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[Review] TDK BA200, my new favorite ~$100 IEM

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

 

 

Pros: Great seal, stunning clarity, build quality, cost to performance ratio, musicality and instrument separation.

Cons: Highs roll off, very short cable which requires included cable extension, lack of variety in tips, and an amp is recommended.

Style: Over-Ear IEMs

Tonal Balance: Warm with forward mids.

Preferred Genres: Trip-Hop, jazz, hip-hop, pop, most electronic, etc. Essentially any music with punchy bass, clean vocals, or music without a strong focus on highs.

Amp: Recommended. These sound great through my iPod Classic, but from my Schiit stack these sing.

Listening Set-Up: Musicbee -> Schiit Modi/Magni

 

Packaging

 

  

 

Aesthetics

TDK has gone with a, mostly, black and bronze color scheme that I find myself quite fond of. The box features pictures of the IEMs themselves along with detailed information about the BA200 in three languages. The packaging looks sleek and minimal on the front, but a quick turn-around and I find it to be a bit busy, this is because TDK has chosen to brand to multiple countries on one package. The inside box, with the outside shell removed, is identical to the outside. This is redundant and odd, they should have gone with a minimalistic design on the inner section.

 

Unwrapping

Opening the BA200 box was a breeze. The outside cardboard shell slides upwards and the BA200 and accessories slide upwards in a clear plastic sleeve in which the accessories are easily removed.

 

Accessories

TDK includes a user guide booklet, a small black carrying pouch, a ¼’’ adaptor, a cable extension, and 4 pairs of tips; two sizes of double flanged tips and medium and large Comply tips. The included cable extension is necessary for use for most as the attached cable is very short. The Comply tips are a nice addition, but where are the other tips? Thankfully I prefer double flanged tips and Comply’s are popular, but for $300 MSRP IEMs they should have a larger variety of tips. Other than that, the BA200 accessory list including a ¼’’ adaptor is a welcome addition.

 

Build Quality and Design

 

  

 

Aesthetics

The BA200 follow the same sleek color scheme as the box, with a minimalist approach in design of the IEMs. The logos are small, shown on the outside, while the inside of the IEM indicates whether it’s for the left or right ear. The IEM is sharply angled with a bronze colored accent where the cable meets the housing. These look nice and built well.

 

Build Quality

The build quality matches the appearance from what I can tell during my time with these. The IEMs are light and appear to be made from a high quality plastic. The nozzle protrudes rather far and ends mesh covered, unfortunately it doesn’t seem replaceable so be sure to keep your ears and tips clean. The cable meets the plastic with a very short stress relief, but the way the BA200 fit I see very little stress on the cable. The cable itself seems as good as any, though I prefer a round cable to the flat one, I find flat cables tangle easier. The cable is also laughably short. Without the extender, the IEMs appear to be about 2 foot from start to finish, which is too short for anything except perhaps if you were running with an iPod attached to your shoulder, but these don’t appear to be marketed towards athletes. The rest of us will need to use the extender. Another weird choice in the cable is the laughably huge y-split. These feel like they will hold up to a lot of use though, so I can’t complain about that.

 

Fit

The BA200 fit over ear and sit low-profile, making them a potential choice for those who want to want to sleep with these in. With the double flanged tips I get a great seal while comfort is about average. I notice these in, but it’s not unbearable. These are easy to put in though, so taking them out and putting them in isn’t much of a problem.

 

Sound Quality

 

Amping and Burn-in

The BA200 sound good through my iPod Classic, but I find that they reach their full potential with my Schiit Modi and Magni stack. The sound quality is about 80% unamped of what it is amped in my experiences. As for burn-in, I noticed no signs of it. These sound great out of the box.

 

Lows

The lows are a surprise in an IEM that is found for around $100 on Amazon. Unlike many of the IEMs I’ve reviewed that have bloated or sloppy bass, the BA200 has its act together. Quick and punchy best describes the bass in short, but this is a detailed review let’s go in-depth.

 

The sub-bass extends nicely, though this is the weakest aspect of the IEM in my opinion. I find that the sub-bass is a bit slow during quick fluctuations and I find that it is also a bit loose. The sub-bass has no true rumble feel to it either, but I haven’t heard an IEM that can produce that and I doubt I will due to how bass works. When the sub-bass moves slowly I find the BA200 handles it suitably, but on quick tracks like James Blake’s Limit to Your Love, I am left unsatisfied.

 

The mid-bass, on the other hand, is lively, punchy and quick with a natural sound to them. From the kick drum to toms, drums sound excellent. This gives indie rock energy that I find lacking in most IEMs in this price range. The drums carry huge energy. The bass guitar falls into this frequency range also and I find that the BA200 perfectly fits the bass guitar into the mix. Bass guitars are never pushy, nor are they shy. I find that bass guitars are slightly less forward than the drums, but easily heard when properly amped. Drums and bass guitars are clean with a natural sound to them, I find these two instruments to be a joy to listen to with the BA200.

 

Mids and Highs

The mids are the focus of the BA200 in my opinion. Vocals sound excellent, male and female, and in every genre I’ve heard. Vocals are the standout instrument for the BA200 in my opinion, clean and forward without being pushy. I can not stress enough how great vocals sound through these, warm and full with a very life-like tonation to them. Guitars, synths, and pianos, among other instruments, all sound lovely as well. The mids are best summed up as clean, natural, forward, warm, full and detailed.

 

The highs are the second weakest point here, the BA200 rolls off enough to lose out on some of the details occurring in the highs to the forwardness of the mids. The highs extend well enough that when a saxophone solo is occurring that it is cleanly heard, but if there are other instruments playing at the same time, the BA200 pushes the highs a bit behind them. At times I am grateful for this as it cuts back on sibilance and the harsh edge of some poorly mastered songs, but at other times I feel that I’m missing out on some details.

 

Presentation

The BA200 are interesting, they are laid-back and forward at the same time. They are laid back due to the rolled off highs, the sound is nowhere near fatiguing. The mids and mid-bass are forward and lively though, Pendulum is absolutely phenomenal right now, for instance, and I want to dance.

 

The soundstage is acceptable for an IEM in this price range, I would even go as far as to say that the width is a cut above those I’ve heard in this price range. The depth is average, I find that the BA200 do a good job with spatial qualities of how far away things are, to which side they are, and giving instruments a sense of space. Instrument separation is key though in budget IEMs and the BA200 do a good job with the separation. The soundstage is best described as intimate with good spacing.

 

TL:DR

The BA200 are warm and lively, when properly amped they bring music to life. The sound is natural and spacious with a warm leaning tonal balance. Laid back, but forward in the mids, these IEMs are one of the most musical I’ve ever heard.

 

Conclusion

 

It may be easy to tell, but I am enamored with these IEMs. From the fit to the sound, I find that these are the most satisfying IEMs I’ve ever heard, possibly even the most satisfying headphone I’ve ever heard after my Ad2000. The pros of these far outweigh the cons, the sound of these, when properly amped, are unrivaled in my experiences with IEMs under $200. The lack of tips shouldn’t dissuade you from purchasing these, nor should the requirement of an amp. These are IEMs I will keep regardless of what else comes along, these are special IEMs that wedge a niche into market as being one of the few to get the warm sound right at this price range. From everything I’ve read about the Sennheiser HD650, I feel that these share many qualities that the HD650 are praised for.

 

These are a recommended buy. The TDK BA200 can be found on Amazon near the $100 price point and they are worth every penny in my opinion. More pictures can be found here.

post #2 of 41
Used it for a year and half before cable came loose and had to throw them away. Filters get irritating too as they come off too easily. Sound wise no complaint for price.
post #3 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jung Woo Cho View Post

Used it for a year and half before cable came loose and had to throw them away. Filters get irritating too as they come off too easily. Sound wise no complaint for price.

 

Where did the cable come loose? From the housing?

post #4 of 41

Amazon lists them for more than $150.

post #5 of 41

Keanex, if you meant the mesh filters at the tip of the nozzle, they should be changeable. I see that you don't have them in your accessory list but mines came with spare filters and a filter changing tool. Also a shirt clip.

 

Just a word from an owner as well---these can come apart very easily. The bronze ring on the earpieces are held by glue and if you remove them, the rest is held on by small clips in the shell. The BAs inside are capped with a rubber-ish cover so they're easy to take out and place back exactly where they were before. As far as the bronze rings go, the moment you remove one the tendency to slide off the earpiece can be bothersome even if the clips will still hold the BA200 together without the ring. At least you don't have to worry about losing the ring since it'll just slide down your cable till the Y-split. In which case, do press it back against it with enough pressure hoping the glue will do it's job again.

 

 

The BA200's are vaguely like a jack of all trades but master of none. The comfort comes and goes for me. But very enjoyable and very musical.

 

 

 

As for cables coming loose I'd suspect it's near the jack. There's little strain relief afterall.

post #6 of 41

And, well, not to spam but if you have the Shure IEM adapter from Monster tips packages you can also try the BA200 with these odd tips ;)

(was originally intending to make a thread about these super comfy but weird sounding tips... in the end never had time so I'm throwing them here)

 

 

 

 

 

 

For most IEMs the sound changes brought by these tips do not work at all. For the BA200 they work pretty well-- the mids become wider, but the treble becomes yet a bit more softer. As far as the bass goes... you start feeling the rumble.

 

DISCLAIMER: The stock dual flange tips still sound better, but if you can't handle the deep insertion these are nice and comfortable.


Edited by kalbee - 10/15/13 at 9:35pm
post #7 of 41
I have this IEM and I agree it sounds great with an amp. I use hifi-M8 to feed this IEM and the SQ becomes more detailed but pleasing compared to un-amped setup. The bass is not as punchy and lacks a bit compared to my T-PEOS H-200 but still present, solid and in my opinion accurate.

Maybe not the IEM you want to listen to before you hit the gym if you want to get the extra pump.

This is the IEM you can put in your ear and forget about it. It is very comfortable, I sleep with this IEM on. smily_headphones1.gif

My H-200 maybe my road warrior but if I want to lie down and relax I usually put this on.
post #8 of 41
Amazon after taxes puts these IEMs at $170ish, unfortunately us Washingtonians have to pay taxes for being in the same state. This is the reason I opted for the RE400 at $99 shipped and no tax, which I'm enjoying tremendously (not to spam). Sound is neutral, slightly warm which seems to add smoothness but still keeps good detail retrieval.

Keanex (or anyone) have both and willing to compare the two?
Edited by Soundsgoodtome - 10/16/13 at 2:11am
post #9 of 41

I agree, they are a steal at that price! 

 

I've tried them with different tips, but like them the most with silicone soft flex sleeves from shure. I've increased the diameter of the bore size of this tip, and it increased treble by a lot. Treble is nice and sparkly and detailed, however it oh so slightly high pitched. 

post #10 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by keanex View Post

Where did the cable come loose? From the housing?
yep. Right at the part where its connected to the housing.
post #11 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by kalbee View Post
 

And, well, not to spam but if you have the Shure IEM adapter from Monster tips packages you can also try the BA200 with these odd tips ;)

(was originally intending to make a thread about these super comfy but weird sounding tips... in the end never had time so I'm throwing them here)

 

 

 

 

 

 

For most IEMs the sound changes brought by these tips do not work at all. For the BA200 they work pretty well-- the mids become wider, but the treble becomes yet a bit more softer. As far as the bass goes... you start feeling the rumble.

 

DISCLAIMER: The stock dual flange tips still sound better, but if you can't handle the deep insertion these are nice and comfortable.

For me they would probably feel weird, but they might sound good especially on the mids as you mentioned.

post #12 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatmann View Post
 

Amazon lists them for more than $150.

 

When I posted my review they were only $114, I'm not sure what's causing the steady raise in price, but at $150 I still enjoy them very much.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kalbee View Post
 

Keanex, if you meant the mesh filters at the tip of the nozzle, they should be changeable. I see that you don't have them in your accessory list but mines came with spare filters and a filter changing tool. Also a shirt clip.

 

 

Not that I saw in mine, I'll double check when I get home.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soundsgoodtome View Post

Amazon after taxes puts these IEMs at $170ish, unfortunately us Washingtonians have to pay taxes for being in the same state. This is the reason I opted for the RE400 at $99 shipped and no tax, which I'm enjoying tremendously (not to spam). Sound is neutral, slightly warm which seems to add smoothness but still keeps good detail retrieval.

Keanex (or anyone) have both and willing to compare the two?

 

From impressions I've heard of the RE400, they have a similar sound. I haven't directly compared them though.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kalbee View Post
 

 

For most IEMs the sound changes brought by these tips do not work at all. For the BA200 they work pretty well-- the mids become wider, but the treble becomes yet a bit more softer. As far as the bass goes... you start feeling the rumble.

 

DISCLAIMER: The stock dual flange tips still sound better, but if you can't handle the deep insertion these are nice and comfortable.

 

Less treble is one thing I, personally, do not want in these. Thanks for sharing though. 

post #13 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by keanex View Post
 

Cons: Highs roll off, very short cable which requires included cable extension, lack of variety in tips, and an amp is recommended.

 

I personally find this very practical, as I clip my DAP to my collar. You can easy make a short cable longer with an extension (and then decide the precise length you prefer); you cannot shorten a cable. I wish more manufacturer followed their example . . . but I'm not gonna hold my breath! :p

post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinocelt View Post

 

I personally find this very practical, as I clip my DAP to my collar. You can easy make a short cable longer with an extension (and then decide the precise length you prefer); you cannot shorten a cable. I wish more manufacturer followed their example . . . but I'm not gonna hold my breath! " src="http://files.head-fi.org/images/smilies/tongue.gif">

 



I'm thinking if some flaws of BA200 can be addressed by changing the cable. Only if the cable is removable.

I find the cable extension annoying. I think it makes this IEM less sensitive as is should be. That should explain why it shines with an amp.
post #15 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by headwhacker View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinocelt View Post
 

 

I personally find this very practical, as I clip my DAP to my collar. You can easy make a short cable longer with an extension (and then decide the precise length you prefer); you cannot shorten a cable. I wish more manufacturer followed their example . . . but I'm not gonna hold my breath! <img data-cke-saved-src=

 



I'm thinking if some flaws of BA200 can be addressed by changing the cable. Only if the cable is removable.

I find the cable extension annoying. I think it makes this IEM less sensitive as is should be. That should explain why it shines with an amp.

I must say, I can't see the additional connector changing the sensitivity to any great extent.

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