Discussions and reviews of ISN IEM’s
Didn’t see much talk about this one so here we go.
My first ISN the H50 and its a banger!
More people should be talking about this one.
ISN H50 New Video is up.
Wonderfully Balanced and Special NON HARMAN Sound Signature!
They’re Penon, and the fact they close off their ecosystem as much as they do depresses the conversation and hype.
Most people haven’t heard any ISN sets, so it’s hard to start the conversation
ISN H50 - Wúnderbar Ausgewogen! (Wonderfully Balanced)
Now let’s get into it: The Techy Stuff
5 Driver per side configuration:
1x 10mm Dynamic Driver Composite Diaphragm ( Unknown Composition )
2x Balanced Armature Mids ( Unknown Origin )
2x Balanced Armature Highs ( Unknown Origin )
3 Way Cross Over
25 Ohms Resistance
108 db Sensitivity
Handmade Resin Shell
Cable is 8 Strand Silver Plated Oxygen Free Copper Cable
18 Month Warranty.
Unit Supplied by Penon - Thank You
I Don’t do disclaimers for me it doesn’t need to be said. Strait Goods if something is bad it gets called out. If its great it gets the praise and a deserved shilling!
ISH H50 - It Rules!
More information can be found here and non-affiliated link: ISN Audio EST50
Subjective Part of my Audio Review -
What I Liked:
-The tuning is off the beaten Harman path and is something different , something special.
-Special balance between the weighty and fast textured lows and wonderfully smooth Vocals and twinkly bits.
-Stage is also a standout width is way above average, also has decent height but average depth and 3D effect.
-Bass Texture and how it super speedy, has excellent decay and balanced in the overall tuning.
-Bass has a amazing way of the Attack/Decay replay brings extra nuances that you can hear and adds a large part to the H50 special sauce.
-Mid Bass does exhibit very little bass bleed into vocals.
-Mid rage is wonderfully detailed and smooth with excellent texture to the vocals.
-Vocals present not forward in the mix due to a relaxed Upper Midrange and is complimented by sparkle and details from a Upper Treble Emphasis.
-Highs are wonderfully detailed and makes Instrumental tonality super realistic.
Stock Cable was a fantastic paring and is great quality with your choice of terminations.
-Shell is a semi custom shell very comfortable to my ears (Med Large)
-Case was perfect size to hold the H50 with cable and is pocketable offering great protection.
-Not Source picky.
-Perfect Coherence between drivers seamlessly one driver with this one tuning.
What I Though Needed Improvement:
-Shell maybe too large for smaller ears.
-Nozzle’s are on the larger side at 5.93mm some ear tips wont fit and changes the stem to restrict vocal presence if you don’t tip roll.
-That is all for me I could think of.
I share my impressions as I hear them with my ears.
As all our ears are different shapes & size so what I hear as bright or bass heavy -you might hear as dull and Vise-Versa; just something to be mindful of.
What makes my ears happy as a sound signature is a slightly more aggressive L shape. I love my Bass Sub and Mid Bass love it all actually; and in large quantity. With the Bass, I prefer a faster decay the faster the better so as to not bleed into the mids., I am treble sensitive and prefer a slightly darker warmer replay with good treble extension.
I prefer the fast speedy bass of the Beryllium Coated Driver of my Xenns Mangird UP with a Beryllium Coated Driver. Of course, there are exceptions in the market - as I also find the bass of the Bio Diaphragm used in the Yanyin Canon special - has some special sauce like an 8" subwoofer that feels like a 12" Has the slam and some serious sub-bass! And the super cool Copper Alloy Shell IKKO Obsidian OH10 does some magic to the bass.
My music Library is widely varied from; Metallica, Great White, Cowboy Junkies, Pink Floyd, Adelle, Melisa Ethridge, Fleetwood Mac, Five for Fighting, Mänskin, Poncho Sanchez, Jimmy Smith, Chopin, The Crystal Method just to name a few. When not listening to my test tracks the majority is Jazz or Alternative Rock especially Female Rock. Lorde, Halsey, Alanis Morrisette, Evanescence. All depends on my mood.
Sources: E1DA SG3, Shanling UP5, Geshelli JNOG J2 with AKM4493 chip. Truthear SHIO (Dual Cirrus Logic 43198 DAC Chips)
DAP/TRASPORT: From Lenovo Laptop with Tidal, iBasso DX160 (Dual Cirrus Logic 43198 Dac Chips), Samsung S22 Ultra with DSD Files.
Amps: LoxjiP20 & XDUOO MT-604 tube hybrid amps and Topping A90D Amp 4.4 Pentagon Balanced Out - Unless stated
Tips Used for the H50 were the AZLA Crystal Tips I found for Best Result and subjective: Wide Bore are recommended to maximize stage my preference at the expense of perceived bass enhancement with narrow bore tips.
My Format has changed with community feedback. So now I will list the music tracks I used & why with my musical impressions of the playback using that track. I hope this will give you some context for my library and give you some contexts to compare using the same tracks.
(40 Tracks 3:13:03)
Let’s Begin: Critical listening per track Notes taken NOT OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
#1 “Beautiful Blue” by Holly McNarland
(I love Holly’s vocals should be crips clear vocals with the right edge to here vocals)
I love how the H50 does vocals not forward in the mix. Very pleasing monitor style.
#2 “Give Me One Reason” Tracy Chapman
(I love her voice and the way it is recorded listen for the strums on the guitar - I have seen Ms. Chapman live a few times; so In my mind, I try and remember how she sounds like 5ft from me as I was blessed to experience)
“Very good coherence of not only H50 drivers but also between Vocals/Instruments and the bass very balanced”
#3 “Paradox” by M.E.B.
(Great female vocals listening for accurate piano at 0:11, bass hits at 0:28 and vocals at 2:00)
“Bass has excellent snap + decay. Texture in the releases is very very good. Perfect vocal replay”
#4 “Rock Me” by Great White
(80’S Baby, Double Kick drums at the beginning of the first track I am listening to how fast it hits how solid is the bass and what’s the decay like. An ideal replay here would be fast, powerful bass with nice note weight to feel it in your chest so to speak if you were at a concert.) ( With “Rock Me” same thing but I am listening for the bass guitar drops on this track it should be quite low)
“Mid bass perfect on guitar Male vocals great , fast hits love the bass. Great high hats and just the right amount of sizzle”
#5 “Wheat Kings - Remastered” by The Tragically Hip
(Sense of stage and Male vocals)
“Instruments very nice tone, Gord’s voice is great and very realistic. Love the Vocal/music mix and is accurate to recording mix.”
#6 “Chemical Mentalist” The Crystal Method
(Bass, more bass fast and lots of it - How does it do end of the story - Huge Smile or poo emoji?)
“A excellent EDM IEM Smooth highs sibilant free great snap in the lows.”
#7 “Its Time” by Labrinth, Sia, Diplo
(3 very different singers and their voices come together. I use this because it’s a cool track and at higher volumes lesser IEM’s get sibilant. Piano doesn’t get washed out and Vocals at 2:30 should blow your little mind)
“Uncolored playback with accurate replay. Piano is excellent weight. The 2:30 spot left me with goosebumps!”
#8 “All My Friends Are Here” Joe Satriani
(In this track you can hear Joe playing dead Center with the busy and very separated L & R licks added in and then he brings you back to center with some crazy and very hard-to-play Descending A Major rifts! As Joe described this song as “A rock guitarist trying to control a wild beast”
“L+C+R very good Excellent micro dynamics, descending A Major sounded correct.”
#9 “The Antidote Is In The Poison” GoGo Penguin
(Modern Jazz at its best. Powerful, Dynamic track full of emotion and snappy bass. Fantastic track to listen to how well Micro Dynamics are conveyed and get a good sense of the IEM’s ability to convey that to the listener.)
“So Smooth , maybe a tad too much MB a bit thick on this track, Very fun and musical actually I love the extra bass but still stays mostly balanced.”
#10 “Angel” by Massive Attack
(Say it with me - massive textured bass drops )
“Love this replay not a big overemphasis sub bass is nice and still fast oh the highs are great vocals a tad recessed?”
#11 “Bring Me Some Water” by Melissa Ethridge
(I like this track to hear Melissa’s voice and see if the transducers (speakers) reproduce her voice to how edgy I think it should be.)
“Vocals perfect maybe a bit more than neutral but closer to my preference”
#12 “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” Annie Lennox
(A Bach-inspired Hammond Organ M102, I seriously love it and its unique sound with Annie’s voice this is so cool)
" The twinkle’s at the beginning are magical , excellent sense of stage bass has sweet texture love the Vocal/instrumental mix huge smile!"
#13 " So Cold " Holly McNarland
( Vocals on this track are further back in the track and L & R upfront good track for testing depth of stage and vocals - Sub Bass at the very beginning has a nice drop.)
“Great Macro Dynamics and the H50 played this track perfectly”
#14 “Shape Of My Heart” Sting
(in this track I am listening to the sound of the guitar pulls and slides. How well does the IEM give an emotional presentation of the mix between the vocals and the bass.
" Plucks could be more plucky more sharp here very good balance overall"
#15 “Wishing You Would Stay” by The Tea Party with Holly McNarland
(Love this track. With this song and this band, it was the first time having a guest vocalist. Holly McNarland has a great voice and I have seen her live a few times front and center getting sweat on. Listening for Holly’s voice being forward in the mix and not sibilant.)
“Holly vocals are a bit recessed in this track and should play a bit louder and forward, close but not perfect.”
#16 “Avenue A” Tom Cochrane and Red Rider Live from the Symphony Sessions
(This track with more resolving IEM’S you can hear the guitar pulls and slides with a sense of open spaciousness and grandeur)
" Excellent sense of spaciousness and grandeur. Excellent bass weight very good guitar + texture in the guitar with the decay!"
#17 “Eden” Hania Rani
( The way Hania has recorded this track with the mics on the strings in the body of the piano is incredibly unique and such a unique presentation you can hear the string’s tension at the beginning, Bass kicks in at 1:40 and goes low that’s what I am listening for )
" You can really hear the multiple mics in this recording and the decay and reverberation, a lot better than most IEM that have scooped MB , sub drops were there but wished for more "
#18 “Summertime” Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald
( This Track has both legendary artists Simply listening to Louis and Ella’s voices and of course, the Piano and trumpets how accurate and lifelike )
“Trumpets OH YES! Perfect bite the nuances in the instruments is excellent and stage is wonderful!”
#19 “Blue Train” Poncho Sanchez
( Trumpets here are silky or should sound that way with good timbre, overall mix how does it present, and of course Poncho’s drums )
“Lovely , love how the H50 does instruments very tonally perfect and balanced.”
#20 “ My Girl “ Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
(Listening for instrument placement and stage and this track gives a good sense of dynamics and excitement with lots of dynamics in the mix)
" Very Balanced , great range Right to Left drops was good , depth was just ok"
#21 “Iconic” by Alanis Morissette
(More edgy female vocals to give you the chills)
" Zero Harshness, Love It"
#22 “The Day That Never Comes” Metallica - Live with the SFO from S&M2
(Big open stage good depth of stage excellent recording with a excellent orchestral opening)
" Not the biggest sense of stage , but wicked vocals"
#23 “Tricycle” by Flim & BB’s
(Turn this one up and wait till 0:28 seconds- Have Fun Dynamics test)
" Hits with that fast slam perfectly as this track should play great twinkly bits"
#24 “Team” by Lorde
(Female vocals if your lover of those this is a great track)
“So wicked lovely”
#25 “ Wake Up “ Oliver Mtukudzi
(Oliver Mtukudzi is an African Musician and prolific guitarist and Vocalist. He sings with a mix of South African styles sometimes in English sometimes mixed like in this track and includes the traditional drumming styles of the Korekore. TUKU MUSIC at its finest – Listening for vocals, bass lines, and clarity – and because it is just fun! Right at the beginning you have some very cool snaps and instrumental)
" Very nice snaps + vocals excellent stage + instrument separation."
#26 “Brothers In Arms” by Dire Straits
(Intro and dynamics or distant thunder, and Iconic Mark Knopfler’s vocals Bass hits at 2:12)
" Bass is so textured , very balanced, smooth."
#27 “Keith Don’t Go” - Live Version by Nils Loftgren
(Acoustical Guitar absolutely amazing recording - Tonality and male vocal clarity)
" Amazing Bass + Guitar texture. The Attack & Release pulls are very very good great combo of Vocals & Instruments very unique replay ."
#28 “Somebody I used To Know” by Goyte & Kimba
(A huge stage and Vocals listen for excellent separation and stage, Vocals at 1:38 and female 2:38 and micro-dynamics
“One of the most fun presentations so smooth no sibilance and excellent stage.”
#29 " Flight Of The Cosmic Hippo" by Bélla Fleck & The Fleckstones
(Excellent recording and Bango bass should hit hard and low with nice mic of piano weight)
" Amazing bass texture + Hits, banjo so clean/clear/crisp/sharp! Piano sounds clean without getting washed out."
#30 " New Orleans Is Sinking " By The Tragically Hip."
Listening to Gord’s Voice without enough MB his voice will sound thin on this song.
" Very good mix of vocals + instrumental."
#31 “Electrified II” by Yello
How well does the playback just trip you out and pull you into the stage and presentation think Ferris Bueller’s` Day Off on LSD
" All the pieces in play and made this a crazy replay."
#32 “Fever” by Malia, Boris Blank
( Kind of a techno version of a classic with great female vocals and nice bass line throughout )
" No mid bass bleed just something special in the bottom."
#33 “Poem Of Chinese Drum” by Hok-man Kim
( A poem with drums just a excellent track to hear how percussions sound and there tonality)
" The secondary resonances of the drums sounds so real the decay is outstanding 60% of a U12t micro details off the charts."
#34 “Song Of the Stars (Remastered)” by Dead Can Dance
(Sub bass line at beginning goes low and the whole track is excellent to test stage and micro dynamics
Constant Left and Right with Center vocals is very trippy)
" OMG again the combo of how vocals replay a bit farther back in the mix , the instruments are brought to life and the stage and emotion is excellent."
#35 “Don’t Make me Wait” By Sting and Shaggy
(Listening to these iconic male vocals and correct tonality"
" Fast slamming drops, male vocals again so nice, note weight is great."
#36 “All of Me” - John Legend
" One of those rare tracks the H50 adds to much note weight"
#37 " I Love You’s " Hailee Steinfeld
( Hailee’s voice is so smooth , Mid bass hits? )
" Liquid smooth female vocals and the bass here was wicked."
#38 The Circle Of Life ( From Lion King ) - Tina Guo
( A Rock Violinist in this track looking for tonal accuracy with violin and flute )
" Perfectly done the violin + flute were excellent defiantly SIMBA APPROVED!"
#39 “Kiss the Cloud” - Yello & FiFi Rong
(Bass hits mid bass punch? Vocals )
" The fast bass hits and the stage makes this track fun on the H50 well done"
#40 “I Don’t Care Anymore” Phil Colins
( Stereo Bass and texture )
" Just wow the bass the texture and the nuances so terrific , stereo bass don’t get very often to replay with this good a texture and weight."
The ISN H50 plays back music in a very unique way.
The set has a bit of a relaxed upper midrange making the vocals play back a bit neutral to laid back , while staying crystal clear and natural. Some might hear this as a darker / warmer replay but after spending a considerable amount of time with the H50 I would say Its just a unique way of tuning.
The bass of the H50 is part of the recipe for what makes this IEM so great. The bass can only be described as fast , yet great textured bass without bloat and bass bleed is a non issue here. So not only do you get great fast bass but there is something extra the H50 does and that is the texture of that bass has so much more information than just the hit, but also the decay and the information it passes on to you. Drums, guitar, piano, all have a sense of realism that other sets fail to bring forward.
Mids and vocals are always crystal clear and sound natural, Sometimes equal in the mix sometimes slightly recessed and this also is a huge part of the uniqueness of the H50.
The Highs are also a bit relaxed but the upper treble adds it back in to bring you back and pay attention not too much like the LETSHOUER EJ07M’S, but in a way to only add sparkle and details as well as making sure instruments sound natural and clean. This implementation is like what other sets do or try to do with EST drivers but in a more natural way without sounding forced or the BA’s trying to hard.
The upper treble also has extra energy so you get the combination of excellent technicalities and natural presentation. Because of that extra energy Stage, dynamics , micro details are all still there as well as excellent reproduction of said instruments. Love this unique replay.
The stage is wonderful most excellent overall and makes the H50 really engaging while not overpowering you with too much information. The width way above average. Depth was the one it didn’t so well at nor creating a 3D stage and height was average.
The H50 is a easy to listen to IEM, Its not going to blast your eardrums out with its overpowering bass, not will it make you totally focus on the vocals. You wont hear sibilance nor will the H50 blast you with ear piercing treble. The H50 just is a unique IEM one that is defiantly worth your consideration.
60’s & 70’s Music with their psychedelic trippy recording mixes were something else and the H50 takes advantage of this and with its great stage and vocals its like the tuner was right there on acid with them!
Modern music was done the same kind of way as well, clear , crips very present vocals and also done with the same attention to detail just done in a different way you may have heard other IEM’s do it.
All Genre’s were great nothing stood out as the wrong library, the music was just brought to you the H50 way.
In a sea of poorly tuned IEM’s ,IEF Neutral, Harman tuned curves, Bass boosted muddy bloated bass IEM’s ,Mid Bass scooped, Treble blasters, and just weird IEM’s the H50 makes its mark.
The H50 stands on its own and is unique.
ISN made a IEM with a special sauce done in a way I have not heard another IEM do this well.
I hope ISN keeps pushing the boundaries between neutral and fun, and I for one am excited to watch and listen to future projects.
Well done ISN and thank you for making such a wonderful piece of musical gear.
Thanks so much, Cheers from the Tone Deaf Monk.
My Video for the ISN H50 is Here: ISN H50 Wúderbar Ausgewogen! - YouTube
Discord Server is here for insider information and just good conversation: Monk's server