Tanchjim Blues Review: Occasionally Pretty Good

Pros: Good for acoustic and indie (other related genres), somewhat balanced and neutral with decent technicalities

Cons: Fit, build, genre picky.

Driver Setup: single dynamic driver

Price: US$80

Intro

Disclaimer: This review set is a demo set graciously lent to me by Daniel at Oardio and the review is written of my own accord and all thoughts are my own. The Tanchjim Blues is available for purchase from Oardio through their website should you find yourself interested in a pair.

In recent years, many would have heard of Tanchjim’s reputable offerings such as the renown Oxygen as well as the Hana. But, it might not be the same for their younger sibling, the Tanchjim Blues. Although not as popular, we are still curious to see what Tanchjim is offering with the Blues given their good track record in product releases. In this review, we will express our thoughts and impressions of the Blues and see how it fares against today’s budget offerings.

Accessories and Build Quality (Score: 5.0/10)

Starting off with its packing, it comes in a rather aesthetic blue-white box with a jazz concept in its design which also has a unique aesthetic appeal to me. Moving on, its extra contents are nicely packed in a smaller box tucked at the bottom and side of the case with the Blues taking centre stage when you open the box. You get a set of tips, ear guides and a carrying pouch. Pretty good so far.

The build quality leaves more to be desired as the Blues is made out of plastic and it comes with an attached cable! Usually, I am pretty cool with attached cables (although many will find it triggering as there aren’t any advantages to it as compared to the likes of MMCX/2pin) but the quality of the cable is just horrendous! I used to gripe about how Sony EX800ST’s stock cable is just a downright annoyance but the Tanchjim Blues tops it by being non-replaceable! The cable is weird as the natural orientation goes against the orientation when you place them in your ears, resulting in wearing issues such as the cable swirling out of your ears and you have to pull up that chin strap to keep that cable hugged around your ears. As a side note, the ear guides do help also but it doesn’t solve the problem entirely and sometimes, the cables fall out of the ear hook too.

Quite disappointing in terms of meeting the basic needs of comfort and design which is not unheard of with Tanchjim’s physical design of their products. I really want to give them a nicer score but the horrendous cable design and build is just a big minus here.

Fit (Score: 5.5/10)

Continuing the lines of poor cable design, it’s fit isn’t fantastic to compensate for its flaws. Although there are no significant problems with the Blues’ fit, it is negatively affected by the poor cable design that causes me to experience loss of seal. I would also like to point out that due to the shorter nozzle and design, it is relatively harder to achieve a good seal which eventually leads to a lower score in this region.

Sound (Score: 7.2/10)

Frequency Response graph for the Tanchjim Blues

In general, it is genre picky, but a surprisingly strong contender for what it does well.

Sources Used

  • iBasso DX120
  • JDS Atom Stack

Albums and Tracks tested with

  • Halo Saga OST
  • Bleach OST
  • André Rieu & The Johann Strauss Orchestra – The Blue Danube
  • Aladdin OST – Friend Like Me
  • Cigarettes After Sex – K
  • Keane – Hopes and Dreams
  • BØRNS – Sweet Dreams
  • ARTY – Rain
  • Penny Tai – 你要的愛
  • Rebecca Pigeon – Spanish Harlem
  • Eurythmics

Bass (Score: 7.0/10)

Bass response is relatively weaker to what I perceive as neutral, however, it is still adequate in terms of presence. You are going to realise that the blues ain’t gonna be suitable for every genre as you will find its performance in this region sub-par and not satisfying. On the flip side, it has an agile response, good decay and separation while retaining some DD driver bass qualities such as timbre, weight, and fullness.

On top of the relatively weakened bass response, if you do not achieve a good seal on the blues, you are going to experience a weaker bass response which I struggled with initially and had a rather negative first impression but that is due to a sub-optimal insertion and seal.

If inserted properly, the bass response of the blues is actually pretty decent and clean such as listening to “sweet dreams” by Eurythmics. The blues do present its bass response adequately such that the tracks do not sound too lean and not something is missing. Do not expect a colossal bass impact or what you might expect a typical chi-fi IEM’s bass response. Sub-bass is relatively weaker and may give you the impression of leanness and an unbalanced sounding signature. For specific genres, I would say the blues performed as advertised.

Mids (Score: 7.5/10)

The mids on the blues are relatively detailed, male and female vocals shine through the blues with no hollowness and wonky traits that put me off badly. The soundstage presentation was done tastefully on the blues and while listening to indie tracks, such as Lumineers, the male lead’s voice doesn’t sound too intimate and closed in. A good trait to have in this price bracket!

Female voices do exhibit similar characteristics but I find the upper mid-range boost a tad too much which can be highlighted in duets where male vocals can sound significantly weaker than females and boosting volumes just introduces fatigue from that spike.

Instruments such as violins come across as delicate and a delight to listen to on the blues. Guitars strum and plucks are really pronounced and clear with blue genres such as those guitar scratches within tracks.

Treble (Score: 7.0/10)

I would say treble isn’t too forward, with good plus points such as sibilance free. However, I find treble to be slightly splashy and unpolished or grainy occasionally and especially on brighter tracks such as pop genres. However, on Aladdin’s friend like me, the cymbals and high hats does shine through with decent clarity and resolution but nothing impressive here as I do feel they are rather recessed with respects to its mid-range performance.

Overall

The Tanchjim Blues does perform decently with regards to its sonic performance but there are still gaps that Tanchjim needs to work on such as that upper-midrange spike and treble oddities. It does have decent technicalities such as imaging and good separation allows it to have an edge against some of the current day offerings at the time of this review.

Conclusion

The Tanchjim Blues does offer some value when it comes to specific genres that it excels in but it is hindered by its difficulty to achieve seal for any listening sessions. The wire could do better and fit is just quite sub-par as compared to many other offerings. Ear guides and chin strap had to be used to achieve those conditions. In general a good contender for specific genres such as vocal focused mandopop, blues, indie, acoustics and some instrumental pieces but I don’t recommend it for bass-oriented tracks, trance, EDM or pop band tracks.

Overall Grade: C

72%
Sound
70%
Value
55%
Design

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