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Review: HZSound Heart Mirror – Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Mirror mirror on the wall, are the Heart Mirror the fairest of them all?
Mirror mirror on the wall, are the Heart Mirror the fairest of them all?

Spoiler: The Heart Mirror sound as good as they look!

Thank you, KEEPHIFI, for providing the HZSound Heart Mirror review unit.

In Buddhism, the Mirror of the Heart is a metaphor for a pure heart, and is akin to a mirror that can illuminate all things.

As we will read below, the HZSound Heart Mirror are an analytical set that bring great transparency and clarity to the budget CHI-FI table. They actually do illuminate the soul of the music and live up to their name of a Mirror of the Heart.

Mirror mirror on the wall, are the Heart Mirror the fairest of them all?
Bottom Line

The HZSound Heart Mirror are a finely tuned set with superb vocals, timbre, and tonality. A budget single DD set with fast transients and good technicalities. Great sound quality, beautiful shell design, and generous accessories. The HZSound Heart Mirror sound as good as they look. The soundstage is intimate, and the neutral bass is likely a deal-breaker for bassheads or those who listen to music with a lot of bass.

What We Like
  • Beautiful shell and good build
  • Great comfort
  • Fast transients
  • Excellent technicalities for a budget single DD set
  • Uncommon neutral bright tuning; few instances of hot upper mids/lower treble
  • Organic timbral accuracy
  • Good price to performance ratio
  • Generous accessories
What We Don't Like
  • Shells are potential scratch and fingerprint magnets.
  • Bass lite, not for our basshead brethren
  • Average soundstage height/depth
  • Will need amplification to perform optimally
  • Thin note weight

Company Overview

HZSound’s inception was in 2014. The team features engineers who have more than 10 years of experience in the audio field, formerly working for German, Japanese, and American companies.

HZsound launched their first earphone in September 2014 (the HZSound EP001), following up with the HZ3ii, the HZ5, and the HZ5 Pro.

Technical Specifications

Packaging

The Heart Mirror come in a nondescript white box, but the accessories are very generous for the price. I’ve seen plenty of more expensive sets that include stingier accessories!

I really like that the manufacturer pasted a protective sticker on each shell housing to prevent scratches while in transit.
Thankfully, the stuff inside is way more beautiful than the appearance of the external packaging!
Thankfully, the stuff inside is way more beautiful than the appearance of the external packaging!

In the box

  • HZSound Heart Mirror IEM
  • 6 pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
  • 1 pair of foam tips
  • Cable
  • Semi-rigid case
  • Carabiner
  • Shirt clip
Quite a generous array of eartips are included here.
Quite a generous array of eartips are included here.

The white silicone tips are stiffer with a longer nozzle, whereas the black ones are flimsier with a shorter bore. The black colored tips look and feel suspiciously similar to the Final Audio E black tips, except without the grooves on the stem, and indeed they function in a similar way by tightening the bass and taming the treble.

The foam tips tame the treble and provide better isolation, though I am not really a fan of foam tips in general, due to being less durable than silicone tips.

A shirt clip and a carabiner are included too. The shirt clip can be useful to hold down the cable and reduce microphonics.
A shirt clip and a carabiner are included too. The shirt clip can be useful to hold down the cable and reduce microphonics.

Everything is quite usable out of the box.

Cable

The included cable is silver-plated OFC. It has minimal microphonics, does not tangle easily, and is quite good in my opinion.

The included cable has a small embossed letter R on the 2 pin terminal to indicate this is the right side of the cable. Unfortunately, those with poorer vision may have issues identifying the sides.
The included cable has a small embossed letter R on the 2 pin terminal to indicate this is the right side of the cable. Unfortunately, those with poorer vision may have issues identifying the sides.

Case

The included case, while not the best looking, is very functional. It is made of a cloth material and has an internal webbing to hold accessories.

The semi rigid case is quite hardy, and will be a good case to bring the Heart Mirror out for a spin.
The semi rigid case is quite hardy, and will be a good case to bring the Heart Mirror out for a spin.

Design

The Heart Mirror have beautiful metal shells with a mirror-like finish, as per their namesake. HZSound says each shell is die-casted and cut from a high-precision surface mold. Each housing is then electroplated and polished by skilled workers.

Achtung! The shells are a looker, but they may be a potential scratch or finger-print magnet!
Achtung! The shells are a looker, but they may be a potential scratch or finger-print magnet!
Sound is of paramount importance, rather than looks. I have had my fair share of pretty looking IEMs with less than stellar sound. I consider it a bonus when the IEMs sound as great as they look, and I am glad to report that this is the case for the Heart Mirror.
I like that this set features 2-pin connectors, as I have had my fair share of MMCX mishaps with frequent cable changes.
I like that this set features 2-pin connectors, as I have had my fair share of MMCX mishaps with frequent cable changes.

Isolation on the HZSound Heart Mirror is about average, as per most vented DD sets. In terms of absolute passive isolation, the Heart Mirror won’t beat some pure BA unvented sets, but they should be adequate for outdoor usage.

Comfort

The Heart Mirror are very ergonomic and comfortable. Despite the metal build, they are very light and do not apply much pressure or weight on the ear.

I didn’t experience any driver flex, but driver flex is partially dependent on ear anatomy and the types of tips used, so it is a YMMV situation.

Internals

The Heart Mirror contain 10mm carbon diaphragm dynamic drivers.

This set is drivable from lower-powered sources, but they scale well with amping, in terms of dynamics, details, and soundstage. On a weak source, the Heart Mirror sound merely meh, and you are doing the sound an injustice if you are not giving the Heart Mirror adequate juice.

When not amplified, other similarly priced competitors can sound better than the Heart Mirror.

Since the Heart Mirror feature a thinner note weight, my personal preference is to pair them with a warmer source, to give some meat on the bones, so to speak.

HZSound Heart Mirror Sound

In terms of tonality, the final Heart Mirror are a neutral-bright set. This is rather unique in the sea of harman and V-shaped sets in the budget segment. Technicalities are good for a lower-priced single DD set, and the Heart Mirror’s driver really excels at transients. Clarity, instrument separation, imaging, and micro-details are very good on these IEMs.

As per their namesake, the Heart Mirror feature an analytical, transparent, and clear signature – a mirror to the soul of the music!

In general, multi BA/hybrids at a similar price point may still be better for technicalities, but some of these budget multi BA sets suffer from timbral, cross-over, or coherency issues. Timbral accuracy for vocals and acoustic instruments is excellent on the Heart Mirror. The forward upper mids makes this set very good for vocal lovers.

I liked that this set could keep up with complex music passages despite not possessing multiple drivers.
I liked that this set could keep up with complex music passages despite not possessing multiple drivers.

Unfortunately, the HZSound Heart Mirror’s soundstage isn’t the best, with the soundstage being deep but only about average in width and height when not amped. Thankfully, the soundstage improves with amplification. Different aftermarket eartips may also help to some extent for the soundstage, so do try tiprolling.

Bass

Bass on the Heart Mirror is neutral and descends linearly from the mid-bass to the sub-bass. Sub-bass extension is good, especially when amplification is used, but this is tip dependent to some extent too. The mid-bass area does lack punch in bass-forward music. This is evident in EDM or hip hop, and I do not recommend the Heart Mirror for these genres.

Bassheads may find the bass quantity anemic on this set, but the bass quality is (thankfully) good. Bass is textured and fast, with no mid-bass bleed. The driver on the Heart Mirror takes to bass EQ very well, without much distortion, so it is no biggie for our basshead brethren to boost the bass, if needed.

Pick your poison: bass quality or quantity? The Heart Mirror go for the former.

Midrange

The lower midrange continues on from the neutral bass response, with the upper mids having a boost to give vocals good clarity. Vocals are a treat on this set; vocal nuances, details and timbre all shine through. The entire midrange is very transparent, in keeping with the namesake, letting one analyze the music for critical listening.

Female vocals are slightly more forward than male vocals, with instruments taking a backseat. There’s a slight 4 kHz dip to balance the upper mids and prevent this set from going into overtly shouty territory.

The HZSound Heart Mirror manage to balance a razor thin edge of getting vocals to be forward in the upper midrange without sounding harsh.

On rare occasions, the upper mids can get shouty with poorly recorded material or when pumping up the volume a lot (Fletcher Munson curve). Upper midrange perception is also dependent on ear anatomy (which influences pinna gain), sources, eartips used, and also hearing health, so this area may also be a YMMV situation.

The Heart Mirror can come across as technical, cold sounding, and analytical due to their neutral/linear bass and boosted upper frequencies. Note weight is also on the thinner side.
Those that want a lusher and thicker signature may need to look elsewhere, but for an analytical and technical set, the Heart Mirror are certainly one for consideration.
Those that want a lusher and thicker signature may need to look elsewhere, but for an analytical and technical set, the Heart Mirror are certainly one for consideration.

Treble

Treble extends moderately well with a relatively good amount of air. The Heart Mirror have plenty of micro-details to suit treble heads.

Personally, I am treble sensitive, and I appreciate that the high end in the Heart Mirror is well-controlled. Cymbals and high hats are not splashy and sibilance is mild.

Comparisons

I compared the Heart Mirror with some other budget single DD sets. Hybrids and pure BA sets were left out of the comparison as the different transducers have their own pros and cons.

So mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

Vs. Tin HIFI T2 Evo

Both the Heart Mirror and the T2 Evo are tuned neutral bright, with linear bass and boosted upper frequencies. The Heart Mirror have better timbral accuracy with less instances of shoutiness in the upper mids and lower treble. Technicalities are also better on the Heart Mirror.

The HZSound Heart Mirror use 2-pin connectors, whereas I had a wonky MMCX connector with my T2 Evo. The Heart Mirror have better isolation and look prettier than the industrial-looking T2 Evo. Accessories are also more generous in the Heart Mirror packaging.

If asked to give a recommendation for a neutral bright budget set, the Heart Mirror is my gold standard, assuming one has an adequately powered amplifier.

The Heart Mirror are more refined than the T2 Evo in almost every department.

Vs. Tin HIFI T2 Plus

The Tin T2 Plus are a well balanced and non-fatiguing U-shaped set and they are the predecessor of the above-mentioned T2 Evo. They have more bass quantity than the Heart Mirror, though the T2 Plus have poorer timbre and technicalities. The T2 Plus have poorer isolation but are easier to drive.

The Heart Mirror’s driver is faster for transients, with the Tin T2 Plus having some lingering cymbal decay during splashes and hits. Upper mids on the T2 Plus aren’t as boosted as on the HZSound Heart Mirror, and coupled with the Tin T2 Plus greater bass quantity, they provide a warmer tonality.

Vs. BLON BL-03

The BLON BL-03 are a harmanish-tuned set with a mid-bass hump, with excellent tonality and timbre. The BLON BL-03 are usually cited as one of the go-to recommendations for the budget segment and some even rate them as giant killers. Personally, I find them a very good set, but they are bottlenecked by technical performance and have a poor fit.

The BLON BL-03 are bassier and more analogue-sounding than the Heart Mirror, with a thicker note weight. The BLON BL-03 have boomy and slow bass, compared to the faster and tighter bass on the Heart Mirror. In the technicalities department, the Heart Mirror are much better, perhaps only ceding soundstage to the BLON BL-03. Fit, isolation, build, and accessories are better on the Heart Mirror as well.

Perhaps they are ‘complementary’ rather than ‘competing’ sets due to their different tunings.

Vs. BLON BL-05s

Compared to the Heart Mirror, the BLON BL-05s are a U-shaped set with more mid-bass quantity. The BL-05s come across as more “fun sounding” and may be more versatile, especially when bass forward music is involved. The Heart Mirror, in contrast, sound more analytical and cold.

Timbre and technicalities are better on the Heart Mirror. Both sets have fast single DD drivers but the Heart Mirror wins in transient response speed. The BLON BL-05s have better isolation and less upper midrange boost than the Heart Mirror and they are generally less fatiguing for longer sessions. Both sets do better with amping, but the Heart Mirror scale much more. Unfortunately, the BLON BL-05s driver distorts with higher volumes/EQ.

The BLON BL-05s come with worse packaging and a hospital green shell, which can be a deal-breaker for some.

Vs. Moondrop SSR

The Moondrop SSR are tuned diffuse-field neutral with an upper midrange boost. While both have very good technical performance for budget single DD sets, when both are powered well, the Moondrop SSR edges the Heart Mirror slightly in clarity, details, and imaging.

Isolation and timbre for acoustic instruments is better on the Heart Mirror. The Moondrop SSR have quite bad sibilance and a thinner note weight. The Moondrop SSR actually sound nice at low volumes, but by pumping up the volume a few dB, the 3 kHz area is very prominent and fatiguing. The Moondrop SSR thus have very polarizing reviews, and some decry them for being shouty.

The Moondrop SSR actually have slightly better technical performance than the HZSound Heart Mirror, but unfortunately they aren’t my cup of tea in terms of tonality.

Where to Buy

Conclusion

Mirror mirror on the wall, are the HZSound Heart Mirror the fairest of them all?

Let’s put it this way. For a budget, neutral-bright, single DD pair of IEMs, the Heart Mirror are now my number one recommendation.

The HZSound Heart Mirror are a very well-tuned set, featuring to-die-for vocals, excellent timbre, and wonderful tonality. They also boast fast transients and good technicalities for a budget single DD set. A beautiful shell design and generous accessories round off a very polished pair of IEMs (no pun intended).

Despite the brighter tuning, there are only rare instances of shoutiness that typically plague the usual upper-midrange boosted contenders at this price range. I’m glad to report that the HZSound Heart Mirror sound as beautiful as they look.

My favourite aspect of the Heart Mirror is a forward upper midrange without veering to shoutiness; this is a very tough line to balance. Vocal lovers will be in for a treat!
My favourite aspect of the Heart Mirror is a forward upper midrange without veering to shoutiness; this is a very tough line to balance. Vocal lovers will be in for a treat!

Unfortunately, the Heart Mirror are not perfect. If I were to nitpick, the soundstage lies on the intimate side, and the neutral bass is likely a deal-breaker for bassheads or when primarily listening to bass forward music.

In the sea of weekly sidegrade releases that feature a V-shaped or harman tuning, the Heart Mirror certainly stand out with a unique neutral bright sound. They absolutely live up to their namesake of the Mirror of the Heart, illuminating the music and bringing something beautiful and different to the CHI-FI buffet table!

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