Aurisonics ASG-1 Review
Specifications of the ASG-1 Generic Fit Digital-Hybrid In-Ear Monitors™
* 8Hz - 25kHz frequency response
* 32ohm +/- 10% impedance @1kHz
* Sensitivity 121dB @ 1mW
* 15mm dynamic driver
* Standard S-M-L soft silicon replaceable tips
* The look and performance of a custom IEM
* Custom tips available for enhanced performance and fit
* Rugged design for professional use
Some threads that can provide more information on the earphones and are worth checking out.
Impressions and Reviews: http://www.head-fi.org/t/589520/aurisonics-impressions-and-reviews
So here is what the ASG-1 is all about. During getting more involved with the Head-Fi community I came across the Aurisonics impressions and reviews thread. After reading through the first few pages I noticed that Aurisonics were a company who manufactured stage monitors and such and this was in fact what these are intended for. In actual fact they were just the demo version of their stage monitor customs the AS-1. But don’t let this put you off thinking they are just a demo version as they have spent as much hours making these as good as possible and their housing is actually made up off a quantity of ears put together to make a generic shape that is intended to fit 90% of the population, which I know is quite a big statement. Getting back to thread I read through more and more pages and found comparisons with earphones that are heavily raved about and would love to try such as the Earsonics SM3 and Westone 4 with positive opinions over them. In fact one poster even went to call them the best universals he has ever used and his collection included flagship earphones of huge companys such as Sony, Shure, Ultimate Ears, Grado, Westone, Earsonics among others and even compared them handily to his quad armature 1964 ears customs. WOW I thought and and being in the UK I was not prepared to deal with the shipping and custom fees but was luckily enough to find some pop up at a good price from the Head-Fi for sale forums and I pulled the trigger on them.
Now I may not have purchased them from Aurisonics but I have still been in contact with Dale (CEO of Aurisonics) and he is great to talk to and has helped me with any problems I have (I panic easy other little things) and he has been a pleasure to talk to responding at times that in the US, people should not be awake at!
To review I will listen to them driven straight from my Cowon J3 as although they sound better with my Objective 2 amplifier people may get false impressions and then be expecting something else. I will not EQ and although you may find people preferring this I do not and that will also give false impressions. Although I do not EQ they do respond really well to it and that is all I will put on the subject. Another thing they respond well too is tip-rolling which I have done a bit myself and found changes in sound so if you have a array of old tips laying around these may add some more fun but for the purpose of the review again I will use stock small tips. All music will be FLAC or 320 KBPS.
Another thing to note about these is the plethora of upgrades that Aurisonics have announced for the future. The first of these will be what are known as the audiophile filter and will dampen mids and slightly boost bass. I have a prototype on it was and will add the changes that it makes when the time comes. Their will also be a range of cables that they will begin to sell which will obviously do numerous things to the sound signature but can not say any more on that part. At the moment the design is quite basics and they will also sell a range of faceplates for the earphones with different designs which will be a nice little feature. Now I have saved what could be seen as the biggest upgrade until last. In the future they have a new custom the AS-2, which will come with a generic earphone as well which will be the ASG-2. It will feature two dynamic drivers. Aurisonics have said that you will be able to send your ASG-1 in and they will add the driver for you and therefore making it an ASG-2!
As for prices I have no idea for any of these upgrade features but they are pretty exciting all the same.
Build quality is something that I value highly as when I buy something I want it to last a long time. One thing that helps this is a warranty (although not linked directly) and these come with a year warranty for the actual earphones. As for the build quality themselves they are very solid and I don’t see them breaking for a long, long time.
Starting with cable. The cable is replaceable so if down the line if it breaks it’s not game over for the earphones and you can simply replace it. As for if it will break I don’t know (if you are careful), as it is solid and thick. It has a right-angled plug, a tightly braided metal cable and the whole thing is executed nicely. It also has a plastic sleeve over the bit that goes over your ears. For any of you who are aware of the cable that is included with Westone products and most customs I am aware this is the same cable.
The housing are made of plastic and they are made up of two parts and the faceplate is tightly screwed on put it can obviously be unscrewed for future upgrade as well as any problems the product may have. I have had no problems with the build quality so far and don’t foresee any. It is really top notch.
The design is nice with the housing being opaque so you can see the huge 15mm driver inside and the wiring's. There is fingerprint like effect of the faceplate with an AS logo for Aurisonics.
Also for people who may be wondering with the size of the driver being quite large if you get driver flex but after the first batch suffering they managed to sort it out so that people do not have the problem.
This is what Dale said they done: “They are sealed air tight to external air and vent front to rear cavities within the sound bore. This maintains maximum isolation from external noise.”
So there is also know need to worry about driver flex.
You do not get much here. You get three pairs of tips in sizes small, medium and large with the smalls the ones I use. You get a cleaning tool that is better than what I have ever got before. It has the loop and a brush on it. It all comes with the Otterbox 1000 case. This thing is indestructible and boasts being waterproof (foam seal) and more than likely tank proof. It is a bit big and is not going to slip on your pocket like say a Shure clamshell case but you need not worry about absolutely anything happening to the earphones when they are in the case. People have complained with how you open the Otterbox and that it is hard work but once you use some common sense and work out a good technique you should be fine. There is no machoness needed. This is my favorites case I have ever got with earphones. More information can be found here: http://www.otterbox.com/OtterBox-1000-Clear/OTR3-1000S-01,default,pd.html
You may not get the accessories you may be used to with say Shure and ultimate ears and these do lack things like the airplane stuff and 300 pairs of tips but the small tips worked for me so it does not matter how many you get. If you get a fit with one of the tips (you should do) all is fine.
Now being “Generic Customs” these claim to have perfect fit for 90% of the population and I can happily say I am one of the 90% as these things just slip straight into my ears so easily and when their in they disappear and I forget they are their. They are relatively big earphones but by far the comfiest I have ever had. In fact the fit is so good passer by seeing me wearing them must think I have customs in and they even fooled my mate when I turned up to his house wearing them.
How to get a good fit with the ASG-1
Step 1. Tighten the wire into the crack of the top of the ear then bend the wire away from your head so it touches the top of your ear. This will pull the top into your ear.
In other words, the memory wire functions like a compression spring that keeps the ASG-1 seated properly in your ear.
I've personally been shaping the memory wire such that it presses against my head so that the wires are kept hidden from view. Apparently I've been doing it wrong all this while... again :p
Step 2. Tug the top of your ears up and out.
I think most of us do this.
Step 3. Insert the ASG-1's and roll backwards till you get a snug fit.
I figured this part out after switching to the small stock tips and it works great.
That should help you achieve a good fit and seal.
You may have to repeat Step 1 as it isn't easy to get the wire to bend how you want it to the first time.
(From Dale of Aurisonics to Head-Fi member Cherns)
Now with these earphones getting a good seal is very important as without it you wont be getting the full benefit of the earphones and isolation and the bass. You should know if you get a seal because you will feel a tad of pressure and a little suction. Once you have this then the isolation is great. I am once again going to say these are “generic Customs and there fore they sort off merge in with my ears and these let nothing in at all. These remove all ambient noises you can think of, trains, cars, people shouting and school. Even using the small tips I am getting all this so if I uses some bigger ones in public or even some Comply’s then I guess it may, some how, improve!
Microphonics (Cable Noise)
These are worn over the ear and this off course leads to little microphonics. In fact I would go to say none. Even when continuously hitting or moving the cable you get absolutely nothing no annoying cable noise.
By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. I have had them from ten hours burn in and their current state is now way over 200 hours (I burnt them in that much and have maybe even 100 hours listening on top, could be more) and in this time I have heard a massive drop in the mids spike that is their out the box, an increase in bass and also a tad of treble sparkle. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so dint make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.
Soundstage and instrument separation
Okay this is one of the ASG’s major strong points as the soundstage is huge and I’m talking full concert hall size. For those who are familiar with the Sennheiser IE8s (renowned for the soundstage) then you will know what I am getting at. In fact this had a similar soundstage to the IE8s but where that has a gimmicky sound stage with a high amount of reverb and that is the far distance I would say that this is still in the distance (but know where near as far) and also benefits by not having a lot of reverb or echoes and it is very clean and natural. This joins the ranks of earphones that is helping to bridge the gap between soundstages of full sized earphones and the tiny portable earphones market.
The presentation is also great and the instruments are perfectly in their natural places that are helped along nicely by the soundstage.
Instrument separation is okay. I am not going to lie and say that it lives up to of the balanced armature earphones that I have heard such as my Fischer Audio DBA-02 which marvel in this area. It is okay but by no means great. There is not the airy feel between instruments that I really like and but you can still easily distinguish each instrument from one another and they are definitely not all stuck together. Maybe I am being fussy with what I am putting but this is my opinion.
As I have mentioned earlier in this review within the isolation section getting a seal is very important. Now bass is the other major reason that you must find a good seal and in the case your not hearing any bass then that is a good indicator that your are not getting a good seal. In the case you don’t get one I recommend trying out different tips.
So once you get a good seal then you should be able to fully appreciate these earphones and get the best out of the bass.
I am going start of with the mid-bass and that I think that it has a perfect quantity of it. So talking of quantity it seems to do the right thing at the right time. If a bassy track comes on it responds and does not leave you lacking any bass with a great amount of it fitting the bassy track just great and then in the next track you listen to it may be from a different genre and bass is not as handily needed it the ASG’s as if to show off will tone down the bass so it fits nicely for the song.
The detail off the mid-bass is also great technically. It is tight and punchy with and absolutely great impact and it sounds natural and true to the sounds. In comparison to the IE8’s that I think have a phenomenal bass as does many others this may not have the quantity but is defiantly technically superior when it comes to detail. There is also absolutely no bleed into the mids as you should expect with earphones of these caliber.
Moving on too sub-bass now and this is something I have not “felt out of many earphones and these do really well. To anyone when listening to a bassy song it is always nice to feel the real low rumbles and you can very nicely with these.
The bass is incredible and boasts quantity, detail and good extension and this should easily satisfy anyone’s bass needs without being a basshead earphone.
The reason I am in love with these earphones is their midrange. Now I have been on a journey with these earphones and through the 200 hours of burn in spanning two weeks I saw these go from having a massive spike in the 1.2 khz range which was incredibly fatiguing to it blossom into what I can only describe as wow.
I am going to start with the vocals that are so clear and precise. The pronunciation that these create is unbelievable and causes me not be able to listen to ANY earphones after these as they sound muffled and unclear in the vocals.
The rest is smooth and the detail is incredible and all the instruments are phenomenal.
There is a peak that remains and it has an effect that boosts the vocal but not the mid range of instruments but it is a lot more controlled than what you originally hear.
I have not written a lot about the mids but I am in love with them and that is an opinion that has appeared after the hours of burn in. They did used to be fatiguing and “shout” but they are from that now.
In a sense this is the only negative with these to me. They are recessed and are left veiled by the mids and the bass. For the first 100 hour I hardly noticed them and they lacked the on thing I find a must have in the treble especially coming from the DBA-02’s. Very fortunately after a few more hours after that I did find a bit of sparkle but barely enough. They do have detail and also have extremely good extension but I could just do with a slight boost in the presence.
As i have already said they are not even comparable to the likes of the DBA-02s but actually in a a/b session with the Sennheiser IE8s their highs completely outshone them!
These are by far the most capable and technically impressive earphone I have ever been lucky enough to own but even I can say that they are like Marmite (for those who don’t know a yeast extract spread in the UK) whose catch phrase is you’ll either love it or hate. I just so happen to love it. I can see still from the mids that I think are phenomenal but can also understand while people find them unbearable.
They are at the end of the day not aimed at the audiophile community or for personal audio and are made for musicians who perform on stage and when purchasing you definitely have to bare all this in mind.
What is nice to see though is that they are opening this community with open arms first by sponsoring Head-Fi and the audiophile filters and I can only hope for more products of the type in the future.
For the price there retail price of $300 direct from Aurisonics and other retailers may be cheaper I think that these are a great buy and if you want to try some new extremely unique earphones more than likely unlike anything you’ve had before with a chance that they may in fact be your soul mate earphones I highly recommend picking some up!
I hope you enjoyed the review and I appreciate any feedback good or bad.