Pros: Big sound with powerful bass. Responds well to EQ. Good build quality with detachable cables. Attractive.
Cons: Mid-bass overpowers adjacent frequencies. Very springy cable. Needs EQ to achieve full potential.
Altone250 U.S. Tour
Being an Altone200 fan, I was quite excited to hear that T-PEOS was updating their IEM lineup with a new Altone series based on feedback received from the H300 and Altone200 IEM. @EmpJ from CTC Audio heard about my interest and reached out to me to organize a U.S. tour for the T-PEOS Altone250, which is the mid-tier product in the new Altone lineup. Thanks CTC Audio!!!
@Jonyoo has linked to numerous pics of the new Altone lineup, so I'm going to borrow some of those since I'm not the best product photographer. I'll also post some pics I took showing fit and comparing size to Altone200 and Dunu DN1K.
I'm a 43 year old music lover who listens to a wide variety of genres and artists (but mostly electronic, metal, and modern composition these days). As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues - upper frequency loss and mild tinnitus.
My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders, and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-120, iPod, iPhone, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso.
My headphone journey started with Sony MDR e888 and Eggos back in my minidisc days. I moved on to full-size Beyerdynamic and Ultrasone cans and Shure E2 and E3. Those all served me well for quite some time. Then I rediscovered headfi...
NEW ALTONE LINEUP
T-PEOS includes S, M & L narrow and wide bore silicon tips, Comply tips, a shirt clip, soft case, and two cables (with/without remote). Plenty of goodies - no complaints here!
BUILD & ERGONOMICS
My first reaction after opening the box was, "Man, those look shiny, tough, and maybe a bit heavy!" When I removed them from the foam insert, I was reassured by the weight but didn't find them overly heavy - lighter than DN1K shells, actually. Build quality looks to be quite high. With titanium housings and detachable cables, they seem built to last!
By default, they come with the black remote cable attached. Since I planned to mostly use these with dedicated DAPs, I decided to go with the very red remote-free cable. The unique DC connectors were easy to remove and the new connectors clicked in very securely with no worry of bending/damage as when swapping 2-pin cables. After using 2-pin, MMCX, and these DC connectors, I have to say the DC connectors seem easiest to remove and replace. The downside is they're larger than the alternatives. If the connector length can be reduced without compromising a secure connection, I'd happily encourage more IEM manufacturers to jump on the DC connector bandwagon so we have more choices for third-party cables for T-PEOS IEMs.
Ok. I had them out, cabled-up, and ready to go. How did they fit? Well, this is a bit of a mixed-bag. I'd already gotten word that achieving an over-ear fit with these was going to be a challenge due to the large connectors + a very springy rubberized cable. I gave it a go anyway. Without ear guides, it was definitely a no-go. The cables were just too springy, with a mind of their own. No problem, I'll try the ear guides! Well, that's a no-go, as well. The cable was very stubborn and refused to stay in the ear guides. Maybe someone else can figure out how to get these to cooperate for over-ear use? Until then, I'm wearing these down. No big deal for me as I prefer that anyway.
Once I settled on wearing them down, I snuggled them into my ears and found I got a great, comfortable seal with the stock medium wide bore tips. I left these on for the review, since they fit so well.
TL/DR: Well-constructed titanium housings, springy rubberized cables with secure yet non-standard DC connectors, easily worn down, hard to wear over ear.
So, how do they sound? Well, I'm going to keep this section simple. I appreciate reviewers who wax eloquent, describing each peak and valley - but that's not my forte.
To be blunt, the Altone250 have a big sound. They are an IEM with plenty of punchy bass, nice mids, and clarity up top.
The low end is well-extended and well-represented with very punchy bass when called for. Depending on your sound signature and musical preferences, the low end might have more mid-bass than you'd like. When listening to classical, electronic, jazz, and leaner rock music, I found the mid-bass wasn't objectionable and added warmth and richness to the music. For a more linear sounding bass region, I found cutting 150Hz by 2-4dB tightened things up nicely.
So yes, the low end could be a bit much for some people. Luckily they respond well to EQ, so set up an EQ to carve out mid bass and use when needed. Otherwise, leave them alone and enjoy a warmer, richer listening experience that'll provide plenty of bass slam when needed.
I didn't find anything to complain about with the mids and treble. The mids seem pretty neutral to me. Enough presence to ensure vocals don't sound sucked out but not so much that they sound overly sweet.
Being T-PEOS, they've got some sparkle up top but it isn't overbearing. These aren't detail monsters, but I don't think they're meant to be. They're a fun, bassy sound that doesn't lose out on the mid section and doesn't succumb to the fun sound signature traps of either rolling off the top end too much or making it overly bright and splashy. Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who went to one too many metal concerts in their youth (Earplugs? I don't need no stinking earplugs!).
Soundstage is decent but not as spacious as some of my other IEMs. Carving out the mid-bass helps open things up a bit.
TL/DR: Fun sound signature with big punchy bass, neutral mids, and clear yet not overbearing treble. Responds well to EQ, which some will want to attenuate bass as needed. Decent soundstage.
ISOLATION & MICROPHONICS
While isolation is on par with my other hybrids, the rubbery cable is quite microphonic. Using the provided clip does help attenuate this some, but not completely. Being able to wear them over ear would definitely help, but that springy cable just won't cooperate. I would've much rather T-PEOS used a thinner, more supple cable so it would stay put in the ear guides. A nice supple braided cable would've been even better!
The new Altone250 are an attractive, well-built pair of IEMs from T-PEOS. They have big sound, with deep punchy bass that can require EQ to attenuate depending on personal preference and music at hand. If you listen to a lot of electronic or metal music as I do, these might be right up your alley. Let the bass come out to play and give you a good solid punch in the eardrums when it's party time. Then reign it in with a bit of EQ when you put on some delicate, refined audiophile tunes.
These fill a gap in my IEM collection, as no other IEM I have has their sheer power while retaining good mids and top end. This is what I was hoping for when I auditioned RHA T10. They're not as refined/restrained as my Altone200 or Dunu DN-1000, but boy is it an exciting ride!
A few detractors are the overly springy rubberized cable that, while tough, prevents easily achieving over-ear fit. The unfortunate side effect of this is there's not a really good way to attenuate microphonics.
Thanks again to CTC Audio for providing the tour unit. They're a unique IEM in my collection, which makes me interested in hearing other IEM I think may be in this vein like JVC FX850 and T-PEOS H300 & Altone350.
P.S., Be on the lookout for more reviews as the tour continues...