I have browsed the Head-Fi forums many times over the years, but never had a reason to really to post. Today, I do. I just spent two hours with Dale from Aurisonics and I will tell you what I found out and listened to.
A little of my history:
I have always cared about good sounding audio, and I try to achieve it every chance I get, but I am not a diehard audiophile. I always wear hearing protection when I am around loud machinery at work or when I am on the range. Thus I can still hear and appreciate good vs great vs amazing sounding audio.
My main pair of wired headphones have been the Etymotics ER-4Ps since i don't know when, but definitely before I got the custom molds for them in 2005. For the past few years I have been using bluetooth headphones out of convenience due to my job. I started with the Sennheiser MM200s and I am currently using the Jaybird Bluebuds X, always with custom earmolds.
This Christmas I took at 4 day trip with my family from Arkansas to Pennsylvania to visit the grandparents, and I realized that my Bluebuds X earbuds, even with the custom earmolds were not cutting it for sound isolation. My ears were locking onto every small annoying sound or the family talking and I just couldn't stand 4 days of being in a car/hotel with them constantly without getting some little moments of peace of mind. So I pulled out my Etymotic ER-4Ps out of my bag and I was instantly blown away how much better my music and podcasts sounded. Over the past years I had forgotten, I had chosen the devil of convenience over quality, and I became ashamed of myself.
I had a problem though, I can't sleep with my ER-4Ps in as I have broken at least three of the stems when rolling onto my sides with the custom ear molds in. I have bought 3 pairs of ER-4Ps over the ears due to this. The tri-flange tips, while granting good sound isolation, are very uncomfortable after wearing them for even a short period of time.
Thus, my search for great sounding, in ear headphones that were flush with my ears for sleeping started. I had heard of the challenger headphones years ago and contacted Rick at custom-ears.com about them. He knew how I liked great sounding audio and mentioned the Aurisonics AS-1s, which he has and loves, and the AS-2s. I had never heard of the company Aurisonics and set out to read all I could about the company and their headphones.
A couple things I found out while doing my research is that Aurisonics is a new company(not in experience though), makes some awesome IEMs and has excellent customer service. I also found out they were located in Nashville, TN and since I would happen to be traveling through it on my way back home, I contacted them and asked if I could stop in.
Right off the bat, Dale at Aurisonics showed me that he cares about customer service, as they are closed until the 2nd and he came into the office just to meet me. They are in the process of moving into a new office, and I got to see it, it is very impressive.
I spent two hours with Dale and if any of y'all have the chance to stop in and talk to Dale, do it. He is a great and interesting individual. After meeting with him, I am positive that he actually cares about making the best listening experience product there is and having top of the line customer service. He is doing this while making and building all the components here is the USA. They design and make the drivers in house, make the shells out of 3D printers, and injection mold machines they have(well will, once they finish moving in to the new building) in house.
I spent the first hour hearing his story about how his history and the roads he traveled that led him to starting Aurisonics, that was worth the trip alone.
The second hour, I got to play with the AS-1s, the AS-2s and the newly announced Rockets. http://b15ijtye.launchrock.co
*Note: I would love to be able to tell you how each range of the sound experience was, and give you ratings, but I am not professional reviewer nor a hardcore audiophile. I am sure there will be many of those type of reviews once people get their hands on these. People are going to want these, especially at the price that Dale said these will be selling for. I am just a guy that can appreciate great sounding audio.
**NOTE: All of my reviews below are going to be positive, I found nothing wrong with any of these headphones in the hour that I played with them. I was just impressed at every turn. I will be buying the Rockets once they are released and maybe some minor detail might pop out later, but I found not a single thing negative about them today.
The Rockets: A review and comparison to the Etymotics ER-4Ps
First I listened to the Rockets, These are a new consumer focused headphones that Aurisonics just announced last week. They sounded so different from anything I have ever listened to. I truly don't know how to describe these, though my first thought was that everything sounded crystal clear, and not overbearing. What I can tell you is that they sounded great, way better than my ER-4Ps. There was bass, my god, great sounding bass in in-ear headphones, and the perfect mix of it. The one thing that makes these headphones stand out is that no matter how loud I turned up the volume, there was no distortion and the sound never became overbearing. Dale does this by turning the sensitivity down. I think these headphones would be perfect for kids, to protect their hearing, which is why he did that. He told me how the story of a time he was able to hear the headphones of one of his kids sitting in the back seat all they way in the front seat where he was sitting, and he said never again to himself. He told me of some other things he has in the works to protect people's hearing, but you will have to wait till he announces them, as I can't remember if he wanted those to be made public yet.
I didn't get any any dB numbers out of Dale, but these seemed very close but a little less than the tri-flange ER-4Ps with are rated at 35dB, I will be able to test this more once I get a pair to play with at home. I found these had actual better sound isolation than the ASG-1s and the ASG-2s, but we will see how they are compared to the AS-2 customs I ordered.
It can't get any better than this. I could stop here, but y'all might like details. The stem is made out of titanium, I couldn't break these even if I wanted to like I did to my Etymotics. The single flange feels sooooo, so very good. It is a soft feeling, but makes such a great seal in the ear. Dale said he has a even better feeling one in the works for the final version. I could wear these all day long I bet and not even know there were there. I just want to scream from a rooftop how much better these are than the tri-flange Etymotics. These are even smaller than the ER-4Ps(Dale took some comparison shots), and since the cable comes straight out, you can wear these at night and sleep with them in, which I plan to do once I get them. The cable on the ones I tried was very soft and bendable, but Dale said he has a new type of cable coming in very soon.
The bottom line is that the Rockets are some awesome sounding and built headphones. The Kickstarter starts on Friday, I am going to buying a pair for myself and a few extra for birthday gifts. Get in on them early, I see Dale having a hard time keeping these on the shelf once people start listening to them.
The AS-1s / ASG-1s:
The ASG-1s are a generic fit version of the custom AS-1s, and are what I tried today and are the first IEM that Dale at Aurisonics made. I listened to them second and they did sound better than the Rockets, but you have to understand that these are meant to be used by music professionals as in ear monitors, you could turn these up a lot louder than the Rockets. The sound experience was more 3D than the Rockets. There isn't much more to say about them, as in a world where the AS-2s exist, I don't also need a pair of these. These have their place, especially with their lower price point, but were not my favorite.
You can only order the AS-2s in a custom ear mold version, but it would be hard to test out the AS-2s if that was the only case. Dale has a version of the AS-2 for people to try that has tips like the ASG-1s. I put these on and let me say, these are hands down the best earphones I have ever tried. The sound experience was truly magical and one of my family members that was with me said they could see it on my face. These have a rich, 3D experience that makes them just magical. How else can I explain them. You can REALLY turn these up and do some damage to your hearing, so be careful if you get these.They are not like the Rockets in that regard, but people that will put down the cash to get these I think will understand that.
They also have a adjustable bass port, which Dale said if you opened it all the way up, you could shake all the cobwebs right out of your head.
The sound isolation was good, but not as good as the Rockets, I will see how the custom molded version of these do in that regard though, it should be a little better than those rubber tips.
These are not cheap IEMs, but I immediately ordered a pair in the stealth configuration with the ambient listening port. That is what I really needed and one reason I contacted Aurisonics, as I will wear these all day listening to music/podcasts and need to hear when someone walks by my desk and talks to me. He did not have a ASG-2 version with the ambient port there though, so I could not try it out, he said it can be fully closed or opened though.
The Rockets are awesome headphones, the AS-1s are great IEMs with a awesome experience, but the AS-2s, they are an awesome IEM with a magically awesome experience.
The AS-2s were the earbuds I went to Aurisonics to try out and they did not disappoint, hell they blew my expectations out of the water. I found the hidden jewel of my visit in the Rockets though, I didn't not expect those to be such a great headphones at such a great price.
**I was not payed to write this Aurisonics review/experience. I ordered the headphones with my own money. Dale was so awesome that i felt I owed it to him to tell the world what I felt/heard at Aurisonics today. Thank you Dale!
Edited by johnnytk36 - 12/31/13 at 8:23pm