The HiFiMAN TWS800 represents the company’s next iteration of their TWS (True-wireless) 600 debut. There has been a lot of innovation centered around TWS and it is nice to see this area grow into the world of audiophilia. As with the TWS600, HiFiMAN have maintained a level head keeping heed of areas of improvement and certainly the TWS800 marks their ambitions unequivocally.
The TWS800 makes use of high-impedance 150 ohm drivers amidst a nifty discreet amping circuit and their own proprietary topology diaphragm. While many TWS monitors do lack an adept bass performance, the internal discreet amplification has been HiFiMAN’s solution to maintaining high-fidelity sound providing power in a miniature form factor. The TWS800 retails at $299 which places it in competition with the well-regarded MW07 Plus from Master & Dynamic.
The TWS800 arrives in a minimalist packaging bearing the in-ear monitors within a foam pad. The white color packaging does provide a change and contrast to their usual all-black finish and suits the silver shell of both the monitors and charging case.
Included within the box are eight pairs of ear tips (with four pairs in multi-flange variations) while the remaining four are single bore. Also included is a soft pouch to carry the monitors as well as a USB charging cable. While the metal charging case is ergonomic and provides six complete charges – there could be improvements such as an LED light on the outer casing akin to the MW07’s. This would enable quicker feedback of the battery life of each monitor. Secondly, it would also enable the user to see the battery of the case itself.
The Design & Build
The TWS800 is relatively sizy compared to other offerings within its category. However, HiFiMAN have managed to shave off considerable weight with each monitor coming in at a mere 6.9 grams. The sleek and flat silver finish complements the all-black shell and the TWS800 already looks like a well accomplished in-ear monitor.
The only gripe here is to do with usability. While it is nice that there is capacitative touch capability, a tactile button would mean the play/pausing tracks would be a lot more intuitive than determining how hard to press the silver faceplate. It was also the case that not all presses of the faceplate registered an action. Hence, if HiFiMAN could incorporate a physical and discreet button to integrate streaming actions – this would no doubt improve overall user performance and ergonomics.
When the monitors are initially taken out of the charging case, a blue LED does light up beneath the faceplate. This is a nice touch which shows that the monitors have reasonable charge while a red LED light shows that the monitors are charging within the case.
HiFiMAN and CEO Fang Bian have a special affiliation with nano-coating and the TWS800 is no exception to this rule. Understandably so, as the results are often incredible with sound that is responsive and detailed. The ‘Topology Diaphragm’ included within the TWS800 features the nano particle coating applied on its surface in a unique geometry pattern. The Bluetooth module directly inputs into the inbuilt amp module which in turn get fed back to the internal 150-ohm drivers. It is interesting to see such a high-impedance alloy voice coil employed within a TWS but the amplifier module more than compensates.
With regards to other certification, the TWS800 is IPX water and dust resistant. It also supports Bluetooth 5.0 but unfortunately does not support other notable codecs such as aptX and LDAC.
Comfort & Isolation
Despite the larger housings, the TWS800 are suitably comfortable for prolonged listening. This is helped by the smooth contouring of the shells which rests nicely against the conchae of the ears. The added double flanged tips adds another level of stability which matches the winged ear tips of the MW07 Plus.
Isolation levels are beyond average, especially when using the double flanged ear tips. While there is no active noise cancellation, HiFiMAN claim at least 23 dB of passive noise-cancelling technology which does come in handy in the commute settings.
The HiFiMAN TWS800 are a certainly refreshing take on the TWS category of in-ear monitors with a rich, slightly lush and natural sound which takes advantages of mid-forward presence for an agreeable tuning.
The HiFiMAN TWS800 impresses with its bass performance – and not just for a TWS monitor. Immediately, the signature leans towards the natural spectrum with a robust bass which is rich enough to not be prone to bloat while also being capable of handling nuances. The note size itself is larger than average and avoids spilling into lower midrange frequencies. Compared to the MW07, the TWS800 has a more detailed low-end with sub-bass that curtails neatly onto mid-bass territories. Of the two, the MW07 Plus sounds warmer while the TWS800 is more resolute and maintains a touch more organic character.
Fang Bian has really nailed the timbre of the TWS800 – a natural and likeable sound which is not the last word in hyper-resolution but maintains a wonderful balance of musicality and detailing. This is aided by the slight up-tick in the lower midrange frequencies which are presented as mid-forward while the pull-back of the upper midrange prevents the monitors from ever coming across as brash or ‘shouty’. The obvious drawback here would be that some may miss the brilliance within the upper midrange focus. However, the TWS800 is not tuned towards a ‘bright’ sound but rather the natural side of things. The overall sound is quite spacious with an above average width – this is an area I have found TWS lacking in general but HiFiMAN have clearly paid attention to this.
The higher frequencies lie in accordance with the rest of the frequency spectrum making up for an inoffensive, smooth and yet detailed listen. There is a perceivable slight roll-off which makes the TWS800 fall short of more airy and extended monitors. The upside here is that tracks are not fatiguing or piercing. HiFiMAN have taken a different approach to the tuning here compared to the full-sized wireless HiFiMAN Deva headphones with the sonic emphasis being a more natural and slightly lush sound.
The TWS800 offers around 4.5 hours of playback while the charging case gives close to 6 full charges. Compared to the original MW07, this is an improvement but falls short of staggering 10 hours provided by the MW07 Plus. Perhaps the amplification circuitry accounts for the playback difference and it certainly is an area of improvement for any future revisions.
The MW07 Plus is the most natural competitor to the TWS800 with both weighing in at the same price tag and both targeting the audiophile market share. It is impressive to see how far TWS have come in such a short timeframe. The TWS800 offers one of the best in-class sound within its category while the MW07 Plus boasts second-to-none functionality and all-rounded performance.
Overall, the TWS800 has larger soundstage dimensions with more width as well as an overall larger note size. The MW07 leans more towards a gentle v-shaped sound whereas the TWS800 capitalizes on a more natural mid-forward sound. This is supported with the MW07’s emphasis in the upper midrange whereas the TWS800 shows some restraint in this region.
The Soundstage & Imaging
As mentioned, the TWS800 offers beyond average projection of sound in the elements of width and depth. It by no means has the best instrument separation owing to the overall larger note size but tracks do sound relatively spacious with an excellent center-staging.
No doubt, the HiFiMAN TWS800 are an excellent addition to the growing TWS marketplace. It offers the best in-class sound for a wireless monitor with a strong, natural and slightly lush sound versed in responsiveness and detail. However, while HiFiMAN have certainly delivered on the sonic aspects there are other elements which could be improved – most notably functionality. The integration of tactile buttons, a more refined charging case and the inclusion of higher codec support would be welcomed additions in an already capable product. For sonic performance alone, the TWS800 are a strong contender which outcompetes many wired offerings – hence it provides a good alternative for those seeking high-fidelity sound on the move.
HiFiMAN TWS800 Specifications
- Driver: Topology Diaphragm Dynamic
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 5.0
- Available Codecs: SBC, AAC
- Water Resistance: IPX4 (Sweatproof)
- Single Earphone Weight: 6.9g
- Playtime: 4.5 + Approx. 30 Hours via Case
- Charging Time (earphones): 1 Hour
- Charging time (charging case): 2 Hours
- Standby Time: 140 Hours
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