-High resolution and transparency
-Well balanced mature tuning
-Bright and vivid yet not overly agressive
-Appealing female vocal with clean presence
-Tight punchy bass
-High sound benefit
-Problematic fit due to the design
-sub bass roll off
-thin bright timbre
-fowards sound that lack sparkle-decay
-will lack musicality for some
SOUND BENEFIT: 8.5/10
TANCHJIM is a well know and very respected earphones company from China, with a serious perfectionnist approach to tuning. Like Moondrop, they get their sound balance inspiration from Harman tuning target but aren’t afraid to try new tonal territories like the IEM I test today proove. The Tanchjim OLA I review here is a single DD budget IEM that use FEM and FEA acoustic analysis software to achieve a crisp balanced sound that is aim for demanding mature audiophile. When I say Tanchjim are serious about their tuning, i’m not joking, so let’s say in this review if it translate into great audio performance and musicality.
Let’s begin by saying Tanchjim deliver incredible packaging presentation even if this is a very budget IEM, the elegant box is a real joy to open and have a lot of care in it’s aesthetic. With Tanchjim, you feel respected as a consumer.
When it come to accessories, generosity is there too. You have a carrying pouch, 6 pairs of silicone eartips and a Silver plated cable with mic of good quality.
Construction is good for the price, it’s made of half plastic half metal. The look is sober and elegant, and the size is small. BUT and this is a big drawback, the shape design have a very angled and long nozzle that will be problematic for a secure fit ,which was the case for me since the OLA tend to pop up of my ears easily. This can be solve to some extend with ear tips, but let say the shape is far from being organic and ideal and as we know, bad fit can interfer with proper sound rendering too.
OLA, a mature vivid sounding IEM with crazy technical performance, severe tonality and extreme clarity.
OLA, the polar opposite of Tanya. Anti-coloration, anti bass warmth and rumble, anti-thick timbre.
OLA, in my case, need brain burn in to be fully enjoyed, as well as finding the right ear tips to get a secure fit and open sound.
Bright neutral with hint of extra mid bass punch, high level of transparency and sharp and textured treble.
Extremely good, fast snappy attack, excellent resolution and transparency with rich nuanced texture, imaging with rich layering and crisp positioning. Real mind blow here, i need to compare to HZsound Mirror but these might be in similar league, timbre seem to have more micro details in texture for ex and sound is a bit less flat and more holographic. Again, Resolution is class leading in it’s price range.
Even if I praise it, it have a slight metallic edge to it sometime, it’s a bit thin too and brightish-dryish, this isn’t a timbre to charm your ears it their to extract presence of every sound info. Well textured yet keeping it’s transparency, it’s realist in a severe, slightly cold way.
This is were the sword hit, it will be hate-love affair, its just a hint boosted in mid bass so kick do have weight and energy, minimal, that permit to keep everything clean. Here the texture work better since it embrace bass roundness. Sub bass is there (once you got the right eartips) and produce minimal rumble, qui similar to HZsound Mirror in that regard, for ex, with track Moonlight from IAMDDB you can feel the sub bass density but it’s articulation is a bit flat, still, it permit to be well separated from the punchy kick. This is what is phenomenal here, how the sub-kick and mids are perfectly articulated and separated. Its a versatile ”unfun” bass, it do well with acoustic bass in jazz trio even if i would love a bit more resonance and body.
Hum, crisp and transparent, light in weight, piano note are fastly rendered, clean and clear but lacking a bit in lead attack and natural resonance, 2 things that can interfer with clarity in busy track so here the OLA deal like a champ. We have more texture than density and warmth. Female vocal are suprisingly full and well rounded though, very beautifull and fowards yet non sibilant or artificial. In fact, it might be the most natural part of sound rendering of OLA: a female vocal lover IEM. But for male vocal, it will be dryer thinner, for woodwind instrument it will have slight metallic sheen to it and lack openess. These aren’t lush romantic mids and more lean analytical with a mature rendering that favorise clarity and instrument separation.
Fast, energic, between dry and airy and very generous in micro-details even if it doesn’t feel unbalanced or overly an analytical. Sometime it can go a bit hot (especially at high volume) so cymbals splash will sound a bit harsh and shouty. I would have love a bit more brilliance and sparkle, for ex the harpsichord of Pierre Hantai sound a bit dry and lacking in natural decay, but he play so freakin fast that at least the OLA can keep up with it’s performance, never mixing notes in a messy resonant way. But lack of note weight and sparkle make it hit or miss depending of harmonic range he play. So, a hint clinical too is the treble. For a bright IEM, it’s energic but softed in peak, so not particularly agressive unless you listen at very high volume when it can become a hint shouty.
SOUNDSTAGE is deeper and taller than wider, and I highly suggest to use KZ STARLINES eartips to not make it overly intimate.
IMAGING is excellent as stated in technicalities section, since we have both transparency and crisp resolution, the mix of transparent sound layers and static instrument positioning is way above it’s price range here.
VS HZsound Hearth Mirror (1DD-40$)
Let’s begin by saying the HZ seem bassy compared to the OLA, and even warm…say what? HZ warm? Well, this is due to less pina gain, so we could say it sound less shouty then. As well, bass have more sub bass and mids have more lower range, so male vocal sound thicker fuller here, but less transparent and textured.
When it come to tonality, they are a bit similar in fact, here its more how dynamic balance is deal in amplitude, the OLA have more texture boost and less sub bass warmth, both end doesn’t extend as far as HZ too, so you have less rumble density-resonance and less highs sparkle-brilliance. If it wasn’t for sub bass roll off, i would say bass quality of OLA is better due to extra texture and better separation. Biggest difference to me is in term of TIMBRE here, the HZ is more organic, liquid, polished, breathy-dense while OLA have harsher dryer colder timbre that can be more often displeasant for my ears. Mids have more note weight and upper mids edge with the HZ, while the OLA isn’t as well define in contour and a hint more shouty. Treble is crisper, sharper and cleaner-airier with HZ, it dig greater amount of micro-details too, to my ears, this is where the HZ is notably superior and proove it’s attack speed is better controled and faster and less fuzzy.
All in all, without surprise, HZsound Mirror win again but not by a big margain when it come to technicalities, for tonality i find less fatiguing the HZ and prefer organic cohesion it offer and slight extra bass weight and warmth.
VS TANYA (1DD-25$)
What hit first here is how more natural and appealing is Tanya tonality. As well timbre is denser, warmer, fuller and rounder. After, it’s how the technicalities feel inferior when it come to resolution, attack speed-control and imaging. Bass especially sound very muddy and bleedy. But again, when it come to tone, everything sound so more pleasant and lusher, vocal have an immersive holographic presence that OLA crualy lack, it embrace the listener while OLA put an emotional distance to it and doesn’t trigger the musicality it should deliver. In fact, A-B’ing those two is a bipolar exercice…a big psychoacoustic struggle….OLA is barely enjoyable (with Tei shi-La Linda) after the Tanya and sound shouty, agressive and artificial, which wasn’t the case before the comparison. Mids seem sibilant now, whith dry breathyness to them, but way cleaner and higher in resolution and when you enter a busy track like fast complex math rock (The physic house band-Calypso) it’s now the Tanya that is a messy disaster and unlistenable. The OLA is head and shoulder from another league when it come to anything about technical performance, but not as enjoyable for pop, soul, r&b or anything that need natural warm timbre. Everything is thinner yet sharper and better resolve with OLA, but tonality doesn’t try to charm you like the Tanya and will be hit or miss depending of your music style. Ultra technical vs ultra musical, each having their limit in their own realm.
Tanchjim know how to tune reference sounding IEM with mature tonality, high level of resolution and near unseen technical performance for the price. This IEM will impress more the hardcore audiophile than does that search for colored and charming musicality with warm natural timbre or fun soundsig with extra bass. It’s an IEM that can grow on you when you feel like going critical listening, it’s not a boring one, in fact, it can be perhaps fatiguing for some treble sensitive people since its very energic and lively.
Anyhow, this is an audacious tuning choice from Tanchjim that might pay in the long run since their no other IEM with this very tonality wtv price range I try…
These OLA deserve respect, even if the musicality is unforgivably severe.
PS: I wanna thanks KEEPHIFI for sending me these IEM after I manifest my high curiosity about them. I’m not affiliated to this audio distributor and have zero money compensation for this review. As always, this is my 100% honest subjective sound impressions.
You can buy the Tanchjim Ola for 40$ here: https://keephifi.com/products/tanchjim-ola