The Olina SE is a simple but good-looking and well-made earphone.
The body is all metal, so it inspires confidence as to long-term durability. I like the little turtle design on the outside, and my girlfriend even commented that they were cute when I don’t think she has even batted an eye at more expensive gear.
The carry case is very nice, and yes, it’s a generic type with the embossed logo, but you can’t get around it being a nice inclusion at this price.
The cable is ok. I really am not a fan of the twist design over a braid, and I found it to retain some weird shapes and not flow well. Better than a KZ for sure, it terminates in a 3.5mm gold plated jack and features metal 2-pin connectors and a splitter.
The eartips are nothing to write home about. They are a generic silicone offering, but I was able to fit a set of E-series tips with no problem after testing was complete. They come in different size bore tips that can adjust the tuning, I preferred the smaller bore as it made the bass a bit more punchy.
Inside there is a Carbon Nano Tube driver, a technology that I am both familiar with and a fan of, so it made me excited for the sound portion of the review.
However, sound quality is where it all fell apart because it’s just decidedly average. Yes, for the sake of the review, I did indeed tweak it, but I did so grudgingly. Fall apart is way too harsh, but I was pretty pumped on this given the driver type and cool styling. What I found was an earphone that works well in a few scenarios (Rock) but isn’t versatile enough to handle a rounded library.
The issues were in two areas: Bass and upper midrange. The bass was light, not super light, but in a way that just makes you want to have extra punch and more full roundness. Sub bass does extend, but the overall head-bopping thump just wasn’t where I wanted it to be.
The mids sounded disjointed because, in the lower mids, it’s smooth and easygoing, but when you ramp up into higher octave piano keys and female vocals, they are shoved right down your throat. I would say aggressively so or forward in these areas. I think given the bass being lighter, having less emphasis between 2 and 5khz would have significantly benefited the tuning making it more versatile out of the box.
That is perhaps my biggest issue out of the box. An earphone I would want to tweak would be a good bassline to operate from. This feels lazy to say here’s something meh; fix it yourself.
Despite the above, the Olina SE has some very good areas and is clearly above average for the price. The speed of attack and detail retrieval is very good. It presents itself in a very similar way planars do in terms of attack and decay, and it creates some of that 3d holographic presentation I often rave about.
The good is really in the mid-bass decay and the way the notes dissipate. It adds an extra layer of detail.
Yet overall, that’s not enough for me to say that it’s a must-buy IEM. It’s good; I’m sure you can even improve it if you wish to mess around tweaking it. But for me, why bother? They aren’t ever going to sound x times their price like a set of planars does. So instead, I can just spend an extra $50 for what my time is worth and buy something genuinely great like a Wu Zetian for Tangzu.
At around $100, you have options like the H27 Tape Pro, Salnotes, P1 Plus, Dunmer, etc. So I’m sorry, I just don’t see the point in buying something inferior out of the box.
Is the Tripowin x HBB Olina SE a good or a lousy earphone? The answer really is that its ok, the most significant offense to me is that it wants me to put in the work to bring it to a reasonable level, and in a world where greatness exists very close to its price, I just can imagine it being worth my time. For that reason, I can’t recommend them but definitely check out some of the others I recommend above.