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Electostatic-dynamic in-ear hybrid

Shozy & AAW POLA

Rating:
4.5/5,
  • DSC083872.jpg
    ‘A design that truly brings out the ES driver’s qualities’’

    The first thing that comes to our mind when the latest Sonion ES-driver consisting of fancy micro step-up transformers are sent to us in early 2018?
    It is not about achieving higher specs, but rather what we can do to utilize the design for a higher level of perceived enjoyment and a more immersive experience in listening!

    POLA - the end result after a year worth of product research, houses a large and fast 13MM Graphene (carbon allotrope) dynamic driver driving a lot of air, implemented to pair with the latest ES driver quite alike traditional speakers with a super tweeter.
    Now you can hear very deep and layered bass, charming and full-bodied vocal and even fine details in the ambiance thanks to the new tweeter innovation and synergy of the design.

    Design Story

    The original POLA is displayed at Canjams in Early 2018, earliest prototype is a 3D metal printed universal housing featuring a smaller diameter dynamic driver with the electrostatic drivers. The sound is very well received however together with AAW we hope to push the design to its limits. During 2018 we have tried to put prototypes with BA, multi hybrid designs at show and private gatherings for feedbacks, and in the end we are answering with the current design that houses not only specifications that goes up the roof, but concrete driver implementations allowing the design to scale up with sources and reflects the mastering’s quality. At just 16ohms POLA will work with most phones and laptops, and quality DAPs or Amplifiers supplying better power, also well mastered tracks will definitely boost performance to a more enjoyable tier!

    http://www.shozy-hk.com/pola-1/

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Recent Reviews

  1. Watermelon Boi
    Shozy Pola Review: Classic meets modern
    Written by Watermelon Boi
    Published Apr 3, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Comfortable, balanced sound
    -Premium cable and accessories
    Cons - May sound too calm for some
    DSC_0937.jpg

    Shozy x AAW Pola: Classic meets modern

    Shozy is a Hong Kong-based portable audio brand that produces various gears, starting from earbuds and IEMs to amps and DAPs. As they've been building up a good reputation and skills on their own, they recently started to join hands with AAW by creating collaboration projects. The first product was the Shozy x AAW Hibiki, marking the below $100 IEMs. It featured great sound and impressive aesthetics for an affordable price. Their second project was to create a great flagship IEM for a reasonable price, which in result came down to the Pola. Let's take a look at its features, sound signature, and worthiness.





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    Packaging

    Pola comes in with a simple paper packaging, though with quality accessories. Other than the earpieces, there are 3 sets of silicone tips, 3 sets of foam tips, AV adapter, flight adapter, leather case, MMCX stock cable, and a cleaning cloth.





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    Earpieces

    Pola houses a large 13mm graphene dynamic driver and two Sonion electrostatic drivers per unit. The trend for the portable audio market has now shifted to electrostatic drivers and both Shozy and AAW have joined this trend but with a better price. It's a 2-Way dual bore design, made with resin shells and metal nozzles.

    The faceplates are finished with fascinating redwoods, which is another reason for putting myself into this IEM other than the ES drivers. Of course, custom designs are also available for CIEM options but in my opinion, this is the best looking Pola design. It has a recessed CIEM 2pin (0.78mm) termination, making it convenient to switch up cables.





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    Cable / Eartip matchings

    These guys seem like they've put much attention on the cable as well, including a quality copper cable made by Null Audio. Not only these achieve the proper performance from Pola, but it also matches well in terms of sound signature. Along with that, Pola is quite sensitive to cable variations and shows distinctive goods and bads in cable matching, so there's going to be a good chance for Pola's stock cable to work better than more expensive cables. Silver type cables may cause the lower end to sound a bit hollow, so I'd rather recommend copper types - unless you know a silver cable that achieves decent bass.

    Pola shows a pretty distinctive difference depending on different cables and eartips. I found various types of eartips to work out well, though wide bore eartips (JVC Spiral Dots, AZLA Sedna Earfit, etc.) felt to be making the sound too mellow, so I prefer Acoustune AET08 or Spinfits.





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    Sound Impression - Overall sound signature, lows

    Pola's sound signature reminds me of a loudspeaker system. The overall sound seems to be distant to the ears but forms a comfortable, large headroom. Pola keeps the overall sound rather flat and calm, however without sacrificing the quantity and body from the sound.

    The bass feels smooth and has a gentle punch to it. The quantity is pretty plentiful, however, Pola definitely aims for the opposite characteristics compared to Campfire Audio Atlas or IMR R1 which are known to have an aggressive bass. I'd say the bass from Pola has been ironed out to feel rather flatter and wider, eliminating the bloated surface from the lower frequencies. This makes it possible for keeping the bass neat yet thick in existence. It also increases the headroom size as well. The bass dives deep with good resolution on the ultra lows, but with controlled quantity to respects the overall balance.





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    Sound Impression - Mids

    The mids stand near the bass. It's seamlessly fused with the bass while keeping the vocals cleanly presented. Many IEMs nowadays make the mids bulged out from other frequencies, though that ain't the case here. Again, Pola keeps the surface level evenly as possible - an "emo flat" sound signature I'd say. Slightly meaty mids make the vocals rich yet balanced, making it ideal for both male and female vocals. There is barely any turbulence throughout the mid-frequency with fantastically controlled sibilance. Textures from the mids feel very smooth, and the thin strands of sparkles coming from the ES driver add a bit of sparkle and crispiness, avoiding the vocals to sound too plain. Mids on Pola have a natural, fatigue-free characteristic with a touch of fun that comes from the ES drivers.





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    Sound Impression - Highs, etc.

    Electrostatic drivers take charge of the treble frequency, just as a tweeter does from a speaker system. One of the most vivid characteristics from electrostatic drivers would be its extremely refined texture. The treble here feels like multiple strands of thin silk have been layered on top of each other, achieving clear resolution and refinement. As mentioned before, Pola aims for this "emo flat" sound signature and keeps its distance from getting overpowering than other frequencies. Though it takes a slight step forward from the mids, providing the silky, high-resolution pleasures. Electrostatic drivers also show strong merits when it comes to separation and imaging. It's precise, distinctive, and natural.





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    Verdicts

    As electrostatic (ES) drivers start to kick into the IEM market and manufacturers join the trend, Shozy Pola suggests another path of tuning electrostatic IEMs. I've tried the Jomo Trinity which goes for a very rich and vibrant sound signature, definitely leaving me impressed and meeting the current trend of sound. Shozy Pola, on the other hand, decides to pursue the classic style of sound signature. The characteristics remind me of the Custom Arts Harmony 8.2, though Pola uses electrostatic drivers as a touch of savor and prevents the sound from getting too old-school. Not only Pola is a hybrid of two different drivers, but it also nailed on making a hybrid of two different style of sound - the classical and the modern. If you're a prior/current speaker user or simply into this type of signature, Pola should be a great choice.



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    Shozy x AAW Pola has been purchased by myself.
    I am not affiliated with Shozy/AAW and none of my words were modded or asked to be changed.
      Tragic likes this.
    1. Tragic
      Excellent review. I own these and like them very much. Mine sounded pretty crummy at first, very muddy so I'd advise patience and burn in. Thanks for the review.
      Tragic, Apr 4, 2019
      Watermelon Boi likes this.
  2. cleg
    It's a Shozy
    Written by cleg
    Published Jan 18, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - design, build quality, stock cable, bass, treble, stage
    Cons - not universal signature (should be corrected by silver cable), size
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    Last year, when Sonion announced their self-biased electrostatic driver, it was just a matter of time, until many IEM makers will employ it in their products. Аs it often happened, Shozy was the first company released such model. The first version of hybrid dynamic/electrostatic IEMs named Pola had rounded metal case, it was shown on few exhibitions, and after that, Shozy took a time-out and reworked that model using more traditional casing, and now I can tell about my impressions with this pretty unique earphones.
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    Disclaimer: I got this IEMs with a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

    Pola's price is about $800, and you can purchase them from the official site: [http://www.shozy-hk.com/pola-1/]

    Technical specifications
    • 2-band crossover, vented design for optimized dynamic driver performance
    • Frequency response: 10Hz – 100000Hz
    • Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.5%
    • Impedance: 12Ω
    • Sensitivity: 101 dB
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    The package is pretty traditional but good: black cardboard box with Shozy & AAW logo, inside, you'll get nice leatherette case, in it, carefully protected by foam insert, Pola and accessories are waiting for their new owner. Besides IEMs you'll get:
    • 3 pairs of single flange silicone tips
    • 3 pairs of foam tips
    • cleaning cloth
    • 6.3 mm adapter and "airplane" adapter
    • cable
    Stock cable probably deserves few additional words, and it's not just beautiful (one of the classiest cables I've ever seen), it's also super comfortable and has no microphonic. Shozy used regular 2 pin connector with recessed sockets, and I was once again convinced that it's the most reliable option. Shozy representative told me that pure silver cable improves sound drastically, but I don't have one currently. I suppose I'll update my review in the future when I get it.
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    Pola is pretty "common" regarding design. I think you can get full impression simply looking at photos: nice wooden faceplates, semi-transparent dark grey shells, everything is already familiar. Only note: they are pretty thick. Big 13 mm driver and "energizer" for electrostatic super-twitter require much free space inside shells, and that causes increased thickness. After finding proper tips, I got no problems with fit, only esthetic "suffering" because of IEMs sticking out of my ears, but like any good audiophile I've been used to this for a long time. Earphones have pretty good metal spouts, providing nice insertion and above average sound isolation.
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    Of course, all ears are different, and maybe people with other outer ears' shape will have some problem with fit, but for them, AAWozy offers a custom version.

    Before we proceed to sound, two side notes:
    • They require about 80+ hours of burn-in to reach their full potential
    • They require careful selection of tips. I've got the best results with SpinFits and foam-filled silicones from VSonic GR01 accessories set (probably, Mandarines will be OK too)
    • They require powerful source with decent amp, capable outputting enough current. I've got the best results with QLS361 in high current mode
    As for sound… Well, it's a Shozy. They will never make "mainstream" sound. Ok, never said never, so, correct version: they never did "mainstream sound" and most probably they won't. Pola is a unique, but not a universal model, it plays some genres perfectly, and some genres it doesn't play at all. With vocals (especially female ones), with properly recorded jazz, with classical music, they sound like the heavens for me. I like well-recorded pop and electronic music with them. Classical rock, blues, and blues-rock is also a total "win." At the same time, brutal genres of metal and poorly recorded modern pop is a total "no go" for them. So, there will be those who love Pola and those who hate.
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    As I've mentioned above, Pola is a hybrid, utilizing 13 mm graphene diaphragm dynamic driver and electrostatic driver with 2-band crossover, so, it reminds schema, often used in speakers world: dynamic driver+"super-tweeter." So, how does this driver work? A quote from AAW's site:

    Powered by the cutting-edging miniature electrostatic tweeter technology, It employs a six microgram, gold plated membrane held against a plate charged up to 400 volts. The electrical signal voltage is amplified up to 100 times via a built-in miniature transformer. The electrostatic attraction and repulsion effects induced by music signal triggers the membrane to produce acoustic pressure.
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    Well, enough that dull theory, how do they sound?

    Lows are a bit accented, but without crossing the border between "oh, that's a nice punch base" and "oh, my eardrums, they're bleeding!". The bass here is big, but it's fast enough to provide good resolution and nice texture representation. It's not a stable armature base, of course, but it's a base of a pretty good dynamic driver. Depth is also good, as well as control, so, despite accent, lows are managed to stay in their place and do their job. If I need to describe lows here in three words, it would be punch, body, and mass. As an example, I can mention Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats — Trying So Hard to Know. This track features real "tasty" big drum, and Pola manages to represent it in its full glory, you can close your eyes and got a total sense of presence.
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    Mid frequencies should be defined into 3 parts. Lower mids sounds like an excellent dynamic mids: weighty, a bit warm and life-like. They aren't super-fast, but the resolution is, and emotion representation will satisfy you. The highest part of mids is also lovely: crisp, resolving and detailed, I'd suggest that it's a twitter's impact. For example, female vocal sounds impressive, with lots of micro details and realism. So "middle mids" is the part, that will cause the most controversy. This part of the sonic spectrum is a bit "smoothed," and because of that, Pola doesn't sound aggressive, and this makes them not the best choice for brutal styles of music. Also, Shozy decided not to do "typical" 2 kHz spike, so at first, they sound as not resolving enough, but after some usage, I understood that resolution is OK, it's just my brain lacking familiar "spike." The imaginary stage is above average in width, and a bit above average in depth, layering, and instruments separation is also good. Example track will be Postmodern Jukebox — Smell Like Teen Spirit, a really, really great reinterpretation of cult classic done in orchestral 60's style. Pola shines here effectively balancing between Alisan Porter's vocal and acoustic bass line.

    I'm really waiting to test Pola with silver cable, as it should make speed even better and add a bit of necessary aggression, so I will update my review with impressions when I'll get that cable.

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    Treble area of this IEMs is well-extended and offers an impressive level of detalisation, natural attacks and decays as well as good extension and perfect layering. For treble-sensitive person Pola can be a bit "too much," but I subjectively find an amount of high frequencies balanced. All said above means a great sense of realism for timbre-reach instruments and lots of airness in music. At first listening, I was overwhelmed with the number of overtones I've got with Pola, but after little usage I've found that enjoyable, and I miss this sense with other IEMs. As an example here I'll use Arena — Pins and Needles, nice prog-rock act with lots of trebles, impressively played by Pola.

    I won't make any comparisons here, because Pola is pretty unique sounding IEMs, and I don't see much sense in comparisons like "well, it's different."

    To summarize, Pola is a unique IEMs. I want to say: "Ok, everyone, go and get them, quickly," but it won't be honest. Pola isn't "one-size-fits-all" mode. However, I recommend you to listen to it if you have an opportunity, they are stellar in some cases, and it's likely you'll love them. Or you won't. However, it's a common situation for Shozy models, and that's the reason I like this company so much.

    And a video version of review for those who like eastern-european accents :)

    1. volly
      Love your reviews and appreciate the work you do, these look handsome AF! Will grab a pair very soon!
      volly, Jan 18, 2019
      cleg likes this.

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