Pros: Bass, soundstage, price, design, build quality
Cons: Highs, mids spikes, different sound
Packaging & Accessories: 3/10
Build Quality: 10/10
Design & Look: 9/10
Microphonics (higher ratings means lower cable noise): 10/10
Audio Quality: 8.5/10
My final Rating: 8/10
Purchase Date: March 2012
Purchase Price: £130
To read my initial impressions and my unboxing video – click here
I bought the ASG-1’s mainly due to the hype that was at Head-fi I guess I was looking for something professional, and something to try that would be different.
I had a really pleasant experience buying, as I bought my ASG-1’s from SpringTree and was in communication with the director of the company of Aurisonics, Dale.
Both Matt from SpringTree, and Dale at Aurisonics, made my purchase a really friendly one. So I feel that I had to just mention both Matt and Dale in this review, as if it weren’t for their professionalism, I would have not been as keen in receiving my ASG-1’s.
Just before getting into the review:
The ASG-1’s were made as an earphone for on-stage musicians, who wanted their customs to be made into generic fit/universals.
And thus the ASG-1 earphones were created – to complement the earphones that musicians had on stage, when they were listening to their own music.
So it was never really made to be marketed at audiophiles (not that I am one), let alone, people like me, who just listen to their music, and try and enjoy it with the best earphones money can buy (wallet permitting)
Right, let’s get down to this review!
Packaging, accessories, box content, overall first impressions (look wise)
Well here there is no packaging – in reality the case is the package. And boy what a case it is.
The Otterbox, as it is known as, is a “military grade” type box – quite literally a car or tank could probably roll over it, and I doubt it would even crack. The case is very solid – now this might be great news for some – as it truly protects their earphones prized inside – however, the ease of access of the otterbox is near impossible without having a little force and pain inflicted on yourself.
Just a few days ago, before writing this review – I thought to myself: “hey, I’ll close it, then re-open it again, but this time vid it” That didn’t happen, as I struggled to open the case, then gave up – coming back the following day, to have another attempt at it…this lasted 3 days. I had to do “attempts” as my thumbs were physically hurting – I’m not the worlds strongest man – but to imagine my girlfriend opening these….impossible.
Long story short – it’s a love/hate relationship between you and the otter. For me it was mostly a hate relationship – as it just hurt me in the process.
Moving unto the accessories and box content – well there isn’t much to say here.
There is a simple cleaning tool, with a large and small silicone tip – apart from that nada.
I was a little disappointed with the accessories, but more so disappointed with the tips. They were quite soft, meaning they weren’t of great quality. More so, the small sized tip, hardly fit on the ASG-1’s nozzles. Took me literally 10minutes to put it on.
Finally my first impressions:
I found the earphones look, quite nice – almost like custom earphones. They have a frosty look, so to speak, and are almost transparent. They are reasonably big, but not over-the-top as some people made it out to be on the Head-fi. That said, it was bigger than your average earphone, such as the MG7’s, MDT’s and so on!
The build quality was amazing to say the least. The housing/shell, was very sturdy, and I’m pretty sure could survive quite a lot of knocks and drops. The wire, was of an outstanding quality – the best wire I have ever come across – nicely braided, perfectly terminated, and nicely connected to the earphones themselves. Can’t really ask for more! Outstanding build quality! Pictures should demonstrate what I mean.
Now the overall look, comfort and isolation
Now the look for me was very cool – some I take it might not like it, as it isn’t flashy or lean looking, but it certainly is very much like a custom earphone – just like the ones that are used on-stage. For me the look is professional, and more often than not, people stare into your ears to see what earphone I was wearing. They probably thought I was a musician of some sorts! For me, that is pretty cool.
The isolation of the ASG-1’s is outstanding – better than most, if not the best out of all the earphones I’ve heard. Se535-esk, but better, due to the ear shape the ASG-1’s take it means that no background noise is heard, and no music is leaked. So overall, top marks for isolation
Finally the comfort:
At first I had no problems with the comfort, they fit me well, and they sat in my ear comfortably, but as a week went by, and I had them more or less all the time on, I realised my ears started to give me some pains. To the point that I could no longer put any IEM’s in my ears, as my ears were hurting. This was seriously worrying for me, and since then I haven’t put the ASG-1’s in my ears, simply due to the pain it inflicted on me. It really came down to two things on the earphones (comfort wise):
-The over-the-ear metal which is in the wire, causing pain after a while, at the top of my ear
-The little bump in the earphones, which is supposed to fit into your ear – by that I mean the globe-esk shape of the inner part of the earphone, which sits on the outside part of your ear (not inside)
Due to this, the comfort, for what it seems to have been good (that said not perfect), became uncomfortable and worryingly painful
Ever since that day, I haven’t worn my ASG-1’s and doubt I would be putting them back in my ears. That said, everyone’s ears are different, especially the shapes, let alone what we hear – so it might, or it might not fit you – only real way of testing them is to try them on yourself.
I have to say after around 30hrs burn-in, they sound a little different of what they did out-the-box. I feel these still can be burned-in, although due to that fit issue, I haven’t done any more burn-in.
The sound is thus based around at 30hrs burn-in – some people go and say these really need 200hrs. Regardless, during the 30hrs, the sound has changed a little, but the sound signature hasn’t – thus me commenting on the sound and it’s capabilities, I find my reviews and impressions are still applicable – that said you be the judge!
The sound quality in my opinion, is unmatched – it is VERY unique in its sound. I find the Aurisonics, can do everything, and they do almost everything perfectly. From lows to soundstage; the ASG-1’s are indeed very capable.
That said, due to them being designed more for on-stage monitors, their sound is a little odd, and can feel a little dry at times.
The sub-bass of these is quite good, not to the standard and depth of the MG7’s, but still very good and quite precise. The mid-bass as well, for it’s huge 15mm driver, I can tell you that these little babies pull their weight, with no lacking mid-bass either. Something I greatly felt was missing in the BA drivers of the SE535’s – where the Shure’s had very small and punchy bass, these have a larger and more profound kick, with a nice extension to the lows.
Now here is a where the ASG-1s, in my opinion will be a deal breaker for most. The mids, are way too spiky for my liking. I had this same feeling back when I had the EX700’s, where the Sony’s would spike the highs every now and then. The ASG-1’s in my opinion is even worse than that, as it spikes the mids instead. Meaning every single vocal that is high pitched or prolonged is brought forward, like there is no tomorrow. Here is where you can see the ASG-1’s being a on-stage monitor. Singers want to hear what they are singing above all else, and thus have that frequency bumped up – that said for us personal listeners, unless you can survive the mids, I highly suggest EQ’ing them. If you see on my impressions/unboxing thread you will see my initial EQ on these – since then it hasn’t changed by much, if anything I added a little more to the highs to give it a little extra sparkle.
On the subject of the highs, they feel a little rolled off at the end. As if they weren’t fully giving you that whole spectrum. The highs, also are the frequency, in my opinion that give you that extra little sparkle in your music, and due to the ASG-1’s seemingly feeling flat sounding, even though they have a mid spikes, means that the highs make the sound feel a little dry and dull. Thus again, applying a little EQ to the highs (a bump up) gives the ASG-1’s a little more sparkle and life
The soundstage is phenomenal, I don’t think I’ve ever heard IEM’s that do soundstage so well. I couldn’t believe sound was coming from places I had never heard before. It isn’t however as far away as the IE8’s, but the IE8/7’s to me felt like they were just in a distant field, far far away. Whereas the ASG-1’s actually feel like they have a lovely soundstage and great separation.
Sound Quality Ratings
Mid: 6/10 or 10/10 – Depends on preference
Sound stage: 10/10 – can I give them a 15/10?
Conclusions and final thoughts
Overall, the ASG-1’s weren’t for me, they are great earphones and are very much capable, I don’t know if my ratings are really fair for the mids – thus why I included two ratings. One at 5/10, the other at 10/10. The one at 5/10 is based on the spiky mids, but the one at 10/10 is based on the drivers capabilities of producing outstanding mids, which in my opinion are unmatched for what I’ve heard so far (beats the se535’s by a little margin). It’s very hard to rate these earphones, it really is!
I feel these earphones are a little like Marmite: You either love it, or hate it. I’m talking about purely sonic characteristics here, nothing more, nothing less. The sound for me, was nice, but not quite right – even though technically (to my ears) the ASG-1’s beat the heck out of anything I’ve ever heard, with their good lows, excellent mids, little rolled off highs and not to mention their unmatched soundstage, these on paper beat everything. However, when I try listening to these for several hours, and switching between 2-3 other earphones, it makes you wonder that their sound signature is just “too different” for your liking. That’s just the way I felt.
Not to mention the fit – I find for small ears, people will really have trouble. If you wear small sized tips normally, I don’t feel that these earphones will fit your ear, let alone your ear canal. Then bring into consideration the shape, and the size of the earphone, it makes you wonder if you want to be wearing that day in, day-out – these are just simply not made for people who want to enjoy their music for hours on end, or want to just listen to music normally – the ASG-1’s I feel are really aimed at a very niche market in the audiophile community, and aimed mainly towards professionals who want their music to be dead on “accurate”, of what they hear on stage, all wired up with their mics and all!
My conclusions and recommendations are:
The ASG-1’s are not made nor should have been really made for personal listeners. Dale, the director understands that the ASG-1’s are not for everyone, more so, he did not even expect people at Head-fi to even pick up on them. They were made, as I’ve stressed out, for people on-stage. These are TRUE on-stage monitors/IEM’s.
If you are willing to give it a whirl, then just bear that in mind, before you go head over heels and buy them.
Finally, their price, was and still is outstanding. When I compare these to other earphones on the market (shure, sennheiser, etc), there simply isn’t anything on the market that can compete with these for what they are designed to be. Seriously, at the price I bought it at, these are just a give-away. Bear in mind, that would be in the eyes of someone looking for earphones of the type – for your average listener, they wouldn’t feel ripped off, but just baffled with the sound they are hearing.
End of the day, I give them a 8/10 overall.
Which I find is a fair rating, even though I wasn’t too comfortable with them, and didn’t mesh well with them, it doesn’t mean these deserve a 4/10 rating – they ARE capable, and as they say in the films “in the wrong hands” these might sound bad, but in the “right hands” these will sound absolutely spectacular!
Hope you enjoyed my review
Very honest and straight forward review. Do you have any comments on the vocal tint that people have been hearing on the Head-Fi thread? And how musical would you say these are?
What do you mean by vocal tint?
By musical…well these, as said in the review, I feel are very good for on-stage monitors. For personal listening…they would seem a little dry, and not very warm/musical.
I recently got a pair of ASG-1, and I’m really impressed with how powerful they are. it never sounds like they’re trying to sound good like my old Shure SE535s. Everything is just so coherent.
Glad you had a good experience with them :)!