Tanchjim Blues

chinerino

100+ Head-Fier
Tanchjim Blues
Pros: Good for acoustic and indie (other related genres), somewhat balanced and neutral with decent technicalities
Cons: Fit, build, genre picky.

Tanchjim Blues | Overall Score: 7.0/10​

For more reviews, do check us out at www.perrivanaudio.com!
Driver Setup: single dynamic driver
Price: US$ 80

Intro​

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Disclaimer: This review set is a demo set graciously lent to me by Daniel at Oardio and the review is written of my own accord and all thoughts are my own. The Tanchjim Blues is available for purchase from Oardio through their website should you find yourself interested in a pair.
In recent years, many would have heard of Tanchjim's reputable offerings such as the renown Oxygen as well as the Hana. But, it might not be the same for their younger sibling, the Tanchjim Blues. Although not as popular, we are still curious to see what Tanchjim is offering with the Blues given their good track record in product releases. In this review, we will express our thoughts and impressions of the Blues and see how it fares against today's budget offerings.

Accessories and Build Quality (Score: 5.0/10)​

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Starting off with its packing, it comes in a rather aesthetic blue-white box with a jazz concept in its design which also has a unique aesthetic appeal to me. Moving on, its extra contents are nicely packed in a smaller box tucked at the bottom and side of the case with the Blues taking centre stage when you open the box. You get a set of tips, ear guides and a carrying pouch. Pretty good so far.
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The build quality leaves more to be desired as the Blues is made out of plastic and it comes with an attached cable! Usually, I am pretty cool with attached cables (although many will find it triggering as there aren't any advantages to it as compared to the likes of MMCX/2pin) but the quality of the cable is just horrendous! I used to gripe about how Sony EX800ST's stock cable is just a downright annoyance but the Tanchjim Blues tops it by being non-replaceable! The cable is weird as the natural orientation goes against the orientation when you place them in your ears, resulting in wearing issues such as the cable swirling out of your ears and you have to pull up that chin strap to keep that cable hugged around your ears. As a side note, the ear guides do help also but it doesn't solve the problem entirely and sometimes, the cables fall out of the ear hook too.
Quite disappointing in terms of meeting the basic needs of comfort and design which is not unheard of with Tanchjim's physical design of their products. I really want to give them a nicer score but the horrendous cable design and build is just a big minus here.

Fit (Score: 5.5/10)​

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Continuing the lines of poor cable design, it's fit isn't fantastic to compensate for its flaws. Although there are no significant problems with the Blues' fit, it is negatively affected by the poor cable design that causes me to experience loss of seal. I would also like to point out that due to the shorter nozzle and design, it is relatively harder to achieve a good seal which eventually leads to a lower score in this region.

Sound (Score: 7.2/10)​

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Frequency Response graph for the Tanchjim Blues

In general, it is genre picky, but a surprisingly strong contender for what it does well.
Sources Used
  • iBasso DX120
  • JDS Atom Stack
Albums and Tracks tested with
  • Halo Saga OST
  • Bleach OST
  • André Rieu & The Johann Strauss Orchestra – The Blue Danube
  • Aladdin OST – Friend Like Me
  • Cigarettes After Sex – K
  • Keane – Hopes and Dreams
  • BØRNS – Sweet Dreams
  • ARTY – Rain
  • Penny Tai – 你要的愛
  • Rebecca Pigeon – Spanish Harlem
  • Eurythmics
Bass (Score: 7.0/10)
Bass response is relatively weaker to what I perceive as neutral, however, it is still adequate in terms of presence. You are going to realise that the blues ain't gonna be suitable for every genre as you will find its performance in this region sub-par and not satisfying. On the flip side, it has an agile response, good decay and separation while retaining some DD driver bass qualities such as timbre, weight, and fullness.
On top of the relatively weakened bass response, if you do not achieve a good seal on the blues, you are going to experience a weaker bass response which I struggled with initially and had a rather negative first impression but that is due to a sub-optimal insertion and seal.
If inserted properly, the bass response of the blues is actually pretty decent and clean such as listening to "sweet dreams" by Eurythmics. The blues do present its bass response adequately such that the tracks do not sound too lean and not something is missing. Do not expect a colossal bass impact or what you might expect a typical chi-fi IEM’s bass response. Sub-bass is relatively weaker and may give you the impression of leanness and an unbalanced sounding signature. For specific genres, I would say the blues performed as advertised.
Mids (Score: 7.5/10)
The mids on the blues are relatively detailed, male and female vocals shine through the blues with no hollowness and wonky traits that put me off badly. The soundstage presentation was done tastefully on the blues and while listening to indie tracks, such as Lumineers, the male lead’s voice doesn’t sound too intimate and closed in. A good trait to have in this price bracket!
Female voices do exhibit similar characteristics but I find the upper mid-range boost a tad too much which can be highlighted in duets where male vocals can sound significantly weaker than females and boosting volumes just introduces fatigue from that spike.
Instruments such as violins come across as delicate and a delight to listen to on the blues. Guitars strum and plucks are really pronounced and clear with blue genres such as those guitar scratches within tracks.
Treble (Score: 7.0/10)
I would say treble isn’t too forward, with good plus points such as sibilance free. However, I find treble to be slightly splashy and unpolished or grainy occasionally and especially on brighter tracks such as pop genres. However, on Aladdin's friend like me, the cymbals and high hats does shine through with decent clarity and resolution but nothing impressive here as I do feel they are rather recessed with respects to its mid-range performance.

Overall
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The Tanchjim Blues does perform decently with regards to its sonic performance but there are still gaps that Tanchjim needs to work on such as that upper-midrange spike and treble oddities. It does have decent technicalities such as imaging and good separation allows it to have an edge against some of the current day offerings at the time of this review.

Conclusion​

The Tanchjim Blues does offer some value when it comes to specific genres that it excels in but it is hindered by its difficulty to achieve seal for any listening sessions. The wire could do better and fit is just quite sub-par as compared to many other offerings. Ear guides and chin strap had to be used to achieve those conditions. In general a good contender for specific genres such as vocal focused mandopop, blues, indie, acoustics and some instrumental pieces but I don’t recommend it for bass-oriented tracks, trance, EDM or pop band tracks.

DallaPo

New Head-Fier
Pros: high resolution
brighter but still natural tuning
homogeneous sound
Cons: in the bass sometimes a bit weak on the bust
the middles are seldom somewhat demanding
no removable cables and fiddly rubber reinforcement
Rating: 8.1
Sound: 8.2

Intro
TANCHJIM has hit the bull's eye with the OXYGEN and would now like to expand their portfolio with the BLUES with an IEM under 100 €, where so far only the CORA was the sole driving force. The CORA is the fun V-signature model, whose sound is quickly accepted by a broad mass. The BLUES, on the other hand, is more of a niche product, and with its brighter, more neutral tuning is more likely to satisfy audiophile demands, as long as a brighter orientation is preferred.

For me the BLUES is a technically potent IEM, which also picks me up in terms of sound.


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Handling
The TANCHJIM BLUES is one of the most compact in-ears worn over the ear I know. The round shape of the housing also guarantees excellent wearing comfort regardless of ear shape and size of the ears.
The material is a mixture of metal and plastic, which gives the BLUES a valuable appearance due to the polished surface, even if you clearly notice a difference in quality compared to the HANA or OXYGEN. Nevertheless the BLUES can be described as light, comfortable and quite robust. The BLUES is available in blue and grey.

The cable is unfortunately not removable, which of course always carries the risk of losing the whole headphone if the cable breaks. If you want to look at it positively, the manufacturer doesn't want us to distort the sound with 3rd party cables (even if the cable issue and its sound influence can be quite controversial), but for me it's more or less a budget question and maybe technically, due to the limited space on the housing, it's not that easy to implement.
This is certainly a deduction in the B grade, but for me it doesn't always have to be a replaceable cable. So you don't have to argue about which connection is the better one (2-Pin, MMCX etc.) and connected to that you can also avoid a source of error, like a bad contact or insufficient hold.
I'm more bothered by the enclosed rubber covers, in which you can put the cable and thus achieve a secure hold over the ear. This rubber stiffener does not take the cable very well. Here a narrower and stiffer opening should have been chosen.
Nevertheless, from the Y-split on, the cable can be adjusted with a slipper, which provides a better grip.

Included in the scope of delivery are a number of silicone tips with different opening sizes and a cloth bag. The packaging design is also quite nice with its retro look.

TANCHJIM doesn't necessarily make a name for itself with outstanding isolation. Outside sounds always penetrate into the inside, even when music is playing, unless you want to enjoy a hearing aid at 30. But this in turn allows you to participate in the outside world to a limited extent, which can provide security!

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Sound
The BLUES comes with an unexpectedly neutral signature and thus forms the counterpart to CORA. This may not fascinate everyone, but it is a pleasing budget alternative for more demanding music lovers who are looking for a balanced and brighter tuning with very good technical characteristics.

The bass clearly focuses on the mid-bass and dives down quite quickly in the sub-bass. Nevertheless, it can still contribute enough impact so that even electronic music or hip-hop is not an anemic listening experience. It acts fast, is quite punchy and linear towards the midrange, apart from the sub-bass drop. If you like smooth, fast and precise bass, you will enjoy the BLUES. Sometimes it's a bit too light for me, but the BLUES won't fail because of the bass quality.

Where the OXYGEN dips in the frequency response, the BLUES positions itself with clear peaks (2-3 kHz and around 6 kHz). This can also be heard, but the presumed negative side effects are largely absent. The OXYGEN appears more balanced and softer in the midrange, but the BLUES also has the TANCHJIM gene. The mids are a bit more demanding and biting, but they don't cross any boundaries, so that they don't cause any problems for me even on longer listening periods. They also sound a bit brighter than in OXYGEN, but without slipping into the unnatural. I find the mids very spatial and even though the bass is not very authoritative, they still have enough body and warmth for me, so it doesn't get sterile. But if you're looking for powerful, thick and warm mids you won't find them in the BLUES. Here one is rather presented with clarity and transparency. But sometimes it is a bit too thin for me, which can cause emotions to get lost.

The highs are quite similar to OXYGEN, despite the 6 kHz peak. Also here you notice the company affiliation. They are rich in details, open and also have a slight brilliance in the high frequencies, but without putting absolute friends of the highest frequencies into hot flashes. They are a bit more accentuated in the sibilants and in the rarest cases a bit hotter than in the OXYGEN, but for me still absolutely tolerable. They sound a bit more technical and not so organic, but that is constructive criticism on a high level. I can understand if the BLUES seems a bit too bright and less musical to some people, but for some genres this can be exactly the kick you are looking for, generally if you like it a bit more analytical, but without wanting to write a thesis about it directly.

Also with BLUES, as with OXYGEN before, the stage convinces me. Since a brighter signature generally makes the stage mostly appear spatial, separated and wide, these characteristics also apply to the BLUES due to the technically potent driver. In the depth the OXYGEN is better positioned, but in the panorama picture and on the Y-axis, they don't take too much.

Outro
With 75 € the BLUES does not fall into the absolute budget class and the purchase wants to be well considered, since the BLUES with its tuning certainly does not appeal to the broad masses. If you are looking for an inexpensive alternative to the OXYGEN in terms of technical features and can make friends with the bright but not unpleasant signature, you should take a look. In addition there is excellent wearing comfort and a robust design. Only the fixed cable remains a small downer.

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Thanks to OARDIO for the review unit.
https://www.oardio.com/earphones/tanchjim/tanchjim-blues-iem-earphones-151.html

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Wretched Stare

Head-Fier
Pros: Compact and lightweight IEM with froward vocals well controlled Bass and excellent details. good accessories.
Cons: A non removable cable thats a little springy and emphasized upper midrange
The Box is vintage looking and very well made, it gives the presentation a large boost.
Build quality is decent. These are very small IEMs and could be comfortable fro long usage or sleeping.

The sound or the Blues is different from the Cora a favorite of mine for a long time.

Bass is clean and controlled with extra sub bass when called upon it is speedy and tight.. mids are defined and upper midrange is forward and adds a brightness to these the Cora do not have. The treble is rich with details and has a decent extension here with some sparkle but not overly so its crisp yes pleasant sounds stage is surprisingly natural and open sounding with less depth than iit is wide but good for something so small and closed.

This is a great IEM with many things to like and a good amount of imaging with quality bass and very detailed mids. Its slightly bright signature makes it unique and sets it apart from the Cora, I like this about the the blues.

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Otto Motor

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Super small, light, and comfy; forward midrange; excellent imaging and resolution.
Cons: Short nozzles; brightness in upper the midrange not for everybody.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Tanchjim Blues is a very clean, detailed, and slightly bright sounding single DD iem that appeals to audiophiles and purists. Its tiny size and virtual weightlessness sets it apart from the competition.


INTRODUCTION

Tanchjim Blues


So, you expected a rustic, gritty sounding earphone, good for listening to slide guitar and steel drums? Spaghetti Western soundtracks? Actually no — not at all. The Tanchjim Blues are quite refined sounding little rascals for the sophisticated, demanding listener.

Tanchjim is yet another upsurging company out of China that has impressed the audiophile with their Oxygen model, and the budget listener with the Cora.


SPECIFICATIONS

Tanchjim Blues specifications

Tested at $79.99
Product Link: HifiGo or Aliexpress HifiGo Store



PHYSICAL THINGS AND USABILITY


Speaking of usability: the earpieces are small, really small – and extremely light. And they do not stick out of the ear. The Tanchjim Blues sport a shape and ergonomics not seen since the now discontinued Brainwavz B100 and B200 v1.



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This means, the Tanchjim Blues can be worn in bed or under a winter hat. And by men, women and children or anybody with small ears. The earpieces are rounded like a kidney bean and built well, the outer half of metal and the inner half of plastic. The cable comes with a chin slider, it is fixed, soft, pliable, and not rubbery — it is about Sennheiser quality. The whole assembly looks and feels like quality. None of the included eartips fit my teutonic ear canals so that I used these third party tips. All included accessories are depicted above.

Fit of these rounded “beans” could not be better. Very comfortable. Isolation depends on the tips but is acceptable. The Tanchjim Blues are easily driven just with my iPhone SE.


TONALITY AND TECHNICALITIES

My tonal preference and testing practice


My test tracks explained

The frequency response graph already tells us half the story — but not the other half.


Tanchjim Blues frequency



What sticks out is a linear response from the low end into the midrange, and a broad peak at about 2.5 kHz. This points to a flat tuning as found in Etymotic Research iems. But unlike some Etys, the Blues do not sound sterile. In reality, the Blues’ low end offers a satisfying, punchy, impactful listening experience. The DMT (Diamond material technology = same as DLC, for details see HERE) is fast for a DD; to me, it has just the right speed. When listening carefully and with the right tips, the extension is actually quite good. In fact, I find them quite bassy for their size. In summary, a pretty good low end.

The speed of the driver avoids any bleeding into the midrange. The latter is crisp and clear – and a bit bright fuelled by that 2.5 kHz peak (and possibly by the 6 kHz spike, too). It is evident from the graph that the lower midrange is not recessed, which is rare in this price category. Vocals are accurate/neutral, slightly bright and can be a bit pointy or sharp at high volumes, and they are clean and clear at low to all volumes. Brightness and lack of bass smear create lots of clarity in the midrange, similar to the Moondrop Starfield.

Treble is well extended, well resolving, very clean, and not piercing. The Blues deliver accurate reproduction of even the highest notes in a J.S. Bach violin concerto.

The technicalities of the Tanchjim Blues are very good: the soundstage is surprisingly wide, as expected not too deep (but deep enough), and it could be a bit taller. Note definition is excellent (note weight could be bigger), and so is speech intelligibility (if you have no better idea, these work perfectly with audiobooks in bed). Also impressive for their class are resolution, separation, and layering. Dynamics is good: piano attack is crisp. Timbre is natural but brightened up a bit. The fast driver polishes up old recordings nicely. For example, the 2019 remaster of the Beatles Abbey Road sounds stellar.

When you consider the whole package: fast driver with crisp and clear note definition, no smearing, good resolution, speech intelligibility, but some brightness, and then add the ergonomics, all this qualifies for a great listening experience, best at low to moderate volumes…even in bed (as you can lay down sideways with them in). The Tanchjim Blues can handle even the most complex music well, and gritty, bassy Blues music is probably not the genre they excel at most. Also, people who exclusively subscribe to Lynyrd Skynyrd, noise rock, death metal, and Gangsta’ Rap may look for some bigger-driver earphones. This earphone is for the refined, cultivated listener.


COMPARISONS

There is not much in their category to compare them to. The $30-40 Blon BL-03 are much bassier and less resolving. The $79 KBEAR Diamond and the $109 Moondrop Starfield are heavy monster cherries in your ears compared to these small beans. The Diamond have a narrower but deeper soundstage and are darker…and they are more suited for louder volumes. The Starfield’s sound is also “bigger” but they also are 50% more expensive. The $49 Tanchjim Cora have a mainstream “fun” tuning and may be a good alternative for people who don’t like the Tanchjim Blues’ somewhat tighter sound. Compared to the KBEAR KB04, the Tanchjim Blues sound more organic and more neutral.


Tanchjim Blues



CONCLUDING REMARKS

The Tanchjim Blues are an underrated marvel that had been prematurely dismissed by some questionable YouTube influencing for no reason at all. Sure, they may not appeal to sheep (who believe what they are told in videos) and the mainstream crowd because of their audiophile, flat and slightly bright tuning, but earphone aficionados, other advanced listeners, or anybody with small ears may treasure them, particularly such who seek excellent ergonomics. Tanchjim may not have done themselves a big favour by the misleading model name and the nice packaging.

The Tanchjim Blues is an interesting and useful quality earphone that will certainly find its followers – and it will have a fixed place in my collection.

Happy Easter 2020! Keep on listening!

Jürgen Kraus signature


MY VERDICT

thumbs up

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DISCLAIMER


The review unit was submitted by HifiGo for my analysis and I thank them for that.

BUY IT AT: HIFIGO OR ALIEXPRESS HIFIGO STORE

Our generic standard disclaimer.

About my measurements.

You find an INDEX of our most relevant technical articles HERE.


RELATED…

Blon BL-03 review by Jürgen

Blon BL-03 review by Loomis

KBEAR KB04 review by Baskingshark

KBEAR KB04 review by Loomis

Moondrop Starfield review

Tanchjim Cora review
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Otto Motor
Otto Motor
Cozoy says: Fixed cables = less connectors which adds bottlenecks to the signal path.

I say: I have never killed an earphone by damaging the cable. But I had earpieces fail on me.

I'd also like to add that, in this case, the light cable harmonizes with the earpieces. These days, third-party cables are real heavy braided chains that wear you down. Such cables (e.g. the one that comes with the KBEAR Diamond), would not work with the Blues' small and light earpieces. I find the Blues' cable actually very good and functional.
baskingshark
baskingshark
Hmm I think the fixed cables = less bottlenecks to signal path isn't a good excuse. Most modern day aftermarket cables and MMCX/2 pin connectors are quite low in resistance and of quite good sonic quality nowadays. I think it's probably to save costs for the manufacturer, and I won't begrudge them that. But it's a no go for me to purchase IEMs/buds > $30 USD with non detachable cables as the cables are usually the first point of failure. I had 2 midfi westones die on me at the cable within a few months (despite babying them). Though YMMV, and I know some folks who don't mind, and one can also argue with the amount of CHIFI hypetrains flooding our market nowadays, in all likelihood we will be buying another CHIFI way before the cable dies.

But folks who want to use aftermaket cables may have be alienated by the manufacturer's decision to keep to non detachable cables too, so that's another push factor for sets to get a detachable cable.
Markolav
Markolav
Great review! Nice to see that I'm not theoonly one who likes Blues. :yum:
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