I've got a surprise for fellow Canadians - you can spend $4.97+tax and get AWESOME IEMs. Wow! $4.97!
I spotted some TDK IEMs in the weekly XSCargo flyer while looking for other junk so I thought I'd head on down and try a pair - they sounded great out of the box so I went back in and stocked up for Christmas. Supposedly with an MSRP of $30, I've never seen them on any shelves anywhere, but even at $30, they should be on the Head-Fi radar.
These come with three sizes of tips, but I found that the middle size is actually a little smaller than most Mediums, maybe a Small/Medium so most people may find that they fit a bit loose and they are lacking in bass. The Large tips are actually really large, but will do if the Meds fall out.
The cord is a nice rubbery cord with a cinch which is somewhat tangle-resistant though quite thin. Microphonics are extremely well controlled for a $5 IEM, being virtually non-existant. This is a huge achievement for anything under $30.
Insertion depth is average and thus so is isolation, though they are quite low profile so they don't stick out - you can put your head against something (a pillow, seat, etc).
The aluminum housings are a very nice touch. You get a feeling of quality when you hear a metallic clink when you put your IEMs away and the housings touch each other.
Wow. These were $4.97? These are $4.97 of awesomeness. With the right tips, they are some of the most natural sounding IEMs I have heard in the <$50 category. What really wins me over is something I can't put my finger on - presentation I think. These really put you in the room with the band, but the right tips make a big difference. Sealing it up with a bi-flange boosts the bass to sometimes unbearable levels, while a looser comply foam let a bit of bass leak and balanced things out (TDK's own webpage photos show foam tips) . I settled on a Monster SuperTip foamie as a middle-road because I like some thump.
The bass is well extended into the sub but not too over-boosted in the mid-bass and well controlled. I'd almost say it is pretty flat. You get just enough rumble in the bottom end without it being annoying like on the SHE3580 but without leaving you lacking a bit like on the MH1C.
The mids are surprisingly not that recessed unlike many of its competitors and has pretty good clarity. I think the MH1C has better clarity, but I need more time to be sure.
Treble has excellent sparkle, maybe even leaning towards being bright and leading to a very gentle "u" profile. The SHE3580 rolls off in the treble while I feel the MH1C is noticeably smoother. However, even after tax, the MH1C is at least 4x the price!
Generally these are fun to listen to, very practical, and definitely grow on you. They remind me of the XB500's signature, so if you like XB500s you might just like these too.
I'm no expert, in fact I know my hearing is a bit off, so I'm challenging other Canadian Head-Fiers to get to your XSCargo and let me know if we have a winner here - something we can wave at our southern neighbours. Looking forward to hearing the replies!
I still can't believe these are $4.97!
PS. They've also got some $4.77 10' auto jumper cables if you wanted to re-cable some headphones with some 12AWG wire...
Index to other awesome posts in this thread:
I have a few other budget IEMs I'll compare with, including
Brainwavz Beta ($17)
and maybe some heavy-hitters like:
Sony XBA-3 ($130)
Etymotics HF5 ($100)
Other thoughts and impressions:
edit: added index, added prices
Edited by inline79 - 1/28/13 at 11:43pm