I finally got the right fit with the ASG.. Good Lord, I'm an idiot. Didn't realize the bump in the ear mold (above the driver/facing the ear side) needs to sit below the ridge along the middle of my ear. Being used to (true) customs simply snapping into place & reading about all the needed 'tip rolling',,I wasn't mindful of making sure the damn phones were inserted properly in the first place. You live (in my case, 'hear') & learn.
When seated properly, these phones go fairly deep into the ear canal. As I fought with the fit & fiddled with how/where they sat in my canal, the midrange was an absolute mess. Seat them properly and they sound impressively clean & cohesive. Before getting a good seat, the midrange was very warped, excessively shouty, and lacked any sense of coherence. With the right fit.. the way the midrange 'reorganized' itself to my ears (like putting a puzzle together) made (most) everything sound 'right.' I never took offense to the 'mid-forward' nature of these monitors. I feel the claim that these are extremely mid forward is an exaggerated charge. I judged these the ASG's sound based on their intended application environment: as stage monitors. A slightly bumped up midrange (opposed to a spike at a particular frequency) seems 'par for the course' with professional phones intended for mixing and for stage use. As Dale (and other customs manufacturers) have said, artists & professionals requested this type of tuning.
Now that I have the correct fit, I can really hear what they're supposed to sound like.. they're impressive. The typical 'stage monitor' smoothness they possess does a nice job of off-setting the sterile feel that phones with 'dry texturing' (such as the ASG) tend to create. The soundstage is indeed impressive.. on par with one of my faves, the FA Silver Bullet (which has a ridiculous soundstage). Imaging is very good, not great. Same goes for dynamic range (the smaller dynamic range probably helps keep the driver speed quite fast, though). I do hear the slightly 'funneled' nature of the soundstage & imaging that some others owners have mentioned. This is where the (spatial) areas to the center-left & center-right aren't as 'filled in' as the (dead) center, far-left, & far-right (spatial) points of the soundstage. I don't take great issue with this, though.. cause the overall presentation is quite satisfying & enjoyable.
The midrange frequency spike that the ASG possesses (in the 1k range/area, I think) has a certain hollowness & 'ring' that has me thinking it's a product of resonance from the housing/chamber (like shotgunshane mentioned). Does resonance sound the same and/or is it uniformly amplified as the volume is turned up? If not, it must be the tuning, no? Either way.. I'd like to see/hear it get tamed. Dale said the justification for the spike (?) is cause vocalists like to hear the phones/themselves that way. From an accuracy standpoint, I'm not sure I see how it serves a long term purpose. It's one thing to push up the midrange as a whole (as previously stated, this is quite common in stage monitors) but to spike a certain frequency range (so severely) does more harm than good (to my ears).
Aside from the that spike in the midrange, I really like these phones. I have less than ten hours on the ASG though, so we'll see what happens as they burn in a bit. At ~$200 (for HF members), I think they're a great value. It certainly belongs along side the GR07, FXT, e-Q5, etc. as phones that offer some of the highest performance-per-dollar currently available. Fit issues & the midrange spike (which might get resolved with a filter Dale is said to be developing) aside, anyone who likes/understands what 'stage monitors' sound like would appreciate these phones at the very least.
Did anyone confirm the stock cable isn't anything other than a generic (Westone-style) cable? It looks an awful lot like the (plain) ones I got with my Quads & Miracle.
Edited by FlySweep - 3/11/12 at 4:01am