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The Tanchjim Ola: it has to be the right fit...

Hey all, and welcome back to The Neighborhood! So, it goes without saying that this channel has been a fan of Tanchjim products in the past- recommending both the original Tanchjim Hana and the Oxgeyn without reservation. But, what about their latest budget offering: the Ola… Let’s get InToit!

So, the Ola was sent into the channel by ShenzenAudio, but per usual, all thoughts and opinions are my own. In any case, their link to the Ola will be shared in the description below.

But let’s jump right into the Ola by addressing its packaging, build, and design. Regarding its packaging, like other Tanchjim products the Ola is packaged well, but this time sporting its own brand of anime girl, and no matter what I think of this IEM, the anime girl is well drawn, and fits in well with this IEM from a marketing perspective. Included in the box are the IEMs themselves, two types of clear silicone eartips ( a wide bored set and a smaller bored set), a rather nice silver-plated ,Litz, crystal cooper cable with an in-line microphone, and a plush, grey, cloth, carrying pouch with a draw-string.

Let’s first talk about this cable, because for the price of these things, its fairly nice, and the microphone sounds good for telephone calls and video communications. It initiates at the IEM in a recessed 2-pin connection and terminates in a straight 3.5mm jack that is on the smaller side. This cable is pretty nice for the price-pint considering its basically just as nice as the cables that come with the Hana and Oxygen. So, regarding the overall build here the cable is a bit of a standout for the Ola.

And it’s a standout because, unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of praise for the rest of the build here. The shell itself, while light-weight, simply put, is just too light. Its constructed mostly out of a cheap plastic material other than its aluminum, metal faceplate, and in combination with the fact that this is an extremely shallow fitting IEM with an atrocious angle to its nozzle, I could never get the IEM to stay sealed in my ear.

The two sets of tips included in the box didn’t help matters, as they were extremely small, and neither type really fit my ears. This was a shock, as normally I’m a medium-sized tip wearer, and to have to go up to a large tip to get a seal is fairly uncommon for me. And yet with the Ola, even large sets couldn’t maintain a seal in my ears for long periods of time. Although I will point out that the wider bored set was a shallower fit, and worse than the narrow-bored set. And to be fair, I experimented with a number of after market tips where fit was still an issue. In fact, the only tips that I could get a decent seal with were medium sized JVC spiral dots and large RHA dual density, and I preferred the sonic presentation of the Ola’s 10 mm driver with the later set between the two.

So, let’s talk about the sound… because, what was promised here was a neutral, mid-ranged focused tuned IEM- ala something akin to the Moondrop S.S.R. And while I appreciate the effort, I ultimately think Tanchjim mostly failed to deliver with the Ola.

First, and foremost, the Ola isn’t really a neutral set. Its decently bright leaning, and somewhat thin and brittle in its presentation. There is some air here, but the overall presentation just comes across as somewhat hollow and artificial in its tone. And to complicate things, without a good seal, mids and treble become overly accentuated and lacking in bass, which just comes across as odd to the listener. And, I should point out that, as the listener, it was hard to notice when a seal was lost, as this occurred somewhat slowly and over time.

Still, even if one can obtain and maintain a seal, the Ola still has problematic bass issues. Regarding its bass quality, these remind me of a lower bass intensity HZSound Heart Mirror, and like that IEM, I’d describe the bass here as not-well-defined, diffuse, and one-note-ish overall in its sound. And to add insult to injury, the bass quantity of the Ola is much more limited in comparison to the Heart Mirror. The low-end presentation of the Ola is more akin to something like the S.S.R., but again without the S.S.R.’s bass quality and definition.

The sound-stage of the Ola, is also pretty restricted, especially compared to something like the S.S.R. Most of the Ola’s sound occurs between your ears, and separation and distinctiveness of both notes and instrumentation is decent, but not spectacular. Image placement was fine, but could become cluttered on busier tracks.

The Ola is not without its merits; however, as mid-range and treble resolution and details are beyond the price point, and may even eclipse both the Heart Mirror and the S.S.R., both in terms of its quality mids and treble extension. Vocals were also a strong point for the Ola, as they are pleasantly forward without going to far or venturing into shoutiness.

The obvious comparisons here are the HZSound Heart Mirror, and the Moondrop S.S.R. Today in the pictures we’re featuring the special (and my favorite) variant of the S.S.R.: the Moondrop Stardust- you know, the S.S.R. with the Starfield paint job and cable. Anyhow, in comparison the S.S.R. the Ola is less neutral and offers less bass definition, but is better extended in the top-end and slightly more resolving in the mid-range and treble. With regard to the Heart Mirror, the presentation of the Ola is more mid-focused, less v-shaped, and less thin in the upper portions of the frequency response, but is nevertheless approaching the bright character of the Heart Mirror, although it lacks bass quantity in comparison, even while bass quality is similar. Staging characteristics in both the S.S.R. and Heart Mirror are wider, larger, and more spacious compared to the Ola; otherwise, the Ola is somewhat of a sonic in-between with regard to both the Heart Mirror and the S.S.R. with all three presentations in mind.

So, to sum it up, the Ola is for those who prioritize vocals, mid-range, and treble performance at the cost of a more balanced sound like that of the S.S.R. You’ll also need to tolerate some mild brightness and brittle character, even if it’s not as bright and brittle in its midrange and treble as say something like the HZSound the Heart Mirror. And hopefully others can get it to seal and fit right in their ears. With that said, I’m going to steal the cable from this set and use it with my O.G. Hana, and with that, I’m out… for now…

*Thanks to Shenzhen Audio for sending me the Tanchjim Ola for review:

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