Ambient Acoustics MAD24

skedra

Head-Fier
Great sound, accessories need work
Pros: Great technicalities, soundstage and presentation, no BA timbre issues
Cons: Accessories, price, fit can be an issue
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AMBIENT ACOUSTICS MAD24 & MAD16​

Overview​

A few months back I had a chance to demo the prototypes of the MAD24, MAD16 and MAD10 from Ambient Acoustics, to say the least, I was impressed at the time but I felt a prototype isn’t something that warrants how the final product will sound. Thankfully, Ambient Acoustics were kind enough to send over the final production models of the MAD24 and MAD16 for review.

The MAD24 and MAD16 use 24 and 16 balanced armatures per side respectively, both use a crossover-less design utilising their “Main Audio Destination” technology for phase matching and splitting of FR bands between drivers.

I rarely review multiple products at once, but in this case, the packaging, build and accessories of both of the IEMs are identical which makes it an ideal candidate for such a special review.

Thank you to Ambient Acoustics for this review opportunity.

In the box​

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  • IEMs
  • 1.2m 3.5mm Cable
  • 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter
  • Case
  • Cleaning cloth
  • 3 pairs of silicone tips
  • Case for tips


Build quality and accessories​

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Let us start with the IEMs themselves. The faceplates are beautiful, whether you like the design or not. It’s clear there was some thought put into making them look the way they do.

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The rest of the shell is quite generic, the plastic it’s made out of feels solid and all edges are nicely polished for a seamless transition between the shell and the faceplates. Each shell has a serial number and side engraved on it, somehow this makes them feel a bit more unique than just a printed serial number under the lacquer.


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The case is solid, while the design isn’t flashy or innovative the execution is very good. Not only it provides a good amount of protection in terms of how crush-resistance, but it is also lined with a thicker soft material that should prevent scratching. It also came with a big desiccant to help with any moisture.

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If there’s an elephant in the room, this is definitely it, the cable. Getting IEMs that cost multiple thousands I generally don’t expect the cable to be as good as aftermarket offerings, but, I also expect something better than the cable provided here. The plugs are cheap, they look like they have been taken some generic cables thrown in with a 30$ set of IEMs. The wire itself is soft and as long as it doesn’t oxidise quickly I don’t have an issue with it.
I have spoken about this to Ambient Acoustics, they have assured me they will upgrade the plugs to something better in the coming months.
In general, the accessories are average considering the price point those two models come at, an improved cable (or multiple cables) would be a good start.

Fit and comfort​


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The shells of the IEMs are shaped well, albeit for me a bit too aggressively in terms of the part going into the “cymba concha” part of the ear. For me they were never quite comfortable, I could use them for a couple of hours at a time but then I’d get discomfort in the area mentioned above. Part of that comes from the fact the shells are very large, I can’t really hold that against Ambient Acoustics, they managed to fit 24 and 16 drivers into an IEM which is a feat of itself. I wish the nozzle was smaller too, a lot of tips don’t fit them due to not being able to be stretched onto the nozzle.

Sound​

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The part everyone came here for, the sound.

The MAD24 is a variation of a neutral/natural tuning, without being dull or lifeless in the process.

The MAD16 is more of a warm IEM with a richer and thicker presentation.

Bass

MAD24: Fast, punchy yet never dry. This is one of the rare cases where BA bass is done right, with just the right amount of decay and attack to feel snappy but not artificial. The extension is fantastic, listening to “Bonefield – Window” the initial notes have a good amount of weight and don’t fall off when going into the deep subbass region. They also manage to do something quite rare, they make the bass sound “big” as if it wasn’t produced by a small driver.
MAD16: Slightly slower but more weighty and rich. While MAD24 can keep up with pretty much everything you throw at it, the MAD16 can, especially at slightly higher volume get a little bit overwhelmed on things like “Hans Zimmer – Mountains” crescendo where there’s a lot of instruments, really high dynamic range with a lot of nuances. Don’t get me wrong, it still performs like an extremely good IEM, but it does fall behind its big brother.

Midrange

MAD24: Again, those show that “balanced armature timbre” is just a question of implementation rather than an inherent issue. They, at least to me, get rid of it completely. The midrange is detailed, smooth yet textured with extremely good layering and presence. They lean towards a neutral presentation while still being articulate and showing everything in the mix with clarity. Listening to “Pink Floyd – On The Run” reveals everything that’s effortlessly hidden in that busy mix.
MAD16: Similar to the MAD24, the MAD16 doesn’t suffer from the “BA timbre”. It has a richer and warmer timbre than the MAD24 with a bit more body injected into each instrument and vocal. While I can tell they aren’t quite as resolving as the MAD24, they are more of a pleasure listen. Vocals on “Fleetwood Mac – The Chain” are rich and smooth without clouding the other instruments.

Treble

MAD24: Extremely fast and detailed, with a great sparkle. Those are one of the smoothest yet most detailed IEMs I’ve heard, usually those super high detail IEMs tend to be fatiguing, MAD24 doesn’t do that, it presents the detail in a smooth yet clear manner. It comes down to how effortless it is in doing so, nothing is forced, everything is just there. The timbre is also very good.
MAD16. Here’s where the difference between the two is the biggest in terms of technicalities, the MAD16 feels like it doesn’t quite have the same extension and detail retrieval as the MAD24. That’s not to say it’s bad, far from that, it still has a ton of detail, but comparing the two side by side there’s a clear difference. To me, the cymbals on the MAD16 had a bit too slow of a decay which sometimes made them sound a bit crowded, especially on busy metal tracks like “Judas Priest – Painkiller” (intro drum solo).

Imaging and Soundstage

MAD24: Vast soundstage with an ability to get really close and intimate when needed. Extremely precise imaging within a sphere around the head rather than just in 2 dimensions. Thanks to the amount of air it also maintains a clear separation between instruments witch help the stage feel vast even more.
MAD16: About 70-80% of the stage of the MAD24, still relatively big for an IEM, but due to a warmer and richer natural with less air it doesn’t have that grand nature. It can, however, present certain tracks with a greater sense of intimacy than the MAD24 do.


Conclusion​

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Do I then recommend the MAD24 and MAD16? In terms of sound, wholeheartedly yes, both of them are distinct, extremely well-performing IEMs with a crazy amount of cool technology inside.
What makes it more difficult to recommend is the fit and somewhat limited accessories. The IEMs are big, really big, so they definitely won’t fit everyone and the whole package needs a bit more “value” added to it to feel like a 3500$ (MAD24) or 2500$ (MAD16).

I would love to compare the universal fit to the custom fit and see how much better those IEMs can get.

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Adogsbestfriend32

New Head-Fier
MAD 24 vs MAD 16
Mad 24 and Mad 16 impressions

Introduction

I’m MAD. I’m MAD these IEMs are so good. I’m MAD I like them this much. And most importantly I’m MAD I was sent them as it led to me buying a pair.

Full disclosure: I was sent these both IEMs from Ambient Acoustics as part of the US based tour and ended up buying a pair of the Mad 24. This might allow some foresight into my opinions, but I will give them to you anyway.

Both models are unique in terms of offering an enormous number of drivers per ear. The 16s have… you guessed it! 16 balanced armatures per ear and the 24s have 24 balanced armatures per ear. If you have an irrational fear of balanced armatures, then leave now.

The MAD 24 is their TOTL offering amongst a decent offering of other IEMs.
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Links to Ambient Acoustics page:

MAD 16

MAD 24

Background

I had never heard of Ambient acoustics 6 months ago. A friend of mind was also part of the tour and turned me onto them. From their website it seems they have quite a wide range of offerings both in terms of sound signature and price.

Ambient acoustics is a company based in the Ukraine and on top of producing great IEMs, also have great customer service. During the process of receiving the IEMs, the shipment went missing. Within days, Yulia, had sent another complete set of production units had been sent out. My whole experience dealing with Yulia was one of the best I have ever had. They are an absolute class act of a company, and I would not hesitate to buy from them again knowing who I’m supporting.

Looks:

From their website, they do a lot of unique things with custom shells. You could get a pair of IEMs to match every outfit of the year. They really have some beautiful looking shells. The ones I was sent were slightly plainer than some of the craziness in their gallery but no less beautiful. Both shells are tastefully done with a nice pseudo custom shape. The MAD 24 are slightly larger than the 16 to house the extra drivers but not overly so.

Packaging:

The packaging they come in feels very premium. Since I ended up receiving the production units, I was able to see what the full packaging looks like. The whole packaging feels very premium. I really like the aesthetic of the box. Each set of IEMs comes with a sturdy feeling case, cleaning tool and cloth, ¼ in adapter, a packet of silica gel, and an extremely limited number of tips. I could not get a decent fit with the tips included and had to use my own. I wish that they had come with a few more tip options or sizes but its decent to get you started. The cable is decent. It’s a cheap litz wire in an 8-core braid. Better than some cables but the connectors are cheap and could be a little better to complete the premium feel and price.

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Fit and Comfort:

I won’t comment to much as I assume a lot of people will be opting for the custom version. However, the pseudo custom shell is absolutely perfect for my ears. The odd wing off the back hooks right into my ear and they stay no matter what. I have worn both the 24s and 16s for upwards of 8 hours at a time with no issues at all. I have noticed that the universals are decently tip dependent and fit. As stated previously I had a tough time getting a good fit with the included tips, however, once I dug through my cavernous desk drawer for my other tips, I found one that fit well.

Sound:

What does 24 BAs sound like. In a word, “grand.” I could not have asked for anything more out of an IEM than these provide, and I have enjoyed every second listening to them. If that is enough to convince you stop reading. For those that want a little more detail, I will explain below.

Soundstage and Imaging

Both the 16s and the 24s have extremely precise imaging with the 24s edging ahead slightly. Instruments are well separated and perfectly placed. The 16s can be a little more cluttered in their presentation where the mad 24 handles even the most chaotic songs with ease. Secondly, the staging on the 24s is decidedly wider. The “default” width, if you will, is wider than the 16. They are capable of intimacy but not overly so. If you are looking for a more intimate experience, then the 16s might be more your interest in this department. Once the IEMs are situated properly, they have an amazing to just disappear. Music just appears effortlessly. Both models do this. The staging and everything else takes over and you are sitting there listening to a concert instead of listening to drivers.

Listening to “What kind of man” by Florence + the machine, the MAD 24 shows of its incredible width and airiness. Florence’s vocals have an ethereal quality to them and the 24 shows that off perfectly leaving sufficient air behind the vocals.

Treble

If you like treble, this is where the MAD 16 might win out for you. The 16s have much more emphasis in this region. Not overly sibilant but defiantly more noticeable than the 24s. The treble of the 24s is gorgeous, natural, and airy. However, they are slightly more controlled on the 24s than the 16s. I think this is nice for longer listening sessions to prevent fatigue. The treble increase and energy on the 16s though make them an extremely fun listen.

Mids

Vocals are absolutely stunning on the MAD 24. Vocal texture is perfect and rivals some of the best cans I’ve heard. The midrange is extremely lush and accurate. All vocals on these have perfect intensity and realism. The 16s on the other hand are a bit thicker. Male vocals feel a bit warmer and overall, less detailed and refined.

Listening to “Delete Forever” by Grimes, the raspy character of her voice is perfectly captured and absolutely intoxicating to listen to.

Bass

In a word perfect. Well near perfect. The one thing I would want out of the 24s is a little better sub bass texture but beyond that bass is handled amazing. The 24s have such good control, speed, and bass texture. It is a bit more refined and controlled than the 16s. Still the bass is some of the best I have heard and was one of the first things that blew me away on first listen. Every bass note sounds so natural with enough authority to make it impactful.

Overall Impressions

Mad 24


The 24s are amazing. They have amazing technical abilities and are perfectly balanced. The soundstage is wide, and imaging is stunning. The bass is fast and responsive. Its all you could really ask for. Above all else, the mid-range is absolutely stunning. The timbre and dynamics never cease to amaze me. They have easily become my new daily driver and are a perfect addition to any collection.

Mad 16

The 16s are great in their own right. They are defiantly more energetic and brighter than the 24s. On certain songs I even prefer them. However, they are less balanced overall. They can be slightly more fatiguing when wearing for longer periods of time, but overall a really fun listen. The bass is still good with decent texture and good presence. The mids are a little thicker and less accurate with more focus placed on treble. The treble is where they really shine with good emphasis and texture.

ZzmadzZ

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: - A great series with distinctive differences in sound signature between models
- Do not need to get the TOTL 24-drivers in order to get the best sound
- Rolling of cables is effortless due to the implemented hybrid connectors
Cons: - Lacks the ability to customise your preferred sound signature as compared to the previous "LAM" series
- Owning one makes you "MAD"?
Introduction

Are you “MAD”?!...

Why do we need 24 drivers in one ear? Does an IEM really need that much drivers in order to sound good? Or is it yet another marketing gimmick by Ambient Acoustic to win the IEM war by proclaiming that more drivers equates to better sound?

Now now… Before you guys take up your pitch forks and start getting into the “MORE DRIVERS” or “LESS DRIVERS” debate, let us take a deep breath and read on about Ambient Acoustic’s latest IEM offering, the “MAD” series.

Background

As most of you are already aware by now, Ambient Acoustic is an established company based in Ukraine that have proven themselves to be a rather formidable IEM brand. They have over the years, produced some really great sounding IEMs at very affordable prices. Not only are they constantly innovating with newer technology, they have also been providing re-shelling services to restore any aging IEMs to their former glory.

Instead of resting on their laurels after producing one of their greatest series the “LAM” in 2018, the team continued to innovate and this time, they have brought to the market yet another affordable and impressive line-up, the “MAD” series, which comprises of a modest 2 drivers IEM all the way to a whooping 24 drivers TOTL IEM.

Click on this link: LINK to access Ambient Acoustic’s English website.

Example of Some Cool Designs from Ambient Acoustic

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My personal customised AM7

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Beautiful Steampunk themed faceplates

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Solid inner filled core

Communication

The communication process with Ambient Acoustic have always been top-notch and I am always delighted to be able to talk to their friendly representative, Yuliya, in regards to anything related to audio. Queries raised to them via Facebook messenger will always be responded within half a day (different time zone LOL), and Yuliya would never fail to entertain my questions regardless how minor they were. For me, been able to connect directly with the folks that develop and produce my IEMS is really one of the main factor that I would consider before parting with my hard-earned money.

For new audiophiles out there who are just getting into the world of IEM, trust me; drop Ambient Acoustic a message on their facebook! You will be surprised by how responsive and patient they are.

Packaging

Ambient Acoustic’s packaging for their latest offering is as per usual. A solid hard case with their logo embossed on it. Opening it reveals the IEM, a cleaning brush and a small bottle of desiccant. Nothing special nor anything to complain about.

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*Have also tried dropping the case on my floor a couple of times to test its durability and I am sad to announce that there are sadly…. no visible damages to the box LOL. HAHA.

IEM Quality and Aesthetics

The 3 demo units that was sent to me, MAD24, MAD16 and AM5LE all came in the same color (black) and have their model number imprinted on their faceplate. The overall size for the 3 models were relatively the same with MAD24 been a tad thicker than the other 2 due to the increase in number of drivers. All three models feels solid with some heft to the monitors. Their heftiness did not come as a surprise as all of Ambient Acoustic’s IEMs have a filled core thus contributing to a more premium feeling when handling them. Putting them in the ears were comfortable and natural with MAD24 protruding a little more due to the increase in thickness. I would say that even though these monitors are not customized to my ears, they still fit very nicely in my relatively small ears. I did not encounter any ear fatigue or aching during any of my listening sessions.

Size differences between the 3 units

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From left to right; MAD24, MAD16 and AM5LE.

Weight of the IEMs

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MAD24

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MAD16

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AM5LE

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My Personal Custom AM7

Sound Impression

Soundstage and Imaging


If I have to use only one word to describe the soundstage for MAD24, the word will be “Grand”.

The overall soundstage for MAD24 is designed to immerse you as if you are in a mini concert hall. The vocals are the star here. Complemented with a really dark background. Nothing seems overly congested with sufficient space in between instruments. Separation and imaging is simply breath taking. Vocals just flows to you naturally. Layering of the instrument and vocals is also done so precisely and effortlessly that I am able to pinpoint every instruments easily if I really wanted to.

However, the downside of having a concert type of soundstage is that there is a slight compromise in the depth of the sound signature. Sometimes, I was left yearning for the soundstage to be slightly deeper and much more intimate.

Treble

MAD24 treble is airy and sparkly. Nothing sounds too metallic or synthetic. Cymbals clash with precision and accuracy. However, female vocal tends to be a little too controlled so as not to produce any sibilance. Personally, I would prefer a slightly brighter treble to give the extra “oomph” to enhance the female vocals slightly.

Mids

Creamy and decadent like a melted piece of warm buttery toast. Vocals are so delicious and flows so smoothly that you would be left smacking your lips for more. One of the most coherent and crowd-pleasing signature that even the most critical critic will have problems nit picking on.

Bass

Ohhhh bass!! MAD24 most certainly does not disappoint in the bass department. Every drum note hits with precision and authority. Guitar and Bass notes vibrates with so much texture that you can literally feel the Musician plucking the notes beside you. The speed and decay of the Low notes were also done naturally without overshadowing the mids. I would be even bold enough to say that MAD24 bass is one of the best I have heard in a while. Simply breathe taking and lifelike.

Sound Comparison With Other IEMs

MAD24 (3500) VS MAD16 (2500)


MAD24’s sound stage is slightly wider and more spacious and airy as compared to MAD16. However, MAD24 seems to be darker sounding due to the more controlled treble. MAD16’s treble is brighter and a tiny bit hotter, hence resulting in a more colourful and lively sound signature. That would also means that MAD16 induces ear fatigue much faster than MAD24. Bass wise, MAD24 is much more impactful and is able to reach the deeper notes much more accurately. No contest in the bass department between these 2 IEMs. Overall, I would choose MAD24 whenever I want to appreciate music in their most true form and choose MAD16 whenever I am feeling down as MAD16 has the ability to make me smile ear to ear and makes me feel better instantaneously 😌😌.

MAD24 (3500) VS Empire Ears ZEUS (2399)

Now this is a very tricky comparison to be made. Zeus has always been my go to IEM whenever I want to be enveloped by the vocals of female vocalists. For this, I will still say that Zeus’s mids and vocals is still undisputedly the champion of all IEMs. However, MAD24’s mids isn’t that far behind, though it is unable to reach the emotional level that Zeus is able to effortlessly portray in female vocals, It instead focus on clarity and details within the notes. It is akin to listening to a HD song as compared to a lower resolution yet emotionally inducing song for these two IEMs. Bass wise, Zeus is notably absent as compared to the authority of MAD24.

MAD24 (3500) VS AM7 (1050)

AM7 has a very similar sound signature to MAD16 which thus gives it a slight edge over MAD24 in terms of liveliness. However, MAD24 once again trounces AM7 in the bass department and a much more superior soundstage. Layering and imaging is still much more distinctive in MAD24. With that said, I do still miss the customisation ability of the AM7 with its switches. AM7 remains to be a very versatile and affordable IEM for new audiophiles.

AM5E (900) VS AM7 (1050)

Both have very similar sound signature. With AM5LE surprising having a slightly airier and wider soundstage as compared to AM7. Probably due to the addition of the sound port. Vocals sounds lusher and clearer for AM7 with AM5LE sounding a little diffused and less focussed. Bass impact also seems to take a sight beating for AM5LE although still managing to sound impactful and engaging. Ear fatigue for AM5LE is also considerably lesser due to the smoother sound signature.

Overall impression

After spending almost 2 months with the 3 new IEMs from Ambient Acoustic. I am really impressed by the different sound signature that Ambient Acoustic have chosen over their new line-ups. MAD24 was obviously tuned to be reference sounding with a slight emphasis on bass where MAD16 is tuned to be livelier and quicker. As for AM5LE, it is to cater to new audiophiles who are still exploring for their preferred sound signature.

Having said that, with such a difference in the sound signature of the 3 different IEM, this would also means that users would not suffer from any buyer remorse if they had decided to opt for MAD16 over MAD24 since both IEMs are catered to 2 different groups of people. You would not be left wanting for more if you decided to opt for the much lower cost MAD16.

So, to conclude, am I “MAD” to say that more Drivers equates to better sound? To be honest, this is a debate that will never end. Personally, if I had to choose only one IEM from Ambient Acoustic’s “MAD” line-up, I would no doubt choose MAD16 for that extra liveliness and oomph in the treble :). The reason been that I really smile a lot whenever I listen to it and to me, that is what music and IEMs are about! To make you smile :D.
ZzmadzZ
ZzmadzZ
Hahaha. Actually. I do really like MAD16. It is at a more affordable price though. Otherwise I’m pretty sure most will actually be really happy with the AM5LE if they don’t want to go so high end per say!!!
KojiCO
KojiCO
The Mad24 and the mad 16 have been some of the most incredible class leading monitors I have reviewed and come across in the last 16 years it’s fricking blew my mind
It’s incredible how close the Mad24 comes up against the Susvara. The soundstage and scope and size is just insane, I go far more in-depth in my deep analysis review on the channel
T
KojiCO
KojiCO
Ambient Acoustics - MAD24 & MAD16 - WELCOME TO THE 20K REVIEW-DESK

MrLocoLuciano

500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Great technicalities
Great musicality
Balance and refinement
Natural mids
Cons: Hard to listen to
Might be too polished for some
Big shell


After contacting them, Ambient Acoustics kindly and graciously lent me 3 pairs of demos for 8 weeks. I would like to thank them for their trust.


Introduction

Ambient Acoustics (AA) is a Ukrainian company based in Kiev and specialized in custom, hearing protection, hearing aids and communication systems. Founded in 2009, AA offers today a wide range of solutions ( about ten models) targeting more particularly the professional segment but also the audiophile one.

I personally discovered AA through the AM7 LAM-C more than 2 years ago. Despite a very average fit (custom too big for me), it aroused my curiosity and made me want to buy and test the AM7 LAM-U, the universal version. And I wasn't disappointed because the quality was there.

So I contacted AA to try out their latest models which offer a number of innovations with up to 24 Balanced Armatures (BA) for each ear. After a very friendly discussion, they decided to lend me 3 of their latest models.


Technical Overview

So I had on loan the AM5LE, the MAD16 and the MAD24, which are models composed exclusively of Balanced Armatures and available in custom and recently in universal.

AM5 LiveEdition :
- 5 BA in-ear -> 2 sub/bass, 2 mids, 1 high
- 3-way passive filter
- 3 bores
- Sensitivity (100Hz) - 121 dB / mW
- Impedance (100Hz) - 26 Ohms
- ASP -> Ambient Screw Plug, proprietary connector with 2 pin compatibility
- AP20 -> Ambient Plug Attenuator, sound pressure compensator to reduce fatigue, allowing long listening at high volume without losing depth and quality of low frequencies. It also provides uniform attenuation of ambient noise of approximately 20 dB across the entire spectrum.
- Price: from $900
- Link to AA page


ASP proprietary connector


MAD16 :
- 16 BA in-ear -> 4 sub/bass, 8 mids, 4 highs
- No passive filter
- 3 bores
- Sensitivity (100Hz) - 113 dB / mW
- Impedance (100Hz) - 9,5 Ohms
- Use of Vishay Non-Inductive Resistors
- ASP -> Ambient Screw Plug, proprietary connector with 2 pin compatibility
- Price: from $2500
- Link to AA page

MAD24 :
- 24 BA in-ear -> 4 sub/bass, 8 mids, 8 high-mids, 4 highs
- No passive filter
- 3 bores
- Sensitivity (100Hz) - 112 dB / mW
- Impedance (100Hz) - 8,5 Ohms
- Use of Vishay Non-Inductive Resistors
- ASP -> Ambient Screw Plug, proprietary connector with 2 pin compatibility
- Price: from $3500
- Link to AA page


MAD16 and MAD24 also offer and share several innovations developed by AA, which pays particular attention to the impedance and phase of its headphones. It seems interesting to me to present them to you here

MAD -> Main Audio Destination
Unique approach to designing multi-driver headphones to solve phase matching problems. Frequency band separation is achieved without the use of electrical filters, but with the natural slope of the FR of each BA, using different acoustic loads from the oscillating circuit, the design of the bores and the ANOR acoustic notch filters

ANOR -> Acoustic Notch Resonator
Unique acoustic notch filter that acts as an electrical filter and "cuts off" the sibilant zone over which the natural resonance of the ear canal occurs (after the second bend), thus compensating for this gain

LEP -> Linear Electric Phase
Improved phase and impedance matching technology for in-ear earphones. This technology was developed and realized by the AA laboratory in 2013, the first at the time to develop it. LEP performs the correction of the phase and impedance characteristics of the BA

SSD -> Solid Shell Design
BA and components are fixed to the shell, without air cavities. This eliminates all unwanted parasitic resonances inside the shells that can affect the sound of the earphones

SOER -> Sound Occlusion Effect Reduction
It's a sound pressure compensation technology. It reduces the occlusion effect of the closed volume of the ear canal. This technology has the advantages of "open loudspeakers" but also increase sound insulation by up to 20dB without losing bass depth


SOER et ASP connector, 2 pins compatibility


Measures

Here are the measurements found on the Ambient Acoustics website, allowing us to compare the frequency responses of the 3 models that interest us today.



It is also instructive to take a look at the phase and impedance curves for MAD16 and MAD24 (not provided for AM5LE), which play a large role in restitution.

MAD16



MAD24



This linearity of both impedance and phase makes it possible, according to AA, to almost completely eliminate dependence on the reading source and associated changes in frequency response.


Sound

What about the sound in all this? Generally speaking, there's a real Ambient Acoustics touch. I find on the 3 models what I liked with the AM7 LAM-U, namely a very natural midrange and a consistency in the transition of the registers.
During the loan, I listened the in-ears on my WM1Z K Mod Ultimate 3.02, and I was able to compare the AA with the Jomo Audio Trinity SS, the Itsfit Fusion and the IMR Rah (no comparison with the latter which are still in the background on all levels, except the stage and the musicality).


Sound Signature

The AM5LE signature is rather balanced, with treble that is well present but sags after 7500Hz.
The MAD16 signature is both the lowest and clearest, with a peak at 12000Hz that brings in some space.
The MAD24 signature is very well balanced, with a solid foundation, a delicate and slightly emphasized midrange, and fine, airy highs.


IMR Rah, AM5LE, MAD16, MAD24, Jomo Trinity


Bass

On the 3 models, you can hear and sweep confirms it, what you can see on the curves, and that corresponds to my expectations.
The emphasis is put on the 25 to 80 Hz zone, without reinforcement of the 80 to 150 Hz region which can sometimes bring a too boomy side to the restitution. As a result, bass has nice impacts, nice subs well audible on the 3 samples, and is rather fast.

On AM5LE, they are dense and deep, well felt when listening, they are nevertheless contained. But there is a lack of texture and resolution compared to the MAD.

On MAD16, you can take a Thor's hammer blow behind your head. It's telluric but without ever masking the mids. It hits really strong, louder for example than the Jomo Trinity. And both texture and resolution are excellent.

With the MAD24, we are quite close to the MAD16 but with more restraint and finesse, and the articulation of the impacts seems even better. In terms of quantity, it's equivalent to what Trinity offers but faster and a little less natural. The Fusion bring less energy in this register, less subs, less meat on the bone.


Mids

Of the 3 models, it is the MAD24 mids that have the best balance for me. The Low-Mids (250 to 500 Hz) is neither too thin, nor too forward compared to the basses and the rest of the midrange. It blossoms very freely and gives thickness and foundation to the register. The Mids and High-Mids (500-2000 and 2000-4000 Hz) is linear from 500 to 1000 before rising just right up to 1500Hz and flattening out to 4000 Hz. The harmonics are in fact well present and this results in giving brightness to the voices, grain and intensity.
The Jomo Trinity in comparison are more hollowed out between 250 and 1000Hz which gives more distant and less thick voices, timbres a little less accurate. And at the same time, the boost between 1000 and 4000 Hz is higher, which gives an opening, a greater airing (especially on female voices), and a little more brightness.

MAD16 are thicker in the Low-Mids compared to the MAD24, with warmer male voices that seem a little less defined. The Mids and High-Mids are clearly softer and more matt, probably due to the dip around 900 Hz and especially to the lack of dB deviation between 900 and the plateau reached at 1200 Hz, which extends almost linearly up to 4000 Hz. As a result, the reproduction of female voices is less intense. The resolution is also a tad behind, which is probably linked to the abscense of 8 BA dedicated to the High-Mids.

Finally AM5LE are closer to the MAD24 in the presentation. The Low-Midrange and Midrange have almost the same balance, but the High-Midrange is much more discreet. This gives a more matte or even a little dark, moist, and almost simplified appearance to the High-Mids. We also notice that technical skills are less solid. But the result remains very pleasant to listen to.





Highs

AM5LE have a treble that fades quite quickly after 7000 Hz. However, due to the contained deviation of the frequency response between 25 and 7500 Hz, the treble is the most present of the 3 in the stridency zone and sometimes on the borderline of what i can stand. They also lack a little finesse.

MAD16 is the pair with the clearest highs. That is to say that in spite of very present bass, the peaks at 5.5 and 12 KHz bring a nice presence, a very nice extension and particularly highlight this register. The level of detail is excellent.

On the MAD24, the first word that comes to describe the treble is sweetness. This can be explained by the emphasis on the high-midrange and the difference in frequency response level between 5 KHz and the 2 peaks at 7.5 and 12 KHz. The extension remains good and here too it allows to bring air to the reproduction, and a very pleasant full and vaporous side at the same time.
Trinity and Fusion trebles are less extensive than MAD24 or 16. But their highs may seem more natural, probably due to the technologies used. The level of detail seems equivalent to me, and resolution / definition too.


Soundstage

AM5LE have a relatively homogeneous soundstage. Not excessively wide, it is quite deep and has a pleasant pitch. The stage is slightly projected out of the head with a slightly distant stage that develops in an arc of a circle.

The soundstage of the MAD16 seems wider, a little deeper but perhaps a little less high. The scene is not projected more out of the head but the voices are closer to us. A fuller crescent moon overall.

Finally, MAD24 soundstage is wider than that of MAD16, with a depth that seems to me to be slightly higher too, and a height comparable to that of AM5LE. The voices are a bit further back from the MAD16s but seem closer to me than the voices of the AMLEs.
In comparison, I have the feeling that the Fusion do better in width and are equivalent in depth and pitch. The Trinity's are less wide but just as high, and perhaps a little deeper.




Magic Square

Both MAD16 and MAD24 clearly stand out from the AM5LEs on the following criteria, which is not illogical given their respective prices (x2.77 MAD16, x3.88 MAD24).

In terms of resolution, there is no real match. MAD24 are excellent and outperform their 2 peers, especially in the high-mids, without reaching the level of the Trinity SS, but superior to what Itsfit Fusion offers. MAD16 are still in the high end of the market, comparable to the Fusion. The AM5LEs are good but below what the Fusion offers.

On the separation side, MAD16 and MAD24 are neck and neck, and clearly in the very top end, close if not equivalent to the Trinity SS, slightly above the Fusion. The AM5LEs are clearly set back, and not as good as the Fusion.

Definition is very correct on the AM5LE, but still seems to me inferior to that of the Fusion. It's excellent on the MAD16 and 24 with a small advantage to the 24, again in the upper mids. You can hear everything, especially the inflections of the voices. Once again for the MAD24 it's quite comparable to what the Trinity SS offers, a bit behind for MAD16.

Finally transparency seems to me slightly higher on the MAD16 compared to the MAD24 because of their clearer signature on the mids and highs. We are between the Fusion and the Trinity SS. Once again the AM5LEs are a little bit behind.


Tips and Cable Pairing

The nozzles of the 3 universals are big but I got a very good fit with the tips provided by AA, quite close to the Symbio W Peel Single Flange but with narrower nozzle tips.
However, I clearly preferred the sound obtained with tips having a wider bore, like the Whirlwind or Spiral Dots, which brings aeration to the restitution. Nevertheless, after 1 hour in the ears, either with the stock tips or the 2 previous pairs, I felt pain on the upper part of the antelix, probably caused by the rather bulky shells.
I was able to correct this by adding a small o-ring at the base of the nozzle, in order to move the shell a bit away from my ear. In doing so, I also switched to larger Whirlwind tips to ensure more occlusion at the entrance of the canal.

Regarding cables, I was able to test the PW1950 and the Electech Plato, 2 cables with very high qualities and which go rather well with the 3 pairs.
The Plato brings its musicality in the midrange, its definition and its extension. The best complementarity is obtained with the MAD16 whose medium it reveals.
The PW1950 comes to bring its neutrality, its resolution and its transparency. The best complementarity is obtained with the MAD24 whose technical qualities it sublimates.




Final Thoughts

Even if I only listened to 3 models among Ambient Acoustics line-up so far, the feeling that emerges is that the technical innovations used on the MAD bring a real plus to the reproduction. The coherence and the naturalness are there.

AM5LE are very homogeneous and musical, with beautiful bass and good overall dynamics, but offer a restitution not technical enough and clean enough to my eyes. A model more intended for stage monitoring than for audiophiles.

MAD16 are clear while offering incredible bass. The technical level is very good and the dynamics rather soft. A good choice for the ears rather turned towards analytical restitutions.

MAD24 is a mix of the two previous models. The musicality is sublimated by incredible technical qualities and beautiful dynamics. They remind me a lot of the Anole VX on these points. And the midrange is of a beauty that never ceased to surprise me throughout the loan. In a word, bewitching!



Magic Square :

"Resolution is the ability to individualize a voice or instrument"
"Separation is the ability to feel space between the various sound sources"
"Definition is the ability to perceive as much information as possible"
"Transparency is the ability to transcribe the nuances and subtleties of music"

My topic on Tellement Nomade here : http://www.tellementnomade.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=671123#p671123
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