TCL is a Electronics brand based out of China and has a wide range of products in its lineup. From television to small earphones they do have some great products in their catalogue. The SOCL series is their budget line of earphones which do offer some insane value for money and got great response from the consumers. Usually in this price range I don’t have high expectations in terms of sound but I do have now after seeing all those rave positive reviews. Let’s dive into the complete dissection of the audio in depth in this review.
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Frequency Response (Hz): 10 – 23K
Sensitivity (dB): 104dB
Driver Size (mm): 8.6mm
Impedance (Ohm): 28 Ohm
DESIGN AND FIT:
The design of the TCL is pretty small and subtle in look. The nozzle is oval in shape hence the fit is universally nice. The insertion depth is pretty shallow but the seal is good and blocks out the external noises in a decent manner. The cable is however very sticky in nature and gets tangled a lot. The cable also produces a lot of microphonic noise. They have single button control and it is used for play/pause the music and attend the calls. They do the job fine in both the android and iOS.
The case is semi transparent and the exterior part of the case is rubberised giving a nice tough look. They terminate at 3.5mm and can be used universally via any smartphone. There is also an adjustable chin slider which looks pretty unique and cool.
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The Sound profile of the TCL is pretty balanced here. All the frequencies are evenly balanced and it’s very rare to find such a balanced earphone in this price point since most of the earphones are consumer grade V shaped sound.
I didn’t have a lot of expectations when I received this item because of the price but this thing is a complete value king, sounding way good for the asking price of Rs.300! In this review let’s dive into the full audio section of the TCL.
Source: iPhone + Zorloo Ztella + Apple 3.5MM Dongle
The low end in the TCL is tight and punchy. No bleed or excessive bass rather it’s very well controlled and clean. Bassheads should stay away from this since this is definitely not a basshead earphone. The low end is pumped out just at the right amount and the technicalities of the low end are pretty impressive. The whole sound is delivered by a single 8.6mm dynamic driver and this really does a great job in the low end.
The sub bass is just enough and doesn’t cause you that fatigue feel even after a longer listening period. The extension is good and the impact that it creates is just on point. In the track “TAKE IT – SEIGE”, the sub bass drops can be felt very evidently but not overwhelming which causes that migraine effect.
In another track “BOOGEYMAN – DEAD POSEY”, the kick drums and the electric guitar sound punchy and tighter. They are well controlled and never bleeds into the mid section causing the vocals to be crushed. The separation in the low end is done great and since that mid bass is not that excessive they sound fantastic.
Both the mid and the sub bass are well tuned with nice coherency between each. Nothing sounds more exaggerated thus the bass response is pretty linear and controlled. It’s very rare to see this kind of bass in an earphone under 500 and the TCL SOCL 300 does it.
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The midrange on the TCL is fairly presented forward. They are not that recessed but slightly. The vocals are placed fairly forward which is quite engaging and energetic but the instruments are pushed back slightly especially percussion instruments. The separation in between the instruments are above average and the resolution is nothing to complain about the price.
The lower midrange and the upper midrange transition is pretty smooth hence the midrange is not harsh and they sound smoother overall. The sibilance is on check and even with some harsh tracks the TCL did a good job by keeping the sibilant under control. The lower mids get some warmth from the low end thus giving that nice body. The upper mids are not that emphasized hence they sound pretty smoother.
In the track “EVERY LITTLE THING – ERIC CLAPTON”, Eric’s voice is placed nicely which is quite engaging at the same time they don’t fatigue you. The vocals have natural tonality and the timbre of the instruments sounds natural and mostly precise. The vocals have that nice warmth and the body gives fullness to the track.
In another track “GLOBAL GEAR (INSTRUMENTAL) – PUNYA SRINIVAS”, here the smoothness and the relaxing sound of the TCL can be appreciated, but the compromise is that the instruments are slightly laidback giving that relaxing sound but the minute details gets lost. The timbre can be appreciated here where they are absolutely natural.
The detail retrieval is above average for the price and the tonality and timbre are another exceptional aspect of this earphone where they are absolutely natural. The upper mids also have slight graininess thus a bit more refinement is required. The staging is not that wide hence the positioning and the layering struggles a bit. If the instrument and the whole midrange positioning is done even more better this could have been a great earphone from being good.
The highs in the TCL are very good where they are not the well extended pair but in terms of smoothness and separation these do a good job. The amount of detail they were able to retrieve are above average and the non fatiguing listen by this earphone is quite addictive and nice.
The cymbal crashes are nice and sweet where it’s not very splashy and not very Dull too. The decay and the attack are pretty precise and give a nice sense of engagement. The separation is very good in between the instruments. They are not sharp but quite engaging and satisfying.
The electric guitar strings and the harmonic sounds are pretty accurate and sound very natural. In the track “JACK OF SPEED – STEELY DAN”, the cymbals sound very natural and the trumpet sounds very nice and pleasing to hear. The separation and the imaging are pretty neat and precise for the price.
In another track “SOMETHING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO HEAVEN – PHIL COLLINS”, the trumpets when the track starts sounds excellent and non fatiguing at all. I loved the way this budget earphone handles the complex and faster tracks. The separation and the details are very good for the price. The timbre is exceptional and nothing to complain about the price.
Overall the highs have nice separation and detail retrieval. The extra brightness could have improved the highs sound even more energetic and engaging but for casual listening and as a beater pair this sounds great without any notable cons.
SOUNDSTAGE: The staging of the TCL is pretty intimate and rounded. The whole presentation feels slightly within the head but not too closed out. The separation is good but the width is slightly lesser in my testing and it would have been great if it was wider. The depth is good for the price since the bass and especially the sub bass has some impact. Overall the staging is pretty good for the price and a well rounded and intimate stage.
IMAGING: The imaging is above average for the price. Since the low end is not that emphasized the precise pointing out of the instruments are easy and clear rather than fuzzy. The transition between the channels are smooth and good. This thing struggles in the imaging when the track becomes busy and complex which is expectable at this price point. Other than that this thing really excels in the technicalities aspect.
The detail retrieval is above average and the resolution is fine. The highs are not that detailed and show some roll off but still for casual listening this is really a very good pair to have. The details in the midrange are very good but need some texture improvement in the upper midrange.
- CROSSING – YOSI HORIKAWA
- IN THE HEIGHTS – LIN MANUEL MIRANDA
- HIDEAWAY – JACOB COLLIER
PROS AND CONS:
- Balanced Sound Profile
- Sound Technicalities
- Design and Fit
- Microphonic Cable
The SOCL 300, one of the budget offerings from the TCL already got a lot of praise from many reviewers and this is really a solid package overall. From the aspect of the sound to the price everything is just perfect. They sound pretty balanced and this kind of sound signature is very rare to get in this price segment. Deviating from the general consumer grade V shaped sound they have made the brave move towards the Balanced sound to give the general consumers the taste of music.
The build is solid and the price especially is very tempting and a must buy option to have as a beater pair in your backpack. Even it got the mic for taking some calls while listening to music and comes in some vibrant colours too! When talking about the sound, the technicalities especially are very great in this earphone, the soundstage is above average and the imaging, layering are impressive for the price it quotes. Overall this is definitely a bang for buck product and gets itself the name THE VALUE KING!
This Review is Written By KATHIRAVAN.C
I’m Kathiravan from Tamilnadu. A budding audiophile here with high love towards music and audio equipment. My first experience of enjoying the hifi audio came when I started to use budget chi-fi gears and now it came all along the way of reviewing the gears with high end stuffs. I love reviewing audio products.