ToneKing MusicMaker TO200

disclaimer:  I purchased the Toneking To200 from NiceHCK along with a couple others I wanted to review.  No disclaimer necessary.   Having said that, some explanation is probably needed as to why I selected the To200 vs the To65 or To180 as all three are available at roughly the same price point (the To65 is arguably $8 cheaper while the To180 and To200 are pretty much dead even).   My intention was to use the To200 as a semi-daily user if it turned out to my liking and my most commonly used portable sources are the DTR1, the xDSD tied to an Xduoo X10Tii or an xCAN tied to an Opus #1s.   All of these have ample power to drive full sized 300Ω headphones, so a 200Ω earbud seems a natural fit for the types of source in use.   If you intend to use a cell phone or tablet as a your source without additional amping, I’d recommend looking at the To

65 instead.

 

Unboxing / Accessories:

The To200 comes shipped in a small black lift-top box with Toneking in English (and presumably Chinese) on the front, and specs on the rear.   Inside the box, all the goodies are hidden within a rubberized clamshell case as is so popular at the lower price points.  Inside the soft case is a fairly simple kit consisting of earbuds, cable, shirt clip, and spare foams (both solid (black) and donut (red)).   It is a pretty simple kit but provides all the needed elements.

 

Build/Fit:  

The To200 housing is a mixture of metal and plastic elements with the bulk of the shell being brushed aluminum with a plastic front grill.  The wide portion of the shell has vents at 12 and 6 with a 3rd vent at the rear of the housing.  This 3rd vent appears large but may actually be smaller than anticipated.  Moving a light at different angles, one can see two smaller diameter holes through the grill.  The larger of the two appears to be filtered/damped while the smaller looks to be a straight tube from the back of the driver to the screen.  The smaller of the two can be readily seen in the pictures below, but the larger was tougher to capture well.  It would be interesting to know the role this dual port system plays in the tuning, but again, no word from Toneking thus far.

Fit is on the large size as there is simply no way to make a small housing when using a 15.4mm driver, but realistically the housing is no bigger than other earbuds in the comparison so fit will likely either be good with all of them, or equally poor depending on your ear.  Weight was not an issue and I found the earbuds stayed in place well with average movement around and office.  Heavier exercise might require tip-up wear in order to get them to stay in place.

 

Internals:

The To200 is powered by a single 15.4mm dynamic driver with a nominal impedance of 200Ω and a senstivity of 113 ±2 dB/mW.  Toneking is not particularly forthcoming with details about the driver and even finding the exact size of it took some digging around.    The mix of high impedance with high sensitivity means this earbud works better than expected from some low powered sources, but not all.  The LG phone when forced into high output mode drives the To200 reasonably well (at the expense of battery life) while the i-pad air struggles to do the same.   The Moto Z3 with a usb-c dongle struggles to deliver as well and is probably best suited for earbuds at or below 32Ω.

 

Cable:

The cable is a thin single piece design reminiscent of the Campfire Tinsel.  It has a clear coating and Silver-plated oxygen free copper cores so appears a silver color.  The Jack is of the straight type with a black metal housing with a single silver ring on it and matches the splitter.   A small chin slider mates to the top of the splitter well but is a matte finish instead of the gloss of the splitter.  I am a fan of this style of cable for earbuds as it minimizes the amount of weight that tugs at the ears.

 

Sound:

Bass:

Sub-bass on the To200 is not the focus that it is on several other recent releases as roll-off starts at roughly 100Hz and is pronounced by 60Hz.  Mid-bass on the other hand, is well controlled and provides good slam when called upon to do so, but does not sound particularly forward in the overall signature.  Definition is quite good with attack and decay having good speed. I find myself actually wishing the decay were a bit slower and added a bit more lingering warmth.

 

Mids:

The To200 is arguably a mid-centric and vocal centric earbud with well controlled and voiced mids.  Vocals have good weight without feeling heavy or dull.  Female vocals are slightly more lively and forward than their male counterparts but both are well present in the mix.  The nice thing is while female vocals are mildly elevated, I didn’t find any tendency for them to get harsh or sibilant as a result.  Detail retrieval in the mids is very good (when the To200 is adequately powered –  this was what I noticed most on the i-pad as lacking).   Acoustic guitar is particularly well rendered and violin concertos are not outside the wheelhouse of the To200.

 

Treble: 

Treble extension is quite good on the To200 and while it doesn’t have tons of sparkle, it isn’t particularly fatiguing either and is pleasant for extended listening sessions.   Detail retrieval is better than expected and control is very good yielding above average clarity.   Partially due to the lower amount of sub-bass compared to other models, and the linearity of the signature below the treble,  the overall signature comes off as a bit bright.   I find myself debating the difference between crisp and sharp as the To200 is clean and crisp, without being sharp or cutting.

 

Soundstage / Imaging:

To me, the soundstage is one of the reasons to choose an earbud over a sealed design and the To200 does not disappoint.  Stage has good width and depth with a good sense of height.  At times sound feels like it comes from outside the earbuds as some seem farther away and others at angles that could not have been from within the housing.   Seating the orchestra is simple and straight forward as instrument separation is quite good and the large stage leaves the To200 plenty of canvas to paint on.   Layering is quite good with no tendency to crowd in as passages get more complex.  Imaging is very good with directional cues being easy to follow around the stage.

 

Comparisons:

 

Smabat ST-10

Build Quality –   Both are solid builds, and both use a detachable cable but the ST-10 is designed for tip up wear while the To200 is designed for tip down.

Sound – The ST-10 out-punches the To200 in the lows both with better extension and more of it.   Mids are a bit better on the To200 and treble is a mixed bag with the To200 having a bit better manners compared to the ST-10.   Those looking for bass will really like the Smabat, those that want a more balanced signature for acoustic or piano will like the To200.

 

Yinyoo BK2 

Build Quality – The Yinyoo BK2 has a removable cable but shows a bit lower build quality than the To200 as the metal is not as well polished or finished and it generally looks a bit more raw.

Sound:  The To200 has a bit less mid-bass and better control of its mid-bass than the BK2 on the low end.   Mids have better detail and definition on the To200 compared to the BK2 as well.  Treble is probably what separates these two the most.  The BK2 has good extension but gets splashy and harsh while the To200 is much more controlled and forgiving.

 

Moondrop Nameless 

Build Quality – The Moondrop Nameless does not offer a detachable cable and has a shallower earpiece than the To200.  Metal finish is a bit better on the To200 as the vents on the Moondrop are not beveled and show some raw edge and burs.   The moondrop is designed for tip-down only wear with its protective stem around the non-removable cable while the To200 allows for tip-up or tip-down wear with its mmcx cable.

Sound:   The Nameless has a more forward low end, but lacks some of the control of the To200.  Those looking for big bass performance will prefer the nameless, those looking for more balance will probably prefer the To200.   Mids are clean on both but more detailed on the To200 with vocals being more prominent in the mix.  Highs are similar but better extended slightly on the To200 and better detailed as well.  Overall for my tastes the To200 outclasses the Nameless.

 

NiceHCK EBX

Build Quality – the earbuds themselves are about equal build quality, but the EBX offsets the connector while the To200’s connector is set mid-barrel.  the ebx is slightly heavier than the To200 partially as a result of the larger housings.

Sound – EBX has bit more bass (both sub and mid) quantity, but also has more mid-bass bleed and sounds warmer as a result.  Mids are better on the To200 as the mids on the EBX can sound thick and somewhat unnatural by comparison.  Highs are a little more extended on the EBX but can get a little fatiguing as a result while the To200 still renders plenty of detail with a bit of air at the top end and no issues with harshness.

 

Thoughts / Conclusion:

I bought the To200 hoping for an earbud I could pair with a fairly potent source and have something I could wear at work so I could hear outside sounds and still enjoy good sound without leaking too much sound into the room, thus annoying my workmates.   The To200 delivered what I had hoped for.  It doesn’t have the best bass performance I have heard but those wishing for bass heavy sound rarely would choose an earbud anyway.   Mids are front and center, which is a to my liking, and treble maintains a good balance between extension and comfort.  I am able to wear the To200 for long sessions (4+ hours) without notable fatigue.  Overall, if you are an earbud fan, and your source is up to the task of pushing the To200, they are a good value as they sound more like the more expensive models than their lower impedance counterparts.  I found the To65 to be a much more lively signature, but considerably less resolving and less balanced.  If I had to pick another earbud to compare to the To200, I’d say the Lyra Classic but lacking it to do a side by side compare, I may not quite remember it right.   I think the To200 will go into my carry bag for use when I want an earbud, it is my favorite of those I have available.

5.9

Packaging

5.0/10

Build Quality

6.5/10

Accessories

5.0/10

Sound Quality

7.0/10
  • 6/10
    Bass - 6/10
  • 7.5/10
    Mids - 7.5/10
  • 7/10
    Treble - 7/10
  • 7.5/10
    Soundstage - 7.5/10
  • 7/10
    Imaging - 7/10

Summary

Pros – Smooth and transparent sound, clear highs. Interchangeable MMCX cable, rugged construction.

Cons – Muddy and weak bass, bassheads will be disappointed. Also stay away if you don’t plan to use it with an amp.