TANCHJIM OLA Bass Version Dynamic Driver In-Ear Monitor
- At the point of this article, my OLA Bass has undergone over 100 hours of runtime
- I don't do measurements, I just describe what I hear, from my own POV
- My preferred sound tuning, Diffused Field Neutral (Etymotic)
- The entirety of my impressions was done with my own Dekoni Foam tips
- Ultimately, my reviews are purely subjective and biased to my personal preference in sound
For a budget IEM, Tanchjim OLA Bass Version sure does look way more elegant than most. I am truly impressed with the clean, graceful and thoughtful packaging by Tanchjim.
The IEM itself, visually identical to the original OLA released a few months back. So aside from the drivers configuration, nothing new really, because the original OLA was already a well-built unit. Constructed of acrylic plastic shell with aerospace grade Aluminum faceplate, Tanchjim somehow managed to impart good sense of solidity to the unit. Design wise, perhaps it is non-conventional and will appease some, probably less to others - subjectively.
Internally, OLA B sports a pair of PEEK Composite Diaphragm single dynamic drivers, of which are commonly found on higher end units. The original version of OLA was made of DMT4 Architecture Dynamic Drivers.
OLA B comes accompanied with equally elegant looking High-Purity Litz Braided 4N SPC Cable, with built in MIC and two-pin 0.78mm connectors, terminated on the other end with 3.5mm audio jack. Again I will repeat myself the cable setup does not look like a budget set at all.
Then, there's two sets of silicone tips offering either "Treble Enhancing" or "Bass Enhancing" options. Simply, the Treble version being wide bore and the Bass version being Narrow bore. However due to my personal preferences for foam tips, I don't actually use them - and my review on this unit will be based on this configuration with Dekoni foam tips.
One feature that's quite interesting, OLA B is supposedly dustproof and waterproof (with Nozzle filter). Now, I personally haven't tested this extensively (like jumping into a pool or something), but it does mean OLA B is highly usable for outdoor usage be it for dusty road commuting or rainy days. Or even at the gym when the sweats start pouring. Intentionally OLA B has been designed from the ground up for versatility of active lifestyle.
Comfort wise, OLA B being very lightweight, I have no issues wearing it for hours on end once anchored properly to my ears. Admittedly OLA B is not as ergonomically friendly with the shell design, so it will depend on what sort of ear tolerances the user has - at least for me I didn't encounter any issues and thus no element of discomfort to worry about. In fact once worn, it is easy to forget I have OLA B lodged in my ears.
- Xiaomi Mi 9T
- Sony Xperia 1 iV
- Windows 10 with Native USB Drivers
- USB Exclusive Mode with FLAC files
- CEntrance DACport HD
- Cayin RU6
- Ovidius B1
- 7Hz 71
- VE Abigail
Test Audio Playlist
Despite being different from the original OLA which was made of DMT4 Architecture Dynamic Drivers, OLA B running on PEEK Composite Diaphragms offers similar overall sound signature of being neutral-ish - with mild emphasis on lower frequency boost if to be compared to the original OLA.
Timbral and tonal balance of OLA B, can be best described as generally uncolored, natural and near organic - but this depends on the type of source it is connected to. Plugging OLA to an already bright and dry sounding DAC/Amp can emit an output which may sound a bit leaner, less musical and digital-ish. In my case, I get the best results pairing my OLA with Sony Xperia 1 iV, Ovidius B1, CEntrance DACport HD and Cayin RU6. OLA B will sound slightly lean when paired with most ESS Sabre DACs. Similar to the original OLA, OLA B can even be described as a bright sounding unit, definitely not warm or dark.
Dynamic wise, OLA B offers good dynamic range on both ends. The handling of dynamic transients being well controlled and mature - to a point that it can even be regarded as less energetic or less vibrant especially for those preferring a more euphonic presentation. Being a single DD, there's good cohesion on dynamic flow, with clean temperament throughout the entire frequency ranges.
Mids of OLA B is assuredly neutral and uncolored. There's ample density and mass, just perhaps lacking a bit of depth to make is truly rich sounding. Instruments offer sensible amount of energy, attack and decays. OLA B Mids are neither dry or warm, it is as transparent as it can be, faithful to the original intended timbre and tonality of the recordings. The placement of Mids also sounding proper, not too forward, nor does it sounding recessed. I will admit that, for people who like their Mids thick and rich, OLA B can appear lean and flat - perhaps lacking a bit of musical emotions as would be observed from warmer sounding units. But this is not necessarily a Cons, it is simply the nature of neutrality - ultimately subjective sound preferences will determine if the listener will like it this way, or that way.
For all it's worth, OLA B handle vocals fairly well and transparent. Which means, for certain peaky female vocals like to Soprano-Alto of Alison Krauss and Mariah Carey, can be slightly more edgy, more pronounced. While with the lower octave of Diana Krall's Contralto, OLA B is simply neutral and natural, same goes for Sinne Eeg. Male vocals, typically thicker sounding than females, does then sounding a bit richer and dense - as would be heard from the likes of Morrissey and Nick Cave (both on Baritone type).
The upper frequency of OLA B, can best be described as amply sparkly and vibrant. It is well controlled to not sounding outright bright or edgy. I am hearing good Macro details with subtle touches of Micro detail nuances. The only thing that I felt lacking was the airy transients of how Treble flow, OLA B focusing more on prompt and crisp attack and decays. The dispersal of decays being solid yet sensibly extended. Also, worth to note that pre-burn in under 40 hours, I observed some granularity in Treble textures especially for Hi-Hats and cymbals - the decays seemingly a bit grainy edged. But this no longer an issue right after 40 hours and practically smoothened out by 100 hours. OLA B must be commended for being able to remain steadfast and disciplined, avoiding elements of spiky annoying sibilance even when subjected to Treble aggressive tracks. On certain instances, I do feel that the Treble timbre being a bit digital-ish, but thankfully it does not ended up being outright plasticky or metallic (which again will also be influenced by the type of DAC/Amp used). Just avoid using OLA B with bright sounding DAC/Amp and it will be worry free.
Switching to lower frequencies, OLA B offer pronounced boost for Midbass if to be compared to the original OLA. But really, I would still not regard OLA B being a Basshead unit. The heightened elevation of OLA B Bass being sensible and moderate. In fact this helped to impart richer overall dynamic density to the sound - of which the og OLA would sound leaner in contrast. In general Bass is clean, fast and resolving. Lacking only on deeper texture and details. Midbass has good presence and authority, imparting mild seismic impact and slam. Subbass however, will likely not work for fans of Harman V tuning. Subbass of OLA B audibly reserved sounding with signs of roll-off on the decay stage (similar to Etymotic ER series). The good part, OLA B will never be plagued with Bass bleed, with Midbass being highly disciplined to not overshadow lower Mids or Subbass.
OLA B Bass performs the best with stringed and percussion Bass, not so much for electronic Bass. This means OLA B will likely be unsuitable for listening to Electronic or Dance genres.
OLA B strongest trait, the projection of Headstage is wide and spacious. This helps to impart good sense of Soundstage which felt open and expansive. I think this is a trait for most Tanchjim tuned IEMs, and OLA B benefits from this greatly.
For the rest, OLA B is amply resolving, transparent and detailed. Nothing too prominent, it is well balanced to satisfy even for analytical purposes (at least for me it does). Separation lines are clean and succinct, helped by the fact that OLA B is already a crisp sounding unit. Imaging and spatial positioning is also quite admirable, for a single DD it is not easy to sound decently holographic, but OLA B is one of the few that does not sound like typical single DD implementation where they normally ended up with Left/Right bias.
Speed and resolution is also quite good. OLA B being a speedy single DD implementation, it will respond with good agility to resolve busy and complex tracks - thus avoiding the pitfall of sounding muddy or congested even for the most demanding of recordings.
All in all, I would say that OLA B is good with overall technicalities. I do not observe any worrying weaknesses.
For a 16 Ohm, 126 dB IEM, OLA B is surprisingly demanding in term of driving power. On my Sony Xperia 1 iV, I actually have to crank it up to 75/100 to get proper listening loudness. To get the best from OLA B, it will need to be paired with something more powerful - something like Ovidius B1 or CEntrance DACport HD.
But really, even on my weak Sony Xperia 1 iV, OLA B sounds great when the proper loudness has been set. It is amply rich and engaging. I am just saying that OLA B does scale better with more power above 2 Vrms - in this case with Ovidius B1 and DACport HD, I observed that dynamic density exhibiting richer body with better airy transients.
The best part, despite having such high sensitivity at 126dB, OLA B will not sound shouty when subjected to powerful drive even above 4 Vrms (just need to be mindful with the volume level).
Tanchjim OLA Bass version is yet another solid budget oriented offering from Tanchjim. Perhaps what I find very appealing is how well presented OLA B is end to end. From the elegant build, to robust usability and solid sonic performances. OLA B does not feel like a budget IEM frankly. Yes it is simple and lightweight, it is also less extravagant when compared to many others. Sometimes simplicity is more than enough.
For one, despite the Bass moniker, OLA B will still appeal to those preferring a more neutral sound, or those who are into Bright Neutral sort of tuning. OLA B would probably still not Bassy enough for Bassheads (especially those loving the Harman V curve). OLA B is a solid performer technically, there's no mistaking that wide and spacious headstage which is quite amazing considering this is a single DD. The rest of OLA B being well accounted for, timbral and tonal balance that is admirably transparent and accurate. For the asking price, I see Tanchjim OLA Bass version as a solid unit to recommend based on specific preference of sound.