HIFIMAN, a Chinese headphone and audio equipment manufacturer, cemented its status as a brand catering to audiophiles with products such as the HIFIMAN Sundara, and their flagship, Shangri-La, which is priced at a whopping Rs 35,99,900. Known for delivering some of the best planar magnetic tech in headphones, the company has garnered a fair bit of attention from audiophiles. While the company largely specialises in wired, high-end headphones, they have also begun testing the waters when it comes to wireless in-ears. The HIFIMAN TWS600 is a high fidelity true wireless offering from the company. These feature the company’s proprietary Topology Diaphragm drivers which promise sonic accuracy despite being wireless. Let’s see how they fared.
Build and design
Putting it mildly, the HIFIMAN TWS600 earphones have an odd design characteristic. While most manufacturers are attempting to make their true wireless offerings look sleek and streamlined, the HIFIMAN TWS600 looks excessively “bulge-y”. The charging case resembles an elongated egg, sports a metallic grey sheen and the HIFIMAN logo, while the earphones themselves are shaped like kidney beans with odd bulging protrusions.
The protrusion we mentioned actually leads to the earbuds’ angled nozzles. The purpose for the, frankly, ugly protrusion could be the way the patented Topology Diaphragm drivers are placed inside the earphones and their dimensions. However, this is just speculation. In addition to the bulge, the outer portion of the earphones houses the physical buttons. There are transparent patterns around the buttons which allow the LEDs inside the earbuds to shine through. There are also tiny HIFIMAN logos on the side of the earphones.
Coming back to the charging case, upon opening it, you will discover a battery indicator with four LEDs that relay the amount of battery life the case has remaining. The LED on the earphones also glows, quite brightly, when they are tucked within the case to signify that they’re charging. The case houses a USB Type-C charging port on the rear, towards the right side.
Design aside, the charging case refuses to open up using only one hand, at least for us. The best way to do it is by prying it apart using two thumbs, however, it still takes some force. It is relatively pocketable but will bulge out considerably if your pants are form-fitting.
The HIFIMAN TWS600 also comes with a USB Type-C charging cable and not 2 or 3, but 8 additional pairs of silicone tips including double-flanged, triple-flanged, wide-bore and more options. The result? The earphones fit inside most ears extremely securely and feel comfortable to wear even over extended periods of usage.
Unfortunately, the control buttons on these earphones were a major pain point for us. Literally, painful… Since the buttons are relatively small in size and quite hard to press, they cause the earbuds to dig further into your ear when you press them. We found that using multiple fingers to secure the earbud’s position and then pressing the button was slightly more comfortable.
You can control music playback (pause/play) and answer/reject calls by tapping the button on either side once. A double-tap on the right increases the volume while double-tapping the left decreases it. Triple taps help you seek tracks, with the right going forward a song while the left taking you to the previous one. Holding either button down for two seconds summons your phone’s voice assistant. Not really standard controls, but they work for the most part.
Overall, the HIFIMAN TWS600 is quite unusual-looking, especially the earphones themselves with the unsightly bulges. The comfort and fit, nevertheless, is phenomenal. Unfortunately, the comfortable fit was counteracted with some discomfort due to the physical controls and their tendency to make you push the earphones deep inside your ears.
Source: HIFIMAN website
HIFIMAN claims that the TWS600 has an absurdly-long Bluetooth range of up to 490 feet (150m)! Sporting Bluetooth v5.0, the box, however, makes a more conservative claim of 10m – 50m (33 feet – 164 feet) Bluetooth range. On the website, HIFIMAN claims to have achieved the astounding 150m of Bluetooth range in an open field. While we couldn’t test the lofty claims of 150m (finding 490 feet of open area in Mumbai is a chore, guys), we did manage to achieve around 80 feet in a large parking area without any lags in the connection. However, put a few barriers between this and you’ll start to hear drops and skips.
Additionally, the HIFIMAN TWS600 also features a total battery life of 38.5 hours. According to the company, you get about 5.5 hours in the buds and 33 hours through the charging case. In our tests, the buds lasted about 6 hours with the volume at 40 per cent (these earphones are inordinately loud!) and the case lasted well over a week’s worth of usage as well, which is pretty impressive. The charging time is fairly brief as well, with the buds needing about an hour to charge fully, while the case charges up to full in 1.5 hours.
Despite being audiophile-grade earphones, the HIFIMAN TWS600 only supports SBC and AAC audio codecs. Unfortunately, there’s no aptX support. The company claims that the earphones are tuned in a manner to ensure low latency, and their claims were proven right in our tests. While watching content on YouTube, Netflix and Prime Video, there was a very negligible delay between the video and audio. It was almost unnoticeable.
The earphones sport an IPX4 dust and sweat resistant rating as well. So, they are well equipped to deal with light splashes and sweat when you’re exercising. However, it is not safe to go swimming with.
The sound signature of the HIFIMAN TWS600 is peculiar in comparison to most other competing products in the true wireless segment. It features an ‘A-shaped’ sound graph, with a higher emphasis on the mids and upper mids that makes the lows and highs sound recessed in comparison. However, the lows and bass response seems a tad more recessed than the highs.
The bass response on these earphones, while controlled and detailed, ends up sounding quite lethargic since it lacks drive. It takes a backseat to the mids and upper-mids. In the track Around the World by Kings of Leon, the shakers in the background sound listless since the mid-range guitar simply overpowers them.
The vocals are clear and well-articulated as seen in tracks such as Rescue Me by OneRepublic. Female vocals can sometimes have a bit of sibilance, but only if you push the volume past 50 per cent. The earphones get extremely loud, so it’s best to listen to these earphones at the 40 – 50 per cent volume range. The highs, while slightly overpowered by the impactful mids, sound sonically accurate. They also have a shine and brilliance to them all without sounding too fatiguing. Whether this is the result of HIFIMAN’s unique tuning or their Topology Diaphragm tech or both, we can’t judge.
HIFIMAN has done a great job making a mids and upper-mids focused sound signature sound almost flat. The detail retention across frequencies is extremely commendable. However, the bass could have been slightly boosted to make it energetic.
The soundstage is where these earphones blow past most of their competitors. It is ridiculously expansive, featuring impressive width, and even some height. The music fills inside your head and appears to extend beyond it, which is something you usually see in open-back headphones. Given that these are closed-back, in-ears, the soundstage is truly remarkable. The only other true wireless pair of earphones that comes close to this is the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless.
Imaging is excellent as well with each instrument being easily placeable in the soundscape and instrument separation is quite decent too, which instances of overlap being uncommon. Call quality is pretty decent. On both ends, the quality is manageable. In our microphone test, the live transcribing app was able to pick up most of the words we spoke accurately as well.
Overall, the HIFIMAN TWS600 true wireless earphones offer a largely atypical sound profile. However, it manages to retain details across frequencies. The bass lacks drive but still sounds very intricate and precise. In addition to maintaining clarity and detail across frequencies, it manages to sound pretty euphonic as well. Except for maybe the highs on loud volume levels which tends to sound a bit too bright.
The HIFIMAN TWS600 is a competent audiophile-grade true wireless pair of earphones that boast sonic accuracy and an uncommon A-shaped sound signature. It also features an alleged wireless range of 150m in an open space and over 38 hours of battery life along with the charging case. Although they aren’t the most aesthetic or premium-looking pair of earphones, the HIFIMAN TWS600 sports a snug fit inside the ear. They are comfortable to wear over extended periods of usage without feeling overly fatigued. Overall, these earphones are geared towards audiophiles, individuals who prefer a more bass-forward approach might be slightly disappointed with these.