Pros: Mids, Highs, soundstage, fullness of sound
Cons: Extension cable, warm tone, isn’t friendly with poor recordings, bass, strain relief
Packaging & Accessories: 8/10
Build Quality: 7/10
Design & Look: 8/10
Microphonics (higher ratings means lower cable noise): 9/10
Audio Quality: 9/10
My final Rating: 9.5/10
Purchase Date: May 2012
Purchase Price: £160
First and foremost, I would like to thank Katie at TDK, for sending me the TDK BA200’s for review!
The TDK BA200’s are earphones that haven’t really “taken off” so to speak, and I hope through this review, I can bring it to your attention, that the TDK BA200’s are an absolutely marvellous set of earphones, that one simply must hear, especially at their extremely cheap price.
Packaging, accessories, box content, overall first impressions (look wise)
For my initial impressions & unboxing video – Click Here
The packaging of the earphones is relatively simple, yet very much elegant! It is a relatively small black rectangular box, which contains all the goodies inside. I feel the packaging is just right. it isn’t excessively over-the-top, nor simplistic, unlike other earphones out there.
The accessories, are what I felt let the TDK BA200’s a little down, especially in the tip selection area. You only have 4 sets of tips provided, and for the top-of-the-line earphone in TDK’s range, I would have expected some more ear tips. A good example of what I would have expected extra would have been some normal silicone tips, seeing as the dual flange tips irritate my ears quite a bit. On that note however, it was nice to see some Comply TX-100 Foam ear tips included in the package. Although, I didn’t use any of them as I felt the P-Series (not yet approved by comply) fitted and were very much more comfortable for my ears.
Apart from the tips, you get a nice pouch, which is very handy, to put in your pocket (and here is where most of the other manufacturers fail) – it is great to see a company, like TDK take portability into consideration. Instead of provided a big leather pouch that would only fit in a handbag of some sorts, TDK went for the un-protected, yet better route, of providing just a standard pouch.
Additionally, there is a cleaning tool, a shirt clip, a 1/4″ adapter and finally a set of 3 replacement filters.
Overall first impressions:
Overall, I was very much satisfied and content with the packaging, accessories that TDK provided with their BA200 model. I would have expected a little more of a selection of tips, but that is easily forgiven, as tips aren’t too expensive to buy.
Now unto the build quality. I personally like the build quality, but can see it being a little troublesome as time goes by, thus the 7/10 rating given.
The problem I have with the build quality is one of few things.
First of all, I found the flat cable to actually be quite bad for the strain relief’s sake, and in fact in their lower end model the BA100’s the strain relief is none existent – meaning some tugging and pulling left and right, and the cable might be giving way quite soon. This is especially apparent by the jack, which is terminated by a 3.5mm gold plated straight cable jack. The straight cable isn’t very handy with on-the-go portability and more so due to the lack of a real strain relief with its flat wire, it means that I fear breaking the earphones by snapping their wire off their jack.
Finally a final word on the jack, is that it’s nicely coated in a glossy-esk material. It does look great, especially with the logo, but the problem with it, is that if your hands are ever so slightly sweaty, it is very hard to pull out the small 3.5mm jack without tugging on the flat cable with a lack of a strain relief.
Moving on from the jack a little up the wire, you will find the wire is split into 2 parts, simply because one wire is short, and the other, makes it a little too long. I feel the build quality is good, but the designing of having a too-long or too-short wire is beyond me. A little like the Denon AH-C751’s flaw of having a bulky extension connection, the TDK’s have a similar “problem” – and funnily enough it isn’t due to the actual extension connection, as that is quite a small discrete connection – it comes from the quite large splitter. It is by far one of the largest I’ve ever seen, contesting even my full sized Denon AH-D2000’s in size.
That said, the build quality of those two “bulky” factors of the earphones, is very good, however it does have to be noted that the overall build quality, would have been better, with a more discrete splitter, and a single straight cable.
The housing of the earphones however, is something else – the earphones’ housing look beautiful, and their housing feels solid enough to be chucked around in your bag and/or pocket.
I should also mention the wire is flat, meaning it is supposed to stop tangling, like on the Sony MDR-XB700 headphones. However I found that they did get tangled a little every now and then.
Finally regarding microphonics, I found that there were literally non-existent, due to these being over-the-ear. Even though there is a large splitter and a extension cable, I was pleased to find no microphonics!
Now the overall look, comfort and isolation
The look of the earphones, as said above, in relation to the housing, is beautiful. There is very much a professional look to these, and I quite like it. From the writing on the housing, to the discrete gold ring by the strain relief, all the way down to the 3.5mm jack being well designed (even though the glossy finish doesn’t help it in practice).
So the look of these earphones is very much good.
The main let down in their looks, is their chunky splitter, and the additional extension, making the lovely earphones look a little odd running down your shirt, which also runs into the design/build quality.
Due to the set of Comply Foam tips provided and the housing, I found the isolation to be very good – although not excellent, to the point of not hearing everything in the outside world, whilst plugged in, the isolation that the TDK BA200’s provides, is very good. I personally use them with (un-approved) P-series tips, which provide me with great isolation and comfort.
Finally the comfort:
The comfort is great on these, despite their large-esk wire. I feel very much at ease with them, apart from one factor, the wire. Due to the wire being a flat wire, which could be seen as a positive and yet negative aspect of these earphones’ build quality; I feel that after a certain amount of hours, after wearing the earphones, the flat fable which goes over-the-ear, feels like it digs into your ear. As you cannot have it “flat” laying over your ear, as that digs into your ear and your head (what usually happens) nor have it laying vertically, as it is for one, almost impossible to do, and secondly would dig into your ear nevertheless.
Thus the comfort is fine, although, I felt that it should be noted for people who wear the earphones for long periods of time, might realise that this issue might crop up, and you will be finding yourself with a headache, quite literally.
As it isn’t a major issue, and only crops up after many hours of non-stop usage, I felt a 8/10 rating is fair, as anything lower doesn’t do the earphones any justice, and nor does a higher rating, considering people might wear these for extended period of time, like myself.
Finally the sound quality – the piece de resistance of the TDK BA200’s – put bluntly, simply outstanding, especially for its cheap price. There are very few earphone that would pay more for, against their RRP’s, but the TDK BA200’s is really a no brainer. If I had to put a value on these earphones I would give them between the £130-250 mark. It is an overall well performing earphone that copes with quite a lot of genres. That said, the 2 things that let it down, so to speak, is it’s real lack of a mid-bass response, and especially its poor sub-bass response, thus not really recommended for bassheads, unless you got something like the DigiZoid ZO2 to boost it, like I have mine with me at all times!
Finally, another thing to add, is that it makes bad recorded music sound terrible. So in sorts, this is great for a reference earphone, as it doesn’t jump out at you, but yet is very precise.
The lows, as said above, are the biggest let down of the TDK BA200’s, I wonder if TDK had included different filters, like Audéo PFE do, it would change the sound signature of the earphones or not. The BA200’s, don’t get me wrong have a nice subtle mid-bass, but their sub-bass is really almost non-existent – there simply is no bass rumble that makes me tingle. Even with the ZO2 tuned up, the TDK’s don’t respond that well. Again, this will depend on taste, but I felt these were similar to the Shure Se535’s lows.
The highs of the BA200’s are exceptionally good. They aren’t as accurate as the Se535’s nor the PFE232’s (with the right filters), but they do sound exceptionally good, giving you a nice short-esk decay.
The mids however, might not be to everyone’s taste. By that, I mean people who absolutely love mids, like on the Se535’s & PFE232’s will feel there is something missing, and doesn’t feel “right”. That feeling is the feeling of warm mids. Not to the extreme of a V shaped signature, like on the TF10’s, but a slightly different/veiled mids response. I personally really love them, especially, again at their price range. Simply outstanding. I can’t believe £160 earphones sound this good, and more so, have such finesse to them.
The soundstage is very good as well, you get a good sense of space, with your music. I don’t feel these are deep or wide sounding earphones, but just perfect. They could improve a little, thus not the perfect rating, but I would definitely say these are solid performers.
Sound Quality Ratings
Conclusions and final thoughts
Overall, the TDK BA200’s are excellent as a package for their price. I felt, each time I put them on, like I was listening to slightly tuned down PFE232’s. Considering the PFE232’s retail at £400, you can see that I highly recommend the TDK BA200’s from my review. It’s unfair for me to realistically compare the BA200’s to earphones in their same price bracket. I honestly feel, that the BA200’s could be priced even higher than they are, but find it brilliant that in the EU, we can find them priced at around £160. Which if you ask me is an absolute competition destroyer. It comes in at a very competitive price, but yet is so very impressive, by its looks, the packaging, and most importantly, the BA200’s overall sound quality.
If you are looking for an earphone priced around £150, and have something to boost the bass (if you are a basshead) then the BA200’s should be on top of your list.
Hope you enjoyed my review!