TuneOut Audio 150 Ohms Review -Balanced

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Thank you TuneOut Audio for letting us give our honest take towards the TOA 150 Ohms. Given that the review unit is from TuneOut Audio and is free of charge, it doesn’t affect the honesty and integrity of this review.

The Company

TuneOut audio (TOA) used to be a store that caters entry level IEMs, earbuds and accessories. After a year they started venturing in crafting their very own cables and earbuds and now IEMs. TuneOut Audio envisions to bring great sound at a budget and fot months, I think they are properly fulfilling their promsie except that there are some build quality issues but as far as this review unit is concerned, I never experienced such issues even after more than a month.

The TOA 150 Ohms

 

To be honest the TOA 150 Ohms exceeded my expectations in terms of build quality especially after knowing the projected retail price which is under sub 1000 Php (20 USD). It boasts an L jack which is gold plated and it is supported by a thich strain relief. I wasn’t able to check the internals because I might break the unit but I’ve been using it for 1 month and a half and it still works fine, in fact it is far sturdy than my Monks + and Headroom MS16. It has a sleeve and the cable seems to be a 4 core SPC, there’s a plastic thing that makes it easier to determine which is left and right. Lastly the shell used was an MX500 one, it came with a  purple tin can and 3 sets of ear foams. Again, I may be lucky but I never encountered build quality issue so far.

Sound

I love IEMs and earbuds with mid-centric to flat sound signature as I really love listening to vocals rather than instruments. My genre ranges from heavy rock, alternative rock, pop rock, acoustic, pop, jazz and folk. Majority of my test tracks are in 16 bit – 44 khz and 24 bit – 48 khz FLAC file and here is the list of my common test tracks.

  1. Reese Lansangan – For the Fickle (background, female vocals and upper mids)
  2. Foo Fighters – Bridge Burning (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
  3. Jensen and the Flips – Come Closer (Mid Bass, Mids)
  4. Ed Sheeran – Dive (Mid bass, Lower Mids)
  5. Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why (Upper Mids and Instruments)
  6. Paramore – Hard Times (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
  7. Utada Hikaru ft. Skrillex – Face My Fears (Imaging Layering, Bass, Mids, Treble, Coherence, Quickness)
  8. Passenger – Coins in a Fountain (Mid bass, Layering, Imaging, Instruments, Lower mids, Treble)
  9. Tori Kelly – Hollow (Background, Upper mids)
  10. Ariana Grande – Raindrops (Background, Upper mids)

Bass

Sub bass is deep! Not the deepest out there but it has very good depth matched with good texture. I can easily say that when properly powered the sub bass depth, quality and quantity performs in a stellar manner. It is slightly smooth when using it directly with my DAP (Shanling M3s) even on high gain, it lacks depth and definition but still it sounds above decent but as I use the Periodic Audio Ni and iFi iCAN SE, it sounded way above the price range (Moondrop Nameless, Heavenly sound Genesis and Boarseman MX98s are my comparison here). Mid bass isn’t as textured as the sub bass and it feels lighter and softer in comparison, the mid bass is kinda smooth and a bit recessed with respect to the sub bass. The good thing here is that the attack and decay is quick and bass notes are presented in a tight and rounded manner.

Midrange

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The lower midrange is placed neutrally, it has a tinge of warmth and is far from being dry or thin. I can say that the lushness of mid is very good it doesn’t sound veiled or muddy but still there’s that sense of fullness and smoothness. I love transparent pairs like the moonbuds bunting but sometimes I am missing that velvety kind of presnetation and this set has it without compromising the transparency and clarity. Upper midrange is a bit more forward than the lower midrange, again it has very good balance between lushness and transparency and that’s what I’m looking for when finding a new IEM, earbuds or HP. There’s a sense of intimacy, listening to “For the Fickle” by Reese Lansangan, it sounded quite forward and sweet, it doesn’t resolve tons of details but I love the balance as well as the timbre of the TOA 150 Ohms, they sounded quite natural for a set that falls under 1000 Php (20 USD).

Treble

Again the treble is neither forward nor recessed, it has moderate amount of air. The treble isn’t the strength of the TOA 150 Ohms, it is kinda smooth and soft, it lacks sparkle for me. In comparison to the bass and midrange the treble isn’t that resolving and doesn’t extend well, luckily it doesn’t sound harsh nor aggressive. Attack and decay is a bit slow as well but it does present the treble decently and that’s fine, afterall you can’t have everything especially for a set under 1000 Php.

Sound Stage and Resolution

It has a quite intimate sound stage for an earbuds, width, length and height are just moderate, it feels like a medium room for me and that’s fine especially for someone like me who prefer moderate sound stage than a humongous one. Resolution isn’t the best among its class, I can even say that the Moondrop Nameless is more resolving than the TOA 150 Ohms. Nonetheless, it performs nicely and is very good for easy listening, it doesn’t slap you with tons of details but for a sub 1000 Php pair, they sound great!

Sound Signature and Synergy

It has a Neutral to Mid-centric sound signature and that’s not a common sound signature for earbuds under 1000 Php (20 USD). Comparing to the monks they are far more neutral with little to no emphasis on the bass or treble. For me I would love to pair this buds to an analytical source like the Cayin N5iis that packs a really good treble and upper midrange, adding a warmish Amplifier would likely complement the light bass of the TOA 150 Ohms.

Shanling M3s (High Gain)

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Given that the M3s packs meaty midrange, this pairing is a bit too lush for me, due to lack of power they are smooth as well. The bass is more punchy as compared to my phone or when adding a Periodic Audio Ni but with the Ni amp it sounds more resolving than directly plugging it to the M3s.

Shanling M3s + Periodic Audio Ni

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The Periodic Audio Ni sounds transparent and quite bright, for me except that it lacks power compared to the iFi iCAN SE it has better synergy. The bass isn’t as punchy as when I paired it with the iCAN but it sounds more transparent and the treble gained more sparkle. Resolution and Sound Stage wise, I think that the iCAN is better but for synergy I liked the Ni better.

Shanling M3s + iCAN SE

The iCAN SE has a tinge of warmth in it giving more weight on the overall sound signature of the TOA 150 Ohms. It gained more texture and definitely less smoother compared to other sources that I’ve tried. Toggling the xBass, the midrange became slightly recessed giving some emphasis to bass but I didn’t like the effect since I love using mid-centric gears. Treble still so uinds decent unlike with the Ni which added some sparkle and brilliance to the treble.

Huawei Mate 10 and iPad 2

The mate 10 can’t give justice to the TOA 150 Ohms, if you’ll plug it to your non-LG smartphone then you shouldn’t buy this buds because it will sound very muddy to you.

The iPad 2 did power the TOA 150 Ohms, I think it has more power compared to my M3s as it drives the buds without getting to 90 percent of the volume. It sounds clear and transparent enough and the synergy seems to be close with M3s + Periodic Audio Ni but less resolving and no added sparkle.

Comparison

VE Monks + (250 Php / 5 USD)

The Monks + is easier to drive, it has a punchier bass but that’s all, it sounds muddy when compared to the TOA 150 Ohms. I love monks + because it is my first ever earbuds but honestly the midrange of TOA 150 Ohms sounds more smooth and quite forward. Treble have the same presentation but the TOA 150 Ohms has better extension while the Monks + has better airyness. The Monks + has bigger stage but has inferior imaging and layering, lastly the TOA 150 Ohms has better resolution especially on the sub bass and the midrange.

Moondrop Nameless (1000 Php / 20 USD)

The nameless is much more resolving than the TOA 150 Ohms but definitely more fatiguing. The sub bass depth and texture goes to the TOA 150 Ohms while the midbass punch goes to the Nameless. The positioning of midrange seems to be identical but the Nameless has more details and is more transparent compare to the smooth sounding TOA 150 Ohms. The Nameless has more extension and sparkle while the TOA 150 Ohms has more air and is smoother compared to the former. The sound stage seems to be on par with the nameless having more depth, imaging and layering easily goes to the TOA 150 Ohms. The Nameless is more superior in terms of resolution as it has more details on the midrange and treble.

Conclusion

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The TOA 150 Ohms is definitely one of the best sounding sub 1000 Php gear that I’ve heard, I enjoyed it as much as the Moondrop Nameless, the downside here is that it’s almost impossible to he used when you don’t have a powerful source. Despite the hate being thrown on their build quality, the TOA 150 Ohms proves that it is not something that will break easily, I don’t want to disregard those who received defective units but as far as my experience go, the TOA 150 Ohms is far from being unreliable. It has a near neutral overall presentation with nice bass and midrange, the treble doesn’t have anything special but it performs decently for its price range. It scales very well with various sources and I wish that more fellas would give the TOA 150 Ohms a try.

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