So the last earphone I reviewed from Audiosense was the T800 which cost 300 dollars and had 8 balanced armature drivers, and was one of the most resolving earphones that I had tried.
And today we are going to take a look at their latest hybrid release, the AQ3, which really is one of the most bang for your buck audio device that I have listened to.
The unboxing experience is identical to the T800, which is really great to see on this lower price point.
You get this really overkill water proof carrying case, which feels really strong in hand and will really not let anything inside it get damaged.
Then you get different sizes of silicone eartips, along with foam eartips which are more comfortable but decrease the bass response and speed.
You get this really nice braided silver plated MMCX cable with an L shaped jack, with left and right connections marked with different colors.
The earhooks on it are simple, and work well without getting in the way, even if you wear glasses.
and MMCX connection on the earphones means that you can replace the cable if it gets damaged, or you can even buy any MMCX wireless cable to make these earphones wireless.
You also get this nice cleaning brush which I find to be very useful.
DESIGN AND BUILD
So while the T800 was a pure balanced armature IEM, the AQ3 is a hybrid model, and it has 2 balanced armature drivers from Knowles that produce the mid range and high frequencies, and then it also has a 10mm dynamic driver for the low end frequencies.
It is also made of this 3D printed shell which feel VERY strong, and you can see the drivers inside through its transparent casing, along with the tubes that guide the sound to your ears.
We also get subtle Audiosense branding on these, and I think they are using real carbon fibre pieces in these which looks really great and premium.
The comfort on these is pretty great as they are a bit smaller than the T800, so people will have an easier time fitting them into their ears, the earhooks work very well, so there aren’t any stress points when you wear them, so I was able to comfortably wear them for hours. While on the Audiosense website they say that the AQ3 has same level of isolation as T800, I found the T800 to be more isolating because of their shape, but I totally don’t mind this on the AQ3, and I actually prefer the slightly less sealed in feeling of the AQ3. You will never find the isolation to be lacking as it really blocks a lot of the outside noise, and you will really find it difficult to listen to your surroundings if you have something playing on them.
I wasn’t able to power T800 properly with smartphones and different headphone Amps, but the AQ3 performs well with any device that you use it with. So I was able to get great results with a Oneplus 6, a Fiio E10K, and my Objective 2 Amp, but you will definitely be able to get the most out of it by using a DAP, Or anything else that has a high quality DAC and Amp.
Coming to sound quality, I have to say that this is one of the most value for money audio device that I have tried in a while. What you’re going to read now from me might sound a little critical, but that is because I have to try to describe the sound character of these accurately, even though my overall conclusion is very positive.
This is the frequency graph that they have on their website, and you can see that we have emphasis in the extremely low frequencies and the high frequencies.
So coming to bass, it is surprisingly similar to the T800 in character, inspite of having a very different driver configuration. So the overall quality of the bass is pretty great, it has a very good punch, and your ears will really get rocked if you listen to bass heavy electronic tracks. I found the bass extension to be sufficiently deep, but the low frequency area isn’t as resolving and detailed as the mid and high range frequencies. There is significant emphasis below 100Hz if you look at the frequency response graph, but that emphasis is mostly not audible, and while sometimes the bass guitars in some tracks did feel more prominent on these, I never felt the need to adjust the bass. So overall the bass is great, but it kind of gets overshadowed by how excellent the mid and high range frequencies are, and the crossover point between the frequencies that are handled by the dynamic driver and the balanced armature drivers is a little noticeable because of the difference in the character of the sound.
And that takes us to the mid range, which is really excellent on these. The vocals do not take the center stage like they would on something that is more mid centric, but they still sound very detailed, and very natural, and even though the high frequencies are emphasized in its sound, they never interfere with the character of the vocals and both male and female singers sound really great, natural, and detailed.
And finally coming to the treble, I was really surprised at how detailed and resolving they were, being close to the T800 in quality, even while having much less number of drivers. They do not have the microscopic level of details that the T800 had, but they’re still VERY detailed and resolving for their price point. I really think that it will be difficult to find something that is as detailed as them for 200 dollars.
Now I am a little sensitive to high frequencies, and I prefer neutral sound signatures, so the emphasis that they have in the high frequencies is noticeable, and while it didn’t bother me for stuff like classical music, if you’re listening to something like electronic tracks, or tracks with loud electric guitars, then the levels in the treble may feel too high. So for a smoother listening experience, I turned the high frequencies above 8 kHz down by 2 to 4 decibels with an equalizer, but you don’t necessarily have to do that, and the sound doesn’t get harsh, even if the levels may feel too high.
So it is really great for all genres of music in general, but for some tracks, I prefer a sound signature that is easier to listen to.
The soundstage on these is also really good for an in ear monitor, and instruments have plenty of space between them so you can differentiate between different sources of sound easily, things don’t feel congested inside your ears, and overall they have really enjoyable presentation of sound that I kept wanting to listen to, which is the most important character that audio gear needs to have, regardless of the price range.
So in my T800 review, I said that the sound it had was worth its price at 300 dollars, but these IEMs really offer a sound that is clearly above their price point, even if you might be able to find something that has tighter bass.
Now I know that saying that something offers higher value for the price point has become a cliche in the audio industry, especially when it comes to Chi Fi earphones, and while I haven’t tried very IEM on Earth in this range, I can very confidently say that everyone who buys this is REALLY going to enjoy their purchase.
Buy on Aliexpress: http://bit.ly/314z0Vc