Accutone Studio S1

Rating:
4/5,
  1. Cinder
    Accutone Studio S1 Review: Dynamic Punch
    Written by Cinder
    Published Apr 4, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Great bass, good detail retrieval, good cable, inclusion of Comply eartips, natural timbre, well-applied warmth in lower mids
    Cons - Tiny case, mild smudging in sub-bass, low eartips diversity
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    Accutone Studio S1 Review: Dynamic Punch
    Accutone is a consumer-electronic company based in China that specializes in building earphones. They’ve had some pretty solid offerings that met the market well in the past and they’re back again to woo the audiophile market with their new Studio series. But are their efforts worthwhile? Or is this a failed attempt to breach an already saturated market?

    You can find the S1 available for sale, here, for $200.

    Preference and Bias: Before reading a review, it is worth mentioning that there is no way for a reviewer to objectively pass judgment on the enjoyability of a product: such a thing is inherently subjective. Therefore, I find it necessary for you to read and understand what I take a natural liking to and how that might affect my rating of a product.

    My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass. The mids should be slightly less pronounced than the treble, but still ahead of the bass. I prefer a more bright upper range.

    Source: The S1 was powered like so:

    HTC U11 -> USB-C adapter -> earphones

    or

    Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones

    or

    HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones

    or

    PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones

    All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.

    Sound Signature
    Initial Impressions:

    The Studio S1 is Accutone’s “first real effort” in the audiophile IEM market space, but you’d never guess that from its sonic performance. The S1 features a “fun” sound signature that combines a quick, punchy, and robust bass with a capable, but not overdone, bass. These components combine to form a generally V-shaped sound signature. The bass is prominent, but not messy, and has a fairly linear response (the mid-bass is generally within 1–2dB of the sub-bass).

    Treble: Songs used: In One Ear, Midnight City, Outlands, Satisfy

    The S1’s treble can be described with the oft-overused qualifier, “effortless”. While I hate to use such an audiophile cliche, I do feel that it fits. It's mellow but not colored and rolled-off. For a single dynamic driver with a V-shaped sound signature, treble-based detail retrieval is pretty good too.

    Attack and decay are natural and support the S1’s natural timbre well. Extension is pretty good, though not as good as one might find with balanced-armature based IEMs. That doesn’t stop it from pushing up into the upper-treble though, as it does a good job imaging strings and electronic synths that live on the edges of the upper register.

    The Studio S1 does not fall victim to sibilance, so even the most treble-sensitive listeners can rest easy; the S1 does not need to be sharp to portray a lot of detail.

    Mids: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Dreams

    The mids are mildly recessed and have no real coloration aside from a very slight warmth in their lower part. The mids feel faster than average for a dynamic driver and are very well layered. I can get up to three or four distinct “layers” of instrumentation in some songs.

    Guitars and drums have an excellent tone that really plays to the advantage of genres like alternative, rock, and even electronic ones like dubstep and progressive house.

    Vocals are above average in intelligibility and are blended very well with the rest of the instrumentation in most songs. The S1 is fairly impartial when it comes to whose vocals sound the best, but I’d have to say that male one do tend to take the lead in terms of tonality.

    Bass: Songs used: Moth, Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix), War Pigs (Celldweller Remix)

    Bass is the S1’s specialty. Since the release of the Rose Cappuccino Mk. II I’ve been waiting for another company to deliver a bass-positive experience without sacrificing fidelity in any other parts of the frequency. The S1 feels like an honest attempt at that. And while it doesn’t deliver massive bass, it does give you punchy and rumbly bass that doesn’t butcher the mids or treble. That alone gives it an edge up for listeners who don’t want to just hear their music, but also feel it.

    That said, the sub-bass does fall a bit slow. This makes complex bass guitar strumming patterns less than ideal from a clarity standpoint. Bass guitars are well taken care of in terms of audibility and emphasis though.

    The S1’s bass performs exceptionally well during bass drops in songs like War Pigs (Celldweller Remix) and Gold Dust.

    Packaging / Unboxing
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    Build
    Construction Quality

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    The S1 is built from plastic and makes use of an ergonomically styled shell. The faceplate is affixed to the rest of the shell via a combination of friction and a single screw. The faceplate features a vent and reflective Accutone logo.

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    Embedded in the shells are (FINALLY STANDARDIZED) MMCX connectors. They are sturdy and well supported by the shell, but they do allow for rotation, as most MMCX connectors do.

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    On top of the nozzle’s are black metal filters. They do a good job protecting the driver from any debris that may try and get past them. On the inner face of the shell is a beveled “Studio” sub-logo. It’s pretty stylish and doesn’t affect ergonomics, so I’m glad Accutone included it for a little extra flair.

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    Accutone chose to go with a simple plastic braided cable. It does its job admirably, holding no body, and conducting no microphonics. The MMCX housing, 3.5mm jack housing, and Y-splitter are all made of a matte plastic that is thick and durable. There is ample stress relief on all the critical points along the cable. The stock cable does not come with inline controls, though it is very easy to find a replacement that does should that be important to you.

    Comfort

    The Studio S1 is exceedingly comfortable. I have no complaints about it at all, and would highly recommend it to anyone with larger ears. Those with smaller ears may find a way to use the S1 via the foam eartips, though there’s no guarantee given the size of the shells.

    I had no problems with comfort while wearing the Studio S1 for extended periods of time, though I wouldn’t recommend laying down in it as that did produce some mild discomfort.

    Accessories
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    Inside the box you’ll find:

    • 1x semi-hard carrying case
    • 1x pair of foam eartips
    • 3x silicone eartips
    • 1x micro-fiber cleaning cloth
    The Studio S1 is decently well-equipped, but could definitely use a bolstered selection of eartips, given its price.

    Furthermore, as is with every single other case made by Accutone, the case in the box is far too small. While the Studio S1 definitely does fit, the case should be 30–50% larger to avoid having to tightly coil the included cable and avoid compressing the Comply tips that were (thankfully) included in the box.

    Summary
    The Studio S1 is a coming-of-age for Accutone in the audiophile market space. While it does have some strange choices for its accessory package, it is a very well-rounded offering that should appeal to fans of bass, but not alienate those who appreciate natural timbre and treble retrieval. I recommend that you give the S1 a listen if you get the chance, you might just fall in love with it.
      CoiL, hqssui and B9Scrambler like this.
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    2. Cinder
      @Andrew Harper Thanks for the compliment! I'm glad you liked it. As far as recommending it to you based on bass output, I can't say for sure given I've not heard the XDP-300R. However if you find that you are wanting an IEM with a V-shaped sound signature and a relatively strong low end, then the S1 will suit you well. I am getting a Studio S2 in fairly soon, so keep your eyes out for my review on that in the coming weeks. It should be a linear upgrade from the S1, but we will see!
      Cinder, Apr 13, 2018
    3. Cinder
      @Andrew Harper I recently got a chance to demo the B400's and found that while they are quite warm, they fall short from the 200Hz-20Hz range, which is key in bass impact. So if you want more impact, but similar bass tonality as the B400, then yes, I'd say that the S1 is a good match. Just be aware that the S1 doesn't quite have the detail retrieval the B400 has since it only uses a single dynamic driver.
      Cinder, Apr 13, 2018
      mgunin and Andrew Harper like this.
    4. Andrew Harper
      I'm so glad that you confirmed what my ears where hearing, don't get me wrong the B400's are just superb with classical for example (I listened to a 24bit version of the Jurassic Park Soundtrack the other night and they just sing) but it's interesting what you say about 200Hz-20Hz range. I'll look out for the follow up review with interest. I can see me having a draw full of IEM's for all occasions. lol :)
      Andrew Harper, Apr 13, 2018