The Wu Zetian from TANGZU was one of our favorite pairs of earphones for music and gaming. Is its influencer-tuned refresh, the TANGZU x HBB Wu Zetian Heydey Edition, worth upgrading to or choosing over the original? Find out in this review.
We would like to thank Linsoul for providing the sample for this review.
- Current Price: $199 (Amazon, Linsoul)
- Key Features:
- Upgraded 14.5mm Planar Driver Tuned in Collaboration with HawaiiBadBoy (Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews)
- Upgraded 3-in-1 Detachable 4 Core Silver-plated Braided Cable
- Includes 6 Pairs of Interchangable Eartips and a Premium Carrying Box
- Ergonomic Shape Made of Aluminum with 5-axis High Precision CNC Machine
- Premium Faceplates Engraved with Traditional Chinese Auspicious Cloud Pattern
- Model: Wu Heyday Edition
- Drivers: Upgraded 14.5mm Planar driver
- Sensitivity: 100dB (1kHz)
- Frequency Range: 20Hz-20KHz
- Impedance: 16 ohm
- Distortion Rate: < 1%
- Channel Difference: 1dB (1kHz)
- Earphone Material: Aluminum
- Cable Interface: 0.78 2-pin
- Cable Plug: 3-in-1 detachable cable (2.5mm/4.4mm/3.5mm plug included)
- Cable Material: 4 Core Silver-plated Cable
- Cable Length: 1.2m+5%
- What's in the Box:
- Wu HeyDay In-Ear Monitors
- 4 Core Silver-plated Cable With Modular System
- 3 Pairs of Silicone Ear-tips (balanced)
- 3 Pairs of silicone Ear-tips (bass)
- 1 Pair of Foam Ear-tips
- Earphone case
TANGZU x HBB Wu Zetian Heydey Edition - First Impressions and Key Features
The TANGZU x HBB Wu Zetian Heydey Edition came out earlier this year and is one of the more exciting influencer collaborations. The original Wu Zetian was my favorite planar magnetic IEM, and as a long-time subscriber to Bad Guy, Good Audio Reviews (HawaiiBadBoy, HBB), I was curious to see how he would enhance it. The result is a better package overall, both sonically and in terms of what you’re actually getting, but at a high enough price that it won’t make sense for everyone.
The Heydey Edition keeps much the same from the original. It still uses a 14.5mm planar magnetic driver, but HBB has tuned it to match his personal curve. Planar magnetic drivers have been very much in vogue over the last year, and it’s easy to see why. Compared to dynamic drivers (DD) or DD/Balanced Armature hybrids, they offer enhanced details, faster bass, and better layering. The result is a clearer sound with more texture — at least in this case. There are great IEMs with across all of the major driver types. Tuning, design, and driver quality always make the most difference. But when done well, planars can be genuinely impressive.
The enhancements come in moderate changes to the tuning (slightly less sub-bass and upper-mid energy) to make it sound a hair cleaner and less rumbly, and the package itself.
The earpieces are identical in most ways. They’re made of CNC-milled aluminum and have an engraved cloud pattern on their face. Unlike the originals, which were bright purple, these are matte silver and aren’t as ostentatious. They still use a standard 2-pin to connect to their cable, which has received a major upgrade with this version.
The original cable was fine, but the Heydey Edition is a major improvement. It is thicker yet softer, now trimmed in a beautiful iridescent blue. From its connection to the Y-split, it’s almost ropelike but is easy to wrap, and drape, and isn’t prone to tangling. It also features modular ends, so you can simply unplug the connection and use it with any source from 3.5mm single ended to 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced.
Also included in the box is a new black case, very close to the original, and a selection of silicone tips sorted between bass and balanced sound signatures. This version also includes a small charm as a bonus.
TANGZU x HBB Wu Zetian Heydey Edition - Fit and Comfort
The Wu is easy to wear over extended periods, though users with smaller ear canals may find that they need to be reseated from time to time. I found that depending on how I moved, the earpieces had a tendency to lose their seal with the included silicone tips. Using the foam tips alleviated this issue, but since I’m not a fan of foams, shifting to a pair of AZLA XELASTEC was in order. The earpieces did not cause any discomfort for me over time.
TANGZU x HBB Wu Zetian Heydey Edition - Listening Impressions
The TANGZU x HBB Wu Heyday Edition is a more balanced take on the original Wu Zetian. HBB’s goal in this collab seemed to be to tame the sub-bass and some of the upper-middle frequencies to create a smoother sound signature with improved clarity. The differences are immediately noticeable side by side but aren’t dramatic revisions overall. If you enjoyed the original, or were waiting because you heard it had too much bass, this is likely the version you’ll want to choose.
Testing these earphones took place over about 15 hours of dedicated listening. Sources included the Xduoo XD-05 Plus, the Fiio K9 Pro ESS, and the Fiio BTR7 using LDAC. These earphones are not hard to drive, but I find that having a bit of power overhead improves bass performance a touch.
Bass: There is a slight reduction in the sub-bass frequencies beginning at 100Hz, but I find this to be a minor adjustment overall. HBB and TANGZU tamed this section down just enough to bring it in line with his personal target, which also has the benefit of cleaning up and drawing out the frequencies in the higher registers. I really enjoyed the extra thump from the original and tend to prefer than (especially because it stood out more in the planar IEM market) but there’s no arguing against the case for clarity here.
Since the Wu uses a planar driver, the bass is expectedly fast and detailed. You can hear plenty of texture in lingering bass notes, and the speed they start and stop is realistic and impactful. The quality is there, just not as much quantity as the vanilla Wu.
Mids: Mid-range performance is very good on this set and is closely in line with the original. Vocalists don’t come forward but aren’t artificially recessed either. There is very good texture and resolution in this range, as you would expect from a good planar driver, which makes it easy to pick out small details that might be lost in the “cohesiveness” of a dynamic driver. Like the Wu Zetian, the tuning here is great for rock and metal.
Treble: Treble is a touch smoother than original, largely due to the slight recession dialed in between 2kHz and 6kHz. It does make the set sound a bit warmer overall but not by much. I personally would have liked to see this section remain as it was previously for a bit of added crispness leading into the treble, but it’s not a major change. There is still enough treble energy to present a clear sound that, while not expansive, still sounds crisp and airy.
Technical Performance, Soundstage, and Imaging: The Wu Heydey Edition is very close to the original in many ways, but I actually think it steps up a touch in technical performance. Lowering the sub-bass a hair adds a bit of extra clarity throughout the mix and helps the drivers to shine. Planars are well known for their ability to draw out the different layers of music and games, allowing you to hear each on its own plane. That’s definitely the case here, with very good layering and details throughout, while still falling a bit short of the 7Hz Timeless.
The soundstage isn’t very wide. To my ear, it sounds just a mite closer in than the original but that might be placebo effect. The sound isn’t as open as an open-back or semi-open set, but is wide enough that it seems to come from just outside your head. Imaging is also similar, which is to say, generally good but not overly remarkable.
Gaming: The Heydey Edition is a good pair of IEMs for gaming. The differences really aren’t that major, so much of what I said in my initial review remains true. The soundstage is wide enough, and positionality close enough, that these work well for competitive gaming and RPGs. They are very responsive to Dolby Atmos and open right up when it’s enabled.
Overall Impressions and Final Thoughts
The original Wu Zetian were my hands-down favorite planar IEMs. Their bass-richness made them a lot of fun without sacrificing much in detail retrieval and layering. The TANGZU x HBB Wu Zetian Heydey Edition are simply a different flavor of that, trading a touch of bass for a hair more clarity.
The bigger changes really come with its design and cable. If you weren’t a fan of purple, then the originals weren’t for you. These should have a more universal appeal. The cable, on the other hand, is so much better. Not only is it modular, which increases its utility, but it’s beautiful, thick, completely unmicrophonic, and generally feels very nice.
$199 is a fair price for these, but it does feel a bit steep when the original can be had for $149, it’s a much harder sell. With a little EQ, you could have the same sonic effect, buy your own modular cable, and still have money left over. Buy these if you don’t like EQ or the original shells, or if you love the cable, but otherwise, you’re safe saving a bit of money on this one.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. Articles may include affiliate links from which we may earn a small commission to help support the site. Authors do not earn affiliate revenue or commissions.