Pros: Nice accessories package, Nice cable and housing design, Smooth sound for people who are treble sensitive
Cons: Mid bass forward tuning impacts sound stage, Treble is too soft for rock music
At the time this review was written, the Altone 150 was on sale for $89.00 USD on CTC Audio’s website. Here is a link to a listing of their product at the time of the review: View attachment
Reviewing headphones for me is becoming more and more fun, and has also opened doors to experience new and exciting products. With the success of the last few reviews I’ve written, I’ve had some companies reach out to me to cover a new product. Today I will be covering the Altone 150.
I was given an opportunity to demo the Altone 150 in exchange for my honest review and opinion. I am in no way affiliated with their company or brand.
Please allow me to share a little bit about myself so you can better understand my observations. I AM NOT a numbers and graphs audiophile or sound engineer. Personal audio enthusiast? Absolutely! Headphone junkie? Possibly…
There’s something about quality DAPs, DACs, amplifiers and earphones that intrigues me, ESPECIALLY if they can be had for low prices. I’m a fan of products that give the buyer their money’s worth and more. I will buy the $5 to $500 earphone that looks promising, hoping that I can discover models that can compete with the big names in this industry. If you look at my Head-Fi profile you will see that I have purchased MANY different headphones and earphones ranging from from dirt cheap, to hundreds of dollars. I’m on a mission to find gear with a great price to performance ratio, and reporting these findings back to the Head-Fi community and those looking for their next piece of audio gear.
I can appreciate different builds and sound signatures as long as they have good ergonomics, and their sound is pleasing to the ear. It is my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based gear I have and use.
With this hobby we often times pay a lot of for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned is that price DOES NOT necessarily indicate good build and sound quality. While everyone’s tastes are different, I hope to share a depiction of what to expect in the items I own and review. Review
The Altone 150 came in a black and yellow box. The front of the box had a nice picture of the monitors. The Altone motto was written in small print on the top right, stating “Altone, wake up your ears”. The bottom right indicated the driver type, with this one being an 8.6mm HPS Dynamic unit. View attachment
The back of the box had a drawn diagram of the housings and internal set-up, along with the device specifications. View attachment
Specifications: ~Type: In-Ear Monitor (IEM) ~Driver: Single Exclusive 8.6mm Dynamic Unit (HPS Technology) ~SPL: 96dB / 1kHz ~Impedance: 32Ω ~Frequency Response: 20Hz~20KHz ~Max Power Input: 100mW ~Plug: 3.5mm 24k Gold-Plated, L-Type ~Cable: 1.2m Tri-Twisted detachable cable with DC connectors ~Weight: 6g ~Warranty: 1-year Manufacturer
~1X mesh zipper pouch
~3X pair of red silicone tips (S,M,L)
~3X pair of gray silicone tips (S,M,L)
~1X pair of comply foam TX200 tips (M)
~1X pair of rubber ear guides
~1x shirt clip
I thought the housings were very cool. They are constructed of a durable plastic material. They are a gun metal gray color and each channel has different accent colors (Gray/Red on the right, Gray/Black on the left). The housings are detachable, and are plugged into the cable via T-Peos’ unique plug adapters. Because of this plug design, I can see someone accidently putting too much pressure on the cable to housing connection and causing complications. If you take care of your stuff, you shouldn’t have a problem with them. View attachment
The cable is a slightly rubbery and stiff, and seems very durable. It does have a a good amount of spring to it. The Y split is pretty low on the cable and is made of metal and rubber. Throughout the design, there doesn’t seem to be much in terms of strain reliefs. This shouldn’t be a problem considering how solidly constructed the cable is. The cable jack is a ninety degree plug that works great and seems solid. I would describe it as being heavy duty and durable for an IEM. I assume this cable can be used with the other models in the Altone series.
NOTE: I will be demoing the Altone 250 and 350 in the next month or so. I will confirm this cable compatibility and report back once this function is confirmed, as well as provide comparisons.
Ergonomics, Fit and Microphonics
The Altone 150 fits great wearing them with the cable down. I did get a normal amount of microphonics wearing them this way. These can fit over the ear, but with this type of detachable cable it can get finicky. I found the ear guides to be more of a hindrance in my ability to get a good fit rather than just going over the ear without them. I usually try to go over the ear, but with these I choose under. Going over the ear is too much hassle for me to get a consistent fit and seal. View attachment
NOTE: I did get some amount of driver flex when inserting or adjusting them in my ear. I make sure to lift my ear canal and insert them, and haven’t had any problems with flex since doing this.
The cable has a single button remote/microphone that works for both Android and IOS. It has normal controls for answering and hanging up phone calls as well as play/pause/skip options for music playback. The single button remote worked fine and when asking people what quality my voice came through on calls, most rated it a three on a scale from one to five.
Sound Review Materials
I primarily did my demo with my usual listening gears. For portable use I sampled the product with my LG-G3 smartphone with the latest firmware, and also my Sony Walkman F806 and Cayin C5 amplifier. Other DAPs and portable stacks were also used. For desktop use, I used my Toshiba Satellite laptop with a HifimeDIY Sabre DAC/AMP and Bravo Audio Ocean tube amplifier, or Fiio E18 DAC/AMP. I also used my Toshiba Chromebook and Fiio E17K DAC/AMP. I played MP3 and FLAC files. Google Music was downloaded in its highest quality (320 KBPS), and I also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I make sure that anything I demo I have had enough time with to feel confident in my impressions and opinions.
I used my usual same songs for testing gear:
“Limit to your love” by James Blake
“Madness” by Muse
“Get lucky” by Daft Punk
“Some nights” by Fun
“The soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela
“Bassically” by Tei Shi
“Skinny Love” performed by Birdie
“One” by Ed Sheeran
“Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack
“Sultans of swing” by Dire Straits
“Ten thousand fists” by Disturbed
Note: Other tracks were used, but the listed songs were primarily used to asses and break down the gear’s response.
When I heard I was going to reviewing these, and having the Altone 200, I thought these were going to have tight and punchy bass and bright highs. I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assumption. These Altone 150 are a warm, rich and smooth sound that doesn’t get fatiguing. Their tuning seems to be geared for modern genres of music. There is not a lot of extension on either end, and a boost in upper bass and lower midrange. I would consider them musical, rich and smooth.
Bass tones seemed to top out right at around 180Hz and rolled off evenly down to 20Hz. It has decent tone but made the upper bass registers and lower midrange stick out in front of the mix, giving a sense of being very warm and thick in this range.
The lower midrange boost gave the Altone 150 weighted vocals. I noticed a veil in male vocalists like Ed Sheeran, and Sam Smith. Upper midrange tones were present but polite, and far back of the boosted frequencies. Guitars had a lot of weight to their sound.
The warm midrange continues into the treble regions. The Altone 150 upper registers are rolled off and smooth. Cymbal crashes and hi hats sound distant. Treble and sibilant sensitive ears will really enjoy this. Those looking for the crisp T-Peos treble we have heard in previous products, you’re not going find it here.
Soundstage and Imaging
There’s really not much to mention about the Altone 150 that you can’t say isn’t impacted by the forward lower mid range. This tuning doesn’t set up to be something you can really get a large sense of space or imaging. The punch and energy is there, but without sub bass extension to match the 180Hz range, you lose the sub layer in the mix. Smooth and slightly relaxed treble makes the overall presentation seem upfront and a little bit narrow.
Brainwavz S0 ($49.50 USD on MP4Nation)
The Brainwavz offers a very similar tuning that has a touch more treble energy and upper mid range tones. Both of them sound almost the same from sub bass to mid range from what I can hear. For my personal preferences, I give a slight edge in sound to the Brainwavz S0.
For fit, I give the edge to the Altone 150. I prefer the Altone 150 cable over any flat cable. The microphone and single button remote is something the S0 doesn’t have, advantage Altone 150. Oh yeah, the Altone 150 has detachable cables, another point for them. Ergonomics is dominated by the T-Peos.
Accessories is even, as both have a lot of accessories and tips.
Sidy DM3 ($60-$100 USD on many sites)
Sidy is another one that has a very similar signature from bass through mid range. Upper mids are more forward on the DM3 and it has a little more of a V-signature. Although more forward, the DM3 treble seems flat, while the T-Peos has a little more shimmer. I give it a tie in sound quality.
For Ergonomics, T-Peos checks all the boxes in terms of cable quality, microphone/remote, and removable cables. The DM3 is the loser in this matchup, not being able to match the T-Peos.
The Altone 150 has a better accessories package, offering what I consider slightly higher quality accessories.
I had fun testing these. The “baby” of the new Altone line is a nice little earphone that would make a good gift for anyone who likes high tech gear. A rugged removable cable with mic/remote and stylish housings makes this a nice package at their current price range.