disclaimer: Sometime back I reviewed the Hidizs Ms4 and also the AP80 DaP. I own an AP200 as well that I purchased outright so I am fairly well acquainted with the brand. The Ms1 I missed along the way as it was the little brother to the MS4. HifiGo recently offered the Ms1Rainbow for review and reading that it was designed to pair with the AP80, I agreed and figured I’d see how well it paired with that as well as some of my other daps. I have no financial interest in either Hidizs or Hifigo and my review was not compensated other than the earphone itself. If you have an interest in the MS1 Rainbow, more information can be found on Hidizs website. To purchase the Ms1, visit Hifigo.
Unboxing / Packaging:
The Rainbow was in many ways a cost cutting measure and we see that immediately in the packaging. The box is a more simplified design with a lift top with the image of the Rainbow, Hidizs Logo, and model name on the front. Pertinent specifications are on the reverse. Internally, the box is very similar to those of recent Blon offerings with the earpieces tucked in a foam surround in the upper 1/3rd and a compartment below hiding cables, tips, and manuals. Overall, the kit consists of 6 sets of tips, the cable, earpieces, cable tie, carry bag, manual, and warranty card.
Some clarification is needed here. The original MS1 shared similar construction with its big brother the MS4. The Ms1 Rainbow on the other hand shares the internals of the Ms1, but with a polymer shell instead of metal and a reduced price tag to match. When reading about the MS1, be sure to note whether what is being discussed is the Rainbow or the original as otherwise this can get quite confusing. The Rainbow uses a resin shell and is available in yellow (orange), red, pink, blue, purple, black, and transparent with a red face. Regardless of which color you choose, the shell is a 3 part affair in the now standard semi-custom shape. The face and inner shell are resin with a raised bi-pon connector, while the nozzle is polished metal. The nozzle exits the lead edge of the inner shell with a mild upward rake. Inner shells have R and L clearly marked on the inner surface for easy indexing. A single vent is present over the center of the dynamic driver on the inside of the shell and can occasionally be occluded while wearing so some adjusting to prevent blocking the vent may be needed.
The heart of the MS1 Rainbow is a 10.2mm Dynamic driver which hidizs lists as using a patented Macromolecule diaphragm material for more rigidity and less flex. This is the same driver used in the MS4, but there it is paired with BAs where in the MS1 it stands alone. Nominal impedance is listed as 20Ω with a sensitivity of 112dB/mW. This would suggest the MS1 Rainbow is easily driven by a phone or tablet and indeed in my experiencce it works quite well from either of those. The Ms1 does scale some qualitatively with better sources, but is somewhat limited and doesn’t need the additional power provided by those devices to perform. Hidizs says the Rainbow was designed to be paired to the AP80 which is in itself reletively low powered and while it is a step above many phones, it fits in that same overall category. With increased power comes some increased noise as well so an amp may actually be counterproductive in some cases.
The provided cable is listed as 4 core silver coated oxygen free copper with a 2 strand twist from the jack to the splitter and single strands above that point. Fixtures are checkered aluminum for the jack (3.5mm straight style) and splitter with strain reliefs above the jack and below the splitter. a microphone with 3 button remote is provided on the right side cable, the microphone housing is also brushed aluminum but without the checkering of the other fixtures. The north ends terminate in clear housings with pre-formed hooks and . 78mm bi-pin connectors. One can easily be fooled into thinking this is a hooded type connector by the looks, but it is a standard bi-pin connector with a clear housing that imitates the hood commonly seen on some other models today.
The Ms1 Rainbow ships with 3 sets each of two styles of tips on cards for storage when not in use. I really prefer this style as it makes it easy to mark which tips came with each model when storing several. All the tips are a white/translucent silicone with one set having a wide bore and a fairly shallow depth and the other having a narrower bore and a bit taller as well. The shallow/wide version enhances bass while the tall/narrow version provides a bit more balanced signature. I chose the taller/narrow bore tips for the bulk of my listening.
Sub-bass extension is better than expected with roll-off becoming notable in the lower 30Hz range and the driver exhibits good speed which keeps the sub-bass from thickening. I found decay to be slightly slower than attack, but overall both are good and give the sound a touch of warmth and a very natural sound. Sub-bass is elevated with a peak at roughly 60Hz and a slow decline above that point as we move into the mid-bass. Here again, the mid-bass is well controlled and voiced without a lot of slop or mid-bass bleed to speak of and the Ms1 has good slam when called upon without becoming the sole dominating feature of the signature when not desired.
Lower mids rest at the bottom of the V but with a fairly shallow trough are only very mildly recessed and begin to climb again as you move into the true mids. Clarity in the mids is good but the lower mids in particular can sound a bit lean. This is quite often the case in iems that go for clarity over fullness of sound and is certainly not a deal breaker in the budget category, but is worth noting. The push of the upper-mids/lower treble give female vocals more weight and they are a step in front of their lower voiced counterparts as a result. Strings have good energy, but are not quite natural and particularly the lower strings lack a bit in tonality again partially due to the lack of weight in that region of the signature. Conversely, at the upper end, strings can take on a harsh sound as they have a bit too much energy at times.
The lower treble continues the climb of the upper-mids and does become the dominant feature of the Ms1 signature. Lower mids can be a bit forward for my taste and the Ms1 is occasionally prone to sibilance. Once past the lower-treble plateau, the treble drops back quickly with a smaller push near the 11kHz range before a final roll-off in the 13kHz area. Snare rattle is good, but cymbals carry a bit too much energy at times and can come off as slightly metallic sounding as a result. Overall, the Rainbow has good air and a bit of sparkle but that can become sizzle at times and may not be for those who are a bit treble shy.
Soundstage / Imaging:
The Rainbow has a wider than deep stage as is typical of the budget class. Width is good but depth is only average at best which makes seating the orchestra a bit odd as some instruments appear more side to side than front to back as a result. Instrument separation is good, but not outstanding and layering follows that same pattern. As tracks get faster, there is some evidence of compression although it takes a lot to really notice thickening of the lower registers. Imaging is more accurate than precise with placements being easy to recognize and track, but exact positioning being hard to identify.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
The Hidizs Ms1 Rainbow aims to bring the sonics of the MS line down into a more affordable price range without giving up too much in the process. Having listened to the pairing of the Ms4 with the AP200 and now to the Rainbow with the AP80, I can say I think Hidizs succeeded in trying to recreate most of the same signature in that lower budget space. They did give up a little detail and some refinement, particularly at the top end, but when you spend 1/4 as much, you expect there to be a few trade offs in the mix. The Ms1 Rainbow is a good pairing with lower powered devices as the higher powered ones tend to hiss a bit, and is probably best paired with something like the AP80 with its myriad of tuning options that allow the user to dial in exactly the sound they want. For me, I’d pull the upper-mid/lower treble back slightly and add that same amount to the lower-mids. Overall, its a good budget effort from Hidizs and they continue to grow and mature in their tunings. I’ll be interested to see the next generation of products from them. If you have an interest in purchasing the MS1 – see hifigo.com.
- Bass - 7/107/10
- Mids - 6/106/10
- Treble - 6.5/106.5/10
- Soundstage - 5/105/10
- Imaging - 6/106/10
Pros: Good build, driver has good speed with very little bleed, nice cable
Cons: Not for the treble shy, slightly recessed lower mids