TDK EB950 Review
I have now owned a lot of TDK’s earphone/headphones and I have had a mixed back of experiences. The BA200 was amazing, one of the best IEMs I have heard and of great value but then the BA100 that followed that let me down a bit. This is the IEM that sits behind both of those in TDK’s line up and unlike the other two it is a dynamic driver IEM rather than one that uses balanced armatures. As this is a completely different technology I gave TDK a completely clean slate and could not wait to see what they could do with a dynamic driver.
The set-up I have used is the normal, as I have started using a new portable rig, which is the Hippo CriCri amplifier connected through a LOD to an iPod Nano 3G with Apple Lossless and MP3 on it.
I also used my old set-ups of my iPhone 4, Cowon J3 (with FLAC) and my iMac with my Objective 2 amplifier.
I chose to use the included T400 Comply tips.
The design of these takes a different approach from the BA models and we thankfully lose the flat cable. These have a quite unique looking housing that looks quite nice cause of the large vent on it. They also make a use of the y-split turning it into a three button control with a mic on it.
The built quality does come across a little bit fragile. The straight jack is in a thin plastic housing which feels a bit tacky although will easily fit into iPhone cases but the strain relief is nice and flexible. The cable does not feel the strongest and has really held its bent up shape from being in the packaging and does not want to lose that. The y-split is very weak and a real cheap plastic and what is even more worrying is that the control device is also in it, a nice idea but needs to be made stronger. Also there is a lack of cable cinch.
The housings are also made of this cheap plastic and the seam have slight gaps which are worrying and they just feel light and cheap if you ask me, the nozzle is also this plastic but fairly think so hopefully no problems. The strain relief is also really small and barely does much.
The TDK accessory package is quite good because it does bundle a lot of your standard stuff as well as something that could potentially cause the IEM to have lot of criticism. What I am talking about is the adapter jack the converts the jack from a TRRS to TRS. Because of the EB950’s having the remote made specifically for iDevices it will cause a lack of quality and volume with over devices and obviously this will not please any one, so to combat that just pop the TRS adapter on and you will have a complete regain of the quality but no use of the control and mic.
Tip wise you get three sizes of single flange tips that are nothing out of the ordinary and come in small, medium and large. You also get a pair of T400 Comply foam tips, which of course is great, and some people can only use them, as they are very comfortable.
You also get a plastic feeling spring clasp pouch that will protect it slightly to a certain level and also give them a place to be carried in, I would always like something more protective but I also like something to carry it in of course.
You also get a shirt clip.
I have been using the included Comply tips with these and it has been a very comfortable experience. The foam obviously is very easy on your ear canal and does not irritate anything. The plastic is very light and does not weigh down in your ear the slightest. The plastic is very smooth and there are no sharp bits that could hurt or irritate anything your ears. With the Comply tips I do not even any they are there and could wear them forever, very, very comfortable.
These have a rather large venting and this does of course have a rather negative effect on the isolation on these. The Comply tips do help combat that but do not do enough and we are left with IEMs lacking some isolation.
Microphonics (Cable Noise):
Even wearing these cable down you only get the faintest tapping noise when hit them which is not bad, perhaps a 7/10 which of course is not shabby. You could get a lot worst but do not think they are perfect.
By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. These have had roughly 100 hours now of use and burn in combined. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so don’t make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.
The sound is overall quite balanced with a slight mid bass peak and also very relaxed highs. The whole sound is rather forgiving and relaxed and everything is very soft to the touch. The sound is also rather compressed and all in a rather small sound space.
Soundstage and instrument separation:
The soundstage is on the smaller side and all in your head. Does not really extend out in width and height and the depth is also very small making the sound very intimate and not very immersive. It is quite well presented for the size and makes the best use of the small soundstage.
The instrument separation is rather nice because although the instruments are rather close most of the time and hard to distinguish, they never really get worse and when it really speeds up everything is still smooth and nothing changes. However they are to begin with hard to tell apart from each other at times because of the small soundstage and soft timbre.
The bass on these is the dominant force of these IEMs but sharing that title with the mids.
The mid-bass is slightly emphasized in quantity, which is not over the top by any means but is noticeable. It has very little negative effects other than the fact it gets boomy every so often but nothing terrible or overwhelming. Other than that it is relatively controlled. It hits fairly softly and feels like it’s lacking a bit of air movement, the body is there but the impact is not quite. The speed is fairly average for a dynamic driver and the decay does leave fairly quick notes drifting into one and other.
The sub bass does start to roll of as we get down low meaning there is little rumble and you can just hear the low frequencies but they are lightly masked by the mid-bass.
The mids are another very well executed part of the earphone.. While technically they are not the best due to a lack of transparency and details, they do have a very good sense of musicality and energy. The tone is slightly warm and the smoothness is just incredible.
While vocals sound very energetic, airy and natural, the timbre of drums is a bit too soft.
The treble is rather weak and leaves the whole sound a bit empty at the top end. It is recessed, sitting behind the mids and the highs. It is also really laid, back not a lot energy and it seems like it dosing off to sleep, I don't fell as though the treble wants to be there. It is extremely smooth but the roll off is pretty quick and you do not get that much sparkle and there is also a lack of details.
What it would be good for, is people who are sensitive to treble which is to sparkly, sibilant or peaks as this is super smooth and laid back, totally non fatiguing.
I actually found this better than the more expensive BA100 and for this to be a very enjoyable IEM. I am not going to claim it is the best thing in the price range but this could well be a contender.
It does have a few worrying aspects such a the build quality and isolation but the sound is at the end of the day very enjoyable and hopefully if anything did go wrong (touch wood it won't) TDK would be there to sort it out.
So if you looking for a non-fatiguing IEM which is soft to the ear and very musical, give the EB950 a check out.