Planar magnetic headphones are some of the most popular choices among audio enthusiasts. It should come as no surprise that the concept of shrinking these popular drivers down and applying them to in-ears leaves fans excited. While there have been a number of very good in-ear planars, a good many have been divisive, whether that be in cost, sound quality, or comfort. A new player, 7Hz, aims to change that with its new Timeless in-ear monitor. These earphones have developed a huge amount of hype thanks to their mid-tier $219.99 price and popular tuning.
This is a review that’s been in the works for several weeks because, well, I can’t get enough of them. They sound amazing for the price and are some of the best planar IEMs you can buy for under $500.
- Current Price: $219.99 (Linsoul, Amazon)
- Driver: 14.2mm planar driver
- Impedance: 14.8ohm
- Sound pressure level: 104dB/1Khz
- Frequency response range: 5-40000hz
- THD: <0.2%/1KHZ
- Connector: MMCX
- Nozzle diameter: 5mm
- Materials: Aviation-grade CNC aluminum shell
7Hz Timeless - Overview
The Timeless are interesting earphones in more ways than one. The first thing you’ll notice about them won’t be their sound: it will be their shape. The shells are made from CNC-milled aircraft-grade aluminum, but instead of adopting the traditional sculpted shape that’s become so popular in recent years, the outer shell is a big, circular plate. It certainly gives them a unique look, and the circular milling on the face reflects light in an interesting way, but it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Frankly, it’s the kind of strange choice I’m not totally on board with, but it’s an accommodation I’m willing to make for how good they sound.
Inside those shells, the earphones use 14.2mm planar drivers. Unlike dynamic drivers, which are conical, these drivers are a flat plane held taught between an array of magnets. When give power, that plane vibrates within the magnetic field, pushing air and creating sound. Their unique structure allows them (when designed, built, and tuned correctly) to deliver exceptional detail and low distortion across the frequency spectrum. These drivers offer a frequency response range of 5 - 40000 Hz, which is well outside of the range of human hearing. Since most drivers will distort at the outer reaches of their frequency response, this helps to ensure that what you can hear comes through without audible distortion.
Due to their unique design, most planars require a good amount of power to sound their best, but the Timeless are able to be driven from most devices. They have a low impedance (14.8 ohm) and reasonably high sensitivity (104dB) were able to be driven just fine on my Samsung Note 20 Ultra with a dongle DAC. They do scale well with more power, however. I ran them in balanced mode with my Khadas Tone 2 Pro desktop amp and they sounded great.
The Timeless comes with a nice set of accessories. The detachable MMCX cable is great. It’s silver and trimmed with red and black connections that look great. It’s also available in your choice of terminations: 3.5mm single-ended and 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced. I was sent the balanced version but did wind up picking up a replacement cable to connect to my smartphone dongles. Also included in the box are a set of replacement tips that can be installed to improve bass or vocals, etc., but I found the default black tips to be balanced and comfortable.
The case is more than a little surprising. It’s essentially a brushed aluminum block with a hinged lid. It’s too big to carry in a pocket easily but is sturdy and has a strong magnet to keep it closed in a bag. The inside is spacious enough to keep the earphones with their cable and perhaps a spare set of tips and dongle DAC. It’s also trimmed in a felt material so the earphones will be protected from scratches, though the glue on this seems a little weak. Mine started to peel slightly below the hinge after only a week.
7Hz Timeless - Comfort and Fit
Despite their odd appearance, I found the Timeless to fit exceptionally well. The wide circular faceplates are just that: plates. Behind them is the usual sculpted body that nestles into your ear. There are no hard angles or sharp edges to make wearing them uncomfortable for users with mid-sized ears. The nozzles are also just long enough to fit snugly in the ear canal. I was able to wear them for hours at a time completely comfortably. I admit to being shocked that they are as comfortable as they are. They don’t look like they would be.
With that in mind, I’m concerned about users with large ears. Larger-eared listeners could find that the nozzles don’t extend far enough to achieve a snug fit without pressing the plate into the outer ear. I can’t speak to this from personal experience, but the nozzles are relatively shallow, and it’s easy to see how it could happen.
7Hz Timeless - Listening Impressions
Onto what really matters, the sound! The 7Hz Timeless are the best-tuned planar IEM I’ve ever heard yet. I must caveat that by saying that I haven’t heard the most expensive options on the market. I’ve spent a good amount of time with other planar IEMs around the $200-300 mark, however, like the HarmonicDyne PD1 and TinHiFi P1, and these absolutely put them to shame. The 7Hz Timeless finally gets at what makes many over-ear planar headphones so enjoyable: great body and great detail, and then adds excellent tonality and musicality.
Credit: In-Ear Fidelity (Crinacle)
The Timeless isn’t perfectly balanced, so audiophiles might take issue with its less-than-neutral tuning, but I love it. This is an IEM for people who want a little low-end juice in their music without sacrifice mid-range tone and detail. As a big fan of instrumental music — everything from instrumental metal like Andy James and Angel Vivaldi — to lo-fi chillstep during long writing sessions, the tuning and tone 7Hz has applied here makes listening fun without treading into basshead territory that stomps all over the rest of spectrum. Put another way, this earphone can deliver some good thump, punch, and body while still sounding like a darn good detail machine.
Unlike many audio enthusiasts, when I listen, I’m not looking for perfect neutrality. I’m looking for enjoyment, energy, and to hear every little bit of detail without it sounding like certain things are behind a haze. Guitar metal, like Angel Vivaldi, can sound thin on detail-heavy headphones or muddy on headphones that are all about the pound. Or hopping into a match of Battlefield (yes, 2042), bass machines can often suck as positionality and fine detail, like footsteps, breaking glass, and the other “intangibles” that draw you into the experience. Not here. This has body and presence enough to draw you in, drive the excitement, and still let you hear each and every layer of what you’re listening to clearly.
As a guitar player, I key in on that for detail. There are nuances in tone, especially with harmonized instruments that help them be heard separately while also blending seamlessly together. The tuning here is just about perfect to hear the nuances of guitars and other mid-range instruments. That holds true for acoustic guitar, synths, and stringed instruments. You’ll hear fingers sliding across strings, bends, harmonics, and slides clearly and enjoyably.
Before I sell these headphones too much, they’re not perfect. The soundstage and imaging are only decent. They fall in line with other in-ears, which means they’re not very remarkable. Not bad, but it’s nothing very special on their own.
That also means they’re not the best choice for gaming out of the box (and to be fair, very few IEMs are). Still, if you’re spending upwards of $200 on IEMs, it’s good to know whether they’ll work to plug into a laptop when you’re at the campus library for some between-classes gaming. And yes, they’re fine, but don’t expect them to compete with you’re favorite gaming headset in soundstage and atmosphere. Though, they respond very well to Dolby Atmos, so definitely try them with spatial audio.
But, I have to say, these headphones are one of the biggest surprises of the year. They bring the classic planar tone to IEM for without the usual sacrifices. Planars in IEMs are still somewhat rare, but these are an impressive showing from a brand that’s fresh to the scene. Exciting stuff.
The 7Hz Timeless truly is a great earphone for the money. It finally delivers on the promise of an in-ear planar without having to jump to a bulky Audeze iSine or super expensive Audeze Euclid. That it came out of a relatively unknown brand like 7Hz is surprising and exciting for what they might offer in the future. At $219.99, this is an excellent buy and proves that the hype can sometimes be real.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.