General Information

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There is a long history of using copper / brass to make musical instruments. Among the various types of copper materials, brass has excellent acoustic properties. Its sound wave reflection and sound wave absorption determine its unique tone performance. Musical instruments made of brass tend to have crisp, bright, and round sound effects. Nowadays many wind instruments are made of brass.

Astrotec continues the good acoustic characteristics of brass, with five-year effort, and made this well-built Volans, which is the first known brass dynamic driver unit. After investing a lot of research and development efforts and conducting hundreds of material and structural tests, this sound unit solution was finally confirmed this year.

Made of brass material, with multi-layer biological diaphragm and high purity OFC cable, the driver unit of Volans provides you the pure sound with more details. Customized biological diaphragm, combined with high-performance Tesla magnetic brass driver unit, shows unique and charming sounds and immersive auditory experience. All these features are just for delivering a pure music world to you.

Key features:

1: High-performance Tesla magnetic brass driver unit.
2: Multi-layer biological diaphragm.
3: Extra wide-band sound transducer.

Specifications:

Driver Unit: 10.5mm Tesla Dynamic Driver
Impedance: 32 ohm
Sensitivity: 110 dB/1mW
Cable: High purity OFC cable
Cable Length: 1.2±0.03m
Plug: 3.5mm stereo gold plated plug
Connector: MMCX
Frequency Response: 8Hz - 40000Hz

Latest reviews

Wiljen

Headphoneus Supremus
Astrotec Volans - a talented specialist
Pros: Great balance and mids, very polite treble for those with sensitivity, excellent kit
Cons: too polite a tuning for some, earpieces fell out of foam during shipping and got scratched.
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disclaimer: The Astrotec Volans was provided by Hifigo for purposes of this review. I have received no compensation for this review, nor do I have any financial interest in Hifigo or Astrotec. To learn more about the Volans, see the Astrotec website. If you are interested in purchasing, see hifigo.

Unboxing / Packaging:
The Volans comes packed in a slipcover style box with a scene that looks like painted water or night sky on the sleeve. The sleeve front has the Astrotec name and Volans in silver along with a silver button that says POP in the upper right. Specs are printed on rear in Chinese and English. Removing the slip-cover exposes a black book-fold box. The manuals and warranty card rest on the top with a pelican style case in a foam surround beneath and a small box of accessories. The pelican case has a foam block with the earpieces and tips nestled in it on full display. Unfortunately, the earpieces had come loose during transit and bounced around freely inside the case. Putting another piece of foam over the earpieces or taping them down for transit would be advisable. They come with a small dual pocket bag for keeping the earpieces from getting scratched but if they already are by the time they reach the user, it is of little use. The kit consists of the eaerpieces, case, two pocket pouch, cable, velcro cable tie, cleaning tool, 1 set of foam tips, and 3 pairs of Sony style hybrid silicone tips. (Some documentation references Sony, others not so I cannot verify if they are Sony made or just made in that style).




Build/Fit:

The Volans comes in a what they call Galaxy blue (medium blue) or mint green (my sample). Both have a pronounced brass nozzle that mates with the driver to produce an all brass acoustic path from driver to ear. The nozzles are fairly short with a large lip for tip retention. Shells are 3 parts with anodized outer and inner shells and the previously mentioned brass nozzle. A seam is visible that runs through the mid-line of the shell but is well fitted with no gaps, slop, or fit issues. A single vent at the base of the nozzle is used to vent forward pressure from the driver. The rear of the unit is completely sealed though so isolation remains fairly good despite the fact that the volans sits more on the ear than in for me. The nozzle and inner shell sit in ear with most of the outer shell resting outside it. the mmcx connector exits the top-rear of the housing and makes the Volans a tip-up only affair. L/R are marked on the base of the mmcx connector on the inner side of the shell but can be hard to see as the white tends to disappear on the green background. The cable also contributes to comfortable wear (more on that in a bit). Shell size is slightly smaller than average with helps with comfort as well.




Internals:

The Volans is as much about the shell as it is driver. This is always true to a degree but especially so here. Astrotec worked for quite some time to develop a brass internal and driver frame since they liked the sonic properties brass imparted. The thought being that brass is much more dense than aluminum and most other materials that are easy to machine. Brass is easier to cast and mill than steel but actually has a higher density than most steels as well. The combination of brass and copper frame components and high Tesla magnets give the 10.5 mm dynamic driver in the Volans a very unique design. Combine those with the multi-layer bio-composite diaphragm and you have the heart of the volans. Nominal impedance is listed as 32Ω with a sensitivity of 110 dB/mW which puts the Volans in a category that can be driven by phone, tablet, or dap fairly easily. I did find it scales well qualitatively with better sources, but does indeed work well when paired with phones or other limited-power sources.




Cable:

The cable that ships with the Volans is silver plated Oxygen free copper in a clear casing. At the southern end it uses my preferred style 90º housing in brushed aluminum with gold plated 3.5mm single ended jack. A proper strain relief is present at the exit point of the jack and a velcro cable tie is provided. The cable itself is a 4 strand braid that is fairly tight in weave from the jack to the splitter. The splitter is also a brushed aluminum barrel similar in style to the jack housing, and a clear plastic chin slider is provided above that. Wires exit the splitter as 2 strand twists again in fairly tight twist. The northern ends have pre-formed hooks followed by aluminum housings of about 1/2 normal size for the mmcx connectors. The right is labeled with a red ring around the housing for easy indexing.

Most will dismiss the housing on the mmcx connectors but I really like it as fit is easier in my ear with that shortened connector housing. Now that I know its out there, I’ll look for more in that style. The casing on the cable has a greenish tint which gives the impression of oxidation and is an unfortunate choice here as many will mistake it for poor quality control when in fact they ship that color from the factory. I tried to capture that in the photos and think it shows to varying degrees with the 1st and 3rd more correctly showing it than the 2nd.




Tips:

I did find the Volans to be somewhat tip sensitive and went through my Shure Olives, Sedna, Spiral dots, Comply Comfort-TS and sports tips, and finally found the Spinfit 100 to be my best compromise. For review purposes, I used the large Sony style tips to do my listening notes, but understand that the sound can be altered with a wider bore tip.


Sound:


Bass:

The sub-bass is quite good, which is not to say forward or emphasized, but more that it has good speed and texture while remaining in-line with the bulk of the signature. In reality, sub-bass is rarely the focus of a piece, that is what makes the boom of a kettle drum all that much more impressive and shocking when you do hear and feel it. The Volans gets this right for orchestral type pieces where the sub-bass should go unnoticed until that big moment but then deliver. Mid bass has a very mild elevation compared to the sub-bass but remains nearly linear and has good speed and texture was well . Decay is slightly slower than attack but still very quick when compared to a lot of other dynamic drivers which gives a bit of weight to the notes and helps lend a more natural tone than it would have otherwise. Honestly, decay could be slightly slower and it might even be more lifelike if it were. Transition to lower mids is super clean with no perceptible bleed or obstruction.


Mids:

Lower mids follow seamlessly from the mid-bass and has good weight and tonality. After listening for a few minutes you realize how deceptive the Volans is. At first glance it is smooth, almost too smooth in its delivery, but under that is a world of detail that is really quite impressive. Male vocals have good presence but due to a bit of a push in the upper-mids/lower treble, they do sit a step behind their female counterparts. Guitar growl is not quite sharp enough for my tastes as the smoothness is evident here, but strings are the benefactors and are presented extremely well with natural voices and good transients. The push in the upper-mids is mild and avoids stridency but does lift vocals above the instrumentation quite nicely making the Volans a good choice for strings and choral / operatic pieces.


Treble:

There is a very mild elevation to the lower treble that brings vocals foward, but is not enough to make the Volans sound overly energetic or strident. With the deluge of bright in-ears of late, it is nice to find one that balances the top end agains’t the lower frequencies in a way that makes it more fitting and natural. Voices cut through as you’d expect. but nothing more than that leaving a very natural voicing rather than an enforced push. Piano and strings again are the beneficiaries of this tuning while pop music may feel a bit dull as a result. Snare rattle has good speed but lacks a touch of that rough edge that it should and cymbals have no metallic click at all, but also fall just short of feeling entirely realistic. Detail is again well presented with more micro-detail than expected. Roll-off appears to start fairly early as there is a pronounced step back between 8 and 9kHz before the final roll-off begins closer to 14kHz. This gives the Volans a very polite tuning with no harshness to be found and those with treble sensitivity will really appreciate this tuning. Those of us without such aversion will find the Volans great with some genres (Opera, classical, choral, strings) and only adequate with others (pop, rock, blues, hip-hop).


Soundstage / Imaging:

Soundstage is a bit deeper than wide and all dimensions are moderate with a feel like a school auditorium rather than a cathedral or arena. What it lacks in dimension, it makes up for in above average instrument separation which makes seating the orchestra very straight forward. All positions are well defined and front/back and side to side are correct. Layering is also quite good and was on par with most of the multi-driver models in my compare which is a little surprising for a single DD. The drivers speed is really on full display in that regard. Imaging is reasonably good but the polite tuning of the treble keeps it from being pin-point focused. If EQ is used to enhance the treble region, imaging improves a bit but at the expense of that laid-back polite treble many will prefer. I had no issues with compression even when throwing fast metal at the Volans which is well outside its wheelhouse.


Comparisons:

LZ A7-

The LZ A7 is currently the highest scoring in-ear in my rankings and honestly is probably in a near dead heat with the DK-2001 compared below. It comes in a kit with similar accessories to the Volans at a similar price point and also offers tuning options to suit the users desired signature. That makes the A7 more flexible than the Volans, but even with its most treble reduced filters, the A7 can’t match the Volans for smooth fatigue free delivery. The A7 is a better all-arounder while the Volans is a good option for those with a bit more treble sensitivity.

DUNU DK-2001-

The 2001 is another current favorite of mine and runs roughly equal to the Volans in price. Shells are both metal and while the 2001 is a 4 driver hybrid 3BA +DD, the Volans is a single dynamic. The bass on the 2001 is about the same in extension as the volans but has more umphh and a more visceral feel than the Volans. Mids are good on both but strings are a bit more natural on the 2001 by comparison and micro-detail is better as well. Overall, the 2001 is a better all-arounder while the Volans is more of a niche product for those who are a bit treble sensitive.


Fidue A83-

I put the A83 in since they occupy similar price points. Honestly the price and the hard-shell cases are about where the similarities end. The A83 is part resin/part metal shell vs the Volans all metal construction. The A83 has more bass quantity but slightly less quality at the low end, and a good bit more sparkle and brightness at the top at the expense of perhaps being too bright at times. The A83 is a 2BA + DD hybrid while the Volans is a single DD. All in all, little in common and for me the Volans is a more pleasant listen and would get the call every time when choosing bewteen these too. The A85 has more in common with the Volans in tonality, but at nearly double the price it hardly seems a good compare.

Moondrop Blessing 2-

These two seem like an odd pairing at first as they share little in build (resin vs metal), little in internals (4+1 hybrid vs single dynamic), and even the kits are dissimilar with a soft case on one vs the hard case on the other. The two do share some similarity in signature though. Both are near neutral, both are fairly intimate as stage is concerned. The Blessing kind of feels like an amped up Volans with more energy in the upper-mids and treble. This gives the blessing a bit more sparkle and air at the top but the trade off is the Volans is smoother and more natural sounding. The Blessing 2 sounds a bit cooler and brighter when placed side by side with the volans. Again probably the most striking thing of the compare is the Blessing 2 doesn’t have a ton more detail when compared to the Volans even with 4 more drivers to produce it.

BGVP DM7-

Here again, similar price, maybe not much else. Shells are all resin on the DM7 vs all metal on the Volans, internals are 6 BAs vs a single Dynamic and tunings are substantailly different. The DM7 is more textured at the low end, but also has less extension and sub-bass. Both are warmish near neutral signatures through the mids with the Volans being slightly more mid-foward by comparison, but the two really part company in the treble. The Volans is polite and laidback while the DM7 is borderline overly aggresive and can be a bit strident. Another thing worth noting is the DM7 has some hiss at times and needs an ie-match to perform equally as well as the volans does with those same sources. DM7 is slightly more detailed at the expense of more hiss, and a hotter treble. The volans is more polite but may lack a little top end for some by comparison.



Thoughts / Conclusion:

The Astrotec Volans has a premium feel and a small shell that sits mostly on rather than in the ear so should be an easier fit than many in the class that ride mostly in the ear. The kit is well thought out and includes most things end users will need (Short of a balanced cable), and the construction is first rate. Sound wise, the Volans offers a well balanced, well nuanced, smooth, and fatigue free signature that will make long listening sessions pleasant. The downside is that lack of fatigue is partially created by limiting the extension of the treble and partially by cutting the treble energy. The resulting IEM is a bit of a niche product. Those with treble sensitivity will want a volans for sure.

Those that listen to a lot of choral music, opera, or strings will want a volans. Those that listen to a lot of hip-hop and EDM, maybe not as much as for some genres it may be a bit too polite. So, the Volans isn’t likely to be your favorite all-around in-ear, but it may well be one of your favorite niche in-ears for certain genres. I have mine in the kit with my Dethonray DTR1 because it has my Classical/Strings library on it. For that, its a great pairing.


Summary
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Watermelon Boi

100+ Head-Fier
Astrotec Volans: Warm transparency
Pros: Gentle and warm sound signature
-Subtle splashes caused by the brass chamber
-Fatigue-free way of enjoying a mildly-flat/breezy sound
Cons: Not meant for those who dig strong dynamics/intensity
-Rather passive in stage expansion
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Astrotec Volans Review - Warm transparency

The trends in Chi-Fi are well known for their fast transitions. New IEMs from completely new brands would make it to the front line in discussions and attention, which are soon replaced with another wave of products and so on. Now it may be brought up to the question of "do Chi-Fi underdogs ever last long enough?" Well yes, and Astrotec is one of the good brands that correspond. For those you may have not known, Astrotec is one of the earliest to be entering the budget earphone market, if not the 1st generation in Chi-Fi.


While their market share may not be so high at overseas, Astrotec has been building up a solid reputation in the mainland market as well as advancing their craftsmanship. As their earbuds begin to gain some decent attention, they also began to approach towards a more premium level with their in-ears by releasing Delphinus 5, then their flagship, the Phoenix, and now their latest model, Volans. Volans is the mid-range IEM that sits in a higher tier than their usual budget models. Let us now take a look at the specifics as well as its sound signature.




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Packaging

Volans comes in a breezy, blue-themed box with the specifications written on the sides and the rear. Once the outer blue sleeve is removed there appears the black inner box where all the goods are included. Other than the earpieces, the included accessories are stock 3.5mm cable, a Pelican-style hard case, 3 pairs of Sony Hybrid silicone tips, a pair of foam tips, a pair of earpiece pockets, a cleaning tool, a velcro tie, and some paperwork. The earpiece pockets (or mesh bags) are very similar to the ones from Campfire Audio. These pockets are used for covering the earpieces in order to prevent them from collecting scratches and dings. The dimensions are slightly smaller than the Campfire's but large enough to fit them in without an issue.


The Pelican-style hard case is smaller that makes it even portable while being just as protective. However, there is quite a lot of free space even after storing the earphone as well as lacking with rubber padding on the inner of the lid, causing them to wobble around a bit - though once you store the IEMs while having the earpieces covered with the mesh bags, the IEMs would stay secured in the case. I personally would have liked to see more eartip options to be provided since numerous other IEMs on a cheaper price still provides more eartips than this - but, of course, the stock eartips on Volans must be higher in quality.




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Earpieces

Volans houses a large self-built 10.5mm dynamic driver along with a powerful magnet where the magnetic force reaches up to 1 Tesla. The internals is composed of a multi-layer "biological" diaphragm which differs in material from bio-cellulose and Astrotec keeps further details to be confidential. Volans also take major advantage out of its brass chamber which is the first to be applied within Astrotec products as well as a result of spending five years in the research. By combining all these components, 1 Tesla-level magnets, biological diaphragms, and brass chambers, Astrotec introduces that they were able to achieve the transducer to have an extra wide-band sound.


Volans is available in two color options - Galaxy blue and Mint Green. The earpieces are fully made of aluminum, making it light yet durable. They fit comfortably in the ears without any bothering edges or bulges along with having the right angle for the nozzles. Its ergonomically-shaped earpiece design is topped with concave wavy faceplates, making Volans look simple but elegant. The diameter of the nozzle is about T500, making it suitable for most aftermarket eartips (Spiral Dots, AET07, Spinfits, etc). Volans uses standard MMCX termination which makes them detachable.




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Cable

The stock cable comes in with SE 3.5mm termination and made of high-purity OFC wires. It is quite interesting that they are copper wires as they appeared to be silver-plated just by their looks. Along with the Y-split, all connectors are covered with metal housings for extra durability along with the strain relief applied under the plug.


The outer sleeves for the wire are actually quite greenish which I, on a personal note, find this less appealing than just being black or transparent. The tone of the sleeve somewhat makes the cable to appear as oxidized - while it really is not, or cannot. The color is closer to a mint color, so perhaps it makes the look universal for the Mint Green variation? Though at the end of the day, the quality of the cable is quite nice and I also must address that I appreciate them using a custom-made MMCX housing with shorter stems (not the socket itself but the part you grab). Not only it makes them look neat, but it also leads to a comfier fit.




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Sound impression - Lows

I usually do not stress about burning the drivers, though I gave these more than 100hrs of run-in time because I have noticed a small but gradual change from when I opened the box. As we first look as a whole, Volans presents a mild w-shaped sound signature with a slight more emphasis on mids. Unlike most Astrotec IEMs where the bass was quite vibrant and masculine, Volans takes more of a feminine and delicate approach when it comes to its sound. The bass is highlighted just enough to produce the necessary fullness and quantity. To get more specific, as well as to clarify, the bass quantity is on the ballpark of being mildly emphasized from flat - definitely producing stronger bass and reverbs than flat, but also a bit lesser than those that are "slightly" v-shaped. The bass quantity may not be sufficient for obvious bassheads or those who really want that powerful, bombastic bass, but people who prefer a flatter/calmer response or want the bass to rather take an equivalent role as the vocals do, Volans' bass response would show just the right emphasis. The bass is well established with weightiness, holding down the bass to the lower headroom.


Alongside, while Volans may have a calmer bass, that does not mean the performance is left out. Lows are dive deep with tidy reverbs and thickness. The bass slams are smooth yet do not get mushy and would keep the bass boundaries (or the edges) distinct in a natural way. While keeping the strikes snappy enough, it gets evident that Volans made good use out of those brass chambers as the bass would mildly generate just a touch of warm, clean ringing as the bass decays. Of course, this is subtly highlighted and would decay quickly enough to keep the bass up to the tempo as well as keeping the atmosphere organized. The bass is thick in color which is black-themed, adding depth and quietness to the low-end atmosphere. The surface is smooth and creamy, It is a type of bass that gives gentle and comfortable grooves, serving to enrich the upper ends.




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Sound impression - Mids

Mids take a slight step forward from the lows with a shinier, mildly brighter tone - the temperature is now fully neutral which levels with the warm bass. What I appreciate the most, and also which I consider being the biggest merit from Volans, is as the review is titled - the warm transparency. The timbre on mids is waterlike, maintaining the vocals with thorough transparency and neutralness that the vocals do not feel to be filtered with coloration whatsoever. Mids also possess plentiful air, though I prefer to call it "breathable" as the airiness from Volans is quite different from the ones that we often encounter - generally speaking, IEMs with airy vocals show or emphasizes its air as they enter the upper mids, and with a cool tone. Unlike that, Volans keeps its airiness throughout the entire vocal range, and with a warm tone. This is quite unusual but all in a positive way as it enables the listener to enjoy the breeziness fatigue-free.


As a constant breathable environment is going on, the density on mids is evenly distributed throughout the range. Since that, rather than the vocals being presented by forming a big lump at some point, the surface is leveled both in quantity and density as well as achieving a subtle openness. The stability is outstanding with no audible dips, turbulence, or sibilance. Hence the transition towards the upper mids is done with equal intensity, though the upper mids would once again show a shinier, mildly cooler tone. This serves to make the mids lively as well as to draw a line between the part where the lower mids and the upper mids intersect. The vocal thickness is neutral, added with just the minimum amount of meat to give a full enough body.




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Sound impression - Highs, etc.

While being lesser in quantity and placed slightly backward from the mids, the characteristic differences between mids and highs keep them well distinguished. Highs get tighter, denser, and crispier, serving to make the music lively and vent the warm low-mid atmosphere with a cooler tone. Their tighter and denser textures allow trebles to make a good presence in the music with even lesser quantity, though it would increase only mildly in order to persist with Volans' smooth-sounding nature. The thickness is rather on the slimmer side but refined and decently layered. Here, highs are meant to be set as a garnish to the music instead of playing a major role, showing subtle splashes along with minimal intensity and vividness.


The staging keeps itself on the average note, or on the compact side, marking up a similar headroom size with other IEMs with a sub-flat sound signature. The side staging is not particularly highlighted too much, only extending to the point where the tightness would not be degraded, but shows quite good dynamics and expression in distancing and depth (or the ups and downs). Putting it simply, the staging feels to be an advancement from a flat IEM where the spatial aspect and depth expression are greatly improved, along with a touch of extra side-stage. Volans works out equally well on male and female vocals - however, regardless of that, vocals that are both dry and thin in their recordings may cause the sound to be lacking in body. Plus, its rather flat and calm sounding nature may not be suitable for those looking for an aggressive, vibrant type of genre or sound signature, so please be advised.


Besides, choosing the right eartips is especially crucial for Volans. Although JVC Spiral Dots are my first go for most DD-powered IEMs, those do not work out so well this time including the stock eartips - the Sony Hybrids. I have found that the Spiral Dots make the sound too soft while Sony Hybrids thins out both the sound and stage size. My best pick for the eartips were Epro Horn-Shaped eartips as, in the case of Volans, they achieved the largest staging as well as not losing any of those density and thickness. My next pick would be Acoustune AET07 as they get considerably close to the Epros and for having more air.




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Comparisons

-Tanchjim Oxygen-

These two already show a difference in the way the sound is presented. Oxygen, since the drivers are closely located to its short nozzles, the vocals blasts out widely and openly but with lower concentration and depth. While the staging area itself is similar to Oxygen, vocals from Volans are less spready as well as achieving a more tender, thick-in-color sound. When it comes to the bass, Oxygen's are flatter throughout the range with slightly better transparency and airiness, though lighter in reverbs and depth. The bass from Volans has a similar quantity as Oxygen does, but its brass chamber once again shows its worthiness as the bass sounds thicker in color, deeper, and fuller. Highs are brighter and limber on Oxygen while Volans' are darker and more stately.



-Moondrop Blessing 2-

While many bits of characteristics are different between these two, the overall presentation is interestingly similar. Both IEMs present a rather flat, up-close presentation. Though the biggest difference would have to do with their intensity. The upper ends, especially mids, are more vibrant, closer, and out-going than the ones from Volans, showing stronger penetration. A mild, cool-tone sibilance would slither through as it progresses on the upper mids, but still very manageable. Besides, the benefits are that Blessing 2 carries more transparency and airiness on the top of the headroom. On the other hand, Volans is smoother, warmer, and highly organic in its tone, showing clarity nearly as good as Blessing 2 but in a complete fatigue-free manner. Their difference also has to do with their temperature, presented with a warm tone for Volans and a colder tone for Blessing 2.




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Verdicts

While I have been continuing good memories of Astrotec ever since the days when their AX-35, AX-60 came out, the moment when I started to thoroughly appreciate their goods started since their earlier 1DD model, the AM850. Not just because they are built well and sounds well, but also the fact that they design and produce their own drivers. Volans suggests another way of executing a mildly-flat and airy sound, which is to make it warm and thoroughly fatigue-free. Warm, breezy transparency - strong merit I have not encountered many IEMs with such characteristics. I would call Volans to be a need that is finally met for those who were looking into a gentle, airy sounding IEM that, at the same time, hates the shivery coldness. Never underestimate its calm nature as its subtle involvement in the music would slowly drag you into enjoying the mild chamber reverbs and its warm and breezy tone!





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RELATED REVIEWS

Astrotec Phoenix Astrotec Volans Astrotec Delphinus 5

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Thanks to Astrotec for providing Volans in exchange for an honest impression/feedback.
I am not affiliated to Astrotec and none of my words were modded or asked to be changed.
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B9Scrambler

Headphoneus Supremus
Astrotec Volans: Niche
Pros: Completely inoffensive tune that is very easy on the ears, regardless of volume – Ergonomic, well-fitting shell design
Cons: Emphasis at either end is downplayed – Overall detail levels
Greetings!

Today we’re checking out a new single dynamic earphone from Astrotec, the Volans.

Rolling with the astronomy-based theme they’ve been using on-and-off for a while now (ex. Lyra and Delphinus5), Volans is a southern constellation representing a flying fish. Interesting to me is is that its composition includes two galaxies as well as two double stars, the latter of which are apparently visible with a fairly basic telescope.

The Volans earphone contains a single driver per side, in particular a new 10.5mm Tesla dynamic with brass driver unit and biological diaphragm. I’ve been using it for the better part of a month and have found its smooth, non-fatiguing tune to fill a niche that has been more-or-less completely ignored by other prominent hi-fi brands.

Let us take a closer look, shall we?

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What I Hear The Volans is characterized by the tune that does nothing in the extreme. Sub-bass emphasis is downplayed, as is the entirety of the treble region, leaving the midrange the main focal point without going so far as to have me consider this a mid-focused earphone. Why is that? Well, while the lower bass takes a dive in emphasis, mid-bass retains a strong presence in the overall sound giving the Volans a warm, coloured presentation that really benefits the mids.

Tips: If you find the Volans too relaxed sounding with the included Sony Hybrids, you will be happy to know it is quite receptive to different tip designs. While I conducted my testing with the included tips, my preferred set was the wide bore, bi-flange Sennheiser style tip included with a number of earphones, most recently those from ADV. You can find them on AliExpress for a couple bucks if you snoop around. They helped bring up the treble presentation and lower midbass resulting in a more balanced sound overall.

Treble on the Volans is very much downplayed through the presence and brilliance regions letting other aspects of the tuning shine, namely the midrange. It all sounds very polite and about as inoffensive as it gets without shifting the tune into a dark and moody style of presentation. There is just enough energy left to keep the Volans from sounding boring as noticed on King Crimson’s live rendition of “Cat Food”. Unfortunately, this relaxed presentation does hinder overall detail levels leaving the Volans very smooth and almost entirely free of any grit. If you like iems for the purposes of deep track analysis, the Volans will be lacking the clarity and raw detail retrieval needed for that role. Note attack is fairly soft though not slow, with a similarly brisk but not rapid decay. Notes are well controlled and clean, but they’re quiet and as a result the upper ranges pretty much stay out of the way.

The midrange is more exciting and my favourite aspect of the Volans. Vocals are dense, warm, and forward and instruments are met with a heavy, natural timbre. Raw detail is again a bit of a low point of the presentation, but it fits in with the overall auditory aesthetic Astrotec was going for; smooth and relaxing. Even the most sibilant of vocals, like those on Aesop Rock’s “Blood Sandwich” sound positively relaxing and inoffensive. While detail levels are low, I never found the Volans lacking articulation. Lyrics come through clean and clear and individual notes do not blend together.

The Volans’ low end is clearly midbass biased with less emphasis than I personally prefer in subbass regions. As a result the presentation is lacking visceral feedback on the deepest of notes which fall off early. This is especially evident in the opening moments of Kavinsky’s “Solli” and throughout Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”. The midbass region is full and rich giving the overall presentation a decent amount of warmth, though attack and decay qualities are on the soft side leaving the low end easy on the ears even on very bassy tracks. Again, this is right in line with the general presentation everywhere else. I’ve got to praise Astrotec for their consistency with the tune in this regard. Note texturing in general could be better but overall satisfactory for most tracks, keeping the low end from sounding one-note and flat. Not really a low end I’d choose an earphone for, but it does the job.

The Volans’ soundstage isn’t huge, yet it still manages to provide a good sense of space. Vocals are set just outside the inner ear by default which pulls the staging out a bit, allowing sounds and effects to pass in front and behind the vocalist, and soar off into the distance. Channel-to-channel imaging is clean and smooth with decent nuance, but hindered somewhat to the Volans’ smooth sound and reserved upper regions. Tossing some EQ in the mix and raising both presence and brilliance regions makes the imaging sharper and more precise. Track layering and instrument separation are both perfectly satisfactory for the price range and nothing to write home about. I had no issues with congestion or notes smearing into each other.

Astrotec Volans.jpgVolans and Friends.jpg

Compared To A Peer (volumes matched with Dayton iMM-6)

ADV GT3 Superbass, red “treble” filter (349.00 USD): Neither earphone offers much in the way of treble prominence and as a result presence drops off heavily once you pass through the upper mids leading to a muted level of sparkle and shimmer with moderate detail and clarity. It’s there, it’s just very much downplayed compared to the other frequencies. The GT3 seems a little quicker when it comes to attack and decay with a tighter upper range presentation overall. Either would be a good choice for treble sensitive listeners. The Volan’s midrange is more forward, less warm, and with a less dense, more natural feel to vocals and instruments. Detail out of either isn’t particularly spectacular with micro-details being glossed over, though there is definitely more information coming from the Volans. This presentation further plays into the non-fatiguing nature set by the treble regions. Bass is where the two go in completely different directions. The GT3’s Superbass tagline shows where it’s priorities lay. Bass presence is significantly greater out of the GT3, especially in subbass regions where the Volans rolls off heavily leaving the thumpy midbass region to carry the beat. Both are moderately well-textured and fast enough with the Volans showing off a hint more slam compared to the GT3’s consistent, sub-woofer like rumble that underlies mostly everything played through it. Soundstage goes to the GT3 Superbass which is surprisingly wide and deep. The Volans is much more in your face thanks to the forward midrange. It still does a good job of tossing effects off into the distance, it just doesn’t do it as well as the GT3 Superbass. While ADV’s single dynamic bass monster provides a cleaner imaging experience, Astrotec’s copper clad single dynamic is a little better at pulling apart tracks and keeping instruments well separated and layered.

These are two flavours of sound aimed at the same audience; treble sensitive listeners. If you prefer bass to be the main focus, the GT3 Superbass provide a much bolder, more visceral low end, and you can dial out the treble even more if you want utilizing the filter system. If you prefer the midrange to be the main focus, the Volans is deemed superior.

Fidue A85 Virgo (399.00 USD): While neither iem is a treble monster, the triple-driver hybrid Virgo is notably less reserved in the upper ranges when compared to the Volans, particularly in the brilliance region. Fidue’s choice of balanced armatures give their earphone’s presentation a more natural shimmer and sparkle to instruments and effects. Add to that the more rapid pace inherent to armatures and the Virgo’s treble presentation ends up sharper and more vibrant. It adds air and space to the sound that the Volans misses out on given just how relaxed its presentation can be. Through the mids the Virgo has more presence thanks to a rise between 1k and 3k. Unfortunately, boosting that area results in a less natural vocal presentation that verges on sounding hollow, with a timbre that sounds somewhat wooden next to the much more natural and realistic Volans. Qualms with tonality aside, the Virgo’s mids are quite a bit more detailed and it does a better job of articulating fine details that the Volans takes a more laid back approach at replicating. Heading into the lower registers, I have to say the Fidue came away impressing. While it too rolls off earlier than I’d like in sub-bass regions, the midbass presentation is better balanced letting what rumble there is stand out as much as possible. The lowered midbass hump also keeps the Virgo sounding cooler overall. In terms of texture the Virgo comes out a step ahead with it’s low end having more grit and variation to it, though neither is particularly rich in this regard. Both are also fairly soft when it comes to attack, and not particularly quick, though the Volans comes out ahead in these regards. Despite not being super quick, neither trips up on complicated, rapid basslines. Sound stage presentation on both is surprisingly different. The Virgo’s forward mids keep vocals close and intimate with effects and instruments cascading well off into the distance. The Volans’ vocals sit notably further from the inner ear, with instruments and effects moving in front and behind. The Volans’ soundscape presentation as a result feels somewhat more dynamic and varied, though less spacious. As a result I found it to image channel-to-channel more accurately, with the Virgo’s multiple drivers giving it an edge in instrument separation and layering.

While the Virgo is somewhat of a midrange specialist, the Volans’ superior timbre and tonality have me selecting it over the Virgo when I’m in the mood to listen to lyrics. The Virgos stronger performance in the lows and highs results in a product that is a little more versatile from genre to genre. They’re more complimentary than they are competition, yet despite the Virgo’s more impressive technical performance, I feel the Volans’ more natural sound will win it favour in the ears of listeners.

IMGP4053.JPGupdated Volans-laser carving.jpg
Image provided by Astrotec

In The Ear The three piece shell used for the Volans utilizes a low profile, over-ear cable design similar in overall size and depth to the BQEYZ Spring II. The lightning blue colour tone and plenty of rounded, soft curves, lack of sharp edges, and a light wavelette design on the face plate properly reflect the fairly relaxed signature coming from the full copper, biological diaphragm equipped driver unit within. Note that the retail unit will have “Brass Driver” printed around the base of the nozzle, as shown in the image kindly provided by Astrotec. Fit and finish is quite good with tight, even seams, no blemishes, and laser printed lettering that won’t wear off over time. The MMCX ports re reinforced with plastic rings to prevent damage if dropped, and click together with a satisfying snick. The connection is tight enough to ensure the earpieces stay in place and do not swivel about annoyingly, though they are free to rotate.

The cable takes some queues from the one included with the Dephinus5 with a fairly loose braid and semi-stiff sheath. That said, this one is a definite upgrade thanks to its added flexibility. There is still some memory if bent sharply, but you can easily just bend it back without worry. The hardware used for this cable is a big plus in my opinion as well. The 90 degree angled jack is quite small with effective strain relief and a long extension to ensure DAP/phone case accommodation. The metal, Astrotec branded y-split does not have any strain relief and seems mostly in place just to hide the four strands splitting into two for each channel as they lead up to your ears. Resting above it is a clear plastic chin cinch which does a good job of tightening up slack. Further up the cable are flexible, comfortable preformed ear guides that lead into compact, metal MMCX plugs that are colour coded for each channel by small, painted bands wrapping around them; red for right, blue for left.

When it comes to comfort it is very hard to fault the Volans in any way. The smooth shells and rounded design sit naturally in the outer ear and do a great job of spreading weight evenly to keep the earphone stable even during heavy activity. While I personally prefer a shorter nozzle, I know I’m in the minority and feel many will appreciate the reasonable reach you get with the Volans. Isolation is pretty mediocre though. Sitting in my office with the window open I could clearly hear cars driving by the busy roadway four floors down. Tossing on the included foams tips helps things out somewhat, but these still wouldn’t be my choice for a noisy commute should those ever become commonplace again.

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In The Box The Volans arrives in a large box with what looks to be an aerial view of a shoreline adorning the exterior sheath. Fitting, given the Volans constellation represents ‘flying fish’. On the front of the sheath is nothing more than Volans and Astrotec branding. The left side highlights the Volans’ two year warranty, while the back highlights a few features and a detailed specifications list. Unfortunately I noticed some spelling errors that I hope will be corrected by the time the Volans is released; “Product Festures” instead of Features, and “…Tesla magnetic cooper driver…” instead of copper. To any companies reading this, if you want someone to edit your packaging prior to release, I’ll help you out for a heck of a lot less than it would cost to hire an editor.

Sliding off the sheath reveals a black monolith of a box with Astrotec in silver foil written on the front, and a security seal down the side securing the magnetically sealed flap shut. Cutting the seal and flipping back the lid you find a slip of black cardboard with wearing instructions printed on the back. This is set over top a foam insert protecting a Pelican style carrying case within which are the Volans earpieces and Sony hybrid eartips. There is also a smaller cardboard insert hiding a few additional accessories. In all you get:
  • Volans earphones
  • MMCX high purity OFC cable
  • Pelican-style carrying case
  • Cleaning tool
  • Sony hybrid tips (s/m/l)
  • Foam tips (m)
  • Mesh ear piece bag
  • Velcro cable tie
Overall a pleasant but fairly straightforward unboxing. While the included accessories are of excellent quality, they’re fairly scant for a product at this price range. I would expect more variety in tip selection, such as some wide bore options, bi-flange, and foams in three different sizes vs. just the one. Still, the excellent case offers outstanding protection for the earphones and is roomy enough to carry along a media player or wireless adapter and some other extras. The inclusion of a mesh bag to protect the ear pieces is also a nice touch, and something I’m more used to seeing from higher end gear like that from Campfire Audio.

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Final Thoughts While I definitely prefer a more lively and energetic sounding earphone, the Volans fills a niche that is almost completely absent of options. There are few earphones I’ve used that have as smooth and easy going sound as the Volans. While it does come at the expense of detail, something most products in this price range tend to prioritize and plenty of cheaper products do better, the loss of detail never felt like it was eating away at clarity or hindering the overall presentation significantly. I can see this being the perfect earphone for someone that is very treble sensitive, or simply wants a mid-range earphone that they can use for long periods without any risk of fatigue. On numerous occasions I forgot that I was supposed to be analyzing the Volans and taking down notes because I got lost in the music and whatever else I was doing at the time.

I really wish I had a set of these with me back in my university days because they also have the comfort levels needed to back up the fatigue-free sound that is necessary for marathon listening sessions. Build quality is also fantastic with well put together metal shells and a high quality cable, though the isolation they offer is quite poor.

Overall, I have quite enjoyed my time with the Volans. They have a very niche tune that won’t please everyone, but those specifically looking for this breed of completely innocuous sound will likely find themselves thrilled with what the Volans offers.

Thanks for reading!

– B9

Disclaimer A huge thanks to Astrotec for reaching out to see if I would be interested in covering the Volans, and for arranging a sample unit. The thoughts within this review are my subjective impressions and do not represent Astrotec or any other entity. At the time of writing the Volans was retailing for 329.00 USD; https://astrotecglobal.com/products...XUgtBzOstmHeKQi_H7yU03zcqSigkCI1XL5bebHEHfSlE

Specifications
  • Frequency Response: 8Hz – 40,000Hz
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 110dB/mW @ 1KHz
  • Driver: 10.5mm Tesla dynamic driver with brass driver unit and biological diaphragm
Gear Used For Testing LG Q70, FiiO M3 Pro, FiiO BTR3K, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501

Some Test Tunes

Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends
B9Scrambler
B9Scrambler
@JMCIII I always put the price in the disclaimer, and you can usually get an idea of what it'll be given the pricing of the comparison products. Used to put it at the start of the review but people complained about that. Now I put it at the end.

I more have issues with reviewers not putting disclaimers period. It's required per Head-fi rules (but not really enforced anymore for whatever reason), and also legally in most places. Pricing for something can be found with a 10 second Google search, so that being left out is a pretty minor problem.
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JMCIII
JMCIII
Me bad, you're right. there it is. Thanks for pointing it out. Appreciate it.
Lucozade 1
Lucozade 1
Thanks for the honest and comprehenive review ,looks like an intersting set with a nice selection of excessories ,i dont think the tuning would really be to my tastes unless it was very responsive to eq in the upper regions though.

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