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High-quality appearance, low-quality sound

A Review On: Tweaked Natural v3

Tweaked Natural v3

Rated # 576 in In-Ear
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Price paid: $26.37
Justinicus
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Pros: good build quality, flat cable, nice-looking wood, selection of silicone tips, comfortable, free & fast shipping, good warranty, decent mids.

Cons: muddy sound, lacks punch, weak bass, mediocre highs

I was looking for a secondary pair of phone-ready (mic'd) in-ear headphones too keep in my bag, since I have a tendency to leave my Shure set wherever I last used them.  I've been hearing ads for the Tweaked Audio products on several of my podcasts, and with the promo codes, free shipping, and (relatively) low prices, I decided to give them a shot.

 

I'm a fan of wood color and grain, so I decided to try the Natural v3 (Item# 1182640), purchased directly from Tweaked's website for a total of US$26.37. It's been a long time since I listened to mass-market-level earphones, and I may've forgotten how bad they are... I was shocked when I heard these. I laughed when my podcasters called them the "best earphones in the world," but I wasn't prepared for the how awful they actually were.  I'd never before heard a bad in-ear headphone.  I started with Sony's, tried Philips and Skullcandy (all before getting into head-fi) but none of them left me aghast like these.

 

I had very limited music and hardware to test them with when they arrived, but I listened to "Some Nights" by Fun on my phone, knowing it was a good, punchy track.  Particularly when the drums come in at 35sec. They sounded ok for the opening vocals, though the piano was a bit lost. My 256kbps Amazon MP3 copy isn't the cleanest (judged through a FiiO Taishan DAC, FiiO E9 amp, and Beyerdynamic DT990 Pros), but it's definitely punchy, even through the Shures from my Note 2. Well, running the Tweaked Natural v3s, I initially thought they were defective.  Then I thought maybe I just had a poor fit on the sleeves, but trying the others in the package only made it worse. I had to run it through my stereo and my Shure earphones to confirm there wasn't something wrong with my source... Again, what I had available wasn't the best production in the world, but it was still ruined by the Tweaked Audio Natural v3 headphone. There's a cleaner bass note that comes in around 2m 09sec... It wasn't nearly as prominent as it should've been, but at least it was there.  I loaded up a tone generator to run (again, all this is through my phone) and confirmed that the Natural v3s are in fact able to produce lows, all the way down to the mid-40Hz range. They just can't seem to do it when there's any other music going on.

 

The highs suffered similarly; lacking clarity, but acceptable when the music wasn't too chaotic. Whenever the audio got complex, the sound just fell on its face.  Well, at least they're fine for their primary intended purpose: wired cell phone headset.

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