Packaging, presentation, and accessories.
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Either way, tip selection was quite large, even including a pair of foamies.
Both iterations came in a sturdy simplistic box that implemented a clear plastic cover in the front, showcasing the product. The phones were held in place by a foam block that in my opinion represented a well thought out package and presentation.
*This photo is of a vanilla ver I purchased but the packaging is the same.
Besides the generous amount of tips, you also received a soft pleather carrying pouch with a metal band that keeps the goods from falling out, a pair of ear hooks, and some paperwork. A tag is also currently attached to the cable, recommending what I believe is 100 hours of burn-in.
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Aldo they were substantially better protected inside the pelican case from outside forces, I actually dislike the case itself. I find it a tad too large overall and not tall enough inside. Placing the ASG 2's inside has me worried about the pressure the case exhibits upon the earpieces. Multiple times I have opened the case to find indents on the foam where the case was placing pressure on the ASG 2's. Being foam however, this could be considered desirable in that it will prevent the earpieces from moving around. I however find it nerve-racking! The foam isn't very thick and doesn't extend to the walls of the case, only present at the top and bottom. Also, because the cable has a stiff tube leading up to the earpiece, I imagine the case puts stress on the connection when closing the lid.
Tip selection was noticeably dry compared to the 07's but I have found the double flange tips very likable. I find that for me, the deeper sitting the double flange tips exhibit provides a more secure fit and they are quite soft. Besides the double flange tips, the package also includes 3 black single flange tips, in the standard sizes of S/M/L.
Finally, they also included a warranty card/QC card, tip card, and a mini flat head screwdriver inside the case.
Case Tip Fin.
These phones are part of a tour and didn't come with the original packaging.
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The cable is smooth, fairly pliable tho a bit springy, and of good thickness/weight. I hear zero cable noise. I find the candy cane stripping in good taste on the BE, the colors are not overly bright and the winding perfectly spaced. This cable is terminated in a 90 deg gold plated 3.5mm plug. I personally find 90 deg plugs undergo less stress when bending and moving while your DAP is in the pocket. The stress reliefs on the cable look adequate overall given the design.
The adjustable metal nozzle has a good amount of resistance toward movement on my pair(s). Aldo I like this in the sense that it makes it feel well supported, a looser connection could possible make it self adjusting during insertion. As it stands, I would straiten out the nozzle, use it until discomfort appeared, then move the nozzle away from the direction where my canal felt swore. Little by little, this phone became the most comfy piece of gear ever to violate my body...
I would say it should take responsibility and marry me but that's a hole I rather not crawl out of just yet.
Look at that rock hard stem with such wonderful ridges. Perfectly sculpted to hold those tips at the maximum limits of insertion.
Need I say more?
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Adorably cute yet informative, a win win in my book if I don't say so myself...
When I first heard of the stealth option, I became quite ecstatic. I pictured the following in a attempt to formulate some idea of the type of finish I would receive:
Sadly, what I viewed in ekes post was more in-line with this:
I'm not sure how one would consider a glossy finish "stealth" but nonetheless I was not impressed nor interested and placed an order for a regular frost version. I was later informed the finish was changed for a more matte black and told it looked "killer", I decided to upgrade.
Looking at the fit and finish of this set, I'm for the most part very pleased.
We all know by now that round one left me quite worried. I don't see any surface area they forgot to paint, all the screws appear black, there's no signs of scratches, nor does the AS logo display poor definition or mismatched colors. There is however a small wrinkle in the matte finish near the bottom screw here:
The earpieces feel sturdy and the recessed socket gives me more confidence in the longevity of the cable connection. Aldo bigger then my GR07 BE, I find them quite comfy during normal wear. Sleeping with them however seems like a no go because of the pressure they exhibit when laying on my side, as well as my worry that I'll damage the cable connection while tossing and turning.
I've mentioned that I like the cable. I don't hear any cable noise and find it pliable plus very light. I will however add it feels a bit cheap compared to the vsonic offering. I also mentioned I dislike the stiff tube around the earpiece and wish they offered a cable without it. The plastic tube as a chin slider is also a bit disheartening for what I paid but its functionality seems just as good as my GR07 BE so far.
This cable also terminates in a 90 deg gold plated 3.5mm plug. Strain reliefs seem a bit better then the 07's as they extend farther out and bend easier. However, given the 07 has a smaller plastic extrusion "lifting" the shaft, it's more case friendly.
This phone features a adjustable bass port on each of the faceplates. Indentations are placed around the outer circumference of the port to aid in adjusting the amount of bass one desires. Moving the dial towards the circle opens the port. At first, the feature seemed well implemented. After adjusting the dials for much longer, I've changed my mind.
Not only is it nerveracking attempting to insert the bare metal tip, in fear of damaging the finish, the movement of these ports do not inspire confidence. They do not share the same resistance to movement, nor do they completely close at the same location. For a better implementation of a bass adjustment system, I present the JH Audio Roxanne.
Not only does this system allow one to adjust the bass while listening, they exhibit the same resistance to movement and feel sturdy in comparison.
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Think about the(Ety) children!
The cable on this guy has a thick rubber feeling outer coating that gives it a very plain look. It isn't particularly attractive but it does have very robust looking strain reliefs.
It is however noteworthy to mention this cable transmits noise and I find it problematic. At the expense of displaying my lack of sanity, I will state I sometimes dance around my room like a mad man while listening to tunes. Even with music playing, I hear the cable as it rubs against my clothes and face. Heck, even while laying in bed, bobbing my head(which I refuse to give up), or laying on my side with my elbow down raising my upper torso, I still experience problems.
The cable terminates in a 90 deg gold plated jack that's very similar to the ASG 2 in design.
These guys also include a removable cable leading up to a housing that I can best describe as a cylinder, cuz that's what it is. One long plastic cylinder with a smaller cylinder extruding forward to fit the tips. They don't feel fragile but I must say I'm a bit underwhelmed. Given the design, price, and cable connection, I would have liked to see a metal housing.
Because the housing is quite small and the tips quite long, these guys do go in quite deep. I have however surprisingly found them quite(quite) comfy during normal wear.
The ety's also feature removable filters to aid in tuning the sound if I understand correctly. They currently have green filters installed but I don't have the tool to remove it nor other filters to try out. That said, I like the fact they have this feature.
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Starting at the cable we are greeted with a smooth outer finish similar to the GR07. It's quite pliable in the hand and caries a good thickness. It terminates in a 90 deg 3.5mm gold plated jack. I believe the casing is made of some type of metal as it gets cold to the touch. There's a very elegant silver accent on the jack, as well as the sony name, that breaks up the black tone quite nicely. The strain reliefs go from nonexistent to quite odd from the normal jigsaw plastic I'm used to seeing. Given the quality of materials and workmanship, I will let this go but still note it internally.
These phones feature removable cables but given I am not the owner, I will not unplug them for pictures. Leading to the earpieces are memory tubes and once again, I wish these were non-exsistent. The cable seems pliable enough not to need them. The connections that enter the earpiece also have very nicely placed silver and red accents, left and right respectively. They look to be screw-on type fasteners and are well constructed.
The earpieces themselves feel quite sturdy and the break up in the shapes and colors is nicely finessed. They also seem to be made of some type on metal and plastic. I quite like the location they placed the MDR-EX1000 and JAPAN wording as well. I must also say this paint job looks to be of the car showroom type. I'm not one to yearn for such a impressive pop on something I'll be sticking inside my ears but I can appreciate the craftsmanship. Very nice deep, dark, and sparkly finish.
The ergonomics are something of a problem for me. Aldo comfy, they do stick out a bit and so are not bed friendly. Long listening session on my desk work out great for comfort but that brightness...
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If you thought EX1000 were monstrosities, well you are in for a treat my friend. Here we have for you some nicely painted sound emitting bolts.
People talking about the size of these guys were not joking, surely. The housing looks substantial in the hand but like the EX1000, also showcases some elegantly placed accents. Theirs a thin silver and red band that wraps around the earpiece with circular expansion in the back to house the L R lettering.
The fit and finish on these looks good but I'm not sure the housing are utilizing the same metal precent in the EX1000. It feels like plastic all round and so less impressive, I'll like to be proven wrong. The XBA-H3 lettering has a elegant gold color and is tastefully placed. I also like the placement/color of the THAILAND lettering tho some will dislike its existence altogether, much like the CHINA lettering on the EX1000. These also have a very nice paint job tho it's not as sparkly or deep as the EX.
I find these guys quite comfy during normal wear but the same negatives as the EX1000 are present. I love listening to music in bed, tiss my natural habitat as a avoider of the sociables. The H3 are not bed friendly and so become my mortal enemy.
The iem comes with two cables, both flat, both red and black. The difference comes from the addition of a mic/control on one of them. The jack also shows some changes, not only adding another band to the shaft but also changing one of the extrusions from metal to plastic.
I'm not a particular fan of flat cables as they don't always solve tangle problems, I feel their strain reliefs undergo more stress given how iem's twist and turn, and I just find them aesthetically not pleasing or out of place. That said, the color choice of red and black is a nice balance. The red gives it a nice pop while retaining some composure with its darker shade, the black then helps tone down the glamour while providing a good transition into the earpieces. Nicely executed.
The Y-split also shows touches of glamour but I must ask... strain reliefs... where are they? Why?
So how does the mic feel/perform?
In short it feels cheap and performs decently. The button(only button) feels a bit mushy and the outer casting, which is made of plain generic looking plastic, leaves room for improvement. The plainness wouldn't actually be a problem for me if the mic felt better crafted. The matte finish itself is liked tho the button(only button) is glossy black. I would have preferred they contrast the button(only button) in a different manner.
I don't have many friends in the real world so I used the recording app to check for audio quality... Lolololo (T_T)
I don't particularly like hearing myself talk in a recording as my voice doesn't sound very pleasing. That said, it's picked up decently enough tho the mic also pics up cable movement. I don't currently have momentums or apple buds to do a direct comparison but I believe both did a better job with there included mic. Both also had more then one button... did I mention it only has one button? Sony?
**I'm going to add this disclaimer now. The following is my very uneducated attempt at representing what I hear. My use of certain terms may be misguided.**
Consider my reference for what I want to hear is both live performances and a set of full size speaker I was told were of high quality. I've also had personal experience with the guitar, piano, and drums. By personal experience, I mean to say I've sat down with them and either played them like a mad man or learned some very basic tunes. I used a acoustic guitar the most, a Yamaha FG730S I purchased for bout 3 Benjamins.
Remember I can be mistaking sparkle with spikes, detail with volume, and air with soundstage. Also fit/tips do play a part in affecting an iem's sound so take this into consideration.
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Lows: Exhibiting a slight elevation from flat, they produce well textured rumble and decent punch.
Mids: Fairly level and natural sounding, they have good detail but miss some air.
Highs: Good presence and a touch sparkly, high hats have decent kick and the higher register of pianos good crispness.
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Lows: What some people would refer to as full?, the lows carry good body. The attack is authoritative and well controlled tho speed is not at ety lvls. Rumble is well presented with good texture but it can be overtaken by the mid bass blast at times, making it sound cloudy.
Mids: Lush, vocals are carried up by the low end warmth while retaining good detail. They are also fairly airy or spacious sounding.
Highs: A bit subdued for my taste, they lack some of the sparkle I like hearing. High hats are missing some attack/kick, higher register of pianos lack some crispness.**check out real world impressions**
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Lows: One word, tight. These guys make me question what reality sounds like given their 98% accuracy rating. Bass notes move fast and cleanly. Rumble and thump play on the same lvl and aren't emphasized.
Mids: With no low end warmth to stand on or sparkle to feed off, vocals could be considered a bit stale. They exhibit a clean and balance presence tho miss some air.
Highs: Displaying good presence, they lack some sparkle but trade it for smoothness. If you find trouble with treble spikes but don't want a dark signature, these are worth a listen.
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Lows: A well textured presentation that produces good extended lows. Sub to mid bass is well balanced, pumping out thump and rumble on even grounds. Those ground aren't very high however and so the bass doesn't sound emphasized.
Mids: I have to say etys have something to look up to. Not only do voices sound correct, they benefit from the overall airy presentation of this phone. I would say this comes the closest to hearing vocals in person. Detailed, level, and airy.
Highs: These are phones I would worry about using for long periods of time, watch your ears gentlemen! Depending on the recording, these do sound quite sparkly and detailed up top. However, this is a double edge sword and one side just happens to be too sharp to handle on my end.
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Lows: Extended lows that suffer from a bit of mid-bass bullying. They exhibit good attack but also some smudging on fall back. Lows are elevated and so authoritative in their presences.
Mids: I hear vocals very close to EX1000's in realisms and air. The warmth from the low end grunt does cloud the vocals comparatively speaking but I still find them quite detailed.
Highs: This is what I would describe as inoffensive sparkle. It carries good clarity and air yet remains tame enough not to require constant breaks.
Real world testing
Artist: Mariah Carey
Album: The Emancipation of Mimi
Song: We Belong Together
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Like stated before, GR07, ASG 2, and H3 have the warmth to handle the low end punch and rumble well.
The GR07 give the most coherent reproduction out of the top three, keeping sub and mid bass well balance and well controlled. ASG comes in with a higher punch potential that can really start the body moving and retains good control but has a bit of a blurring effect on the sub bass rumble. The H3 doesn't let the ASG off that easy with its equality tantalizing low end grunt but flips the ASG 2 attributes, providing more textured sub-bass clarity while sacrificing control over its punch and fall, clouding the experience at the top a bit. Ety's come in very cleanly and tight but lack soul moving power. EX1000's also come in with good clarity but as well as lacking some ump, lack the ety speed. They both have well textured bass but their elevation is a touch below my lower limits for this song.
The midrange is a one man race, placing the EX1000 dead ahead while running backwards, waving at the others as they expound tries of sorrow in the realization they are not worthy. The realism and airyness of this phone is quite(quite) impressive. Mariah's voice is presented with such great detail and space that I actually get a sense of being there with her. But wait! The EX1000 sees something in the distance, he can't believe it but his brother is closing in fast. It seems to have taken him a while to build up speed with that rather large sub woofer attached to his back. The H3 was something of a slippery slope for me. While I first thought it was right up there with the EX1000's vocal prowess, its mid bass looseness and overall warmth turned out to have a clouding effect on the mids. That said, it does share in the EX1000 realism and air, losing only in total clarity. The ASG 2, while producing good detail, a better transition into the midrange with its warmth(vs H3), and good vocal air or spaciousness, doesn't match up to the EX/H3's airyness and realism. Both ety's and GR07 display good detail but miss out on air. With the ety's coming in at a more convincing vocal performance and the GR07's sounding a touch less clear and a touch harsh.
Moving on up to the highs, the H3 precent the best lift while remaining tame. The cymbals have very good crispness and Mariah's voice is carried up well, giving it great definition without expounding sibilance. The EX 1000, while also expressing good crispness and definition without sibilance, miss some of the H3's imaging. I can focus on the cymbals better on the H3 for example. **ASG 2's surprisingly show great imaging and crispness on the cymbals! I don't even.... ladies and gents, this is sparkle I'm hearing... dumbfounded.** They don't cary her vocals up quite like the H3/EX1000 but vocals are already well produced and I don't hear any sibilance. GR07's show a touch of sparkle here, displaying good crispness on the cymbals and good imaging, a bit below the EX1000. **Ety's have very good presence up top but they also come with a nice surprise! I must say cymbals seem to be getting some vocal bullying. It's a bit hard homing in on them and so I'm left having to call foul.** Vocals are carried up well but I guess it's a bit too much for this particular song.
My Choice: H3>ASG2>GR07BE>EX1000>ER4S
Album: Todo Cambio
Song: Todo Cambio
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Warmth isn't something I consider a necessity for a song like this and so the underdogs from round 1 get a better shake.
Here's where the cleanness of the EX1000 and Ety low end really comes to play, offering a very coherent reproduction of the drums. The EX1000 pushes forward in realism and punch while the ety's offer up a touch more clarity with their speed. ASG 2 and H3 provide more tactility in there attack but the ASG 2 wins out with its greater control during the rise and fall of drum notes. My precious GR07, while speedy and natural, is left confuse in the middle, not as clean as the ety's nor tactile as the ASG 2.
Vocals are once again handled beautifully by the EX1000. The ASG and H3 however give guitars a thicker warmer tone that I personally find more convincing. Not to mention both phones are also airy and it's showcased here as the singers take breaths and blow lush silky angels out their voice holes. I don't row that way but dam these guys make a brother struggle. Ety's display great clarity and texture on guitars. They also showcase very well articulated vocals but again lose out on air. GR07 BE do a good job on both counts, vocals and guitar. They however lose out to the others in both air and detail, standing a bit behind the ety's in last place. They don't display any harshness in this song however.
Cymbals again sound quite nice on the ASG 2 with good crispness but I could focus better on them in the last song. The H3 display the same great imaging and crispness as before and vocals are again nicely carried up. EX1000 are again below the H3 in imaging but still produce nice crispness. The ety's once again show some bullying but when the vocals die down, there's good crispness to be had. GR07 BE allow me to focus more easily on the cymbals and so provide better imaging then the ety's here.
Album: Modus Operandi
Song: Yeheuan Filters
DL link: http://www.ektoplazm.com/free-music/amygdala-modus-operandi
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What about sparkle?
Theirs other frequencies here besides bass!?! Ha! I'm not listening to this for its sparkle mate. Hell, I don't even think I do much listening, more like transcending. I sit back, close my eyes, and let the waves have their way with me. This isn't your grandmas keyboard lesson son, ignore the notes and hit the lower register to the tune of madness, then take it up a notch.
Submitting to madness for long periods of time can lead to complete loss of sanity, temporary inability to function socially, and other forms of blowback deemed undesirable by the populous. Also, in this particular case, loss of hearing. Tread softly and stay away from sticks while transcending is engaged.
Album: Sleepless Nights
Buy(JP iTunes account needed):
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So, where does this comparison leave me?
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While I never went back to the GR07(V/BE) purely on sonic merits, it's hard to come by a good sounding set with the same great ergonomics. While I thought the ASG 2's bass could use some tightening up and highs boosting, the contrast offered by the H3's mid-bass and EX1000 brightness helps put things into perspective. I believe it was vwinter that clarified for me he found the ASG's bass well controlled given the amount of sheer power they posses. I think I can now see(hear) what he means more clearly.
Besides that, I was also quite surprise by the upper performance of my ASG 2 after sitting down and comparing so closely to other gear. There's definitely great sparkle potential here gentlemen. Do I now find them excellent then? No. I would still prefer cleaner sub-bass and a small bump in the mid-highs.
How about all the other phones? What do I think?
I wrote a conclusion before when I was planning to just compare the ety's, ASG 2, and my GR07 BE. That conclusion mentioned none of those phones came close to my reference. But now I have these superb EX1000 in my presence. Needless to say, that conclusion was scraped faster then it took me to realize I wasn't a girl, impressive indeed tho the jury's still out on my sense of humor.
But what is it exactly I mean to say here?
I mean to say I find vocals on the EX1000 superb. So much so that I would have a hard time choosing between my GR07 and these bad boys if I was starting from scratch. That's saying something for me as the GR07's come together very well for all of my music while I find the EX1000 more particular given the low end deathness and upper brightness. Then there's ergonomics and the GR07 just keep poking, no, stabbing me with a stick.
But wait?! You said the H3 are a sonic win?
Indeed so my little imaginary me. You see, one must take into consideration not only how I reach my conclusions but what it is I'm concluding.
When talking pure sonics, I find the H3 better allrounders. They give up a touch of EX1000 vocal clarity and air for a more filled in low end and accessible upper deck. A touch is negligible given the goods they bring back in other words. Therefore, H3 come out on top with a special mention going out to the EX1000's vocal greatness.
Then wouldn't it be between the H3 and GR07? Why not between ASG 2 and H3?
Excellent question me, can I call you me? ME2. Ah! Of course, my mistake... I forgive myself.
I should mention that my plan is to be left with two phones. One representing a more leveled presentation, the other a more engaging one. Which sounds most natural is up for debate I suppose.
With that said, the GR07/EX1000 would be competing for the former. The latter is my current search and tho I find the H3 a sonic win, I don't quite think my search is over.
Taking the phones as a package is something one must also consider. The H3 is simply put, too large a problem for me to accept, literally. If the H3 sonics were inside a GR07 or ASG 2 shell, I would give them a stronger consideration. As it stands, I would personally never buy the H3. Also, sony, one button... 😐
Are you actively looking for a GR07 replacement then?
Not really. For one, it's going to be extremely hard to find a phone that shares its great ergonomics and ups it in performance. I'm not looking for a GR07 replacement here but a companion. Besides, I'm already quite(quite) happy with my Vsonics as a package. I plan to keep these guys till death do us part.
In closing; H3 best sonics, GR07 BE best ergonomics, EX1000 best build, ER4S best isolation, ASG 2 best esthetics, Waynes World best photographer, nekomimi best...
Thank you for your time comrades and I'll see y'all on the flip side!!!!
Other thanks and stuff . (Click to show)
Special thanks to James for allowing me to try out his precious gear.
Because of time constraints and the fact I work graveyard, I had to improvise a bit on picture quality with some pics. Ergo, I give you my custom photography studio.
Let us have a moment of silence for the room freshener that died in the making of this studio, Mr Clean Ocean Breeze. It took some persuading but I got him to "agree"...
I would also like to thank Thomas Reid for allowing me the pleasure of auditioning JH Audio gear.
Normal wear= In a upright position while walking or sitting. I enjoy walking with a 90 deg bend backwards...
Edited by UnityIsPower - 5/15/14 at 11:58am