The HL4 series from the Franconian manufacturer Hörluchs includes several models with a 3-way driver, as indicated by the number “3” in their product designation. In this test, it’s the model HL4330 which is being put through its paces on the kopfhoerer.de test bench. So how did these in-ear headphones, described as having a “brilliant” and “detailed” audio response, perform in our practical evaluation? Let’s find out.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principleBalanced Armature (3-way driver)
- Frequency response (headphones)15 - 28.000 Hz
- Impedance11 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)131 dB
- Weight without cable8 g
- Cable length160 cm
What's in the box
- 6 pairs of earmolds
- Cerumen filter
- 6.35mm stereo jack
- Travel case
The Hörluchs HL4330 in-ears arrive in a sturdy case. This features a protective hard-shell exterior with a wipe-clean nylon cover and a zipper with a pull-cord attached. The package also includes a gold-plated jack adapter, a cleaning cloth, and six pairs of in-ear domes in three different sizes. Replaceable cerumen (earwax) filters are used to maintain optimum audio functionality by preventing foreign material from penetrating the interior of the sound-channel. Eleven replacement filters are supplied for both right and left sides. These come in their own special container complete with a handy insertion tool. This makes the task of removing a spent filter from its in-ear housing and carefully inserting a fresh one so much easier. The same sophisticated attention to detail is clearly apparent with other features too, such as integrated locking mechanism on the HL4330 box and the inclusion of an anti-static cleaning cloth.
Material, design and appearance
The Hörluchs HL4330 come with an exchangeable cable with gold-plated connectors, which plugs directly into the housing and can then be routed up behind the ear. A secure precision fit is ensured by the provision of bendable wire which is used at each end of the cable, and the rugged design also offers essential cable reinforcement at pressure points to avoid frequent breakages. These are corded cables, which means they are much less prone to “tangling” than standard straight cables. Furthermore, it is also possible to further upgrade your listening experience by purchasing high-end cables or opting for wireless connectivity.
These in-ears are available in a choice of two colours: a transparent grey, or classic black. Hörluchs assemble the housings using their own in-house production facility. To create these earphones, the South German manufacturer constructs ergonomic 3D prints from LPH, a material whose properties are very similar to acrylic. The design shape is based on the hundreds of earmoulds Hörluchs have acquired in the process of studying typical acoustic behaviour and manufacturing their custom-built range of hearing aids. Thus the buyer receives a kind of universal design shape which should be a good fit for most ears.
Deep bass through to high treble
Thanks to a low impedance rating of just 11 ohms, these in-ears can be driven by even the weakest headphone preamp. So they’re worth their weight in gold, especially in when monitoring via beltpack receivers, and with a maximum SPL of 131 dB, they can still deliver a clear sound even at high sound pressure levels. This combination of features makes the HL4330 a really loud, heavy-duty tool. No less than three balanced-armature drivers guarantee these in-ear monitors output sound across an immense frequency range of 15 to 28,000 Hz. That’s an incredibly broad span, especially in the treble range.
Inserted and ready to wear!
The earphone housing achieves an excellent fit. Thanks to an ergonomic design, each audio earpiece immediately nestles snugly and sits comfortably and securely in the ear, exactly as it should. And to make the fit even more secure, the bendable wires at each cable end permit additional strain relief by routing the cable up and behind the ear. Furthermore, the positioning of the earmoulds can be infinitely adjusted, allowing each earpiece to be lengthened or shortened by micro amounts to optimise the fit. Thus the Hörluchs HL4330 are therefore not only suitable for the monitoring requirements of live speakers and presenters, they will also serve the needs of performers who move around a lot while on stage.
Because of their balanced armature drivers, the HL4330s initially offer a more subtle and restrained bass. It’s only after adding an equalizer and amplification or other sound processing that these tiny headphones reveal their true bass handling capacity. That’s when the sonic detail of the powerful sub-bass range becomes apparent. While maintaining absolute vocal clarity, these headphones have a less restrained mid-range than other Hörluchs models. This results in a much more balanced sound image than that experienced, for example, during tests on the HL42XX range. Nevertheless, prolonged use of these tiny headphones to monitor audio with a heavy mid-range content – such as rock guitar or some synthesizer material – will soon fatigue the ear, and their sound profile is probably best employed for monitoring vocal work, or to enjoy performances of classical works with full hi-fi clarity. Precision high-register detailing creates a virtually three-dimensional soundstage which sparkles with sonic clarity and immense depth, while transients are consistently handled with precision, even at high playback volumes. The HL4330 model also features excellent acoustic isolation and exceptional damping of ambient noise. If you prefer a more bass-heavy sound, you could try the HL4310 version, while the Hörluchs HL4300 model will appeal to those looking for a more linear frequency response.
The Hörluchs HL4330 performed brilliantly throughout the test, providing a richly detailed sound, even at high volume levels, while offering high wearer comfort as well as a sophisticated package which also includes replacement filters. Acoustic isolation is ultra-efficient and the audio response is first-rate with plenty of depth and a powerful three-dimensional quality. The HL4330’s 3-way solution is convincing, despite the relatively strong response across most of the mid-range. The price-performance ratio of this model is therefore top-quality and the device goes beyond being merely competitive in its price range, but sends a clear message to the competition that Hörluchs is a real force to be reckoned with on the in-ear market. In my opinion, these headphones are especially suitable for monitoring speech signals as well as for listening to classical music in a hi-fi context.