Current testing methodology is v1.2
About a month ago, I got the Headroom MS18, which is a single dynamic driver IEM. Released in 2018, I’ve read some good reviews about it, which made me want to buy it. I was just lucky enough to get my hands on a pair since it has been discontinued.
Now, I’ll tell you how it performs in this detailed review. Let’s get to it!
One of the nicer sounding earphones that are slowly becoming harder to find
The Headroom MS18 is a pair of earphones you’d pick out if you want to chill – no analyzing or treble blasting of any sort, but just to enjoy your tracks and lay back on your chair. While it does have its quirks like some mild low end bloom on the midrange that slightly affect tonality, the overall signature is fun and engaging.
The only other downside to the MS18 is that it’s becoming harder to find as it has been discontinued. Other sets may fill in the shoes of the MS18 but, in my opinion, the specific sauce you get for its price is very good. If you do manage to find a pair of these earphones, don’t hesitate to throw it in the cart and ride home with it.
- Driver: Sensitivity
- Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Sensitivity: 98-113dB/mw
What’s in the Box?
- Headroom MS18 earphones
- 2 pairs of ear tips
Stuff I like
- Fun and yet competent for the price
- Weighted low end
- Full midrange and extended highs
Stuff I like less
- Mid-bass tends to bloom into the midrange
- Remaining units are hard to find
The Headroom MS18 comes in a slim carton with a small cutout covered by plastic so you get a sneak peek of the earphones. There’s nothing special with the packaging and presentation. Upon opening the box, you’ll find the earphones and a couple of pairs of ear tips.
I tested these earphones side by side with the Raptgo Bridge on an audio splitter and it was, for the most part, surprising. More detail and extension could be perceived on the Bridge but my other ear with the MS18 on it wasn’t that far behind.
This isn’t propaganda saying that Hi-Fi is a hoax or anything but I was really puzzled to hear what I heard from my tests.
It’d be safe to say that the MS18 is fairly resolving and for the price, quite nice. The signature is fun, and I actually found myself cruising through my library. Faults and shortcomings were apparent on critical listening but for casual sessions, they didn’t matter to me as much.
To my ears, the MS18 leans toward a U-shaped tuning. Apart from my small gripes and its obvious limitations, I don’t find anything to be out of place for the price. All in all, the MS18 is just a nice earphone to wear when you feel like chilling to your beats.
The build of the Headroom MS18 is nothing grossly out of proportion with the price.
It has a rigid plastic build with its quality in the middle of a typical JBL T110 and a Tanchjim Tanya. The cable is the same one we have on the MS16, which is good up until the stems of the earphones themselves become thinner.
It has a built-in microphone and some volume rockers, which is always nice to have but what bothers me slightly is the spring mounted at the base of its jack termination. It’s obviously there to protect the joint of the wire from bending but there are better ways to implement this.
Overall, the build is “standard” and poses no major drawbacks.
Fit and Comfort
The fit and comfort of the Headroom MS18 are pretty nice overall. The earphones are lightweight because of their plastic build. The included silicone ear tips are comfortable while sufficiently firm.
I have no qualms with this part of the experience as the MS18 was pretty comfortable and provided me good seal all throughout my listening sessions.
Let’s explore the sound through its frequency spectrum.
The bass of the Headroom MS18 resembles the bass shelves on consumer sets. The sub-bass presence is really good, and you’ll find the extension here deep and rumbly. The mid-bass is on par with this presence as it has good impact and dynamics.
The low end has a somewhat weighty overtone to it as its level blooms right through the lower midrange. However, this can be negligible as some people, including myself, can handle a bit of mud as long as the signature holds up.
The midrange is organic and natural.
The lower midrange is full-sounding albeit even though it has some minor coloration from the low end. Vocal texture and breaths are audible, which is pleasantly surprising. The upper midrange presents instruments and vocals pretty vividly, while having enough presence and drive to make the sound engaging.
Skimming through my library, I’ve found that the midrange of the Headroom MS18 works great with my songs. It also imparts that little something from the low end.
Second-order harmonics, perhaps? The only track that it didn’t do well is Ghost like girlfriend’s “Eram” as the whole song sounded like it had this coarse and grungy veil over it. The vocals sounded subdued and not as punchy.
Overall, there’ll be hits and misses but luckily the majority of my library sounded good on the MS18.
The treble of the Headroom MS18 is well-extended and although it’s not as extended as the Raptgo Bridge on my A/B testing, it may be due to the inherent limitations of its drivers and technology. All in all, the extension is really nice for the price and is decently resolving.
With these earphones, the separation and layering are decent. And while staging is open and natural, it isn’t something that exceeds average.
The overall technicalities are well-done but for a set that goes for less than $10, technical ability is going to be less of a priority than the overall tuning. The technicalities work well in conjunction with the tuning though which is commendable for the price.
The Headroom MS18 is a dying breed and although it’s definitively still Chi-Fi, its signature is inherently that of a fun consumer set. It’s generally an all-rounder but it may not be too suitable for J-pop or orchestra music.
Unfortunately, these earphones have become quite harder to pin down and get a hold of these days as they’ve been discontinued. Although the MS18 is good, I don’t feel like it’s worth the time hunting it down.
It’s a shame that a larger part of the market won’t be able to try the MS18 but to be fair, it has existed long before the Chi-Fi boom. In any case, this is just a case of a product running the course of its production life.
If you’re able to find a pair, do consider buying it as it’s an undeniably engaging earphone. If not though, you’ll have to make do with what the modern market offers, such as the TangZu Princess Chang Le. While it’s more than twice the price, the jump in build quality and sound quality is worth it.
It’s a little sad to see old products disappear but such is life.
Gavin is a college student who has a lot going on. From collecting IEMs and modding mechanical keyboards, to different hobbies like digital drawing, music mastering and cooking. It is safe to say he is a complete multi-faceted geek (and he's kinda cool too)
This post was last updated on 2023-11-28 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.