The Pitch –
The Black Hole is Shozy’s current flagship IEM. It utilises a single DD combined with an intriguing open-back design – hence, the name. The Black Hole retails for $799 USD at the time of writing.
Captivating design with sensational build quality, Comfortable, Great cable from factory, Huge soundstage with excellent layering, Hyper-clear vocal presentation, Well-textured treble
Minimal isolation, Vocal-focused sound isn’t especially genre versatile, Cool tone affects timbre
The Black Hole is essentially uncontested if you dislike the wearing pressure of conventional in-ears but still want a focused sound with spotlight on vocals and huge, expansive soundstage presentation.
Over the last year, it’s definitely been the sub $1000 price range that’s really piqued my interest. Where traditionally, innovation has occurred at the top-end of pricing, we are now seeing a shift here towards refinement of existing method. In turn, we have experienced a certain homogenisation according to the stringent references now widely available and known. But jump one price class down and you’ll see a very different story; one rife with daring and risk-taking design. It is my personal opinion that audio is at its most enjoyable under such circumstances.
And who better to undertake such a task than Shozy, known for their experimental designs that push the boundaries of form. The Black Hole is their latest and highest-end in-ear design to date, exemplifying this mantra. Co-engineered by KOOK electro-acoustic engineering lab in the USA throughout a 2-year period, Shozy’s flagship offers one of the first open-back designs on an IEM. Impetus has been placed on the acoustic design so as to maximise the performance of the 10mm dynamic driver, as has always been a priority for the company. The Black Hole is a hugely divergent design from the status quo.
You can read more about the Black Hole and treat yourself to a set on HiFiGO.
- Type: Semi-open back
- Driver: 10mm Dynamic
- Impedance: 16 ohms
- Sensitivity: 105 dB
- THD: <1% @1 kHz
Behind the Design –
Front Section Chamber Design
In my conversations with Shozy, I found it intriguing how the company approaches their IEM and earbud design much like a speaker. It appears the Black Hole is the epitome of this approach and a sort of open baffle IEM design. The benefits to this design includes reduced internal reflections which enhances high-frequency clarity and extension and this is aided by the hole-punch faceplate design that minimise standing waves that can interfere with the fidelity of sound output.
Multiple Separation Technology (M.S.T)
I was unable to find further details on this online, but looking at Shozy’s material, it appears to be the combination of dense material choice reducing unwanted vibrations in addition to balanced air pressure between the front and rear of the driver. The goal here is a quick transient response with agile decay for a detailed and articulate sound. Such factors are imperative for DD designs and have been shown to be effective in measurement and subjective listening on several competing designs.
The Black Hole comes in a small hard box with simple metallic Shozy logo embossed on its front, reminiscent of their earbuds. Inside is the carrying case containing the earphones, cable and ear tips. The zippered hard case is of great quality with a hexagonal design and fabric exterior. It feels a little quirky yet also premium and portable, a complement to the in-ears themselves. In a separate box are 6 pairs of silicone ear tips to optimise the fit experience. Pre-installed on the earphones are JVC Spiral Dots, some of my favourite large-bore tips. The walls of the sound tube are dimpled much like the exterior of a golf ball to reduce buffering and reflections, promising a more detailed sound. Common consensus is that they provide a slightly warmer sound with good top-end extension, so they are a good choice for the Black Hole.
The Black Hole is an IEM that can be enjoyed almost as much out of the ear as within. It has a striking 3-piece alloy construction that is precision milled in-house to achieve minimal unit variance and stringent QC. And indeed, this is the case, seams match to the extent that they are barely palpable and the surface finish is immaculately smooth, creating a play on light that accentuates the housing’s elegant shape and curves. Though offered in silver, black and rose gold too, the gold scheme subjectively achieves the cleanest aesthetic, perfectly matching the alloy cable. Despite being quite a bright gold which is usually too loud for my tastes, it is a handsome realisation here that works in the realm of its already eye-catching design.
The Black Hole utilises recessed 0.78mm 2-pin connectors and comes with a “premium alloy” cable from factory. Though unable to confirm, 3 conductors are clearly visible within the cable’s transparent jacket – silver, copper and gold. The cable itself also provides an excellent ergonomic experience. It is soft and smooth with zero memory which makes it tangle-resistant and easy to coil. The pre-moulded ear guides are well-shaped and comfortable while the metal terminations play well with the metal IEM bodies. My unit is terminated in 4.4mm balanced but it is also available with a 3.5mm TRS plug. I enjoy how IEMs are starting to ship with better cables from factory as it does enhance the wearing experience and feels far more suitable than generic black plastic for premium high-end designs.
Fit & Isolation –
Though slightly larger than your average IEM, the Black Hole’s alloy construction is light and low-profile. It has clearly been shaped to suit the curves and folds of the ear, in turn, I find them exceptionally comfortable to wear even over extended listening and they can be slept on due to the slim housings too. They also achieve a stable fit, with protruding, well-angled nozzles that promote a medium-deep fit depth and orient the housings neutrally in the ear. Upon first wear, the Black Hole immediately feels unlike other IEMs. Though the tip forms a seal with the canal, there is a complete absence of pressure which creates an overtly comfortable if somewhat unconventional wearing experience.
In turn, expect minimal isolation making these most suitable for listening in quiet environments. Outdoors, bass is quickly drowned out and it can be hard to appreciate the full capability of their sound. Due to the obvious venting, wind noise is also very apparent. On the contrary, if you don’t like the sensation of pressure created by most IEMs but find earbuds may not sit securely in your ears, the Black Hole might just be the happy medium you’re looking for. The experience surely is much different to your usual IEM. I do personally enjoy the spatial awareness afforded by their openness and the fit is far more stable and consistent than any earbud design I’ve tried.