A First Look: Value Picks from Rhapsodio, TP Audio, Astrotec and BGVP

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TP Audio Aurora

Tingpod Audio (or TP Audio for short) is one of the more exciting newcomers to the CIEM industry. First introduced to me by Singapore’s Euphoria Audio, what initially struck me about Tingpod was the extraordinary level of polish I saw in their photographs, 3D renders and packaging; far more luxurious than any company in their infancy had any right to be. After further impressing me by 3D-printing my in-ears from digital STL impressions, I now have in my hands TP Audio’s single-driver Aurora – one of the most well-packaged-and-built IEMs I’ve seen yet with a smooth, organic and yet clear sound.

Technical Specifications

  • Driver count: One balanced-armature driver
  • Impedance: 5.8Ω @ 1kHz
  • Sensitivity: 118dB @ 1mW
  • Key feature(s) (if any): N/A
  • Available form factor(s): Custom and universal acrylic IEMs
  • Price: $350
  • Website: www.tingpodaudio.com

Sound Impressions

TP Audio’s Aurora possesses a smooth, unassuming, well-balanced signature. Its laid-back and forgiving profile largely comes from a treble response that rolls off around 8kHz or so, resulting in resolution that may not punch too far above its price range. Nevertheless, the Aurora performs fairly capably in stereo separation and stage expansion. The image it puts out fills the head comfortably and stably too, which is commendable given the single-BA config. Its even tonal mix allows it to work well with a variety of genres too. While those yearning for a crisp, airy sound won’t find their ideal sig realised in the Aurora, the presence, musicality and clarity it does bring to the table should definitely be commended.

Despite what its driver config may suggest, the Aurora’s low-end is anything but anaemic. Instruments are supported by a healthy amount of bass presence, giving the Aurora a thicker profile and a warmer tone. The mid-bass is particularly strong. So, if you’re concerned the Aurora won’t be able to fill out your favourite pop or rock tracks, worry not. Listening to Snarky Puppy’s Go, which starts out with a solo bass line, the guitar sounds incredibly bold, punchy and thick. While it won’t have the sub-bass presence required to satisfyingly reproduce EDM, it should round out the bottom of any other genre quite nicely. And, despite the boldness of the lows, enough speed is there to minimise bleed as much as possible.

The Aurora’s midrange is rich, vibrant and surprisingly well-realised. There’s resolution and solidity especially to the mids that gives instruments a convincing, weighty presence. Lead melodies don’t sound wishy-washy, nor drowned out by the low-end. There’s a liveliness to them that contrasts against the thickness of the lows nicely. The midrange is also rather wet-sounding in timbre, because of the treble taper. That plus the rich, energetic and intimate positioning of the upper-midrange makes instruments like pianos and violins sound gorgeously natural, smooth, radiant and realistic. The mids are Aurora’s forte, giving tracks like David Benoit’s Vernazza both an authentic vintage feel and a vibrant, resolving tone.

The Aurora’s top-end is laid-back, thick-sounding and rather soft in attack, due to the lack of any elevations past 6kHz or so. Apart from a low-treble peak that gives instruments some energy and punch, the Aurora isn’t one to doll out massive amounts of crispness, air or sparkle. Nevertheless, spatial performance is again quite impressive. There’s a stability and cleanliness to the Aurora’s image that never gives way to claustrophobia, congestion or mid-bass bleed. Although thicker than neutral, instruments always have a strict order to them. Despite the slightly blunted transient attack, timbre is also sufficiently clear, and the tone is natural as well – a top-end that gives you just enough in every regard for your money.

Page 1: Rhapsodio Orla
Page 2: TP Audio Aurora
Page 3: Astrotec Lyra Nature
Page 4: BGVP DM7

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About Author

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

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