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TDK BA200

TDK BA200 Review

TDK BA200
Reviewed April 2014

Details: TDK’s recently-discontinued dual-armature flagship
MSRP: $299.95 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $203 from ebay.com$200 from amazon.com (when available)
Specs: Driver: Dual BA | Imp: 35Ω | Sens: 99 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 2.5mm | Preferred tips: Westone STAR tips, Stock bi-flanges, EarSonics bi-flanges
Wear Style: Over-the-ear

Accessories (3.5/5) – Bi-flange silicone tips (2 sizes), foam tips (2 sizes), replacement filters, shirt clip, and soft carrying pouch (note: exact accessories seem to differ between versions)
Build Quality (4/5) – The BA200 is made mostly of plastic, but the construction is pretty solid. The nozzle screens are replaceable and spares are included – a rarity these days. The flat cable is soft and inoffensive but the massive y-split, which houses an impedance stabilizer, has a tendency to get caught on things
Isolation (4/5) – Good thanks to the ergonomic housings and long nozzles
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Very low in the flat cable
Comfort (5/5) – The ergonomically-shaped housings of the BA200 are very comfortable, thanks in part to the light weight of the earphones, though those with very small outer ears may have trouble fitting them properly. Despite the manufacturer’s claims, however, the BA200 is not well-suited for cable-down wear

Sound (9.1/10) – I’ve long wanted to try TDK’s dual-BA flagship earphone but the opportunity has always gotten away from me, until now. Big thanks to fellow Head-Fier ericr for finally making it happen, even if the BA200 model is on its way out as far as TDK is concerned.

On the whole, the sound of the BA200 is as comfortable as the fit. It’s a punchy earphone with good clarity and a tonal character on the warm side of neutral. The bass is slightly enhanced – for a balanced armature set it’s quite impactful, though it won’t win any awards from proper bassheads. In terms of bass quantity the BA200 is just a touch short of the VSonic GR07 and StageDiver SD-2, and significantly short of the Westone W40.

Despite its slight bass enhancement, the BA200 has excellent midrange clarity – about on-par with the GR07, though it is also more forward in the midrange than the VSonic unit. All in all, the mids are similar to those of the $450 StageDiver SD-2 and clearer compared to the Westone W40, likely due to the BA200’s flatter response through the upper midrange. The BA200 also has pretty good note thickness – it may miss out on some of the crispness of a TWFK-based set as a result, but for a BA earphone the note weight is very impressive.

The upper midrange and lower treble of the BA200 are very smooth, but despite this the earphones still sound crisp and resolving, likely due to a mid-upper treble lift. The BA200 is on the whole less bright than the VSonic GR07 and a little more tolerant of sibilant vocals, partly by virtue of its treble emphasis being higher up, but there are still some tracks on which it exaggerates sibilance. It is brighter than the Westone W40, for instance, and a little more sibilance-prone. The StageDiver SD-2 is also less revealing of sibilance than the BA200, and, though it also a dual-driver earphone, seems to have better extension and slightly more energy at the top than the TDKs.

The BA200 is a little less spacious than the SD-2, with a less out-of-the-head presentation, but otherwise the less expensive TDK unit more than holds its own. Imaging is good and the soundstage has enough depth to prevent the earphone from sounding intimate despite its warm tone and prominent mids.

Select Comparisons

HiFiMan RE-400 ($99)

In many ways the BA200 and RE-400 are similar – both are balanced earphones with a tonal character a touch warmer than neutral. The BA-200 is less mid-centric and a little warmer due to a marginally greater amount of bass boost. The RE-400 boasts more focus on the midrange. Up top, the RE-400 remains extremely smooth while the BA200 has a treble peak that makes it more revealing of sibilance, which the HiFiMan earphone tends to downplay. This makes the BA200 appear more crisp and also contributes to it sounding less mid-centric than the RE-400. The BA200 is also a touch more spacious.

VSonic VC1000 ($125)

The VC1000 and BA200 both utilize dual balanced armature driver configurations, albeit with different drivers. The Sonion AcuPass drivers in the BA200 endow it with a more impactful sound and warmer tonal character. The Knowles TWFK drivers in the VC1000, on the other hand, provide less impactful but tighter bass, making the BA200 sound a bit boomy in comparison. The midrange of the VC1000 is clearer, but also thinner. The VSonic unit has more upper midrange presence overall, though not by much, whereas the BA200 dips down a bit akin to the RE-400. I personally prefer the balance and clarity of the VC1000, but the thicker note presentation of the BA200.

The VSonic set is brighter overall but emphasizes sibilance less than the BA200. However, like all TWFKs, its treble has a slightly metallic/shimmery character which the BA200, despite its treble peak, lacks. The presentation of the VC1000 seems just a touch more airy and uncongested thanks to its tighter bass and brighter sound.

Sony MDR-7550 ($230)

The smooth, clear, and warm-sounding MDR-7550 makes for a logical competitor to the BA200. Indeed the earphones sound very similar despite the Sonys using a large dynamic driver to the TDKs’ dual armature setup. Surprisingly, the BA200 is a little more emphasized at the bottom end while the MDR-7550 is slightly clearer through the midrange. The MDR-7550 is also smoother in the treble region, with no sibilance-inducing peaks, and has a wider, airier presentation. The BA200, with its extra touch of bass emphasis, sounds a bit congested in comparison.

THL Recommended Badge 2014Value (9/10) – With sound that is reminiscent of well-regarded high-end earphones from the likes of HiFiMan and Shure, an ergonomic form factor, and good noise isolation, the TDK BA200 is a solid all-rounder with plenty of mass appeal. TDK has done an excellent job with these earphones, and while prices have been going up steadily since the BA200 was discontinued, those who run across one at a good price should grab it before they’re all gone.

Pros: Excellent all-round sound quality; great ergonomics
Cons: N/A

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ABOUT AUTHOR

ljokerl

ljokerl

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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63 Responses

  1. I’m honestly not sure. These are earphones from different generations and I’ve never compared them head to head (hard to do with the RE262 anyway because of amping requirement). Gut feel, BA200 is more accurate while the 262 is more musical. I’d take the former, seeing as I preferred the 272 to the 262 anyway.

  2. No experience with Zero Audio IEMs but compared to the KC06 the BA200 is significantly more balanced. The BA200 is actually damn flat and makes a good monitor. The KC06 is much more colored – it has a mid-bass hump/boost and an upper midrange boost. It sounds quite bright compared to the warmish-neutral and very smooth BA200.

  3. Hey Joker, how do these compare with the Ostrys and Zero Audios??
    Especially the KC06A and Tenores.

    Thanks!

  4. I always consider sound signature preferences to have more weight than the genre you’re listening to. For this I’d go with my usual balanced-to-bright signature – Etymotic Research, VSonic VC1000, and so on, but that’s as much dependent on me as on the music. There’s only a few music types I would move to a different sound signature for.

  5. Nice backup!

    The lowest I’ve seen the 7550s at is about $190-195 so I wouldn’t expect any huge discounts, but it is a lot of earphone for the money.

    Fingers crossed (but not holding my breath) for another TDK flagship in the future.

  6. Dang you’re quick. Its a good thing I have the RE-400s as a backup 🙂 Anyway I completely glossed over the Sony MDR-7550s but from the looks of it, they’re a little too expensive right now ($200-225) but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for them if the GR07s aren’t to my liking.

  7. I would probably tag one of the smoother, more balanced, slightly warm earphones as the best BA200 replacement. Exact pricing fluctuates, but the HiFiMan RE-400 or Sony MDR-7550 mentioned in the review above would be good options (the Sony more so).

    For a brighter/more neutral sound, maybe the VSonic GR01.

    The GR07 is a good earphone, just less flat/balanced and less focused on the midrange than the BA200.

  8. Left wire has started to kick the bucket and so have decided to go for the GR07BE as a replacement. Would like to hear your opinion on what would had been a better replacement for the TDK BA200s at a similar price point (let’s say $100-200 since the price has fluctuated). Man I loved these babies, I’ve actually gone through 2 of them before breaking my third set. I just wish they weren’t discontinued or at least TDK had announced a successor.

  9. His beats fell apart so that’s why I’m trying to get him into something with higher quality for the price and was considering both an IEM and headphone. I think I will go with the Dunu’s going off your recommendation and review. They sound like the way to go and the build quality sounds top notch. Thank you!

  10. MA750, or maybe the Yamaha EPH-100 or DUNU DN-1000 (DN-1000 has the best sound quality but I think it’s best appreciated by audio enthusiasts). These three are going to have the biggest “wow” factor for someone coming from Beats in maintaining solid bass compared to the others you’re considering, but also having good clarity and overall SQ.

    I think IEMs would be more practical if he doesn’t have good ones – HD25 doesn’t really have the cool factor of the Beats and may not get much head time as a result. Plus, it may sound a little too neutral.

  11. Thank you for your awesome write ups! I am trying to purchase a IEM or headphone for my brother for his birthday. What is your suggestion for around or under $200 for somebody coming from beats studio headphones that listens to a wide variety of music? I love my rockitsounds r50s I purchased based on your reviews but since he is coming from beats he would probably prefer a warmer sound. I have been looking at the tdk ba200, rha ma750, vsonic gr07 bass edition, and Sennheiser HD 25-1 II. He would probably be playing it through his asus G750JX laptop or Samsung Galaxy S5. What are your thoughts on IEM vs headphones and your suggestion? Thank you so much again for all your hard work!

  12. Some suggestions can be found higher up on this page:

    https://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/tdk-ba200/#comment-26679

    Since then I’ve also tried the Custom Art Pro 330v2, which is a little more neutral than the BA200 and the other sets I recommended as an upgrade, but very very capable, especially for the price. See here: https://theheadphonelist.com/brief-impressions-custom-art-harmony-8-pro-pro-330-v2/

    If you’d rather have something higher-end but also maintaining a warmer sound signature than the Custom Art, the Westone ES50 might be an option although I don’t think it’s a particularly great value at $1000 compared to certain less expensive sets such as the Pro 330v2.

  13. Hi ljokerl,

    I am loving this headphone but at the same time tempted to venture into CIEM.
    Is there any CIEM that you would recommend for this kind of sound signature?

    Millions thanks.. ^^

  14. I still haven’t heard anything better for the money. There might be something that gets 90% of the way there at half the price, but that’s a different market segment.

    Totally competitive with the SE535 despite the lower price. Similar sound signatures, too.

  15. Hi joker! With all the new bang for buck IEMs on the market after these have been released since it has been such a long time, do you still think that the TDK BA200s can hold their own and are still worth getting? Also, how do they compare to Shure’s SE535? Thanks in advance!

  16. I haven’t tried the 3C and as far as I know Joe hasn’t, either. From what other have reported, it’s somewhat v-shaped-sounding, which is not the case with the BA200, but that certainly doesn’t mean that the 3C isn’t a good earphone or that you won’t enjoy it.

  17. Thanks for your informative answers, i’ve been eying the Perfect seal’s though im a bit hesitant because of the lack of reviews… I’ve since seen some really good reviews of the Noble Audio 3c, what do you guys think about this one? Compared to the perfect seal one, and also the TDK?

  18. I’ve tried the IM50 very briefly and thought it was quite good in my 5-minute audition (I think it was advertised at $70 or so, so obviously in that context). Unfortunately I’ve never tried the IM70.

  19. Hi Joker, I’ve been coming to your website for “consultation” on and off. I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to try the ATH-IM70 and if so, how do you think they compare to these BA200?

  20. It really depends on your treble tolerance as well as a few other factors such as your preferred listening volume, eartips, and maybe source. I can listen to punk and metal all day with the VC1000 in my configuration (double-flange tips) at my usual low-medium listening volumes.

    Separation is going to be better with the VC1000 as brighter, crisper sound tends to do that, but at the end of the day they both perform on a very high level in that regard so I’d lean towards sound signature when making the decision between them.

  21. Alright cool, thanks for that. One more thing, would you say that the treble of the VC1000 is fatiguing at all during long listening sessions of punk/metal music?

  22. Both have very flat bass with excellent extension – the BA200 just has a bit more of it (by a few dB at most). That’s what gives it the extra punch and warmth, in addition to not having the brighter treble of the VC1000, of course.

  23. Aside from the BA200 having a punchier bass, how does it’s low end compare to the VC1000 in terms of quantity and depth?

  24. Hi Kristian, thanks for the comments and questions. I too haven’t heard the BA4, and the Minerva Performer Pro doesn’t seem to be a sound sig fit while the Artist Pro is pricey. I have reviewed two low cost AcuPass CIEMs, the InEarZ IE-P250 and the Perfect Seal Sportbud Silver. Both seem like they could be what you are looking for, but I must say the Perfect Seal Fusion 11 is a good deal better for not too much more, and well worth the cost. I typically recommend for people to take their time and save a bit extra for some upgrades, and this is a case of where I think you will most likely be extremely happy with the result. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any CIEMs in Europe that compete for the price.

  25. I haven’t tried the BA4 personally. The Alclair Reference is an excellent earphone though it’s not quite the same sound profile – the BA200 is a bit more on the warm and smooth side whereas the Alclair is more like a VSonic GR07 in sound sig – pretty neutral but with a bump in the bass and a bit of extra treble energy (not as smooth as BA200).

    I did think the universal InEar StageDiver SD-2 made for a good BA200 upgrade. If I remember correctly InEar has a custom version of that earphone, which maybe worth looking into. I forgot which series it’s in – my guess would be it’s the LivePro2, but I’m sure if you contacted them they could tell you. They’re also based in the EU (Germany): http://www.inear-monitoring.eu/de/index.htm.

    Lastly, if I’m not mistaken, the BA200 uses one of the versions of the Sonion 1723 driver. Joe did a round-up of some customs based on the 1723 here: https://theheadphonelist.com/sonion-1723-acupass-custom-ear-monitor-roundup/ including two units from UK-based Minerva. It’s a short read but might be useful.

  26. Hi guys thanks for a great site, with useful reviews! I own these TDKs, and have for about 1,5 years now and i really enjoy them a lot. Now of course i feel the need to upgrade and go for customs, my funds are a bit limited but i have been looking at the Cosmic ears BA4 or maybe the Alclair Reference. Would any of these be a good upgrade? Im looking for basically the same sound signature as the TDKs, maybe a bit fuller and detailed, im no basehead though. I will be using a portable amp the Cayin c5. Do you have any other suggestions in this price range, would be great if the manufacturer were located inside the EU so i don’t have to deal with paying extra for customs? All and any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  27. It’ll basically come down to preference at that point but I can see how the vocal presentation of the brighter VC1000 can be preferable.

  28. Curious, would you say that the thinner note presentation of the VC1000 can handle breathy female vocals better than the BA200?

  29. The Westone STAR tips fit fine – the inner core is stretchy so it just takes a bit of effort to slip them on. Start by working one corner of the earphone nozzle into the eartip core (at an angle) and then pull the eartip the rest of the way onto the nozzle.

  30. Unless you’re using a crummy source (high noise floor or high output impedance) you really don’t need an amp with these (and most other) earphones. This particular model even has an impedance stabilizer built in. You can get one just for the sake of having one, but you’re most likely to hear a difference only if your amp uses a poorly designed (i.e. non-transparent) circuit. The other exception is if you want to try a Fiio with a bass boost function, but I haven’t had better results with that than with a parametric EQ.

  31. What do you personally think of portable amps such as FiiO and CMOY? I’ve read some pretty good reviews on them and they’re pretty cheap. Do you think the cost still isn’t worth the sound boost?

  32. Great price.

    For lifting the bass a bit, a parametric EQ would be more cost-effective than an amp. You won’t get too much out of them but a little bump can make a sizable difference.

  33. Found one of these on ebay for just under 100 and jumped on it. Really amazing clarity, thanks again for the recommendation. It could use a slight bass bump but then again the midrange would probably suffer, guess one can’t have everything. How well do these respond to amping the bass a bit and do you know of any reasonably priced amps that can be recommended for this headphone?

  34. Took your advice when I saw one at discounted price of S$159 and I couldn’t be any happier.
    It is exactly as you have reviewed and I really love the sound and how comfortable it is.
    Your advice has been very very helpful.

    Thanks so much.

  35. Glad the site has been useful!

    I love the BA200 and I really like the EPH-100 (and to a lesser extent the MA750) as well. They are definitely different enough to own more than one.

    You’ll get a much bassier sound with the Yamahas that still has good midrange quality and decent treble. While the MA750 is even more of a contrast, I wouldn’t recommend it as highly in this case because you’ll miss more of the midrange clarity compared to your BA200.

  36. I must begin by thanking you. This website is an iem newbies wet dream!

    I own a pair of tdk ba200 but I’m now looking for something to offer a contrast, towards a fun bass sound.

    I was wondering if you felt that the sound of the ba200 was so different to the rha ma750 or yamaha eph 100, to warrant a purchase?

  37. The BA200 is not going to have as much bass as you want. It’s a little less bassy than the GR07. The MA750 might have too much – it’s got as much low end presence as the MH1C and its mids are not as strong/clear as those of the UM3X. Because of the bass, the midrange is actually a little recessed/veiled. It does have a bit of treble sparkle and the soundstage is decently wide, though.

  38. Hi Joker!
    This is a very nice review. I have a chance to get the BA200 for 100 EUR, and I am thinking to get it. The other option for the same price is the Rha 750.

    My sound signature of preference is something like the Sennheiser px100ii, AKG 404, Sennheiser Amperior.

    I hate sharp treble and bass light, thin sounding earphones.

    Sadly my iem journey is not so good…

    I owned the Vsonic Gr07 mkii and I didn’t like them, bass was lacking and way too bright and thin sounding.

    Westone UM3Xrc, sound signature wise I miss a bit of sparkle on the treble and the mids are a little too forward, the soundstage not very wide. I love/hate this iem, the sound is a little boring, technically very capable. The bass quantity is right for me.

    The Monoprice 8320: too bright and bass is not enough.

    Sony MH1: A clear step down from the UM3x, maybe I can like the tonality better, but overall I prefer the UM3x.

    I listen mostly to fast rock/metal music.

    Should I get the Ba200?

    Thanks

  39. :O Those lucky people that snagged em for 25 bucks!!

    Hopefully “discontinued” means a new flagship is incoming 🙂

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