Looking for a good sound in ear monitor under 500 pesos is a difficult task to anyone, especially if you're looking for a woody set as they're often pricey. Then there goes Awei who changed my perspective about cheap earphones with good sound when they created the likes of ES16Hi.

Awei ES16Hi Review, Another Budget Woody Contender Under 500 Pesos!
Meet Awei ES16Hi
Unboxing

Awei ES16Hi Review, Another Budget Woody Contender Under 500 Pesos!
The box
The Awei ES16Hi comes with a woody looking plastic carton showing most of the information needed with the IEM and what to expect from it.


Accessories

Awei ES16Hi Review, Another Budget Woody Contender Under 500 Pesos!
The eartips included
For an earphone priced at 390 pesos, Awei clearly made this a good package. They included 3 sizes of silicon tips and a shirt clip. On top of that they included a Woody looking notebook and pen. However, the traditional Awei Faux Leather pouch was not included in the package. I would choose the pouch any day instead for the notebook and pen gimmick.

Not much of a big deal though especially for the price.

Specifications

  • Style:In-Ear
  • Connectors: 3.5mm
  • Package: Yes
  • Use: Mobile Phone
  • Function: Noise Cancelling,Microphone
  • Communication: Wired
  • Model Number: ES-16HI
  • Price: PHP 390

Build Quality / Design

The body showing the 3 button mic on the right side
What surprised me here is the construction of this in ear monitors. It has that good quality wooden body that doesn't have rough edges, the 3.5 mm jack is gold plated, the microphone part is well made and the strain reliefs looks quite good. Maybe the only part I cannot laud that much is the cables as I'm not a fan of it. Other than that the overall construction of this set is decent especially for something priced this low.

Gold plated plug baby!
Design-wise, wood earphones always look classic and sexy at the same time, but Awei did one major failure here as the two tone flat cables doesn't look good.

Comfort / Isolation / Microphonics

Awei ES16Hi Review, Another Budget Woody Contender Under 500 Pesos!
The right marking and metal ring of the IEM
The Awei ES16Hi is one of the most comfortable Awei set I've tried, it sits perfectly to my ear via medium tips and it doesn't feel heavy so I can wear it longer. Isolation wise, it doesn't isolate that well, but it's good enough to block light noises from the outside. The reason for that is it's not capable of deep insertion. This IEM is also a bit microphonic, which means there's cable noise when you're walking. One perfect solution of remove that noise is wear this earphone overear.


Sound Quality

Awei ES16Hi Review, Another Budget Woody Contender Under 500 Pesos!
Awei ES16Hi paired with the FiiO X1
Awei is on point again when it comes to the sound quality part! As expected from a woody IEM, the signature was warm and smooth. Surprisingly, this is also the most balanced Awei earphone I've tried.

The lows have slight emphasis especially in the sub bass region, it was surprisingly tight and fast and feels just right. Purist would say that the bass is not that defined and full bodied, but for a set priced this low it's already very good.  The mids were quite clear too that sounded better with female vocals like when I played "Through The Fire" by Nina. There are just some slight bass bleeds at times to the mids, but it's not that noticeable unless you have overly picky ears. The highs however is not that much of an asset of this IEM, I needed at least a dB or two to get the sparkle I wanted. Soundstage is on the average side which could be enough to hear the basic instrumental separation from the track you're listening with.

Compared with the Awei ES900i we reviewed 2 years ago, this is clearly the more balanced and refined set.

Maybe one weak point of this set is it's a bit hard to drive, normally earphones with this size was already loud enough on 30-40% volume, but with this I need to crank up all the way to 70-80% in order to get satisfying sound when using a regular MediaTek powered smartphone. When used with the FiiO X1 and X3K I needed at least 40-50 clicks to make it sound great. Only my Havi B3 Pro I is harder to drive than this set.

Lossless Tracks Used:

1. Better Days - Franco
2. Through The Fire - Nina Live!
3. Pretty When You Cry - Lana Del Rey
4. Shatter Me - Lindsey Stirling
5. Team - Lorde

Pro's - Price, Body Build, Warm and smooth sound signature with good overall balance and detail

Con's - Two tone cable doesn't look that good, microphonic when worn straight down, no carrying pouch included, highs is a bit lacking with in some tracks.

Verdict

Overall, this is a very good sounding in ear monitor especially for the price. To my ears it can rival the entry level IEM sets from Sennheisers that cost around 2-3x of the Awei ES16Hi. It's far from perfect, but if you can't really extend your budget this is the must get set for you.


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