T-Peos Popular Review

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T-Peos Popular
Reviewed April 2014

Details: Budget IEM from Korea-based T-Peos similar to their Tank model
MSRP: est. $40 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $30 from mp4nation.com; $28 from HiFiNage (India only)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 32Ω | Sens: 105 dB | Freq: 20-18k Hz | Cable: 4.2′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 4.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single-flanges, MEElec M6 single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear (preferred)

Accessories (1.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes) and shirt clip
Build Quality (4/5) – The construction of the Popular is very similar to T-Peos’ similarly-priced Tank model. It uses metal housings akin to those of the higher-end D200 and H-100 models, narrow flat cables, and a well-relieved L-plug
Isolation (3/5) – Isolation is on par with other earphones of this type
Microphonics (3/5) – Average with cable-down wear; good when worn over-the-ear
Comfort (4/5) – The small dynamic driver permits a compact housing design. The earphones can be worn comfortably both cable-down and cable-up, though the flat cable with no cable cinch can be a bit resistant to over-the-ear wear

Sound (7.8/10) – The T-Peos Popular is similar to the Tank in price and construction, and also uses 8mm dynamic drivers, but delivers a more balanced and neutral sound compared to the warmer, bassier Tank. The less dominant low end actually benefits the Popular, allowing the bass quality to go from great to outstanding. The earphones are still not bass-light by any stretch – bass impact is only a hair below the VSonic VSD1S, for example, and greater than with the Astrotec AM-800 and the dual-driver MOE-SS01. Despite this, bass control is excellent, resulting one of the best bass quality/quantity ratios I’ve heard among budget earphones.

The Popular has a slightly v-shaped overall signature but its midrange doesn’t appear notably recessed – less so than with the VSD1S and especially the VSonic GR02 Bass Edition, for example. There’s no veiling of the midrange, which helps the Popular also achieve fantastic clarity, nearly on par with the MOE-SS01.

At the top, the Popular has a similar character to the Tank, with a treble peak or two resulting in a sound that is a touch harsher than I would like, especially at higher volumes. This is more noticeable with the Popular than the Tank thanks to its less bassy sound signature. It can accentuate sibilance some as well. In comparison, the MOE-SS01 has a slightly less edgy treble character whereas the VSonic GR02 Bass Edition fares similarly to the T-Peos unit.

The Popular is a little more spacious and images better than the bassier Tank, though it still offers only average soundstage depth and is less spacious than the VSonic VSD1S, for example, or the MOE-SS01.

Select Comparisons 

T-Peos Tank (~$40)

These sibling earphones from T-Peos are cut from the same cloth but have distinctive sound signatures. The Tank is warmer and bassier, while the Popular is brighter and sounds more v-shaped. The greater bass quantity of the Tank makes it a little boomy in comparison while the more neutral Popular model is clearer. The treble of the Tank is a little smoother while the Popular is more harsh and splashy, but also more crisp. The soundstage presentations of the two earphones are extremely similar, though the Popular is less congested. Lastly, the Tank also has a bit of driver flex while the Popular seems immune to the phenomenon.

VSonic VSD1S ($50)

VSonic’s VSD1S holds its own against any earphone in the price range, but the T-Peos Popular is remarkably adept at highlighting the its few weaknesses. The VSD1S has a hair more mid-bass presence than the Popular, which give it a warmer tone but also makes its mids sound more recessed and even somewhat veiled. It has a more full-bodied sound while the Popular has an edge in overall clarity but also more presence in the upper midrange and lower treble, which makes it harsher compared to the VSonic unit. The VSD1S is a little more sibilant than the T-Peos and has a wider, more spaced-out presentation.

Astrotec AM-800 ($50)

The AM-800 is a bright, mildly v-shaped earphone that makes a pretty decent signature match for the Popular. It has less bass than the T-Peos unit and sounds a touch more v-shaped courtesy of its brighter treble. The Popular has both greater bass quantity and superior bass depth, with more slam and rumble. The top-end emphasis of the AM-800 seems to enhance its clarity, however, akin to a treble-boost equalizer setting. The Astrotec also has a wider soundstage, sounding more distant, while the Popular is less spacious, but more cohesive.

Fidue A63 ($60)

The A63 is a mid-forward earphone that makes for an interesting contrast to the Popular. Naturally, the mids of the somewhat v-shaped Popular are noticeably recessed in comparison, but the T-Peos also offers less mid-bass, sounding tighter and making the A63 appear somewhat bloated in comparison. The sound of the Popular is brighter, and though its treble is harsher and more splashy, it is a little clearer overall. However, the A63 is warmer more natural from a tonal standpoint, thanks in part to the smoother treble, and has a more spacious and uncongested presentation.

Value (8.5/10) – The Popular is my favorite of the three new dynamic-driver sets from T-Peos (the other two being the Tank and Spider models) thanks to its clearer, more neutral sound. The Popular is also a standout in bass quality, and though its treble can be somewhat harsh, overall performance is very impressive for the price. As with the other T-Peos earphones I’ve tried, it boasts a sturdy construction and is comfortable in the ear—there’s really not much more to ask of an IEM priced below $40.

Pros: Punchy, well-controlled bass and good clarity; compact and comfortable housings; solid construction
Cons: Treble could be smoother; cable can be noisy when worn cord-down


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

15 Comments

  1. Thomas Verelst on

    Do you know how these compare to the Meelec M9? I’ve had the Meelec M11+ which I found great because it was so tiny (great comfort) but now they’re broken and I’m back to my Meelec M9 and searching for a replacement because the M9 is too bassy and I want the great comfort of my M11+ back (yes, I seem to have some awkwardly shaped ears because the M9 isn’t a big IEM at all). So I’d prefer something slightly smaller (in diameter) than the M9’s. (which are one centimeter in diameter) After a lot of searching I found these as a good compromise between comfort/build quality/soundquality. Only the microphonics are a pity. Have you got any idea of the diameter of these and if they’re bigger than the M9 or not?

    I also was looking at the T-Peos D200 too but it seems that they have a bigger diameter than the M9.

    • ljokerl on

      Yeah, I have an M9 and I had an M11 years ago. These are definitely not bigger than the M9, bit they are much more M9 than M11 in diameter. For something closer to the M11 in size, you want the VSonic VC02 or the Etymotic MC5 or EtyKids, SteelSeries Flux, or even Sony MH1C (I tried to arrange these from slimmest to fattest). All of these sound different but they’re all better than the M9 IMO.

      With durability as an important factor the Etymotics are probably your best bet if you don’t mind a balanced sound and relatively deep fit in the ear (and also the volume limited in the EtyKids model).

      You can also try some of the smaller ergonomic-shaped IEMs to see if they work for you, like the Soundmagic PL50 and Fidue A31s. I often recommend these for comfort, but they are different in the way they fit from the straight-barrel sets you’ve had so far.

  2. Bhargav Desai on

    Which ones do you think are better?
    Xiaomi Pistons 2.0 or these?
    Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      I tend to favor the Pistons but it really comes down to whether you prefer a warmer, bassier, more relaxed sound with a wider soundstage (Pistons), or the clearer, more neutral, and more aggressive – but not as smooth or spacious – sound of the Popular.

  3. Koby on

    Cool, thank you. I think I’ll get the D200R. And would you recommend buying off the amazon link in your impressions post or mp4nation? mp4nation has warranty but I heard some bad things about their customer service. But the build quality looks pretty good, so I don’t think I’ll need the warranty, right? And the amazon link is listed as D202? Thank you so much for taking your time to answer my questions!

    • ljokerl on

      From what I understand now, the D200R is a special tuning of the D-202 so I’d just get it from mp4nation if they advertise it being the D200R model specifically. I doubt you’ll get great service from either some third-party amazon seller or mp4nation, so just go for the least expensive.

      • Koby on

        Thanks for everything! I got the D200R from amazon because I didn’t want to wait for Hong Kong shipping. I agree with everything you said. The detail and clarity is much better than the e10 and I like the sound signature better, but it lacks the sound stage and smoothness of my old e10’s. I am very happy with my purchase. Thank you for all the advice!

        • ljokerl on

          Awesome, very glad to hear that!

  4. Koby on

    Would you recommend these or the Soundmagic e10’s? Or do you have another suggesting for something in that area? Thank you and great review!

    • ljokerl on

      Depends on what you’re after. I personally like these better- they’re not as smooth as the E10s and the soundstage is not as spacious, but that bass is loads of fun and the clarity is excellent.

      I also am really enjoying the T-Peos D200R, which is priced only a little higher and has less bass, but also boasts stronger mids and smoother treble than the Popular: http://theheadphonelist.com/brief-impressions-noble-6-dunu-dn-2000-nuforce-t-peos-ear-earphones/

      • Koby on

        Thank you so much! I’m leaning towards the D200R now because I found it on mp4 nation for $34. Also, sorry to bother you again, but how is the driver flex on the D200R?

        • Koby on

          And sorry, one more question: If I had $10 more to spend, would you recommend the VSonic VSD1S over the D200R?

          • ljokerl on

            No significant driver flex, same as with the Popular.

            It’s hard to pick between the VSD1S and D200R – they’re really about on par. This is a risk/reward scenario – with the VSD1S you take the risk of being annoyed by its slightly harsher/more sibilant treble (as compared to D200R) but it also has more powerful bass, slightly better clarity, and a wider presentation.

      • Steve on

        Hi Joker, I’m torn between the popular and 200R

        How much less bass does the D200R have, would it be very noticeable? Does it still have a good amount of bass?

        Also is the sound that much better on the D200R? The price is pretty much the same so I can go either way.

        I do like bass but I also like the idea of the smoother sound of the D200R if the bass is still good.

        thanks!

        • ljokerl on

          The D200R is more balanced than the Popular but I wouldn’t call it bass-light by any stretch. T-Peos seems to be really good at extracting deep bass out of their earphones, and that includes more balanced-sounding ones like the D200R as well, so it still has both good bass depth and good punch. I would go for the D200R given the same price – the extra midrange presence and overall smoothness are worth the drop in bass quantity IMO.

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