Review - Tangzu x HBB Xuan NV

Review - Tripowin x HBB Kailua

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TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Tripowin x HBB Kailua

The Tripowin x HBB Kailua have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. As usual, or rather, as always, Linsoul have not made any requests or comments and I will do my best to be as unbiased and sincere as I can in this review.

You can find the Tripowin Kailua via Linsoul here: https://www.linsoul.com/products/tripowin-x-hbb-kailua

As always, the above link is non-affiliate.

To avoid being repetetive in my reviews, you can find all the info about how I create the reviews, equipment used, how I receive the products and how to interpret my reviews by visiting: About my reviews


Intro…

I have come into this review with possibly more of a positive mindset that I would have a month or so ago. As you all know, I have reviewed a few of the collaborations by HBB and I wasn’t overly excited about any of them, then the last one I reviewed, the Blon Z300, I found to be a very enjoyable set.

Exactly the same story happened with Tripowin but even more extreme. I reviewed a couple of their sets and really disliked them, then the last set I received from the brand, the Piccolo, I found to be much more palatable.

Therefore, I was interested to see what the combination of both of them brings to the table.

The Kailua is the latest collaboration by HBB (of Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews), joining quite a list of previous collaborations, and features a dual dynamic driver configuration. In this case, a 10mm DLC driver is being used alongside a 6mm composite diaphragm driver.


Presentation…

The box in which the Kailua arrive is covered by a cardboard sleeve with an image of the IEMs on the front and the name of the model. On one side we get a few specs and on the the name again with a few certification logos. Nothing much to stand out but it is modern, clean and simple, more than adequate for an IEM box.

Inside the box the presentation is also quite simple, so nothing really exciting if you are looking for the unboxing experience (which is something that I don’t really care about anyway). Included we get the IEMs, the cable, 6 sets of silicone tips (3 sizes of 2 types) and a simple after sales document.

All quite simple and nothing out of the extraordinary.


Build and aesthetics…

While there is no mention of the materials used in the shells (at least that I remember seeing), they do seem to be completely made of metal and painted (white in my case). They are very light weight so the metal is obviously some kind of aluminum alloy and are also rather small.

The shape of the shells is reminiscent of something like the Airship or even the Sennheiser IE series to some degree, which are IEMs that I find extremely comfortable. In the case of the Kailua, I find that it puts a bit of pressure on my tragus and does result in a slight discomfort after a while. It is not uncomfortable to the point where I need to stop using them but I do notice that I am wearing them. Of course, everyone's ear is different, so this is probably not relevant to the majority of people, as they are small and easy to fit, so they should be comfortable for most.

The included cable is nothing special, it is thin and simple but is also lightweight and certainly does its job. It reminds me quite a bit of the cables included by Moondrop with the SSP and SSR models (although it is quite a while since I pulled those out, so I may be remembering wrong).

The Kailua is available in three colours, two with black shells and a choice of purple or blue faceplates, and one with white shells that has a pink faceplate. I can’t say I am in love with the aesthetics of any of the three options but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and they are quite simple, so no one should find them offensive.


Sound…

All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, etc.)

Let me start out by saying that my first impressions of the Kailua is that it seems to be an improved version of the Blon x HBB Z300. I don’t usually do comparisons in my reviews, which is why I always follow the same format and use the same reference tracks (making it easier for people to compare themselves between models I have reviewed), but that was my first thought.

I said in my review of the Z300 that I enjoyed them but I found treble extension to be lacking and that they could benefit from some more air in those upper regions. I also said that detail suffered on the Z300 due in part to that lack of extension and air, and that they sometimes made tracks come across a little too warm for my preferences.

When I say that the Kailua is an improved Z300, I am referring to them improving those issues that I just mentioned, coming across a little clearer, with more air and extension, and a better detail response than the other model. Of course, we need to remember that the Z300 is a 30€ set of IEMs, where the Kailua is a 70€ set of IEMs, but I do feel that the improvements are worthy of the investment.

Anyway, here is the graph of the Kailua in comparison to my usual preference target for reference:

And to give a visual of what I was just talking about, here is the Kailua in comparison to the Blon Z300:

Ok, so, with that out of the way, let’s get on with how the Kailua perform on their own, using my usual test track list for detailed listening.

Starting off with the subbass and listening to the obligatory “Chameleon” work out, the subbass is clean, well defined and keeps up quite easily with the track. I don’t feel that these IEMs are heavily focused on the subbass range and the clarity possibly adds even more to that sensation, but as far as rumble goes, there is plenty for my tastes.

In the midbass section, I do find that “Crazy” has just a touch too much boom for my tastes. As with the subbass, this is kept clean and well defined, so I don’t find it overly fatiguing (unless I raise the volume too much) and it it keeps itself elevated but out of the way of the mids. Bass drums have a very nice clear punch to them, as do bass guitars, making for a lower range that is north of my personal preferences but impressive.

In the midrange vocals are clear and do not get hidden behind that low end boost. “Elephants on Ice Skates” has a nice separation between the lower bass notes and the mid and upper mid range of instruments. Even when the bass notes are ringing, the detail of the bass and guitar in the mid range is easily appreciated.

Moving into the upper mids, there is enough to brings vocals, and the upper range of electric guitars, into the spotlight when they should be but without making them too harsh or even too up front. Using “Make Noise” as a test for how much they push vocals forwards, I have to say that they don’t overdo it at all. The reason that I chose “Make Noise” for this test is due to the vocals of Busta Rhymes being mixed poorly in the recording and being quite difficult to focus on, especially when there is a larger presence in the lower mids and midbass. In this case, his vocals are not pushed forwards yet they are clear and are quite intelligible (if you can follow his style that is 😉 ).

As we get into the upper ranges, I am not overly fond of that dip between 3k and 4k but it is not bad and is saved to some extent by that peak around 4.5k. Luckily this peak is at 4.5k and not at 5k, where I would probably be complaining about it (due to my intolerance for 5k peaks).

Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes” is maybe not a clear as it could be in the upper ranges yet this removes some of the harshness of the brass section and also eliminates the sibilance from Paul Simon's voice which is present on so many sets. Testing for sibilance with the usual “Code Cool”, I would place Patricia Barber between a -1 and -2 on my totally non-scientific -12 to +12 scale. This proves that sibilance is well reduced with the Kailua.

However, while sibilance is reduced, there is still a nice sensation of air and extension. It is not the best I have heard in this regard but it is nice to hear a set that manages to be clear without being harsh or sibilant.

Detail is good, although I would say that detail is better in the lower and the mid ranges, possibly with the 10mm having better performance than the 6mm in this regard?

Soundstage is along the lines of average for a set of IEMs. The sensation of stage is not huge but the IEMs do a nice job of using the space they have at their disposal, making for an enjoyable sensation.


Conclusion…

The Kailua are possibly the IEMs that I have most enjoyed out of the HBB collaborations that I have tried, and are certainly the set from Tripowin that I have most enjoyed to date. They are certainly not perfect and have other competitors around their price range that I would probably prefer personally, but they are definitely not a bad choice.

Of course everyone's ears are different and our choice in music also varies wildly from one person to the next, but I can see a lot of people being very happy with the Kailua. I am glad that my enjoyment of IEMs from Tripowin and HBB continues to improve and am actually now looking forwards to the next set that comes this way.


All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on achoreviews.squig.link
 
All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation

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