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T-Peos Altone250

Posted

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.



INTRODUCTION

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.


ABOUT ME

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...


REVIEW

NEW ALTONE LINEUP




ACCESSORIES

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.


SOUND

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!


SUMMARY

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...

Posted

Pros: Replaceable cables, Great accessories package, Responds well to EQ adjustments, Nice midrange and treble response

Cons: Bass (especially mid bass) drowns out other frequencies, Almost impossible to use ear hooks or wear them over the ear because of plug design

This mini review is actually a small part of a larger review/thread covering all of the T-Peos Altone series. Here is a link to the review:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/774084/t-peos-altone-series-thread#post_11751591

 

T-Peos Altone 250 ($199 USD on CTC Audio’s website)

http://www.ctcaudio.com/collections/t-peos/products/t-peos-altone250-2-way-hybrid-earphones

 

Altone 250 takes a step up in housing build, featuring a titanium housing. It is a nice package with plenty of different sized tips and a zipper case. The 250 comes with two detachable cables. One is a black cable with a universal single button microphone and remote. The other is a red cable with no microphone or remote. Both are made of the same springy cable as the other recently released Altone models.

 

The 250 is a mixed bag in terms of tuning. I will start by saying that out of all the Altone series, these were the most enjoyable sounding WITH AN EQ ADJUSTMENT. The Altone 250 reminded me of an older favorite in the Sidy DGS100. In fact, both earphones feature the same configuration of a single dynamic and single armature driver, and both have a very warm lower midrange and midbass forward tuning.

 

I could hear a lot of potential in the Altone hidden underneath what I can only describe as overwhelming midbass. with an EQ adjustment to tame these frequencies, I found them to be the most enjoyable of all the Altone series. To my ears the midrange and treble frequencies are great with just the right quantity and plenty of detail. If only the Dynamic drive could have been tuned to not be so forward, we would have a real winner here. If you have the Altone 250, give the eq adjustment a try, and I can almost guarantee you will be happy you did. These are a great earphone being overshadowed by a cloud of boom.

Posted

Pros: Plenty of bass on reserve

Cons: Perhaps too much of a good thing; bass and high end emphasis can be overpowering

This will be an extremely brief review.  I had these headphones for about 4 days.  The timing was not optimal for me; I was about to head out on vacation when these arrived.  The question was whether I should request an few days of extended listening or just send these alone to the next reviewer.  I opted for speeding the review process along.

 

Testing apparatus:  I used a FIIO X3 Gen II for most of the listening, and then a X3 Gen I to see what happened when I used hardware tone controls to tame the bass and treble.  I played rock and traditional jazz (Mingus, Miles Davis) on the units.

 

These headphones are great if you want  a "V-Shaped" sound profile from your IEM units.  That would mean a very strong, almost boomy bass and a very powerful high end response.

 

I would have preferred that T-Peos make some kind of changeable filters available.  I did not care for the V-sound signature. The bass was simply too much for me. 

 

A benefit of a bass heavy design is that the ear pieces do not have to be jammed into one's ear to get good bass response.  Even though the headphones are fairly large, I found them surprisingly comfortable to wear.

 

I also found the high end signature too strong on more than 40% of the audio selections I chose.  

 

I did try using the hardware EQ on the first generation FIIO X3. With both bass and treble turned down, I enjoyed these units somewhat more.  However, my primary player (FIIO X3 Gen II)  does not have hardware Q and the software based EQ is not functional on hi res files.   So while adjusting tone controls was helpful, in my case that can only work a small portion of the time.

 

I think some people enjoy a V-shaped sound signature and they should consider these units.  I would look carefully at what other headphones are used by those who write positive reviews of these units. 

 

.

 

I suspect those will also be V-Shared in the sound profile.

 

Build quality seemed good.  The cable had some microphonics; but that is relatively common to all IEM units so I would not hold that against these.

 

In short, by design, these headphone are not designed for my listening tastes.  They may appeal to others.  I think T-Peos should often replaceable tunable filters.  I would use the "boring old person" if it was available for these.  With all that bass on tap, a neutral sound signature could be interesting.

Posted

Pros: Detachable cables. Comfortable for long listening sessions (cable down). Fun sound!

Cons: Bass has a tendency to overshadow some of the mids and highs. No cable cinch.

T-PEOS is known for their creativity and at times unique sound.  They have truly been pioneers in the hybrid market.  This trend continues with their new (50) lineup including the Altone 250 which will be covered in this review.  A few months ago I had the pleasure of reviewing T-Peos' first generation Altone 200 and while it admittedly was not perfect and it certainly has its detractors its sound jived with me really well.  Today I am happy to give my thoughts on its successor the Altone 250. A special thanks to @CTCAudio and @nmatheis for including me in this review tour.

 

Tech Specs: 
Type: In-Ear Monitor (IEM) 
Driver: Balanced Armature Driver + Exclusive 10mm Dynamic Driver (HPS)
SPL: 102dB / 1kHz
Impedance: 32Ω 
Frequency Response: 20Hz~20KHz 
Max Power Input: 100mW
Plug: 3.5mm 24k Gold-Plated, L-Type
Cables: 2x detachable cables - 1 with microphone, 1 without. 
Weight: 8g (Without Cable)

 

Accessories:

 

The accessories included here are what I would say are average at this price point.  Being a part of a tour I did not receive the original packaging though it seems all of the included accessories were included if you look at the product page on CTC Audio.  Included in the package are 2 cables one with a mic and controller and the other just standard (though a nice catchy red color).  Also included are an average selection of tips 3 pairs of standard (S, M, L) black silicone tips as well as 3 pairs of red (S, M, L) silicone tips. T-Peos also tosses in a pair of premium comply TX-200 foam tips for those of us who really value comfort. You also receive a set of ear guides, a rather large shirt clip, and a soft zipper pouch that is to be used as a carrying case.  Overall a decent offering for the price but nothing quite like the accessory packs offered by Dunu or Vsonic back in the day.

 

Build Quality:

The build quality of the Altone 250s is quite nice as far as the housing is concerned.  Consisting mostly of metal the earpieces themselves are somewhat heavy but not when compared to something like the Dunu DN-1000/2000.  Cables, however, are less impressive.  Microphonics is a slight issue and may bother some listeners though the shirt clip can alleviate that to a degree.  Having heard from others on the tour about the terror of trying to wear these over the ear I did not attempt it myself.  Cable down fit me comfortably and I had little issue listening to these for long periods of time.  The silicone tips worked fine for me but I do wish that I had some complys on me to try during my review period.  Alas, no...  Anyways on to the sound of these bad boys.

 

Sound:

Bass.  That is the first and most prevailing thing running through my mind during my entire time with the Altone 250s.  After having heard and reviewed its predecessor the Altone 200 I must admit i was pretty surprised at what I heard.  Riding on the heels of its TWFK driver the 200s felt like a much brighter and detailed earphone.  There was a clarity there that seems to be missing with the 250s.  Yet that clarity has been amply replaced by the bass. Perhaps to a fault.

Bass on the 250s at times can be a little heavy and slow with a little bleeding into the midrange.  However, this did not bother me as bad as I thought it would.  In fact most of the time I was listening to these I almost forgot they were in there.  I was able to simply sit back and enjoy the music.  

Treble and perceived clarity were enough at this price point though there are certainly better options out there if that is what you are after.  In fact treble was really a point that surprised me as the other T-Peos offerings I have heard have had much more of a treble spike.  Not so with these. The mids as well were fine but nothing to brag too much about.  I personally did not do much 'eq'ing with these but I know some have met with success by doing so.  I tend to be more of a plug it in and go guy when it comes to portable IEMs such as the 250s.

Coming from that Dunu hybrids soundstage felt a little small. Though I imagine it is pretty average (maybe slightly below) at this price point.  If you are looking for a big soundstage than i would look elsewhere.  

Summing up the sound section: If you are looking for a fun sounding earphone with significant mid bass and decent sub bass than you may be pretty happy with the 250s.  If you are looking for clarity or fast and accurate there are better options available at this price point and lower.

 

Conclusion:

Once again T-Peos surprises me.  Just when I think I have them figured out they change things up on me.  I came into this expecting a slightly more refined and perhaps fuller sounding Altone 200.  What I got is something that, to me, sounds significantly different than its predecessor.  While this sound is not for me I can see it appealing to some.  Yet I just cannot get over the feeling that other hybrids at this price point will produce a better sound for your money.  Once again I am grateful to CTC Audio and @nmatheis for including me in the tour.  It was an absolute pleasure.      

Posted

Pros: Fun Tuning, Solid Build Quality

Cons: Cable, Cable Noise, Midbass Hump

Introduction:

One of my favorite part of this hobby that I've grown to love over the past few years is trying new things and just experiencing how different components (or combination of components) have their own unique way of expressing what is essentially the same music. So when I was approached regarding the Altone 250 that was to be sent out for a tour, I didn't hesitate to say yes. This review is of the Altone 250 that was distributed on a tour organized by CTC Audio. I am, of course, not affiliated with CTC Audio or T-Peos and simply here to share my thoughts.

 

Accessories:

I did not receive the Altone 250 in the original packaging, so I won't comment too much on the overall experience. It comes with two cables (black one having a mic and a 1 button remote), some ear tips, a soft shell case, and probably the most kickass shirt clip I've ever seen. The shirt clip is a bit bulky, but its simply the most effective shirt clip I've had the pleasure to use. If it was just a bit less bulky, I think it would be right on the money.

 

Besides that, there was also a set of ear guides that came with the package. I don't believe that it is part of the actual package, so I didn't really bother using it, as I wanted to use these as how most people will use them (Edit: I was told the ear guides are provided, but are not particularly useful). Accessories covered all the necessary things. Besides the shirt clip, it's fairly simple and gets the job done.

 

The accessories I got in the package. Note that the larger box

is a Fiio carrying case (and obviously not in the actual package).

 

Build/Design:

The Altone 250 is almost certainly designed with portable use in mind (I would be surprised if it wasn't). However, I did have some issues with the execution of the product in terms of its build and design.

 

The housing of the Altone 250 is mostly metal with just a bit of plastic, making it a very solid and sturdy earphone. However, it also makes it a tad heavy. As someone with pretty small ears, I did find them a bit heavy for me when I'm walking around with them.The good news is that the detachable cable connectors I felt was well implemented, and I was pleasantly surprised. When I first saw pictures of it, it instantly reminded me of Sleek Audio's design of connectors, and I thought it might be rather disasterous. Not that case! The lock-in mechanism with the cable is quite tight and I definitely don't see the cables coming loose or losing the earphones because of a loose connection.

 

The good news, unfortunately, ends when we look at the cable. This thing... is kind of a pain... The cable is springy and retains its shape pretty stubbornly. In addition, cable noise is a huge problem for me. Like... its really loud. I feel like I have to pose like a statue when I listen to this. If the cable is to hit anything, it transfer a lot of noise. The Y split is well designed with a nice metal finish and the Altone logo on it... but wait... where is the slider to make adjustments? If this was a piece of gear meant for home or desktop use, I'd be fine with it, but for a portable product, the slider is just so important to me, and I think its just a bit lazy (or a huge mistake I guess) to be leaving it out. I feel like too many low and mid tier manufacturers trip up when it comes to making the cable for their products. So many portable products honestly sound really good, but with the often difficult cables, you might as well cross out the portable part of the product (ok rant over).

 

The isolation on these are average and good enough for commuting. They block out a decent amount of outside noise. If only you could block cable noise as well...

 

Sound:

Everyone has their own preferred signature, so I'll get this out of the way first: these are not tuned to my preferred signature. BUT! This does not mean I can't appreciate them. These are quite bassy, and as someone who appreciates a much flatter signature (with just a bit of a U shape), I naturally didn't get along with the sound signature of the Altone 250 too well. However, I do recognize that bassheads would definitely like these and that there is still a need for this type of tuning. So with that, let's talk sound!

 

Oh! Also, my listening was done running the Altone 250 out of my iBasso DX90 as well as using the Aune B1 as an amp. Music vary anywhere from 256kbps AAC files to 24/192 files, and from classical to metal. Basically all the bases are pretty much covered.

 

T-Peos Altone 250 with Aune B1 Amplifier and iBasso DX90.

 

The bass is big. Not unacceptably big, but big. There is quite a bit of a midbass bump that gives the Altone 250 a nice and big bass punch, while a respectably good extension gives the sound some nice rumble. I was quite happy that despite the bass being a bit boomy and slow, I didn't find that bass to be particularly one-note, and separation in the bass is still good. Overall texture and detail does take a hit, as its not the most detailed bass you'll find in the price range, but its nonetheless a fun sounding bass. While the midbass bump wasn't a big problem in terms of bleed or coloring the midrange, there was still some problems with it. It does affect the lower midrange to some degree - most obviously in male vocals. Syllables with lower resonances, for example, and "uh" sound, (ex. hUNdrend, hUNgry), can be unnaturally resonant. Snare drums also tend to have a unnatural warmth to their sound with a heavier weight to their impact. I wouldn't consider it a deal breaker, but I did find it fairly noticable.

 

Getting past that however, I do enjoy the Altone 250 more and more. Besides the problem discussed earlier with the lower midrange, I found the midrange quite natural and quite smooth. Again, not the most detailed you will find in the price, but a very enjoyable sound that is just slightly on the relaxed side to my ears. The upper midrange and treble has just a bit of shimmer to it that gives the sound some nice sparkle and energy. Treble extension is not bad, but does start to roll off some past 15k or so. What you end up with is an inoffensive treble that still has a good amount of energy to keep it engaging and exciting sounding.

 

Soundstage isnt' particularly large or jawdropping, but I find it acceptable for the price. Separation and imaging in the upper register is quite good, but does suffer more in the low end.

 

Final Thoughts:

I was pretty harsh on the Altone 250 writing this review, I'll admit. I feel that it has some obvious, and honestly, really avoidable flaws. They're undoubtedly a fun sounding headphone. However, at the end of the day, I do find myself iffy with recommending them. I think forking out 200 dollars for them is just a little bit hard to swallow. Comparing them to other bass heavy earphones of lower prices, they're undoubtedly cleaner sounding and better. But with its cable noise, I feel like spending 100 dollars on similarly tuned earphone would get you about the same experience. Basically, you won't get the full experience of what these can offer unless you sit like a statue. I keep feeling like I should give these just a bit of a better score, but unfortunately I just don't find these practical. I can see myself recommending them for specific needs, but for the most part, unfortunately, I think this earphone is a bit of a swing and miss.

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T-Peos Altone250
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Dual-hybrid in ear monitor in the new Altone lineup from T-PEOS.

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