HI-FI FOR ONLY $40 – Tanchjim Ola Review
When referring to the best IEMs under $50, only a few names come to mind…
Tin T2 – Tin T2 Plus – Tripowin Mele – Blon-03 – HZ Heartmirror
In the vast sea of absolute mediocrity, these 5 stand that tallest, until today! Today we’ll be reviewing Tanchjim’s new Ola, the vocalist heaven, for only $40. How would it compare to the top 5 mentioned above? I’ll be comparing each of those to Ola in this article.
Sound Signature: Neutral
Ola is a neutral tuned IEM with a very minimal bass boost. For bass lovers, this IEM is simply a pass. However, what it lacks in bass power, it makes up for in control with virtually no bass bleeding into the mids. In terms of bass impact, it’s still as satisfying as any decent Dynamic Driver IEMs. Overall, the bass quality is fantastic, just hindered slightly by the overall power.
The midrange is the most significant selling point of the Ola. Clarity is superb, thanks to impeccable bass control and correct elevation of the upper mids. Vocals are clean, complete, and satisfying to listen to. Both male and female singers have good upper midrange and treble energy to allow their voices’ open and expansive presentation. Midrange instruments are also true to life, natural like the vocals. Though some veterans in the hobby might pick up on the subtle unevenness, 99% of listeners will not because it is simply too modest to matter. Quick and simple summary, this is the best midrange tuning you can get under Moondrop Aria. It’s natural, clean, and lively, a vocal lover’s dream.
Treble is naturally energetic with a slight lean towards being tamed. It’s not what I would call sparkly, but it’s enough to carry the midrange through with minimal congestion. The treble is also quite good here in terms of revealing capabilities. While it’s not impressive in terms of what it can display, the natural and smoother nature of the presentation here is commendable. The Ola manages to grab just enough detail to matter while providing a no fatiguing, smooth yet lively listen.
I’m very impressed. It’s neutral done correctly with very little to criticize, especially for the price. I would go as far to say that it’s the best true neutral tuned IEM under $100.
For $40, you usually don’t expect much in terms of details, separation, and speed. Well, this is different. While not crazy impressive like Aria or Titan S, it comes surprisingly close. For half the price of those IEMs, that’s an incredible achievement. Soundstage is nice and wide for the price, and while imaging is not its strong point, it makes up for it with relatively clean separation and speed.
Tin T2 is one of the most recognizable budget IEMs ever, and I’m thrilled to finally dethroned it. The Ola is simply superior, with better bass control, midrange clarity, treble evenness, and overall natural presentation. Details and soundstage are also an improvement. My verdict is to skip the T2 and get the Ola.
Comparison: T2 Plus
T2 Plus is a similar story regarding details and soundstage; the Ola is better here, while tuning-wise, it’s up to preference. The T2 Plus is a warm v-shape with decent bass power and a fuller lower body experience. Ola is neutral and more natural with less “color.” Summary, T2 Plus is more fun and mainstream, while Ola is more reference and “hi-fi.”
Comparison: Blon 03
A similar comparison can be applied with Blon 03 from the T2 Plus. The Blon 03 is also a warm v-shape, but with even more bass and reduced top end. Ola still better detail and stage-wise. For more mainstream fun, go for Blon 03; for reference sound, go for Ola.
Mele can loosely be called the refined Blon 03. It has more bass power, better bass control, and proper upper midrange smoothness. It still retains the v-shape signature of the Blon 03 but is not as warm.
Detail is competitive with Ola, while staging is less wide. If you have $50, the Mele is a better choice than the Blon 03 and a sidegrade to the Ola.
The Heartmirror is a secret love of the audiophile community. Its unconventional neutral-bright tuning style is rare in this price bracket. That being said, it comes the closest to how the Ola is tuned. Ola and Heartmirror share similar bass and midrange, while the most significant comes in the treble. The Heartmirror’s treble is more sparkly and forward, giving it more energy than Ola but comes at the cost of potential fatigues and unnaturalness. These two are a more challenging comparison; both are tuned well for this style. The Ola is more natural while slightly more tamed. At the same time, the Heartmirror has more “wow’ in how lively it can present each track but more fatiguing. Detail and stage-wise, Ola wins here as Heartmirror is a softer and smoother presentation summary, the “better” IEM on paper is the Ola. Still, one can go for either one and not be disappointed.
Ola is an exceptionally tuned IEM for the price with great details to go along with it. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a reference style tuning at a budget price, especially if you love vocals. Easily one of the best at the price point, falling just short of competing with the upper-tier IEMs such as Aria and Titan S.