Cons: Vocals are slightly recessed
Highs can be sharp on the most challenging song
Up for review today is the price/performance champ – the TRUTHEAR HEXA. I fondly refer to these as the Mini-Monarchs because they sound similar, but at less than 1/10th the price of the Thieaudio Monarch Mk2 (MMk2.) TRUTHEAR is a relatively new Chinese company, and this is currently their flagship IEM (I think they’ll release a new flagship this year.) They have already done a collaboration headphone with Crinacle called the ZERO and they just released a $18 pair as well called the HOLA. The HEXA is a hybrid IEM with 1DD+3BA Hybrid Drivers. The drivers are composite, and the impedance/sensitivity are: 20.5Ω±15% ([USER=565708]@1kHz[/USER])/ 120dB/Vrms ([USER=565708]@1kHz[/USER].) The packaging comes with a Moondrop-style waifu if that’s your thing, a decent 4-strand cable, and 7 ear tips: Ear-tips 3pairs (S, M, L) (Thick Diameter) / Ear-tips * 3pairs (S, M, L) (Thin Diameter) / Foam Ear-tips * 1pair (M.) The nice thing about these is there is almost guaranteed to be a tip that fits everyone. Oh, I almost forgot, they’re only $80 – yeah, halfway to the Monarch Mk2 for $80 – wow.
The build quality on the HEXA is excellent, but the looks are plain. They’re not trying to impress anyone with the looks or style – get the ZERO if you want a good-looking IEM from TRUTHEAR. That said, they appear to be very durable, don’t pick up fingerprints, don’t’ scratch easily, have a metal faceplate and plastic body, some great ear tips, and are very light and small. These should fit everyone’s ears pretty easily and comfortably.
The cable is a thin 4-pin and I think it’s one of the nicer stock cables I’ve used in a while (not quite as cool as the RAPTGO Hook X (Hook) cable, but that one was green and cost 3x as much.) The ear hooks work well, the 2-pin is nice and recessed in the shells and the cable hangs with almost no tangle or stiffness. The cable is also only slightly microphonic. If you want an upgrade though, the Kinera Leyding is a great modular cable option (though it costs almost as much as the HEXA.) Anyway, there are no real quality or comfort concerns with these headphones.
Let’s be honest, this is why you’re reading this review – you’ve head the HEXA is the new IEM giantkiller. You heard right, they’re fantastic and I actually returned my Hook X and Symphonium Meteor (Meteor) after getting these. I am running these off of my Shanling M3 Ultra DAP (M3U) and my Burson Conductor 3X Performance (3XP.) The HEXA is relatively easy to drive (30/100 on the M3U, 68/100 3XP with low gian,) and certainly easier to drive than the MMk2. Below is the Freq graph from TRUTHEAR, and it looks like some really solid tuning. I have the red ear tips on my pair for testing.
I don’t like breaking down headphones by each frequency since every song has Bass, Mids, and highs. So, I will start with bass-heavy songs, and break down each song by how all the pieces are presented. You can find my Tidal test tracks playlist in my signature if you want to compare them to your headphones. The first bass-heavy song I am going to open with is Pendulum’s “Witchcraft.” The opening vocals and guitars come in clearly and with no issues, though the vocals and mids feel further away than the MMk2’s excellent mids – these are clearer and smoother than the bass-heavy Hooks. The bass comes in at 0:44 with good detail and impact, but not at the Hook or Meteor’s levels (it has a little more presence than the MMK2.) 1:06 really shows off the thump and sub-bass that the HEXA can put out, it’s a quick and detailed bass response with good quantity that doesn’t drown out the mids or highs (the MMk2 has better sub-bass detail and quantity.) The synths in the song are well presented and come in clean and clear as well – it beats the Hook, but not the Meteor or the MMk2.
Moving on to the next bass-heavy song, we have Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.” The synths come in during the intro with great detail on the HEXA and you can hear the hi-hats in the background clearly – it’s a great mids and highs representation. When the drums and sub-synth come in at 0:13 and 0:40, there is a great amount of detailed bass and sub-bass with excellent reverberation you can really feel. It doesn’t, and never will have the bass response that the Hook and Meteor have in these song, but it has good, if a little distant, mids and highs as presented by the vocals and synths in the song. The MMk2 has closer/cleaner mids, less overall bass quantity with the drums, but a higher quality sub-bass reverberation – you can really feel it in your head when it kicks in.
For the mids, I’ve picked Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive” and the drums at 0:27 hit HARD, but don’t drown out the vocals or the background guitar (which was the point of this test song.) The bass is cleaner with the drums on the MMk2 during the intro. The chorus at 0:55 has a lot of distortion and it can get a little muddy with the HEXA. It’s definitely not the best song for these headphones in the mids, but the high vocals come in clear and without and sibilance. The MMk2 excels in this song as it doesn’t get distorted/bloated/drowned out like the HEXA does. This is a great example of the difference between the two IEMs – the MMk2 has a cleaner, less bloated presentation, though it is missing just a tad bit of the HEXAs bass quantity.
The next mids test song is designed to test the vocals and guitars. The HEXA performs beautifully during the intro guitars of Weaving The Fate’s (WTF – haha) “The Fall.” The electric guitars are excellently represented, though the vocals still feel a bit recessed. Nonetheless, they come though clearly and strong and the guitars are almost perfect (they lack a little oomph at 2:36.) The drums don’t overwhelm the HEXA at all – this is the genre these were really made for. Yeah, the MMk2 excels even more here with the oomh the HEXA is missing on the guitars and more forward sounding vocals. The MMk2 is the best mids IEM I’ve ever heard, so that’s not surprising. Still, the HEXA performs admirably against the kilobuck giant – and tbh, the full-size XTC-O is still better in this section than both.
The first highs test song is Mr. Mister’s “Kyrie,” and the performance between the two headphones in the intro is almost identical. The vocals are clean and clean and don’t feel pushed back on the HEXA. The bass in the background does come in a little strong, but it’s not a problem as it doesn’t overwhelm the mids/highs. I absolutely love how these IEMs have no sibilance in the highs during a song that is mostly highs, even at 2:50. This is definitely the song these are made for – it’s awesome. The MMk2s have even better vocals and it feels like you’re standing next to the singer while the drums have an amazing stage presence – the MMk2 is in its element. Still the HEXA performs well with this song, but not MMk2 well.
The last song to test highs today is Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes” because I recently discovered that this has some of the most painful highs on the wrong system. The HEXA performs well, though there is some sharp sibilance throughout the song – the same sibilance I discovered while listening to the full-size Sony MDR-Z1R. The HEXA does better than the TOTL Sony with the highs, but it’s still a bit rough. The mids and lows in this song sound great though and the soundstage is excellent – vocals come in clean and clear in the middle registry with no issues there. The MMk2 flexes in the song – it somehow avoid the sibilant highs that a lot of headphones can fall prey to in this song. That’s just brilliant tuning – it’s what makes these $1k and not $80, but to be clear, the $1500 MEST Mk2 and the $1800 Sony MDR-Z1R had the same issue as the HEXA.
Got it, the MMk2 is a better headphone as expected and it costs a lot more, but how does the HEXA compare to other headphones? I really liked the Meteor, other than the painfully strong bass, but the HEXA were comparable in the mids and high without the painful bass for less than 1/6th the price. The Hook also had painfull strong bass, decent mids, and sharp highs. I picked the HEXA over both of those due to the price and their weaknesses – I like bass, but if it hurts my ears, it’s going back.
If you read anything above, you already know I love the price/performance of the HEXA. Is it fair to compare it to a $1k headphone that has topped a LOT of lists? Yeah, actually – it’s not as good as the Monarch, but I haven’t found anything cheaper than the MMk2 that competes with this yet – it’s better than the Moondrop Dusk 2 that it likely shares DNA with, and I haven’t heard the variation, one of the few things it might compete with. It beats a LOT of headphones more expensive than it – other reviewers agree with me. So, I’m pretty sure you have $80 laying around – or can just eat ramen for a few weeks (spicy beef ramen is the best) – to go get a pair of these off Amazon, mine arrived in 2 weeks. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
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