The Altone 200 is the grandpa of the Altone line, but is also arguably the best sounding as well. They feature a metal housing and a fixed and more flexible cable with less spring and memory than the new models. They have a straight barrel design that fits very well and works looped over and hanging under the ear. They are a hybrid design that has a single dynamic and two armature drivers. Their accessories package is formidable with a zipper case and some foam and silicone tips.
The Altone is somewhat of a legend in its sound. It is what I would consider to be a slight V-signature. The bass is punchy, fast and robust. There is definitely more punch than rumble to my ears, not to say that it doesn’t have sub bass, but more that it isn’t the star of the show. Whatever midbass there is, it is very high resolution and not overdone whatsoever. I wouldn’t say the Altone 200 is warm, but it’s not cold either. It lies right in between, and yields an INCREDIBLE amount of detail and clarity that competes with any IEM out there, and this is their strongest and best attributes in my opinion. Treble is very responsive, crisp and with great separation, with their one shortcoming being that at louder volumes the treble has a spike that can become fatiguing. This is not an issue at lower volume and I really enjoy the Altone 200 for quieter listening sessions for this reason. Also, the 200 pairs very well with warm sources.
If I had to pick one of the Altone line to keep, and had to give the others away, this would arguably be the one I would keep. They really are a gem in terms of tuning, and they can be worn over and under the ear. Doing this write up rekindled my appreciation for them.
Disclaimer: First off, I would like to thank Jeremy from CTC Audio for the opportunity to review this wonderful hybrid. I was privileged to be able to be a part of the CTC Audio Product tour and I must say that this is an impressive product offering from T-Peos! The product in this review can be found here: http://ctcaudio.com/collections/in-ear-monitors-iems/products/t-peos-altone200-3way-hybrid-earphones
The T-Peos Altone 200 is a triple driver hybrid featuring a dual balanced armature (TWFK) and a single dynamic driver. Amazingly they were able to fit all of this in such a small casing! This combination of drivers provides the listener with a more than satisfying listening experience. Throughout this review I will make various comparisons with the two other hybrids I own: Dunu DN-1000 and Dunu DN-2000. So without further ado on to the review!
Specs:Drivers: Dual Balanced Armature (Knowles TWFK) + 8.0mm Single Dynamic Driver Impedance: 22 ohm / 1kHz Sensitivity: 105 dB / 1 kHz Power: 100 mW (Max) Frequency Response: 20 Hz ~ 20 kHz Connector: 3.5 mm / 24 K Gold plated L-Type Plug Cable: Round Cable 1.2 m / Y-Type Weight: 16 g Accessories: We will begin with perhaps the most (only?) disappointing part of the Altone package. The accessories are minimal but there is enough here to get the job done. At the original price point that many were getting these at ($125) this accessory pack would have been acceptable. However, at their current price it is about average (some would say less than average). The box is small and does an adequate job protecting and containing the accessories that are included. Inside the box we have an updated accessory package with a total of 7 pairs of tips. 3 pairs (S,M,L) of basic silicone tips, 3 pairs (S,M,L) of dual colored silicone tips, and finally one pair of foam tips, which look to be medium sized. Also included is a pair of standard ear guides for those who chose to wear these over the ear. The cotton zip-up pouch is great for portability but clearly not very heavy-duty protection. Build Quality: The build quality of the Altones is par for the course at this price point. After a few growing pains at the beginning of their lifecycle T-Peos seems to have worked out the kinks and it has resulted in a solidly built product. The left and right markings are not labeled ‘L’ or ‘R’ but are clearly represented by the blue and red indicators at the point the cable meets the drivers. Cable is solid with a good thickness and suppleness to it. Cable cinch is also now present in the updated packaging, which helps to improve the fit. Angled jack with appropriate strain reliefs help to provide a good experience for those who want to pocket their phone/DAP while listening to the Altones. Fit: The Altones are the smallest of the three hybrids that I have had the opportunity to listen to. As a person with smaller than average ears I am grateful for the smaller profile. Wearing them cable down is a breeze as I can pop them right in and achieve a seal without much trouble at all. Driver flex is not an issue and neither is microphonics. I began by using tips from my Dunu DN-1000s. However, after getting two tips stuck in my ear I decided to give the included tips a try. I found that the dual-colored small tips gave me a good seal just about every time. Just plug ‘em in your player and pop them in your ears and drift away to audio bliss. Sound: Now what really matters. The sound! As far as the sound T-Peos does not disappoint with the Altone 200. My first audiophile IEM was the Brainwavz B2 and it was love at first listen. I searched in vain for a couple years for an earphone that could give me the clarity of the B2 yet with a greater quantity of bass. My search is now over! That is exactly how I hear the Altone 200. Great clarity and great bass together in a perfect marriage. I would say that soundstage is above average at this price point and I was never disappointed in this area. However, you will probably hear again and again in this sound section about just how great the detail is on these monitors. Note: The Altone 200s I received were new and they have been used/burned in for around 40-50 hours. In that time changes were minimal (perhaps a small reduction in treble emphasis). • Bass: Bass on the Altones are slightly emphasized above neutral. Bass is tight and very controlled and does not bleed into the midrange. Both mid bass and sub bass are clearly present and yet not overbearing. Whether listening to EDM, rock, or anything in between I found that the Altones gave me just the right amount of bass that the music calls for. Never too much and rarely too little for my tastes. Quantity and quality both punch way above this price point (even with their recent price increase). It truly is remarkable what T-Peos has done with this tuning. Other than the clarity and details the bass was easily my favorite part of these great IEMs. Compared to the Dunu DN-1000 the Altones have quite a bit less bass but it is tighter and more controlled. Bass really seems to be a matter of preference here between these two earphones. The Dunus have more quantity yet quality would probably go to the Altones. • Mids: As one would expect mids are done very well. When called for mids can be pleasantly smooth. For me the mids do not particularly stand out which can be a good thing. I notice the bass and treble quite a bit more. I noticed the mids most prominently when listening to alternative and softer rock music. The clarity really shines here especially in the upper mids and this makes progressive rock band Dream Theater really shine. While there are other IEMs out there that place a greater focus on mids you still will not find much better than these. • Highs: Highs are another shining star for these monitors. Clarity, Clarity, and more clarity. I have long had a deep love for crystal clear sound and these deliver in spades. Cymbal clashes have just the right decay so that the music does not lag behind. While I don’t listen to a lot of metal I can see these working great for that genre. Although if you listen to your music at loud volumes and are treble sensitive you may need to be weary during certain songs. I found it slightly fatiguing to listen to these loudly with certain genres for long periods of time. Not really enough to worry about however. Sibilance was not really an issue for these and I only noticed it on poor recordings or when it was naturally present in a particular song. Overall Sound (And Comparisons): Overall this will be the sound that many are looking for. A fantastic IEM at a great price that brings hifi clarity with rich and tight bass. I could see myself very happy with these for the long haul. Below is a comparison of the Altone 200s with the other Hybrids currently in my possession. • Altone vs. Dunu DN-1000: o Originally there was quite a price difference between these two. Yet now they are just about the same in price. Those looking for absolute clarity and details will want to go with the Altones. Yet if you value bass and soundstage over clarity than you are going to enjoy the Dunus a little more. I did a lot of comparison with these two and found that I really enjoyed both of these and it just depended on the mood I was in as to which one I would listen to at the time. · Altone vs. Dunu DN-2000: o I received the Dunus at the same time that I received the Altones. It made for one of the best packages I have ever got in the mail! Admittedly I prefer the higher end Dunus more. Yet the Altones really hold their own here. I would give the clarity and comfort overall to the Altones. However, mids and bass and build quality go to the Dunus. Yet at almost double the price that is to be expected.
Comfort: Altone > DN-1000 > DN-2000
Clarity: Altone > DN-2000 >DN-1000
Bass Quantity: DN-1000 > Dn-2000 > Altone
Bass Tightness: Altone ≥ DN-2000 > DN-1000
Mids: DN-2000 >>>DN-1000=Altone
Fullness of Sound: DN-2000 > DN-1000 > Altone
Soundstage: DN-2000 > DN-1000 > Altone
Conclusion: These truly are fantastic and I am absolutely thrilled that I had the opportunity to get these in for review. T-Peos seems to really be hitting their stride and if they can continue to offer this type of sound at these low prices other companies are in for some stiff competition. I also feel like they are making a great move in making their great products available through authorized dealers in North America like CTC Audio. This will surely help their products to get into more hands. Great job T-Peos and thanks again CTC Audio for the opportunity to review this quality product.
Cons - Nothing glaring at all...sparse package I suppose...
Once upon a time, I was a scruffy young gentleman, wandering the United Kingdom, far, far away from home and living out of a backpack. My roots were third-world, simple and rural, and the marvels of the first world still made me gape and feel awed.
The fancy boutiques in London, the trendy kids all decked out in crazy, hip clothes…but most of all, the music shops. Every town I wandered through had one, and each was curated by the same vaguely academic looking miscreant, with stubble and clothes just as scruffy as mine Inside were always racks upon racks of used CDs. This was pre-the now-unstoppably-pervasive internet for me. I spent all of my spare time in these stores, and frequently surrendered laundry money to them for that ever-elusive album by whoever I was listening to at the time. It was an era of beautiful musical discovery for me.
Fast forward a couple of years (well, almost two decades), and here I am in Southern California. Taking stock, I will freely admit to still being a little scruffy. I am no longer quite able to call myself a young gentleman without a sarcastic smirk crossing my face. I no longer discover music in quite the same way though. Obtaining it is still an adventure, but listening to it….that’s the new angle.
Headphones have changed my appreciation for production, artistry, and recording. At first I was simply a Grado-head….but through a little discussion and some kind sharing from a certain gentleman (@EmpJ) at CTC, I have started to dip my toes into the wonderful world of IEMs. I have no neutral vs. colored agenda. I am not particularly loyal to a format. I even, heaven forefend, sometimes deign to listen to mp3 files if I can’t find anything better. I will listen to anything really, but have a bent for jazz. I also compulsively look for the link back to jazz in modern electronic and world music as well as vintage blues.
Now that my long and self-absorbed preamble is done, let’s cut to the chase. CTC kindly sent me, as the second IEM for me to try out, the T-Peos Altone 200. The first was the HSA E212. The difference was like leaving Johannesburg airport and landing in Heathrow. I was very pleasantly surprised by the variance between the two. Given one is a single driver, dynamic, and the other a triple driver hybrid, I suppose, in retrospect I shouldn’t be too astonished. But for those out there in the realm of single-driver IEMs wondering if its worth the jump to something a little more high-end, I would like to say “…yes…it appears to be a notable shift…”
I used the T-Peos with my FiiO X5 (with the E12 amp and without). I also tried it out with the Clip +, an iPhone 5 and my old iPod Touch (1[sup]st[/sup] gen). I compared it to the Monoprice 8320, the HSA E212, my trusty old Yuiin PK3 earbuds, my Blox M2C, and my collection of Grados (all re-cupped in wood), as well as my newly acquired ZMF V1 (modified Fostex T50rp).
With the X5/E12, there was a significant amount of hiss. This hiss was also noticeable with the iPod Touch and barely there with the Clip +. With the Clip + it went away magically whenever the music played….even in quiet passages. It was not present at all in the iPhone 5 or with the X5 on its own, via its headphone out. Naturally I gravitated toward the X5 and the iPhone for all of my listening as a result.
The sound they put out is detailed and even-handed. It is delightfully crisp. With the X5 they sound brilliant…the bass is impactful, not overwhelming at all. Detail is ALL there. You hear decay on piano notes, bass strings, etc…and for those looking for crunchy, sexy guitar, yes it was there when I ran through some obligatory Hendrix…Instrument placement isn’t mind-blowing, but it is good.
Below are my listening notes, such as they are. I will say that the Altones are definitely worth all the hype they get. They make listening from an iPhone on the go pleasurable, and they do very nicely straight out of a decent player. They come with my heartiest recommendations.
(iPod Touch) Kenny Dorham “Quiet Kenny”
(Clip +) Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers “Moanin’ (RVG Edition)”
(X5) Aphex Twin “Syro”
(X5) Furtwangler, Philharmonia Orchestra, Lucerne Festival Choir “Beethoven Symphony No. 9”
(iPhone 5) the Beta Band ‘the 3 E.P.s”
(iPhone 5) Jimi Hendrix “Experience Jimi Hendrix”
(iPhone 5) Rodriguez “Cold Fact” –A little shrill and harsh…could be the recording…
All files 16/44 FLAC, except on iPhone 5. Amazon Music app (256kbps I believe….not sure).