Is the Form 1.4, a 10-driver hybrid IEM, enough of an upgrade over the previous model 1.1 to justify the price increase?
The Form 1.4 is the newest IEM from the Chi-Fi manufacturer Shozy, building on the success of the Star, V33 and (of course) the Form 1.1 which came out near the end of 2019. Letting no moss grow, it appears that the quick-to-follow Form 1.4, while heavily based on the 1.1, includes significant revisions and improvements over the original.
The Form 1.1 is a hybrid IEM, featuring (in each earphone) a single Beryllium dynamic driver, for bass and midrange duties, paired with a single balanced armature (BA) driver for the high end. The Form 1.1 is a strikingly attractive and well made resin-bodied IEM. It’s an impressive budget-priced option, loved by many, but with some general complaints regarding its treble reproduction.
The Form 1.4 ups the ante in every way, featuring 4 balanced armature drivers paired with the (same) single Beryllium dynamic driver per earphone. Looks also are similarly elevated with individually unique, imported wood-grain face plates imbedded in the polished resin shell, offering an exquisite gem-like appearance.
Will the addition of more BA drivers help the overall sound? Let’s find out.
- Gorgeous, exquisite build quality.
- Very comfortable and non-fatiguing (sound and ergonomics) for long listening sessions.
- Fun, balanced and deep sound with great bass performance.
- Decent included accessory bundle.
- Not inexpensive.
- Carbon fiber and shiny silver highlights on the cable aren’t as classy as the shells.
- The top end of the sound is a bit thinner than the bottom.
Shozy is another fairly new Chi-Fi IEM manufacturer striving to build a reputation for creating high-quality IEMs, featuring excellent performance for the price. They have about a half dozen products listed on their website, primarily IEMs.
Shozy claims that they were “…founded by an experienced engineering and designing team… researching into acoustic design, circuitry design and material implementations, diligently striving for engineering excellence and accuracy in reproducing high fidelity sound.”
Sounds good to me… on to the Form 1.4!
Form 1.4 Specifications
- Driver: 4 balanced armatures, 1 dynamic driver
- Cavity: Imported medical resin (3D printed) shells
- Faceplate: Imported wood stabilized panel
- Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
- Impedance: 16 Ohm
- Sensitivity: 102 dB
- Technology: 3-way crossover
- Cable: 127 cm, cloth wrapped
- Cable Connectors: 2-pin 0.78 mm, 3.5 mm TRS
Shozy 1.4 Packaging
The packaging is (to be generous) minimalist in appearance. A very light-weight, small, black cardboard box contains the travel case, IEMs, and accessories. Luckily things looked a bit more interesting once inside.
In the Box
The zippered traveling case is quite high quality, featuring a hard shell, mesh pocket, and a subtle logo. Inside you’ll find:
- 3 pairs (S, M, L) grey memory foam ear tips
- 3 pairs (S, M, L) white flanged silicone ear tips
- 3 pairs (S, M, L) black silicone ear tips
This is an entirely decent set of included accessories. I’ve learned to appreciate any IEMs that come with a travel case, as it SO simplifies storage.
It appears that Shozy is reusing the cable created for the Form 1.1 and packaging it again with the Form 1.4, so there is no upgrade to be found here. Luckily, it appears to be a reasonably high-quality cable that functions as it should.
Shozy claims that the “… cloth-covered pure copper cables are specially selected for their exceptional synergy… High-wear components were carefully chosen for durability.”
The cable’s appearance will undoubtedly delight many owners, but this one doesn’t speak to me. The combination of black cloth wrapping, shiny silver-chrome accents, and carbon fiber feels all a bit ‘too much’ aesthetically. I also find it fairly prone to tangling as the individual sleeved cores are twisted around each other from the Y-split to the 3.5 mm plug.
For chin-slider fans, one is included, however, it slides a bit too easily over the fabric wrap to really stay in place.
The rubber-wrapped ear hooks do not include a memory wire but do retain their shape reasonably well. Ends are terminated in standard 0.78 mm, 2-pin metal connectors and a metal and carbon fiber straight 3.5 mm TRS plug. Left and Right are very subtly differentiated by the red plastic surrounding the Right pins while the Left one is clear.
Shozy Form 1.4 Design
For the shape, Shozy slightly enlarged the size of the Form 1.1 shell for the 1.4 but retained the same ergonomic design. The look of the shells is what really makes the Form 1.4 stand out in the crowded IEM market.
The Shozy Form 1.4 is simply beautiful. Strikingly designed and stunningly crafted. The end result is absolutely exquisite.
The hand-polished black resin shines and perfectly blends into the embedded wooden faceplates. Depending on your particular pair (each one is unique), the faceplate may contain more or less brown wood grain. My particular set appears more black than brown and as a result, resembles polished stone, or a gem, more so than wood.
The shells are formed from medical-grade resin and, “…the body is crafted with the latest 3D printing techniques, then protected by a resin topcoat and polished by hand for beauty and durability.” There is a single metal vent port, ridged ear nozzle, and screen per earpiece. All are very high quality in appearance – appreciably better than (admittedly less expensive) KZ IEMs for instance.
As per the name of the Form 1.4, each earphone contains 1 dynamic driver and 4 balanced armature drivers. The BA drivers are manufactured by Shozy for, “…consistent, quality performance that closely matches the target curve.” The dynamic driver is fairly unusual as it is manufactured using Beryllium.
Beryllium Dynamic Driver
Beryllium is a relatively rare chemical element that is, according to Wikipedia, “…usually occurring as a product of the spallation of larger atomic nuclei that have collided with cosmic rays.” Due to its low density, but high rigidity and stability, Beryllium is typically used for aircraft, spacecraft and satellite components as well as for the windows in X-ray equipment.
So why use Beryllium for a dynamic driver?
Shozy touts the following benefits for their Beryllium coated dynamic driver:
Large diameter beryllium coated driver moves air, but keeps attack and decay quick and lifelike with the latest in beryllium technology.
- Light, Fast, Responsive
- Accurate and Low Distortion
- Quick Attack and Greater Detail
- Excellent Strength and Durability
Beryllium is typically not widely used due to the cost of the material. But, it’s been the material of choice for high-end companies such as Master & Dynamic. That we’re seeing it used in fairly inexpensive products, speaks to the unbelievable progress and value that Chi-Fi manufacturers have recently achieved.
“When designing the transducers that play a pivotal role in our headphones and earphones, we want the right combination of weight and stiffness/rigidity”, Thomas Wilson, Director of Product Design, explains.
“Headphones and earphones with a light but stiff diaphragm allow you to reproduce sound more accurately. Essentially, you want it to act like a piston. If it’s not stiff enough, it’s going to flex and distort—and that translates to distortions in sound. And if it’s not light enough, it’s going to have a hard time moving back and forth fast enough to produce the frequencies that we want our headphones and earphones to produce.”
“So the ideal material you use is something that is very light, but also exceptionally rigid. Beryllium checks both those boxes beautifully. It has one of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of all materials.” – Master & Dynamic
The flawlessly smooth and contoured shells result in a very comfortable IEM for long listening sessions. The nozzles and tips are on the small side and they insert fairly deeply into the ear canal. No comfort complaints at all.
Shozy Form 1.4 Sound
The Shozy Form 1.4 are, befitting their appearance, a beautiful sounding pair of IEMs. The Form 1.4 feature slightly boosted and deep bass, reasonably neutral midrange, and a fairly tame, but clear, high end. This clarity is easily perceived, with respectable separation and a slightly above average soundstage for IEMs in this general bracket.
The extended low end yields an impressive sense of depth and weight to the music. Everything I listened to came across as sounding warm, rich and impactful.
While I tested the Form 1.4 with the Chord Mojo, XDuoo XD05 Plus, and desktop Hagerman Tuba amplifier, the bulk of my listening was done this time directly from my iPhone X dongle. Additionally, I found I gravitated to the medium-sized foam ear tips both for comfort and isolation.
Case in point, the Shozy Form 1.4 performs beautifully with the stock Apple iPhone headphone accessory.
Yummy. Power, impact, and control. While I wouldn’t quite say these are entirely a bass-head IEM, they do fit my personal listening preferences well. When the music calls for it, I like a solid foundation powering the song along.
Quite decent sub-bass extension and a dynamic driver’s tendency for slower decay, means that there is a weight and a substance imparted to the low end of the Form 1.4. This is the beauty of hybrid IEMs. Marrying a dynamic driver’s deep bass with the response speed and the clarity of balanced armatures. Done properly, this union yields a balanced but very vibrant character that is addictive to listen to.
The Shozy Form 1.4 is a competent example of how to properly create a hybrid IEM.
The low-end warmth is felt to some extent up into the midrange. Certainly, the Form 1.4 aren’t sterile sounding IEMs, and the midrange seems to do its job admirably, even though it is perhaps a bit eclipsed by the more prominent extremes of the frequency range.
Voices sound natural and thankfully free of that shouty nature that a boosted midrange can fall victim to. Balanced armatures tend to be fast and detailed but can lack depth and impact. This is where a hybrid IEM such as the Form 1.4 relies on the transition from the dynamic driver to the BA to give voices and instruments weight and physicality.
This transition can be choppy, or, (thankfully) as in the case with the Form 1.4, relatively transparent and well implemented. The Form 1.4 still doesn’t have the luscious midrange of a great single driver IEM, but its laidback nature doesn’t do a lot wrong. It’s just not the star of the show.
The primary sound complaints with the original Form 1.1 were with regards to a sibilant, peaky, and thin sounding high-end. It seems that the addition of 3 more BA drivers per earphone to the Form 1.4 helped tame these issues.
While not perfect, the Form 1.4 treble mostly stays polite and away from being shrill. These aren’t detail-monsters and aren’t likely to work for pure treble-heads, but I find the 1.4’s treble to provide an engaging counterpoint to the strong low-end. For instance, I found the Allie X – Super Sunset EP an excellent match to the overall sound signature of the Form 1.4.
If your tastes run towards synthwave, dance-pop or electropop genres, I don’t think the Shozy Form 1.4 will disappoint.
This is such a solid mid-range choice. Build quality is excellent, and the warm bass-rich sound does many things very right.
No, these aren’t end-game IEMs for detail or treble response. Those seeking the sweetest sounding midrange should likely look elsewhere. Nor are they giant-slaying, bargain-basement-priced miracles. Rather they are fairly priced for the performance and build that they offer.
If your musical tastes lean towards bass-heavy genres and you want a subtly elegant (other than that included blingy cable) pair of IEMs, the Shozy Form 1.4 is deserving of being on your list for consideration. The comfort they bring to your ears is outstanding.