Thanks to TFTA.EU for the sample.
First impressions: Well my first thought is this thing needs a better name because I can’t see any one remembering it. My second is that these very much are reminiscent of the Denon C751 to look at and I can see a comparison coming. Actually given some of the crazy stuff I’ve read about these it makes me wonder just what sort of stuff they should be getting compared to. The box isn’t very inspiring and I’m a touch disappointed that they have no case which I think any £100 IEM ought to.
First listen and what instantly strikes me is these are sealed and venting issues, after about 2 minutes I decide that I’m finding a pair of Comply’s as I cannot be arsed getting them to sit just right so I can pull them back out to compare to something as one tends to do when reviewing. Once you get them sitting right though they are stupid powerful. Insane! Looking back at the box to check, nope these aren’t the Extra bass 3V2B ones (seriously rename all of them please) I wonder if they maybe put the wrong ones in the box? Holy crap these are powerful beasts. Think JCB meets rocket engine. Burn in time.
Source 5G iPod Video line out through a Practical Devices XM5 with LM6171 opp amps, 1G iPod Shuffle with a 75 ohm adapter added and an HM-601
Lows: Power, power and then a little bit more power. Honestly I can’t think what the extra bass one must be like as these are just a torrent of abundant force. Oh god they are powerful. They move a vast amount of air, just gargantuan amounts. In small doses it’s very much entertaining but I have delicate little ears and these are raucous brawling brutes that feel like they have strapped my hearing to a rocket sled, they just utterly power through anything. Make no mistake whatsoever, these are bass monsters. The bass is so tactile and forceful I can see why some have been so awe struck by it. It really is a force to be reckoned with! Quality of the bass is superb too and almost miraculously it can go away a bit if asked to. However if there is the slightest consideration of there being a low end note then it leaps back into action. It’s very agile and super quick to respond, and oh so achingly powerful. Honestly its way too much for me but then big bass has never been my thing. It’s stupid deep and stupidly good at holding a low note, given its massive size it’s remarkably punchy too. It’s not uber tight but much better than it should be at this quantity. This may be the ultimate in basshead IEM’s.
Mids: Okay they are very clearly not what’s centre stage but ignoring quantity the quality’s pretty good. You would expect the mids to get more lost in the sea of bass or suffer with a mid / bass bleed but nope, mids are pretty dark given the dark overall feel of these but tonally you can feel them trying to be a little dry. Striving and reaching for the dry and light but not really quite making it. It balances the vocals out and I must say they are lovely. Of course they are way too far back for my own tastes but they do stay crisp and clear no matter what I tried with them. They did prefer a dry voice though as the more liquid they go the more the darkness obscures. Not that it’s likely to matter as if you’re a big Nora Jones listener then you’re probably not buying these anyway. These are for things like Britney’s “Hold it Against Me” the bass and lows on it with it pulsing rhythm you’ll either love it or hate it. In my case these things do a fine job of pumping out her warbling but the bass actually made me feel sick. Holy crap these are scary.
Sorry, yes the mids, good for the price and do a fine job of holding their own but they are only ever a supplementary here, if a good one. They ensure all the lyrics are there if you want to have them but it’s not something for rich swooping vocals. It’s about getting the job done capably and efficiently.
Highs: Good, but I rather think they could have afforded to be less refined and offer up a bit more edge and crispiness. Taken on their own they are very nice and I’d normally praise their ability to shimmer and decay. They do stand clear and are easily audible but they are overshadowed in abundance by that mammoth bass. The highs could do with a bit more bight to be more in line, but maybe that’s how they are supposed to be. You can’t have 3 super stars on a stage and the treble isn’t what you’ve come to hear. Its good stuff though, not outstanding, blow you away but good enough to keep up with the better stuff and for the money pretty nice. It’s not up to IE8 levels of clarity and refinement but surely gives the IE7 a run for its money. It easily out paces the aging C751 too. I do like the level of refinement and control they show. They also have a pretty damn good extension which you don’t often see in this sound signature, very good quality and behaviour just wildly in the shadow of the bass. That shadow makes these all rather dark and foreboding and it makes it really temping to hit the treble boost button to balance things out a bit.
Soundstage: These can sound voluminous but they are closed in, they offer the feeling of being in a closed if biggish room. Their dark nature doesn’t lend themselves to any sense of air and openness but still they have power and offer a good sense of scale. Placement is more about distance than good positioning. This is all what happens when you have a dynamic and close it in. Instrument separation is pretty good, vocals in particular always being clear and distinct.
Fit: Their closed nature gave me venting issue and driver flex. If you don’t get the pressure equalised then these sound meh so make sure you get it right and you will be rewarded. Or you could do what I did and stick on Comply’s but they don’t last very long. I’m sure they would equalise if you gave a them a minute or two but when reviewing you don’t get to stick them in and leave them for hours, in normal use it should be okay.
Comfort: Physically totally fine, I may have been concerned given they are giganto but the C751 are about the same size and they never ever gave me any trouble, turns out these didn’t either. However they move so much air then actually can make me feel queasy.
Cable: Nice. It’s pretty good, not blowing me away and not doing anything to make me dislike it. No complains but nothing amazing either. Nicely integrated chin slider though.
Microphonics: Not a lot but then I was using Comply’s which helps. That said if you wear them up and if needs be use the chin slider then you’ll get none. It’s really up to you but that’s how I would and did wear them.
Amped/Unamped: These loved power, the more the better. They improved markedly with the more power available to them. At £100 it’s not something than naturally belongs with a good amp but they do scale very well. Not that they needed volume, the Shuffle with the 75 ohms added could easily make them go too loud but they never mustered the same clarity and detail retrieval that they could when driven with the XM5. Amp them and be rewarded, just don’t really go for a thick or bassy amp, these don’t need leaning in that direction any.
Isolation: Very good for a dynamic. Of course it has all the corresponding venting issues and what not but if you want isolation then these are rather good. Maybe not right up and every day on the Tube level but easily enough for most environments.
Value: There are coming in at £100 and there is a ton of stuff that sits around that magical round number. So would I pay that for them? Hell no. I know me and these are not to my tastes. However having seen a couple of people’s reactions to them I can tell you that there are people out there that would pay it and more. These are crazy stupid bass behemoths; god only knows what the extra bass ones must be like. Any bass heads out there should be falling over themselves to throw money at TFTA for a pair of these. So to a bass head, yes these are jolly fine value for money!
Conclusion: These do so much so well and bit of me thinks oh wow! Then they begin to move so much air the pressure on my ears makes me a little queasy. Yes these right now give me that sensation my mouth is about to water up and then I’m going to get to see lunch again. Oh god there is there is so much energy and power in the bass it’s phenomenal, it goes stupid deep and there is no roll off, absolutely none. The bass is masterful in its abilities but for the love of god there is too much. If you are after bass monster then this has got to be on your list, absolutely got to be. The bass is stunning in its quantity and its control of the enormous volume. Sure you can etc better bass, cleaner, quicker, tighter even at this price but there is no way you get this good at this quantity. Holy crap there is a lot of bass and it’s of an excellent quality. I can really see some adoring this and its dark heavy, overpowering sound. Everything else it does too is very fine but were largely irrelevant. This is all about the bass plain and simple, it just happens to have good mids and highs but they are not important.
The TFTA-2100-2V1S (seriously you have to rename these things) is a pretty incredible IEM. It is by no means perfect, even amped up it’s not up at IE8 levels of clarity particularly in the mids but it’s crazy ass bass is on another level. The IE8 bass is pretty midbass humpy and does roll off but this thing, it’s vast and has no roll off at all that I can tell. It’s like being in a small sealed room with a sub cranked up full. It wasn’t to my tastes but if that’s the sort of stuff that floats your boat then you really ought to give these a try. They are just crazy stuff. To call these bass cannons is to overinflate the capabilities of a cannon, this is more akin the guns on a good old fashioned battleship, you know the kind Cher likes to drape herself over when singing to sailors. Whether you will like it or not I can’t say but I promise it’s certainly impressive in its sheer power.