1. Disclaimer :
CDJAPAN ( http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/ ) called for reviewers for Ocharaku iems, I applied and was selected (I suspect thanks to my good looks). I received these review samples from CDJAPAN for a period of two weeks. Taking into account the fact that I cannot listen during the weekend due to my family schedule, 2 weeks is quite a short period to get an impression on not only one, but two iems (even if they are variations of the same). In any case, I would like to heartily thank CDJAPAN for this opportunity, their kindness, and efficiency in communication. I would really recommend them to anyone as they are nice, efficient and responsive.
There is little need to introduce Mr. Yamagishi, founder of Ocharaku, a legendary Sony engineer who developed essential technologies for their headphones/speakers (Sony Acoustic Turbo-Circuit is a revolutionary concept that enabled earphones to produce a powerful bass and bright treble very effectively).
These two models are the latest TOTL models in the Flat-4 series (begun a few years ago with the Sui and the Kaede, which I owned). These models use Ocharaku proprietary technologies including:
• Coupled dynamic drivers facing each other to reduce resonance and vibrations
• Phase correction tubes (of different length on these two models)
On top of that, these high end models also use rare woods as material for the central cabinet, in this case Zelkova.
The two models have different length of phase correction tube:
• Keyaki Plus (black) : 28mm
• Akakeyaki plus (red) : 30mm
This is to adapt to different ear canal sizes. I did the initial tip and source testing with both, compared them for some time, and then settled on the Akakeyaki for my preference. Most impressions concern this model, but I will give a brief comparison of differences.
For more information:
CDJAPAN on Ocharaku: http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/maker/97356
Tea : http://ocharaku.jp/
Sound : http://ocharaku.jp/sound/
3. Build, fit, tips:
Obviously, Mr Yamagishi is a craftsman, with and exquisite attention to detail, and as such, his iems is delicate works of art. The finish is flawless, and beautiful if it fits your taste (not everyone will like the piston engine shape of the barrel, my wife hates it). There is no denying the fact that the wood adds character to it. Packaging is in the image of the content, small, delicate wooden box with the Ocharaku name. Everything here is part of the experience, like sitting in a quiet tea house and being presented with rare blends. Inside the wooden box, you will find a piece of cloth, the IEMs and a selection of tips. The undressing is done, and it is with excitement that you can proceed to tip rolling, but before I do, I need to warn people about the peculiarities of these:
• Fit is not for everybody
• These are open designs so isolation is limited
• They come with a non-detachable cable, which feels very fragile
• The jack is excellent quality but seems too large for these IEMs
• You can only use these balanced if you get the balanced model with a 4.4 jack, only for Sony WM1A/Z (I didn’t have this model included)
I am obviously testing many tips, the majority of which were not included. These IEMs are very tip dependent, for two reasons:
• The fit and shape are a bit original, so depending on the tip, fit and comfort may vary wildly
• More than any other universal I have encountered, the tips affects sounds great, and can make these vary from warm and woolly to overly bright and harsh