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Panasonic RP-TCM125 Review (Budget IEM)

Jimster480

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So we have gathered thus far :)
Unfortunately, my experience with their direct predecessor the MDR-EX110AP ultimately made me skip the rest of their offerings and see that line in a bad light. I'm glad to hear they've improved much since then
I realize that my post also wasn't very clear, I have the one on the left and in the middle lol. When Amir actually reviewed this I was super surprised because I have had this IEM for 5+ years already and I keep it in the bottom of my center console for listening to music or talking on the phone in the car when I get stuck somewhere.
 

Saidera

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Goes without saying that these ultra budget products are for the just in case scenarios and occasional use. I guess since the product measured here may not be the TCM125, the EQ may need further tweaking for TCM125 which is of course simple enough.
 

DavidMcRoy

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I may have bought a fake. It sounds pretty generic, like what you’d expect for the cheap price, but maybe I’m just a victim of price-appropriate quality control. Oh, well. I only got them to keep in the car incase I forget to bring along my Etymōtics.
 
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Ata

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I may have bought a fake. It sounds pretty generic, like what you’d expect for the cheap price, but maybe I’m just a victim of price-appropriate quality control. Oh, well. I only got them to keep in the car incase I forget to bring along my Etymōtics.

I bought the Panasonic and created an AutoEq convolution which sounds great, PM me if you would like to try it out -- I also published the PEQs in this thread. Though the sound is much improved, an Etymotic level it is not.
 

Saidera

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I could, but honestly the FR looks mediocre and not worth the hassle. Hell, the THD characteristics don't seem particuarly excellent within the realm of dynamic drivers; I doubt these would outperform the Samsung EO-IG955 (AKA "those freebie Samsung earbuds") which is my benchmark for super-budget IEMs.

Personally if anyone's looking for a sub-$20 or even sub-$10 IEM with "Harman-like" tonality, you can't go wrong with the Sony MH755/750. While fakes and QC issues are significant, that's just a common risk for these kinds of cheapo stuff.

The myths surrounding MH755 seem to be cleared up here https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/sony-mh755.23501/reviews
In any case, if the FR of MH755 is so desirable, why hasn't Sony tried the same things with similar-sized MDR-EX150/155 or IER-H500A/EX750?
 

Saidera

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Nobody has measured MDR-EX150/155 or IER-H500A/EX750 yet I think. EX15LP has been done, but it's different.
It's really interesting. MH755 seems to be designed partly overseas by Sony Mobile people, perhaps. Meanwhile I remember how one person became legendary for designing the right IEM shapes to fit many ears. Sony has their own internal rewarding/award system too.
 

JohnYang1997

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Saidera

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Cool! Sead was on headfi but he should come to ASR too. https://se.linkedin.com/in/seadsmailagic
He worked in Lund, Sweden for Sony on SBH80, SBH70, SBH60, BSP10, VPT, MH1C, MH750, STH30. No wonder they have a different sensibility and do not feel like they are designed by Japanese people in Japan (except VPT DSP).
 

Saidera

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It is worth repeating that the MH755s etc you see online are most likely copies. I have reason to believe that my IER-H500A and EX255AP are copies as well. The fact is that I bought Sony fakes: EX255AP and H500A both have a somewhat uncertain weak cable (difficult to distinguish from the real version), both have earpieces without the dots to signify size differences, and both the pouch and the cable adjuster have Sony logos that seem to be a different typeface. Other than these differences, the sound may also be different, but for the unacquainted listener, they are quite 'good quality fakes'. It would be very costly to copy it all, and scrimp on sound quality – they sound superb by the way! To make a forgery at this level would not have been easy. It is easily a very good thing they have done because they have replicated the original to a high degree but only charge a fraction of the original cost (but it is difficult to say that its cost performance is good as this is a deception). The shiny Sony authenticity sticker is also missing. Sony fakes have been around since EX90SL second hands floating around in Japan. Subsequently I also looked into a TRN MT1 with 2 for just $14 AUD. It’s just a 10 mm DD and nothing fancy but people are happy with it which is what matters.

IEM comparisons are very easy and highly subjective. The differences are large and preferences divide in a similar way for most people - those who value details and dislike EX255, and those who like bass or just need to hear voice and so are fine with EX255.
Result: EPH52 is best, EX150 and H500A also quite detailed.

EX255 is deeper, so one needs to turn down the volume, and details are simply overborne by low frequencies! It emphasises deep sounds a bit too much and not in a pleasant way either. I simply cannot stand EX255 after using EPH52, EX150 and H500A.
Fake H500A is similar to EX150 in terms of hearing details but seems to not be as good as EPH52 … but acceptable for the price.
TCM125 is more 'squeaky' for strings (no air, not open), a somewhat different (unrealistic) piano tone. Only the barest audience sound, so not detailed. Possible to EQ however.

Earbuds like MH410c have a duller, boomy sound that blurs the sound of piano. It was the opposite effect for string instruments where IEMs sounded squeaky and untrue but earbuds were perfect. No inkling of audience or details at all! E706, CASIO EX Word earbuds slightly less boomy but still same kind of sound. No audience sounds. My random $3 IEM is a flawed design, sound comes from far away, dull, sounds like a musical box, dreamy sound. Hurts ears if turned higher. Seems very easy to drive. Alcatel earbuds sound like a bad EQ. missing frequencies or sth. Like sound emanating from poor speakers in a box with you inside it and yes, dull, boomy sound with added unnatural EQ. EPH52’s strings are probably truer to the source than the earbuds. Piano definitely sounds better on 3 IEMs.

Earphones are great because headphones make my neck tired. When I first listened to EX255, I thought, "It sounds like a phase shift when I apply extreme EQ". The impression of the sound is a sense of pressure in the low frequency range. The mid-range is cut down and there is less of a component around the base note, so the rawness of the instruments is lost to some extent. I mentioned that there are few components around the base note, but if there are too many base notes for the overtones, the sound will be sharp and painful to the ear. The fit is very good. I think these earphones produce too much bass, depending on the recording conditions. Bass is a kind of vibration or wind pressure that you feel with your whole body, not with your ears. The earphones are designed to reproduce the sound you hear in your ears, so it's hard to ask for more than that. Piano sounds unbalanced. The call function is excellent. You can hear the person you're talking to very clearly and close, and there's no noise, so it's easy to talk to them. However, for music it is a pain for me personally, so I can't stand using it. The only thing that is confusing about this review is the lack of specifics as to what kind of music you are listening to and how you rate it accordingly. I usually listen only to classical music, so I want to have a range of sound. The sound balance of this product is very unbalanced compared to the EX150 that I have used so far. The balance of sound is very unbalanced. I have to turn up the volume to hear details. Of course, if I did that, my ears would break and I would have to remove the earphones. As for the bass, it is adequate, so there is no problem to listen to a low frequency solo, for example, a solo piece of cello, or a piece of piano without much high frequency. However, it is not suitable for classical music, especially symphonies, as the sound is delivered in a balance of bass, midrange and treble. My friend uses the XB55, which is a bass-oriented model of the same series, so I borrowed the XB55 and listened to classical music and found it difficult to find a balance between the bass and the treble. In conclusion, I think the EX150 is better balanced for me personally. EX255AP doesn’t sound natural. It’s got a distinct flavour and this could be because it’s a fake. EX255 clearly sounds like craggy squeaking ragged paper for strings compared to earbuds which sound open and natural, while the fake sony is narrow and squeaking. The Real EX150AP is pretty much the same so it’s not a forgery issue. EPH52 also … like a different atmosphere but still narrow and squeaking compared to earbuds. Conclusion is that if you don’t care or compare you won’t notice that what you are hearing is very low-fi! At some point one can no longer distinguish between preferred sound and bad quality sound.

As a side note, ZX110 does have an older sibling ZX300 series just like EX150 has the EX250 series, and for some reason the more expensive sibling has a tendency to perform badly in listener’s subjective tests. The subjective tests are so unreliable though. It is always done differently, on a whim. Today the sound might be bright, the next, dull; if you only listen to a bad loudspeaker it can be difficult to remember what a good performing speaker sounded like, or should sound like. But if multiple subjective tests point to the same overbearing bass then it probably is the case.
 
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phoenixsong

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After messing around with ear tips for yet another round, I conclude that although tips generally impose their own sound signature, the effects can vary depending on the IEM they are matched with. This is due to different nozzle opening and nozzle tip sizes on different IEMs, which stretches different parts of the bores of the tips to varying degrees and altering the inner bore to bore opening diameter ratio depending on their initial unaltered dimensions, changing the shape of the sound channel in the process (think flared horn vs funnel, or a *tube squeezed vs expanded in its middle section). Some IEMs have a flared rim on their nozzle tips too, which stretches the bores of IEM tips even more especially if their nozzles are wide to begin with.

The depth to which tips can be fitted onto the nozzles is affected by tip size too. For example, my Radius Deep Mount tips in XS sit with their bore openings flush with the nozzle openings of my TRN MT1 and Whizzer HE01, 2 IEMs with wide nozzles and flared nozzle openings. However, the same tips in S would have their nozzle openings snugly resting surrounding the opening vent mesh/grilles of those IEMs instead, just in front of and around the IEMs nozzle openings instead of being flush and aligned with them. Larger tips extend forward even more due to their increasing lengths. This has a sort of waveguide effect on the IEMs, though to a far lesser degree (for tips with wide bore openings anyway) than speakers due to the minimal distance to the eardrums and the miniature enclosed sound field (in-ear instead of in-room).

This also applies regarding IEM nozzle lengths/designs. For example, my BGVP A07 tips are able to fit nicely on my Moondrop Aria, possibly due to the smooth outer surface and sufficient length of the Aria's nozzles. However, on some other IEMs they could stick out too much due to nozzle lengths/designs which prevent them from being pushed further in.

Even for the exact same tips, on different IEMs the depth to which they are inserted into the ear canals is different. Apart from depth of insertion, the shape of the front of the tips does affect sound too- an obvious example would be the Radius Deep Mount tips. Being wide and flat at the front, these tips tend to create the seal at the front of the tips, in other words, deeper within the ear canal. When using them I tend to go for smaller sizes due to this, although their fit is quite forgiving and I was able to wear a pair of TRN MT1 with XS-M sized tips. I suspect the flatter front of the tips does something involving sound reflections just within the boundary of the seal too, as these tips have a distinct sound signature to them. Like how bass traps are needed in room corners, maybe there is more going on at either ends of the tunnel we know as the ear canal than we think.

In conclusion, understanding how the tips interact with their IEM and how the resultant pair fits in and affects acoustics within the sealed sound chamber of the ear canal is key. The effects are generally quite minor, so how much you want to sweat about it and invest is up to you :) Personally, I already have many tips at my disposal so I don't mind doing it, otherwise I foresee myself only changing tips to make desired and known minor adjustments based on trusted reviews/recommendations, or I'd just change the IEMs themselves if their base technicalities/sound signature is not up to scratch
 
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Saidera

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You do realise that @Amir is an inactive account?
 

Sharur

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Wow, can't wait to see the audition of etymotic ER4SR and Moondrop blessing 2/Dusk.
ER2SE would be interesting as well. While ER2SE has lower distortion at listening volumes, it clips faster in the bass.
 
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infinitesymphony

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Do Panasonic make a Bluetooth version of these?
They did -- RP-HJE120B-K -- but the reviews were really bad because the battery was too small, went out of service quickly, and wasn't user-replaceable. Probably better off tracking down a portable Bluetooth receiver with built-in headphone amp to add Bluetooth to any wired headphones even though it will likely double your cost.
 

phoenixsong

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Received delivery of a genuine Sony MH750 2 days ago. Sound quality/tuning alone is very impressive for the price of about $10USD
 

phoenixsong

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The MH750's tips complements its tuning really well too. I probably only prefer the Acoustune AET08a tips over it out of my current collection
 
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