Full disclosure: I received these for free from Topdogheadphones after my review won a DUNU Tai-Chi review contest. I was offered a prize valued at £35 and I chose the Telefunken TH-140 and was asked if I could review them as well and I accepted.
Telefunken isn’t a name I’ve often heard in the headphone business. In fact, before receiving these, I hadn’t heard it at all. Well, not associated with the headphone market, that is. I’ve certainly heard the Telefunken name before, a German company known for their televisions and vacuum tubes but this is the first time I know of that they’ve gotten involved in the in ear monitor market.
As I stated earlier, after winning the Tai-Chi contest, I chose the TH-140 Cappuchino model as my prize based purely on the recommendation I received, as very little has been written on the TH-140 and I was assured that I was among the few (perhaps only) reviewers in the United States to try them out. Plus, I’d heard comments that these could measure up to IEMs nearly double their price at £60. On the surface, that sounds like pure marketing fluff to get me in the door. But seeing as I wasn’t being sold anything, perhaps there was more to that.
Packaging and Accessories: The TH-140 Cappuchino arrived in a black plastic box that opens to reveal two sets of silicone single flange eartips in three sizes with both a wide and a narrow bore design. The narrow bore design are similar to the Sony hybrid tips I’m a very big fan of. In addition, a triangular clamshell case is included, which is nice but rather small.
Design and Build Quality: The resin housings feature a swirled brown and off -white design owing to their namesake and are certainly unique while also feeling durable and solid with their metal nozzles and short strain reliefs. The cable is a plasticky design that’s fairly flexible and thick enough to give me little qualms about long term durability. All in all, a solidly built IEM.
Comfort and Isolation: I found the TH-140 to be very comfortable with both sets of small silicone tips but preferred the narrow bore Sony hybrid clones as they feel just about the same to my ears as the Sony tips and are thus very comfortable. Isolation was a bit above average for a vented dynamic IEM and microphonics were noticeable but didn’t detract too much from my listening.
Burn in: These IEMs were given upwards of 100 hours of burn in prior to review. No significant changes were detected.
Given that these are named after cappuccino, one would imagine that the sound signature would be similar to its namesake. After all, a good cappuccino is warm, rich, and creamy with a bit of a kick to wake you up in the morning. Lo and behold, that’s a surprisingly apt definition of the TH-140’s sound signature.
Much like the all-important coffee, the low end is rich, robust and powerful. It hits low and hard and carries a good amount of rumble but nonetheless seems to gloss over texture for the sake of pure power. The TH-140 is right up there with the SP-51 and Monster Miles Davis Tributes as some of the hardest hitters in my collection. Its low extension is impressive and it has enough sub bass rumble to rattle your brain. The cost of the sheer size of the bass is that it creeps into the midrange and warms it up a bit and the purely subjective issue of it being too big. If you like your bass taut and even handed, these are not for you but bass lovers should be quite pleased.
Next, you add your rich and creamy steamed milk, likened to the midrange of the TH-140, which is similarly rich, creamy and warm. The mids are very pleasing to listen to, with a delicate sweetness which makes them suitable for Jazz and even classical recordings. Detail retrieval, much like the low end, is a bit of an afterthought, and can’t quite keep up with the RE0, one of my benchmarks in the sub $100 range but I didn’t find myself missing the detail of the RE0 in the TH-140.
Up top, the treble is like an espresso shot, exciting and prominent. The lower treble’s slight forwardness does end up making some vocals sound a bit sibilant and sharp but that can be toned down slightly with a different tip selection, more on that in a second. On the whole, aside from the sibilance issues, I found the TH-140’s treble to be rather nice. It’s got good extension at the very top, doesn’t have a lot of sparkle but is sufficiently clear and detailed enough to avoid making the IEM sound too dark.
As I mentioned before, the Cappuchino comes with two different types of tips and both types slightly change the way the IEM sounds. With the Sony hybrid clone tips on them, the Cappuchino puts less emphasis on the treble and more on the lower midrange and bass, which makes them sound slightly congested. With the standard wide bore silicone tips in place, the sound opens up and the treble steps forward.
On the whole, the Cappuchino is an IEM that produces a warm and rich sound akin to its namesake. Its soundstage is about average in terms of depth and width and imaging is good as well. Despite the warmth of the sound signature, I never got the sense that it was too warm or too rich for its own good, to the point of glossing over too much detail. In that sense, they remind me quite a bit of the Sony MH1-C.
The Telefunken TH-140 Cappuchino is available from Topdogheadphones for £34.99, which equates to about 48 dollars US. Not a bad price at all.
Detail freaks will likely be better satisfied with a balanced armature IEM or the RE0 but that’s not the type of listener the Cappuchino is designed for. Those looking for a warm, rich sound that delivers powerful bass could do a lot worse than these for around $50 US. I hate to sound like a shill but Telefunken has a winner here in the TH-140 Cappuchino. It’s an IEM that appeals to my preferences as a listener in just about every way possible and one that I can’t find much fault with on an objective level aside from the occasionally piercing treble but even then, that’s more of a preference issue.
When it all boils down to it, the Cappuchino is a warm, rich and full sounding IEM that should be great for people who like that sort of sound and most mainstream listeners. If not, well, there’s always Starbucks. Err…I mean, some other IEM.
This review has been re-posted from my site, Musical Musings.