AAW A3H Pro V2 Review (w/ V1 review)
Sep 30, 2016 at 7:09 AM Post #16 of 63

crinacle

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I was wondering when the next review of the A3H Pro would appear on Head-Fi... seems like our general impressions are similar, but you seem to like thick lower mids a lot more than I do. As for my assertion that the lack of treble extension was a tuning decision, I don't think it was a limitation of BA designs that caused the treble rolloff, since I reviewed AAW's Nebula Two universal dual driver hybrid after the A3H Pro, and with a single BA, they have insane treble extension and plenty of airiness, proving that multiple BA are not necessary for lots of treble extension. Of course, I concede that the BA in the Nebula Two is a custom-designed super-tweeter, but there was nothing stopping AAW from doing a similar thing with the dual BA in the A3H Pro, leading to my belief that the treble rolloff was intentional, which is backed up by the design goals AAW set for the A3H Pro, found in the comments section of a particular group-buying website where I got my A3H Pro.

I definitely agree with your review preamble that the reviewer's sound preferences should be taken into account when reading a review, which I why I stated that my preferred sound signature is close to the Harman Target Response Curve near the beginning of my A3H Pro review. Also, thanks for linking to my review!

It would make sense that this will be a different tuning direction among our line up. Take another triple driver hybrid setup W300AR for instance, you would have as much as treble extension as you would like to have. The key is differentiation for each price point:) A3H Pro's treble is adequate and suitable for non-fatiquing listening experience and we think it does its job very well.


Agreed wholeheartedly. The AAW A3H has its weaknesses but as a smooth and easy-sounding IEM, there isn't a lot that comes close in my listening experience. Seems like this could be a solid variant for a differently tuned A3H (like your previous A3H-V). Rolling off the dynamic driver earlier and lightening up the treble filters might be a good way to emulate tz's compensational EQ to have a more energetic and punchy sound signature that I'm positive many would love. Call it the A3H-Ref or something :)

On an unrelated note, I did send you an email but since you're here, how's progress on the aptX CIEM cable? I'm still very much anticipating it.
 
Sep 30, 2016 at 9:21 AM Post #17 of 63

DrGraceW

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You meant our TWS wireless module for CIEM? It is under going development, we still wish it could achieve a stronger connection between L/R unit. It will translate to a more stable listening experience. 
 
On the other hand, We're not fully going wireless though, expect to see this really soon too.
 
Sep 30, 2016 at 9:36 AM Post #18 of 63

crinacle

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Well that sucks, but good luck on your projects. I'm sure plenty of people (including myself) are pretty desperate for a true wireless connector module considering that our only 2-pin option is from Lear (with rather crap battery life) and the rest have gone the MMCX route.
 
I'll be swapping over to Android after my iPhone 6 dies off anyways. Jack/USB-C > Lightning 4life 
gs1000.gif
 
 
Oct 2, 2016 at 12:04 AM Post #19 of 63

crinacle

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Update with FLC8S comparison in the third post. In case you're too lazy to go there:
 
 ​
Another great IEM that is (distributed) by Singapore, the FLC8S is also a triple-driver hybrid that makes use of Knowles' TWFK dual-BA, though with the option to basically "hardware-EQ" its sound. The closest the FLC8 can get to sounding like the A3H is in the Grey-Black-Gold configuration, though there are still some things that the FLC8 can't emulate. Well, a lot of things actually.
 
For one, despite its amazing bass response per se, it cannot touch the A3H’s sub-bass resolution and power. The Red-Black ULF-LF configuration does well in emulating the A3H’s sub-bass rumble though at the cost of bass balance that the A3H naturally excels at.
 
The dynamic driver in the FLC8 is noticeably faster on the FLC8 while A3H commands a more authoritative presence even when setting the FLC8 to match the A3H’s bass emphasis (5dB above neutral), probably due to the extra reverb that the A3H’s dynamic driver produces.This has its obvious advantages in rock and electronic that are the A3H's natural weaknesses.
 
Going into the midrange, it's no contest in terms of musicality. The A3H’s midrange is basically the FLC8’s gold filter on steroids. It’s so much smoother and richer, providing a more intimate and enjoyable vocal experience in stark contrast to the FLC8’s cleaner but relatively more sterile mids. Just as an example, Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers In The Night” showcases the A3H’s strengths with the abundance of strings, trumpets and Sinatra’s deep voice, a timbre that the FLC8 can't dream of having despite its chameleon characteristics.
 
Into the treble, both companies have gone into different tuning directions on their TWFKs. The FLC8 has a noticeable rolloff from 2K and then peaking again at 8K, but provides a much brighter and energetic edge to its sound due to the contrast, similar to that of the Fidue A83 and Shure SE846. The A3H on the other hand is dead smooth all the way to its peak at 7K, which can give the illusion of darkness to some. When swapping from the A3H to the FLC8, the FLC8 sounds somewhat harsh and almost sibilant, while when swapping in the opposite way the A3H sounds dulled and overly smooth. However, the FLC8 isn’t sibilant, neither is the A3H dull when in a vacuum. Different strokes for different folks.
 
Detail retrieval is more or less on par with one another in the midrange and treble, with sub-bass resolution going to the A3H and mid-bass resolution going to the FLC8S.
 
All in all, they are more-or-less on equal footing with one another. The A3H does some things better, the FLC8 does others better. With both of them at the same cost and at the same performance level, the questions end at whether or not you'd rather have your money go toward the custom building process or toward a universal modular system. Both the A3H and the FLC8 are extremely bang-for-buck in their respective markets and both are top choices if bass and mids are your priority.
 

 
Oct 4, 2016 at 10:33 AM Post #20 of 63

grahamnp

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It's interesting that you find the A3H to have a rolled off treble, this mirrors what I hear on mine but is different from what I heard on the demo unit which was quite a bit brighter.  I don't dislike the way the my personal pair sounds, it does make for an easy earphone to listen to. 
 
Oct 5, 2016 at 12:48 AM Post #21 of 63

crinacle

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Yeah I found the demo set a tad brighter but at the same time slightly rolled off in the sub-bass as compared to my customs. I suspect the combination of silicone tips and poorer isolation would make the demo A3H relatively more mid-bassy and bright, though for the most part it's an insignificant difference. The universals are about 95% similar to the customs with very slight differences in the things I said above.
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 9:03 AM Post #22 of 63

crinacle

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Updated review with JM4v2 comparison.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crinacle /img/forum/go_quote.gif
 
Jomo Audio JM4v2 (Demo set)
 
Reviewer's note: Comparison was made in Music Sanctuary with the provided demo set. Sonic differences may exist between the demo and the full-custom.
 
AAW's local competitor, Jomo Audio, is also not one to be overlooked. The revised JM4 model is ever so slightly V-shaped and very clean sounding, making it another solid option in the niche entry-level CIEM market. It's priced at US$650, so while it's still defined as an entry-level CIEM, it's still nothing compared to the budget-oriented A3H.
 
In the bass (ignoring quantity, the A3H clearly has a good 3-4dB above the Jomo's), the JM4's dual Knowles DTEC still pales in comparison to the A3H's dynamic woofer in sub-bass resolution. The air and rumble of the A3H creates a much fuller and weighter bass response in the low end and pushes forth details that the speedy BA drivers rush past. Into the mid-bass, the speed and resolution of the JM4 turns the tables, surpassing the A3H in rhythm and pacing. However, by itself it isn't the fastest BA around, which may be a good thing as the JM4's bass has one of the more natural decays I've heard.
 
The midrange is slightly recessed though not overly so, with vocals firmly positioning itself closer to the foreground. The A3H just manages to edge out the JM4 in vocal performance, though more prominently in male compared to female. The JM4 is also much cleaner and marginally clearer than the A3H, being able to pick out details that the A3H's dynamic driver sometimes smooths over.
 
Into the treble, both exhibit similar smoothness with the A3H edging slightly in linearity. The JM4 extends further and images an airy presentation that the A3H can't replicate.
 
Resolution on the JM4 is slightly better, with the A3H sounding a little fuzzy around the edges when doing a direct A/B comparison. The JM4 also wins in microdetail retrieval, being the clearer and cleaner IEM by a small but noticeable margin.
 
In conclusion, the JM4 is definitely the more technically capable IEM, pushing its 4 Knowles drivers to their very limits of performance. It's not a clear-cut victory though; the A3H still manages to land some good blows where its shines: in sub-bass resolution, vocal performance and treble smoothness. In overall resolution, detail and treble extension, the Jomo Audio JM4 shows why it costs more. 
 

 
 
Upcoming writeups: InEarz S250, Empire Ears Supra 2, CTM-300 and Custom Art Music Two.
 
Oct 10, 2016 at 7:15 AM Post #23 of 63

crinacle

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Updated with comparison with the InEarz S250.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crinacle /img/forum/go_quote.gif
 
InEarz S250 (Demo set)
 
Reviewer's note: Comparison was made in Music Sanctuary with the provided demo set. Sonic differences may exist between the demo and the full-custom.
 
The S250 sits near the A3H in pricing at about $350 (depending on location), sporting a dual-driver, single-bore solution. It follows the typical house sound of its Sonion 1723; a typical V-shaped IEM with a very clean and slightly thin sound. Sparkly treble with solid bass that produces adequate extension; mediocre when compared to its dynamic-equipped competition.
 
As usual, the A3H wastes no time in showing off its deep, resolving bass, absolutely smoking the S250 in texturing and extension. On the flipside, the S250 delivers punchy, fast bass that paces better than the A3H's comparatively slow, booming mid-bass. It's an apples-to-oranges comparison, though technically the A3H produces a better low-end.
 
I would give the midrange to the A3H, no contest. The S250 is rather recessed and backgrounded in the vocals compared to the A3H's intimacy, and sounds rather cold and lifeless when comparing side-by-side. The S250 can be considered analytical in this regard, though the microdetailing of the A3H's TWFK is noticeably superior, along with the better timbre and dynamics that just melts into any instrument. The S250 has its moments in rock and metal with its blazing fast driver speed, though suffice to say it doesn't produce the same emotion and buttery smoothness that the A3H effortlessly does.
 
The treble is another problematic area. While the A3H has its weaknesses in dullness and extension, the S250 is a polar opposite, being rather bright and edgy at times. There is a tendency for the S250 to produce sibilance in rather energetic tracks, a problem that is nonexistent in the A3H. In linearity and smoothness, it's also a landslide victory for the A3H. However, a redeeming factor for the S250 is that with all the extension and brightness comes an airy presentation that the A3H can never hope to reach.
 
The resolution of both CIEMs are pretty neck-to-neck at first listening, but as time goes on the difference is enough for me to call the A3H the more resolving one by a hair. The S250 does have a cleaner and clearer sound, though its edginess and rather thin midrange misses a few details that the A3H could pick up despite its warmth.
 
All in all, while I may have touted the A3H as the winner by a long shot, the technical differences between the two are more minute than you might think. I personally have a bias against the thin and fast sound of the S250, so against the A3H it would be like me comparing my favourite food to another I simply tolerate. However, preference aside, the S250 is still a very capable CIEM for speed junkies, so if you find yourself disliking the A3H the S250 is another solid option to consider.
 

 
Nov 13, 2016 at 2:22 AM Post #24 of 63

crinacle

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Updated with AAW W500 AHMorph comparison.
 
Quote:
 
Comparisons
 
AAW W500 AHMorph
 ​
 
 
It's not really a fair fight on this end, isn't it? The flagship of AAW's budget line up against its Top-Of-The-Line. The A3H isn't exactly a baby W500 in default, and obviously doesn't touch the flagship in technicalities. 
 
Straight into the bass where their pride lies, other than the fact that they're slightly north of neutral they are completely different in terms of flavour and performance. The A3H is muted and smoothed over, with a comparably fuzzy and subdued edge to it. The W500 on the other hand separates the rumble and impact beautifully, even surpassing the A3H in sub-bass articulation whilst presenting a clean, detailed mid-bass than the A3H falls short on.
 
There's also a very distinct difference in coherence. Where the A3H transitions its decay at the lower mids resulting in a smoother, seemingly more coherent sound, the W500 restricts the rumble at the very lowest registers, which sounds like a more abrupt transition but brings forth a cleaner, less veiled sound signature.
 
Into the midrange, that's where the canyon between the two deepens. The tonality of the A3H is slower, smoother and thicker, which has its obvious advantages in vocals and heavy strings. The W500 on the other hand is what I truly consider to be a "neutral" tonality; it's not as thick as the FitEar MH334 (the A3H being even moreso) but doesn't have the same analytical and cold edge as the stuff from JH Audio and Hidition. Sure, the W500 wouldn't give the same richness and depth to vocals like the A3H does, but it definitely the more versatile out of the two.
 
There's something else that you'll notice when you take out the A3H and put on the W500. Treble extension. There is no contest; the W500 is much airier, generates more sparkle and has oodles more detail than the A3H. If there is something I'll concede the A3H to, it's the linearity and stability of the upper frequencies. Make no mistake, the W500 has some of the best controlled trebles that I've heard out of a TOTL, but the A3H just excels in that area. However, given the sheer difference in technical performance of the two trebles, it's a consolation prize than anything.
 
Of course, that's not to say anything about imaging and detail. The W500 smokes the A3H in this regard, providing insane levels of microdetail and resolution that the A3H's TWFKs can only dream of having. In imaging and soundstage, it's not even close. The A3H's midrange can sound rather smoothed over, resulting in a deep but rather congested soundstage. On the other hand, the W500 decay control especially at the bottom end is nothing short of miraculous, allowing for ridiculous diffusal range and presenting a sound stage that is both deep and extremely 3-dimensional.
 
With the W500's AHMorph tuning knob at the blue point (full dynamic mode), the decay transition extends into the mid-bass which brings the W500's sound signature closer to the A3H. In the this I would consider it to truly be a refined A3H, providing the same richness and a thicker (but not as thick) tonality with better extension in the top end.
 
13/11 note: I have to send my W500 back to AAW due to driver flex issues one one side and am back to the A3H for the time being, but even after spending so long with the W500 I was still enjoying the A3H a lot. The W500 can get a little intense with its neutral tonality and more "reference" tuning, so the smooth, easy-sounding A3H was still a very much welcome change to my ears. Suffice to say, even with the addition of this TOTL to my collection, I'm not selling this budget monitor anytime soon.
 ​

 
Nov 15, 2016 at 2:08 AM Post #25 of 63

crinacle

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Updated with iBasso IT03 comparison.
 
Quote:
 
iBasso IT03
 ​
 
Reviewer's note: Comparison was done in "Zeppelin & Co.", a so-called "audiophile cafe" deep in the heart of Sim Lim Square that offers a large range of demo units to try with your drink. An interesting and refreshing experience for sure!
 
Another one in the recent wave of cheap hybrids, the iBasso IT03 is a triple driver hybrid that utilizes the Knowles TWFK driver, just like the A3H and the FLC8. With the same configuration yet at a lower price point compared to the two, it's an interesting comparison for sure. The IT03 has a rather prominent U-shaped response, while the A3H has a bassier, warmer tilt to its sound.
 
Down in the bass... god, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't impressed. Sub-bass notes boom and resonate with some of the best decay I've heard, providing great darkness in the low-end. Sub-bass and mid-bass are well separated with impact and rumble clearly defined between each other, edging out the A3H's bass which can sound too smoothed over and congested at times. The A3H's bass is a hair darker and maybe a smidgen more articulate in the sub-bass, though the advantages the IT03 has in detail and separation makes it a better presentation in my book. Good job, iBasso.
 
Now, into the mids. Compared to the A3H, the IT03 sounds a little hollowed out and sometimes outright ring-y, especially near the upper midrange where it's almost metallic. The IT03 is noticeably drier than the A3H, with vocals taking a more backgrounded position making instruments pop out even more. The A3H on the other hand has not a single hint of metallic-ness in its sound, opting for a more intimate approach to instrumentation. It sounds warm, lush and smooth, making the IT03 sound hollowed out and thin in comparison.
 
The treble presentation of the IT03 is similar to the FLC8 in that they rely on contrast to boost clarity, though the IT03 is the smoother out of the two. Just like my comparison with the FLC8 it's more up to personal preference, whether you prefer a sparklier, cleaner treble or a smoother, less fatiguing one.
 
Into the soundstage, they could not be any more different. Where the IT03 had a very out-of-your-head, almost disjointed presentation due to its U-shaped tuning, the A3H went up close and personal, sometimes a little too close. The IT03 is very wide but is very two-dimensional and flat in its stage. The A3H is so much deeper and holographic in its stage, though is noticeably more congested and narrow.
 
It's a recurring rhetoric, isn't it? They perform the same but have different signatures. Well they do, and unlike the versatile FLC8S the differences between the IT03 and A3H are constant and unchanging. Prefer better bass separation and a U/V-shaped signature? The IT03 is your pick. Want a richer and more coherent overall sound? Can't go wrong with the A3H.
 

 
Nov 15, 2016 at 5:30 AM Post #27 of 63

crinacle

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Originally Posted by ForceMajeure /img/forum/go_quote.gif
 
Very informative comparisons. Because you compared many IEMS already I suggest you update the tittle of this thread so it gets the attention it deserves.

 
Like so? My clickbait skills ain't good, haha.
 
Mar 7, 2017 at 4:59 AM Post #29 of 63

ranfan

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great review. very detailed, systematic, and accurate.
 
Apr 18, 2017 at 10:05 AM Post #30 of 63

karloil

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has anyone tried comparing both A3H Pro 1st version and V2 models?
 

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