully natural sounding with both male and female vocals. Male vocals do shine a little brighter as female vocals can come across a touch raspy at the upper edges, but it’s hardly noticeable and entirely forgivable. These sound amazing with electronic and classic rock. Just give Hendrix’s ‘Are You Experienced’ a whirl. The guitar work, drums, etc. It all just sounds right. The S600 romp’s through old Skrillex tracks like ‘First of the Year’, ‘Roughneck’, ‘Scatta’, and ‘Devil’s Den’ like the banger’s they are. So much fun!
Even treble is well done. It has just enough presence without being overpowering or harsh, and its clean and tight without the splashiness I notice on many of KZ’s outstanding budget picks. These should be fine for someone who is treble sensitive but doesn’t want a dark earphone.
The S600 has a pretty good soundstage for such an inexpensive product, easily on par with the now infamous KZ ATE if not a little deeper. The ATE has better separation but the S600 does a better job with imaging and placement. Overall detail and clarity is not amazing, but it’s not bad either. Again, it’s at least on par with the ATE, especially in the bass where textures are slightly smeared.
The S600 is very easy to drive and works just fine from any of the cellphones I used them with. That said, amping. Do it. Bass tightens up quite a bit. Soundstage feels more defined around the edges. Unlike the aforementioned A2S, the S600 can actually handle the crazy finishing moments of King Crimson’s Starless and Bible Black without dissolving into a convoluted mess. The spacious, airy soundstage definitely helps with this.
The S600 came out of nowhere and shocked me by being an overachiever in almost every way. Build quality is stellar, the in-line remote and microphone are much better than they have any right to be, and they even bring forth a surprisingly competent and fun sound, though it is one that is very bass heavy.
If you are looking for a new beater earphone to use as a daily driver or for the gym and really, really enjoy electronic music or classic rock, get the S600 and save yourself a ton of cash for something special.
Thanks for reading!