Budget IEMs are always interesting because they always try to do something different. Of course, they won’t be the best sounding due to their technical abilities. But they almost offer good value to the consumers.
One IEM that wants to do something different is the NiceHCK X49. NiceHCK may not ring a bell for some, but they are a well-known audio products dealer who decided to make their own IEMs. Their budget offering aims to be unique both in terms of its aesthetics as well as in its sound signature.
However, are those enough for it to compete with the rest of the IEMs in this price range? Keep on scrolling to find out.
The review unit was provided by HIFIGO. We want to thank them for their support and for making this review possible. However, this does not influence our review in any way. Everything written here is my honest opinion.
Packaging and Accessories
The NiceHCK X49 comes in a simple packaging that is similar to most offerings in this price range. You get a white box with the NiceHCK logo on the front and the specifications at the back.
Once the outer box is removed, you are presented with the IEMs. There are flaps that hide the accessories and the cable making the overall presentation clean. In terms of the accessories, you don’t get much.
You only get spare silicone tips. There isn’t a pouch included, which is pretty much expected at this price point. Overall, the unboxing experience and the accessories are pretty straightforward.
Design and Build Quality
The shells of the X49 are small. They easily fit in your ears and pretty much disappear once they are inside. They are lightweight and were very comfortable even for long listening sessions.
The shells are made of metal and contain the NickeCHK branding on the front and sides. I didn’t immediately notice them since the text has the same color as the shells. Overall, I would say the design is very clean.
The shells feel significantly sturdier than the plastic shells that most budget IEMs have. The whole thing is one piece with virtually no points of failure. I don’t see this splitting or falling apart easily.
One of the downfalls of the X49’s design is the cable. It features a basic non-removable rubber cable that doesn’t feel and look great. I understand that there would be compromises in the build, given the company’s budget constraints. I also believe that upgrade cables will not benefit budget IEMs.
However, I always feel more at ease, knowing that I can replace my cable if it ever encounters any problems in the future. But sometimes, non-removable cables can be tolerable if implemented well. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here since my experience with the cable wasn’t very good.
The cable tangles pretty easily and isn’t the easiest to manage. Also, there wasn’t a strain relief on the 3.5 mm jack, which can be a potential point of failure. Overall, I am not a fan of the non-removable cable.
The NiceHCK X49 has a neutral sound signature. It is utilizing a single balanced armature driver to achieve a natural-sounding presentation. The sound you get from the X49 is quite refreshing since many budget IEMs tend to have coloration that can sound too artificial.
The X49 has a relaxed sound signature with no peaks or harshness in the upper mids and highs (something that KZ IEMs are quite notorious for). The bass is also not boomy or muddy. BA drivers aren’t known for strong bass, but they still add weight to the track while maintaining clarity and definition.
The mids were quite decent and managed to bring out the vocals whenever they are needed. The highs are non-offensive and allow long listening sessions without hearing fatigue.
However, there is a problem with this kind of sound signature. It is too safe and can sound rather dull and boring for some. And with its limited technicalities, the X49 can’t always pull off its intended signature.
People who enjoy lively tracks will surely find the bass to be lacking. As accurate as it may portray the bass, the X49 lacks the punch to make tracks feel more energetic. The mids can also sound lackluster since it isn’t trying hard enough to reproduce the details in the upper mids.
And the highs aren’t well extended. The airiness and details on instruments such as cymbals are lost. This may sound like nitpicking, but I am making these points with respect to the respect of the budget-fi offerings in the market.
The sound stage is pretty average compared to the rest of the competition. It doesn’t have the widest but has enough to give separation to each instrument. On the other hand, the imaging doesn’t seem to hold up as well as the soundstage.
In terms of imaging, it is apparent that the X49 has trouble with busy tracks. Instruments can get mixed up, and the overall sound can get muddy. However, this is a notable issue with most budget IEMs.
The Kbear KS2 is one of our top picks in the sub 20 USD price range. Despite having a V-shaped sound signature, it was able to execute it very well. It easily handles exciting tracks as well as more serious tracks thanks to its well-tuned drivers for bass and mids. Overall, I would say it has a relaxing signature that is easy to listen to.
The X49, on the other hand, is the more accurate sounding pair since bass isn’t accentuated, and mids aren’t recessed. However, that doesn’t necessarily make it the better sounding pair. The lows and highs are both not as well extended in the X49, and the technicalities aren’t as good. These two IEMs trade blows, but I still prefer the KS2’s sound signature over the X49.
You can learn more about the KBear KS2 in our full review.
KZ ZSN Pro X
The KZ ZSN Pro X is another well regarded IEM in the budget price range. However, it has a few problems in the upper mids and the highs. They can sound too hot and artificial at times, which isn’t always good. In that regard, the X49 may be a better sounding and more accurate choice.
Overall, the NiceHCK X49 is truly a unique IEM in terms of its sound signature and overall build. While I enjoyed it for my music, I am certain that many consumers coming from other IEMs will not be satisfied with the X49’s technicalities.
But if you are interested in trying out a neutral sound signature or if you want an IEM that is a step up from your stock smartphone earbuds, then the X49 is a great choice. But if you want an all-rounder IEM that is made to last, there are better choices with removable cables out there.
The NiceHCK X49 can be purchased at HiFiGo.
- Impedance: 22Ω
- Earphone sensitivity: 110dB/mW
- Frequency response range: 20Hz-20KHz
- Plug Type: 3.5mm
- Drive Unit: Single BA Full Range
Albums Used For Testing
- Milet – Eyes
- Babymetal – Metal Galaxy World Tour in Japan
- Mamamoo – Reality in Black
- Nobuo Uematsu – Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy
- Moe Shop – Moe Moe
- Stray Sheep – Kenshi Yonezu
Stephen is a musician, cinematographer, and headphone enthusiast who is passionate about reviewing audio equipment. He has been playing guitar for at least a decade, which introduced him to professional recording equipment such as headphones and in-ear monitors. With the help of reviews and online content, he was able to learn the ins and outs of the hobby. His goal is to give back to the community by providing quality content to help others enjoy the beautiful (and expensive) world of audio.
Favorite Headphones: Sennheiser HD660s