So color me more than pleasantly surprised! There were not a lot of reviews on the Faaeal Hibiscus and most of them pointed to a few minor flaws. There was also variation in the frequency response charts I could find. So I was a but hesitant to order them. But what I also found pointed to a relatively balanced signature with an above average sound stage. And that was intriguing. It also seemed to fit my preference for a reference type of signature with solid sub-bass, slightly forward mids, and detailed highs. So at a price under $50 I decided to take a chance and purchased them.
After 30+ hours of burn-in (which has helped bring out the bass some) I can tell that I am beyond delighted with the performance and excellent audio quality. With no EQ the signature does indeed sound very balanced to me. I have listened to these on a Schiit Magni/Modi stack, Fiio Q1 MK2, and Earstudio ES100 with similar stellar results. What truly surprised me was sense of feeling like I was present in the music. The combination of natural tonality, a high level of haptics with the sub-bass and bass (even at lower volumes), mids that are neither forward or recessed, surprisingly quick transients, and superb reverb/resonance feedback in the highs make these a wonderful listen for all types of music.
The bass is strong, fast, and maybe very slightly elevated with a good feeling of the pressure created (slam) even when the volume is not elevated. This is especially true of the sub-bass where the rumble may not be loud but can still be felt. The mids are accurate with very little discernable bleed. Instruments and voices sound more analog and warmer compared to several more expensive balanced armature IEMs that I have. The mids are placed perfectly in the overall mix with above average separation and detail. The highs are airy and detailed. Somewhat rolled off, never harsh, but supporting a very good level of detail retrieval.
I love, love, love that the sound stage. It seems above average to my ears. There is a very good sense of wideness and separation. Instrument position can easily identified left to right. I find that I am really enjoying listening to songs that mix the left and right channels aggressively. I can better hear and am more aware of the position of toms on drum rolls. Sound stage depth and height is good, but probably about average for this price range. In several A to B tests with other headphones I can clearly hear echoes and reverberations that give them a wonderful sense of spaciousness.
Build is simply outstanding. Metal shells feel heavy and substantial. And the cable is one of the best you will find on a sub $500 IEM. They are also super comfortable for long listening sessions and come with a modest number of silicone tips to fit most ears. No case is provided in the no-frills box, as the focus seems to be on the IEM not the accessories.
Overall, for a sub $100 earphone these are a ridiculous value. To me these compare well with the JVC+Drop HA FDX1 which as a very similar signature and natural tonality. They are also much better sounding earphone that the more expensive FIIO FD1 in terms of signature, tonality, and sound stage. If you are looking for a natural sounding IEM that feels immersive, I strongly recommend you give these a try. I have found them to be so much better than the few reviews available on line.