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Tansio Mirai is a Chinese company based in Beijing. Yep, TSMR despite its very Japanese name, isn’t a Japanese company.
I’ve talked briefly about their TSMR-3 Pro, but overall TSMR IEMs don’t really get a lot of press in the Western market. Along with the 3, they also have the $170 TSMR-2, the $320 TSMR-4 Pro, $430 TSMR-5, and the $530 TSMR-6. And beyond the 6, the TSMR product line jumps straight into the kilobuck range, with the 12BA TSMR-12 also named the “Zodiac”.
The Zodiac seems to be TMSR’s first foray into the high-end market, fighting with veterans like 64 Audio, Sony and even QDC. Does TSMR have what it takes to play with the big boys?
Product page: https://www.linsoul.com/products/tansio-mirai-zodiac
Driver configuration: 12BA
This Zodiac was kindly provided by Linsoul.
Signature & Tonality
I would describe the Zodiac as various levels of “warm V-shape”, with its wideband bass boost contributing to thickened notes alongside the 7-8kHz emphasis bringing in much-needed sparkle as a counterbalance.
I don’t have much love for most of the settings given that they’re far too warm for what I’d call “tonally balanced”, so I’ll be reviewing the Zodiac on my favourite setting: the one with only the third switch up. On this configuration, the Zodiac takes on a more balanced tone with the aforementioned bass boost, and it is in this configuration that I find the Zodiac showing off its strengths.
The warmth helps to bring weight and body to male vocals and bowed strings, but also doesn’t dip into muffled nor dulled territory due to the tasteful pinna gain. The treble is emphasised, yes, but as the contrast between the upper midrange and mid-treble isn’t too egregious, the treble doesn’t come off as sibilant or piercing.
Overall, the Zodiac’s tone (003 setting) strikes an impressive balance of clarity, weight and top-end energy, all without sounding unnatural or overly-coloured. If I were to nitpick it’ll be that I’d like a less emphasised mid-bass and treble response (at the same time, not one-or-the-other), but I’m still very satisfied with the final tuning.
Tone grade: A+
The Zodiac makes for a strong showing on a technical front, with decently high resolution overall. However, the definition of the notes can be slightly lacking, perhaps due to the tuning in part, causing a bit of smearing and fuzziness in busier percussive passages. That said, I wouldn’t describe the Zodiac as blunted-sounding per se, but only in comparison with the top dogs (which it competes with anyways).
I wouldn’t really call the Zodiac’s bass particularly good either; it’s certainly not in the realm of certain exceptional BA sets like the U12t but also still has a ways to go. Bass hits has this fuzzy, body-less quality to it despite the overall emphasis, so the Zodiac shouldn’t be in your consideration if bass quality is a priority.
Imaging is average with a bit of that “in-your-head” quality going on, but nothing out of the ordinary for an IEM.
Technical grade: A
Realistically, the Zodiac competes with $1,000 sets so the $1,400 price tag is a little hard to swallow. While the tuning is pretty good (on a specific setting, at least), the Zodiac seems to be bottlenecked by its technicalities. Again, its resolving ability isn’t bad by any means, but it’s only slightly better than the usual benchmarks (e.g. ER4) at a premium that is hard to justify.
That said, it’s not the worst thing for the price out there so I wouldn’t judge anyone who would call it good or buy one. However, in the context of the ranking list and what I’d consider “worth the price”, the Zodiac’s price tag just goes a tad too far up for that coveted star rating.
Value Rating: N/A
The Zodiac’s a good IEM that provides both decent tuning and technical ability, and so should be a relatively “safe buy” for those who want a warm-ish, technical sound. However, at its price of $1,400… competition’s tough and so the Zodiac needs to do more to set itself apart.