- Tonal Balance
- Bass light for some
Disclaimer: This unit was provided by Linsoul for free in exchange for a written review. No incentives of any kind were given and the review you are about to read are my own thoughts and opinions. Thanks once again to Linsoul for the opportunity and support.
Table of Contents
- Prologue, inside the box and succession differences
- Sound differences
Driver Setup: 1 Dynamic Driver (10mm CNT)
Purchase link and info: Linsoul
Included in the box:
- Olina SE
- Standard 2pin cable with a 3.5mm termination
- 6 pairs of silicone tips
- A carrying pouch
- 20 replacement filters (10 pairs)
Comfort, fit and isolation: One of the best comfort and fit, isolation is below average.
Source used: Topping E30 + L30 stack, Singxer SA-1 + iFi Zen DAC V2, Chord Mojo2, Fiio M11
Tips used: CP100
Test playlist with some of the songs used: Tidal
Author’s note: This review is a follow up to my former one of the Tripowin Olina (Olina OG). If you haven’t already, I do recommend that you check out that specific extensive review before you read this one, for better context. This review comes on top of that one, as an appendix, mainly focusing on the differences between the Olina SE and the Olina OG.
Prologue, inside the box and succession differences
Olina is a Hawaiian word for joy or joyful that couldn’t be more accurate given the test of time. Up to this date, the Tripowin Olina is the only “cheaper” set I keep close to my more expensive sets and I go to when I just want something a quick and easy set or to be used as a beater. And if the internet is a good meter to go buy, it seems I’m not alone on this.
Now, why a follow up edition, is a whole new story, that despite me not wanting to, I’ll have to address it by the surface: the modding.
Right after the Olina tidal wave hit the shore, a lot of modding and experiments started to emerge, either for sound or humidity problems, which turned into a community effort. After all, Olina came with replacement filters inside, so it was natural that people wanted to find their sweet spot, as it was as easy as it gets, mainly focusing on just stacking up stock filters or even switching them for others available in the market.
Now, despite me never modifying a set for a review or even talking about it much, this is relevant, as this is where the Olina SE had its birth. The concept of this edition is to take on people’s feedback and improve on an already established product. According to HBB himself, the differences reside on shell looks, driver’s seat angle and a different damping system.
Besides that, the accessories included on the package are the same, minus the filter quantity that seems to have increased to a total of 10 pairs. As for the drivability, due to damping changes, the Olina SE is harder to drive, displaying a difference of around 3db @ 440hz.
But what do these changes mean to the ear? Let’s dive right into it.
The bass region is the same on both sets, being the first of the regions that got untouched in this revision. This means you still have the same level of bass that the original set displayed, both in tuning than in micro dynamics.
Analyzing the tuning side first, the bass on the SE has more presence in the mid section than on the lower tail. The rumble on “Why So Serious?” at around 3:25 is just bullseye and you get that immersive sense of claustrophobia, that I could only nitpick of wanting a couple DB more.
The mid-bass section is well pronounced and tastefully done, leaving no trace for thinness or lack of emphasys. Bass guitars and kick drums sound impactful and natural, just like “Magnetar” shows, which by the 51 seconds mark will make you jam without even you realizing it.
And the best part? All this authority doesn’t come just from the tuning: the bass impact is very noticeable on kickdrums, the speed is above average, it’s tight but not overly tight and the texture is all there.
The late self correction of the gliding bass shelf also helps to give body to the mid-range, without bleed, just enough to not feel thin and sparkle some coloration on it. Yann Tiersen’s piano feels balanced and natural, without any blur or note dragging, even on sustained notes.
The presentation of the mid-range is north of neutral, without being overly forward, never getting in the way of the replay.
Upper mid-range and Treble
Now that we got the bass and mid-range out of the way (once again, check out my Olina review if you want more detail on those as they are the same), it’s time for what really changed coming from the Olina to the Olina SE: the upper-mids and treble.
Now, for a little context, the area that starts on the pinna gain region to around 6k is a very sensitive spot for most people. This is where mid-range position gets a boost, vocals get shouty, sibilant, the cymbals get too crunchy and metallic, electric guitars get way more energy than they should etc etc. This area is usually correlated to headaches, fatigue and the sense of detail.
Now, with that in mind, some people found the original Olina too energetic around 5k, and that’s where all the modding started. Now, I was never overwhelmed by it but I can see the perspective, and so did Tripowin. By crowd’s feedback, they tuned the upper mid-range and lower treble region with some different dampening.
Adele’s voice is the testament to the different dampening and consequent tuning changing. Compared to the previous model, the Olina SE is more controlled and less aggressive, with the former coming out as more shouty with more “sssshh” sounds more prominent across the track. This also means Adele takes a step back, by just an inch, but that also opens up other frequencies in the spectrum.
The same effect can be found on Stevie Nicks’ voice while singing “Dreams”, but that’s not where I will focus my attention. Right at the start, there’s a solo cymbal strike that then repeats throughout the whole track.
Olina SE cymbal strikes’ sound more correct due to having more balance in this particular region, coming out as more coherent while fading away, while the predecessor has a more energetic attack that shadows the rest of the following harmonics. Now, this is not to say that both don’t do it justice, but rather to emphasize that sometimes the smallest tweak makes a noticeable difference.
The same energy difference is applied to all the brass instruments on this track that both Olinas turn into a jazzy journey. The less emphasys from the SE makes your brain relax a little bit more, being more immersive.
Another prominent change are the hi-hats on the background that take a baby step back on the replay versus the original.
As for classic, this is where personal tastes will dictate the ruling. People who like some 5k energy for the Violins will prefer the Olina, while the ones that get fatigued by it will prefer the SE version.
The extension is borderline the same, with the original winning by a hair but with the SE pulling out a more natural timbre in comparison.
It comes out as no big news that the Tripowin Olina show insane technical prowess for the price tag they carry, and that portrait was carried into the Olina SE. The technical chops are very close, to a point I will call them the same minus the following hair differences:
- Stage presentation: The Olina SE replays the sound a touch upper on the stage, as if you were sitting down versus standing up on the OG version.
- The detail level is pretty much the same, but the boost on the original will make him a hair more resolving, but not really relevant.
- As mentioned above, the timbre is slightly better on the Olina SE.
Even with that, I consider them 98% alike in the technical department and other than tuning, I would not take this into consideration versus the original.
In a frequency response, everything is about balance. If you add more bass, you get less of the other frequencies or if you add bass and treble you get less presence in the mid-range. It’s all about balance
One thing I left out, but should be pretty obvious at least for the more experienced, is that when the retune done by Tripowin calmed down the upper frequencies, the rest of the spectrum opened up, feeling more prominent even if the graph doesn’t look like that.
The bottom line is, the Olina SE is even more tonally balanced than the original already was, turning into a beast of his own kind, perfectioning what was already the top dog for its price bracket.
If in February I was standing here screaming into every alley that everyone should get the Tripowin x HBB Olina, I would be a fool not to do the same right now and fully recommend it.
The tonality change might not be major, but it’s noticeable, to a point that I would say that anyone reading this and debating on getting the Olina, to get the SE instead.
For those who already have the Olina OG and find it a touch bright or don’t want to deal with modding, get the SE.
For those who are happily ever after with the original, keep enjoying them with your music.
I was not sure I would get another set to recommend around the $100 mark so soon, but I slept on Tripowin themselves. They made a worthy successor that uncrowned its predecessor and turned the marble looking podium into a turtle island.
Well done Tripowin and well done HBB. Kudos
Thanks for reading!
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