Shozy Form 1.1: Fun IS Fun

Greetings!

Today we’re checking out the Form 1.1, an affordable hybrid earphone from Shozy.

Last month I reviewed Shozy’s newest mid-range offering, the Form 1.4. At 199.00 USD it is a seriously impressive earphone bringing with it a classy, comfortable design and a hybrid driver setup that is bassy without sacrificing the midrange or treble quality or quantity. It has a wonderful sound stage, is strong in terms of its technical ability, and it has good timbre and tonality. To my ears, it makes for one of the most entertaining listens I’ve heard in a while. The Form 1.1 is clearly cut from the same cloth, which makes sense since it was the 1.1s cloth from which the 1.4 was sliced.

Where the Form 1.4 contains five drivers (1 dynamic, 4 armatures, hence 1.4) the Form 1.1 contains two, an armature and a dynamic with beryllium-coated diaphragms. While the 1.1’s shells are a bit small they retain the premium trimmings of the more expensive 1.4; a hand-crafted resin finish, metal nozzles, flush 2-pin ports, and metal surrounds for the vents on the rear. Based on looks alone, this earphone could probably sell for a lot more than the 75 USD asking price without anyone batting an eye. But alas, looks aren’t everything and it has to sound good. It is an earphone after all.

Thankfully, the Form 1.1 sounds fantastic. Let’s check it out in greater detail.

What I Hear The Form 1.1 is similar to the Form 1.4 in that it is unapologetically bassy, but where that earphone tones down the treble giving it a very smooth, warm and mellow sound, the Form 1.1 leaves the upper end prominent resulting in a very perceptively different experience.

I find the treble in the 1.1 well balanced with a slight skew in emphasis towards the lower treble. Upper treble provides a good shimmer and bite to notes without being overly aggressive, presenting with a quick attack and decay that really dials in a sense of urgency to every note. It has a very high energy feel to it, yet it isn’t at all fatiguing unlike other similarly excited earphones. Lower treble is clean and tight and while certainly not a detail monster, clarity remains high and I never got the impression I was missing out on anything. Comparatively, the 1.4 noticeably dials down the upper treble emphasis leaving the entire presentation feeling much warmer and more mid and bass focused, all while managing to retain the air and detail.

Mids out of the Form 1.1 are quite satisfying. While slightly leaner than the Form 1.4, the same natural tonality and timbre is present. Detail is good but nothing you would consider analytic, while clarity is outstanding. Running the 1.1 through some of the same tracks, like Calyx and TeeBee’s “Long Gone”, “Ashes” from Céline Dion, and Alicia Keys’ “Un-thinkable”, I was hearing the same gruffness, power, and emotional fortitude that made each artists’ performance so engaging through the 1.4. The armatures that Shozy have selected and tuned for this latest generation of earphones hit all the right notes when it comes to making something sound accurate, and as a result match up very well with the dynamic driver they are working in tandem with. They really do blend quite seamlessly, at least to my ears.

When it comes to the low end the Form 1.1 delivers a powerhouse performance. Subbass emphasis is dialed down a bit in comparison to the Form 1.4 leaving me missing the extra physical feedback that model provides, but it doesn’t take too much away from the overall presentation. It is still nicely detailed and well textured with grungy notes coming across appropriately dirty sounding, but like the 1.4 not so much as to take away from the smoothness on hand. Technically it is quite satisfying as well. Despite the drivers performance being fairly quick and snappy overall, long, slowly decaying notes linger appropriately and sound quite realistic. Given the midbass emphasis present, on particularly midbassy songs the 1.1 can inch towards sounding somewhat bloats, but given the drivers speed any sense of this fades immediately and I never found it bleeding into the lower mids and hindering the presentation.

Sound stage is where the Form 1.1 is decidedly average, and slightly behind the 1.4. The default vocal positioning of the 1.1 is right at the entrance of the ear canal giving it a somewhat intimate feel. Not quite in the head, but not outside of it either. Unlike the Form 1.4, raising the volume on the 1.1 does not improve things and it remains consistently average. Imaging is quite good with very clean channel-to-channel transitions, while layering and separation is good enough to keep even busy, congested tracks from clustering up and smearing together.

Overall I really enjoy the Form 1.1. Not particularly surprising given my thoughts on the Form 1.4. That said, because of how much everyone was saying the two sounded alike, my initial thoughts on the 1.1 were positive but not mind blowing like they were with the 1.4. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly strong similarities in the mids and bass, but the extra treble the 1.1 has led to a vastly difference experience. While it is something I have a hard time putting my finger on, there is something about the way the Form 1.4 reproduces sound that the Form 1.1 just can’t replicate. Maybe it’s because of all the extra drivers, the slightly larger shell, or something completely different, but something about the presentation of the Form 1.4 is straight up more dynamic and that much more lifelike. That “special something” makes the Form 1.4 clearly superior to me. That said, the 1.1 is still amazing sounding for the price.

Compared To A Peer

FiiO FH1s (69.99 USD): The FH1s is a good sounding set of in ears with an upper midrange that tends to throw its otherwise good balance off kilter. That is quite apparent comparing to the Form 1.1. Treble out of the 1.1 is smoother, leaner, and more controlled but provides less sparkle in the upper ranges. It gives up a little to the FiiO in terms of detail and clarity. The mids are where the 1.1 takes a huge stride forward. The FiiO sounds thin with a tinniness to instruments and especially female vocalists. It’s more detailed and crisp, but at the expense of sounding unnatural and being quite fatiguing. These two earphones take a very different approach to the low end. While extension is excellent on each, the Form 1.1 is much bassier overall with a very meaty midbass. The FiiO takes a much lighter approach to the low end with a better mid/subbass balance that makes the excellent extension more apparent. That said, I don’t really find it any more impressive when it comes to texture and detail, so which you find better will boil down to preferring either the Form 1.1s bigger more extravagant presentation, or the FiiOs more restrained, mature tuning. Soundstage is where the FiiOs lighter, leaner sound gives it a clear advantage. In comparison the Form 1.1 is notably more intimate with vocals being the biggest differentiation, sounding like they’re playing from just inside the ear vs. just outside as heard on the FH1s. Imaging quality on the two is quite comparable, but the FH1s is a bit more competent when it comes to layering and instrument separation thanks to its thinner sound and larger staging.

When it comes to build the FH1s is nicely constructed and looks attractive, but the shell they’re using is pretty common and outside of the unique faceplate, isn’t anything special. The Form 1.1 easily has a more premium air to it. The cable, as expected, is a step down from the outstanding inclusion FiiO packed in with the FH1s. Sure it lacks the visual flair of the 1.1s cable, but it’s not cloth. No kinking, tangle resistant, less noise, it’s not going to fray, etc. Both earphones are equally comfortable and stable in the ear, but I feel the Form 1.1 will be the one that has a more universal fit thanks to it’s smaller size and lower profile.

KB EAR Diamond (79.99 USD): The Form 1.1 has more upper treble presence with similar lower treble emphasis. The Diamond sounds a little more dry though with instruments displaying a softer attack and slower decay. It’s also a step behind in clarity. In the Diamond review I complained about notes sounding almost splashy, something which is again apparent comparing to the 1.1 which has a tighter, cleaner presentation. The 1.1 has more forward mids with a warmer, slightly thicker, more natural tonality. Vocals out of the Diamond, female in particular, have an almost strained quality to them in comparison to the 1.1 which has a more effortless feel to everything. Bass is another area where the 1.1 is a step ahead in my opinion. There is more rumble to low notes and it is more textured through the entire range. The Form 1.1 has a punchier and more prominent midbass presence that fits will in the general tune of the 1.1.

“Wait a second” you might say. “You complained the Diamond was too midbass heavy, yet the Form 1.1 is even more midbassy and that’s okay? What gives?”

It’s all about context. In the context of the way the Diamond is tuned, to my ears the midbass is too prominent and draws too much attention. In the context of the Form 1.1 it is balanced by more forward mids and additional treble, and in itself is simply more appealing sounding to my ears. While the 1.1 doesn’t present with a massive, open soundscape, it’s still the more spacious of the two. The default positioning for vocals is actually closer on the 1.1, but everything else spreads further out behind and provides a greater sense of depth and layering. Neither clusters instruments together on busy tracks thankfully. I’d give the nod to the 1.1 for imaging though since channel-to-channel movement is cleaner and more apparent.

Looking at everything else, both are good looking, well-built products. I think the Shozy looks and feels more premium, but I prefer the durability of an all-metal design like you get with the Diamond. Comfort and isolation are also in the Shozy’s camp as it’s smaller, lighter, and does a better job of filling the ear and keeping unwanted sounds out. The Diamond’s cable is light years more appealing though. No cloth, just a good looking, flexible, durable braided cable that feels like a quality piece in the hand and around the ear.

In The Ear The Form 1.1 features organically shaped, 3D printed earpieces. Where the 1.1’s big brother the Form 1.4 uses imported stabilized wood face plates that are unique to each earphone, the 1.1 imbues the dense resin coat with reflective materials to create a “cosmic” theme. The protective resin coating is polished by hand bringing further personalization and craftsmanship to the project. Despite the big price difference between the 1.1 and 1.4, the 1.1 looks and feels nearly as premium since it features basically the same build quality, but in a smaller shell. It has the same smoothly integrated 2-pin connectors, metal nozzles, and metal vent hole on the rear face of each ear piece.

While the ear pieces are a work of art, the cable is hit and miss. Mostly miss. Let’s start with the good stuff, that being the hardware. The chromed 0.78mm 2-pin plugs look great and sit mostly flush with the body of the earphone. It would be better if they were recessed slightly to add some additional protection against bending, but I’m cool with them as-is. The straight jack feels like a high quality piece with a weighty metal and (faux?) carbon fibre construction. They even laser etched the Shozy brand name onto one of the chrome rings so you won’t have to worry about it rubbing off over time. Strain relief is a little stubby, but the rubber used is soft enough to provide adequate protection. Above the y-split is a small metal bead that functions as a chin cinch. It works well despite the weight. The y-split carries on the chrome/carbon fibre aesthetic and looks fantastic, though there is a complete lack of strain relief. Normally this would be a red flag for longevity, but this is a fabric cable and that brings us to the main negative; this is a fabric cable.

I’m biased against them because my experiences have almost exclusively been negative. The Form 1.1’s cable embodies pretty much everything I dislike about this style of cable, although, below the y-split its actually not terrible. The weave is loose but because of the way a fabric sheath reacts to twisting, feels sturdy and stable. Its not resistant to tangling though. Above the y-split certainly isn’t either. Not only does it tangle with ease, but small kinks develop the moment the cable twists or loops in the wrong direction. You must be very careful when wrapping it up and putting it in the case, and equally cautious when removing it from the case for your next listening session. Do not absentmindedly toss this cable in your pocket unless you want to spend the next 10 days trying to unravel the chaos it will inevitably become. The preformed ear guides are thankfully fine. While they aren’t particularly nice looking, they are flexible and do a decent job keeping the cable behind your ear where it should be. Personally, I recommend ditching this cable immediately. It is not worth the hassle.

When it comes to isolation, I found the Form 1.1 just as impressive as the 1.4. With no sound playing and the stock medium tips installed, the clattering of key strokes is reduced to a slight click, nearby voices muffled, and the roar of passing cars dulled. Bring music into the picture and all that is easily drowned out without the need to increase volume to compensate. With foam tips in place, the Form 1.1 would make a half decent set of ear plugs. Those who frequent the transit system or noisy coffee shops (if they return to normal operation in the near future as we are still in lock down from the Covid-19 pandemic right now) will find the Form 1.1 a welcome companion.

In The Box Shozy seems to take the less is more route with their packaging, and that’s on display here with the Form 1.1. The exterior box is quite compact with elegant, soft colouring and a very high quality image of the 1.1 on the lid. To the left of this image is the model info, a quick blurb telling you a bit about the earphones, notice that it is a hybrid, and mention that the 2-pin connectors were designed and manufactured by Shozy. Flip to the back to find a specification list, a frequency response graph that is lacking any axis information and as such is of limited value. There is also a more in depth description of the hybrid setup advising what frequencies each driver handles, and some additional bullet-points advising other features. Pulling back the magnetic flap and lifting the lid reveals another cardboard box inside emblazoned with the Shozy logo in silver foil. This box is tough to remove without damaging. Inside is the same awesome hexagonal case that comes with the Form 1.4 and all the accessories. In all you get:

  • Shozy Form 1.1 earphones
  • 2-pin 0.78mm fabric shielded cable
  • Fabric coated carrying case
  • Foam tips (s/m/l)
  • Single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
  • Bi-flange silicone tips (s/m/l)

Checking out the case, the grey fabric you find coating this hexagonal beauty seems to be pretty popular right now. A similar aesthetic can be found on the various cases included with the Astrotec S80 and charge case of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless. Not only does it look nice, but functionally it’s useful too. Dirt and grime is well hidden and it provides plenty of grip in the hand. The Shozy logo printed on top will probably peel off over time, but that’s a purely aesthetic change and will not affect functionality.

The included tips are the same as those found with the Shozy & Neo CP, at least in all but colour when looking at the single flange set. Material quality of the silicone tips is outstanding. It is durable and flexible. The large double flange and foam pairs fit me on the CP. While this rings true with the 1.1, you can now rope in the large single flange set thanks to the 1.1’s deeper insertion. It would still be wise for Shozy to include a fourth pair of even larger tips, or even something a little more traditional in shape. Many will find themselves resorting to third party tips out of the box to guarantee a reliable seal. I’d love to see Shozy team up with Final Audio and include their E Type tips which pair well with the 1.1.

Final Thoughts Shozy is on a roll with this Form X.X series of earphones. Not only do they look amazing, but they sound fantastic too. For the price the Form 1.1 is a do-it-all earphone that gives off seriously premium vibes visually, while having a smooth, refined, dynamic sound that goes head-to-head with the best in class. Like with the Form 1.4, the 1.1 is just flat out fun to listen to. It is boisterous and lively with good sparkle up top, a thunderous rumble down low, and a tonally correct midrange that is in no way overshadowed or falls behind. Sure, the cable is not great and the included tips aren’t going to work for everyone, but those are easily rectified issues, if they even end up being issues for you at all.

Overall I cannot recommend the Form 1.1 enough and highly suggest checking it out if in the market for a bassy earphone under 100 USD.

– B9

Disclaimer Thanks to Lillian with Linsoul Audio for arranging a sample of the Form 1.1 for review. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions based on time spent listening to the Form 1.1. They do not represent Shozy, Linsoul, or any other entity. At the time of writing the Form 1.1 retailed for 74.99 USD: https://www.linsoul.com/collections/shozy/products/shozy-form-1-1

Specifications

  • Driver: Beryllium coated dynamic driver + balanced armature
  • Sensitivity: 100dB/mW
  • Impedance: 19ohm @ 1kHz
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Cable: 0.78mm 2-pin

Devices Used For Testing LG Q70, Cozoy Takt C, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501

Some Test Tunes

Supertramp – Crime of the Century

Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid

King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic

King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black

Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma

The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy

Steely Dan – The Royal Scam

Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s