HZSound Waist Drum Review: A Little Too Late

  • Good value for money
  • Very small, comfortable shells
  • Suitable for easygoing genres

  • Frequent occurrence of congestion

Coming from China, HZSound is a company that produces portable audio products. They seem to have gone under the radar over the past few years but they made a big comeback when their most recent IEM, the Heart Mirror, became the talk of the town in the audiophile community. They seem to be mixing things up this year, with their recent earbud release; the Bell Rhyme, and now the Waist Drum, another in-ear monitor but this time in a bullet type form factor. The Waist Drum currently retails for 34 USD, and was provided to me for free by HiFiGO in exchange for this review.

Driver unit: 6 mm micro dynamic
Impedance: 16 ohms
Sensitivity: 104 dB
Frequency response range: 20 Hz - 40 kHz

Poco X3, Redmi Note 10 Pro paired with Cayin RU6, Questyle M15, Xduoo Link2 Bal, FiiO KA3, Tempotec Sonata HD V, Tempotec Sonata E35 and Zishan U1

Test tracks:
Africano - Earth Wind and Fire
Dark Necessities - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gurenge - Lisa
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
Monsters - All Time Low
Ours - Taylor Swift
Stay - Mayday Parade
Snuff - Slipknot
Yesterday Once More - Carpenters
So Slow - Freestyle
Aurora Sunrise - Franco
Attention - Pentatonix
Blue Bird - Ikimono-gakari
You're Still The One - Shania Twain
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is(Will Understand) - Irma Thomas
Salamin - Slapshock
AOV - Slipknot
Hey Jude - The Beatles
The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson
...and a lot more.

Unboxing and Accessories:
The Waist Drum comes in a rectangular sleeved black box. Inside, there are the earphones nested in a thick piece of foam. Right below it is a small flap that contains a cloth pouch for storage, three pairs of white regular bore silicone eartips, three pairs of dark wide bore silicone eartips, and another three pairs of silicone eartips that resemble the Sony EP-EX11 Hybrid tips. Inside the box there is also an instruction manual and a card with a picture of an anime girl. HZSound also included two pairs of replacement mesh filters for the nozzle, and a velcro strap for the cable.
The shells are made of stainless steel. It has a smooth and glossy surface with a mirror finish. It does seem to be a little prone to scratches and smudges though. HZSound implemented a "semi-open back balanced hole design" where the rear part is equipped with a metal grill. This of course has a major effect on the sound, but it does reduce the noise isolation since it allows air to pass through. The female 2 pin connectors are made of plastic and there are L and R indicators beside them. The nozzles have a lip to hold eartips in place and a fine mesh filter.
The cable is a basic silver plated copper with a clear insulation. Slight microphonics can be heard. The cable is very light. However, it is moderately stiff. The male 0.78 mm 2 pin connectors are made of plastic, while the splitter chin slider, and the L-type 3.5 mm gold plated plug are made of metal.
Now let's get to the sound.

The lows are somewhat elevated, yet with a fairly tight presentation. Subbass has very good amounts of strong rumble, but the vibrations noticeably dissipate in the background for a short period of time. Meanwhile, the depth is slightly above average. Midbass has moderate thickness but is slightly laid back in comparison to the subbass. 

Overall, the Waist Drum sounds kind of unusual in this section. Normally, the subbass and midbass are linear, or the subbass has slight elevation but the midbass maintains a balanced output but here with the Waist Drum, the latter tends to be overwhelmed by the nearby frequencies.

The mids have good clarity and presented in a very forward manner. Male vocals are slightly on the thin side. Female vocals, on the other hand, can sound a little thicker than average. The definition of instruments are average, as well as the amount of air in between them.

Overall, the mids feel a little too forward sometimes. Vocals can feel like they are pushed inside your head on some tracks and instruments can sound easily overcrowded because of that.

The highs maintain a sufficient amount of presence. The reach in the treble is just average, and the same can be said with the decay and the weight of each note. There is also a good amount of sparkle, and details in every track are just adequate.

Overall, the Waist Drum gives out a decent performance in the highs. Considering the oddity of the lows and the mids, I can say that the treble is the most "correct" sounding section of this in-ear monitor.

Soundstage and Imaging:
The Waist Drum offers decent space in the soundstage. The width expands a bit more than the height. Imaging is of acceptable quality but definitely affected by that quirk in the mids. The separation and layering of the instruments are both average, and fair amounts of congestion can be heard especially in busy tracks.

HZSound Waist Drum (1 DD, 34 USD) vs. Moondrop Chu (1 DD, 20 USD)
The Chu has a more neutral approach in the lows. The Chu can reach deeper vibrations. They are almost equal in terms of the decay but the rumble extends a bit longer in the Waist Drum. Midbass has better presence in the Chu and slightly heavier in impact. With the mids, the Chu is more spacious and feel a lot more open. Vocals have better articulation in the Chu, as well as the instruments. On the other hand, vocals are a lot more intimate in the Waist Drum. In the treble, the Chu is a lot more energetic. The Chu can reach better heights and and stays longer in the background. Soundstage doesn't have much difference especially in the width, but depth is a bit better on the Chu. In the imaging, Chu takes the cake as well with its better clarity and definition.

HZSound Waist Drum (1 DD, 34 USD) vs. KZ EDA Balanced version (1 DD, 36 USD)
The EDA has so much more heft in the lows. Depth seems to be equal but the decay is a lot longer in the EDA. Midbass is a lot thicker and more solid in the EDA too. The Waist Drum is better in the mids though. The EDA's vocal positioning feels more natural. However, the Waist Drum possesses clearer vocals and better clarity in the instruments. The EDA's treble has more detail and sparkle, and also decays for longer than the Waist Drum. Soundstage is a bit more open in the Waist Drum in both the height and the width. Instruments are also more airy in the Waist Drum. Not much difference in the imaging, but I would say that the EDA takes the edge due to its more naturally placed vocals.

I must say, "Waist Drum" sounds weird to be a name for an in-ear monitor. But looking back at the Bell Rhyme, and the Heart Mirror, HZSound sure loves to name their products uniquely. At the price of 34 USD, the Waist Drum performs well in both the build and sound quality. If only this was launched 2-4 years ago, this would have been phenomenal. But, recently other companies really started to go all out in their budget offerings, resulting in the competition getting more and more intense.


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