Pros: Massive bass, great proprietary MMCX connectors
Accutone is a company that specializes in hands-free communications solutions but they've taken their experience and expertise and used it to create a series of consumer earphones. From their website: "Accutone Audio is about music, and our love of music has pushed us to build products that remove the barriers between the musicians and their audience. Continuing our corporate motto of "Clearer Communication Brings People Closer", our audio products are able to do just that by delivering exceptionally accurate audio output, just as our beloved artists envisioned."
Today I'll be reviewing the Accutone Taurus.
This product was sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions and observations here are my own, based on my experience with the product. I'd like to thank Angus from Accutone for the opportunity to test the Taurus.
Packaging and accessories:
The Taurus comes in a rather unusual large, rubberized, black plastic case surrounded by a red cardboard sheath that shows an image of the earphones along with "Switch and Tune" text, alluring to the bass tuning feature. Once inside we're presented with the earphones and cable secured in black foam as well as a pull out cover that reveals the included accessories. I must say first impressions upon opening are pretty impressive and the box is a handy thing to have around.
So with everything removed from the case we're presented with:
- The standard Accutone carry case
- A user manual/warranty card
- Bass tuning tool
- Foam eartips x2
- Silicone eartips (S, M, L)
A decent line-up of offerings in the box and it's always nice to see a carry case included though once again the Accutone case is on the thin side and I'm always in fear of damaging the earphones when I physically shove them into the tiny opening. I really wish their cases had just a few millimeters more depth so you could drop the earphones in rather than having to push them in.
Build, comfort and isolation:
The earphones are constructed from a black plastic and sport an angled nozzle design. There is Accutone branding on both sides and I can't help think that one side should have been assigned to Left and Right markings which are unfortunately completely absent. The tip of the nozzle has a metal ring to securely hold ear-tips. On the rear of the housing are two square shaped, metal grill bass vents which look a little bit like robot eyes when viewed at the right angle. Between the two vents is the bass tuning mechanism which I'll get back to later on. For their low price these have outstanding build quality.
The cable is attached to the housing via Accutone's proprietary MMCX connectors which I actually really like. They're much easier than standard MMCX to attach and remove and snap into place with an audible click. The connectors spin freely meaning these can be worn over-ear or cable down. I seriously wish this was the industry standard MMCX because in my opinion it's a big improvement over regular connectors.
There are strain reliefs in all the usual places though they could have been a little less stiff for added protection. There's a plastic inline microphone and 3 button remote situated above the Y-splitter. The buttons all perform their duties without fault and the microphone is of a decent quality however I do not like the inline's design as the middle button is recessed while the two outer buttons are raised and there are very sharp edges that easily get snagged on shirt collars and buttons when moving your head around. Wires above the Y-splitter seem rather thin making them look a little fragile but so far they seem fairly durable. The cable terminates in a right angled, gold plated 3.5 mm plug.
I get an excellent fit and seal with the Taurus (using third party tips) so for me sound isolation is above average. Comfort-wise I can wear these a long time easily as they're quite small and don't have any sharp edges. The spinning connectors mean that these can be worn over-ear or cable down.
These work fine out of a smartphone or budget DAP but do gain some benefit with amplification to tidy up the bass.
Sources and equipment used:
PC JRiver > JDS Labs The Element
First impression had me ready to shout "The End of the World is Nigh!" until I realized it was just the bass, holy jeez these will shake your skull apart. Immediately I pulled out the little screwdriver/bass-tuning tool and dialed the bass to minimum. Hmm much better now but still well above neutral. That's okay with me, I like bass. It's not the tidiest bass, being a bit loose but gains more composure when amped. Sub-bass is still off the charts but rather satisfying. It digs deep and keeps going down into the bowels of the Earth. Technically a bit on the sloppy side but it doesn't bleed too much into the mids, makes for a fun listen and actually is very enjoyable. Tron Legacy by Daft Punk sounds truly epic through the Taurus as does the drum heavy tracks in Trevor Morris' Vikings soundtrack.
Into the mids now and immediately there's a bit of a middied veil going on however resolution is still not bad. These have quite a lot of airiness to them which is directly in contradiction with the overly warm and bassy overtones. I guess this is due to the semi-openness from the rear grills. It's that sense of air that rescues these from being a bloaty bass-driven disaster and they're seductively musical and relaxed. Female vocals come through with more clarity and start to lift away from that low end dominance.
The treble is a bit subdued here. There's good timbre and no hint of metallic unnaturalness but I feel the Taurus would benefit from a bit more liveliness in the high end. Then again, it's the slightly recessed but airy nature of the treble that makes these so easy to listen to. From an analytical point of view you might find them lacking but if you get distracted from your critique for just a moment you suddenly realize that you've been lost in the joy of music and thoroughly enjoying yourself.
Soundstage is not too shabby here, greatly aided once again by that airiness. Neither width or depth is above average but it's not congested or claustrophobic. Listening to Jazz at the Pawnshop by Arne Domnerus Group you can get a clear image of the band's placement on the stage along with the person who just clinked the cutlery on their plate at the back right of the room.
Suggestions for improvement:
The only major gripe I have with these is the bass tuning mechanism. While it works fine the 'screw' for bass tuning is black on black and absolutely minuscule making it very difficult to see what you're doing. Also the fact that you need to use the included tool makes it inconvenient to change the tuning. It's the kind of alteration that I would only want to do once so for me it's a bit of a "set and forget" option. I'd like to see a mechanism that can be tuned by hand on the go, without the need of a tool.
One more thing is the inline control. The sharp edges on the buttons snag on your clothing a lot and I just wish the controls were flat or those edges were rounded off.
Accutone Taurus vs Accutone Lyra ( 25.00 USD):
The Lyra is a more traditionally styled earphone and for me slightly more comfortable to wear. Both can be worn over-ear or cable down. Speaking of cable I like the Lyra's a bit more as it is unique looking and has better strain reliefs along with imo a more well designed inline control which doesn't have the sharp edges of the one on the Taurus. The Lyra has a more balanced sound overall and also has a truly excellent treble presentation that sounds so clear and lifelike. Both have a non-fatiguing and easy going presentation and both are very good for their respective prices (assuming you get the Taurus at $23).
Before I get into this part I want to mention current pricing on the Taurus. On the Accutone website these retail for $89 yet on Amazon they can be found for just $22.92. I'm not sure why there's such a large difference the only thing I can think of is the Amazon version might be the older one with a non-detachable cable. Regardless I'm basing my conclusion and total score on the lower price of $22.92.
These are a well-built and unique looking earphone. The ability to customize the amount of bass to your preference is handy but the implementation means you need to have the tool on hand to do so. If you're a true bass-head these have you covered, for real. There's enough bass on tap to shake you to your very bones. The included accessories are generous, especially the inclusion of a carry case. On top of that the outer packaging is handy and worth keeping, rather than a plain cardboard box which just gets thrown away. These have a warm and relaxed yet fun sound or alternatively can be tuned into an absolute rumbling bass monster if that's how you like it. For $89 I would have a hard time recommending these but at around $23 you should certainly get your hands on some.