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Massdrop x HIFIMAN Bolt In-Ear Monitors

Massdrop x HIFIMAN Bolt In-Ear Monitors

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Product Description
You can’t go wrong with a great pair of $10 IEMs—especially when they look, sound, and fit like earphones several times their price. Enter the Massdrop x HIFIMAN Bolt: one of those small daily essentials you’ll always be glad to have around Read More

Customer Reviews

(215 reviews)
33% would recommend to a friend
By Feature
Build Quality
Music GenresPopular among reviewers
ActivitiesPopular among reviewers
Aug 15, 2018
checkVerified Buyer
As a musician who produces and mixes recordings, I've been exposed to a wide range of buds and headsets over the years, some very expensive. Honestly for the price, I am very impressed with the Bolt's performance. I can't reasonably address some reviewer's missing bass frequencies, but perhaps they aren't using the correct sized replaceable plugs for their ear canals. I went with a slightly greater diameter and the bass improved remarkably. Also as they were broken in, the sound became progressively better. As far as some stating a cheap pair of Sony or Apple ear buds perform better than these, all I can say is that is an amazing statement and can only be attributed to lack of experience or perhaps a physical problem with hearing loss, not recognizing certain frequencies, etc. The bottom line is, everyone's hearing is different due to heredity or environment, so getting irritated at other's appraisals is not productive. Agreed, the Bolts perhaps are a trifle weak in the midrange, but the crispness and presence are remarkable, really remarkable. On some of my own recordings in which I use a sub-bass enhancement plugin, It almost felt like a deep vibration like bass was coming through the floor. Kind of odd I know, but it was there on the very low frequencies. I may change these out with a pair of expensive Audeo brand buds I've been using for years with in ear stage monitoring systems. My only regret is that I only purchased two pair of these. The build might not be real fancy, but sound wise, for a mere ten spot, I don't think you can match the price/performance ratio anywhere. Should this drop come around again, I will be in line for sure.
Aug 21, 2018
checkVerified Buyer
Pros: Very punchy bass, Excellent noise isolation, L shape jack, Flat cable, Solid housing, only $10 Cons: Mids/Treble is lacking, Cable coating feels cheap.
From reading other reviews, I feel like sample consistency is particularly bad with these iems but I feel like my copy was built and sounded well above its $10 value and I probably would've paid $25-$30 for my pair.
Aug 21, 2018
TatertoterI've honestly thought the same thing. Mine do not sound "tinny" at all which is what a lot of people are saying. They aren't the clearest thing on earth, but the sound is far from tinny. I actually bought two pairs, I should try the other ones to compare, but I wanted to give them away still new. Bleh.
Aug 21, 2018
checkVerified Buyer
My first impression of this product is the punchy base with recessed mids and very tinny highs. The vocals are very distant which creates somewhat of a soundstage, but they sound muffled. But the overall clarity with decent instrument seperation and the ok sound soundstage makes this IEM a very good deal for only 10 dollars, and i will also be happy to pay 30 dollars or so for the earphone. One thing to note is that the eartips are not very good as they are quite loose and one one side of the IEM makes a pop sound everytime I insert my earphone (quality issue). It doesn't bother me as much as it will not make any changes to the sound signature but it's just a bit annoying.
Aug 10, 2018
checkVerified Buyer
Well I am pretty much stunned by these IEMs. The first thing I will tell you is they really feel comfortable in my ears. The seal is first rate, the weight is substantial without dragging and they don't threaten to fall out every time I turn my head. For a whole day I could not find the whatsit that Apple makes you buy for iPhones since they stupidlly, arrogantly, in total Apple fashion eliminated the . headphone jack., but today I found it. I could have tried it on something else but to me the phone was the best choice because everywhere that I have really good music files I also have really good cans to listen to them. I don't use IEMs at home. So anyway I waited to listen to my Apple music music and I am, well, as I said, stunned. The sound is rich and full. The bass is strong and clear without being over bearing and the top is surprisingly lively and, again, clear. These sound like much more expensive earbuds than they are. Also, the in-line microphone works. I mention this because so often it doesn't. I used to turn up my nose at in-line microphones, but I used to listen to all my music, including high res files through IEMs. I had SHURE SE846s and 535s (the RED Edition). Back then, the idea was that an inline microphone was supposed to be an obstacle that the music had to overcome to get to your ear. If that sounds fussy, I have come to believe that I sort of think so too. In any case, I don't have all that gear anymore because I got robbed (the thief also took my Fostex TH900s :( and my Oppo HA-2 portable headphone amp), and since then I have not really been willing to spend that much money on something that is so easy to lose. So I just listen to IEMs when I 'm on the go and these are now my default choice. I don't hear a lot of fancy shmancy qualities like "sound stage" or sparkling mid range sound but I . am not sure I could hear much of that anyway on iTunes fare. For the record, I listen to classical music and some jazz. I have not tried these on any other genres, but classical is pretty revealing so I expect that these would work for everything. I have just read a couple of negative reviews and that makes me feel all inadequate inside, but I will stick to my guns here. No they are not Grado or Audeze. They are 10 dollar IEMS that sound like hundred dollar IEMs. That's my review and I am standing by it. Cheers.
Aug 10, 2018
Stephen879I'll agree on the seal, MAN the buds actually feel really good and sit super-well for me. Not sure I can agree they sound like $100, but then again I haven't tried $100 IEM's so I've nothing to compare to. Interesting thoughts in your review! Sorry to hear about your robbery :(
Aug 11, 2018
checkVerified Buyer
All hype and no substance.
They were on all the deal websites when announced, and must have driven much foot traffic to Massdrop. The earbuds do look good and are cleverly priced at $9.99 (with tax and shipping it becomes more like $15). Perhaps they got everything right but only overlooked one "tiny" thing --- the sound is terrible. It is heavily distorted; the highs are nonexistent.
They cannot compare with any of the many earbuds I bought over the years, some of which were not much pricer, such as lower-end AKGs and Sennheisers; they can hardly compete with some of the earbuds that came with cell phones (e.g., with my old Blackberries and newer Samsungs). The price is no excuse.
Admittedly, these do look like "premium" devices with the metal casing, unlike all the aforementioned ones made of plastic. The look makes one think that if a company has put so much effort into the casing, the interior must be half decent. But eventually it only tells the customers what a company values more --- the flashy appearance, the hype. And that is not the Massdrop or Hifiman I know.
Please don't smash your brand for the foot traffic. Please don't sell yourself out.
Aug 11, 2018
checkVerified Buyer
Updated Review on 8/14/2018
Massdrop has had some very strong collaboration products with major industry players over the past few years in the audio arena, so when Massdrop announced their latest collaboration with Hifiman, I was ready to jump on board -- especially at the offering price of $10!
This drop actually ended up arriving before the estimated ship date by several weeks, so that was pleasing.I was definitely skeptical about a $10 set of headphones from a company known to sell headphones from $500 to over $10,000. But at the same time, I never heard any of their IEMs before, so I was up for anything, and at the asking price, it was hard to turn it down.
As a background, I own the Hifiman HE560 currently (and love it), and have also listened to and enjoyed the Sundara, 400i, Edition X V2, and other Hifiman products. I listen to mostly indie rock, post-rock, dreampop, shoegazer, jazz, country, folk, and singer-songwriter stuff, but I also listen to hip hop/rap and electronic dance music too.
So the item came in a very basic box along with 3 sets of cheap silicone tips (Small/Medium/Large).
The cable is non-detachable and is a flat-wire type, which I really dislike in general. For example, the ones that Audeze uses on their portable Sine and iSine headphones -- I really do not like. Hifiman takes my dissatisfaction of flat cables to a whole new level though. This cable is just "flat" out awful.It does have a mic built into it but I have yet to try it.
The IEM housing itself is an attractive aluminum shell that is simple and elegant. It's also small and lightweight, and fits rather easily in my ears. These have to be worn cable down, as the driver is angled to fit that way, and cable, again, is not detachable.
One thing to note: Driver Flex can occur with silicone tips. If not driver flex, something loud and crinkly sounding. Doesn't occur as much with foams.
My first impressions putting these on were something like... OH MY GOSH! THAT BASS! The bass slams and is monstrous if you get a good seal. But everything else is utter garbage. The mids are very recessed and treble is extremely loose. Many people have complained of a "tinny" sound, which I can also hear too, though not as badly as people may make it out to be. 
The IEM is L-shaped with major focus on the bass and low mids end. The above MiniDSP EARS measurement I made definitely shows that. The bass is exaggerated while the mids begin to slope very far down and become recessed in the main vocal range. The upper mids look like they start to behave like one would expect but then treble is completely rolled off with a slight bump around 16K. 
Soundstage is medium width and instrument separation is average.
Detail and clarity is severely lacking on this IEM, and they tend to sound muddy in many tracks.


While I wasn't expecting an exceptional audiophile IEM with this price, I was expecting something similar to other Hifiman headphones I heard - in terms of sound signature and tonality. Instead, this thing reminds me more of a generic consumer-sound that is worth about $5-10. Many of the packaged ear buds and IEMs that come with phones and DAPs sound better than these. This is quite a disappointing addition to the Hifiman family unfortunately. For about $10, I think many people would be much better off getting something like the Yincrow X6 or the Blue Ever Blue 328R which are both Ear Buds (not IEMs) -- but they sound a lot better overall with added clarity.

Finally, a comparison to my current budget king, the Tin Audio T2:

Aug 11, 2018
Nooo! A lot of the MD collaborations are wonderful products! This is just cheap. It's not horrible for $10. It's just cheap not as great of a deal as say the $199 and above collaborations they have going which are wonderful products.
Aug 14, 2018
For less than $10, and if you like ear buds (not IEMs), I highly recommend the Yincrow X6. You can find it on AliExpress. It's a great sounding ear bud for about $7 USD.
Aug 9, 2018
checkVerified Buyer
WTF is everyone smoking? There things sound worse than a set of $4 Xiaomi Piston headphones.
Fancy name, cheap price, so you roll the dice! And this time around you get some uncomfortable, overly sharp sounding headphones.
Bleh, hand them down and chalk it up to learning experience. Does a disservice to the HIFIMAN name and I'll be avoiding this brand in the future.
2 stars because the craftsmanship seems bulletproof. Will attempt to break them in further and leave them playing over night and see if the sound softens some.
Aug 22, 2018
checkVerified Buyer
This is the same review I posted to Head-Fi and r/headphones, so if you've read either of those, you might as well skip this one. I've never been one to make pretty intros or anything so let's jump right in...
Disclaimer: I prefer a neutral sound signature with a couple dB increase to sub bass response and a slightly warm lower midrange. I tend to dislike any midrange recession. I have been in this hobby for a couple years and have tried and owned a plethora of headphones and IEMs. A large soundstage matters less to me than detail retrieval and instrument separation. I purchased these from Massdrop for full price and am receiving no compensation of any kind for this review. All of my opinions are just that; opinions. As always, YMMV. Packaging/Accessories: The Bolt come in a very basic box. Considering these are $10, the minimalist packaging is fine. Inside the box are two baggies. One has the Bolt IEMs and the other has spare tips. The only tips included are single flange in S, M and L. The included tips are okay but a bit stiff for my personal preference so I switched them out for UE tips after about 10-15 minutes of listening. No case is included. Build Quality/Cable/Fit: The housings themselves feel acceptably well built and I can't expect any more for the price. The flat cable feels, looks, and behaves almost exactly like the one on the Logitech UE500vi. It definitely seems to be the weakest part of the IEM. If I was going to be using these regularly, I would definitely put them in a case to help keep the wire safe. There is a microphone and an answer/end call button on the right side. The button has a solid, satisfying click to it. It requires enough force that it won't be bumped accidentally and that you know when you've pressed it. The cable retains the bends Wearing them down, I was able to get a decent seal and they were comfortable. However, I could not get a good fit this way; they kept wanting to fall out after a short time or with a very light tug. Worn down, microphonics are present. Definitely noticeable and annoying, but it won't keep you from listening to your music. I switched to wearing them over-the-ear and everything improved. Comfort is good, they don't want to fall out, and microphonics are nonexistent. Sound Overview: I used Tidal for all of my listening. For my first impressions at home, I plugged the Bolt straight into the SE headphone out of my Soekris dac1541. The majority of my listening has been at work where I had the Bolt plugged into a HeadAmp Gilmore Lite mk2 connected to the line out of an Oppo HA-2SE being fed from my work laptop. They seem to require more power to drive than many IEMs but quite not as much as the UE500vi or Pinnacle P1. They should be able to be driven to reasonably loud volumes from just about anything, however they seem to like a dedicated amp. Overall, the Bolt has a V-shaped sound signature: heavily accented sub bass and bass, lower-midrange recession followed by a rise in the upper midrange that continues into the treble. Bass: Holy cow this thing hits hard. IMO, this can be considered a basshead IEM. The sub-bass response drops off a tiny bit below 40Hz but I can easily hear it all the way down to 20Hz at normal listening volumes which is something I can't say about many other IEMs or headphones. The bass lines in Work by A$ap Ferg and Rack City by Tyga are downright intoxicating. The Bolt seems to be right at home playing rap or other beat-centric music. When moving over to rock/metal, the bass guitars and drums can be a bit overpowering. When lots of stuff is going on, the bass seems to lose definition and feels a bit slow. The bass seems to lose a little of its power when being driven by the headphone out of the HA-2SE or the Apple Lightning Headphone Adapter vs the Gilmore or dac1541. Midrange: After the intensity of the bass, the midrange takes a step back. My first impression of the midrange was actually quite good. I thought it sounded very clear for a v-shaped IEM at this price. The lower to mid midrange sounds recessed to me and makes a clear separation between the bass and midrange. Electric guitars and many male vocals seem to have much less weight to them than they should and can sound a bit off. Male vocals can come across as a bit disconnected from the music and sound hollow. After the lower midrange lull, the upper midrange starts to pick back up again. Female vocals tend sound better than male vocals but still lack a little weight to them. Once again, the Bolt sounds better with beat-centric rap or pop music. Vocals come through a bit cleaner with this type of music than rock, or other, busier music. Treble: This is where things get really bad. To my ears, it sounds like the frequency response continues to rise past the upper midrange into the lower treble. There is a very large peak at 5kHz-5.5kHz which can bring out a tinniness quality to the sound. This can also make female vocals sound a little metallic with an unnatural timbre. Listening to frequency sweeps, I can hear other peaks at 6.5kHz, 7.5kHz, 10.5kHz (small), and 12kHz (large); it sounds like there's a kid constantly playing with the volume knob on my amp as the frequency changes. The treble does extend well, all the way up to where I can't hear past 17kHz. The treble overall is very peaky and sounds a bit unnatural. The Bolt is pretty sibilant to my ears unless I'm listening at fairly low volumes. Not only is the treble pushed forward, but it's not very detailed. Cymbals get lost in one another and it's hard to tell multiple hits apart. Detail Retrieval: Poor all around. Considering this is a $10 IEM, this is somewhat forgivable but it still bugs me. Simple songs like many modern pop or rap songs come through well but sounds start smearing together when a lot is happening at once. Soundstage/Imaging: Soundstage is okay but doesn't really stand out. Sounds are in my head for the most part with the exception of some of the balls in Bubbles by Yosi Horikawa. Listening to Tarova by Snarky Puppy and Bubbles, imaging seems pretty good; especially for the price. Since I know Tarova fairly well, I know where instruments should be located and the Bolt does a pretty good job at recreating that. Conclusion/Other Thoughts: For the price, these aren't bad. The key here is the price. IMO, its three biggest flaws are sibilance, lack of detail, and fit. The sibilance is kept at bay in some tracks but others it's almost unlistenable; kind of like a stock HD700. The lack of detail is something that bugs me in all but the simplest of songs. The fit is a bit odd with the stock tips. The tips are a little too stiff so they want to push the housings out of your ears. I can also see how the housings could be a bit large for some people even though they fit me well enough. Vocals sound good in simple pop and rap songs but quickly go downhill when other instruments are added and the driver is asked to do a lot at once. The midrange is surprisingly clear for how far forward the bass and treble are. I wish I knew where my Mee Audio RX18P is so I could compare the Bolt to them. They are my current favorite for $10 or less and I think the Bolt could definitely give them a run for their money. After going back through the frequency sweeps two more times, I still hear the treble peaks in all the same places. I wonder if little, stick-on filters, like those used in the nozzle of the Hifiman RE600S V2, would help tame the treble a bit and reduce sibilance. I cannot seem to find the extra filters that came with my RE600 at the moment so that may have to come at a later date. Bottom line, would I recommend these? No. If you can afford a little more, you should definitely spend it. There are some really great options out there for less than $50. If you absolutely cannot spend more than $10 on something, these should be considered. If I hadn't taken price into consideration, these would have received a 1.5-star rating. Thank you for reading my review! Test Tracks Used: A list of some, but not necessarily all music I listened to for this review. I wanted to keep this at the end because it is long.
  • Stevie Wonder - Superstition
  • Yosi Horikawa - Bubbles
  • Slipknot - Snuff
  • Bear McCreary - God of War
  • Snarky Puppy - Tarova
  • Graham Colton - Best Days
  • Beartooth - Beaten in Lips
  • Ed Sheeran - Castle on the Hill
  • Uncle Kracker - Drift Away
  • Maroon 5 - Sex and Candy
  • Rage Against the Machine - Take the Power Back
  • You Me At Six - I O U
  • Dead Can Dance - Song of the Stars
  • Halestorm - Vicious
  • The Amity Affliction - Ivy (Doomsday)
  • Asking Alexandria - A Prophecy
  • Chelsea Cutler - You Make Me
  • Dagny - Used To You
  • Tyga - Rack City
  • A$ap Ferg - Work REMIX
  • Gryffin, Katie Pearlman- Nobody Compares To You
  • Jason Lancaster - Hey Jude
  • Sam Hunt - Take Your Time
Aug 10, 2018
checkVerified Buyer
Either I'm deaf or I got a different set than everyone else. These things sound and feel like Dollar store IEM's. Then there's the cable, who's idea of a joke was that? You get what you pay for they say. Well, frankly for 10 bucks you can get a couple of sets of the better sounding Jbuds. Very disappointing.
Aug 8, 2018
checkVerified Buyer
PROs : -Nice shape, it fits good in my ear with no problem, can use for a long time without ear hole pain. -Nice tips, they use some good quality tips. Not too soft, not too hard either. -Price, it's $10. Great sound for the price point. Can't beat it. -Decent Bass extension. It goes pretty low!
CONs : -Tinny sound. The sound it produce is a bit Tinny sounding, like higher pitch, or sharp for some reason, it doesn't have the roundness, or the fullness specially on vocals. Kind of hard to explain. -Cables are cheap af. Cables will be the first to fail for sure. -Details are not good, sound separation is also not that good. Decent at best. -Too much Bass, it's not muddy at all, but a bit overpowering Bass. I might be biased because I love my neutral audio gears. -While the ear tips are good, for some reason it's hard to get a good seal. I end up pressing it on my ear to make sure it's sealed. Sometimes it feels sealed, but it's not. Probably driver angle problem? I'm not sure.

And so : I compared it with my Tin Audio T2, which is not that expensive either but I don't have any other IEMs. Used it both using e10k for DAC, and Magni3 for AMP. Songs that I used to compare both IEMs are... 1. Talullah - Jamiroquai 2. Canned Heat - Jamiroquai 3. Take the power back - Rage Against the Machine 4. Paper Trails - Darkside 5. Bitch, Don't kill my vibe - Kendrick Lamar 6. Arped - Vaishiyas As you can see, I chose songs that are a bit Bassy, but still has details and other instruments on it. Specially the first 4 songs.
Conclusion : I gave it 3/5 star because for $10, they are really good! Do I recommend this? Nope. Even for this price? Maybe. I mean it's $10, it's super cheap. But if you can save another $30, you're better off buying the Tin Audio T2 for around $40. Sure it's 4x the price of this Bolt IEM, but it also comes with x100 better cables, sounds way better, better build quality, and better bang for your buck IEM than this. I'm by no mean an expert, this is just my opinion. If you don't agree, tell me and we'll talk about it like civilized men.
Aug 8, 2018
I think the high pitch has something to do with the tinny sound.
Aug 8, 2018
My magni3 has more than enough power to drive this IEM. Yeah for $10 it's pretty good, I agree with you on that one, my review mentioned it too. It's just that you can a couple more dollars and you'll be better off. I just can't stand tinny sound.
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