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Universal Fit item created by audio123, Sep 17, 2017
Pros - Premium feel to the overall package, Outstanding midrange, Well extended treble
Cons - Slightly lacking in bass quantity
Audio Genetic is a Hong Kong brand founded in 2016. They started out by making handcrafted cables for audiophiles to upgrade the stock cables of their iems. Towards the end of 2016, they debuted with their own iem in the Audio Genetic 2 or in short, AG2. I would like to thank Audio Genetic for this review unit and I will provide my analysis on the AG2.
Product Name: AG2
Type: Universal-fit In-ear
Impedance (1kHz): 30 ohms
Sensitivity (1kHz): 109Db
Frequency Range: 20 Hz – 20000Hz
Connector: 3.5mm Jack
Detachable Cable Type: 2 Pin (0.78mm)
The AG2 comes in a smooth matte black package that allows one to flip open to reveal the contents. On the front of the package, it sports the Audio Genetic logo and the full name of the brand. There is a white sticker at the side of the box that indicates the model of the iem. After opening the package, you will be greeted with a metal warranty card in a plastic protector. On the front of the warranty card, there are the printed words “AG2 One Year Non-Man-Caused Damage Warranty”. On the back, there is a slogan “behold the truth” printed at the centre while the logo and brand name are printed at the bottom right corner. The metal warranty card gives the overall package a premium feel. Next up, there is a matte black circular storage case sitting in the top compartment surrounded by soft sponge. The case is made up of aluminium and sports the AG logo on the lid. There is a strip of rubber wrapping the case at the centre to provide grip and there are 2 spaces in the rubber strip to remove the lid. The interior of the case is made up of a smooth soft fleeced like material. Inside the case contains the iem and stock cable. Pulling out the bottom compartment are all the accessories which I will discuss more about in the next section.
The accessories consist a cleaning tool, 6.3mm to 3.5mm golden plated adapter, airplane adapter, 1 pack of silicone eartips and 1 pack of Acoustune AET07 eartips. I feel the accessories provided are quite sufficient. The highlight is the Acoustune AET07 eartips which is an upgrade to your stock eartips.
IEM Build & Design
The AG2 shell is made up of acrylic with a smooth surface to it. There is a red AG logo on each of the faceplate. On the inside of each iem side, there are the words “AG2-L” and “AG2-R” in white colour to indicate left and right respectively. The nozzle is straight without any mesh. The fit is outstanding. It is as good as a custom in ears but this is subjective since we have different ears. Coupled with the light weight of the housing, I can use the iem for several hours without feeling fatigue.
Cable Build & Design
The cable is a detachable 4 core cable with 2 pin 0.78mm connectors. On the connectors, there are blue and red dot on the left and right side respectively so users can differentiate. The y-splitter is made is made up of a soft rubber and the jack is 3.5mm gold plated right angled. It is your standard stock cable and is quite flexible. There is little microphonics on the cable.
The AG2 has a good sub-bass extension with a quick rumble but does not extend very deep. The quantity is slightly lacking. However, the presentation is very tight and controlled as each bass note is delivered with crisp and articulation. The bass has a fairly quick decay and there is good attack to it. There is an appropriate amount of mid-bass and it does not drown out other frequencies. There is slam but certainly not a hard-hitting one. Due to the reduced emphasis in the bass department, it is not fatiguing to listen to it. Bass texture is rendered smoothly and the overall bass is soothing and polite.
The midrange on the AG2 is quite clean. The lower mids has a good amount of quantity and it is able to tackle male vocals without sounding hollow. There is no nasal feeling in this particular section. Next, the upper mids is the star of the show. It is very forward and crystal clear. The definition of it adds intimacy to the presentation of female vocals. It is very impactful as it is being expressed with a confidence and it exerts wave after wave of vocals bliss. The resolution is very good for a dual drivers iem and the midrange is tight.
The treble is extended well. The extension helps to enhance the sonic performance of the AG2. There is a good level of clarity and definition to the treble. It is impactful without sounding sibilant or harsh. There is a good amount of air and it helps to give more space. The brightness is there without sounding aggressive due to the air lightening the treble. I feel there is a good crunch and sparkle to it. There is no grain to the treble. I can listen to it for hours without feeling fatigue. Overall, the treble is controlled nicely with a great extension and good amount of air but with a more sparkle, it will be more complete.
The AG2 has a good width of soundstage and I find it rather open. The expansion in the soundstage gives a really realistic feel. Although it is not very wide, it sounds very natural in the development of it. The depth of the stage is quite near and it makes the vocals sound very intimate and emotional. The positioning of both vocals and instruments are accurate and helps to enhance the imaging. The layering and separation provides a good space to prevent the overall congestion of the sound.
Audio Genetic AG2 vs InEar StageDiver 2
The SD2 has similar sub-bass extension as the AG2 but it has slightly more quantity. Both the sub-bass performance on both are clean and tight. There is certainly no muddiness on it. I find the AG2 presents the bass more tightly and the decay is quicker. On the AG2, rumble picks up speed more and helps to provide a good punch. The bass note on the SD2 has more weight and may well explain in it being less slower than the AG2 in decay. The mid-bass on both is impactful and the quantity on the SD2 is slightly more. The lower mids on the SD2 has more body than the AG2 and it helps in the sound to be more organic. The upper mids on the AG2 is definitely more forward than the SD2 with a control that allows the delivery of female vocals in the most intimate way. The midrange of the AG2 is less congested than the SD2. Moving on to the treble section, there is no sibilance and harshness to it. I find the air of AG2 to be slightly more than the SD2. Treble on the AG2 is extended more with definition and the articulation is more precise. Clarity is definitely better on the AG2 but both has similar sparkle. In terms of soundstage, the width is very similar but the depth on the AG2 is more close which allows better vocals intimacy. The SD2 is slightly more natural in the expansion of soundstage. Resolution on both are around the same.
Audio Genetic AG2 vs Campfire Audio Nova
The sub-bass on both is extended with similar magnitude. The sub-bass performance is slightly more refined in the AG2 but the Nova has more quantity. The Nova is considered to be slow in comparison to the AG2 which has more decay and speed. The rumble on the AG2 is quicker and it helps to produce more impact. The mid-bass on the Nova has more slam and quantity than the AG2. The overall bass is thicker than the AG2 and helps to ease the transition into the midrange. The lower mids on the Nova has more quantity to it and the thickness of it does male vocals justice. The upper mids on the AG2 is more forward than the Nova. In this area, the Nova seems to be inferior to the AG2. I feel the AG2 is less congested in the mids department and vocals are being presented effortlessly. Moving on to the treble, the AG2 has the upper hand in extension and details. There is more air and sparkle in the AG2. The definition of the AG2 is more clear. In terms of soundstage, they have rather similar width with a good expansion in soundstage. The depth of AG2 is slightly more close than the Nova. The overall resolution of both is operating at the same level.
Audio Genetic AG2 vs Noble Sage
The Sage has more sub-bass quantity and extension than the AG2. The Sage has more authority than the AG2 and the impact is greater. The sub-bass performance of the Sage is engaging. The AG2 is slightly tighter in its presentation with more decay. Rumble on the AG2 is quicker and the pace of it shows the technicality. The mid-bass on both has similar slam but Sage has more quantity. The lower mids on the Sage has more body to prevent hollowness. The upper mids on the AG2 is much more forward and the intimacy presented is better. In the treble section, the AG2 has slightly more extension and details. There is no sibilance and harshness on both. The air on the AG2 is more and gives more space. Treble on the AG2 is articulated with ease. I feel there is more clarity and definition on the AG2. The AG2 has a wider soundstage while Sage has the better depth. Resolution of the AG2 is slightly better.
The AG2 is a brilliant sounding iem with its main strength in the upper mids section. The upper mids is incredibly forward and provides the most intimate listen for female vocals. The overall package is quite premium and it comes with the Acoustune AET07 upgrade tips and a metal warranty card which is rare to see in a package. There are many dual BA drivers iems in the market and the AG2 differentiates itself with a sweet midrange that is able to deliver a female vocals masterclass. The Audio Genetic AG2 marks Audio Genetic’s first foray into the production of iems and it is nothing short of impressive.
Pros - Outstanding shell design, very ergonomic, light, solid construction, very good reference+fun sound, great extension, great included ear-tips
Cons - No anti-debris mesh in the nozzle, no foam ear-tips included
Audio Genetic AG2 Review: Subtlety is Key
Audio Genetic started out as an aftermarket cable maker centered out of Hong Kong. They specialize in making cables out of precious metals, arranged in rather complex geometries. They’ve recently branched out from the cable market and have taken the plunge into the chaotic marketplace of IEMs. Debuting Audio Genetic’s IEM lineup is a dual balanced-armature earphone, the AG2. Featuring detachable 2-pin cables, a smokey black shell, and advanced ergonomics, it has the potential to compete well. But does it?
The AG2 is currently for sale for 3200 HKD, and roughly 459 USD. You buy them from Audio Genetic on Facebook. Find them here.
Disclaimer: This unit was provided to me free of charge for review purposes. I am not affiliated with Audio Genetic beyond this review. These words reflect my true, unaltered, opinion about the product.
Preference and Bias: Before reading a review, it is worth mentioning that there is no way for a reviewer to objectively pass judgment on the enjoyability of a product: such a thing is inherently subjective. Therefore, I find it necessary for you to read and understand what I take a natural liking to and how that might affect my rating of a product.
My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass. The mids should be slightly less pronounced than the treble, but still ahead of the bass. I prefer a more bright upper range.
Source: The AG2 was powered like so:
HTC U11 -> USB-C adapter -> earphones
Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones
HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones
PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones
All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC. The AG2 did not audibly benefit from any amping I gave it, though it did prefer warmer sources.
At first, the AG2 sounded flat. My ears are used to my (very V-shaped) speaker setup and my daily-driver IEMs, the Rose Cappuccino Mk. II (which is a bass cannon). So to this, I am not surprised. However, after a small grace-period, it became clear that the AG2’s is one of subtlety and refinement. The treble is very well extended and pleasing to the ear. It is matched nearly evenly with the mids, edging them out by just a small amount. The mid-bass is less pronounced than the mids, with the sub-bass trailing a little behind it. In summary one could describe the AG2’s sound signature as gently-sloping U-shape, tending towards neutrality.
Treble: Songs used: In One Ear, Midnight City, Outlands, Satisfy
The first thing I noticed about the AG2’s treble was how much it assisted instrumental placement in the soundstage. In One Ear’s snares and cymbals sounded fantastic, precise, and well bodied. Each hit was distinct and clear without sounding harsh. Sometimes the price an IEM pays for its precision is artificially-sounding attack and decay speeds. The AG2 makes no such devil’s-deal. It pulls off attack and decay well, a testament to the skilled engineers at Audio Genetic.
Extension is top-notch. I’d wager it is on-par with the quad-driver Heir Audio 4Ai S. Even-sounding and consistent upper-treble lends almost every track a good sense of air, making songs like Outlands an absolute pleasure to listen to.
The AG2 even manages to pull of M83’s Midnight City effortlessly. The synths are incredibly well placed and blended into the rest of cacophony of electronic samples. Each instrument remains clear and distinct while somehow managing to not break overall cohesion.
Audio Genetic seems to have avoided every major pitfall of treble-tuning with the AG2, sibilance included. Not a hint of it could be found in the poorly-mastered track, Satisfy by Nero. I never felt that the treble became uncomfortably pronounced or shrill.
Mids: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Dreams
What impresses me consistently with the AG2 is its coherence. The mids are almost entirely seamless in presentation, with no unseemly dips or spikes when transitioning from the lower part to the upper part of the spectrum. This sets a great foundation for the AG2’s even and respectful timbre, allowing it to get out of the way of the music and let you re-connect with all your favorite songs. Guitars, drums, pianos, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you throw at the AG2 it will render well.
Bass: Songs used: Moth, Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix), War Pigs (Celldweller Remix)
Bass is one of the most subjective and contested parts of an IEM’s sound signature, making it hard to levy a universal judgment against any particular style of tuning. The AG2 opted for a more reference-esque level of emphasis, only bringing the bass forward enough to lend instruments in the lower register some weight.
Listening to electronic music posed no problems, though the bass-heads in my audience will likely be disappointed with the AG2. That aside, I found the AG2 to have a really good bass response. It’s tight, punchy, and responsibly-emphasized. Never once did I detect sloppy or loose sound, and the mids remained entirely untouched by even the most aggressive of bass drops.
Extension, as is the case with most BA IEMs, could use some work. I’m not hearing much sub 100Hz range, which is a little disappointing rumble-wise. It’s not a deal-breaker for me, but something that I do think about from time to time while listening to the AG2.
Packaging / Unboxing
The AG2 has some pretty top-notch construction. Especially considering this is the first IEM that Audio Genetic has released, I consider the AG2 to be worth praising. The shells are made of smokey-finished plastic. There is no seam between the shells themselves and the almost indiscernible face-plate. The entire construction is devoid of sharp edges. Underneath the face-plate lies a light-catching blood-red Audio Genetic logo. It’s classy and attractive, and I’ve already had several people ask me about them in the first week I’ve worn them out and about.
If you look closely you can see the dampers in the driver tubes!
My only concern about the AG2 is its lack of a mesh in the nozzles. It would be a shame if anything got wedged in there! Thankfully there is an included cleaning tool, but there are some things like sand that I wouldn’t like to have to gouge out of there to begin with.
The AG2 features detachable 2-pin cables of the 0.78mm variety. The connection is tight, but not impossibly tight (aherm, Heir Audio). I have no worries about the cables coming loose either like I do with some 0.75mm cables on other IEMs.
The included cable is nice, if not a tad thin. It has almost no body to it, making it quite pliable, and microphonics are essentially non-existent. Audio Genetic terminates their included cables with 3.5mm jacks, though you might be able to arrange something different if you ask nicely. There is a decent amount of stress relief on the cable, and the Y-splitter and jack-housing are made of an ABS plastic. It’s durable, though not precisely premium-feeling. My favorite part of the cable, without a doubt, is the memory wire. In recent years memory-wire has become much more common, and implementations have gotten much better. Audio Genetic’s implementation is great, and I’ve never had any discomfort when using it.
As always, comfort is highly dependant on your ears’ unique anatomy. So take the following with a grain of salt, as your mileage may vary.
The AG2 is quite ergonomic. It molds well to my ear and tends to “disappear” once I put it on. I’ve fallen asleep wearing it, and only awoken to an extremely mild level of discomfort. Given the shell’s size and my strange ear anatomy, I’d say that’s a difficult thing to achieve.
Audio Genetic bestowed onto the AG2 a competent collection of accessories. Inside the box you’ll find:
1x round hard carrying case
1x metal warranty card
1x 1/4in adapter
1x cleaning tool
6x silicone eartips
This is a pretty robust set of offerings. The case is adequately protective and feels premium. The eartips are pretty darn good and create excellent seals inside my ears.
The AG2 is quite a compelling buy. It effortlessly pulls off a reference-style frequency response without being boring or overly sharp. Top-shelf ergonomics combined with quality construction make it something you can count on, and detachable cables eliminate much of the concerns involving wear-and-tear. If you can spare the cash, definitely hit up Audio Genetic for the AG2.