Filter Time

Normally when I come across an earphone with filters I can pretty much talk about the sound quality of my favourite filter with most qualities applying for all filters then briefly mentioning the small differences the filters have, mainly all in one area, either in the bass or treble. With the Torque there filters are the most dramatic I have ever come across so while at first glance it may just be another company using filters, they are certainly showing that they are THE filter company with how much they are using them to effect sound. From filter to filter we get different bass responses, moving of treble peaks and even the nullifying of them, leaving with 6 sounds unique in their own right, because of that I will break them down one by one.

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Red/Reference – This is a more neutral tuning that has a mild bass response and clear midrange and treble. Treble is not as present as with the black filters but still is more plentiful than the bass quantity here, it sadly just rolls off quite quickly, but still has a little sparkle around 10kHz. The bass also rolls off quickly, there is however just enough decay in the area where the mid bass turns into lower mids for that area to be a little warm. The sound is still on the leaner side of things but not to a point where it is overly anaemic. The bass is not the lightest I have ever heard but is severely rolled off down low, actually to a quite worrying level. Overall I find this quite bland and lacking dynamics. It is clear with decent mid-range detail and balance, still this is not a great showing for a neutral sound signature.

Yellow/Deep – This is radically different to the very rolled off filters that surround it on the rack (red/black). In comparison to their fast and weak bass, this is much more impactful, showing a slower and more extended bass response. That being said it is not just a bassy sound, it is still possessing a balanced and clear mid-range with only a bit of a bleed hitting the lower mid-range while the upper mid-range still are clear and defined. I would say this is the red filter with bass. The bass does seem a little disconnected due to it being much slower than the rest of the sound. For the quantity of bass though I must say I am very impressed by the quality of mid-range and treble, which are detailed and precise. The bass does seem to be a bit monotonous and not the most detailed but will satisfy those wanting some grunt down low. The powerful bottom does do a great job for the listed genres of hip-hop and pop though and this is actually one of the more engaging and enjoyable filters.

Black/Clear – The clear filter is pretty much what you would expect. It is forward in the upper midrange upwards giving it a thin body and lively treble that is sparkly and a tad splashy. As with this earphone as a whole treble extension is not its strongest point. Bass is VERY weak, it has little depth, weak punches but amazing speed in its anaemia. Female vocals have a lovely aura to them but male vocals are a touch ‘off’. Details are great but the sound seems really lacking in weight and body and even in the recommended genres I find it a bit too vacant. I think the Red filter is similar enough but a bit more weighted and punchy.

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Green/Balanced – This takes on a V shaped sound signature with a drawn out male vocal range,  sometimes tinny treble and weighty bass response. The bass is as boosted as the yellow filters so extends well and as has a powerful impact unlike red/black/pink! Midrange seems to be just a bit weak and thin sounding compared to the bass and while treble is sparkly and boosted, it seems a bit shrill on some tracks than with any of the over filters. This to me is the black filter with some bass, so upper midrange doesn’t seem a problem but lower midrange is the weak area with bass bleed and controller upper mids dominating.

Blue/Smooth – This one has my favourite amount of bass, falling in-between the complete lack of information with the black/pink and the boosted nature of green/yellow. It is still extended and can hit with some punch but it is more refined due to extra speed and less bloat than the bassier filters. It is still much nearer to the bassier models and it possesses a warm response, I wish there was a more mild option still. While the little graphics on the racks may suggest that this would have less treble than the red/yellow filters that is not the case, actually having a divide of quantity compared to the black red which again is a very nice medium. It is not as splashy as the black/green treble but still shows more excitement than the yellow/red treble. It also means lovely midrange balance! This could well be my favourite filter!

Pink/Bliss – Not sure what this filter is, at times it is like listening through a tin can. The bass is bad having the least of all the filters and a horrible roll off. It also has the less treble, smoothing out the peaks the others have and obviously still having the roll off. I therefore find it to be a brittle sound that with some genres is very pointless. Maybe you would like the speed of it and the very clear midrange with some music and if you needs some reminiscing of some old school single armature earphones this may give you some nostalgia but other than that I find it really hard to get behind this earphone. Oh and there is a certain delicacy but then the sound is also very distant.

Perspective 

What I do have to give to Torque is how impressive the effects of their filters are. We really do have a drastic range of sounds achieved from the different filters and compared to something like RHA’s T20 where the filters create the most minute differences, this really is a filter system that works. My main problem is just what the filters do, I honestly find the 3 filters that lack in bass to be very much below the quality of sound you should expect at this price range. That is the red, black and pink by the way. While they all have their own positive quirks, analytical treble for the black, great forward and warm midrange for the red and balance and intricacy for the pink, I just cannot accept an IEM at this price that is so severely weak in the bass. It is rolling off way before 100Hz, it is not giving even the slightest amount of satisfaction when impacts and lacks decay to a point everything it tries to do in the bass is like a broken air gun. The red has the slight gain over the other two with the pink being the weakest but regardless, they are all bad enough. My problem is that with the other 3 filters all showing extension and boosted bass, even if the blue is slightly less cooked than the other two. Simply put, these three filters should be offering a good contrast, instead I think they go too far in the other direction. If they could just remain flat from where their presence is at 300Hz to about 50Hz then these would be 3 great filters and likely my favourites!

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Before you call me a bass-head or harsh if you know us here then you are aware that we are certainly not  bass heads and like a balanced, tight and fast bass. But these are not that, a great neutral IEM can still rumble because of extension and creates a natural timbre, these just don’t have enough quantity to do even that sadly.

I really would like to see some filters that fit between blue/green/yellow and red/pink/black which is also my order of preference as you read along! Considering I am not a fan of bassier sounds this shows my point exactly.

While I am impressed that Torque have found away to change all aspects of an earphones sound with filters and a single 9mm dynamic driver and while the filter concept is certainly their brand catch I am hearing a lot of quality in the driver, it details incredibly well, can do great bass with the blue filter and can also present treble very pleasantly. It is also very impressive with the speed it can achieve, outdoing most dynamic drivers I have heard. If I could piece together parts of the filters I could get a lovely sounding earphone and I would love to see them do just that, make a single great earphone, not 3 decent and 3 overpriced ones. While this is completely against what the brand seems to stand for, in the 6 sound tunings available there is not a single one that I would say is spot on for my desires, defeating the object in my opinion.

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Price Seems Steep

I think there is a lot of untapped potential with this product, a capable driver, a great understanding of filter possibilities, lovely accessory haul and strong build quality all give the nod to the price tag. However even with the 6 unique sounds on offer, I don’t think any single filter offers sound at this price level and some are actually much lower. For me I just can’t see the justification behind recommending them to anyone, I think if you want a range of sounds buy 3 £75 earphones and have some fun or if you want the quality you can get at this price range then there are much better options, some even with less impactful tuning options of their own. Seriously if the thought of filters appeals to you, get the Trinity Audio Atlas, it is easily a better earphone and has filters to boot. Don’t like the look of that either, then Lear’s AEd-1 has around 20dB of bass adjustment and is also in a different league to this. Both of these will save you money as well!

 

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Sonny Trigg
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