Aroma audio: Witch Girl S, Pro and W12 (With Nebula N10 unboxing)

  1. audionewbi
    Recently after reading about Aroma A10 review written by ClieOS I decided to research more about the Aroma audio. I ended up finding a shop in Hong Kong who sales them, but sadly I believe currently they are only selling for the local market. The shop keeper kindly forwarded my interest to the Aroma audio. This thread is going to be just an introduction about the future upcoming IEM from them. Possible review about there IEM depending on my budget circumstances.
     
    Aroma Witch Girl Pro: Price 92,000 JPY
     

    CHB54474.jpg
        
    Driver unit configurationHigh frequency: 2 balanced amateur type driver unit 
    in the area: 2 balanced amateur type driver unit 
    low-pass: 2 dynamic type driver unit (diameter 8 mm)
    sensitivity118dB / mW
    Impedance16Ω
    Frequency characteristic20-20kHz
    Attached cableOCC 1.2m 3.5mm stereo plug 
    Li cable corresponding (2pin)

     


     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Aroma Witch Girl S: Price 125,000 JPY
     
    CHB54427.jpg
     
     
    Driver unit configurationHigh frequency: 1 Balanced amateur type driver unit 
    in the area: 2 balanced amateur type driver unit 
    low-pass: 2 balanced amateur type driver uni
    sensitivity122dB / mW
    Impedance48Ω
    Frequency characteristic20-20kHz
    Attached cableOCC 1.2m 3.5mm stereo plug 
    Li cable corresponding (2pin)


     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    ts_hybrid12.jpg ts_hybrid11.jpg
    Left: Witch Girl Rro, right: Witch Girl S
     
     
    Links:  
    http://aroma-audio.jp/
    http://www.itmedia.co.jp/lifestyle/articles/1605/02/news062_2.html
    http://av.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/news/20160427_755343.html
     
     
     
     
  2. audionewbi
    Disclaimer: The two IEM are loaner review unit that was provided to me under the condition that I was to review it as honestly as I can. The two IEM will than be provided to someone else whom Aroma audio has requested me to pass them onto. I thank Aroma Audio for giving me the chance to itch my audio-lust as it is not all the time I get to try a product without paying for it. Where I am currently in this sound perfection obsession I have the setup I like however the hobby will never end. Like most of you guys in this hobby it is about the journey and I am glad I had this chance to experience Aroma Audio sound.

    Introduction:
    I’ve got to know aroma audio from the release of their A10 amp. I no longer collect amp and I really did not pay that much attention to A10 and the company that released it however the sources that I trust highly seem to have rated the A10 highly. As a result I liked to try something from them down this journey of mine I am taking in this hobby.
    I follow a number of Japanese audio blog, among many other things Japanese related and it was not till I saw Aroma audio name again on Phileweb that I started googling them again. The article mentioned Aroma audio is working on two universal in ear monitors (UIEM) that they are planning to release in Japan at a not so distant near future. Of course that never deter me from getting anything Japanese based, in my mind I thought ‘if I could find a way to purchase the Kaede II this should be no problem’. And I was wrong as email after email I got no response. Probably the language barrier or the fact that the local Japanese audio market not seen the ‘foreign’ market as a viable source of income my emails were ignore. So I started looking for places in China where they sold Aroma Audio products. And to my luck I found a shop in Hong Kong, earphone king. I emailed the owner and showed an interest in buying the two IEM, one thing lead to another and I ended up getting an email account of an individual named Vincents who is the marketing manager of Aroma Audio. After half a dozen email exchange he agreed to send me two loaner units and he agreed to allow me as much time as I need to familiar myself with the two products. I like to thank him for trusting me. Considering it is not everyday that people send $2,500 worth of product half way around the world to a next to no-body guy who claims to be a reviewer, once again thanks. So now having covered the boring part let the review start.


    Product description and pricing:
    Aroma audio currently sells two sets of IEM, named Witch Girl Pro and S, yea those are the name! On why the two product are name as such I have no idea and I probably will ask them one day but for now lets just call them Aroma S and Pro. The Pro is a hybrid design where as the S is pure balance armature design.
    If I was to take a guess on the name, and this is without verification from the maker but purely based on what I hear, Aroma Pro is ideal for professional stage usage and the Aroma S is ideal for studio purpose. Once you read my sound review section it should be clear why I think that.

    Below are the product description provided by aroma audio:

    Witch Gril Pro

    Driver unit configurationHigh frequency: 2 balanced amateur type driver unit
    in the area: 2 balanced amateur type driver unit
    low-pass: 2 dynamic type driver unit (diameter 8 mm)
    sensitivity118dB / mW
    Impedance16Ω
    Frequency characteristic20-20kHz
    Attached cableOCC 1.2m 3.5mm stereo plug
    Li cable corresponding (2pin)




    Witch Girl S



    Driver unit configurationHigh frequency: 1 Balanced amateur type driver unit
    in the area: 2 balanced amateur type driver unit
    low-pass: 2 balanced amateur type driver uni
    sensitivity122dB / mW
    Impedance48Ω
    Frequency characteristic20-20kHz
    Attached cableOCC 1.2m 3.5mm stereo plug
    Li cable corresponding (2pin)






    Packaging and accessory:
    The two IEM come with all a very solid hard case that can withstand normal drops of lets say a standard coffee table to ground. It comes with all the tips that one needs to get the proper fit, silicon, comply, foam and most importantly the SpinFit. I did not bother with the other tips, to me SpinFit gave me the fit and comfort I needed.

    What comes in the package includes:


    1. Standard silicon tip: S,M,L
    2. SpinFit tip: S,M,L
    3. The IEM body
    4. 2-pin, single ended detachable cable
    5. Hard case
    6. Comply foam (Medium)
    7. Foam type tip (Medium)

    What I like to see is perhaps a smaller fibre hardcase as I don’t always like carrying the hard-case. Bot to be fair the protective case isn’t too large and can easily be portable for those who like to carry a smaller bag with them. Sadly the cable is your typical generic 2-pin standard cable that almost all other IEM makers use. I still to this day do not get why IEM makers don’t partner with some decent after-market cable maker to provide a better all in one solution fro the start. We as consumer should seek better after-market cable for any IEM that cost more than 1000 AUD. Than again I suppose including good quality cable will not stop most of us from still swapping cables, right?
    The first thing I always do is to replace the supplied cable with a more durable and better built cable. There is a thing or two all IEM maker should learn from Campfire Audio. Cable does make a difference, not merely for sound but comfort and durability. At least they didn’t use MMCX.


    Comfort and craftsmanship:
    My main comfort issue is from the memory wire used in the cable. While it is not directly linked to the actual IEM unit itself still it is a point that I rather include for those of you who do not like upgrading cable and are in market for an all in-one solution direct from start. The actual IEM housing fit me just fine. I have small size ear and I find K3003 at times uncomfortable but neither Pro nor S provided me any discomfort.

    Microphonic on both model are low however present. The issue with acrylic UIEM is that due to there hollow shell they tend to amplify the sound that the memory wire make when it hits the housing. This issue is common across all IEM that are made in similar housings.

    In terms of final finish the two product appear to be built relatively well however there are slight variation internally but that is something common when a product is built by hand. The variation is nowhere as bad as what we saw with JH Angie and Layla before they moved to a fully metal housing. Such variation is normally expected and are ignored by most of us in this hobby. This problem can easily be fixed if Aroma audio uses a more darker acrylic finish.

    Testing method:
    For my review I used chord HUGO feed by Shanling M3 via its optical output. HUGO has proven to be a worthy reference level all in one DAC/AMP.

    Sound quality:
    This is perhaps the hardest part, there is literally no limit on how much one can talk about a product. One way to do is to compare it against other IEM, which pose the problem on which one to include for comparison. This part require trust from readers end on the reviewers part. Having said this below is my honest subjective take on this two IEM. I have mostly focused on comparing the two IEM directly and where applicable I included a comparison against an IEM I found important to include.

    In the past the trend was that each company tend to have a house sound that they like to use in order to tune their product-line. While that is not true for all companies from what I hear the house sound case is applicable of the current Aroma Audio products. Aroma Audio house sound is a wide U sound that is not obvious for most people. It is a U shape done right. What makes S and Pro different to my ears is on lower frequency regions and vocal spread-focus. Aroma S vocal is centre focused and has a presentation that is more inline the traditional IEM tuning, ie/ sounding more in your-head whereas the Pro is about keeping the sound alive, more spread and out of head-like and hence as a result sacrificing on been revealing on the background nuances, such as people chattering in live recording or sound of a member of the orchestra adjusting there chair. It is not as laid back as Cardas EM5813 and the bass is not as layered and textured as them nor as organic and detailed as the the Dita truth, which is sadly where it lost it for me. It lacks the definition an audiophile tuned IEM tend to look for. I liked a more texture bass on the Pro and sadly Pro did do it for me.

    Aroma S bass quantity is slightly more than its Pro sibling. It also slums harder, specially in sub-bass region whereas the Pro version doesn’t hit as hard, perhaps it is due to the pin-hole located at top of the unit. S also has that improved bass definition I was seeking for in Pro.

    The two model offers an above average 3D soundstage. If we were to imagine a X,Y, Z axis Aroma Pro offers a wider sound in X direction where the S model offers a more monitor sound and a sound filed more spread in Y axis.
    The vocal performance of S is more intimate, less intimate than the Pro. I prefer S for vocal intense tracks.
    The midrange on both of the IEM is very clean, neutral and slightly behind the bass. This perhaps does not make these two model ideal for those who listen only to vocal centre performances.

    Micro detail on Aroma S is more pronounced, the S model is more technically capable in that regard. Aroma S is able to maintain a fine balance between musicality and technicality. To me this what makes the S model more appealing than its more expensive Pro Model. To my ears S model is more universally versatile, meaning it can cover more genre of music than Pro. The Pro model is great for classical music, soundtracks, small Jazz and any live music. On such recording it shines and at times it has this level of realism that one does not expect from an IEM but for pop and trance or any music that requires fast and deep hitting bass to S is the more ideal product. S also more prone to hissing than the pro version.

    One important thing to note about Pro before wrapping things up, as it deserve mention is it is a hybrid done right with coherency that is better than the S version at times. Sometimes the S version bass feels like it is out of line from the rest of the sound but that is only in direct comparison with Pro right after listening to Pro. Compared to other hybrid I have tried Pro does a nice job, at least to my ears nothing about the sound will create a discomfort for the coherency elitists.

    The treble extension of both IEM are about equal, where they differ is how treble is presented. While S sounds more like the ER4S, with an enhanced bass, the Pro model present a treble that is less pronounced.

    Conclusion

    For a company that is only an year old and consist of 4 people the two model that they have decided to start their first venture in this business should give both them and the buyers enough confidence to take the Aroma brand seriously.

    Currently the competition for them in their interested price category is high and to my ears they have what it takes to compete. If they can improve on what they have now and provide a better after market cable this perhaps will attract more attention. However the current trend of using metallic/aluminium housing I believe has set a new standard in high end UIEM that perhaps any new-comer is required to deal with such high quality finish and they really have to provide something unique to be able to compete against such finishing.

    If I was to select between the S and the Pro model I would select the S model. It contains few trait of some of my favourite gears of all time, specially the treble resemblance of the ER4S.


    Company detail:

    I asked Vincent to provide me some detail about their company and below is a direct copy of what he provided me. I like to thank him for his patient with my 1001 question. If they can keep the same level of customer service in the future it is something that provide great long-term confidence for anyone who purchases something from them.



    Pictures:
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    IMG_0107.jpg IMG_0108.jpg IMG_0110.jpg



    IMG_0111.jpg IMG_0113.jpg IMG_0117.jpg
    Mimouille W12 impressions: https://www.head-fi.org/f/threads/aroma-audio-witch-girl-s-pro-and-w12.807962/page-4#post-13513538
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
    Raketen likes this.
  3. audionewbi
    Happy to report the two IEM has been shipped to me. I will updat my impression on this loaner samples.
     
  4. unknownguardian
    you bought these? and if i am not wrong they should have a 12 drivers (maybe a prototype?) coming as well.
     
  5. audionewbi
    No I did not buy it, they have sent me a loaner which I will try first and review and if I like perhaps buy. 

    One of them is a hybrid (the Pro) and the other is purely a BA type IEM (the S version). Please check the information in the first post regarding the driver number. 
     
  6. Netforce
    Interesting, I would like to see how these mahou shoujo iems sound...
     
    Any info on the price of each?
     
  7. audionewbi
    Honestly no, international prices arent set. 
     
  8. Netforce
    Ahh I see, look forward to your impressions and more info when it gets released.
     
  9. audionewbi
    So got some information regarding the price. Since this IEM is due to make it to the Japan audio community first there current price is 125,000 JPY for Pro and 92,000 JPY for the S model, both excluding sale taxes. That translates to 1135 and 835 USD respectively. 
     
  10. Netforce
    Nice nice, thanks for the pricing info!
     
    Curious how they would compare to what is out there and especially fitear.
     
  11. audionewbi
    I only own one Fitear product, the F111 which I like alot, great treble extension but I am not too crazy about Fitear, they are more popular due to how hard it is to obtain them. There was  time they had something to say, currently the options of good audio gears are endless.
     
    Now days honestly it would be harder to buy bad sounding gears. Any upgrades is either a different flavour in sound or merely a fractional improvement over other products. 

    Having saying all this I look forward to listening to these product and release my impression. I also look forward to any suggestion members have. I am still trying to figure out what to include in my review. Many popular sites rely on readers to trust the reviewer on how they carry there testing. For instance they just provide an overall view of the sound, no mention of the sources use or an attempt in what perhaps best pairs with the gears mentioned. I now get why they do that as honestly it would take a lot of time to include that. I do like to take the harder road but for now I think i will be using the chord hugo and that should be safe to say that it will not create any bottle necks.
     
  12. audionewbi
    In anticipation of the arrival of the Witch Girl Pro I have dug out all my hybrid IEM. The witch girl S will be an easy review for me since I am quiet familiar with how various BA configuration can sound and I have a decent idea of what makes a good sounding BA. By nature all multiple BA will no sound as coherent as single driver but those which are tuned nicely will allow the user to enjoy the sound never the less. 
    Hybrid IEM on the other hand are much easier to get it wrong due to the nature of the design, two different driver type. 
    Here are the current hybrid I own: FLC8, K3003, PSB M4U4.
     
    I know currently market is filled with many hybrid IEM which are worth the mentioning as I have heard nothing but praise, to name the few Dunu 2002j and Oriolus. I will not include them in my review as even if I do a prolong listening to those IEM my rule is if I do not own the IEM for at least 3 months I will not include it in my full length impression as I have not truly tested it its weakness and strength. 
    To me quick impression are just what they are, a rapid impression of the product, it takes zero factor the daily usage, prolong session (3+ hours), those are things that I think are incredibly important to include in a review.
     
  13. Mimouille
    Pricing is steep. Better be good...
     
  14. Netforce
     
     
    Awesome, I really look forward to your review! Keep up the spectacular work!
     
    audionewbi likes this.
  15. audionewbi
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    They have arrived , burning in, I will post more pictures later.
     

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