Today we’re checking out the HEX02, a very competent single dynamic based earphone from newcomers to the scene, Hypersense.
I don’t really know much about this brand other than they are still building their website (www.hypersense.cn) and look to have a second product in the works, the HEX01. Like TinAudio, it seems they released their mid-range model first, and are building the brand around that. It worked for TinAudio with the T2, and I think it could work for Hypersense given the quality on offer from the HEX02.
Coming in under 30 USD, Hypersense has dropped the HEX02 into a very competitive and congested market, one where sub-par offerings tend to disappear before they even get going. I think it is plenty competitive, and one of the stronger offering to cross my plate. Let’s take a closer look.
A big thanks to Chi at Penon Audio for arranging and sending over a complimentary sample of the Hypersense HEX02. All thoughts and opinions within this review are my own and are not representative of Penon, Hypersense, or any other entity. There was no financial incentive provided to give this a positive review or otherwise.
At the time of this review, the HEX02 could be picked up for 25 USD: https://penonaudio.com/hypersense-hex02.html
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer unique examples of signatures I enjoy.
Packaging and Accessories:
The HEX02 arrives in compact square box with a pleasing black and blue color scheme. On the front you have a wireframe image of the rear of the earpiece along with the usual branding and model information. Flipping to the back is a list of specifications and some info about who makes sese; LinDo Technology Co. Ltd out of Songshan Lake, Dongguan, China. Inside is piece of cardboard with a circular cutout showing off the earpieces and the included ear tips set within a circular foam insert. Underneath that is the soft carrying pouch and ear guides slipped within yet another cardboard holder. In all you get;
- HEX02 earphones
- Carrying pouch
- Flexible ear guides
- Single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
For such a slender box, it’s a surprisingly layered and interesting unboxing experience. Quite satisfying actually.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The HEX02’s design seems inspired by the old Dunu Trident with a flared rear end and taper leading into the nozzles. It is well crafted using stainless steel for the housings, y-split, and compact straight jack. The rear of the housing also has a plastic or glass insert which contains the Hypersense logo in black and blue and looks pretty cool. Surrounding the ear pieces is a ring of rubbery, flexible plastic that doubles as a very effective strain relief. Strain relief leading into the bottom of the y-split and jack is handled by small rubber extensions that reach a few millimeters up the cable. They seem to do a good job of supporting the cable when bent. The inline mic module is free of strain relief. That isn’t ideal, but it is common for the price range. Also common is the relatively uninspired plastic which doesn’t feel particularly durable. At least the buttons are very well distinguished with the central button being significantly recessed, yet still easy to press. They give off a satisfyingly tactile “k-chunk” when pressed. It’s a nice controller to use. The copper cable uses a TPE rubber sheath with Kevlar fibre reinforcement inside, and I really like it. It doesn’t transmit a ton noise when rubbing against clothes, it’s remarkably memory resistant, and despite being a little grippy does a decent job of avoiding tangling too. It’s not particularly thick, but it isn’t thin and delicate either. I gues the only thing going against the HEX02 in terms of build is that there is a hint of driver flex if you insert them too quickly. The ear pieces are vented, but the vents are very, very small and seem not to release pressure quickly enough to counter some mild flex.
The shape of the housings and extended nozzles gives the HEX02 a very universal fit that works well cable up or down. While they’re steel, they’re very light so you don’t have to worry about them tugging at your ears and there aren’t any sharp edges to touch your ear and cause discomfort. Once in place, they feel stable and simply feel good to wear. No complaints regarding comfort and long term wearability.
Isolation is great for a single dynamic. According to some marketing material I’ve seen, Hypersense eqipped the HEX02 with a dual-chamber system to help improve isolation. Front the images on their site (http://www.hypersense.cn/en/index_hex02_en.html#detail) it looks like there is one chamber in front of the driver with a tiny pin hole vent to let pressure out during insertion, and another chamber behind with another pinhole vent to allow the driver to breathe. Whatever they’re done, it works. With foam tips, it isolates nearly as well as a number of my seal single balanced armature earphones. Even with basic silicone tips, typing and the murmur of people nearby is dulled significantly, and cars on the road nearby lightly whoosh by. These have been great for traveling about in busy areas.
The mic on the HEX02 is pretty outstanding. My most successful test was a 15 minute call to my mom with a mix of slow driving through packed traffic and high speed driving on a side road, all with the windows open. She’s used to my tests by now and has no issues telling me to put the window up or switch to a better mic when she’s having trouble hearing me. At the end of the call, I asked how I sounded. “Better than usual” was the reply. When I told her the window was open the whole drive, she was quite shocked. I also tested the HEX02 using it to record some videos and my voice sounded clear, full-bodied, and with no background static or interference. The HEX02 is going up there with the Campfire Audio Comet, JVC HA-FRD60/80, and YHC S600 as one the best of the best I’ve tested.
- Driver: 9mm dynamic with a PET/Ti composite diaphragm
- Sensitivity: ~95dB @1KHz
- Resitance: 32ohms
- Rated Power: 10mW
- Frequency Range: 20-40,000Hz
Tips: The stock tips are decent, but I swapped them out pretty early for KZ “Starlines”. The nozzles are a pretty standard 5mm at their widest, but behind that are much more slender so my usual wide bore staples from JVC and others sat a bit too loosely for comfort. KZ’s tips didn’t alter the sound at all and are more comfortable than the generic stock silicones, so they were used for this review.
Device and Amping: The HEX02 is very easy to drive. I liked it best out of a neutral to brighter device like the Shanling M1, Walnut V2S, or the HiFi E.T. MA8 which gave it a very clean, well-controlled sound. I didn’t get any benefit out of amping, so while I used my TEAC HA-501 for most of my at home music output (sourced by my ASUS FX53V), it definitely wasn’t necessary.
The HEX02 has a very popular tune common among the budget earphone scene; mildly boosted bass with a dip through the lower mids that raise as you head into the upper mids, topping off with a treble spike in the 7k region to add some spice. Where the HEX02 succeeds compared to similarly tuned products is in how this tune is presented.
Treble is tight and precise with no distracting looseness or splashiness. It is nicely weighted and doesn’t come across overly lean or so thick that it detracts from the overall clarity. The spike adds some airness that helps with separation and clarity which are handled well. It’s not as impressive as some budget hybrids like the ZSA from KZ, but far more clear than other budget single dynamics like the ColaRad C2 and BGVP MRY6.
The mid-range has some body and warmth to it and does a good job of remaining coherent and prominent. Female vocals come across slightly more emphasized on most tracks and are handled with greater delicacy on intimate tracks. The opening track for Piya Re in particular sounds lovely with the artists slight breathiness captured perfectly. Tracks with both male and female vocals show that the HEX02 can balance these various aspects well, nearly as impressively as the TinAudio T1 and T2 to my ears. On Big Grams’ “Put It On Her”, Sarah Barthel’s lusty voice and Big Boi’s rap compliment each other flawlessly. Add to that the subtle bass line, drumming, and horns playing in the background and the HEX02 shows great capacity for engagement.
Hypersense surprised me with the balance they chose for the HEX02’s low end. Sub-bass is elevated with a fairly even slope downwards leading through the mid- and sub-bass regions. This is evident on Massive Attack’s “I Against I (feat. Mos Def)” and the opening drop of Kavinski’s “Solli”. Texture is good and the HEX02 has some decent kick and punch to it, but it can’t touch the visceral ear-tickler that is the KZ ED15 in these aspect.
The HEX02’s sound stage is one of decent width and depth, not extending much beyond the ears. I found it evenly sized though and with some great separation between instruments that help give the impression of a larger stage than it really is. It’s quite layered as well for a single dynamic, falling short of only the most recent multi-driver KZ hybrids. The ColaRad C2, BGVP MRY6 and YSP04, Nabolang F910 have a much flatter presentation.
Overall I am pretty darn impressed with the HEX02’s sonic performance. It doesn’t show off the raw clarity and micro-detail of similarly priced hybrids or more treble and mid-focused products, nor the slamming bass of some other models that place more focus on the low end. Where it succeeds is in the balance of it all, coming across refined and mature, detailed yet smooth. It’s a product I would have expected to come from a more established brand expanding into the budget realms, not a newcomer starting off there.
Brainwavz Jive (28.00 USD): The Jive has been a benchmark product in this price range for me for a while now. The HEX02 goes head-to-head with it, and comes out slightly on top, when taking into account my personal preferences. Starting with the low end, the Jive is more punchy but the HEX02 digs deeper with a more visceral sub-bass focus. They are similarly textured. The Jive’s mid-range is slightly recessed but shows more detail. Treble is similarly emphasized with the Jive being brighter. The Jive’s spike is in the 5k region versus the HEX02’s 7k peak which makes sense as to why I perceive the Jive as the more detailed of the two. I find the HEX02 to have a more full-bodied sound overall which to me makes it sound more natural.
In terms of build they are equals. The Jives flawless aluminum shells look and feel great, slotting comfortably into the ear cable up or down, just like the HEX02. Isolation isn’t as good on the Jive though. The cables are similar too. Above the y-split the Jive’s cable is a bit thinner and more flexible, but retains some memory. Below the y-split the Jive’s cable is slightly thicker with a less dense feeling sheath that again, retains some memory. Strain relief on the Jive is better at the y-split and jack, but too stiff leading into the housings to be useful. The HEX02’s ear piece relief is excellent in comparison.
BGVP MRY6 (24.90 USD): The MRY6 has a larger sound stage with greater depth than the HEX02. Imaging is less precise, but sounds have more space to move. It has a thicker presentation top to bottom and as such sounds lightly veiled when a/bing with the Hypersense, particularly in the lower treble and mid-range where detail and clarity are also behind the HEX02. Bass on the MRY6 is bigger and more viscera with some additional texture, though there is some extra mid-bass that add some bloat not present on the HEX02. Treble on the HEX02 is slightly more elevated with greater control. The MRY6’s treble has a dull sheen to it that takes the shimmer out of cymbals.
In terms of build, the MRY6 is hard to beat. I’m not a fan of the design for a number of reasons, but the machining quality and materials are flawless. The cable is also stiffer but thicker and more durable than what you get on the HEX02. The HEX02 takes a huge step forward in terms of ergonomics, for me, due to the MRY6’s pudgy housings and short nozzle. Those qualities make finding tips that fit way more of a challenge than it needs to be. The HEX02 isolates much more successfully.
What can I say? The HEX02 is a really nice earphone. It’s got a common sound signature that is proven to be popular, performing at a higher level than most of the competition I’ve tried in the price range. It’s stainless steel housings are nicely crafted with great fit and finish, comfortable, well-isolating, and plug into your device via a behaved, though slightly delicate feeling cable. The inline mic is also amazing, especially for something so inexpensive. The unboxing experience is pretty cool tpp, even if the included accessories aren’t anything special, nor particularly plentiful.
I really have no complaints with this one and am excited to see what Hypersense comes up with next. Hopefully the HEX02 isn’t their only success.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – Skelethon (Album)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (Album)
Elton John – Yellow Golden Brick Road (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Converting Vegetarians (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bone) (Album)