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Advanced Sound S2000's are absolutely incredible for ~$25

  1. Jeff Graw
    I picked these up from the recent Massdrop, received them yesterday, and was immediately blown away. So of course one of the first things I did was to go see what the Head-Fi discussion was on these and found... not much of anything, which honestly, seems like a small tragedy given the kind of sound quality this IEM produces.

    While I have a decent amount of experience with relatively high end (eg. LCD-3, HD-800, AH-D7000) full size headphones, I haven't been as fortunate when it comes to IEMs. My highest end IEMs are the Trinity Masters, and I also have some overpriced Beyerdynamics and the great value KZ-ATE's. The S2000 are in completely different league than all of these other IEMs, beating them in every possible dimension. In terms of sound quality, to my ears, they're closer to those aforementioned high end over ears than they are to the Masters (although it should be noted that I don't have the highest opinion of the later).

    The sound signature has a very mild-V. While I'd prefer a more pronounced mid-range, I'd describe the sound signature as "neutral-ish." Low end is well represented, and definitely the biggest surprise for me. Good extension. Slightly elevated and boomy, which is only really noticeable on tracks that are quite bass heavy to begin with. Otherwise low end feels smooth and quick. High end errs towards clinical. Maybe just a touch sharp with a hint of fatigue, but not noticeably sibilant to my ears. It should be noted that these impressions are "out of the box," so things might smooth out a bit after burn in if you believe in such a thing. Besides being somewhat recessed, mids are well represented. These do a very good job on both male and female vocals, with perhaps a slight edge to the later.

    Soundstage seems good for IEMs. Decent width, but there's also a noticeable degree of verticality. Detail retrieval is quite good, but suffers moderately when there are a lot of instruments.

    Other things to note is that these guys are very thin. Not including nozzle, somewhere around 7.5mm at the thickest point and 4mm at the thinnest. The pictures I've seen online didn't prepare me for how small these would be. I'd recommend for Advanced Sound to put up some side profile shots on their store to better convey this. They're easily the most comfortable IEM I've worn.

    They're also easily the least isolating IEM I've tried. For some people or some situations this might be a good thing, although I assume for most it won't be.

    The fit is pretty shallow. The nozzles don't have a notch so the tips sit pretty deep on them. I'm fortunate that this suits my ear shape, but I've heard that some people have trouble getting them to fit properly. One user on Massdrop found a solution by cutting a portion of the stem off the small tips which he placed on the nozzles to shorten them. I'm not sure how this might affect things acoustically though. It's possible that my ear shape has something to do with how extremely well I perceive these to perform.

    But in any case, I hope my impressions are helpful. To me, these IEMs hit so far above their price point that it's almost absurd, and tragic that they haven't received far more attention than they have.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  2. jant71
    They haven't and aren't gonna take hold until they fix the nozzle. Too short and way too many are having trouble with the fit. I got people to try them a while back and they didn't take hold out side of a couple of people. Too many couldn't get them to seal right and the bass wasn't there for them. Longer nozzle and longer tips perhaps and they would do better.
    jkjk123 likes this.
  3. Mdclol
    Thanks for sharing your findings, Jeff. Hopefully some of us are luckier with the fit.

    $25 bucks, MAYN!
  4. Jeff Graw
    Have you given the nozzle mod (cutting off a portion of the stem of one of the tips you don't need and placing it before the tip that you end up using) a try? If so, how did that work for you?
  5. jant71
    ^Length, not the thickness. Unless you mean constructing a sheathe that is longer to slide over the nozzle. That you would need something more than a tip core perhaps some stiff enough tubing or small diameter plastic pipe/tube. I am not that bad I can get them to sound as they should but can't be active or they either occlude cutting sound off totally on a side or they lose seal/start to come out. I may mess around at some point if time allows but haven't yet. My Elecom CB1000 and recabled B400 are much better. S2000 more just show the potential perhaps of the upcoming M5 1D which I certainly have on my list now. Seems Stevie Wonder likes them :)

    * And yes, the S2000 are a great vale but not so much for me. B400 was a sample and my upgrade cable was $20 so less than the S2000. Elecom were $38 so again S2000 don't give a better SQ/$ ratio.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  6. jkjk123
    Agreed, I tried these out and think i would have really liked it cept couldn't get it to fit properly also the isolation is lacking for me
  7. Jeff Graw
    That's it. I haven't tried it myself since they fit me just fine as is, but I know a few people on Massdrop reported that this fixed their fit issues and the tip core worked fine for them.

    I can't find them for that price, but if you can direct me to where I can I may place an order.
  8. jant71
  9. Jeff Graw
    After some more listening and burn in (whether it be driver burn in, brain burn in, or some combination), I'm actually revising my opinion upwards, especially on sound stage now that I've compared them more against headphones that aren't HD-800's.

    There have a peculiar attribute in that they're quite unforgiving of poor recordings, but they also aren't revealing of a recording's faults. If I listen to a bad recording on the likes of an HD-800 or K701 and it sounds bad, I can easily tell that it's the recording that is at fault as well as exactly where and what those faults are. When I listen to a bad recording on the likes of an HD-650 or AH-D7000, or most any respectable can combined with a tube amp, the faults of the recording are still more or less noticeable and present, but aren't glaring and don't jump out at. The recording can still be quite enjoyable, assuming that I'm partial to the song in question.

    On poor recordings the S2000 is the worst of both worlds. They sound bad and aren't very enjoyable. Unlike the previous examples though it seems as if it's the IEM's fault as opposed to the song's. Upper bass and lower mid-range gets terribly congested and start to smear into one another. Low end overall takes on a bit of a "one tone" aspect and will often unnaturally jump out of the track. Things start to sound slightly coloured and the mid range dip is more noticeable. They still hit above their price range, but maybe only up to about $80-100. It's an interesting phenomenon that I haven't ran into before. My working theory is that the somewhat elevated bass response combined with the somewhat ponderous low end presentation combined with lower quality recordings also tending to EQ up the low end combined with the horrors of compression is the main cause for this.

    Yesterday night I did some more critical listening making sure to select relatively well recorded source material, and I found myself involuntarily uttering expletives here and there because of how good these things sound. Not for $25 (although that too), but in the absolute sense. While the low end has a smooth presentation and doesn't feel extremely quick or agile, upper mids and highs have a certain weight, tactility, and speed to the them that I would expect from something closer to TOTL. I'd describe the overall sound as warm, sharp, and personal. This makes them very good at reproducing percussive elements, and as a percussionist perhaps that biases me towards them.

    To put things into further perspective, and I'm actually hesitant to write this because I fear it will cause people to question my sanity/objectivity (heck, I would probably be questioning it if I saw someone else write the same thing about a $20-25 IEM), but right now I'm listening to John Mayer's Paper Doll, Dave Mathews Band's #41, and Henry Connick Jr.'s Joe Slam And The Spaceship (excellent recordings all) and in each instance between the S2000 (driven by a Grace m903), HD-650 (m903), and HD-800 (balanced, m903 -> Audio-gd Phoenix).... I'm placing the S2000 firmly between the Sennheisers, if not closer to the HD-800.

    Heresy? Perhaps. I can't blame anyone for thinking as much. While we absolutely have a tendency to bias ourselves towards more expensive gear (and away from less expensive gear) simply on the basis of cost, this is an extreme statement no matter which way you dice it. I've certainly been struggling to overcome thoughts of "it can't possibly be this good... Damn, what the heck am I missing here?"

    That said, I also feel like I need to add some qualifiers. The m903, while being a high end amp/DAC, is probably not the best pairing for the HD-650 which can scale to extreme heights with the right equipment stack. Conversely, you would be hard pressed to find a better way to drive the S2000. In my experience the m903 tends to pair eerily well with headphones that are a bit on the boomy side, such as the D7000's, and has a tendency to really tighten up and refine a low end that is somewhat loose or uncontrolled. I'm not saying that the S2000's are better than the HD-650's. I'm saying that they sound better to my ears, on my setup, and only when I limit my listening to very high quality recordings.

    Apologies for not being able to compare them against other IEMs as opposed to full size cans. I'm not much of an IEM guy (yet), since my ability to buy expensive audio equipment diminished before I could really get into them. I will say that these blow the socks off the KZ-ATE, Beyerdynamic 102, and Trinity Masters to the point where it isn't even worth comparing pros and cons, but sadly I don't have much else to compare them against.

    I've been longing to find competent IEMs that could compete with upper-mid-fi over ears without breaking the bank for a couple years now (the Masters were my great hope for that, but ended up a severe disappointment, and that experience has left me wary about future purchases), and was prepared to pay upwards of $200. Almost pulled the trigger on a set of Primo8's when they were on Massdrop the last couple of times and only reports of the ear guide rotation issue stopped me. It's such a big shock that I found what I was looking for in a random $20 Massdrop. And my desire to accumulate more IEMs is rapidly diminishing as a result. Besides being in the position to buy something TOTL again, I'd mostly be interested in something that is reasonably hi-fi while being more forgiving of crap recordings.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  10. Jeff Graw
    Revising my opinion back down to earth a bit. There's definitely some muddiness in upper-bass/lower-mid area that's clearly audible even in certain well recorded content such as Van Morrison's Glad Tidings (DR 11) -- not just overly compressed crap (although there does seem to be a strong correlation with the later). My feeling is that the S2000 doesn't handle things particularly well when you have instruments that straddle that upper-bass/lower-mid transition, and when you have many instruments competing for that space things can get downright messy. And this is with a source (m903) that is relatively forgiving for sloppiness in the same area. With more listening perhaps I can better quantify exactly what is happening.

    In terms of sound quality, I'd say this is the tragic flaw I've been expecting but until now haven't been able to find (or more precisely, misattributed/underestimated). When music selection doesn't expose the issue, the S2000 can sound like something approaching TOTL. When the opposite is true, they don't hit nearly as high above their price point.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
  11. PlantsmanTX
    I'm probably the Massdrop user you're referring to. Yes, I cut narrow strips from the stem of one of the small tips and used them as spacers to keep the tips from sliding all the way down. It helps a lot. It brings the bass forward, and makes the fit secure enough that I don't have to pull the wires behind my ears. This is with the largest included tips and ML size Spiral Dot tips. With the Spiral Dots, the bass seems to go a little deeper, and there seems to be more air around the instruments.

    I'm afraid I didn't cut the strips very precisely. I guess they vary from 1mm to 1.5mm or a little more in width. For the sake of consistency and neatness, it might be better to use suitably sized o-rings as spacers.
  12. PlantsmanTX
    When I got these, I went through all of the medium and large tips I have, except for the ones that came with the Brainwavz B100s. I thought there was no way they'd fit the S2000's nozzle. I eventually got around to trying them, and they actually do fit. That opens up some other tip rolling possibilities, like the Westone tips that vary in diameter and length.


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