Details: Entry-level dynamic-driver earphone from Earjax
Current Price: $28 from amazon.com; $30 from bodyguardz.com (MSRP: $29.95)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 32Ω | Sens: 102 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 4’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 4mm | Preferred tips: Stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (3.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (6 sets in 3 sizes), triple-flange silicone tips, shirt clip, and metal capsule carrying case with detachable lanyard
Build Quality (3.5/5) – The shells are made entirely of metal and feel solid. The cable is slightly rubbery and strain relief is sufficient all-around. Interestingly, the Tonic is missing conventional Left/Right markers – different-color nozzle filters are used instead (red for right, black for left). A bit of driver flex can be coerced from the earphones but not so much that it can be bothersome
Isolation (2.5/5) – Rear vent results in fairly average isolation
Microphonics (3.5/5) – The rubber cords bounce around a bit when the included shirt clip is not used but wearing the earphones over-the-ear solves the problem
Comfort (3.5/5) – The fit is pretty conventional for a straight-barrel in-ear. The nozzles are fairly long and the shells are rounded at the front so fairly deep insertion is possible. The strain reliefs are short enough that the earphones can be worn over-the-ear comfortably and the shells aren’t too heavy despite being metal
Sound (5.1/10) – The Tonic is a mid-range earphone with a popular, fun sound signature. Its bass is deep and thumping, with decent extension and a fair amount of mid-bass emphasis. At the very bottom the bass stays strong up to around 45Hz and is still audible at 30. Impact is generally hard and heavy. The Tonic is not the most controlled earphone and the bass can definitely step out of line but the aggressive low end works well for a lot of modern music. The earphones also exhibit slightly forward mids, which keeps vocals, guitars, and other instruments relatively free of bass bleed. Midrange clarity is quite impressive, especially at lower volumes, and with the bass equalized down can match that of the Meelec M9 and Hippo Boom. The midrange is warm, full, and very easy to listen to. The Tonic stays smooth into the upper midrange and lower treble, introducing no harshness or sibilance and even masking some that may be present on the track. Indeed, the Tonic lacks just enough resolution to make my 192kbps mp3s sound good.
The treble is a recessed slightly in comparison to the bass and mids, making the Tonic a dark-sounding earphone. It can be a bit grainy and rolls off a slightly earlier than with the M9. There really isn’t much sparkle but at the very least the treble is inoffensive and portrays what’s on the track. The vented earphones possess a decent soundstage, too, both in width and depth, but the aggressive presentation tends to center things rather than spread them out in the sonic space. On busy tracks the bass-heavy nature of the earphones can act as a detriment to separation and positioning but for an entry-level set the Tonic performs well enough on both counts. Listening to the Tonic I can’t help but be reminded of the Sennheiser CX300 – it really has a similar overall sound signature, albeit with less mud at the bottom end, more prominent mids, and a slightly airier presentation.
Value (7.5/10) – Though the Earjax Tonic is fairly typical of a budget earphone when it comes to sound quality, it is a solid all-around performer and will appeal to those who like deep, thumping bass. The slightly dark tonality and treble that’s mostly smooth but still carries a bit of grain and texture gives the earphones some character compared to the similar-sounding Senn CX300. The build quality and accessory pack are both quite good for the price as well. Those in the market for a budget earphone and worried that the Meelectronics M9 may be too harsh in the treble or too recessed in the midrange would do well to check out the Tonic.
Pros: Well-built; plenty of tips included; fun sound signature
Cons: Mild driver flex; bass can be overpowering at times; slightly dark