Pros: Balanced Signature, Clarity, Versatility, Value, Mic Cable
Cons: Isolation could be better, Soundstage could be wider (read on to find out)
Driver Unit : Double Balanced Armature & Dynamic Unit.
Impedance : 22 Ohm / 1kHz
Sensitivity : 105dB / 1kHz
Power : 100mW (Max)
Frequency Response :20Hz ~ 20kHz
Connector : 3.5mm / 24k Gold Plated L-type Plug
Cord : Detachable Braided 1.2M / Y-Type
H-200 is an 3 way Hybrid design which consists of one dynamic driver for the lows, double balanced armature for mids & highs. Other models taking on this concept familiar to some would be AKG K3003, Tralucents 1plus2, not an easy design to pull off because it takes much research developing the bass / mids / highs all performing in conjunction as one. Balanced armatures move much faster than dynamic drivers so frequency response across the spectrum is difficult to line up than your regular earphone. I say still an area in portable audio many are trying to accomplish however, only a few make to popularity, so far.
Just to get this review underway I will explain I don't have any retail packaging for my H-200 demo pair, I have accessories and earphones, so this review will be shorter than those usually seen. We'll focus on sound quality, build quality, comfort, isolation, versatility, design, to let you guys grasp what T-Peos offered this time round and some of the wonderful changes been made after listening to our feedback. There's also going to be several H-200 reviews coming out soon, to my understanding there will be 2 reviews for each of the 3 demo units, I really don't want to flood people or overload them in one go, so today we'll cover the basics. Another thing I must add, my H-100's are currently on their way back from a loan period, I don't have them to compare, unfortunately.
1. leather pouch
2. 3 pairs of dual color silicone ear tips
3. 3 pairs of standard silicone ear tips
4. 6.5mm audio jack
5. pair of form tips
6. Red braided cable without mic
7. Black cable with mic
8. Shirt Clip
The leather pouch included is a nice touch, looks great in person, there's a magnetic latch which snaps shut with authority however, I find it rather small for placing H-200 in easily, you really need to wrap them up tightly and the housings seem to insert only a certain way, I worry about putting strain on the cable plugs simply stuffing them inside. It would of been nice to see an extra 5mm width making storage for H-200 easier. The included tips are of high quality silicon, especially the greyish ones (see photo) which have thick walls, feel rather squishy and increase comfort levels. I can't say the largest size is very big compared to the black silicon provided or your standard large in size slicon tip.. There's also a red pair of foam tips which many of you may not of seen before, very much resembling Vsonics GR07 (silicon) stock tips.
You have two detachable cables which includes a mic'd cable in black sheathed below the Y spilt, plus a second braided cable coated in red rubber. Both appear to have decent build quality / quite sturdy around the strain reliefs and Y spilt. Both cables support right angle (L) jacks which is a great thing, (more companies should follow this trend), this shows T-Peos are thinking ahead and listening . The problem I see here with the black cable is it doesn't support cable cinch while the red cable does, I don't understand why the black cable has no cinch, maybe on purpose to avoid pinching the mic. I haven't tried the mic cable so cannot comment on compatibility, , hopefully another review can!
The detachable feature works surprisingly well, both plugs push into the housing socket about 80% before you're greeted with a firm "click" locking them in place, removing the cable is much the same. What I like to do is pull the cable plug a touch which reverses it back to 80% then use my nail and two finger grabing the gap and pulling the plug out slowly. I would not recommend a clean and jerk when removing the cable, treat them with care, do this slowly and steadily. Anyone who has owned Triple-Fi 10 and undergone a cable change will understand the benefit of patience.
Build Quality / Comfort / Isolation / Design / Fit / Microphonics
H-200's housings are made from brass designed to be worn down, I have tried wearing them over the ear which is possible without to much fuss. When unattached from the cable each housing weighs approximately 4.3 grams so they're rather light for something looking a little over sized, actually lighter than H-100 was. I will say each housing in person looks smaller than photo's online suggest, I was expecting them to resembe two tanks but was greeted with a suitable size that works well with my ears. There's a plastic ring on each housing which may also look to cause comfort problems, I can assure you for me this isn't the case because what actually happened on insertion is the housing twist a little so the flattest part of the ring is lined up with my Tragus, I've also found the rings help lock the housings in place, like a foundation that rests on your ear.
When worn H-200 are surprisingly comfortable due to the light weight brass housing, I cannot say it's luxury but enough to forget they're there. I can't say they're going to be a perfect fit for everyone either, but for me work no problem with decent comfort levels. Isolation for me above average with the stock greyish tips, this will also depend on tip selection and ear geometry. The 6mm nozzles do have decent reach so most shouldn't have a problem getting a seal, deep insertion is really not required for H-200 to sound accurate
Build qualityfor the housings is far above average, they feel sturd somewhat reminding me of two little satellite dishes for some reason, My demo pair did have some light press marks on the rear plastic casing and some fine scratches on the chrome finish, however nothing that made me think unacceptable. I think they could take a drop or two, just don't be running them over in your car. Microphonics are present with both cables in moderate to low levels, it's mostly where the cable above the Y spilt rattles around the sides of your face, the provided cinch on the red cable prevents this by a large percentage, I imagine over the ear will minimize this even further. The included cable clip can also decrease a lot of this cable noise problem on the black cable.
T-PEOS H-200 Sound Quality:
Sources and gear used in the review:
RockboxedPod Video (80GB)
Hisound Rocco BA
iPod Touch 2G
C&C BH portable Amp
SMSL Silver plated interconnect cable
Street Wires Zn2 copper interconnect cable
P&D Amp-K Pro
All files were 16/44 FLAC files.
(Majority of listening was done with Colorfly CK4 / C&C BH / SMSL silver plated / Clip+ / iDevices)
I want to get this out of the way first, because H-100 was known as particularly bright sounding to many users, H-200 although sharing a similar name has undergone drastic changes, H-200 is now much closer to neutral in tonality, if not a touch warm, there's no resemblance between H-100 and H-200 in this area. If I had to label H-200 to an earphone I have heard and match tonality I would be speaking somewhere around TF10's regions, that's the closest I have heard to give you guys a rough estimate, though certainly not leaning cold or cool like the previous model. Tips / sources will also contribute here, but I want to assure those who found H-100 bright be prepared for the change.
H-200's low end is neither forward or back, you'll hear me say this for a large majority of the sound impression because it really does stay neutral and balanced. Being a hybrid bass is rather well separated from mids and highs, (this is a trend and advantage of hybrid designs), there's more mid-bass presence than H-100 which helps fill out the lower mids / upper bass regions which some found absent previously. I wouldn't call it excessive amounts, nothing like mid bass found on Westone 3, but more subtle presence filling out the lower mid / upper bass regions. Bass presence is rather full sounding with high amounts of clarity and much better control, it's tight punchy and somewhat powerful when asked upon. H-200's also has a wonderful ability to express great detail and texture in lower regions. There's also great speed keeping in touch with the BA's so there isn't any disjointedness I could detect.
To sum up the low end this much reminds me of a floor standing house speaker, with the right source it fills out the spectrum's needed and behaves well. I wouldn't be to concerned about reaching deep into sub-bass regions, most tracks I've tried such as Phaeleh - Afterglow will demonstrate how capable H-200 low end is, putting IEM like TF10 to shame in detail, depth, texture and extension, not so much pounding bass, more like a big bubble of clarity that surges or pulses in lower sections of the stage, also laying across the stage width ways quite well. (I really would of liked to compare the low end to GR07 MK2 though do not have that IEM with me at present)
The mids are a touchy spot, H-100's main issue especially lacking with vocals which sounded sucked out or hollow, there was also an tinge with timbre that would peak in the upper mid range. This is where the major improvement has been made which differentiates the two into completely different earphones. There's much more mid range presence this time round, now balanced instead of V / U shape previously, there's no recession they're not forward but neutral, no longer sounding thin or hollow, that suck out in lower mids has been completely repaired, the peak in upper mids that haunted me with H-100 has completely been taken out of the equation. Overall it's rather pleasant and much thicker compared to before, the warmer tone makes this sit well. So instead, you're greeted with mid range presence, exceptional detail leaving IEM's like TF10 far behind. the mid range is indeed balanced with the low and highs displaying good transparency, resolution, and clarity levels are rather high as is layering.
It's very easy to hear little nuances in passages, from all left / right / centre channels, especially when micro detail decay is concerned often hanging around for quite some time. Attack and speed are also a strong suit of H-200's mid range, somewhat like the bass H-200's mids can sound to me rather powerful when called upon or when lifting volume to higher levels. But again balance is what H-200 is about this time round, lifting the volume everything will come up together as one. I wouldn't call it the most detailed IEM I have heard however, that will depend on what you've heard, how strong your sources are, and personal preference, but confidently far above levels of other IEM in this price range, I do find H-200 punching above it's weight and rather enjoy the repaired mid range with female vocals. Because it sounds full H-200's suited to a wider variety of genres, such as rock, or heavy metal. I have tested several genres without a problem. There's also a specific timbre which I wouldn't call the most natural I've heard though works rather well with percussion instruments.
Again, like the mid range and lows we speak about balance, H-200's highs have good presence they won't sound forward or recessed, but instead quite neutral with good extension, they're much smoother than the previous model showing good sparkle and detail. Some found H-100's high end fatiguing, but lowered tone across the entire frequency range prevents this for H-200. if I really had to call it they might be a touched relaxed at times for me but really balance is a strong suit. I have mentioned sometimes wheI really lift volume levels the low end and mids might come a touch forward over the highs though never to the point of being drowned or absent. Highs are a huge improvement over the previous model with increased detail / imaging yet remain softer / smoother will maintaining sparkle.
The soundstage shows decent width, I have heard wider from my RDB+ v1 and other IEM's in this price range some even cheaper but there is enough width without feeling closed in, there will be times I would usually hear left and right samples further out on each side of my head, the centre channel depth however is rather strange as with certain tips I personally feel a forward projection onto my forehead, it's a strange sensation that sometimes tricks me being unable to pin point exactly how far forward or back vocals should be in a song.
I must say it's a welcomed feeling but one that some might find strange if unexperienced. I am very interested if others hear this because I cannot replicate the sensation using T-Peos's included stock grey tips. Instead, with an after market tip I would like others to try. So, no H-200 doesn't have the widest stage to my ears, it's not congested or the most airy I've heard though certainly above enjoyable. It also doesn't have the most height from my collection, I think maybe using a larger bore tip than those provided will open up the presentation. Not congested but not particularly airy like I found H-100.
Seperation / Imaging:
Instrument separation is solid especially when it comes to channel separation between the left / right ./ centre channels, they both have good depth and syncronize especially well. Because the mid range is rather transparent this supports the separation of H-200 making very easy pickings of one instrument at a time. Even though the stage could be wider I don't feel any congested however a little more air would create a sense of space here. Overall, you won't get that metronome effect I've experienced with Brainwav B2 or Rockits R-50, not quite as aggressive, and I would place the separation roughly in the zone of TF10 possibly a little higher.
Imaging is rather strong and quite precise, especially in mid range and treble regions, I notice treble detail in different areas that my RDB+ V1 cannot pick up whether it is back left, top right etc.. H-200 pulls this off nicely, instrument placement is strong as is micro detailing samples precise, imaging can also keep up with fast paced tracks that my RDB+v1 cannot image properly, I have heard imaging on R-50 in the past which will give H-200 a run for it's money and Brainwavs B2 could probably show up for a battle though overall it's a strong area that H-200 can hold it's own.
Let me get this clear as there's been some previous confusion, H-200 does not require an amp, it can be driven efficiently straight from Sansa Clip+ without a problem to ear breaking levels. If you wish to amp H-200 it will respond accordingly, there's no problem feeding it extra power but at 22 Ohms I really don't see the need for it. You can add something like C&C BH (shown in picture) taking advantage of the (LF) Low Field switch to increase clarity tighten up the low end, increase treble slap, you will gain a more powerful presentation but really for those accustom to using their iPhone ./ iPod Touch or iPod, H-200 will be fine. I do run them amped most of the time but a large majority of my demo time was spent with Clip+, iPod touch, iPod classic straight from their headphone outs.
H-200 worked especially well with my acoustic albums, vocals are a strong suit as is percussion and timbre, rock was tested as was metal because H-100 was not capable of pulling off such genres well, because of the corrected issues H-200 has not let me down with one genre yet, I cannot say it is the master of any but faulted for me with none, which is a great improvement because suiting a wider variety of people is a better thing for everyone.
I think the fact T-Peos have listened to H-100 owners and addressed all these issues is a wonderful thing, they have brought out a great product one I can see being rather popular in coming months, I don't think it's perfect but it sure is a huge step in the right direction. Is it the best Hybrid I have heard? Hmm, close but not quite, it does surpass my RDB+ V1 in some areas, and considering the RDB+ v1 is a $650 Hyrbid vs a $250 that is quite an accomplishment, I would of like to see a little more soundstage width present, and possibly a touch more height, but really I am just nit picking because H-200 has come a very long way from what we heard on the previous model. H-200 will suit a much larger audience and those in doubt before, might find themselves terribly surprised even shocked at the changes this time round, the mid range has been cured, the treble softened, the entire signature more audiophile based giving balance. T-Peos need a big thank you for creating something special, and I must say a rather interesting design of any IEM have come across yet. I think for the $200 price tag (Head-Fi Promo price) H-200 punches well above that, and in good time members will give the full answer just how well H-200 performs.
I am but one person, one person with different preferences needs and requirements, but I can say H-200 will fit in with the right crowd and time will answer for the improvements made this time round. I cannot fault the earphone with anything glaring., especially when the older problems are concerned, as much has been addressed we wanted and some more.
I'm interested, Where do I purchase H-200?
You can find out more about that here and, the wonderful deal T-Peos is offering the community.