TDK EB900 Review

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Reviewed Sep 2010

Details: Mid-range earphone from Japanese electronics giant TDK
Current Price: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $69.99)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16 Ω | Sens: 101.5 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 4’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (2.5/5) – Single flange silicone tips (3 sizes), Comply T400 foam tips (1 set), and soft synthetic carrying pouch
Build Quality (3/5) – The curved shells are made out of a matte plastic with a glossy finish over the TDK logo. Both the nozzles and rear vents of the earphones are protected by metal grilles. The cable exit points on the underside of the shells feature short rubber strain reliefs and the cable is sheathed in black-and-white striped nylon. The cord is extremely light and terminates in a straight 3.5mm plug with a hard rubber strain relief. Mild driver flex is present
Isolation (2.5/5) – Average for a dynamic-driver in-ear
Microphonics (3/5) – Cable noise is bothersome when worn cable-down and the weight of the cable is not sufficient to keep it planted behind the ear during physical activity. Not recommended for jogging or exercise
Comfort (4/5) – The light weight of the earphones, combined with the tapered housing shape, makes the EB900 completely unobtrusive. Unfortunately, despite the short strain reliefs, wearing the EB900 over-the-ear is not as easy as I would like due to the weightless cord

Sound (4.9/10) – The sound signature of the EB900 is decidedly bass-heavy, with enough low-end grunt to rattle loose teeth and a small dip in the upper midrange that results in a loss of the artificial clarity usually brought about by bright treble. The response curve of the EB900 sounds ‘enhanced’ by a wholesome 12-15 decibels in the 50-100Hz range, resulting in a large mid-bass hump and minimal roll-off all the way down to 25Hz. The low-end resolution of the EB900 is negatively affected by the gargantuan bass and the lower midrange is heavily veiled. When the bass is dropped by 10-12 dB on the equalizer, the veil lifts and midrange clarity quite reasonable for a $70 dynamic earphone shines through. As it stands, the bass, imparts a fairly dark character on the sound. Luckily, the midrange isn’t particularly recessed and generally sounds full and pleasant, if a bit dry. The pleasantness extends in to the upper midrange, which exhibits a small dip in response, likely meant to reduce harshness and/or sibilance, which gives the EB900 a very smooth sound all the way up. Compared to the voluminous bass, the treble of the EB900 is notably deemphasized but boasts decent, though not class-leading, extension and detail.

Despite the lack of treble emphasis and narrow soundstage, the earphones sound rather airy, possibly due in part to the massive rear vents. The fullness of the midrange and heavy bass notes give the earphones a sense of dimensionality that is often lacking in low-end products. They don’t position sonic cues with particular precision but have a certain evenness and consistency to the imaging. There are earphones out there that have a wide soundstage but never seem to take advantage of it. The TDK EB900 has a relatively narrow stage but manages to fill in every nook and cranny with sound, making them quite enveloping and well-suited for music that benefits from the intimate but dimensional presentation.

Value (6/10) – The EB900 sounds as if TDK started with a fairly balanced and natural-sounding mid-range earphone and cranked up the bass. It remains a nice option for lovers of deep and impactful bass but is more difficult to recommend as an all-rounder. The sound is dark and a bit dry but quite full and conveys a nice, if slightly undersized, sonic image. From a usability standpoint, too, the EB900 are competent but not outstanding. Isolation, build quality, and microphonics are all average, with extra comfort points earned for the light weight of the earpieces and included Comply eartips. For those in search of a light and comfortable in-ear with lots of bass, the TDK EB900 is a solid option. Otherwise, the market is chock-full of better options.

Pros: Light and comfortable, ships with Comply foam eartips, very bass-heavy but generally competent sound
Cons: Loses out in balance, clarity, and detail to much of the competition, carries a good amount of cable noise, mild driver flex


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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.

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