Also wanted to thank you for this great review. Taking your cue, I listened to that Krall album too, and wow, you are on the money with your descriptions. I feel happy that the BA200s were less than $150. Coming from a musician, the praise has an extra layer of credibility.
TDK BA200 Impressions.
My first venture into the IEM world past the $200 mark, I got the Ba200 2 weeks ago and it sounded hollow and everything sounded like its at a 45* angle. I couldn't stand listening for more than 5 minutes.i tried everything from switching amps, sources, even replaced the filters and it didn't do anything to improve (nor to correct) the sound. Reading all the reviews from very respectable reviewers here, I thought to myself, they are probably defective. So I got them replaced by the dealer (They have great service). and lo and behold, I was right! My first pair were in fact, defective.
Now this new unit sounds a lot different. The previously muffled highs came to life, everything sounded balanced with each instrument placed where the engineers wanted them to be. I was really impressed, so much that I wanted to share my personal opinion about these particular IEMs. As a disclaimer, I am just getting into the IEM scene. I never write reviews, and in fact this will be my very first. (If you would call my impressions a review). But i do have over 15 years experience as a professional musician and coming from the Conservatory of Music, listening to my own instrument (Piano and percussions) and my buddies practice their individual instrument day in and day out. So I would say I have a pretty good idea of how each instrument should sound. (But do take my opinion as it is....My opinion) In the interest of being consistent, I will be comparing the BA200 to how I remember live music and to my old trusty RE0.
Listening to Diana Krall's "The Girl in the Other Room" Album in FLAC played on a very weird setup ---- A Macbook Pro connected to an FiiO E10 via USB (I know its not ideal but because the E10 has coax input) with the line out connected to a Cary Audio Design sli-30 integrated tube amplifier. (Yes it is not a headphone amp). I also use the stock comply tips.
Now on to the sound/Soundstage and other stuff on a particular track "The Girl in the Other Room"
The ride cymbal is slightly to the left of the stage, hi-hats almost dead center (A little to the left), cymbals crashes with attack at both sides extending a few inches past the left of your left ear and right of your right ear with just the right amount of reverb. I agree it does not have the sparkling highs of say the RE0, but the soundstage is pretty good. Air and timbre are both correct and very natural (More natural than the RE0) (I tried the bi-flanges and they sound more detailed, but also less natural with the sound that seems piped out of a thin hollow tube. (So back to the comply tips)
Guitars playing at the lower left side is clear and fast that notes do not linger to distract you from the spaces in between. Diana's voice is at the center stage in front of everything else, with reverbs decay slightly to the right and are textured but I wont describe them as smooth. Her vocals have a little bit of grit as if you can hear her vocal flaps vibrate. Piano's slightly to the right but lower octaves dead center or just a little to the left with an airy sound as if in a large, but slightly dampened studio. Not totally dry
These have good speed with the right amount of attack. Transients come off strong with the snare drum sounding powerful and quick with just the right amount of decay. I can guess these may have the tendency to get muddy with fast and sub-bass-ey tracks with a lot of percussions. I dont know...:)
Instrument separation is good with just the right amount of space between them. What I like is the air in between hard hitting notes, because of a very fast mid-midbass response, can stop on a dime and open up these spaces.
But enough of the technicalities.
These are very musical with a very engaging and "true" timbre especially with cymbals and guitar string noise. Vocals are intimate, but can sometimes sound just a little bit artificial with the upper "hiss-grit" of voices sounding a little too emphasized). Instruments sound as if they were well put together. Unlike in the RE0's where each instrument seem like they sitting on each of their own separate track, the BA200 can put instruments together and actually sing with melody. I find listening to them is very relaxing and I am not forced to analyze every detail or compare how they sound to all my other equipment.
I wouldn't use them on stage though because I am afraid I will break the complicated armatures if I use them as my monitor while playing. They sound as if they are delicate, and probably because of my experience with the faulty unit, I am a little paranoid...So I will do my very best to take care of these little gems.
Overall I am inclined to think that the BA200s were designed to reach out to both my professional and technical side without ignoring the casual listener in me. They are detailed, natural sounding, fun, and can be analytical if I want them to be. These do everything well without overly exposing a lot of recording faults, but still technical enough to be considered reference.