Originally Posted by MuppetFace
Okay, I'm currently sitting at a cafe having a bite to eat. I figure this would be as good a time as any to talk about this T-Peos H-100.
For those who don't know about this thingamajig, it's a hybrid balanced armature and dynamic ear monitor from S. Korea. There's an appreciation thread here on head-fi with something like 80 pages, and quite a few head-fiers seem to really like them. Quite a few head-fiers seem to *really* like them. Not too surprising honestly as right now hybrid designs are the it-thing of the IEM world, and these have something of that giant-killing heavy hitter vibe about them.
First off, it seems obligatory to mention just how nicely these things are packaged. It surprised me in a pleasant sort of way. You get a substantial wooden box with nice staining, the company's logo engraved on the lid with a rather charming slogan: "The Premium Earphones of Shinwoo." Nice. Open the lid however, and the luxury abruptly stops. Inside there's a plastic insert with the earphones and tips; nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. Also you get a bunch of accessories with these, including a secondary travel pouch, a cleaning brush, and even a tiny carabiner to hook the travel pouch onto your person like a dork boss.
Build quality seems decent. The cable above the y-split is rubber-jacketed, while below it gets the fabric treatment. The plug is straight rather than angled. Overall it reminds me of a cheaper version of the K3003. The earphones themselves don't have much of a strain relief to speak of, though they seem fairly substantial without being too heavy. The construction seems to be metal yet has a somewhat cheap feel to it. There's a splash of color in the form of an accent stripe, and I think this contributes to the "just came out of a plastic capsule vending machine" look:
On the loaner tour pair, there's actually a small spot on the right earpiece where the paint has flaked off (I didn't do it, eke!). The included tips look very similar to Sony's color-coded assortment; I used my own tips however, so I don't have any further comments on those in the package. The fit of the T-Peos didn't give me any issues.
As I indicated in previous posts, I wanted to take my time with the assessment of the way these sound. Essentially I wanted to make sure my ears and brain weren't playing some kind of trick on me, because quite frankly the T-Peos H-100 is rather awful. There's an obi strip type of outer jacket that slides over part of the wooden box, and on it there's a graph with the H-100's supposed frequency response; I halfway wonder if this pair is defective in some way or if the T-Peos folks have abysmal quality control, because I'm definitely not hearing what that graph suggests I should be hearing.
What I am hearing is bad. In fact, upon hearing the H-100 for the first time my initial reaction was to stop about a minute later and remove them from my ears. After the initial shock I tried once again. I lasted maybe five minutes before the overwhelming urge to hurl a brick through the window of T-Peos' office took over, and I could no longer concentrate on the music. So just where does the H-100 go so terribly wrong? More than anything it's the midrange (or lack thereof) that bothers me. Everything sounds recessed as if I have excessive earwax buildup, yet at the same time this distance is coupled with an intensely irksome shouty quality that makes it seem like everyone is talking through a cardboard paper towel roll. There's also a fair amount of treble glare, and in general the treble is very thin and tizzy sounding. This combination is a recipe for trouble: the weak midrange naturally compels me to turn the volume up to compensate, yet this action brings with it more high frequency related pain.
The overall timbre of these has that metallic quality less than stellar balanced armatures often possess. What about the dynamic driver? Frankly, the bass is nothing to write home about (though hopefully you have more to talk to your family about than bass). It's neither overblown nor omnipresent mercifully enough as it would completely overwhelm the timid midrange if there were more of it. In terms of quality, it seems fairly well defined and textured and doesn't sound sluggish. Unfortunately the signature as a whole is V shaped in an obnoxious sort of way.
The only thing "flat" about these earphones to my ears is their presentation. The horizontal field---left and right relative to my head---has some width to it, yet there is next-to-no depth. It's like pressing one's face up against a wall. Or in this case, a small sheet of paper. Everything is diminished in scale, sounding tiny and unconvincing. There's also no inner depth to speak of, and to my ears the H-100 is a decidedly poor performer when it comes to capturing the subtle dynamics present in music.
I spent a few mornings listening to nothing but the H-100. If you spend enough time listening exclusively to something, you acclimate. It started sounding halfway decent to me.
Then I switched to the JVC FXT-80. Reality check: the H-100 just sucks.
Now when I was formulating my opinion of the H-100, I assumed the price was around the 100 USD mark. Perhaps 150 USD at most. When I discovered it was nearly 200 USD? My opinion of it soured even more. There's a lot of stuff out there I'd recommend over these, including the previously mentioned JVCs which can be had for less than half the price of the T-Peos.