CanJam at RMAF 2013: Tascam TH-02 Low-Cost Sealed Headphones

Not long ago I was over at HeadRoom borrowing some headphones to measure. Jamey Warren (HeadRoom's CEO) mentioned hearing the Tascam TH-02 ($29) and thought it was far too good to be priced that low, and asked if I wanted to measure them. When he handed me the rather ordinary looking white-plastic cans I sure didn't hold much hope for them. Boy was I wrong. Let me show you what I mean...


Okay, the 10kHz peak in the frequency response is a bit much, and there's some ringing in the impulse response, but look at those square waves! Distortion is quite low with good power handling and only a small rise at 100dBspl in the bass. Even the impedance response is fairly smooth---quite unusual for an inexpensive headphone. Can you tell I'm excited about this bargain-priced little gem!?

I'll let Garyn Jones tell you about them and the other two low-cost cans in the Tascam line-up...for now. Imma gonna do a review as soon as I get some in!

donunus's picture

Great to see some more bargain priced cans that measure and sound good.

ultrabike's picture


donunus's picture

I am interested in the black one thats $10 more if its supposedly even more accurate.

By the way Tyll, you posted TEAC CT-H02 on the measurements graph instead of TASCAM TH-02

bhazard451's picture

The TEAC CT-H02 and TASCAM TH-02 are the same headphone.

donunus's picture

cool, thanks. Thats nice to know

Mad Lust Envy's picture

That response reminds me of the HE-400. Looks like a reduction at 10khz is all that's needed to make this puppy worthwhile?

RPGWiZaRD's picture

It lacks some punchiness in the bass response for my taste but otherwise looks nice for $30. :)

Hmm, maybe a potential budget-friendly moddable headphone? Thinking about damping especially which this headphone would benefit from to decrease ringing, maybe a bassvent for increased bass / tamed highs and better soundstaging if you prefer slightly more of it etc.

bhazard451's picture

I got these not too long ago. Now that I know exactly where that troublesome peak is, once that is EQ'ed out, they'll be outstanding.


Hifihedgehog's picture

I have often looked to your site's graphs for forming an opinion and the patterns in the frequency response, square wave and impulse response tests are telling. Your thoughts were that these headphones are a tad imperfect in the frequency response and impulse response tests, exhibiting extra sizzle and some ringing. A real shocker in looking at other graphs at even pricey planar dynamic models like the LCD-2 and LCD-3 is that the TASCAM TH-02's objective numbers from its graphs are better than those of these top tier audiophile fare. This conclusion means that yes, as you noted, these are imperfect, but they are just as imperfect as your run-of-the-mill $1000 headphones.


Tyll Hertsens's picture

...sort of.

I'm certainly of the belief that price is a very poor indicator of headphone performance as a practical matter.

Hifihedgehog's picture

...than a review of the AKG K812. Thank you Tyll for all the reviews and information you compile to make this hobby so fun and interesting.

Hifihedgehog's picture

By the way, thanks for the reply. You've piqued my interest even further!

Azteca X's picture

Wow, impressive graphs - and he mentioned the $39.99 pair that is more studio/accuracy oriented.  Wow.  Seriously, take away the 10k bump and what more do you need at that price?  Really looking forward to hearing about the 39 pair.  This could be the perfect "throw it in your bag" coffee shop type of headphone where you don't have to be too scared of things happening to it.
Not to mention that's a price that can be afforded for college students, parents, and the similarly low-budget-and-not-enthusiast audience.

I tell ya, this headphone thing is really heating up.  It's a renaissance!

Arve's picture

These appear to be identical to the Teac CT-H02, which seems to point at OEM.

While I don't at all mind well-done OEM, it would be nice to know under which alternate brand names this is available.


donunus's picture

Based on what I just learned, Tascam and Teac are the same company so this probably isn't an OEM.

Arve's picture

… with a pair of these.   I'm very impressed, given their price.

That said, what impressed me more is just how moddable they are.  I think fixing the ringing Tyll mentions, _and_ the slightly hot treble is entirely within the realm of a DIY-er who's all thumbs.

Gallery with a bit of teardown:

Hifihedgehog's picture

Woah! Thank you for letting all of us get a sneak peak view into the internals of this headphone. It looks simple enough on the inside with a rather normal looking driver structure, grill and pad design, but there is definitely more to it than meets the eye. I am anxious to try it out soon!

Hifihedgehog's picture

How would you characterize the sound at this point of break-in and usage? You definitely sound more than satisfied from your reply and this leads me to believe that it is certainly something that raises eyebrows. However, a little bit of comparison and description would help me try to get some perspective on what sort of sound is coming from it and what to expect once I get my hands on one for myself. The graphs seem to say this is the best value in headphone land and I hope this holds true once actual listening comes into play for me.

Arve's picture

Initial impressions are very good.  You might even call it a giant-killer, considering the ridiculous asking price.

Sound-wise,  it could use some boost between about 2 and 5 kHz.   The slightly hot 10 kHz is nowhere near as prominent as you'd think, by looking at the measurements.

In terms of sound signature, it's overall a tad brighter sounding than my HE-500 and HD 558, with a leaner bass, and with some loss of detail, but by all means: I tortured mine with a simulated church organ and the intro to Toccata and Fugue in D minor, played a little too loud, and in the bottom octave, they fared better than my HD 558's - more extended response, and little of the boxy resonance I've come to expect from most closed cans.

That said - it is a cheap headphone, and it feels cheap in your hand.  My biggest criticism of it so far is the cable: The strain relief on the cable is poor, and I would expect that anyone who keeps these for a few years will have to reterminate the cable

Tyll Hertsens's picture

...thanks for posting!

Arve's picture

I'm curious, how do these measure when you take the rear cup off, like the two final pictures show? (Nudge, nudge)

Arve's picture

I'm curious, how do these measure when you take the rear cup off, like the two final pictures show? (Nudge, nudge)

Hifihedgehog's picture

You went above and beyond what I was looking for and for that you deserve some hefty kudos. You gave me two familiar references points for comparison and were very qualitative which works well with my engineering student brain. Thanks to you, I am now certainly buying these as my "don't care" headphones once I can scrounge up the cash!

rhfactor1's picture

Tyll, if you do a full blown review of the TH-02 you may ask Tascam to also review the TH-MX2 at the same time. I've heard through the grapevine they are quite good sound quality and build wise for a street price of around $60 USD.

kenderes's picture

I bought those based on this preview and outstanding measurements. Wow. Very good for the price, though I had to wait a lot for one of these being sold in some DJ store. Sadly they are kinda unpopular here :(

I have to say that they sound very resonance-free and clear. I found that I just can't hear the 10 kHz resonance peak regardless of whether I kept it or cut it out using EQ. I also didn't find any issue with harmonic distortion peak in treble, something that was found in Changstar measurements. What those headphones need, ultimately, is equalization to Olive-Welti curve: some more bass below 100 Hz and treble boost after 1 kHz. This makes these headphones sound more natural, less cold and dull in treble. Curiously, I found that straight-out EQ of HD518 to published Olive-Welti curve gave mixed results. Perhaps Olive-Welti curve is only an approximate target for tonal balance.