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Dual BA - Studio Reference IEMs from Akoustyx

Akoustyx R-220

Rating:
5/5,
    • Studio reference tuned acoustics
    • Proprietary tuned Balanced Armature Dual drivers by Knowles®
    • Detachable cable with gold plated MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) connectors
    • Lightweight aluminum-alloy & polycarbonate IEM housing
    • Multi-Braided Monocrystalline grade oxygen-free copper cable
    • 3-Button in-line mic (works with IOS & Android)
    • Patented fitting customization kit with EarLock® retention-interface
    • Non-allergic in-ear gels (Small, Medium, Large & 2-Flap)
    • Comply™ T-100 premium earphone memory foam tips
    • Neoprene padded storage/carry case

Recent Reviews

  1. iems0nly
    Neutral with no compromise
    Written by iems0nly
    Published Sep 3, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Neutral with treble tilt, extremely detailed
    Cons - Bass light, treble maybe too exciting for some
    Simple Man’s review – Akoustyx R-220 (~200 USD)
    This is called simple man’s review because they are based on the sound of these earphones directly from my mobile phone (HTC 10), using 320 Kbps mp3 tracks. No expensive gears nor lossless tracks, no EQ, and all that hi-fi stuff.

    IMAG3797.jpg

    Product Specs
    Driver
    : Dual BA (Custom tuned Knowles drivers)
    Impedance: 29Ω; Sensitivity: 109dB@1kHz
    Cable: 4 foot MMCX detachable cable, with Microphone, 3-button remote
    Shell: Aluminium alloy & polycarbonate housing
    Nozzle: ~3mm (like Etys)
    Preferred eartips: Comply foam tips
    Release year: October 2018
    Price: ~200 USD

    IMAG3804.jpg

    A word about Akoustyx
    Akoustyx is an American company whose founder is the same person that founded the old Rock-It Sounds, if you’ve heard of them. There was a cult following for their R-Shield headphones- a drummer’s favourite, and the dual BA IEM R-50. So, they're into the headphone business for quite a while. However, Akoustyx is in no way related/connected with Rock-It Sounds and are completely separate business entities.

    Build – 4.5/5
    Housings
    are two-piece. It’s part metal – aluminium alloy, and the second half that turns 90 degrees for the MMCX connectors is made of high-density polycarbonate, or hard plastic. They are very lightweight and black in colour. You can see the Akoustyx logo on one side of the metal bit of the housing, and the L/R markings on the other side.
    Cables are same as what we get with their little brother (Akoustyx R-115), twisted, copper-coloured, secured in a transparent braided plastic tube. The ear loops are permanently bent and return to their resting state when left alone. The cables are aesthetically pleasing and smooth to touch. The Y splitter is solid and loaded with strain reliefs on every protruding end. They are also equipped with a flat neck-cinch.
    3-button remote module functions as expected.
    L-Shaped jack is solid and sturdy. They match the Y splitter and the connectors in colour.

    Accessories 5/5
    A small soft Neoprene pouch
    is provided which looks great and is of the perfect size to hold an IEM. A little external zipper pocket provides a nice space to hold some ear tips. They are very light and padded with damping cushions to protect the IEMs. A very intelligent and practical IEM case.
    Tips We get 1 pair of double-flange and 1 pair of Comply foam tips. And 3 sets of single-flange tips in S/M/L sizes.
    Customization kits
    We also get a set of ear-braces, EarLock customization kits. This helps to secure the earpieces fast to the ears and get a good consistent fit. Three sizes are provided to cover almost any ear in the market.

    IMAG3805.jpg

    Fit 5/5
    The cables we get with the R-220 are designed to go around the ear even though the general design of the housing allows both ways of wearing. I prefer around-the-ear any day. I use the supplied Comply tips with the R-220s since they dig deep, and the full seal helps to squeeze all the bass that the earphones have to offer. They also help to tame the treble a bit. The supplied double-flanges also give me a good/proper fit. Even with my Etymotic I keep my foamies away and use the silicon tips because I do like a bit of treble action. But with the R-220s I simply gave in to the Comply foams.
    I don’t see the need to use them but for anyone having trouble with a stable fit, possibly while moving about, I suggest using the ear-braces as they safely lock the earpieces in place. They are very comfortable and feel smooth against the ear causing no irritation, etc.

    IMAG3887.jpg

    Isolation and leakage4.5/5
    With a deep seal using the double flanges I get excellent isolation, still a notch below the Etys. Sound leakage is zero for all practical purposes.

    Microphonics 4/5
    Not an issue at all, over the ear wear eliminates much of the cable noise. I see no issues while walking about with the wires jumping about me.

    Drivability Very easy to drive, I don’t see myself pushing above 45% volume in my HTC10.

    Sound
    Neutral with a treble tilt. The signature is very diffuse-field neutral (like Etys) until upper-mids, and then we get a nudge in the treble which paints the signature quite bright. I suspect the second BA is a tweeter for the treble. The signature is extremely detailed and clinical.

    Akoustyx R-220 Measurements by the manufacturer
    R-220 measurement.jpg

    Bass: Typical BA bass, tuned dead neutral. These are clearly the monitoring type of bass that you hear from Etymotics – non-XR version. It is lean, fast, and highly detailed. Sub-bass rumble is present and audible - just not the head-bobbing kind.

    Mids: Mids are uncoloured and, again, detailed. They appear a touch forward relative to bass. They show no extra trace of warmth other than what is there in the mids. Voices are detailed and have just as much body as the singer’s larynx. The Ssss and the zzzs can carry that sharp hiss if the recording has it. They are very unemotional just the way they are tuned to be. I must say they deserve a word of appreciation to have worked around the sibilance problem as much as possible given the tuning.

    Highs: The highs are accented around the treble region to give extended clarity in this region. They are not smoothed-out, and as a result sound a little exciting. Comply tips are really recommended to handle the attack in this region. As a result, we see some insane detail extraction here rivaling the 400-dollar Etymotics. The R-220s make full use of the extra driver. They tend to get a little bright on certain tracks. Of course, this is subjective, and some may be more tolerant, and some less.

    Timbre: Being completely uncoloured aids in timbre, although the lack of warmth and the sheer speed of bass slightly removes that organic quality which really accentuates timbre.

    Soundstage
    The soundstage, being tuned neutral, is not very wide. They are very similar to Etymotics, with a little bit of height added due to the shimmery highs. Very monitoresque soundstage, one will also notice some lack of depth, which is typical of this type of tuning.

    Comparisons
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    Round 1 – Vs Etymotic ER2SE
    (~130 USD)

    The ER2SE, although single dynamic, is the only earphone I have that has the same neutral bass quantity below 200 dollars. Also, we can see how the dynamic driver stands against the dual BA.

    The ER2SEs are considerably harder to drive than the R220s. The R220s, predictably, are quicker and deliver a lot more details to the listener. Every guitar strum, every little reverb and echo is clearly transferred with the R220s. The bass quantity is quite similar. The SEs do have a little a little more earthy quality to it. The dynamic driver with its relative lack of speed help to add more warmth. As a result, the male vocals carry a touch more body. Timbre is better with the 2SE. Sub-bass reach is similar. The R220s are brighter and the treble carries significantly more energy and presence as opposed to the smooth delivery of the 2SE. Treble has this certain attacking quality to it that can be quite shocking to those who aren’t used to this level of treble clarity.

    R220s are quite a level above in terms of clarity, and micro-detail extraction. The 2SE does have a bit more body that works to its advantage. Wearing comfort is also much better with R-220s where the nozzles (to my ear) are of perfect length. With the Etys I must stop at a point where they start scratching the sensitive bits of the ear canal.

    Round 2 – Olasonic FLAT4 NAMI (~250 USD - discontinued)
    Another dynamic, dual driver this time. Comparing the two because the NAMIs are also trebly. This is mainly to compare the treble quantity and quality between the two.

    The NAMIs bass is really thumping especially coming from the previous comparison. The vocals are slightly muffled with the NAMIs. Still, the Sss and Zzss come popping up (using silicon tips). The treble is shimmery and super-detailed. They don’t mind getting a bit sibilant. And of course, their soundstage is WIDE.

    Switching to R220s, you quickly notice the bass getting tight. The vocals pop-up nicely up front. The difference in treble attack, if any, is minimal. The Sss and Zzss are much more tolerable with the R220s. Clarity is in this region is comparable, maybe a slight edge to the BA drivers. This is expected. The soundstage is more disciplined with the R220s as well, while the NAMIs stage is very expansive.

    Nailing the vocals right gives the edge to the R220s. In terms of sheer clarity, as well, the R220s push slightly ahead of the NAMIs. R-220s excel with their neutral presentation. Real treble heads would find the NAMIs boost in this region more to their liking. Where the R220s take one step over toward the treble the NAMIs go a good five steps over. NAMIs also have better bass quantity.

    Round 3 – Vs Zero Audio Doppio (~120 USD)
    Dual BA drivers. Balanced tuning with exciting treble. They were 120 dollars when I bought them. Now, they seem to be harder to get and are getting more expensive.

    Wow. The attack on the Doppios are quite incredible. The clarity is also staggering. Very exciting tuning, with impactful bass and popping treble. Vocals are forward and clear. Let’s see how the R220s fare against this budget bomb!

    This is harder than I thought. It sounds like they are the same earphones. I’d be stumped in a blind test. Damn, I need to check out a few more tracks here. Zappa help me!

    OK, I’ve been at it for quite a bit now and I can surely say that the Doppios are just a bit warmer in the mids. The male vocals especially have an extra layer of depth/warmth. The treble presentation is extremely similar. The R220s separate a little better and churn out a hair more micro-detail. R-220s are a bit more neutral where the Doppios, very slightly, tilt toward "balanced" signature. Very tough call between the two.

    I can only say I’m glad I bought the Doppios for that cheap. They really give the R220s a run for their money.

    Round 4 – Vs Etymotic ER4XR (~400 USD)
    The ER4XRs are twice the price and have slightly extra bass. Let’s see who the more detailed player is.
    Again, the 4XRs are quite a bit harder to drive compared to the R-220s.

    The extended bass is quite evident with the rumble the 4XRs present easily. The vocals also borrow a bit of warmth and sound very authentic with the right amount of forwardness. The positioning and separation are painfully distinct in the ER4XRs – like it’s really made to pick out the information. I can also notice a touch more space between instruments with the 4XRs.

    Switching to the R220s, the first thing apparent is that they play louder. The treble also has more shimmer and presence compared to the smoother delivery of the ER4s. Transient details in the upper-mids/treble is more apparent with the R220s. It gives the R220s an exciting sound, like the Doppios.

    The R220s are like Etymotics, after a couple of tequila shots. You can really feel that extra excitement in the treble and they do retrieve as much, if not more, information as the 4XR. The ER4XRs do possess that little extra sub-bass quantity that add some warmth. The 4XRs also sound a bit thinner and drier in comparison, typical of Ety BAs, but separate a bit better. The R220s, having lesser bass quantity, sound a touch brighter.

    Personal Sound rating of Akoustyx R-220: 9.1/10
    Vocals 4.5/5
    Soundstage 4/5
    Timbre 4/5
    Instrument Separation 4.5/5
    Positioning/localisation 4.5/5
    Details 5/5

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    Conclusion
    Akoustyx R-220 is a neutral earphone with a slight treble tilt to make things a little exciting in that end of the spectrum. Etymotic fans who felt the treble was too smooth with the ER4s will be completely satisfied with the R220s. The bass is extremely linear all the way down to 20Hz and the micro-details are handed in spades. For all they have to offer the asking price is extremely reasonable and I don’t think anyone looking for a neutral or reference tuning in an IEM will be disappointed by the Akoustyx R-220.
      kmmbd, Piotr Michalak and iBo0m like this.
    1. iBo0m
      It was a good read, thanks for the review! Have you also heard the R-210 for a brief comparison? :)
      iBo0m, Sep 10, 2019
    2. iems0nly
      @iBo0m Thanks! Sorry, i haven't heard the R-210. But, i read somewhere that they have a more "fun" sound with greater bass (quantity+impact). If you're not one for neutral signatures, the R-210 might interest you better.
      iems0nly, Sep 10, 2019

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