Today, we review the TempoTec IM05, which is a new multi-driver hybrid universal IEM featuring a single 8mm LSR dynamic and 4 BA drivers. It is priced at $139.00 SRP.
Disclaimer: This sample was sent to us in exchange for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no affiliate links. We thank TempoTec for their support.
To learn more about TempoTec products that have been previously assessed on Headfonics you can click here.
Note that this article follows our latest scoring guidelines which you can read up on here.
The TempoTec IM05 has a V-shaped sound signature, with an emphasis on the bass and treble regions, and a recessed midrange. The sound is energetic, dynamic, and fun, but it may not be suitable for those who prefer a more balanced or neutral presentation.
TempoTec, the brand that broke into the collective audiophile consciousness with their Sonata Dongle and V6 DAP, has just dropped their latest product, a brand-new hybrid IEM.
The IM05 marks TempoTec’s formal introduction into the IEM space. It uses a single dynamic driver and 4 BA driver configuration similar to pricier IEMs such as the Moondrop Blessing 2 at a price point under $150.
Let’s see if they were able to undercut the competition on their first try.
As mentioned in the intro, the IM05 is a hybrid universal in-ear monitor with a single dynamic and quad BA driver configuration that’s usually found in pricier IEMs.
The unit’s single 8mm Liquid Silicone Rubber Dynamic driver is responsible for playing back low-frequency tones, with its two 1006 BA drivers responsible for playing mid-range tones between 800Hz to 6kHz. Its 2 Knowles 31736 BA drivers are responsible for playing back high-frequency tones above 6kHz.
These drivers are contained in an ergonomic resin-like shell that, although large, fits the ear well and gives the IEM a good noise isolation performance.
Lastly, the IM05 comes with a high-quality 4-wire detachable cable with very little memory and microphonics, easily beating out the cables included in pricier IEMs
The IM05 has a large and bulky clear-black shell that seems to be constructed from some sort of 3D printed resin material similar to the Moondrop Blessing 3 and Tangzu Wu Ze Tian.
Like the previously mentioned IEMs, the IM05 also makes use of a metal faceplate, coming in either a brushed black or silver finish. The face plates have a tasteful piano logo on the right IEM and a stylized TempoTec logo on the left IEM.
The IEM makes use of a vented design giving it a better sense of space, however, I feel the need to highlight the clever way TempoTec placed the vent. They made the creative decision of housing the vent in the “0” of the “IM05” graphic printed towards the side of the IEM shell.
The shell has a smooth and ergonomic shape that fits comfortably in the ear, but it may not suit those with smaller ears or shallow insertion preferences.
One issue we experienced is visible adhesive stains in the portion between the resin shell and the metal faceplate. This could very well be because we received a pre-release unit, but the marks on the IEM were difficult to ignore and are almost never seen in IEMs within this price range.
Comfort and Isolation
Compared to my comfort benchmark, the Open Audio Witch Pro, the IM05s fall a bit short. However, it is important to also highlight that they are significantly more comfortable than other hybrid IEMs like the Blessing 3.
This improved comfort is, in part, because of its lightweight design. The IEMs themselves are not substantially dense, and the experience of having them in one’s ear is not bothersome whatsoever.
In my extended day-to-day usage, the resin shells were ergonomic enough and did not cause any discomfort whatsoever. Like the Witch Po, there were multiple occasions where I found myself forgetting I had IEMs in my ears.
The unit’s nozzles attach to the 8 included silicone tips well, and I did not experience the tips detaching from the nozzles.
For an IEM with a vented design, they have very good isolation performance, easily blocking out the noise of noisy co-workers and most other bothersome ambient noise.
The IM05 comes with a detachable stock cable that makes use of the standard 0.78mm 2-pin socket and terminates with a single-ended 3.5mm connector on the other end.
The cable is durable and flexible with a braided design that prevents tangling and microphonics. Throughout my daily testing composed of a mixture of desk usage and on-the-go listening, I observed no microphonics whatsoever.
The 4 individual strands themselves have a finish in between gun-metal and copper and are enclosed in fine plastic tubes. This gives it a stealthy that complements the look of the IEM shells.
The 0.78mm termination is color-coded, with the red end for the right IEM and the silver end for the left IEM. The cable’s 3.5mm termination and cable splitter make use of a dense black shell that resembles a cylindrical metal canister, giving it a very utilitarian appeal.
Packaging & Accessories
The TempoTec IM05 comes in a discreet box with the top portion being dominated by an illustration of the IEM itself. Opening the box shows the IEMs with the included high-quality carrying case.
The interior of the included carrying case is lined with a foam eggshell-like pattern, ensuring that the IEMs do not get scratched. However, the case itself is too large to be pocketable.
In addition to the IEMs themselves and the carrying case, you also get 8 pairs of silicone ear tips, a metal carabiner hook for the included case, a QC certificate, and a warranty card.
The bass of the IM05 is powerful, deep, and punchy, thanks to the 8mm dynamic driver. It has a good impact and rumble, especially in the sub-bass region, but it can also bleed into the midrange and cause some muddiness and congestion.
It is still tight and well-controlled and is the best I’ve heard in the price range. However, the texture of the bass notes is simply not as good as pricier IEMs like the Blessing 3.
The bass quantity is also some of the best I’ve heard but may be too much for some listeners, especially those who are sensitive to bass or who listen to genres that do not require a lot of bass.
However, personally, I quite enjoyed the unit’s bass response. I found myself gravitating to the IM05 whenever I was in the mood to listen to hip-hop and pop music. It can deliver thumping beats, 808s, and deep bass hits, giving the music slight warmth.
The sub-bass playback is a standout, being able to hit low notes without coming off as too overwhelming or muddy.
The midrange of the IM05 is recessed and overshadowed by the bass and treble. It lacks presence and clarity, and it can sound distant and veiled.
The vocal playback comes off as thin and lacking in detail. I often found myself disappointed when using the IM05 to listen to vocal-focused acoustic tracks or jazz tracks.
The lower midrange is warm and thick, giving low-end male vocals body. The midrange is serviceable, but those who listen to vocal—focused music may prefer other IEMs with more neutral tuning. This came as a shock, since in most modern pop music, the IM05 was easily a leader in the price range.
The treble is bright, crisp, and sparkly, thanks to the 2 balanced armature drivers dedicated to high-frequency playback. It has good extension and detail, and almost never comes off as sibilant.
To my surprise, the IM05 performed well in tracks I use to intentionally look for sibilance and it can ride the fine line between resolution and sibilance perfectly.
Even when compared to the Blessing 3, IEMs that are very good resolution-wise, it does not perform as well, but it does not fall far behind. It is important to note that the Blessing 3 retails for $319.99, more than double the asking price of the IM05.
The treble quantity may be too much for some listeners, especially those who prefer a smoother or darker treble. But those searching for V-shaped IEMs will be pleasantly surprised with the treble and resolution performance.
The imaging performance is good, with a good sense of separation, positioning, and layering. Its imaging performance isn’t class-leading by any means but it’s definitely not something that holds the IM05 back.
The IMO5 also creates a soundstage with adequate width and depth given the price range. The instrument separation is good but not class-leading, as the heightened treble and bass can mask some mid-range nuances. The imaging is clear and precise, allowing you to pinpoint the location and distance of each sound source.
With an impedance of 33Ω and a sensitivity of 99 dB @1kHz, the IM05 is relatively easy to drive, however, it does benefit quite a bit from a dedicated amplifier or even a dongle.
The integrated headphone jack in some older smartphones can drive them to a comfortable volume, but this comes at the cost of sub-par detail retrieval.
Based on my testing, the IM05 benefits from amplifier and DAC pairings that maintain its already V-Shaped tonality. I found that it works well with the Topping L30 II being fed by the SMSL SU-1.
For portable usage, I found that the IM05 works adequately well with the 7hz SEVENHERTZ 71. It can easily power the IM05 to a comfortable volume with no distortion. The slight elevation in the bass region is not always preferable, but it is subtle enough to not stand out as an issue.
Open Audio Witch Pro
The TempoTec IM05 uses a single 8mm dynamic driver and four balanced armature drivers with an impedance of 33Ω and sensitivity of 99dB. The Open Audio Witch Pro uses a hybrid mix with a single dynamic driver and balanced armature driver on each side.
They have an impedance of 20Ω, and a sensitivity of 110dB making them easier to drive. The IM05 uses the standard 0.78mm 2-pin connectors whilst the Witch Pro makes use of a shrouded QDC-style cable connector of 0.78mm 2-pin.
The Witch Pros have transparent purple resin 3D-printed shells with hand-crafted glossy purple face covers, whilst the IM05 makes use of a shell that seems to be constructed from 3D-printed resin with a brushed black metal faceplate with a stylized yellow piano or TempoTec logo.
The Witch Pro fits better in the ear and is lighter as well making it more comfortable all around and perfect for all-day listening. However, this does not mean that the IM05 is uncomfortable, the Witch Pro is simply superior in terms of comfort.
Both have a V-shaped tuning philosophy, however, the IM05 performs sonically better in almost every way.
The bass on the IM05 is better both in terms of quantity and quality. Sub-bass hits on the Witch Pro don’t go nearly as low and can come off as less defined and muddier.
The Witch Pro has a warmer overall tonality, giving bass strums more body. However, these bass strums are still better articulated on the IM05 because of their substantially superior technical performance.
The mids on the IM05 were already quite sub-par, but on the Witch Pro, they are even worse. Vocals sound hollow and unnatural on the Witch Pro in comparison. Lower-end male vocals do have added body, however, all nuance and texture are lost.
The high-end performance is where the IM05 really starts to pull away from the Witch Pro. Despite having better resolution performance than the Witch Pro, it is also significantly less sibilant. I can usually detect a better sense of detail from cymbal hits and string instruments on the IM05.
Moondrop Blessing 3
The TempoTec IM05 makes use of a single 8mm dynamic driver and four balanced armature drivers with an impedance of 33Ω and a sensitivity of 99dB.
The Blessing 3 makes use of a dual 10mm dynamic driver and four balanced armature drivers with an impedance and sensitivity of 14.8Ω and 120dB/Vrms, making the Blessing 3 easier to drive. Both IEMs make use of a standard 0.78mm two-pin cable connector.
Both IEMs make use of a shell that seems to be constructed from 3D-printed resin, with the main design difference being their faceplate.
The Blessing 3 comes with a polished stainless-steel faceplate with a mirror-like finish, whilst the IM05 makes use of a brushed black metal faceplate with a stylized yellow piano or TempoTec logo.
The Blessing 3 has a heavier shell that fits worse as well, making the IM05 substantially more comfortable. The TempoTec IEM has significantly better isolation performance as well.
The IM05 is significantly more V-shaped than the Blessing 3, with more emphasis being placed on both the bass and treble regions. In pop and hip-hop tracks, the IM05 comes off as significantly more exciting, however, its detail retrieval is below that of the Blessing 3.
The IM05 has harder-hitting bass, especially towards the sub-bass region. 808s and hits from bass drums are more emphasized but are less controlled than the bass on the Blessing 3. The Blessing 3 comes off as lacking in hip-hop and modern pop music, and personally, I tend to lean towards the TempoTec over the Blessing 3 when listening to pop and hip-hop.
The mids on the IM05 come off as recessed when compared to that of the Blessing 3. String instruments and brass instruments come off as one-dimensional when compared directly against the Blessing 3. The vocals on the IM05 come off as flat and emotionless.
The treble region is more emphasized on the IM05, giving it a better sense of energy. The Blessing 3 still has better micro detail performance, but neither of the two IEMs comes off as sibilant.
My testing with the TempotTec IM05 opened my eyes to how good IEMs in the sub-$150 market have gotten. I often found myself subconsciously comparing them to IEMs that are more than double the price. And when compared to other IEMs within the price range such as the Witch Pros, it frankly blows them out of the water.
This is a V-shaped sound signature, with an emphasis on the bass and treble regions, and a recessed midrange. The sound is energetic, dynamic, and fun, but it may not be suitable for those who prefer a more balanced or neutral presentation.
It is also important to highlight the level of detail retrieval it can bring to the table despite its low price and V-shaped tuning. If you’re looking for the perfect trifecta of value, resolution, and enjoyability, I would have no problem giving the IM05 a strong recommendation.