Accutone Taurus Review
I have received a few different Accutone products for review and in all honesty the only reason that Accutone ever caught my attention was this product. The other two I received (Picses Band and Digital) have not sounded bad by any means but are nothing more than beats clones and are nothing to get too excited about unless you want a better sounding beats look a like. Not bad products but not exactly game changers or a new offering. Looking at both them models that are the IEM and headphone flagship you may think that Accutone have nothing to offer but then I stumbled upon the Taurus. I was actually rather impressed by its innovation, nothing is brand new on a IEM and it has been seen before on more expensive options but a combination of two different things definitely is nice. These are the ability to wear these over the ear or straight down with a articulating strain relief and bass adjustment. For £45 I really do think that this has some nice offerings in the design aspect.
I would like to thank Accutone for the review sample.
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 also have paired these with a few other amps such as the MiuAudio MRB.
The design of these is very nice and different from any other is have come across which is more than I can say for their other models. The housings look rather nice in a shiny black plastic and two big silver vents sit on the back looking meaty and nice as well as being in the knowledge that they are actually doing something. The IEMs have a microphone on them with a pause/play button on it and it is nicely designed an rather small but if you wear these over the ear then it maybe a bit to far up and closer to your ear than your mouth. It also has a volume control but this is lower down and this does signify that the microphone is actually meant to be higher up (it does work nicely there besides being above my mouth and does not pick up microphonics) and you have the volume control lower down which is a chunky twist mechanism that does not change the on board volume. More on the strain reliefs, when they go into the housings that are on a circular knob that rotates 180 degrees so they can comfortably be worn cable down, or other the ear, it really is handy.
The build quality is not as confident as the looks of these IEMs and the cable for a start raises some worry just because it feels so weak and like it could easily tear. Strain reliefs through out the cable also look and feel weak and the amount of stuff on the cable could be a cause of problems (microphone, volume control and y-split). The jack is nice being made out of metal but I would rather it be right angled with a better strain relief.
Housings are a little better and do look to be fairly well constructed although seems to not seem to be that flush and the metal grilles are not lined up perfectly. It feels like it will last but does look like a rushed job. The sound bore is capped with some metal that is a nice touch but all in all, this does leave some desires.
With these you get a well thought out bundle of stuff. They come with a case first of all which is nice and compact, fits the earphones and a couple of other things nicely and is covered with velvet inside to look after them even more. However, it is a soft case and will not protect them from crushes etc. So that it fits in the case nicely you get a cable winder.
You then get a tip selection that features three sizes of single flange silicone tips that are nothing to exciting but you also get a nice pair of foam tips with them.
You then get two more things all that are rather unique and handy. One is a TRRS jack adapter which is have not seen many of with IEMs but it basically cancels all the functions of the in line controls if you happen to use it with a device that is not compatible and negative effects would happen. You then get a micro flat screwdriver so you can open and close the bass ports on the housings and therefore alter the bass of the IEMs.
Getting a fit with these did involve a tad of fluffing around, as the housings are rather small so you had to pull open your ear and then wiggle the housing in a bit as they like a fairly deep insertion. But the provided tips get you a nice fit, especially the foam tips but I personally preferred sony hybrids with them.
Comfort wise these are good because of the flexibility you have with them. A lot of IEMs can be worn in both over your ear or straight down configurations but not as well as these. They have no strain relief preventing a good straight down fit but also can but turned so they go great over the ear. They are light, small and pretty darn comfortable.
These are vented and even though a fairly deep insertion can be achieved, these do have a sub par isolation, nothing terrible but far from the best and these will not leave you sad in this department unless you went out to get a isolation IEM in which there are a lot better options.
Microphonics (Cable Noise):
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.
You get two different sound signatures with these. One is very close to neutral with forward mids, nice detail and speed and understated bass that is flat and extended. The treble is also smooth and rather laid back with a subtle roll off. This is with the vents closed and it really is crazy how much things change when you open them up because the change is HUGE and they become bass monsters with both mid-bass and sub-bass to satisfy the most needy bass cravers. It really is an impressive transformation and it does show that the bass tuning idea is far from snake oil.
Soundstage and instrument separation:
The soundstage is neatly open with good width, elements of height present although I would like a bit more on vocals and not the most depth, being shallow is no shame as I have yet to find a sub £100 IEM with good depth in soundstage (unless the TDK BA200 is on offer). Everything in terms of width is nicely spread out though and never closed in, actually rivaling the Silver Bullet, Adagio III and other soundstage kings that are sub £100. They are also nicely filled in the middle, as other IEMs with equally wide soundstages such as the T-PEOS H-100 seem a bit vacant in the middle.
Separation is better on these when the bass ports are closed, as the large, slower and sloppier bass does not have a negative effect on it. With them closed it is very impressive, they are airily apart and in their own space of the nice width that these IEMs offer. These actually have a overall very nice speed, going neatly head to head with even the best dynamic IEMs and actually keep pace with the Sony MDR-EX1000s in LAU’s “Stephen’s” which is no easy feat. These really are special in the regard of speed. They do get slightly worse in terms of separation when these go into bass mode, especially seeing as the vocals lose there air and the big rumbley sub-bass is louder than anything.
Closed: When they are closed I am really quite impressed. Being tuned in Accutones range as ultra bass I though that in either mode these would have incredible quantities of bass but that is not the case. When they ports are closed they are tight and fast in the mid-bass and there is a confident but understated rumble from the sub-bass when needed. It is the most well textured sub-bass and the mid-bass presence could arguably be not enough but I think it leaves the rest of the sound spectrum un touched which leads to a very nice ride.
Open: When they are opened they get boosted mainly in the sub-bass region but it is also accentuated in the mid-bass regions. The slightly bigger mid-bass is slower but still not too big and not that boomy. The sub-bass on the other hand is huge, textured badly, slow and boomy and takes out everything because it is always present, slobbering these large low notes out, even if they were not intended to be that loud. In bassier music this is a positive but most of the time it is too much and I lean towards the closed mode.
Now the same mid-range is here just next to a different bass response. When closed they are forward with beautiful air, rather even in both lower mids and higher mids and everything is coherent and in good unison. Texture is a bit thin and leaves it distant from the real big boys. Detail retrieval does not to a bad job but a similarly priced armature IEM will show it up here. Timbre is on the softer time and fast and smooth with a quick decay. Drums can be a bit soft but guitars are amazing and lush. When they ports are opened up and the bass let out, the low mids take a slight beat and they no longer have that forward male vocal, it sounds thinner and can be over powered a lot of the time. Female vocals still sound lush and are not actually that badly affected.
The treble is rather laid back in presentation with minimal sparkle (has very little amounts) yet good detail. Low highs coming off of the high mids are lush and have good presence but are far from being over done are being fatiguing, done rather safely if anything. Extension into the high frequencies is not the best and the roll of comes in and this leads to the not complete treble feeling. The treble is equally good on both setting which is a major plus but even though it is fast I do not think that the highs are very lively. It is their but it feels like it does not want to be, it can do the job but does not want to exert itself but it is harmless.
I think this is a great IEM and for the money should be taken seriously and could well put Accutone on the headphone map, it deserves to for sure. It sounds good on both modes giving you a neutral and bassy earphone in one. The bassy earphone will compete with the bassiest such as the Hippo VB and stand its ground while the neutral one is not to badly beaten by similar priced armatures. However, the bassy mode is a bit to bassy for my liking and not controlled enough and the more neutral sound is a bit dull and borderline boring. It performs out its price sound is though as far as I can see though and it brings nice innovation. It does also have a great package at £45 but the build quality and isolation could do with some improvement, I would like a better cable, even at the cost of the gimmicks. Just a bit stronger and thicker and that would be great.