Ambient Acoustics Laboratory — CIEM makers from Ukraine
Jan 21, 2021 at 2:54 PM Post #106 of 120
Apologies for the tease/delay

I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with the MAD10, MAD16 and MAD24 IEMs from Ambient Acoustics as part of a UK/Europe tour.
First up I'd like to thank @MrLocoLuciano and Yuliya at Ambient Acoustics for organising this - I know what a pain in the butt these can be first hand, so it's much appreciated, especially with lockdowns limiting our opportunities so much. Big thanks to both of you (and anyone else in the background who is helping to make this happen).

Some quick info - I'm into all sorts of music, rock, metal, house, techno, world music (lots of southern African stuff), some classical and jazz (not very much), bits of pop...ermmmm...whatever is good really.
My frame of reference is the Erlkonig, Thummim, Legend X and a few others.

Now as these are a set of tour units, I won't be commenting on peripherals like packaging, tips, cables etc. What I can say is that the cables shipped with the product don't look like the ones one their website, so I dispensed with them and used a series of other cables. Beyond, that, there are other reviews scattered around which can help more with accessories insight.
Also - fit is pretty much the same across all three IEMs. They're on the larger side, and while I didn't find them uncomfortable, I am a larger than average person, so this is something to flag and be aware of - these will almost certainly be too bulky for some ears.

Right, let's listen to some music.

I started with the MAD24 because....well why wouldn't you?


The first thing that struck me is how revealing these IEMs are.
They have excellent technicalities, to the point where it's obvious that people who are averse to an analytical signature might struggle. (Don't worry, if this is you, we have something for you later in the piece.)
I quite enjoy this sound - but I'll be blunt and say that's not my usual day-to-day preference.
Still, I am in awe of how certain IEMs manage to drag up oodles of detail and this IEM can play among the best here.

Of the three IEMs I auditioned in the range, the MAD24 also has the best layering, soundstage and imaging - it's not just a one trick pony.

To often "analytical" can be a byword for my own pet-hate "bright" - but in this instance that's not the case. It's never fatiguing to my ears, sounds great and everything is impressive. If you think there's a "but" coming, you'd be wrong.
Erm...however. The technicalities on this, while not too sharp, still wear me out eventually. The sound isn't as full and musical as I prefer (my preference is coloured for sure, so that's not exactly the worst insult one can sling at an IEM.)
Meanwhile on my test tracks, while I've enjoyed running through them, I feel the slight "thinness" to the sound vs my own preference removing me from the music and constantly assessing new sounds I've not heard. A great achievement in an IEM, but not what I lust I switched to....


I won't faff around here, this is my favourite of the range. Yes, it has fewer drivers and yes, it doesn't have the technical chops of his showier brother. But what it lacks there, it makes up for in a tuning that is far more up my street.
Listening through the same set of test tracks again, I don't remember once thinking "ooh, that's a new sound" - but before I knew what had happened, my test playlist was finished.
The MAD16 is more forgiving, less analytical, more engaging and more musical.
Don't be fooled, it's hardly a slouch when it comes to reaching down and picking out the details. But while the MAD24 presents them to you, here you need to go digging if you want to notice them. If you just want to listen to the music as a package, then the MAD16 stands above its elite stablemate.
Most of this is to do with a fattening out of the sub and mid bass - presenting a warmer signature that focuses more on rhythm than anything else.
Granted, the bass is just a shade less taut than that of the MAD24, particularly on Braids' "Miniskirt" - there's no bleed as such, but it loses a tiny bit of composure around the 3min05 mark when everything hits at once. But this is nit-picking, it's a thoroughly enjoyable listen and on that had me flicking through more extra tracks than I had done while listening to the '24.

For those who care about these things, I'd also say that the staging is more recessed - vocals are a couple of rows back vs the MAD24 and, I suspect, this is due to a slight dip around 4kHz or so (I'm not the best at picking these ranges so apologies if I'm not precise here). Again, I'm not averse to this so I enjoyed it, but it's certainly not the upfront signature I'd been experiencing a few minutes before.

All in all, this is a fine IEM and the one I'd happily recommend in the range with the caveat that one would have to value warmth, texture and that elusive "musicality" over the accuracy and neutrality of the more expensive flagship. This is the one I'd choose and happily so.

From there I moved on to the MAD10


Now to be honest, I have a set of notes on this IEM, but I don't think I'm going to go into great detail here. My notes are broadly negative (please bear in mind again, this is vs my own personal preferences). I will mention a few things because I feel it's important - if I'm honest about negative things, hopefully you will trust that I'm also being honest about the positive things I've had to say.
Listening to Sagat's "Few Mysteries Solved In A Year Of Contact" I'm immediately concerned about the tonal balance, it's a bit sibilant and strident sounding. The bass is an issue for me and sounds a little hollow on EOB's "Brasil", while Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" is a struggle for me to get through as there are crashing and shimmering cymbals that hit in a way that takes me out of the music.
However, I'm pleasantly surprised at how good Pink Floyd's "Time" and Talking Heads "Once in a Lifetime" sound - both move along at a rollicking rate. But this brings me to my main criticism of the IEM, which is that it's actually really good with some things, but too fussy with others - and there doesn't seem to be a pattern. I couldn't say "this is great for classical but terrible for dance music" as I really have no idea. That said, because it wasn't my preference, I don't think I gave it quite as much time, but why would I when there's so much to enjoy on the two other tour units?

All in all - I'd say I'm pleasantly surprised by the IEMs I've heard in the AA range. I'm fortunate to have some great IEMs already, which makes it unfortunate for any IEM crossing my path, because I can't help but compare it to what I have. I absolutely suck at the whole "well compared to other things in its price range" - I just compare it to what I'm used to, and being a spoilt little brat, I'm used to good sound. (Or at least what I consider good sound, these things are arguable.)
So compared to what I already have, the MAD16 sits comfortable alongside them. I'd place the MAD24 in the "U18t" territory. Slightly less bass - but the same analytical sound.

These are very accomplished products and I'm very pleased and thankful to have been able to spend some time with them :)
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Jan 21, 2021 at 3:11 PM Post #107 of 120
Feb 4, 2021 at 5:58 PM Post #108 of 120

I'll begin this by saying a big thank you to @MrLocoLuciano and Yuliya at Ambient Acoustics for organising this tour, especially in weird times like this.

Similar to @doctorjuggles I won't really be commenting on accessories as those and the packaging will change but really focus on the sound and my general feeling of the IEMs. This isn't a full review by any sort but more of extended impressions after a few days with them.

The MAD24 was something that came out of nowhere for me, never would I have thought someone can make an IEM with 24BA per side, without crossover and make that sound coherent. I don't know if many people realise how difficult it must be to phase align and naturally crossover so many drivers. That out of the way, how do they sound? I initially put on "Death - The Voice of The Soul", what struck me straight away was how smooth yet textured everything felt, guitar pulls and the bass guitar never got too forward, it just felt right. It's one of those rare times when an IEM can present extreme detail and yet sound extremely smooth at the same time.
I've put them through some really harsh recordings (punk, metal etc) and never had to lower the volume or never really felt any fatigue from listening. I would say, they gravitate towards a more neutral signature, for some people neutral just translates to boring, but I don't think that's the case here, they are still articulate and musical but they don't emphasize anything and maintain fantastic technicalities across the board. They stage very well, the stage is wide and has quite a bit of depth, maybe not as big as an open back headphone but on the larger side for an IEM. I'm well impressed by those and hope I get a chance to review a full retail unit at some point in the future.

Onto the MAD16, unlike his bigger brother, the MAD16 is a much more bold IEM, it puts more weight behind the notes which in turn make it lose a bit of sheer resolution and technical performance. I wouldn't say that's necessarily an issue as the presentation is more fun and more "musical" per se, genres like EDM actually work better in this setting. Even technically this is still a fantastic IEM, it doesn't push detail in your face, but it's there if you look for it. Think of it this way, where the MAD24 puts you in a quiet place in front of the stage, with all the ability to listen to everything that is happening and seeing it clear as day, the MAD16 puts you more in a jazz club, in a warm place where you enjoy the music.

My personal preference leans towards the MAD24 as I love a more spacious, more accurate type of sound and don't mind it being a bit thinner and airier. But both it and the MAD16 are absolutely great and I really enjoyed my time with them. I think Ambient Acoustics balanced those 2 models really well to suit a wider audience.

(I purposely left out the MAD10 from this write up as I haven't spent enough time with it to judge it properly)
Feb 5, 2021 at 4:21 AM Post #109 of 120
Good write-up @skedra, very much how I heard them too! :thumbsup:
I’m surprised they don’t get a bit more love on here, but I’m guessing it’s because they’re relatively new and not yet heavily marketed. Hopefully the tour and a bit more feedback will help to push things along
Mar 27, 2021 at 12:23 PM Post #110 of 120
Sorry about the delay on this...but here are my Impressions on the MAD IEMs.

I was part of the EU Ambient Acoustic tour and I have had the chance to try the MAD10, MAD16 and MAD24. I want to thank @MrLocoLuciano and Ambient Acoustics for giving me the chance to participate in the tour.

First up I think I need to tell you that I am useless at trying to describe sound. By this I mean really totally useless. Please don’t expect lashings of technical jargon to describe every nuance of sound. What I will do though is try to convey what basic sounds and differences I hear and how each IEM made me feel.

The gear used was – HiBy R8, Cayin N6ii and Lotoo PAW S1. The cables I had for comparisons were – EA Thor Silver II+ and PW Audio’s 1950’s and No.5.

MAD stands for Main Audio Destination. According to the website, this is a technology used to solve problems with phase matching when using multiple drivers (unfortunately that’s as far as my understanding of techy stuff goes). The number after MAD refers to the number of drivers in each ear. As the drivers on all three models are BA I had some work to do to get accustomed to them. At present I have been used to having DD’s in the IEMs that I have listened to. I therefore just let my music play and I listened to some playlists over and over until I became as one with the BA feel.


As the model name suggests this has 10 BA drivers per ear (2-low, 4-mid, 4-High/UltraHigh). This model retails for $1,500.

Not that I’m a cable lover, but the first thing I noticed when I opened the carry case was a lovely 8 wire copper cable (I’m not certain if this is just copper or whether there is any silver in the mix). It is 2 pin and terminates with 3.5mm. The cable is soft and supple and drapes beautifully. While listening to the music I just liked to feel the cable and let it flow through my fingers…errr…anyway, onto the IEMs…The shells themselves seem on the slightly large side. The size of the nozzle is also quite large and needs a wide bore tip to fit it. They fit in my ear fine though and were quite comfortable.

The standout area for me on these 10’s are the mids. The mids just seem to have more of an impact on the sound than the lows or highs. Because of this I am finding that things occupying this range sound clear and defined. Guitars, both acoustic and electric sound great. Vocals that are in this area likewise come across really well. Piano notes are also very good, and the keys being pressed can be heard distinctly.

Separation of instruments is good. Two tracks I use here are ‘So What’ by Miles Davis and ‘Hotel California’ Live by The Eagles, and the MAD10 do them both proud. You can place everything well within the soundstage. Soundstage itself feels a bit close in (intimate?) rather than feeling that everything is spread out over a large area. This does not detract from anything though as the presentation is pleasing to the ear.

The treble feels airy and to me seems to extend well. It has a nice crispness to it. One thing I have noticed though is that voices, both male and female, that extend up into the highs are close to going over that line into harshness territory. There are three tracks I test this with; ‘Here’s the Tender Coming’ by The Unthanks, ‘Say Something’ by A Great Big World and ‘Wings’ (acoustic) by Birdy. Each one of these were close to being harsh to my ears. Now this could be related to me rather than the 10’s as I can get a bit sensitive to higher frequencies. Where I do really like the highs with this IEM though is with classical and jazz music. Instruments such as violins and trumpets can really soar beautifully.

This may be my first exposure to full BA bass. I am used to hearing DD rather than BA. Coming from owning the Trio and Legend X, both bass ambassadors, the bass on the 10’s seemed very different. It is not as impactful as the aforementioned and doesn’t seem to have as much presence. This may be good or bad depending on your preference. I popped on some hip-hop, and although ‘Dangerous MC’s’ by Notorious BIG and ‘Cold Rock a Party’ by MC Lyte sound good in the mids, the bass was not bringing these tracks to life. I then tried some sub bass with ‘Limit to Your Love’ by James Blake. This track has sub bass that could send demons to you core, but on this IEM it was only just present in the background and lacked any impact or feeling. I then tried Bach’s ‘Cello Suite No.1 in G Major’ performed by Yo-Yo Ma, but the cello, to me at least, lacked that thick strum that I feel this instrument should have.


This IEM has 16 BA drivers per ear (4-InfraLow/Low, 8-Mid, 4-High/UltraHigh). This model retails for $2,500. Per the tour kit it comes with the same cable as the MAD10.

Straight away I can hear more presence all around. Everything seems to have more body and there appears to be a wider soundstage compared to the MAD10. As I listen to Miles Davis’s ‘So What’ I’m hearing better separated instruments. Not only that though, these instruments have seemingly come alive. I am no longer listening to a good recording, instead I feel like I am right there with the band.

The treble on the 16’s does not seem to extend quite as high as the 10’s. It is still well extended and renders a clear crisp sound, but those high vocals I mentioned with the 10’s are tamed somewhat and makes it an easier listen without it going into that harsh territory. I’ve noticed though that on some tracks the vocals seem to be reined in. On the track ‘Say Something’ by A Great Big World, the singers voice no longer soars high like it did on the MAD10. I found this with some classical tracks also. On Bach’s ‘Sonata No.3 for Violin and Harpsichord’, the violin does not quite have the same soaring aspect that was enjoyable on the MAD10.

Mids are a strong point once again. Vocals seem to be nicely placed and seem a little bit forward to my ears. Everything still seems balanced though in the presentation. Vocals are nice on the 16 and have real presence. Guitars, especially acoustic, sound good on this IEM. Listening to The Eagles ‘Hotel California (Live on MTV, 1994)’ I’m loving the sounds of the strings and the separation between the different instruments being played. I’m finding male vocals sound really good on this. On the live version of ‘Last Request’ by Paolo Nutini I feel I can hear the movement of his mouth/lips as he presents his lyrics to the mic. Lovely stuff from the MAD16.

The bass aspect initially sounds similar to that of the MAD10 but has perhaps a little more to offer. In my initial listening I did not think it does full justice to the overall presentation of music from this IEM. While listening to the aforementioned live version of Hotel California, while the guitars and vocals were good, I felt the beat of the drums and percussion were missing a little, and to my ears trailed behind the mids and highs and lacked some authority. I also felt that hip-hop and bass orientated EDM suffered a little from the lack of bass impact. The more I listened to different music genres though I began to get a better perspective on the bass from the 16. One positive was with Bach’s ‘Cello Suite No.1 in G Major’. The cello now has more authority in the notes than that of the 10 and the 16 portrays this music well. I then moved to some Marcus Miller as he plays a lot of bass orientated music. This actually sounded very good and the bass was definitely present and doing its thing well. I then went back to hip-hop and found it was still not bringing the bass impact to the party. Listening to James Blake’s ‘Limit to Your Love’ I didn’t feel there was that much sub bass present. So, a bit of a mixed bag with my listening here. Some tracks have a nice bass presence while others do not. Could it be specific to the recording quality and so the 16 will only pull out what is there? Obviously, that is just my findings and others may feel differently when listening to this IEM. It is probably important to bear in mind though that I come from being used to DD bass and so my ears may be skewed towards that aspect.


This IEM has 24 BA drivers per ear (4-InfraLow/Low, 8-Mid, 8-UpperMid, 4-High/UltraHigh). This model retails for $3,500. Per the tour kit it again comes with the same cable as the MAD10 and 16.

The first thing I notice is the increase in the soundstage. Instruments are now further separated from each other compared to the 10 and 16. The trumpets in Miles Davis’s ‘So What’ are now further back in the room as opposed to being close to my ears. You can certainly pick out each instrument here. The whole presentation from this IEM is clear and coherent. The sound of each instrument is very distinct. Is this IEM a detail monster?

For vocal highs I turn to the song ‘Here’s the Tender Coming’ by The Unthanks. These ladies’ voices extend lovely on the 24. It seems to have a mixture of the highs on the 10 and the 16 but ramped up a bit more, and it seems to soar beautifully without going into the harsh zone. Violins on this track also sound really good, and like the vocals here, they extend well without becoming harsh. Turning elsewhere, high notes on the piano hit well and the higher notes on classical music sound good to my ear.

For the mids I just have to go back to the live recording of the Eagles ‘Hotel California’. Oh my! I thought the phrase ‘sends shivers down your spine’ was just a thing said to denote the sound excellence of something. Well the introduction of the guitars and drum taps on this song were simply incredible here. Genuinely, this did send shivers down my everywhere. I don’t even know how to describe how it feels. I am listening now as I type and there is a warm feeling in my chest and a glow in my face. Incredible. I thought the MMR Thummim presented this song superbly, but this song from the MAD24 seems to be on another level.

It’s rock next and the classic ‘Back in Black’ by AC/DC. The separation here is very good. It feels like every instrument has its own stage and yet they all come together perfectly. There is just the right amount of ‘thump’ to the drums and guitars are crisp and have the right amount of crunch. Acoustic guitars also sound good out of the 24’s. It feels like I can hear the strings being plucked, and on the track ‘I Don’t Want To talk About It’ by Everything But The Girl there feels like a duet going on between the different guitars present and I can focus on each one if I so desire. Random thoughts here, but female vocals can be lovely. On ‘Wings’ by Birdy, her voice is enchanting, and it feels like she is singing just to me. Same issue with male vocals on acoustic tracks. Well recorded live music also sounds great.

My first introduction to the bass was with ‘Dangerous MC’s’ by the Notorious BIG. I’m impressed. The 24 is representing on the hip-hop stage. There is a nice bass impact on this track, and with the clear well-placed vocals I’m really enjoying this presentation. I turn to ‘Blue Monday’ by New Order to test out some synth electronic music and I like what I hear. There is a ‘twang’ of bass strings on this track that I use as a measure and the 24 presents this well. To test some pounding bass, I listen to ‘Fresh’ by FooR, Majestic & Dread MC. I don’t think the 24 is quite in Legend X territory, but it certainly brings the thumping bass to this track. The last thing I want to check is the sub bass performance and so it’s back to James Blake’s ‘Limit to Your Love’. It can certainly do sub bass on this track. To my ears it is not as deep or vibrating than either the Trio or Legend X that I am used to, but it passes the test nonetheless.

I am very impressed with this IEM as it ticks a lot of my boxes. I’m struggling to find something I don’t like about it. If I had one issue, and it’s a very small one, I think this IEM straddles the boundary between musicality and detail retrieval. While enjoying the music it is all too easy to start zooming in on various parts of the track and dissecting them. I know this aspect is important to some. It doesn’t put me off though because the sound of the MAD24 is excellent.


Having listened to the three IEMS here are my overall thoughts:

The MAD10 seems to be a more neutral IEM. It is clear and has a nice crispness to it. The highs can produce some nice sounds especially with certain instruments but can be a little harsh on some vocals that extend up high. The bass feels a little light to my ears and to me is lagging behind the mids and treble. I don’t think it’s bringing as much to the table. The standout area to me was the mids and I found that vocals and instruments in this range sounded lovely to my ears. I think this is an IEM that works better for some genres than others.Things it works well with include classical, acoustic guitar & vocals, piano, jazz and rock. I wouldn’t pick this IEM though if you are a fan of EDM, hip-hop or anything that requires a strong bass presence in the track.

The MAD16 feels to be more of an all-rounder. It has a fuller sound and to me gives an overall warmer presentation to the music. The highs feel like they are reined in a little, nothing bad but they do not seem to extend as much as the 10 did. The good thing here though is that vocals do not go into that harsh territory. The bass to me brought more questions to the table then the other areas. Despite trying different genres and hi-res track quality, it seemed to be a mixed bag on what presence and impact I was going to get. To my ears it was once again the mids that stood out to me. Now, this is not to say that this isn’t a balanced IEM, but I felt sounds within the mids area sounded really good. Overall I think this would make a generally good all rounder with two exceptions. I found that certain classical music lacked those soaring instruments like violins, and hip-hop didn’t have the right amount of bass. Of course, these are my personal opinions and you may feel differently.

The MAD24 is just fabulous to my ears. It has great sound all over the park. Its soundstage is big and there is great space between everything on that stage. Detail retrieval is very impressive, and you can zone in on seemingly every aspect of the recording. Some might see this as an analytical IEM. While it certainly has this aspect to it, I’m surprised at just how musical I found it to be. Listening to some of my favourite music could be eye opening as this IEM would pull out little bits of the songs that I had never heard before. Overall I am very impressed with this IEM.
Mar 27, 2021 at 12:53 PM Post #111 of 120
Nice to read that you enjoyed them guys.
Wish more people could have the opportunity to test them.
All a matter of marketing and hype around here...

MAD24 is a real giant for me. Both musical and technical, without any harshness, great bass for BA, and incredible mids. Density of the music is very special. And it does sound so natural...
Still in love :heart_eyes:
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Mar 27, 2021 at 1:03 PM Post #112 of 120
Nice to read that you enjoyed them guys.
Wish more people could have the opportunity to test them.
All a matter of marketing and hype around here...

MAD24 is a real giant for me. Both musical and technical, without any harshness, great bass for BA, and incredible mids. Density of the music is very special. And it does sound so natural...
Still in love :heart_eyes:
Is the MAD24 available in universal? On the AA website it only looks like they come as custom.
Mar 27, 2021 at 4:43 PM Post #115 of 120
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Oct 18, 2021 at 6:49 PM Post #117 of 120
Oct 19, 2021 at 7:23 PM Post #119 of 120
I was supposed to be next on a tour for these, but haven’t heard back in a little while…
Apr 21, 2022 at 7:33 PM Post #120 of 120
sorry, wrong thread.
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