Quad driver custom in-ear monitor

NocturnaL Atlantis

Average User Rating:
4.5/5,
  • Named after the legendary island described in Plato's literature, Atlantis was thought to have been a home to a society with an abundance of wealth & prosperity which ended in a demise. The tale of Atlantis has captured the imagination of people even after 2000 years since it was first described, which many had since interpreted it as a tale of hubris.

    The Atlantis possess an immensely rich & engaging sound signature, one that is built upon the Gorham’s foundation. With the addition of a powerful dual mid-range driver, vocals are rich in subtle details & much more forward. The all-new 3-way crossover network enables the low & high drivers to perform better individually. Bass is now fast & punchy, and highs a lot more precise.

    With the introduction of the Atlantis, we have also introduced more eye-catching designs. The new Abstract Swirl option gives rise to true one-of-a-kind artworks, since we conjure the swirls in a different fashion every time.
jinshenghaw likes this.

Recent User Reviews

  1. HiFiChris
    5.0/5,
    "Flagship Performance without a Flagship Price Tag"
    Pros - •highly detailed and precise midrange and treble with very precise separation, •tight, fast, precise and controlled bass, •precise, authentic and three-dimensional soundstage, •four-digit performance despite three-digit price, •tonal balance, •customisation options
    Cons - •lows appear a little less resolving compared to the very detailed midrange and treble, •storage case's clasp not as premium, •the IEMs are handmade, so even if you order them as customised UIEMs and not as CIEMs, expect to wait a few weeks for them to be built
    Introduction/Preamble:

    First things first, this is not a full review – well, it actually sort of is, but does not include all of the elements of my typical reviews. Therefore one could say it is a somewhat shortened review.

    I originally wrote the review of the NocturnaL Audio Atlantis quad-BA in-ears in German and also compared it in detail with my Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors, Westone W4R and the Noble Audio SAVANNA (this is the link to my full German review of the Atlantis).
    The reason why I ended up translating the audio-related parts (and some of the other paragraph) to English and summarising some of the others is solely because I don’t only think that the Atlantis (that I received as a review sample at no cost but (as always) at the same time with no restrictions/requirements either, so this review is just as true as any review of the plethora of gear I bought and reviewed myself (primarily in German language)) is an excellent offer on the objective side, but I also highly like it personally on the subjective side. So here we go now.

    - - -

    NocturnaL Audio is a Singaporean company that was founded in 2013. While they initially only manufactured headphone and interconnection cables, they eventually started making in-ear monitors as well.
    Currently they have the dual-BA model Gorham and the quad-BA IEM Atlantis available, although they are planning to expand their range in the future.

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    What is rather unique about NocturnaL Audio is that their IEMs are available as custom-moulded models (CIEMs) as well as with universal fit shells (UIEMs). Okay, this isn’t as unique anymore these days (but still great to see since there are people, including myself, who prefer UIEMs over CIEMs even though owning perfectly fitting CIEMs), what’s special is that NocturnaL’s universal fit in-ears don’t have any simple generic shells but are available with the same customisation options as their CIEMs!
    Examples of what options are available can be found in NocturnaL’s online configurator: https://nocaudio.com/order/ciem/

    - - -

    The Atlantis (that starts from USD569.99 for the UIEM and an upcharge of USD70 for the CIEM) is a quad-BA in-ear with three acoustic ways (the drivers are divided into 1x lows, 2x mids, 1x highs) and a triple-bore configuration.


    Technical Specifications:

    Price: from US$569.99 (handmade universal fit shells)
    Drivers: Balanced Armature
    Drivers per Side: 4
    Acoustic Ways/Crossover: 3-Way Design (1x lows, 2x mids, 1x highs) with Triple-Bore Tube Design
    Cable: 0.78 mm 2-Pin or MMCX
    Impedance: 20 Ohms
    Sensitivity: 120 dB SPL @ 1 mW


    Delivery Content:

    Aluminium storage chest with NocturnaL Audio branding, IEMs, microfiber cleaning cloth, cleaning tool, Velcro cable tie, three pairs of silicone tips.

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    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    The build and finishing is absolutely flawless and even. Depending on what design you choose, you might be able to see the drivers and crossover elements. Either way, what you will also be able to spot are separate acoustic filters in each of the three sound tubes.

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    The standard silver-plated copper cable is of high quality as well and consists of four separate conductors wherefore no solder point is required in the y-splitter. Overall, except for a slightly different design, the cable that was used for the Atlantis reminds me of the one I ordered my UERM with.

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    As the universal fit model is handmade as well, customers should expect a build time of around six weeks.


    Sound:

    Used gear: iBasso DX200 (AMP1 module, standalone) and Chord Mojo + Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII stack.

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    Used tips: largest included silicone tips.

    Tonality:

    Tonally, the Atlantis’ sound signature somewhat reminds me of a mixture of the Westone W4R (midbass), Brainwavz B200 (sub-bass up to the central midrange) and Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors (central midrange up to short before the upper highs). If you imagine the Atlantis as a brighter tuned B200 with a little less fullness, along with the UERMs’ treble without their narrow peak in the upper highs – then this is pretty much the description of the tonal tuning of NocturnaL Audio’s quad-driver in-ear.

    Compared to an in-ear that is tuned absolutely diffuse-field flat in the lows, such as the Etymotic ER-4S/SR, the Atlantis’ bass elevation is about 7-8 dB, and about 4-5 dB compared to the Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors that are fairly neutral as well.
    A tuning based on the “case of the missing 6 dB” with just a little extra quantity also comes into my mind.

    Around 700 Hz, the lows’ emphasis starts to climb gradually and reaches its zenith around 100 Hz while the area between 200 and 100 Hz already carries certain fullness.
    The bass remains with unchanged levels down to 40 Hz and, in the real sub-bass, rolls gently off below (instead of quickly) wherefore the Atlantis appears less midbass-focussed (/”dominant”) than the Westone W4R, although with a preference of the midbass, too, although its (the Atlantis’) bass elevation is more even.
    So the bass can build up some punch, pressure and body but never appears overdone in terms of quantity, which is subjectively also mainly due to its speed, control and tightness.

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    The lows that are already heading a bit into the somewhat warmer and smoother direction consign these genes to the midrange to some degree. The area of the fundamental range/lower midrange tends into a somewhat warmer and fuller direction too despite not being overshadowed by the lows by any means.
    The transition from the lows to the mids can be definitely described as very well made and the Atlantis’ lower midrange is also slightly less full than the W4R’s.
    Compared to many other Asian in-ears, NocturnaL Audio (fortunately) chose to go without the popular “clarity lift” of the upper midrange around 3 kHz and tuned the Atlantis for a neutral upper midrange that sounds tonally realistic and authentic with hint of moderate warmth from the lower mids.

    In the area between the upper mids and shortly before the upper highs, the Atlantis shows great tonal similarities to the UERM and delivers a pretty neutral presentation in this area. Just like the UERM, the Atlantis also features a very mild recession of the middle highs when carefully listening to sine sweeps and comparing it to Etymotic’s ER-4 models, although it is considerably more direct and less relaxed in this area than the majority of in-ears.
    Around 7 kHz, I can spot a moderate accentuation of the highs that is rather broad than narrow and therefore never harsh, sharp or unnatural. Sibilance or sharpness are not present and this elevation is a good bit milder, broader and more realistic compared to the UERMs’ upper treble spike (which is its only flaw) that can be a bit too sharp when a note hits it exactly.
    Above 13 kHz, the Atlantis’ super treble rolls off – which means that there is not that much subtle glare in the super highs although the extension is definitely sufficient and also clearly exceeds the more expensive Shure SE846’s upper treble extension.

    - - -

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    The Atlantis’ tonal tuning is well made and appealing – the in-ear offers a pleasant, not overdone dose of bass and warmth with a little fullness in the lower midrange, along with a natural vocal area and neutral upper mids. The treble is even as well and the mild elevation in the upper middle/lower upper highs appears well-dosed and never sharp or sibilant.
    Instruments sound realistic and also wind instruments’ and the percussion’s timbre, especially cymbals, is spot-on and realistic. This is exactly what you would expect from a well-tuned in-ear.

    Resolution:

    NocturnaL Audio’s quad-BA in-ear Atlantis offers a level of details that actually lead me to thinking I had an in-ear in the four-digit Euro range in my ears – more intense and longer listening finally confirmed this impression and a price slightly above the Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors (€1149), based on the Atlantis’ technical performance, would be definitely and easily justifiable since NocturnaL’s four-driver model is very convincing when it comes to speech intelligibility, true transparency without using tricks (such as purposefully placed elevations in the mids and highs), along with an easy-going and light-footed appearing treble that separates single notes precisely and without any harshness.

    The in-ear’s bass carries the typical tightness, resolution and high speed, paired with a hint of texture and body, which you would expect from a good and precise BA woofer implementation. In their character, the Atlantis’ lows remind me of my Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors when it comes to quality (the Atlantis however carries somewhat more quantity).

    Looking at the detail retrieval in the lower frequency range, it appears as this area wasn’t as resolving and detailed as the midrange and treble.
    This is mainly because the mids’ and highs’ resolution is already very high and that the Atlantis’ details and speed plus transients in the mids and highs carry a subtle effortlessness and brutal accuracy with single notes being separated very precisely wherefore the bass, that evaluated on its own is absolutely comparable to the UERMs’ when it comes to quality, appears a little less resolving than the mids and treble that definitely exceed what you would expect for the price.

    -

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    What NocturnaL Audio has developed with the Atlantis is definitely quite remarkable and applause-worthy.

    Soundstage:

    The Atlantis especially convinces with its very good and precise layering capabilities when it comes to the spatial reproduction. Single layers on the z axis can be spotted precisely and also remain this precise and well-separated from each other when fast and complex music is being played.

    While the soundstage is more or less good upper mediocrity when it comes to width (the basis leaves my ears with about the width of two fingers), the Singaporean quad-BA in-ear offers at least just as much spatial depth wherefore it sounds very three-dimensional and spatially authentic.
    Therefore it sets itself apart from many multi-BA in-ears in the sub €500 range that are strong on the technical side as well but usually don’t manage to portray the same level of spatial precision and three-dimensionality.

    Other positive aspects that are worth to be mentioned are the capability of displaying emptiness and the good separation and positioning of instruments that leave little left to be desired although the now discontinued Ultimate Ears UE 18 Pro (that however lacked a bit of balance in the midrange to become really interesting for me) is on an even slightly higher level when it comes to these aspects.

    ---------

    In Comparison with my Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors (the two other comparisons are available in German):

    The UERM have got the flatter, more neutral bass. The midrange timbre of both in-ears is quite similar and very comparable – the Atlantis only has the somewhat warmer lower midrange compared to the UE.
    Except for the upper highs where the UERM appear sharper and harsher due to their peak, both in-ears have a very similar treble response. As a result of the more even upper treble, the Atlantis sounds somewhat more realistic/authentic in the highs while the UERM extends somewhat higher and has got more sparkle.

    Concerning the bass/lows, both in-ears are absolutely on the same level to my ears when it comes to detail retrieval, tightness, control, speed and texture.
    Things are different in the midrange and treble though, as NocturnaL’s quad-driver in-ear manages to offer the even higher resolution than my UERM, which makes it the first in-ear in my inventory that, despite costing less, excels the overall resolution of the UERM (the FLC8s also managed to do that, however solely in the midrange while the UERM were still audibly ahead in the highs, lows and in terms of spatiality). Chapeau.

    Depending on the recording, the UERMs’ soundstage is even slightly larger in my ears, however just by a small margin. The localisation of instruments is comparably precise on both in-ears, with a very small advantage for the NocturnaL, while the Atlantis is somewhat superior when it comes to instrument separation and also manages to portray the somewhat more precise and better defined “empty” space between and around single instruments and tonal elements.


    Conclusion:

    NocturnaL Audio offers the quad-BA in-ear Atlantis with custom-fit and customisable universal fit shells for a more than just fair price.
    The technical performance is, for the price that NocturnaL Audio is charging, definitely exalted and even overall exceeds my Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors’ level of details.
    Speaking of flagship performance without a flagship price tag is therefore indeed possible without exaggerating.
    And especially with its price, the Atlantis fills a niche in the price range between $/€500 and 1000.

    Chapeau.

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    - - -

    The lows could appear a little more detailed, but this is solely because the midrange and treble are even more resolving – regarded separately, the Atlantis’ lows are absolutely on the same level as the UERMs’ when it comes to quality.

    Tonally, the in-ear presents a balanced, pleasant sound signature with a harmonious dose of bass impact and low vocals’ warmth, along with an even midrange and treble as well as a three-dimensional and precise soundstage.

    The only “flaw” is that the aluminium case’s appears a bit cheap. Other than that, I barely find anything that could be criticised.

    - - -

    Chapeau. Chapeau, chapeau, chapeau.
    zeddun and B9Scrambler like this.
  2. crinacle
    4.0/5,
    "Crystal clarity at an insane price"
    Pros - Clarity, midrange energy, vocal presentation
    Cons - Treble extension, bass authority, note weight
    Foreword

    I approached Treoo to loan me a demo unit after auditioning the Atlantis in-store. I don't usually get sent review units; instead I approach the companies that I think deserve acclaim.

    NocturnaL Audio is best known for their cables but have recently branched out to custom in-ear monitors with little to no fanfare. I have both the Gorham and Atlantis with me, and the latter has certainly impressed me especially at its asking price of 650USD for a fully custom unit.

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    Measurements performed on an IEC60318-4-compliant rig.

    Bass

    Quick with the barest hint of presence in the lowest registers. Note weight is rather light and thinned out compared to IEMs performing in the top echelon of bass performance. Bass hits aren’t the most textured nor the most rounded and overall performs below the average in its price range.

    The bass is definitely the Atlantis’ achilles’ heel but retains the overall signature of being extremely quick and detailed just like the rest of the Atlantis’ frequency range. If anything, I’d consider them “reference”-styled bass that’s more in line with neutral monitors like the UERM or the ER4.


    Midrange

    Clean, clear and detailed. Possesses a significant amount of energy due to a peak in the upper midrange. Vocals are open, airy and have a quality of sharpness to them, which gives them a nice resolving edge to their tone.

    I was most impressed with the Atlantis’ presentation of vocals and acoustics. Transients are fast and note speed is blisteringly fast, resulting a very bell-like clarity and cleanness that you’d usually only find in higher end IEMs (Empire Ears Spartan and Jomo Samba comes to mind). An absolute joy to listen to on instrument-centric genres like rock or even vocal jazz.


    Treble

    Flat and well-controlled. Follows the speed of the rest of the frequency range as well the feather-like note weight. Cymbals and hi-hats avoid ringing and sibilance remains at a minimum despite the high energies being put forth.

    Looking past the peak in the upper midrange, the Atlantis’ treble continues on to be relatively well controlled, if ever so slightly lacking in extension. It’s thankfully not as boosted as the upper midrange peak and is slightly subdued in comparison, which creates a good balance in the frequencies and prevents the Atlantis from sounding overly fatiguing or sharp.


    Soundstage

    Above-average width that translates to a spacious and airy presentation, with slight sacrifices in depth but nothing too major. Positional ability is decent, definitely a step above its competitive range.


    Comparison with UERM

    The UERM has been my reference (replacing the ER4, with itself being replaced by the UE18+ soon). It has also become my benchmark for midrange timbre, with tone accuracy surpassing even my TOTL IEMs.

    The bass presentation on both are eerily similar, with the Atlantis being ever-so-slightly north of neutral when compared next to the UERM, though can easily be recognized as neutral on its own. Decay is typical of BA woofers, being fast, detailed and snappy. Nothing really out of the ordinary.

    The midrange has wholly definitely signatures and I’d daresay the UERM still edges out in tonal accuracy, note weight and detail. The UERM does sound more “natural” to my ears but the Atlantis has its strengths in sheer clarity, energy and a slightly thinner and faster signature. While I may prefer the UERM for most intents and purposes, I’ll acknowledge that the two’s presentations differ enough to have one’s own sonic preferences tilt the scales to a large degree.

    The treble on both is more similar than different, though they still have one or two distinguishing features. For one, the Atlantis has slightly better control while the UERM is peakier but also sparklier. At the same time, the Atlantis tends to side with light, thin hits while the UERM presents a better sense of power, the UERM being more forward with its upper frequencies as as result.


    Conclusion

    The sub-$1000 market for custom in-ears is rather sparse, with the older players like Ultimate Ears and JH Audio still dominating that part of the scene. In fact, before NocturnaL emerged I wouldn't have any recommendations for the $500~1000 range (apart from the AAW W500, which just barely scrapes by with its $900 MSRP).

    With the introduction of the Atlantis, there's finally one addition to my recommendations that doesn't break the bank to the extent of the other great CIEMs. It's no giant-killer for sure, but where its strength lies it can certainly punch well above its price. Stunning clarity and energy that I would daresay rivals even the great Jomo Samba (but of course, can't hold a candle in other aspects).

    A breathtaking entry by NocturnaL. A no-brainer for a reference-class monitor at an entry level pricing.
    jinshenghaw and BartSimpson1976 like this.

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