The Tanchjim Oxygen: a breath of fresh air!
Updated: Dec 21, 2020
Hello everyone! Welcome back to the Neighborhood. It’s Your Friendly Neighborhood Reviewer with InToit Reviews. Today I feel privileged to have the Tanchjim Oxygen, or the “O2,” in the house for review. This was a hard IEM to track down, but luckily a member of the neighborhood volunteered to send his in for review. And let me tell you, he’s got a great one!
So, let’s get InToit!
So let’s start things out with the build. The shell of this IEM is comprised of a metal shell that is actually much smaller in in person than it is in photos. When I was investigating this thing, I suspected that it was pretty large, but when I got the set in my own hands I realized that it’s only a barley larger than the Moondrop S.S.R. or S.S.P.. Two IEMs that I previously reviewed on the channel. Links to those reviews will be provided in the description below. Anyhow, despite its small size, the metal shells are somewhat in that they are dual-chambered, on the heftier side, and the nozzle is also relatively shallow with a rather steep angle to it. This made fit tricky with certain tips, but with my recommended tips for this set, fit became a non-issue. With ePro Horn-Shaped Ear Tips the IEM sat-up more appropriately in my ear and proved to be best for both fit and sonics. So, despite Tanchjim’s claim of an ergonomic fit here, the fit might be a struggle for some. The Oxygen also has a properly recessed two-pin connection, and it’s included silver-plated OFC cable terminates in a 3.5mm, straight connection. At $280, this is an expensive IEM somewhat, but in the end I actually think you mostly get what you pay for, both in terms of build and in sound.
The sound of the O2 is pretty unique, and it actually reminds me a lot of my primary set of high-fidelity bookshelves, the Gershman Acoustics Studio II monitors. Like those speakers, pretty much everything on the Oxygen sounds like butter. What I mean by this is that both Gershmans and the Oxygen have the uncanny ability to present a full range sound from the lowest lows to the highest highs without ever sounding other than they should. In other words, the lows are thick, lush, and ever present, but never overly dominate of other sonics, while the highs are pronounced, but without harsh, strident, sibilant or fatiguing characteristics. I can listen to these for hours without my enjoyment waning, as they are both smooth and soothing across a wide range of musical genres. The Oxygen’s musicality is a defining strength of this earphone, and one’s mind just calms down, relaxes, and accepts the music for “what it is” when listening to it.
So, tonality is superb, slightly opaque and warm; with decent amounts of ambience and airiness to its composition, without compromising any sense of naturalness. General timbre is very, slightly on the dark side of neutral thanks to the Oxygen’s velvety, but authoritative sub-bass emphasis; which lightly warms over this earphone. While the bass is nearly in perfect alignment with my particular preferences, it would be remiss of me not to mention that the low-end can lack articulation and detail on occasion, and, or become mildly diffuse at times.
On the other hand, the mid-range is soft, delicate, and rests beneath the vocal presentation, but never lacks clarity or definition. With that said, vocals do take center stage on the Oxygen, and are big, bold, inviting, never shouty, and often possess an ethereal quality. If you are a vocal nut, these won’t disappoint, and as of the date of this video, if vocals are your “thing,” then this earphone would actually be my number one recommendation of choice, perhaps above all others, irregardless of price-range.
Like I’ve already alluded to, the treble is well extended enough, clear, smooth, articulate, and mostly without negative attribute. The description perfectly rolled comes to mind, but some might note a very slight veil, but I actually find that fits in well with the sonic profile of this earphone and ultimately adds to its listenability in the end, in this particular case. Having said that there is substantial amount of air that prolongs past 10K, and categorically elevates the prowess of this set.
Dynamics of both the micro and macro varieties are perfectly tuned for a single dynamic graphene driver for my ears and preferences, but there may be a bit too much sub-bass for punch for some. There is enough percussiveness and rumble for wow factor without beating the listener over the head with it.
Soundstage is not the widest, but it has decent height and great depth to its presentation. With that said, peripheral details are exemplary, and decay is proficient across the auditory spectrum. At times the pool feels infinite in front of, and out from the listener, even if doesn’t feel that way as much side to side. Imaging was excellent; however, even though much of it takes place in between your ears.
This set also excels at layering and micro detail for single dynamic, especially in this price range. I would put the resolution and detail capabilities of this earphone on par with other, much more expensive sets. So even though some might look at its price tag as high, I think that it’s worth its weight in gold. I would describe the Oxygen as a “layering ninja.” Like a proficient sushi chef with sonics, you can hear every layer, even the smallest ones, with distinction. Like you can taste individual strata of a well-put-together piece of sushi; and it’s delicious to my ears. So, separation is excellent for the most part, although on some busier tracks, particularly those that rely soundstage width to depict a sense of dimension and scale, the oxygen did struggle at times to separate individual notes and instruments in ways that I had become accustom to from this set during less busy playback. For example, segments of the song “Ticks and Leeches” by Tool were cluttered on occasion.
Although it was somewhat tip dependent, both for sonics and comfort (and again I highly recommend the ePro Horn-Shaped Ear Tips for each), power sourcing seemed to have limited impact upon the Oxygen. I could run this very easily off an amplifier, a dap, a dongle, or even a phone, and it still sounded lovely. Furthermore, the general sound profile of this earphone did not seem to vary markedly between source either.
With regard to comparisons, the Tanchjim Oxygen has historically, and most commonly, been compared to the Moondrop Kanas Pro, and since I own, and love that earphone myself as well; I will also compare the two here. And, there are some similarities between these two earphones that suggest the comparison. For example, with horn tips on the Oxygen and Tripowin foamies on the Kanas, both earphones share a similar tonality, and I would describe both are extremely natural. While the Kanas Pro (with this set up) wins out on naturalness by a razor thin margin, its’ treble is also more “rough around the edges,” while the low-end of the oxygen is more rough in the lower portion of the frequency response range. Furthermore, while the Oxygen’s bass may have more “umph” to its low-end, it ultimately was also more diffuse in comparison to the Kanas. In the Oxygen, it is propelled forward dynamically by its sub-bass, while, in the Kanas pro, it has more mid-bass percussion. Vocals on are a bit larger and more forward on the Oxygen, and the Oxygen’s presentation in general is a little rawer, even if separation, imaging, and layering capabilities were more impressive on the Oxygen. I’d also give the Oxygen the edge with regard to detailing, dimensionality, and depth of presentation.
After finally being able to hear the Oxygen, I can understand why there are so many fan-boys of this earphone, as I am ultimately now one of them, myself. There is something special about this dual-chambered, carbon-nanotube, graphene-dynamic driven in ear monitor. It is a relaxed, ambient, articulate and inviting listen that specializes in vocals, and has a sub-bass push. At a market value of $280 dollars this IEM is expensive, but, in the end, I actually think that the Oxygen exceeds its value both in terms of its build and sound quality. And, this will be going up on “the list” as one of my most recommended earphones to date.
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