Yinyoo – HQ5 Review.

I bought the Yinyoo HQ5 for 126€ on Aliexpress. I’ll try my best to give an honest opinion about the gear.

Introduction
I first found out about this in-ear after reading the translated review of a Japanese enthusiast called Bisonicr.
After reaching out to him on Twitter, to know the size of the shell, I pulled the trigger on the Yinyoo, mostly because it was on sale, had a good review and was beautiful to look at (I won’t lie).
Also, the HQ5 isn’t a very mainstream in-ear and I wanted to write a review about it without any bias or hype that might influence my judgment.
Bisonicr writes on his blog that the HQ5 has balanced armatures from Bellsing on the higher range and low range ones from Knowles, supposedly the sound tuning was made by the same engineer as the DQSM D2. I trust him on these details because I can’t find them anywhere else.
I love the HQ5 but they have an unusual character that might not suit everyone because these in-ears push the mids a bit forward.

Testing rig
As a typical portable rig, I’ll be using my Sony L1 (G3311) smartphone and Spotify on the higher quality setting without any EQ, normalization or any other gimmick.

My daily driver will be an uncapped Sony Walkman A-45, with both lossy 320kbps Mp3’s and lossless 16-Bit 44.1Khz Flac music files, I might use higher resolution if necessary.

On the desktop/laptop side I’ll be using a Creative Labs E5 DAC, again with Spotify on the higher quality setting and without any gimmicks just like the Sony L1, and of course the DeaDBeeF music player for Flac music files at 16-Bit 44.1Khz but with some exceptions.

I won’t be reviewing the interaction of all sources with the in-ear for obvious reasons, so for simplicity sake, the review below will use the Creative Labs E5 to drive the in-ears unless stated otherwise.

A look inside the box

I bought the HQ5 before I started doing longer reviews so I didn’t take photos of the gear in pristine condition. The only things that might show some age are the shells and cable, all the other accessories are in great condition because I didn’t use them.

The Yinyoo HQ5 came in a fairly normal black box with the brand name and description of the content in silver letters/characters, it opens it’s top cover to the back, showing a rather nice semi-hard case with the name brand name stamped on the top.

The shells, cable, and accessories all came inside the semi-hard case and as usual, the tips and cable had separated Zip-lock bags.
The accessories include 3 sets of silicone tips in a large, medium and small size, 4 pairs of medium foam tips.

The silver cable is probably one of the best I have on my collection, my version doesn’t bring a microphone or remote control.

Built quality & specifications
I choose the color blue for my HQ5, the transparent resin lets me have a glimpse at the way the HQ5 was built, from balanced armatures and their wiring to the filters and tubes that go to the nozzle, everything looks superb, remember these in-ears sell for almost $200 on Aliexpress, so this kind of quality is to be expected.

The shells are big but not very heavy for the size, the transparent blue resin body and mother of pearl-like faceplate combine in a really nice way, even the brand name in silver letters looks gorgeous under the polished resin. Everything looks solid and well built.
The wide nozzle and top mesh are made of metal, the nozzle has a fairly big lip which helps to keep wide tips in place.

The connector socket looks well build but there is a very slight play between the connector and cable plug.

The MMCX cable plug is made of metal and there isn’t any kind of strain relief in it, the plastic sleeve that goes around the ears feel malleable and doesn’t have a wire guide.
The right cable plug has a red colored ring so you can insert it on the right shell, no left or right markings in both cable or shells, so it’s not very newbie friendly.

The silver colored cable has 8 braided wires, and it looks beautiful, staying in place when I wrap it and keep it on a table or box.
The Y-Split looks solid and just like the plugs lacks a strain relief, also there isn’t a chin slider.
The cable ends in a rather robust metallic 3.5mm straight plug which has a plastic jacket for strain relief and protects the wires from being cut by the metallic sleeve of the plug.

The cable impedance at the ground line should be around 0.4Ω as measured with my simple UNI-T UT601.

Just like my review with the BGVP DMG, I also didn’t use any stock tips because I like using the KZ “starlines”, keep in mind this is a personal choice. Also yes, this nozzle is again too large for the “starlines” but I dislike tips with wide nozzles.

There are plenty of silicone and foam tips to choose from, something veterans and newbies alike will enjoy.
The semi-hard case is a very welcome accessory because the HQ5 are not the type of in-ears you want to shove in your pockets or backpack. I think these days any in-ear above 100€ should bring a case.

Everyone likes specifications so here are some I could find:
– 5 Balanced armatures per side, from Bellsing and Knowles.
(Higher range BA from Bellsing and lower range BA from Knowles)
– Frequency response: 20 – 20KHz
Sensitivity: 120±2db/mW
– Impedance: 30Ω (10Ω on my UNI-T UT601. Wow that’s a considerable difference on impedance)

Daily use
Comfort, now that’s a personal thing and probably the most problematic thing about the HQ5, because the shells are huge compared with other in-ears. Also, the almost custom design can make it hard to have a good fit. People with small ears should avoid buying this model.

Daily, I can use them for about 1 or 2 hours straight before I need to remove them due to heat and sweat, but they can also be very uncomfortable if inserted too deep and fast, because the pressure will build up inside the ear canal.

Noise isolation is amazing and they are easily the best in-ears I have in that regard, add that to the fact the HQ5 can go loud from a weak source and you must be careful not to hurt your hearing.

Sound
The HQ5 delivers a very detailed treble, there are a lot of micro details present, something quite easy to check on “Christopher Tin – Se é pra vir que venha” where we have a lot of treble details under and above Dulce Pontes voice. The orchestra never hides the wind instruments and the percussion layers. The HQ5 treble can be unforgiving in songs badly mastered but it’s amazing when everything is done correctly. “Kia hora te marino” from the same album feels so airy it’s impossible not to be amazed with the treble of these entry-level in-ears.

Sure the treble does have a slight bump but given the emphasis on mids these in-ears have, I can’t complain too much because after all I do love my high notes.

Female voices like the one of Laura Pausini are pushed forward if you compare the HQ5 to the BGVP DMG on the track “Io Canto“, the HQ5 it’s a fairly mid centric headphone, on “Maaya Sakamoto – Yakusoku wa Iranai” this brings focus to the voice in a more intimate way.
I have a hard time describing sound because after all you must experience it first hand but the best I can say about the HQ5 is that it brings the voices forward like very few in-ears I experienced, all without removing focus to the treble and bass.
Not sure if it’s the quality of the balanced armatures at play but these in-ears react quite nicely to dynamic changes on songs, from a whisper to a full orchestra, everything is layered down in an easy to reach way.

Curious enough the HQ5 behaves like this because the bass isn’t bumped much compared with some audiophile in-ears (KZ AS10 for example). There isn’t lots of sub-bass with this one, but even if the sub-bass isn’t stellar, the bass does have a kick that wipes the floor with cheaper in-ears.
On “AC-DC – Thunderstuck” the bass hits us with a fair degree of impact on the drumming department, the same goes for “Hans Zimmer – Dragon Warrior” (Kung Fu Panda 3 soundtrack) which is the perfect piece to test the abilities of the HQ5. Really fast bass with just enough sub-bass not to be over the top.

Overall the HQ5 is a mid-centric in-ear with an in your face tuning that many will dislike, I come back for more every week because I find this in-ear to have the best tuning for my kind of music.
Also the frequency response is something to behold. Almost a straight line up to 4Khz and look at that balanced armatures pairing.

Always remember that these can only be compared internally, the microphone was a calibrated Dayton Audio iMM-6, 95dB pink noise (not white, deal with it) was used for the 16384 points FFT, 30 seconds average, 1/24 Octave smoothing, the coupler was a little hose in which I inserted the in-ear nozzle with the smallest “starline” silicone tip I have at 3 to 4mm of the microphone head.
The measurements were made at night in a silent room.
Yinyoo HQ5 Frequency Response

Before you ask, here’s a comparison between the Yinyoo HQ5 and the BGVP DMG right channels. Now that I look at the graphs, do notice that up to 500hz you have similar bumps and valleys so I wouldn’t be surprised these two models had the same balanced armatures in those frequencies.

Yinyoo HQ5 vs BGVP DMG Frequency Response

The good & the ugly
Great tuning if you love voice-oriented songs, mid-centric but with a detailed treble and punchy bass.
Very easy to drive from weak sources.
Well built shells and cable.

Slightly less emphasis on the mids would be nice.
Quite expensive without discounts and if compared with the BGVP DMG.
Tuning isn’t for everyone, might require some mids EQ if you buy it blindly.
Can be uncomfortable for some people.

Notes
Yes, I don’t write about “soundstage” or imaging, refer to this entry for more explanations on that.