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Old September 5th, 2014, 12:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Review of T-Peos Altone 200 3-way hybrid premium in-ear headphones w/lots of pics!!!

This is a review of T-Peos Altone 200 3-way hybrid premium in-ear headphones. T-PEOS - A dream reality (ordering info found in: [T-PEOS] Announce Closing Preorder of Altone200 and Start Official Sale)

After reviewing a lot of single and multi-driver dynamic and balanced armature (BA) headphones, the next logical step for me was to look into hybrid in-ear headphones. Actually, in the past I tested a 2-way hybrid pair from another vendor, but wasn't too impressed with its tuning. Other multi-driver hybrid models I found to be too pricey, until I came across T-Peos announcement of their new Altone 200 model (VERY reasonably priced at $125 plus shipping for 3-way hybrid). T-Peos is a well known and highly respected company that delivered a number of hybrid headphones in the past, and now decided to introduce a more affordable 3-way Altone 200 based on their flagship H-300 model. With a dual BA driver to cover the upper frequency content and dynamic driver for low end side of the spectrum, the design of Altone 200 really captured the best of both worlds. Here is what I found.

Arrived in a very compact packaging box, you get a glimpse of these beauties through a small display window and can get acknowledged with specification and list of accessories on the back. In addition to headphones itself, the accessories include 2 types of eartips in S/M/L sizes (regular silicone and bi-color hybrid type), a pair of foam tips, a pair of earhook wire guides if you choose to wear these with a wire over the ear, a shirt clip, and a soft zipper case. I pay close attention to headphone cases, and this one happens to be very unique and with minimal protection. But as soon as you pick up Altone 200 shells in your hands you realize why you need such a light protection - these headphones are built like a tank! And yet, they are so small and lightweight that you can't help but ask yourself a question: how in a world was T-Peos able to squeeze in a dual BA driver and another dynamic driver in there?!?

Made out of what appears like steel and/or aluminum material with a machined finish, the earpieces look stunning and actually not as heavy as I expected it to be (only 16g). You will find a pinhole port at the base of the nozzle for sound shaping control and another one at the back of the shell for soundstage/air control. Strain relief is short but very sturdy, and actually color coded with blue and red (for Right side). Cable shielding is round and flexible enough for hassle free storage as well as being soft enough for over the ear shape fitment (even without guides) with assistance of chin-slider (cable cinch) to keep it tucked in better. Y-splitter has a matching brushed alloy finish with a short strain relief, and cable is terminated with a right angle gold plated 3.5mm connector with a durable strain relief. Overall, it was probably one of the better cables I have seen with a perfect balance of durability, thickness, and flexibility to keep it manageable and tangle free.

Though the looks and the build are important, for me a sound has a higher priority! Ironically, a few months ago I reviewed two pairs of headphones from another company, one with a dynamic driver and the other one with dual BA, and in a conclusion I made a comment that I wish those would be combined in our pair of headphones. Well, my wish has been granted in a form of Altone 200. You get a very detailed bright sound with a slamming bass in overall slightly v-shaped sound signature. But what impressed me the most was the surgical precision of the bass and upper mids/treble separation. It's almost like you are dealing with a sealed chamber design for each group of drivers combined at the nozzle - the layering/separation of the sound was among the best I ever heard. But at the same time, I have to warn you that if you are not a fan of bright vivid sound signature, these might be not exactly your cup of tea, though with some patience and creative tip rolling (switching between different eartips) you can actually fine tune the sound without even touching EQ setting.

Starting with a bass, which T-Peos got down to perfection, you get a deep sub-bass rumble with a fast mid-bass punch that all together is well controlled and very natural in timbre. Though you are dealing with an enhanced quantity, it's not overpowering and doesn't spill into lower mids. Once you cross that dynamic driver threshold, now you are in a land of dual BA drivers with a bright detailed presentation and crystal clarity of upper mids and crisp extended treble. As I mentioned before, yes it can get a bit too bright and uncomfortable for extended listening period, but playing around with a narrow width opening eartips or the eartips that will extend beyond the nozzle to cover that pinhole opening or Comply Foam eartips - you will be rewarded with a pure audiophile quality sound. Once you settle on the perfect pair of eartips and adjust the volume to a comfortable level to bring mids more upfront, the sound will surround you with a decent width/depth of the soundstage. These don't require a use of an amp, Altone 200 is easily driven directly from your DAP or a smartphone. Also, I didn't hear any microphonics effect.

Overall, this is a true gem for anybody who values details and clarity in their sound and don't want to compromise the bass quantity. I have tested a number of dual BA driver IEMs in the past, and noticed a pattern of great bright details with a common problem of neutral bass quantity, but not in case with Altone 200 sound. Considering 3-way hybrid design, a very durable build, and a sound signature that captures the best of both dynamic and BA worlds - these headphones have a great price/performance ratio for under $150 shipped and definitely worth looking into if you value a premium sound quality!

Here are the pictures.




































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