Current testing methodology is v1.2
The NiceHCK Traceless is a pair of earphones that come in a flathead design. Retailing for around $8 excluding shipping, they’re a bit pricier compared to the other flathead earphones I’ve tried and reviewed recently.
Maybe it offers something that would make it stand out? We’ll find out in this review, so let’s get to it!
A viable cheap option to start an earbud collection
muddy with its cloth covers installed. They sound okay on low and medium audio levels but I find that they really come to life on higher volumes.
Without a source like a DAC dongle, the Traceless sounds mediocre and generic, and using it off of a phone would prove to be lackluster. They come across as a little underwhelming with the absence of any definitive wow factor that distinguishes them from other earbuds.
With regards to timbre, I was crestfallen with how its tonality was divulged from a musical approach and instead donned a more neutral one without any hint of the former. Take it with a grain of salt though as this distinction is markedly apparent to some ears more than others, so you may not even notice.
Overall, the NiceHCK Traceless is a viable option for starting to get a feel of how many types of earbuds sound and a step to appreciating higher fidelity earbuds.
- Driver: 15.4mm PET Dynamic Driver
- Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Sensitivity: 115dB/mw
- Earphone plug type: 3.5mm/Type C optional
- Cable Length: 1.2m±5cm
What’s in the Box?
- NICEHCK Traceless earphones
- 3 pairs of cloth covers
Stuff I like
- Very affordable
- Comfortable fit with the cloth covers on
- Midrange comes alive at high volumes
- Treble has decent sparkle and sheen
- Good sense of staging
Stuff I like less
- Underwhelming at low volumes
- Light mid-bass impact
- Neutral tonality comes off too sterile
- Sounds murky with the cloth covers installed
The NiceHCK Traceless comes in a simple cardboard box that features a photo of the earphones on the front. Inside the box, you’ll find the earphones in plastic packaging with three pairs of cloth covers.
It comes in numerous color options such as black, white, cyan, blue, and pink, among many others. I opted for the purple one. There’s also a mic and no mic option.
I’ve always loved saturated colorways but somehow flatheads tend to do a one-size-fits-all approach, opting for smoked housing with their shells. With the Traceless, instead of following the conventional route, they opted to have the shells in gloss which to me looks like night and day.
One other thing I liked about the Traceless is that it uses very high-quality cloth covers, making for the most comfortable wearing experiences I’ve had in a while with flatheads. This, however, affects midrange clarity, so for audio-related reasons, I took the thorny path.
Don’t get me wrong, they still sound decent with the covers on but I like the midrange to be as pristine as it can be. Overall, sonically, nothing is popping out and I must say that I’m underwhelmed here.
I do find that using higher audio levels drives the midrange to be pretty capable but with all else, I don’t see any changes. They’re “OK” but I wouldn’t settle for just that, especially with better options on the market.
The build of the NiceHCK Traceless is similar to other flathead earphones. It has that OEM manufacturing going for it but instead of a smoked housing, it has a glossy one. The result is a smoother finish and a nice distinction.
It would’ve been nice if the cable matched the glowing traits of the shell but sadly, we’re given one that’s even worse than the standard OFC silver and braided copper ones we usually see.
Overall, the build quality is nothing to rave about but neither is it something to complain about, considering how much it costs.
Fit and Comfort
The NiceHCK Traceless feels nice and comfortable on the ear, especially for flathead earphones. I wouldn’t have thought there was any hope for being spared wearing fatigue but here I am seriously doubting if some of them actually could.
The cloth covers provide excellent comfort despite looking like generic covers that come with most earphones. They’re an improvement over materials used in stock covers. The shells do become fatiguing without their cloth covers, which I do run for reasons purely audio related as the cloth covers affect the sound.
Isolation is okay and there’s zero spill when the covers are installed. Since I do run them without covers, the cons here are purely self-induced.
The NiceHCK Traceless presents its timbre as analog as possible – and by that, I mean room temperature somewhat erring on the side of lean.
At first, it was disorienting. If it has a more neutral timbre, I would’ve liked to see some benefits to the trade-off.
I was expecting the midrange to carry something of a lean tonality, bringing details and the linear nature of the sound forward. However, the midrange doesn’t sound lean or analytical.
Instead, it sounds distant and frail. I had to raise the volume to about 70% on my DAP and about close to 40% on a dongle ported through my laptop to get the mids on a decent enough level.
The good thing is that the mids do open up nicely when driven by higher volumes. Also, the general timbre works for it.
Modern genres fare nicely but as with testing, the genre is a little bland – the weakest link being the supporting technicalities that fail to spice things up a tad. On tracks like “Orb” by Ichika Nito, I’ve found using 70% volume to still be a little lacking in bringing out the dynamics in the electric guitar, which is disappointing.
It’s a little curious to see metal do well though while new age misses. Tracks like “Unfamiliar” by Currents are carried out beautifully, with the heft and tone of the guitars being portrayed well. The linear nature of the sound isn’t too bad as it can just reflect what you’re listening to.
The downside is that, depending on the track, it can sound boring. The tuning has its ups and downs but at the end of the day, I think the mids and highs are done well. Its overall technicalities make it step a tile backwards but not by a long one.
The sub-bass is automatically a non-participant here as with most flatheads. The mid-bass is a little bit on the light side when it comes to kick and impact. I also find that it lets down some songs that need the extra oomph.
There’s not much else to say except that the mid-bass is a bit of a downer – not the strongest link in the NiceHCK Traceless and probably one of the key reasons why the overall tuning is a little on the subdued side.
The midrange of the NiceHCK Traceless is so-so on low to mid volumes. It’s a bit tricky to tell how much volume you need depending on the source but as far as I know, just keep bumping it up until the the mids are finally satisfactory.
Voices positively sound better spread horizontally when listening to an earbud as opposed to something that’s made out in-depth – which works more for silicone tip IEMs.
On the appropriate volume, the midrange is clear, linear, and natural. Strings are played nicely with good timbre to them. Post Malone’s “Stay” comes to mind, with the acoustic strumming cutting through the rest of the mix and resonating pleasantly with the vocals.
Though raising the volume solves the vacuum that’s the midrange from sounding all sucked out, what it doesn’t account for is the dynamics of the upper midrange. Claps sound compressed and unnatural, coming off as superlative plosives more than sounding like claps themselves.
Other than this, the entirety of the midrange sounds good.
It misses a wee bit of some warm coloration but to a degree that most people wouldn’t even notice. Solely, for what the mids achieve, I think the Traceless is yet to be crossed out of anyone’s list.
I find the treble region of the NiceHCK Traceless to be done very well. There’s nothing special about it but it renders transients to be fast. It also imparts ample sheen and brightness to them.
Treble extension is decent and while there’s air, there isn’t too much of it to call it airy. And I do find that its tidiness and focus on energy are implemented effectively. “Seisyun Complex” by Kessoku Band rings nicely with cymbals and high hats crisp and energetic.
I find that this region is done better than the previous two frequency bands due to its good extension and natural playback of upper harmonics.
The layering and transient response are well-abled. The other technicalities, such as the staging, imaging, instrument separation, resolution, and detail retrieval are somewhat average but they’re not at all bad.
The NiceHCK Traceless is quite capable when it comes to demanding genres like metal and rock where there’s a lot of guitars shredding and a lot going with the instruments. And I find that sufficient to say that it delegates its abilities wisely.
As I mentioned previously, I find that metal and rock do well with the Traceless. Modern genres like pop also do well but I find that the lack of involvement from the bass reduces the enjoyment – unless you’re an absolute neutral head.
Generally, genre synergy isn’t that of a problem with these earphones as you can play anything and get something as it is.
The NiceHCK Traceless is mostly okay. I don’t have it on the top of my head when I think of flathead earphones because honestly, there are a lot of cheapo sets out there that do an incredible job despite their positions in the market.
If you’re just starting to build an earphones collection though, I see no problem with trying the Traceless as your first entry into doing so. This provides you with a nice venue to discover as many kinds of budget earphones as you can before upgrading substantially.
Inevitably, you’ll look back in hindsight and as you’re assessing higher fidelity upgrades, it’ll be a clear indication of improvement and a deeper appreciation for better sound at higher prices.
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 2023-12-02 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.