Current testing methodology is v1.2
7mm Diameter | 17.55mm Total length
Affordable Chi-Fi earphones are consistently entering the market and there seems to be no sign of them ever stopping. One example is the one that we’ll be reviewing today which is the NiceCK X49.
The X49 is a $17 bullet-style earphone from the brand NiceHCK. It has a Balanced Armature driver and a bright, neutral sound signature. Its tuning reminds me of the more famous Moondrop Quarks.
Could this IEM be better? How does it perform? Let’s find out in this review!
Versatile and sleek-looking with a non-detachable issue
The NiceHCK X49 is an affordable bullet-style IEM with a neutral sound signature, retailing for just around $17.
It makes for a great casual performer and because of its muted design, it fits seamlessly with any outfit or use case. And that’s what makes it an excellent beater earphone.
- Driver: 1 Balanced Armature
- Cable: 3.5mm straight plug/ non-detachable
- Frequency: 20-20,000Hz
- Impedance: 22Ω
- Sensitivity: 110±3db
What’s in the Box?
- NiceHCK X49 earphones
- 3 x pairs of silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
- IEM shirt clip
- Velcro strap
- Instruction manual
Stuff I like
- Good dynamics
- Decent soundstage and depth
- Good sound isolation
- Overall great sound for its price
Stuff I like less
- Fit and comfort could be better
- Non-detachable cable
The NiceHCK X49’s packaging is pretty straightforward as it’s basically a white carton box with some graphics on the front and back.
The presentation of the earphones is simple. The accessories include a velcro strap, a shirt clip, and a few pairs of extra silicone ear tips. Besides that, there’s not much going on with the packaging.
In terms of design, the X49 does look good and has a premium feel to it. It’s sleek and well-designed.
The only drawback is that the cable is non-detachable. This means that, in case the cable breaks, you can’t swap it out and you’d have to replace the whole set. It also means that you can’t get upgrade cables.
The NiceHCK X49 has a zinc alloy shell which ensures its durability.
However, its cable design is flawed. It has a rubber-coated cable known to have tangling issues and can be easily damaged by sweat.
And since the X49’s cable is non-detachable, it’s pretty hard to get it repaired or replaced without a help of a luthier, which adds up to the list of its problems.
The included silicone ear tips are of average quality. They get the job done but I’d recommend getting a good pair of flange ear tips for a better overall experience.
Fit and Comfort
The fit of the NiceHCK X49 can be an issue. I had difficulty finding a good fit and seal with the included ear tips so I had to scour through my collection to get a well-fitting one. Flange ear tips helped a lot with how the X49 fits in my ear.
Even with its zinc alloy construction, the X49 is pretty lightweight.
However, the cable isn’t that good and causes discomfort to my ears due to its material. Unlike the silver-plated OFC cables found in most IEMs nowadays, the X49 has a rubber-coated cable which makes it much more prone to tangling, which can eventually damage it.
The cable is also very microphonic, which can sometimes get very annoying as it adds to the discomfort.
Onto the sound, the NiceHCK X49 sounds neutral but it has a slightly brighter tuning than most neutral IEMs.
It leans towards a more energetic rather than aggressive presentation, and while it lacks action on the bass, it makes up for its definition and clarity.
The bass of the NiceHCK X49 is more mid-bass focused with not much sub-bass rumble. The mid-bass has a quick attack and decay. Overall, it’s very thumpy without reaching overwhelming levels, which can bleed through the mids and cause muddiness.
The bass of the X49 is articulate as it has good clarity and definition even on busy tracks. This can be attributed to the bright and neutral sound signature.
Since it doesn’t have a lot of sub-bass rumble, I wouldn’t recommend this to bass heads since it’s lacking in that aspect.
The mids are well-controlled and very detailed. Sometimes, they can be perceived as relaxed in terms of presentation.
What I like about the mids of the NiceHCK X49 is how it reveals details even on the lower register of the mids. Male and female vocals also sound lovely and smooth in presentation, with no weird textures that can be heard.
However, I’ve experienced that the mids can sound congested in busier tracks, which makes it sound a bit cuffed or boxy. For the most part, the mids performed well on the tracks I’ve thrown at it and this greatly impresses me.
The highs of the NiceHCK have a glass-like presentation, and the clarity is excellent. However, once broken by busy tracks and high volumes, they tend to get sharp and allow harsh frequencies to flow in.
Other than that, the treble has some decent extension that allows it to have excellent detail retrieval and organic tonality, which is evident in the cymbal splashes and wind instruments.
I’ve tested the NiceHCK X49 on different genres of music to get a proper understanding of how they sound and here are my findings.
- Metal / Rock – This IEM worked great on genres with more traditional instruments. The high-gain guitars were well-kept without sounding piercing or harsh to the ears. The vocals were positioned in front, making them pop more than the other elements in the tracks. The drums were still energetic, even for a neutral tuning. Tracks used: I Don’t Love You (My Chemical Romance), All The Small Things (Blink 182), Ignorance (Paramore), Cold (Korn), Cliffs of Dover (Eric Johnson)
- Pop – The vocals were again positioned before the whole mix and presented with outstanding clarity and detail. The instruments had a good texture and depth, and the rhythmic grooves didn’t disappoint. The NiceHCK X49 managed to handle most of the tracks I’ve thrown at it for this genre, with some having congestion issues on busier tracks. Tracks used: Snooze (SZA), Neverita (Bad Bunny), Yours (Maye)
- Hip-hop – Although the X49 is a bit lacking in the low-end presentation for the tracks, it managed to keep the energetic character of the tracks I’ve used for this genre. However, there were times when the tracks sounded a bit bland and flat. Tracks used: LOVE. (Kendrick Lamar, Zacari), sdp interlude (Travis Scott), I Wonder (Kanye West), Superhero (Metro Boomin & Future)
- R&B / Soul – Listening to tracks in this genre was a treat. The vocals had excellent resolution and blended well with the different instruments in the mix, even though they were positioned pretty forward. Sound isolation and sound imaging were excellent, presenting the depth and articulation of the different elements of the mix. Tracks used: LA FAMA (Rosalia, The Weeknd), Blessed (Daniel Ceasar), Moonlight (Kali Uchis), Traingazing (Sam Wills ft. Honey Mooncie)
The NicheHCK X49 has an organic tonality and presentation end even though they can get pretty bright, the essence of its neutral tuning remains intact.
It has excellent tuning for its price, which is a rarity nowadays, especially at the sub-$20 price point. One thing that comes close to the X49’s tuning and performance is the Moondrop Quarks. They even share the same issue of having a bad cable.
Besides the aforementioned cable and comfort issue, the NiceHCK X49 is a solid budget option for a bullet-style IEM with neutral tuning.
A man of many interests, Querho is passionate about discovering new things that stimulate the mind. When he is not writing about the things he is passionate about, Querho can be found making music at his home studio.
This post was last updated on 2023-12-05 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.