Perfect Seal is an American company, located in Wichita/Kansas. His founder Mike has been in this industry for a while and released some custom in ear monitors such as PS Series and Sportbuds. In addition, Perfect Seal launched the first hybrid monitor in silicone that is called Fusion 11. They also produce customized molds for hearing and protection plugs.
Mike is very responsive and helpful guy. I usually contact him via PM, on Head-fi. I think that he has very nice ideas as a designer. My first pair was in acrylic and he made a beautiful wooden faceplate.
Built Quality and Internals:
As I mentioned above, my first pair was acrylic, but had a seal break in the right side. In this regard, I sent it back and decided on silicone shell to be able to hear the difference between two units.
AR6 consists of six balanced armature drivers: 1 low, 2 low/mid, 2 mid and lastly 1 tweeter. In addition, it has four acoustic bores and 5-way passive crossover system as well as 2 pin industry standard sockets. In general, AR6 has a decent craftsmanship. I don’t have a seal break with silicone version, but it is a bit too tight. Still, I have no complaining about the isolation provided.
I think the reviewed AR6 is covered with beautiful color combination. In terms of designing, Mike does great job and we are able to see many fine examples of Perfect Seal monitors. AR6 comes with a hard case and a special card on which customer name is printed. The cable on AR6 is an industry standard unit, similar to Westone or UM cables.
Perfect Seal AR6 has an alive atmosphere with a hint of warmth. Instrument placement and imaging is very well determined. As we all know, AR6 has two versions and I had a chance to try both. This review is about AR6 silicone version and I will try to describe the difference between two in following parts from my recent memory. In this review, Lotoo Paw Gold was utilized as the source.
Sub-bass of AR6 is not superbly powerful, but neither weak. It carries good amount of resolution with enough rumble. It performs well in terms of responsiveness in fast tracks. Hitting to depth ability is nice, but decay may be a little too fast which results in a very small quantity of roll-off.
Mid-bass has fine-tuning with a nice tonality and control. Indeed, AR6’s mid-bass never overwhelms the background and general atmosphere. There is a balanced quantity of warmth provided by mid-bass notes, neither too warm nor cold.
On the other hand, silicone version sounds different than acrylic. Acrylic performs with less warm low frequency tone and some may find acrylic’s notes less bodied. This tuning results in change in average note thickness.
AR6’s midrange is located neither too distant nor too close to listener. It isn’t fatiguing and there is no aggressiveness. However, upper midrange sounds a bit forward compared to the rest of the midrange with a slight coloration/brightness. Average note thickness is nice, neither too thick nor thin; but upper midrange may sound thinner by a small margin. In addition, AR6 performs with a good transparency and resolution.
In comparison, AR6 in acrylic sounds brighter and leaner than silicone version. AR6 in silicone has less stress in releasing notes and it is smoother in upper midrange. On the other hand, AR6 in acrylic seems to have a better transparency performance. AR6 in acrylic tends to sibilance more.
The treble notes of AR6 don’t sound so forward, but they are prominent in accordance with slight coloration. It isn’t very forgiving against bad recordings, but doesn’t have a metallic tone. Resolution and transparency is pretty nice, but treble may become a bit sticky in super fast metal tracks dominated by high frequency. The treble presentation of both versions is similar, but AR6 in silicone recreates notes in a smoother way pursuant to mid-bass’ tone and quantity.
Soundstage and Separation:
AR6 in silicone provides good stage dimensions. There is no congestion in the stage structure and the depth of the stage offers a good layering ability. The background is located distant enough and has a good amount of blackness. The most impressive part of AR6 is its imaging. The instruments are portioned in effective sizes and 3D ability is strong. In sum, there is a ‘’living’’ music and atmosphere.
The separation is also good, but it may become stressful in fast metal tracks. AR6 in acrylic offers a neutral air between instruments in comparison, while silicone spreads warmer one in accordance with mid-bass presentation difference.
Perfect Seal AR6 vs AAW W500 AHMorph
Sub-bass of W500 has more open tone and provides more resolution with a better texture, while AR6 is faster and slightly more controlled. Both have natural sub-bass hits, but W500 put more air behind punches pursuant to dynamic driver advantage. They both have prominent sub-bass, but W500 has more forward and similarly resolved mid-bass presentation. AR6 sounds more coherent in mid-bass region. On the other hand, W500 tends more to get tightened due to mid-bass location and quantity.
Average note thickness is very similar, but W500 has cleaner notes. However both have a little stress in note releasing. AR6 performs better in terms of coherence, while W500 is a little more resolved. In addition, vocals’ dimensions are slightly clearer on AR6, but both tend to sibilance due to similar tones in upper midrange. Both have similar amount of transparency.
W500 has bolder and slightly less prominent treble notes, while AR6 has brighter tone. AR6 is more sensitive against bad recordings and W500 is slightly more resolved. Both have a good extension, but W500 has more natural approach.
Soundstage and Separation:
W500 has a wider stage, while AR6 has deeper one with a better layering. W500 locates the stage closer to listener, while AR6 uses the depth more effective to create a living ambiance. In terms of coherence and imaging, AR6 definitely betters W500. W500 lacks coherence due to mid-bass linkage with the rest of the spectrum. Both have good background blackness, but W500 provides a bit better separation.
AR6 vs SA-43 (with both switches positioned on):
Both have similar quantity of low frequency. AR6 hits a bit deeper with slightly better resolution and texture in sub-bass region, but both have similar control in terms of speed. AR6 has warmer mid-bass with similar location of recreation. In this regard, AR6’s mid-bass seems to be more intimate with the stage and atmosphere.
AR6 sounds a bit more forward in midrange, while SA43 has truer tone, more natural note releasing and better transparency. In terms of creating both thick and thin notes, the performance is close, but SA-43 betters AR6 by a small margin. In upper midrange, SA-43 is smoother and less stressed, while AR6 sounds brighter and more forward in comparison. Overall midrange resolution and detail levels are similar.
AR6’s treble notes are more prominent and brighter with a better extension performance. However, SA-43 has a truer tone and provides better resolution and speed. In addition, AR6 is more sensitive against bad recordings. Transparency level is similar in treble region, but AR6 seems to be more detailed with an exception of fast metal tracks.
Soundstage and Separation:
SA-43 has deeper and slightly wider stage. In comparison, SA-43 uses larger headroom with slightly laid back positioning. Both have an impressive imaging and coherence, but SA-43 is a very special custom in ear monitor when it comes to imaging and 3D recreation. So, SA-43 betters AR6 and creates more realistic atmosphere with a better layering. Both have impressive background, but SA-43 has a bit better instrument separation with a faster attack and decay ability overall.
Perfect Seal AR6 has a very impressive imaging and alive sound. We can have AR6 in both acrylic and silicone body including beautiful design options. By taken my experience on both versions, I can say that AR6 in silicone sounds a bit fuller and smoother than acrylic version; for sure, there is a price difference between two. The MSRP of acrylic version is 950 USD, while silicone is priced at 1150 USD.
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