– Good vivid resolution
-Good tonal balance without spikyness
– Deep and open spatiality
– Impressive instrumental separation for the price
-Fast attack speed
-Presence of female vocals
-Technicality above their price
-Dry and thin timbre to my ears
– resonant bass but dry and with little weight
-its open but not wide
-treble that lacks extension and brilliance
SOUND BENEFIT: 8.5/10
Tripowin seems to have developed a keen interest in new technology dynamic transducers, thank goodness! And it was to their credit, with the TC01 model which was a great success. That wasn’t enough for their ambition, so they then called on Hawaii Bad boi aka BGGAR aka Bad Guy Good Audio Review for it’s aural expertise by number. This collaboration with the Bad Boy gave birth to the Tripowin MELE earphones which was very well received by the audio community. I can’t comment on these IEM that I haven’t tested, except that they have a frequency graph that seems well balanced and fleshy, inspired by the Harman curve but more bassy.
If you thought that Tripowin was done surprising you in the ultra-budget IEM segment, after the wave of ovation for the Moondrop Aria and Tinhifi T3+ using LCP (Liquid Crystal Polymer) transducers, they decided to launch their own alternative of LCP IEM, the Tripowin Leá. These Leá use the ”latest generation” 10mm LCP dynamic transducer and have an acoustic approach focused on an open and balanced sound reproduction according to the product description. Ah, and their price is just too good: $25.
But is it too good to be true? Spoiler: one thing for sure, it’s a thousand times better than the TP10!!
(source used: Tri TK2, Xduoo XD05+ and Xduoo Link BAL2)
Note: the Leá benefits from a fairly powerful amplification. Impedance=32ohm Sensitivity=105db
My first reaction to listening to the Leá’s was: good lord! that doesn’t sound like $25! Then: wow, this transparency, this openness, these female vocals put forward, this heavy and not slippery bass bstrike. And then: hum, but there is something a little disturbing with the timbre, it’s not very round or natural. In short, the longer it goes, the more severe I become when I dig the sound, no matter the price. Then I try to rationalize. So, in the end, my first impressions were positive given the low price of these Leá.
The TONALITY is clear and balanced with an emphasis on the presence of high mids and mid-bass strike. We could say that it is still a tuning inspired by Harman, and even Moondrop Kato which are a more abrasive than liquid version of this Harman signature. The feeling of transparency is amplified here, and it’s airy without being particularly shiny. It remains punchy, mid centric and vivid without too much sharp spike.
The TECHNICALITIES are excellent for the price, in all areas except the high attack control which seems cut off in places. The resolution and transparency is really good for the price. The nuances of textures and levels of macroscopic detail too. The bass and treble extension, while not super linear, extend quite far too. The attack speed for a DD of this price is impressive too.
The TIMBRE is not perfect to my ears, a bit metallic in places, especially in the high mids and highs. It’s dry too, sometimes the texture grain is too boosted too. It’s thin but that thinness translates into transparency, so there’s a positive side here. It remains realistic but lacks a bit of warmth, density and polish.
The BASS have more punch than weight well felt, they are clean, tapping and fast. The extension is a little compressed-cut, but the presence of the sub bass is there and textured, body is more in resonance than in vibrating density. These are fairly dry basses, somewhat similar to the Final A4000 or Kato in this respect. What surprises is their post-impact cleanliness, as it’s not very fleshy, it doesn’t smudge on the mids, it doesn’t add warmth or body to the overall sound either. It’s the least transparent part of the sound spectrum too, which isn’t too much of a problem as it sits quite far behind, it’s only when there’s a lot of instrument playing that it can feel too stuck and lacking in relief and definition.
The MIDS are pushed in their presence of the high harmonics, they benefit more the female vocals than male, because the latter will lack body and will seem more in retreat. It’s energetic, we find very little sibilance even if it shout a little sometimes. The presentation is centered and quite intimate, the timbre is thin and not very heavy in its attack fall. The piano sounds a little too dry and flat for my taste but the resolution is very good and the transparency too. The definition is not perfectly sculpted, which cancels out a holographic rendering due to a lack of relief and balances in dynamic amplitudes. The precision is also not always there. With the Leá, it is the auditory macrocosm that transmits its resolving vivacity, if you dig into the sound, you are struck by micro harmonic distortions or imbalances in texture rendering.
The HIGHS are both abrasive in places and smoothed in others. That is to say that there are dips and a peak at the top of the spectrum to bring out the attack energy. It’s fairly well balanced, although in passages where the music has natural amplitudes at this treble peak, a certain stridency can occur, with several instruments in this field the resolution loses air and cuts out the definition. Still, this stridency seems softened, the splash cymbals cutting short for example. Again, the resolution is high, not the cleanest but still impressive when you consider the price of these IEM. On the other hand, the lack of refinement of this resolution can sometimes betray the price, this lack of upper resonance-sparkle and natural brilliance for example, and also of a complete definition of the image of the sound, with complete contour. The violins lack body, and the timbre is thin and rough, the harpsichord lacks weight, roundness and sparkle. So acoustic music, especially classical, can sound tonally out of tune. As for indie, pop, rock, rap and even jazz, it’s going pretty well.
SPATIALITY is very particular with Leá, in the sense that we often feel in Live music, even when it is not. There is great hall resonance, in a scene that is deeper and taller than it is wide. Quite unique as a presentation and not always versatile I would say.
IMAGING sometimes takes advantage of this somewhat artificial open rendering, because the space seems stretched, the instruments have a place of their own. The positioning is not the most perfect in its clumsy micro definition, but it has a good presence precision of the instruments nonetheless.
For $25, it’s hard to complain about quality and durability. We have an all-metal construction, thick metal that feels solid. The finish is not the most perfect, but here we enter the whim. It seems invincible like EMP in fact. The 2pin connector is firmly encased. The shell has a long insertion shape and is comfortable. The insulation is very good too.
The cable is really good even if by the most flexible. Its sound reproduction does not require an immediate upgrade. Its durability could be questionable, but the sound reproduction is not diminished by it!
VS MOONDROP ARIA (1DD LCP-80$)
At 3 times the price of Leá, we expect more finesse and better sound reproduction and this is mostly the case here. Firstly, it’s more organic, soft and cohesive overall, technically it’s noticeably superior, both in attack control and instrument openness. The transparency is cleaner, the timbre denser and more natural, and the presentation wider and taller. Nothing scratches our ears here, emphasizing the lack of roundness of the Leà rendering, much drier and with less full and wide midrange presence. The basses have a better base too and although it doesn’t hit as abruptly as the Leàs, their warmer and deeper-vibrant presentation is less distracting, but it’s more liquid and less textured, delimited in the mid-bass , so more emphasis in the sub-bass. The vocals are more centered-compressed with the Leàs and quicker with a slightly plastic tone, it’s clearer and more textured in the high harmonics, less wide-open. The high spectrum is more fully covered, giving the highs more relief and also natural resonance, it is less sharp for percussion and flatter in dynamics.
In the end, the Aria are more balanced, warm and natural with a higher level of technicality allowing a less compressed and saturated rendering in its transparency.
VS TANCHJIM TANYA (1DD-25$)
This comparison is extremely interesting to my ears, because these two intras seem opposite in listening but similar in frequency measurement. Apart from a few subtle details, they follow a balanced V curve tending towards the midrange centric, à la Harman, again and again!
Let’s start with the superiority of the Leá, especially technical. It’s cleaner, more open and ethereal, more transparent and resolute, more pointed too with a deeper spatiality. Where the shoe pinches is especially on the timbre side, which is more dense, natural and round with the Tanya. Tonally we believe in it more in Tanya, even if the immersion is more syrupy, padded and thick. The whole has more cohesion, the instruments have more body and there is no peak that distorts the harmonic realism of the rendering. Yeah, the definition is lower, the rendering more intimate and compact, but that’s due to the heterogeneity of the timbres and not a compression of their body in favor of an artificially boosted presence.
In short, here there will be two camps, those who appreciate an emphatic resolution in presence (Leá) or those who fall in love with the natural timbre of the instruments (Tanya), even if they lack the space to express themselves well.
Often, I remain misunderstood in my appreciation of an IEM due to the fact that I tend to judge technicalities outside of musicality, and if I find them excellent or promising in an ”inappropriate” price bracket, I tend to get excited like a kid, at least internally!
That’s what happens with the Leá, I find the technicalities like attack speed, resolution, spatialization and transparency so impressive for the price that sometimes I forget the little tonal imperfections. But my open-mindedness in this regard also has a setback when I go into critical listening, which reveals a fairly flagrant lack of naturalness in the timbres with the Leá.
The fact remains that for $25, everything is there for the high price value, as much the construction aspect which includes a metal IEM that seems super sturdy and a silver-plated cable that is more than appreciated, as well as a revealing and lively sound that offers an open and fascinating listening experience. Yeah, Tripowin went from a company that search its identity to a company to watch with interest.
Maybe it’s time to trip Tripowin?