Disclaimer: The Ocharaku Flat-4 IEM used for this review belong to a friend of ours.
Editor’s note: The Ocharaku Flat-4 IEM is a double 10-mm dynamic driver, put together in parallel orientation complete with a phase-correcting shaft (please refer to the graphic below). Designed by Makoto Yamagishi who was the Director of Sound Development at Sony, the Ocharaku was the best selling IEM on FujiyaAvic during last year’s Headphone Festival in Japan. Hadi who is doing this review in my opinion is the best IEM reviewer I know, definitely much better than me, so I’m really happy to have him write about the Ocharaku.
Couple months back, Mike brought the new “Made in Japan” Ocharaku Flat-4 Sui to the AnalogHead store. As the store guests were still mesmerized by the FitEar!TG334 and the FOTM ASG-1, this IEM was pretty much under the radar despite being highly praised by Moko, possibly the only recording engineer among the guests. At the time I was quite fond of the IEM, but to be honest I didn’t really give the Ocharaku much chance as I usually don’t really consider any IEM above $200 seriously. When Yudi of AnalogHead offered me to borrow the IEM and give it a more serious listen, the dynamic IEM fan in me couldn’t resist.
I’ll start with the worst things first. This IEM has a laid-back low mids compared to the bass and its upper mids. Not a total suckout and still noticeably fuller than the likes of T-Peos H100, but it’s a relative recession nonetheless. Build quality is also mediocre, there is no strain relief visible, and the included accessories are downright Spartan for a $400+ IEM (just a metal case and a pair of comply tips). Longer term comfort can also be a problem since the housing design protrudes here and there, and irritates my ear lobe a little after more than 30 minutes of use.
Not scared away yet? Great, now we can go into the sound review, which is largely positive. For the purpose of this review, I’m using silicon tips, either a Vsonic silicon tips or Sony hybrids. Using this with the included comply tips revealed quite a different character, which is much less forward, warmer, and more laidback. Unfortunately the comply tips take away too much of the bass attack that I like so much with the silicon tips, so I always reached for silicon tips with these.
If I have to choose three hyperboles to describe what I like so much about how the Ocharaku sounds, they will be “dynamic”, “tactile”, and “detailed”. This is a fresh and different approach from the more romantic and tonally correct sound of an EX1000, and different from the balanced flat sound most popular high-end IEMs are aiming for. According to FujiyaAvic, Ocharaku means “Enjoy Sound and Tea”. However, from the first listen to the Ocharaku at home, this IEM was anything but relaxing to listen to. This is not a laidback IEM that you listen to while relaxing after a long day. Listening to it is an intense and attention-grabbing experience, grand and fun at the same time.
One of the things that amazes me the most about this IEM is its dynamic range. This IEM can really speed up and stop at a dime, while maintaining all the grunge, power, and tactility of a dynamic driver. You get a proper dynamic decay and air movement here. Frequency extension is great, not perfect, but not something I would complain even at this price level. The dynamic range, speed, and extension combine into an excellent PRAT. Contrary to its “Ocha” name, this is an excellent rock IEM. I would really love to see how it stacks up to the Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi, the IEM king of PRAT, but one thing is for certain, tfp’s bass doesn’t punch to the gut like the Ocharaku.
Detail retrieval is excellent, as good as I’ve heard from dynamic IEMs in this price range. The step-up from GR07 and ASG in this area is noticeable, and I was quite surprised to find it to be more detailed than a very competent dual BA IEM, the BA200. No complaints with clarity either, this is as good as I’ve heard in a dynamic IEM at this price.
More on the next page…