Enjoy Sound and Tea: Ocharaku Flat-4

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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.

 

 

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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…

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=688434417 Brian Hamrick

    I love the descriptions I’ve heard of this IEM, and personally I like the aesthetics of it. I’ll have to try it sometime!

    • Hadi

      After looking at the diagram of the internals that Mike added, I appreciated the aesthetic a bit more. Didn’t realize it has 2 dynamic drivers with a phase correcting shaft. It’s really form following function.

  • http://gorboman.wordpress.com/ Gorboman

    Hadi, my friend, you should write more reviews. You have the experience to back your writing, man. :)

    • Hadi

      Thanks, Aria. Actually, I wasn’t planning to write a full review for the Ocharaku but ended loving the sound more than expected :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/mokobigbro Moko Aguswan

    Very nice review Hadi!

    • Hadi

      Thanks, Moko. The review would not happen if it weren’t for your Ocharaku. I wonder how the more expensive flat 4 Kaede sounds.

      • http://www.facebook.com/phillip.sim.9 Phillip Sim

        Me too. Apparently some guys in Head-Fi got it already. I heard it was limited to a few hundred sets.

        • Hadi

          That’s a shame. Hopefully I’ll be able to listen to them one day.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mokobigbro Moko Aguswan

        I exchanged tweet yesterday with @shizgeo yesterday. He mentioned there’s no mistake to be found on Kaede. He loves it so much. He doesn’t like the Sui though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/phillip.sim.9 Phillip Sim

    Current 4sui owner here.

    Gotta give the credit to Ocharaku. Just that, next time, they better don’t mislead me with the model name. I was expecting something relaxing, in the end it excites me rock-head in me.

    Didn’t like it on vocals. Maybe need to EQ or find a suitable amp.

    Love the reverb which adds a sense of space to the presentation, and also the cymbal crash!

    • Hadi

      Yes, the soundsig does not match the brand name at all. I haven’t tried EQ but that sounds like a good idea.

      • http://www.facebook.com/phillip.sim.9 Phillip Sim

        Yeah, waiting for your graphs on your EQ. Would love to know how to tame it to be more neutral. Currently, I’m falling for it for the effortless detail retrieval in every songs. Besides, it does sound great on lower volume as well.

        • Hadi

          Unfortunately, the IEM has been returned to the owner, so haven’t really gotten the chance to play it with EQ. Yes, I also love how it sounds so detailed from low volume.

  • rustiandra

    Really really nice writing! you should be the head director of Headfonia’s IEM division! :) i really looking forward to read more of IEM review from you here!

    • Hadi

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. Mike and the other writers have really set the standard of the reviews very high.

  • Dave

    Hi, how does nami compared to hifiman re600 since they’re price is similar. I listen to wide array of music from pop to blues jazz until hard rock. How does nami manage this kinds of musics?