From Torque Audio's website: t096z uses advanced materials, technology, and craftsmanship. from...

Torque Audio t096z

Average User Rating:
4.125/5,
  • From Torque Audio's website:

    t096z uses advanced materials, technology, and craftsmanship. from the proprietary 9mm bio-cell membrane diaphragm transducers for superior acoustics to the machined brass housing to minimize resonance, we brought luxury down to an affordable level. uncompromised immersive sound with the oxygen free copper conductors with the flexibility of 6 TorqueValves™. customize your audio experience like never before.

    ● new proprietary 9mm bio-cell membrane diaphragm transducers
    ● full brass housing construction
    ● includes 6 TorqueValves™
    – reference valve
    – clear valve
    – deep valve
    – balanced valve
    – smooth valve
    – bliss valve
    ● all TorqueValves™ are color coded with specific easy to understand icons
    ● TorqueValet™ with built-in wrench
    ● 1.4M extra long reinforced mylar shielded cable
    ● oxygen free copper conductor for improved signal conductivity
    ● right angle 3.5mm stereo input
    ● in-line iOS compatible remote to control your music
    ● microphone for phone and voice commands
    ● also includes:
    – 5 sizes of ergonomic passive noise reduction silicone ear tips
    – 1 pair of comply S-200 high performance memory foam ear tips
    – 1 pair of soft silicone stabilizer ring for maximum in-ear support
    – lightweight, protective travel case
    ● 2 year warranty (when purchased from authorized dealer)

Recent User Reviews

  1. money4me247
    4.0/5,
    "Vivid Sound and Versatile Tweakability Offers Exciting Experience for IEM Lovers"
    Pros - tweakable sound signature with six different filters, great detail retrieval, vivid treble tuning
    Cons - weight, non-detachable cable, straight-down wear-style only
    Torque Audio t096z IEM Review
     
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    Intro: Founded in 2012, Torque’s first product releases hit the market this year, releasing a variety of interesting premium customizable headphones. Their three new exciting modular products, the $179.95 t103z IEMs, the $329.95 t096z IEMs, and the $399.95 t402v full-sized headphones that can swap between on-ear and over-ear fits.
     
    Disclaimer: I received a touring review unit from Torque. Details can be found HERE.
    These are just my personal subjective opinions. Your experience may vary!
    To get a relative guage of my personal preferences for sound signature, I will list my favorite headphones. For IEMs, I use the Flare Audio R2Pro and Hifiman RE-400a, and I do consider them to both be quite well-balanced, linear, and neutral-orientated based on my tastes. My personal favorite mid-tier over-ear headphones are the Hifiman HE-400i. Other really competitive mid-tier options I greatly appreciate include the AKG K7xx, Hifiman HE-400S, and Sennheiser HD600/HD650. My personal favorite flagship over-ear headphones are the Hifiman HE-1000. I also really like the Dharma, HD800, Ether, HE-560, and LCD-X. I consider these headphones all to fall within the spectrum of well-balanced neutral-oriented gear that do have a bit of variety in overall sound signature that is dependant on personal taste. I primarily use the Schiit Gungnir Multibit dac > Schiit Mjolnir 2 hybrid tube amplifier at home and the Oppo HA-2 portable dac/amp on the go. I also own the Oppo PM-3 closed portable headphones for on-the-go usage and situations that require noise isolation. More extensive view of the gear I have owned can be found on my profile HERE.
     
    Tech: The Torque Audio t096z is a single dynamic driver IEM with adjustable tuning filters to alter the sound signature that will be released at MSRP of $329.95.
     
    The TorqueValves (Passive Acoustic Valve Technology) are the screw-in filters with the earbud nozzle that can customize the sound signature of the IEMs. There will be 6 TorqueValves bundled with the t096z, named Red (reference), Yellow (deep), Black (clear), Green (balanced), Blue (smooth), and Purple (bliss). TorqueValves are sold separately for $20/pair.
     
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    Picture of the two TorqueValet metal filter holders with x6 sets of TorqueValves screwed on
     
    Official Specifications:
    Rated Impedance: 16 ohms
    Sensitivity: 90 dB
     
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    Design & Build Quality: The Torque t096z feels premium and sturdy. It features a protective rubber insert to place into the screw-in section when no filters are attached. The cable is a premium-type 6 foot oxygen free copper cable with an one-button iOS remote. I tested the remote to work with the Samsung Galaxy S5 as well. The cable is non-detachable and terminates in a 3.5mm right-angle plug. The cable also features a neck cinch. Their cable design only realistically allows for straight-down cable wear-style rather than the upwards around-the-ear wear-style that some people prefer to help with cable microphonics. I did not find any excessive cable noise when using these IEMs in portable situations with that wear-style.
     
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    Picture of One-button Remote on Cable
     
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    Left: Neck Cinche; Right: 3.5mm R angled plug
     
    The driver shell is made of brass for a weighty solid feel with a slightly reflective black and brass-colored styling. The screw-mechanism for filters is well-made and I never ran into any issues while swapping between filters. Weight is definitely on the heavier side for IEMs, clocking in at 26 grams. The t096z gives a very premium feel with its usage of sturdy metal parts.
     
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    Left: Reflective Backplate of the t096z; Right: Bottom of the t096z
     
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    Picture of Protective Cover over the Screw-in Design for Filters
     
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    Left: Red Filter just placed initially; Right: Red Filter screwed into place
     
    Weight Comparisons of some IEMs:
    12g: Flare Audio R2Pro
    14g: Xiaomi Piston 3
    15g: Hifiman RE-400
    18g: Bose Soundtrue
    26g: Torque t096z
    30g: Final Audio Heaven VII
    I hope my provided comparison chart of weights will help with those looking to research what range of IEM weights are personally suitable. I would highly recommend doing your own research and demos here to see at what point is does weight become a dealbreaker. The t096z is a bit lighter than the Final Heaven VII which is the heaviest IEM I have personally auditioned, and t096z does offer better overall comfort due to the compactness of its canal design as the Final Heaven VII does seem to stick out quite a bit more causing those IEMs to feel even heavier due to the weight distribution.
     
    Personal thoughts about weight. For the 15g or less options, the IEMs disappear weight-wise into my ears and I do not notice their weight even over extremely long listening sessions. For the 25g+ options, their weight is very noticeable when worn and I personally need to take breaks if using them extensively. I do think that comfort of IEMs is greatly influenced by their weight. The Torque t096z is not uncomfortable, but their weight can detract from comfort over longer listening sessions. Whether this weight is comfortable/tolerable for individuals would be a personal call. Just an important factor to keep in mind.
    To stand behind their build quality, Torque Audio products come with a 2 year warranty. If the product fails after the 2 year warranty period expires, you can purchase the same or equivalent product for 50% off retail.
     
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    Picture of the Red filter + t096z without filters attached
     
    Comfort: With the wide variety of eartips provided, it should be relatively easy to find the right fit on these in-ear headphones. Using premium metal pairs and equipped with the swappable tuning filters, the t096z will be a bit on the heftier side for a pair of IEMs. Should not be uncomfortable for daily usage, but you will not forget that you are wearing these headphones due to its substantial weight. Not the most ideal option I would personally choose to work-out with or spend extremely long listening sessions with as I prefer options that I forget that I am wearing for those situations. No other major concerns with comfort beyond the weight, so for those used to a variety of heavier IEMs, these should work fine. I personally had the best luck with the included Medium silicone eartips. I also enjoyed using the t096z with my own Comply foam eartips, and Medium SpinFit eartips. Different eartips can alter the sound signature or sound quality dependant on how well they fit and seal for your individual ears.
     
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    Left: Size comparison of the filter by themselves; Right: Size comparison of the t096z with filter attached.
     
    Accessories: Torque Audio generously bundles a multitude of accessories with the t096z. Outstanding array of extras that is very befitting for its price point. I greatly appreciate the wide range of eartips and the inclusion of a sturdy hard case and metal placeholders for the different tuning filters. The TorqueValet helps prevent misplacing the tiny TorqueValves.
    1. x1 Hard-case
    2. x3 sets of silicone olive eartips (S/M/L)
    3. x1 sets of silicone double-flange eartips
    4. x1 sets of silicone triple-flange eartips
    5. x1 silicone stabilizer ring
    6. x1 Comply S-200 foam eartips
    7. x6 different sets of TorqueValves
    8. x2 TorqueValet metal valve holders
     
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    Sound Quality:
    Resource for audiophile terminology can be found HERE.
    Resource for corresponding frequency response curves and audiophile terminology can be found HERE.
     
    Torque Audio’s filter descriptions:
    1. Red (“reference”) = neutral sound signature
    2. Yellow (“deep”) = bass-focused sound signature
    3. Black (“clear”) = treble-focused sound signature
    4. Green (“balanced”) = v-shaped sound signature
    5. Blue (“smooth”) = linear bass-orientated tilt (warm)
    6. Purple (“bliss”) = mid-focused sound signature
    **Note: the name in quotes is simply Torque Audio's naming scheme. I actually personally disagree with some of those characterizations.
     
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    I will not delve too deeply into the sound signature of the t096z here as the different filter options do dramatically alter the perceived frequency response. I will focus on some more interesting technical attributes of the various frequency regions.
     
    Treble Tuning: The treble is where I see the Torque t096z shines the most. There is a great sense of treble detail on all models, picking up a lot of low-level breath and air sounds that I typically do not expect to hear from a pair of IEMs. Treble notes are sharply defined and extremely clear. The t096z does always seem to impart a bit of a high-energy crispness to its treble tuning with its sound often having an underlying hint of piercingness underlying the definition of its notes. The t906z features an extremely clear treble with a good hint of air. There is also an extra flourish to the treble tuning that many will find to give the sound a fun sparkling effect. Even with all the different filter changes (with the noticeable exception of the Purple filters), the t906z consistently features three noticeable peaks in their treble response which does result in this consistently crisp edge to the definition of its treble notes. The treble emphasis of the t906z is typically in 2kHz, 5kHz, and 10kHz regions though with different filters it does shift around a bit. The treble is quite clear and prominently emphasized to my ears for a very nice airy and bright presentation. I do feel that there is a hint of this phenonem even with the more bass-focused filters, though to a much lesser extent as the the strength of lower frequencies on the more bass-focused filters does make the treble does sound relatively less emphasized. Treble detail and clarity remains extremely competitive on all filter options.
     
    Midrange Tuning: The midrange of the t096z is clean and well-done. It is the mostly consistent in performance though I did note that there appears to be a shift between an upper midrange focus on the brighter filters (red, purple, black) compared to a lower midrange focus on the darker filters (blue, yellow, and green). The purple filters do indeed have the most linear and well-done overall midrange tuning. The midrange is extremely detailed and capable of picking up textural shifts and micro-details. The midrange is consistently good, but will appear emphasized or decreased based on the different filters used.
     
    Bass Tuning: The bass tuning of the Torque t096z is the most variable aspect that alters with the different filter tips. This frequency response region features the most dramatic and easily noticeable change when switching filters. Bass overall does have a strong sense of impact. Bass notes are relatively tight, though I have heard tighter performance. Sub-bass extension is acceptable, but typically more of a mid-bass focus on the t096z regardless of filter type. The peak of the bass response is usually centered somewhere between 50Hz to 100Hz. The notable exception is the purple filter that does not display any detectable emphasis in the bass region, but rather just a small tapering in the lowest sub-bass registers. So with the exception of the purple filters, there will always be a bit of varying degree of bass emphasis on all the other filters. The Blue, Red, and Black filters have a mid-bass focus, while the Green and Yellow filters have a more of a lower mid-bass focus. This contributes to the punchy and impactful overall sound of the t096z though the degree of warmth and fullness and the amount of lower midrange bleed is variable between filter options.
     
    Other Sonic Attributes: While the t096z does have solid speed, soundstage, and imaging, its most standout trait is definitely its detail retrieval and overall clarity. It provides very clean resolution of low-level micro-details with great portrayal of textural detail. Soundstage is good for a pair of IEMs with relatively precise imaging, but I do feel that there are some other options in this price range that may have more impressive soundstage dimensions. Speed further improves with the addition of extra power and I do feel that these IEMs do shine their best with some additional amplification. Noise isolation of the t096z is extremely good, blocking out the majority of background noise. As with all nice passive noise isolating gear, I would advise taking care with using these during on-foot commutes as you may not always hear warning noises around you on busy streets.
     
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    Comparisons of the Different Filter Tips:
    **Note: the name in quotes is simply Torque Audio's naming scheme. I actually personally disagree with some of those characterizations.
     
    :headphones: Red Filter: (“reference”) = neutral sound signature
    The Reds displays a well-done but slightly unique tuning to my ears that I would personally hesitant to classify as purely neutral or reference. Its overall sound signature is relatively well-balanced and sounds mostly flat, but there are a few subtle nuances that make it sound less neutral than the Purple filters to my ears. In the bass region, the Red features a very small and subtle mid-bass focus from 50-100Hz with a slight sub-bass tapering. This is a very natural sounding bass response tuning and does not sound overtly colored. Its tuning from the sub-bass to the mids actually is remarkably similar to the Purple filters, though I did feel the Purple filters displayed a more linearity across that region as the Red filters have a subtle bit more bass and slightly less upper mids for a thicker sensation. There is a bit more of a mid emphasis on both the Purple and Red filters compared to their bass response which also is what I would expect from a natural sounding tuning. The primarily difference is that the Red filters have a bit of an noticeable upper mid and lower treble emphasis at approximately 2kHz-3kHz and 5kHz which gives it a crispier and edgier treble presentation and contributes to a sharper overall sound. The Red filters are basically a brighter and more high-energy version of the Purple filters. Considering how much I enjoy the Purple filters, I think that it is a perfectly acceptable tuning choice and should be greatly appealing to those who enjoy that crisp sparkle to their treble notes. The Red filters are solid all-around filters that work well with any genre. A slightly leaner bass response may cause one of the bassier filter options to be preferable for bass-lovers who crave a strong bass boost, but the Red filters definitely provide plenty of treble sharpness and detail to satisfy treble-heads. The Red filters offer a subtle sense of fullness for an organic sensation to its bass and lower mids coupled with a brighter more analytical treble tuning.
     
    :headphones: Yellow Filter: (“deep”) = bass-focused sound signature
    The Yellow filters feature a strongly bass emphasized sound signature. I would estimate approximately a 10-15dB bass boost over the reds. Very prominent sub-bass emphasis and a strong emphasis to the lower mids. Its bass signature features the lowest subbass most prominently for that vibrational rumbling type of presentation. A bit excessively weighty in its bass response for my personal tastes and I felt that it did sound a bit slower and fuller than the other options with a bit of noticeable bleed into the lower midrange. When looking for that hard-hitting thump and boomy sound of a strong bass boost, this tuning filter will deliver a strong sense of slam and warmth to the body of notes. Very strong sense of reverb to its lower frequencies for that rumbling seismic sensation. The Yellow filters display a noticeable lower treble emphasis centered at approximately 2kHz for a bit of an extra edginess to its sound and tapers off a bit earlier for a relatively less airy sound. Electronica and hip hop fans should greatly enjoy this tuning. Works relatively well for pop as well.
     
    :headphones: Black Filter: (“clear”) = treble-focused sound signature
    The Black filters features an extremely bright and high-energy sound signature. I would estimate ~10 dB treble boost over the bass response and lower midrange. The upper mids are also ~5dB emphasized over the lower mids. Extremely crispy and bright sound signature with a highly emphasized sense of air. The emphasis of the treble region was centered ~3-5kHz from my testing tests with giving off a very clear sense of upper treble extension and air. A bit of sharp energetic edginess to its sound signature that should be well-suited for upbeat rock and metal tracks.
     
    Despite having an overall sharper and brighter sound signature, I did not feel that the bass presence and lower frequency response of the black filter was lacking. Relatively in-line with the lower midrange with the most easily appreciable taper occurring right before 60Hz for a bit more of a midbass and upper bass emphasis over the subbass. This gives the bass response of the black filters a very nice tight punchy sensation, though they will not appear as weighty in sound with the other tuning filter options. The upper midrange of the black filters was quite strongly emphasized as well with a bit of an upward hill after 500Hz which culminates at a ~8-9kHz peak. Its upper midrange focus along with its accentuated treble provide an extremely energetic and vivid sound that trebleheads will greatly enjoy.
     
    Overall, the black filters were a bit too bright in presentation for my personal tastes and I personally did not enjoy this filter for classical music as the string instruments could appear a bit too piercing and strident at times, though that is reflective of real life. I see this filter working best for rock, metal, and other genres featuring heavy usage of electric guitars and vibrant distortion effects. Cymbal clashes are slice extremely clearly into the forefront with this tuning.
     
    :headphones: Green Filter: (“balanced”) = v-shaped sound signature
    The Green filters features v-shaped sound signature with a strongly emphasized overall bass response centered with a prominent mid-bass focus and a mildly emphasized overall treble response that centers with a lower treble focus. Its midrange recession dips down the greatest at the upper mids around 900Hz to 2kHz. Lower mids are much more in focus with its tuning, giving this v-shaped option a weightier, fuller sound. Its treble response seems on par in emphasis with the Red filters, but the greater emphasis of its bass response does contribute to an underlying sense of darkness and warmth with the Green filters. Overall, I view this to be a darker v-shaped tuning.
     
    This is likely the most genre-dependent tuning filter. Works exceptionally well for EDM, Hip Hop, and Pop, but the scooped out recession to its mid-range limits its versatility. Overall, a very well-done v-shaped sound signature and engaging, high-impact bass response along with its vivid high-energy treble tuning should be greatly appreciated for those looking for a dash of extra excitement to their music.
     
    :headphones: Blue Filter: (“smooth”) = linear bass-orientated tilt (warm)
    The Blue filters are very well-done for my tastes, sounding to be a bit of a hybrid filter sitting in-between the all the other filter options. Its overall sound can be most easily described as adding a hint of relative warmth to the Red filters. In relative comparison to the V-shaped Green filters, bass-focused Yellow filter, and treble-focused Black filter, the Blue filters straddles the delicate line of offering a satisfying bass boost and enough treble brightness without going too overboard in either direction. Its bass boost is a modest ~5dB boost from Red filters and a 5dB drop from the Green/Yellow filters with its lower frequency presentation centered at the approximately 70-80Hz for a punchy tight mid-bass-focused warmth underlying its notes. It has a good sense of fullness without bleeding into the midrange, though its upper midrange does sound relatively recessed compared to the subtle additional focus on the lower mids. The Blue filter is able to maintain a remarkably similar treble tuning akin to the Red filter. The transition from midrange to treble is more pronounced as the Blue filter offers a bit less upper midrange emphasis compared to the Red filters and the Blue filters does still display that 2kHz-3kHz emphasis in its treble region. However, to my ears, the Blue filters did sound relatively less edgy due to the underlying warmth from its lower frequencies that nicely complimented the crispness of the treble response. The decreased upper midrange does give the Blue filters a more distant wider presentation with a perceivable larger sense of space rather than a more intimate or in-your-face-type presentation. I do greatly enjoy Blue filter’s particular tuning, offering a great balance between a punchy impactful and tight bass and crisp clean sense of treble detail with a very large sense of space and a bit extra fullness and richness to its undertones.
     
    In terms of sound signatures comparisons, the Blue filter offers less bass emphasis compared to the Yellow (bass) and Green (v-shaped) filters but relatively more bass than the Red (reference), Black (treble), and Purple (mid) filters. Its treble is also more prominent compared to the Yellow filters, but less emphasized compared to the Black and Green filters. Its lower and upper frequency emphasis is not as extremely as the Green filters. Does not sound has sharp and biting as the Red filters with its underlying warm tonality.
     
    :headphones: Purple Filter: (“bliss”) = mid-focused sound signature
    I personally view the Purple filter to actually be the closest representation of a neutral orientated linear sound signature and I see the purple tuning to be the reference filter. Easily the most balanced and linear sound signature from frequency response sweeps with the least amount of peakiness or recessions. No particular frequency response stood out prominently to me though there was a subtle small roll-off in both bass and treble extension which I think is why they labeled the Purple to be mid-focused. The transitions between frequency regions sounds quite natural without any strong dips or hills.
     
    The midrange is exceptionally smooth with just a hint of upper mid focus over the lower mid to give it a very fast, clean, and clear sound rather than that thick and full sound of more lower-mid-focused headphones. This gives its midrange just a hint of ‘analytical-ness’ for very highly resolving, micro-detailed-orientated presentation. I greatly enjoy this type of tuning choice. The treble of the Purple filters were exceptionally well-done in my estimation with minimal peakiness for a very smooth and well-refined sound. It blends a fast clinically-detailed upper-mid-focused midrange with a smooth and organic treble for well-balanced but unique sonic presentation for stellar results! My FR measurements also demonstrated that the Purple is closest to my own ideal sound signature for a neutral-orientated IEM.
     
    The Purple filters are extremely well-suited for vocals ranging from pop to indie or rock to pure acoustic music to folk and bluegrass to even melodic trance featuring female singers. It is also a very nice tuning for classical music. An amazingly versatile option in my opinion that will work work very well as an all-arounder.
     
    Personal Picks of the Different Filters
    My favorite filters are the Blue, Purple and Red. I felt like those three tuning choices were the most versatile for my varied music tastes.
     
    I personally felt that the Blue tuning is the my personal favorite tuning out of their line-up with a hint of underlying warmth and great weighty sub-bass presence that did not bleed into the midrange. Perfect choice for EDM and still well-balanced enough to work with all other genres. The Blue filter would be what I consider to be a “fun” and “organic” tuning.
     
    The Purple filter excelled at everything I threw at it, and I would would actually consider it to be the most reference neutral tuning. Least amount of bass quantity out of all the filters, but I felt like it provided the best linearity to its sound signature balance. It sounded exceptionally linear to my ears from the mid-bass through the treble and I would estimate that there is just a bit of additional prominence to the upper midrange. There is a subtle roll-off at both the top and bottom ends of the frequency response, but an extremely well-done subtle taper. Treble of the Purple was also not as heavily emphasized as with the Red (flat) or Black (treble-boosted) which I thought to be a bit too much for my personal tastes, but did give an airier sensation over the Blue (warm) and Yellow (bass-boosted).
     
    The Red was just a barely edging into a brighter sound signature than what I am typically used to, but was not excessively bright for my tastes. While relatively linear tuning, the Reds does appear to have have a bit of a lower treble emphasis centered at 2kHz, which can sometimes be a love-it-or-hate-it type tuning. Solid brighter-sounding option as long as using tracks that are well-mastered as I found they could sometimes be a bit fatiguing for me after long listening sessions. Good choice for high-energy music and very vivid display of detail for a clean and sharp presentation. I would consider the Red filters to be the crispy analytical option when looking to really focus in on the treble detail and wanting an extra sense of edginess for very sharp well-defined note spacing.
     
    This is how I would personally characterize the different filters:
    1. Red (“analytical” or “sharp”) = analytical crispy sound signature; low treble focus
    2. Yellow (“deep”) = dark low sub-bass-focused sound signature; rumbling bass impact
    3. Black (“vivid”) = strongly treble-emphasized sound signature; very high energy; very bright
    4. Green (“excite” or “fun”) = v-shaped sound signature; a bit more emphasis in bass over treble; strong mid recession
    5. Blue (“organic” or “warm” or “rich”) = mid-bass focused warmth with crispy treble; subtle upper mid recession
    6. Purple (“reference”) = neutral orientated tuning with an upper mid focus, very subtle roll-off in the most extreme registers of treble and bass
     
    Do note that there is an inherent time-delay when comparing the different filters as it takes a few seconds to unscrew and swap out the filters. I did do some testing with two different filters in place on different sides to more accurate discern the nuances between the filters. The different filter options do provide a relatively large sonic difference that I view to be significantly noticeable.
     
    Direct Comparisons:
     
    Against the Xiami Piston III (single dynamic driver on sale for <$20)
    The Xiami Piston is an amazing budget IEM that delivers a punchy and warm bass-focused sound signature. Exceptional sonic performance at its extremely affordable price point, the Piston 3 definitely outperforms its price point, but it is easy to find other options that provide some technical performance improvements. The t096z does offer wider note spacing, larger soundstage, more precise imaging, better clarity, and improved detail retrieval.
     
    Closest to the t096z blue tuning filter with the Piston III sounding overall bassier to my ears. Overall sound signature is actually quite comparable with slightly more lower treble presence and more treble sparkle on the t096z blue filters while the Piston III has a much heavier emphasized mid-bass peak that contributes to a slower and relatively more bloated/fuller sensation. I personally do prefer the t096z blue filter for this type of warmer sound as it provides noticeable improvements in note spacing & speed with tighter bass notes, a deeper more precise soundstage localization, and better sense of clarity & low-level details.
     
    Against the Bose SoundTrue In-Ear Headphones (earbud design currently on sale at $79.99)
    The SoundTrue is a consumer-orientated warm sound signature with a bit of treble roll-off for a non-fatiguing sound signature. Its technical performance is noticeably lacking in direct comparisons against many more audiophile-geared products, but it offers an unique fit that can be very nice for users who have comfort issues with traditional in-the-ear-canal insertions. Its earbud-style fit contributes to very low noise isolation. Not going to have as clear overall sound or technical performance compared to something like the t096z.
     
    The Bose SoundTrue sound signature does not really match up will with any other audiophile IEM in terms of overall tuning. There is significant loss of treble response and a very warm mid-bass boost for a very warmly colored and dulled-off treble sound for a non-fatiguing consumer-orientated sound.
     
    Against the Hifiman RE-400 (single dynamic driver currently on sale for $79)
    I consider the RE-400 to be a price point standard for a well-balanced neutral orientated pair of budget in-ears. It offers a relatively linear sound signature that I would say is just a touch warmer than ‘neutral’ with an excellent sense of treble extension and detail.
     
    The RE-400 would be characterized as an interesting mix of Torque filters. I would characterize the RE-400 as most similar to the Purple Filter with a bit less overall treble emphasis and better bass extension. It has the sub-bass extension of the Yellow filters without such a heavy bass boost while being tonally reminiscent of the Blue filters with that subtle degree of underlying warmth over the treble response. The Blue filters feature a stronger mid-bass emphasis and more overall warmth to its sound while the RE-400 offers a more linear sounding bass to midrange response that digs a bit deeper in the subbass. The Red filters offer much greater lower treble emphasis over the RE-400 while the RE-400 has a bit more upper treble emphasis. Overall, the RE-400 is not as bright as the Torque Purple and Red filters and treble falls just a bit short in performance when compared to the t096z’s exceptionally detailed treble presentation. I do think the RE-400 has stronger, tighter, and more linear bass performance with better bass extension compared to the darker filter options provided by Torque in their Blue, Yellow, and Green filters.
     
    Against the Flare Audio R2Pro (single dynamic driver at ~$270 USD or £175)
    The Flare Audio R2Pro is an interesting headphone with a relatively neutral-orientated sound signature, but a lot less treble emphasis compared to the Torque headphones. The R2Pro’s greatest strength is its bass speed and tightness while maintaining a clean and airy treble.
     
    The R2Pro does seem bassier than the Torque options with the sense of overall impact and weight and sub-bass rumbling presence. That makes it most comparable to the weighty sensation offered by Yellow Filters in my mind, but the R2Pro does not have as strong of a bass boost as the Yellow filters and the R2Pro does sound more linear with much more treble presence. The R2Pro sound very different than the Torque options and there is not really a filter that matches up well with the R2Pro’s sound. It is bassier than the Red filters but offers more treble than the Blue filters. Perhaps it can be characterized as a bassier version of the Purple filters with less roll-off on both ends of the frequency response for more bass and treble extension. However, the Purple does have a hint of upper midrange focus while the R2Pro is really more lower mid-orientated. I do really enjoy the R2Pro’s sound and performance, but they are very different sounding for the Torque options. The R2Pro is interesting as it has a very hard-hitting and strong bass response that is more focused in the sub-bass region, but it is still sounds extremely clean and tight. Typically, that type of tuning would be quite bloated and bleed heavily into the midrange, but the R2Pro does manage to keep a very good balance of reverb and speed in its signature. Overall, I would say that the R2Pro seems to have a darker overall tonality compared to the Torque Audio options though it does not sound to be overtly bass-boosted. The speed of the R2Pro’s bass response is its defining strength over the Torque t096z, but the Torque t096z does offer a bit extra treble detail and clarity that is difficult to match.
     
    Summary of Comparison Thoughts:
    The Torque t096z tends to be a tad bit brighter and more highly resolving in the treble region than all the other in-ear headphones in my collection. Other strengths and weaknesses quite variable.
     
    Measurements: I do typically like to include measurements in my reviews as another objective set of data for those interested, but I had great difficulty getting FR measurements that correlated well to my own critical listening impressions and frequency response sweeps. I tried using the Veritas Vibro with my Steinburg UR22 Audio interface and the recommended Startech USB audio adapter, but was unable to get an accurate FR measurement that I felt was reflective of the sound signature. So here, I will defer here to more professional hobbyists and I would recommend checking out Tyll Hertsens’ in-depth measurements of these IEMs. Content can be found HERE in this update post as well as HERE in his headphone database. Credit @Tyll Hertsens and innerfidelity.com.
     
    I will note that there are a few aspects of those graphs that I disagree with from my personal listening impressions. The most glaring thing that I would note is that I felt that the “flat” (Red Filters) were much brighter than both the “bass boost” (Yellow Filters) and “warm” (Blue Filters), but I do think it is important to have some set of objective data to help with the relatability of sharing different impressions and understanding different perspectives. It is always interesting to see where listening impressions differ from measurements as well as we all know how variable our opinions can be over the same pair of headphones.
     
    Amplification: The t096z is officially quoted to have a rated impedance of 16 ohms and a sensitivity of 90 dB/mW. Its sensitivity is relatively low compared to many other audiophile geared IEMs which typically have an sensitivity in the high 90s or 100+ region. This means that the volume control may needs to be stepped up a bit more on the t096z to achieve the same listening volumes. It is still a very easy to drive pair of IEMs that work well out of portable devices without an amplifier for normal listening.
    1. Requires 3mW of power reach 95dB (typical upper range of normal listening volumes and the volume level where long-term exposure will result in gradual hearing loss)
    2. Requires 316 mW to reach 115dB (volume of a loud concert)
    Link HERE for a great resource for calculating power requirements.
     
    I do actually think that the t096z benefits from additional power and scales up well with nicer gear. I would recommend strongly considering using a portable amplifier with this pair of IEMs. I found that I personally detected noticeable improvements in speed and note spacing when running it through gear like the Aune B1 or Oppo HA-2. It also does slightly widens the perceived soundstage to my ears.
     
    Value Judgement: While the $300+ price point is a bit on the pricier side of the IEM market, the t096z is basically 6 different headphones in one package, which makes it a phenomenal value if you will be utilizing all the different filters.
     
    The first important consideration to note is how many of those filters will you realistically be using. For me, I think I would only use three or four of those filters (purple, blue, red, and yellow) initially and over time probably end up sticking to one or two (likely just purple and blue). I am the type of person who likes to experiment a lot in the beginning, but do end up settling for an overall favorite.
     
    Another key thing to note is that many of the filters do share similarities in overall “house sound signature” with great similarity in the placement of different peaks and dips throughout the frequency response. To me, the Purple filters offered the most dramatically different overall tuning with a much better overall sense of linearity whereas the other filters do sound like adding bass and treble boosts/cuts to different areas of the overall same tuning. This is not unexpected as the driver remains constant through the filter swapping process. It may be worthwhile considering multiple separate IEMs to achieve a larger variety in overall sound signature for complementary usage.
     
    For those who are interested in experimenting and tinkering, I do think that the t096z offers quite an amazing experience just trying and comparing all the different filter options to get a better sense of your sonic analytical abilities and personal preferences.
     
    Rating: (the green bar ratings on the side seem to be an average of all review scores, this is my actual scoring)
    ***PLEASE NOTE SCORING SUBJECT TO CHANGE!!!***
     
    Value: 8/10
    Audio Quality: 9/10
    Design: 9/10
    Comfort: 7/10
    Isolation: 8/10
    Overall Rating: 8/10
     
    Conclusion:
     
    The Torque Audio t096z offers an unique approach to the current market of IEMs, giving users a wide array option sound signature options with their headphones for maximum flexibility. I know there are many audiophiles do appreciate analog or material tuning options over digital EQ, so this approach is a great thing to see in this hobby where many modders and tweakers try to find options for sonic tweaks.
     
    The greatest overall pro for the t096z is its versatility and customizability. Not only offering a wide selection of eartips, the different filter options should be able to cover a range of preferences in sound signature. In terms of sonic performance, I personally feel that the detail retrieval and treble clarity of the t096z with any filter performs at a very high level. Speed is also well-done and relatively competitive for its price range.
     
    Important considerations include its weight, non-replaceable cable, and only straight-down cable wear-style. Swapping out filters or playing with different sound signature may not be something that interests every audiophile. Weight and comfort would be my personal biggest concern with these IEMs as some people do not tolerate heavier IEMs very well. The t096z does use plenty of metal for its swappable filters and earphones for a premium-feeling and sturdy design which contributes to its heft over other non-customizable, non-metal IEMs.
     
    For my two favorite filters, I find that the purple filter offers me a tuning that I would be happy to use as a reference neutral for critical listening while the blue filter offers a fun and enjoyable sense of warmth that I greatly appreciate for just rocking out. The other filter choices were quite interesting to experiment with and I am sure many people who find different favorites than me. It is always great to see the diversity of opinions and preferences in this hobby, and I feel like Torque does a very good job catering to this with their new customizable products.
     
    For those who are looking to experiment with a few different sound signatures and see how dramatic of a difference filter options makes for IEMs, these versatile IEMs offer an eye-opening and fun experience for newcomers still trying to figure out their sound signature preferences to long-time members chasing small tweaks in their quest for their ideal sound.
     
    2015-11-0521.46.07.jpg       2015-11-0521.49.14.jpg
     
    Official Product Link: http://torque.audio/product/t096z/
    TorqueAudio likes this.
  2. Whitigir
    4.5/5,
    "Awesome sounds with the ability to tune to your personal preferences"
    Pros - Good speed, details, airy, spacious, deep bass with nice slam, good trebles extension
    Cons - Bulky, a little heavy, no removable cables. Some metallic resonances with some valves
    First of all. Please allow me a minute to express my gratitude toward "Torque Audio" for the loaner unit and allowed my experiences, personal tastes and preferences to put up an honest review on the T096-Z. I personally prefer more balanced, details, spacious, organic timbres. For more information on the company and products, please follow he link

    http://torque.audio

    image.jpg


    Conclusion: I love it as it is speedy, spacious staging, and of good timbres. I dislike fit and no detachable cables, metallic resonances with valves that allow more trebles passage. I do wish that it was less bulky and lighter with removable cables. I do think that the blue valves will be the most correct tuning out of all valves according to my preferences and experiences. But hey, it is the main idea of (Torque) and the ability to tune into your own taste is excellent.

    Pros: good speed, details, airy, spacious staging, good realistic timbres, good slam and deep bass, good trebles extensions. Tunable by different valves (nozzles). Price/performance ratio is good.

    Cons: bulky, a little weighty, metallic resonances and some what shrill with valves that allow more trebles passages. No removable cables (no option for balanced or upgrade cables). Huge and bulky microphone.

    image.jpg


    Sound signature overall: good speed, and fast, very similar to balanced armature drivers, but with the slam and impact of dynamic drivers. Having tested all valves, I would say that it carries the transparency of vocal and mid spectrum throughout all valves.
    Bass: fast, deep, tight and is of good textures. Will be affected by the tuning nozzles

    Vocal: mostly remain transparent, and detailed. It is a little more forward and vividly represented. Will not be affected much by the tuning nozzles

    image.jpg
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    Mid: detailed, airy, and with good realistic tonality. Instruments layering is excellent. Will not affected much by tuning nozzles

    Trebles: airy, detailed, and of good speed and extensions and no sibilants with blue valves. Will be affected by the tuning nozzles. Some nozzles will boost this metallic tone even more obvious, and I think it is due to the metallic nozzles resonances.

    Soundstage: wide, out of the head, and is very spacious for an in ear monitors
    Soundscape: mainly presented and projected from your position toward the front. However in some good records it will show a good and immersive feeling of being surrounded with good 3rd dimension.

    image.jpg
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    Flat valve, red

    Bass, fast, deep, apparently detailed, and transparency. Airy. Trebles is detailed. Though the nature of metallic nozzles and housing does generate metallic resonances.

    Trebles boost valve, black

    Bass is considerably pushed behind, and the trebles appears much more sharp, and metallic. The housing metallic resonances can be observe much better by using this valve. The bass is filtered out much more especially sub bass, and only mid bass will be much more revealing. It also appear metallic. Metallic overall signature is my feeling.

    Bass boost valve, yellow

    Sub bass is boosted much more, mid bass is boosted but not as much as sub bass. There are rumbles with sub bass which is noticeably observed. Mid and vocal still appear transparent neither too toward nor too recessed. Trebles is pushed behind, the extensions and details from trebles will be a little behind due to the overwhelming bass boost. There won't be so much metallic resonances that can be observed by using this valves. I do think people who love bass will love this valves.

    V-shaped valve, green
    Very similar to the flat valve with a little more sub bass with much obvious trebles boost in extensions and body overall. Vocal does stay considerably the same. Though the metallic resonances will be observed.

    Bass bump valve, blue.
    Also very similar to green and red valves. Sub bass is slightly boosted, mid bass is with a nice bump. Vocal is still transparent. Trebles is not too lacking behind, and neither too boosted which reduce the shrill and metallic housing resonance. This gives the trebles a nice hint of being detailed, representing and without too hot, sizzling or metallic. I do think this is my favorite valve over-all. It is more musical with a nice slam of deep bass, vocal stay similar and transparent, the trebles is still detailed, and present well with airy nature while not too much of the metallic shrill and resonances. It can be compared to ATH IM-04 in signature, but with better vocal and trebles appearances, also more slams.

    Vocal boost valve, purple

    It is not exactly vocal boost, but it rather decreases the bass a little while vocal stay the same throughout all valves. However trebles also got a boost. This is similar to the trebles boost valve (black). I put this on a side due to the metallic resonances.

    String, brass, wind, piano instruments is with realistic and of good realistic tonality.

    Fit: it is a little bulky, and a little heavy. Fitting is tricky due to the weight of the housing pulling down. I had to use the bigger tips than usual (large) and while having it just right in the canals with the housing body leans onto the ears lobe and a few adjustment and it is on well and nice. Due to this, torque does include "stay put rings" which will hold it in place better. However there is no indicators of how to use the rings. I found it fit the best for me with the larger tips and having the body housing lean onto the back of the ears (toward the back of the head). To secure it better, it could be wear around the ears, but the microphones will be right under and behind the ears :-/.

    From the design of the box, the details, and the tips. I can see a lot of attentions, thoughts, and details after this product. The information that is needed are all printed around the box. It is very innovative to have the sound signature tunable by the customer. It has it pros and cons, and I think the pros is the innovative and tuning capability. The cons is the material to allow swapping in and out of nozzles for tuning, it has to be metal. The metal nozzles do create metallic resonances especially on valves that allow more trebles passage.

    image.jpg
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    For my personal preferences of balanced, neutral, details, and organic taste, I do prefer the blue valves which is more musical, good bass slam, and good trebles details without the shrill and metallic resonance too much. According to torque, this valves will universally does well with many different genres and more balanced. It has 17 out of 24 rating, and the next up would be green valve of 15 out of 24 rating.
    Currawong and TorqueAudio like this.
  3. Hisoundfi
    4.0/5,
    "Premium build quality and six distinct sounds. The Torque Audio t096z in-ear monitor with three button microphone and remote for iOS"
    Pros - Premium materials throughout the entire product, Six filters all with distinct tunings, Nice accessories package
    Cons - Cable is stiff and has lots of spring and memory, Housings are heavy
    At the time of the review, the Torque Audio t096v in-ear monitor was was on sale at their website for $329.95 USD. Here is a link to their listing of the product:
     
    20151031_114411.jpg
     
    http://torque.audio/product/t096z/
     
    Introduction
    I finished my review of Torque’s supra aural/circumaural t402v headphones prior to writing this review. I walked away impressed with their build and sound. Here is a link to that review:
     
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/torque-audio-t402v-supra-circum-aural-headphones-with-modi-fit-technology/reviews/14331
     
    Needless to say, the t402v wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t disappoint either. The same commitment to superior build quality and customizable high fidelity sound carries over into the t096z. They are a impressive earphone that has something to offer anyone who gets to experience them.
     
    Today we will cover Torque’s flagship in-ear monitor with a comprehensive review.
     
    Disclaimer
    I was given an opportunity to review the t096v in exchange for my unbiased opinion and review. I am in no way affiliated with Torque audio. I would like to personally thank Yasu over at Torque for the opportunity to cover his premium product. Thank you sir!
     
    My Background
    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 will buy the $5 to $500 earphone that looks promising, in hopes that I will discover that one new gem 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 higher end products. For me, this hobby is more about getting great price to performance ratio from a product, and have a variety of different gears with varying builds and sound to mix and match. With personal audio gear, we tend to pay a lot of money for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that just because a headphone has a higher price tag, it doesn’t mean that it has superior build and sound quality.
     
    I’m always looking for great audio at a great price. I’m after headphones and IEMs that give me the “WOW” factor. I can appreciate different builds and sound signatures as long as they are ergonomic, and the sound is pleasing to the ear. It is my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based gear I have owned and used.
     
    REVIEW
     
    20151002_110809.jpg
     
    The product comes packed in a white box with black and orange accents. There is a very nice photo of the monitors on the front along with a description their torquevalves tuning system and how it works.
     
    20151002_110824.jpg
     
    The back of the box features information about the product in five different languages (including english) along with more information on the patented torquevalve technology implemented on the t096z. Torque also provides genre recommendations for each genre on a nice little graph. The side of the box provides some very useful information as well. They list the included accessories and name each pair of tuning valves.
     
    Specifications and Accesories
     
    20151002_110910.jpg
     
    ● new proprietary 9mm bio-cell membrane diaphragm transducers
    ● full brass housing construction
    ● includes 6 TorqueValves™
    – reference valve
    – clear valve
    – deep valve
    – balanced valve
    – smooth valve
    – bliss valve
    ● all TorqueValves™ are color coded with specific easy to understand icons
    ● TorqueValet™ with built-in wrench
    ● 1.4M extra long reinforced mylar shielded cable
    ● oxygen free copper conductor for improved signal conductivity
    ● right angle 3.5mm stereo input
    ● in-line iOS compatible remote to control your music
    ● microphone for phone and voice commands
    ● also includes:
    – 5 sizes of ergonomic passive noise reduction silicone ear tips
    – 1 pair of comply S-200 high performance memory foam ear tips
    – 1 pair of soft silicone stabilizer ring for maximum in-ear support
    – lightweight, protective travel case
    ● 2 year warranty (when purchased from authorized dealer)
     
    20151031_113521.jpg
     
    Housings
     
    20151002_110918.jpg
     
    The thing about the t402v that impressed me the most was their commitment to using premium materials for the entire build. That continues in their in-ears with the t096z. The housings are constructed of all metal, with the only non-metal part being a cleverly implemented firm rubber strain relief.
     
    20151031_114411.jpg
     
    Removing the monitors from the packaging, the first thing I noticed is that they are on the heavy side. The inside of the housings feature a copper inner cavity (for acoustic properties) and a black mirrored glossy exterior shell. A rubber banding around the back of the housing is incorporated into its strain relief and leads to the cable. There is a nice Torque Audio logo displayed in copper on the outside of each housing.
     
    20151031_114327.jpg
     
    The t096z arrived with dust caps installed. The caps easily pull away, revealing the threads for the tuning valves and a glimpse of the inner cavity and driver. The only word that consistently came to mind throughout the process of initial evaluation is “premium.” It’s a quality design and build that shows customers their commitment to quality.
     
    Cable, Y-Split, Cable Jack, Strain Reliefs
     
    20151031_114611.jpg
     
    The cable of the t096v was a bit of a sore spot for me. For an in-ear monitor their cable appears to be very durable, but it has a considerable amount of memory and spring. There were times when I would unwind the cable and plug them into a source, then look down and see things were a jumbled mess. I came to the conclusion that in order to prevent this from happening I have to unwind the cable, then make sure the cable is not twisted before plugging the device in. The cable appears to be made of silver plated copper and has silver wire with orange woven accents and a clear sheathing. The Y-split a very basic design and constructed of firm rubber material. A chin slider is included and can be slid up to the inline microphone/remote. The cable jack is a ninety degree jack made of the same firm rubber and has a gold ring accent that matches the housing

     
    Ergonomics, Fit and Microphonics, Isolation
    The fit of the t096z is decent. The straight barrel housing and offset cable placement allows them to be worn over or under the ear. The weight of the housings will be a factor in picking a tip and how they are worn.
     
    Wearing them down, microphonics are much better than average (especially when implementing the chin slider). Wearing them over the ear, microphonics are eliminated. One thing to note is that the microphone/remote will make contact with the side of the user's face/jaw/neck area on the left side. It didn’t bother me whatsoever, but it will be an issue for some. My preferred method of wearing the t096z was over ear with the chin slider, as it negated any issues with the weight of the housings. Isolation is dependant on what tuning valve is being used. I will say that on a whole isolation is better than most in-ear monitors.
     
    Functionality
     
    20151031_114631.jpg
     
    The t096z has a three button inline microphone/remote about 4-5 inches below the housing of the t096z. It is made for iOs, but the center button will work with Android devices. I tested the and confirmed that it functions properly. When using the microphone for phone calls, friends and family reported that my voice came through at a four on a scale from one to five.
     
    Sound Review
    I did my demo with my usual gear. I used an LG-G3 with the latest firmware for portable and smartphone use, and either my Shanling H3 or Sony Walkman F806/Cayin C5 amplifier for a high fidelity portable use. For desktop use I used my Toshiba Satellite Laptop in combination with a HIFIMEDIY Sabre ES9023 USB DAC/Bravo Audio Ocean Tube amplifier with a Mullard 12AU7 tube for higher impedance, and a Fiio E18 USB DAC & Amplifier in both high and low gain. Both were run at 24 bit, 96000 Hz. I also tested them with other DAPs and amplifiers as well. I used Google Music downloaded in its highest download quality (320 KBPS) and I also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I also used purchased and downloaded tracks in MP3, FLAC, WAV and DSD. I make sure that any gear I test has sufficient playtime before writing a review.
     
    I used my usual same songs for testing gear:
    “Limit to your love” by James Blake (bass speed, punch, response)
    “Doin’ it Right” by Daft Punk (sub bass)
    “Get lucky” by Daft Punk (bass to midrange transition resolution, male vocals)
    “Madness” by Muse (soundstage, separation)
    “Some nights” by Fun (soundstage and male vocals)
    “The soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela (texture and imaging)
    “Bassically” by Tei Shi (bass to midrange resolution, female vocals)
    “Skinny Love” performed by Birdie (female vocals, acoustic playback)
    “One” by Ed Sheeran (male vocals, acoustic playback)
    “Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack (symphonic presentation, imaging)
    “Sultans of swing” by Dire Straits (detail, separation, balance)
    “And Justic for All” by Metallica (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
    “Ten thousand fists” by Disturbed (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
     
    Note: Other tracks were used, but the listed songs were primarily used to asses and break down the gear’s response.
     
    Source Selection
    The t096v is universally easy to drive. They will sound great from a smartphone or desktop setup. More power does not mean more sound quality with the t096z. As always, higher bit rate recordings will yield better sound quality.
     
    Sound Signature
    Many companies who offer in-ear monitors with tuning filters have filters that alter the way a dynamic driver is vented, altering the bass response while doing very little in terms of altering the midrange or treble presentation. Torque breaks away from this, offering SIX distinct tunings that will appeal to different listeners. While there are some tuning valves in the package I didn’t necessarily care for, I’m sure there will be customers who do.
     
    torquevalve Technology
    The torquevlalve technology follows along the lines of other monitors with tuning filters, but they go a step further than the competition. They screw/unscrew from the front of the housing, and radically alter the sound.
     
    There are six pairs of tuning valves in the package. They come screwed onto two metal plates with markers indicating each color and tuning. At the end of each one of the plates there is a cutout that allows the plate to be used as a wrench to loosen or tighten the valves to/from the housings. While this is clever, I will say that I have yet to use the wrench to attach or remove any of the filters. I feel the wrench will create situations where overtightening the valves could cause issues with stripped threads or issues with the gaskets on the valves. I am able to remove and install the filters with my fingers and have no issues with not being able to loosen or tighten the valves.
     
    Rather than break each one down into categories of bass, midrange and treble, I will explain each filter. I used my Vibro Veritas to get a measurement of each earphone/valve combination. Although the Veritas isn’t exact measurements, it will give you an idea of the tuning for each configuration.
     
    Red (reference) Valve
     
    Torqueredfilter.png
     
    The red filter carries a very smooth presentation that to my ears is lower midrange forward with a slight roll off on both ends. There isn’t much in terms of sub bass response, leaving a perceived emphasis on midbass and lower midrange frequencies. The treble rolls off considerably, making cymbal crashes seeming distant. I think this tuning will work well for people who will be using the t096z to listen to audio blogs, watch videos and movies, and will also work for those who are sensitive to treble and dislike bass heavy earphones. Those looking for a dynamic V-signature and listen to modern genres of music and rock probably will not care for these valves. Because of the lack of extension on both ends, soundstage and imaging yields a sense of being slightly closed in.
     
    Yellow (deep) Valve
     
    TorqueYellowfilter.png
     
    The graph pretty much says it all. These are the bass cannons of the bunch. It brings lots and lots of rumbling bass That extends deep. This in combination of bass along with a treble roll off makes it seem like the entire sound is overshadowed by gobs and gobs of meaty bass. This is going to appeal to the casual listener who thinks the more bass and less treble the better. I will say that listening to these valves with hip hop was quite fun. I’m not sure if Eminem’s “Cinderella Man” bass slam ever sounded as good as it does with these valves. Soundstage seems to dig deep but there’s no height to go along with it.
     
    Black (clear) Valve
     
    Torqueblackfilter.png
     
    If the Yellow filter is the Yin, the black valve is the Yang. They are polar opposites of each other, and shows just how different and well done Torque has designed and tuned these filters. The black filter makes the t096v a bass light and linear tuning with good clarity and separation. It possesses a very energetic and extended upper midrange and treble presence that doesn’t cross into the sibilant range. Sub bass is slightly lacking, but not to the point that it’s non-existent. Bass tones start pretty distant at sub bass levels and climb up to the point that I would say mid bass is spot on. Mid range has a slightly warm tint to its presentation. The clarity and upper frequency energy helping me get a sense of space and imaging. Those who prefer a linear tuning will enjoy these valves. Bass heads need not apply.
     
    Green (balanced) Valve
     
    Torquegreenfilter.png
     
    This is the V-signature filter and will be many people’s favorite. It is a rather impressive sound that carries plenty of bass slam, a midrange that is slightly back in the mix without being overly distant, and a treble that is high resolution, packing an airy and extended presentation. This will be the filter that will appeal to the basshead/audiophiles who want the best of both worlds. Bass is forward enough and with enough slam that there is some bleed and grain going on in the midrange, but the saving grace for the green valve is the upper midrange and treble forwardness and resolution. Soundstage and imaging is a strength in this configuration. While the lower midrange could be better, the overall presentation allows me to perceptually overlook the green valves shortcomings.
     
    Blue (smooth) Valve
     
    Torquebluefilters.png
     
    The blue valve is a smoothed out version of the green filter. The midrange is brought more forward as compared to the V-shaped green signature, adding more warmth and weight to the midbass and midrange. Treble response is smooth and very natural sounding to my ears.This valves works fantastically for vocals and acoustic music. Guitar plucks, piano notes and vocals have a warm, creamy and dynamic presence that makes them addictive for this genre. They also work very well for live recordings. Where I feel they fall short is with bass heavy genres. Simply put, bass heavy music can get murky, and midbass can be fatiguing at moderate to louder volumes with these blue valves. Soundstage and imaging isn’t bad, but at the same time it isn’t their best attribute. Those who liked the red valve but wished it had just a bit more extension and dynamics will find it here.
     
    Purple (bliss) Valves
     
    Torquepurplefilter.png
     
    I couldn’t think of a better name for these. These were the most unconventional tuning, but they were by far my most favorite tuned valve. They are a midrange forward tuning that perceptually had extension on both ends albeit they weren’t necessarily forward on either end. There was a focus on clarity throughout the entire frequency range. To my ears, the soundstage and imaging was PHENOMENAL. Midrange was out in front, leaving the band to play in the background. Dynamics were really decent, and layering and detail is great. I love the treble presentation of the t096v in this configuration. There were no overly harsh pronunciations of the letters S or T, and still had very natural cymbal crashes. Bass was tight, and I thought that midbass and lower midrange presence was spot on, allowing all vocals and instruments to sound very natural. They could have have used maybe a touch more sub rumble and extension but what is there is excellent. This filter combo seriously made this a top ten favorite earphone for me. Of all the valves, for me these are the most universally applicable valve Torque offered in the package. Your mileage may vary.



     
    Comparisons
     
    Fidue A83 ($275 to $325 USD on many sites)
    This is probably my favorite earphone I’ve ever heard. They’re a Dynamic tuning that utilizes hybrid technology to yield a “best of everything” sound. They have a very nicely balanced (maybe a slight V) signature with plenty of extension in both directions. It really is a “total package” in terms of sound presentation. They offer a pelican style case, an exquisite detachable MMCX cable and an over the ear fit.
     
    Although I haven’t found an earphone yet that is a clear cut winner over the A83 I will say that there are many positives about the t096z that gives it a set of advantages over this beast of an earphone offered by Fidue.
     
    The t096v is an all around more solidly build earphone. The attached cable of the t096z will probably hold up better than the MMCX connection of the A83 in most cases. The t096z sets itself apart as well with their diverse tuning valves. Changing the valves of them significantly changes the sound, making them six distinct signatures that can be tailored to whatever genre you’re listening to. To be honest, I don’t think that any Torque valve can rival the Fidue A83 sound, but the purple valve is pretty epic and I catch myself reaching for it as much as I do the A83. I find that valve to be an absolute joy to listen to.
     
    Accessories is a close one, but I give a slight edge to the more premium case of the Fidue A83.

     
    Trinity Audio Delta ($90 to $110 USD on many sites)
    The Trinity Delta is an epic product. I believe it is the first hybrid I’ve experienced that offers tuning filters. Since purchasing my pair on Kickstarter months ago, Trinity has released two more filters to go along with the three that came in my package. I have yet to hear them so I can’t comment on them. I will base this comparison on the three filters I have.
     
    The Delta is a very cleverly designed earphone that is an overall more refined sound signature as compared to the t096z. Their hybrid sound is excellent, and they are sold at a price that is almost too good to be true for the product they provide.
     
    The t096z is no slouch however and has attributes that make it worthy of its asking price. The materials used in the t096z is more premium, and their build quality is all around more solid. The t096v valves radically alter the sound of the earphones, transforming them into entirely different earphones. The delta filter variances are minor in comparison. The Delta is geared more towards an under ear fit (although an awkward over the ear fit is possible), while the t096z can be worn both over and under the ear. At the moment, I give an edge to the purple filter of the t096v over any of the filters I’ve heard from Trinity.
     
    I give a slight edge to the Torque accessories package. I really like the tips, and personally prefer the mesh semi rigid case that comes with the t096z.

     
    Conclusion
    During this review I had trouble finding a valve that catered to my preference. That was until I stumbled upon the purple valves. The six distinct and very different signatures makes this VERY versatile sounding earphone. Considering their adaptability to every preference and add their solid build quality, we have a winner here. Just like their full size headphones, Torque has made a product that sets itself apart in terms of design and performance.  

    Thanks for reading and happy listening!
  4. nmatheis
    4.0/5,
    "Torque Audio t096z: Torque's Jack Of All Trades IEM"
    Pros - 6 Distinct Sound Signatures; Tuning Valves Are Easy To Swap; Well-Built & Attractive; Nice Accessories
    Cons - Large & Heavy Housings; Mic-only Cable; Not Over-Ear Friendly; No Detachable Cables

    INTRODUCTION

    I discovered these when there was a call for reviewers for the t096z, Torque Audio's recently released flagship IEM. What caught my eye was the various tuning valves the t096z uses to alter the sound signature. I previously reviewed the RHA T20 IEM (LINK), own the Trinity Delta, and have the FLC 8S in my review queue. They're all tune-able to varying degrees, so I'm quite familiar with the concept and think it's great that more manufacturers are exploring this. Since I'm sold on this idea, I've invested time and energy into testing them out so I can share what I like about each of them.
     
    Here's some information about Torque Audio from their About Us page:
     
    the torque team was assembled to find a solution. a solution to an issue that we had seen come up again and again— one headphone might sound fantastic to one user but lousy to another. we carefully reviewed and tested the high-performance headphones available on the market and reviewed the opinions logged in at online retailers, blogs and review sites.our conclusions matched the consensus of consumers.
     
    headphones needed to be more flexible, and adapt more readily to a user’s needs. our designers and engineers here in los angeles, california came up with a solution that meets the needs of premium headphone consumers and revolutionizes the industry: Passive Acoustic Valve Technology™ (PAVT). whether handling jazz or hiphop, rock or classical, a torque headphone is a one-headphone, all-ear solution that transcends genre. our audio products focus on quality materials, expert craftsmanship, and an unconventional acoustic approach that empowers the consumer.
     
    Before I get started with the review, I'd like to provide a few links to explore for more information.
     
    Torque Audio's Website: LINK.
     
    @Deviltooth's t096z review: LINK.
     
     

    DISCLAIMER

    There is no financial incentive from Torque Audio for writing this review.  I am in no way affiliated with Torque Audio, and this is my honest opinion of the t096z.  I would like to thank Torque Audio for giving me a chance to test drive the t096z, and I hope my feedback proves useful for my fellow Head-Fi members as well as for Torque Audio.
     
     

    ABOUT ME

    I'm a 43 year old father who loves music.  While I listen mostly to electronic and metal these days, I do listen to a wide variety of music - from electronic (Autechre, Boards of Canada) to modern/minimalist composition (John Cage, Philip Glass) to alternative rock (Flaming Lips, Radiohead) to jazz (John Coltrane and Miles Davis) to metal (Behemoth, King Diamond) to classic rock (Eagles, Rush).  
     
    I'm primarily a portable audio enthusiast. My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders (still have my Sharp DR7), and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-1xx, iPod 5.5, iPhones, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso.
     
    Being a portable audio enthusiast, I typically listen with IEMs but am enjoying listening with full-size headphones more and more and tend to like u-shaped sound signatures, although I break out v-shaped IEM & HP from time to time for fun.
     
    As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues.  I've got mild tinnitus and suffer from allergies, which can affect hearing in my right ear.  I'll admit it, I'm not blessed with a pair of golden ears.  That said, I've been listening to portable gear for a long time and feel confident in assessing audio gear - just wanted to be transparent up front.



     
     

    PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES



    I'll let the packaging speak for itself. The packaging is quite attractive, but I was surprised that no specs were listed on the box. They're not listed on the t096z product page, either. They are in a booklet included with the t096z, so you need to purchase the product in order to find them. I'd recommend that Torque Audio provide this information on the outside of the box and on the product page. They're 16 Ohms / 90dB, by the way.
     
    Front
    Torquet096z-1.jpg
     
    Back
    Torquet096z-2.jpg
     
    Sides
    Torquet096z-3.jpg Torquet096z-4.jpg
     

    Pull-out with t096z and tuning valves on display
    Torquet096z-5.jpg
     
    t096z + accessories: Tuning valves, tips, carry case, Comply, and t096z
    Torquet096z-6.jpg
     
    Included tips + ear stabilizers. I liked the double-flange tips and found the ear stabilizers necessary for a good fit.
    Torquet096z-7.jpg
     
    Tuning valves with simplified FR curves. I'll go over which I liked and why in more detail below. The hole on the end can be used as a wrench to remove the tuning valves if you over-tighten them. DO NOT use the wrench feature when installing the valves!
    Torquet096z-8.jpg
     
     

    BUILD & ERGONOMICS

    The t096z are on the large side (think DN1K) and are constructed of brass, so they're a wee bit heavy. You can see the brass housings peeking through the outer casing in the picture below. You also get a good view of the strain reliefs. They're made of a fairly rigid plastic with just a bit of flex to it.
    Torquet096z-9.jpg
     
    Torque includes a rubber cover for each earpiece to prevent dust from settling inside the earpiece if no tuning valves are installed. It just occurred to me that I should've taken a picture with the dust cover off so you could see inside the t096z. Sorry about that. What you'll see is a metal plate with fairly small perforations covering the biocell driver. Hopefully another reviewer will remember to snap a picture of that.
     
    Also of note is the earpiece identifier is barely visible on the inside of the strain relief. It's right at the top where the strain relief meets the earpiece. Unfortunately there's no color contrast, so it makes it a bit hard to see. Even so, it's not really an issue since it's easy to tell which earpiece you picked up based on which side of the earpiece the strain relief is on.
    Torquet096z-16.jpg
     
    Here's the outer face of the earpiece. As you can see, it's highly reflective with a brass Torque T logo.
    Torquet096z-15.jpg
     
    t096z with the blue tuning valves installed.
    Torquet096z-17.jpg
     
    t096z all suited-up and ready to rock!
    Torquet096z-18.jpg
     
    Here you see the smartphone case friendly 3.5mm TRRS L-plug and y-splitter + chin slider. You also get to see a bit more of the cable, which is pretty blinged-out.
    Torquet096z-11.jpg
     
    Here's a close-up of the L-plug showing the inset Torque logo.
    Torquet096z-13.jpg
     
    Here's the mic + iDevice remote. There are no obvious buttons or markings, but anyone familiar with using a mic + remote will know what to do.
    Torquet096z-14.jpg
     
    t096z are meant to be worn down. Here're a few pics of them in my ears, so you know what they'll look like when you're wearing them.
    image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
     
    I found them more comfortable and stable when worn over ear, though. Of course, channels will be inverted and there's that mic + remote module to deal with. Here're a couple pics with t096z worn over ear with cable in front vs. in back.
    image.jpg image.jpg
     
     
    To sum up, the build quality is high with sturdy brass housings that are a bit on the large side and stout yet flexible strain reliefs. The size and weight made the ear stabilizers a must for me. Luckily, they're quite soft and comfortable. I had no problem wearing them for extended listening sessions. I like that Torque used an L-plug that works with my iPhone's protective case. The cable is a bit springy, and I would prefer Torque use one that is more supple. I'd also suggest either offering either a mic-free option of (better yet) a version with detachable cables. To be honest, I think detachable cables are overused these days and prefer manufacturers avoid them unless their is a clearly defined use case. In the case of the t096z, I can see this being a good option. This would give consumers a choice between mic vs. mic-free cables and would also allow people to wear them over ear without inverting the channels as is currently the case.
     
     
     
     
    TUNING VALVES
    Okay, now that we've had the grand tour, let's get down to business and go over what sets the t096z apart from the competition - the tuning valves.
     
    First off, I'd like to point out that a lot of tune-able IEM have a stock sound that you can tweak a bit. Not so with the t096z. Each valve is a distinct sound signature, and you'll probably hone in on a couple of favorites pretty quickly. There might be another one or two that you'll find yourself listening to from time to time. Finally there will be some that you flat out dislike. This is quite intentional and part of the attraction of the t096z. For instance, with the RHA T20, you can tweak the treble to your liking but the bass remains the same. With the t096z's tuning valves, you get changes in the bass, mids, and treble.
     
    Another difference is that most of the tuning filters / nozzles / valves I've seen have relied on acoustic dampeners plus vents for sound alteration. Not so with the t096z's tuning valves. There's only one tuning valve with an acoustic dampener (Purple). The rest rely on aperture size, aperture distance from the tip, inner taper, and vent size. Personally, I think this approach will prove more reliable over long-term use since there are no filters to dislodge or compromise if they get wet accidentally.
     
    Compared to the RHA and Trinity tuning nozzles, Torque's tuning valves are taller, have a larger diameter, and thicker walls. The threads on the t096z's valves are also larger and not so closely spaced. This makes swapping tuning valves on the t096z quick and easy.
     
    Now, let's revisit the six tuning valves:
    Torquet096z-8.jpg
     
    In @Deviltooth's t096z thread, I described how I tested these. Basically, I ran through each of the tuning valves with a listen to the red valve in between as a sort of sonic palate cleanser. The sound signatures really are quite different, so without have something fairly neutral in between you'll be in for a shock as you transition between the different tuning valves.
     
    Here's how I'd describe the sound signatures
    1. Red is the flat / reference valve. However, I found the upper bass / lower mids to be too warm for this to be deemed a truly neutral sound signature.
    2. Yellow has gobs of bass without the upper end to balance things out.
    3. Black is the polar opposite of yellow, with a very prominent upper end without the bass to balance things out.
    4. Green keeps the warm, rich sound but amps things up with more aggressive upper mids and treble. This an exciting listen. 
    5. Blue gives a warm, rich, smooth sound signature with emphasized bass. Nonetheless, treble retains a fair amount of detail.
    6. Purple is a slightly inverted u-shape. This reminds me of a classic single BA sound signature - lean and quick but a bit rolled off at top and bottom ends.
     
    So with those basic descriptions out of the way, what did I gravitate towards? I found myself listening to the blue and green valves the most. This surprised me a bit. I thought I might prefer the red valve the best, but I heard a hump in the midrange that wasn't for me. I also found the t096z to scale well with the blue and green valves. Plugged into my iPhone, they sounded okay but the bass was a bit too loose with both and the soundstage was lacking. Plugged into my DAPs, bass got a bit tighter and soundstage improved a bit. Plugged into the Aune X1S I had in for testing (LINK to review), and bass tightened up even more, the upper end was more under control, and soundstage improved yet again. I wasn't expecting this and was glad I tested them with the X1S!
     
    Beyond the blue and green valves, I can see myself switching to the purple valve occasionally when I'm ready to take a break from the rich low end of the blue and green valves. At first, I thought I'd listen to the red occasionally, but after more listening time I'm not sold on them and would recommend that Torque Audio retune this valve to flatten out the mids a bit, making them more neutral. If that happened, I'd definitely use the red valves.
     
    The yellow and black valves weren't my cup of tea. These would get no ear time from me.
     
    Here's a pic with one of my favorite DAPs, the Shanling M3 (LINK to review).
    Torquet096z-19.jpg  

    VS RHA T20
    I thought this would be an interesting comparison, since the blue and green valves reminded me a bit of the RHA T20's bass and reference valves.
    1. t096z Blue vs. T20 Bass: t096z has a bit less sub-bass, more upper bass and lower mids, and less upper mids and treble. This contributes to the blue valve's rich, warm, smooth sound.
    2. t096z Green vs. RHA T20 Reference: t096z has a bit more sub-bass and again more upper bass and lower mids. The upper mids and treble are very similar. As a result of their warmer low end, the t096z's upper end doesn't sound as prominent as the T20's.
    3. There's nothing really comparable to the RHA T20's treble filter in the t096z's arsenal.
     

    SUMMARY

    So what do I ultimately think of the Torque Audio t096z? Well, I love the high-quality feel. They're attractive and well-built. I also like the accessories and am especially glad they included the ear stabilizers. Without those, I wouldn't be able to keep them in my ears for very long. In contrast to the other tune-able IEM I've tried so far, it's nice that t096z provides six very distinct sound signatures instead of just iterations on a stock sound. And quite honestly, I think it's a testament to the t096z that I found myself listening to tuning valves that aren't what I'd usually look for in an IEM. I was also happily surprised at how well they kept up with higher-quality sources, getting better and better as I switched to more detailed / transparent sources.
     
    What did I feel could be improved? Well, I'd appreciate a slightly re-tuned red valve to make it more neutral to my ears. I also think the t096z are crying out for detachable cables with a mic-free version to make wearing them over ear more comfortable. This would also prevent inverted channels. And if the housings were a bit smaller and lighter weight, I certainly wouldn't complain.
     
    I'd like to give a hearty thanks to @TorqueAudio for giving me the chance to test drive the t096z. I really enjoyed my time with them and found them to be one of the more unique IEM I've had the pleasure to try. Be on the lookout for more reviews as these make their way to the next reviewers!

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