Aurisonics ASG-1: The Black Black Sound

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Here is an IEM so different than the others that I decided to come out of my IEM review retirement to talk about it. The Aurisonics brand is started by a group of music loving people out of Nashville Tenesse. My partner Moko had a listen to these a while ago and he was raving about its sound so we decided to stock them for the store. When the goods finally arrived, we threw a small meet to invite people to listen to the Aurisonics IEMs. There were two models, the universal fit ASG-1 and the custom fit AS-2. While some people enjoyed the sound of the AS-2, I don’t remember hearing one good comment about the Aurisonics ASG-1. And I totally understand why.

With the abundance of IEM reviews especially on sites like Head-Fi, customer feedback have become a big voice in the industry. Tons of new IEMs are introduced every week, and with the majority of them I see that they are trying to follow roughly the same pattern of tuning that would do very well on reviews: non boomy bass, non sibilance highs but still sparkly, and that all important midrange. Some have succeeded in creating that perfect review IEM, but even though they may pass a review with flying colors, I have yet to see one IEM that really stand out from the bunch. Of course you have super-expensive IEMs like the FitEars and while they stand out enough both in terms of price and sound, they are really too expensive for the common people. You also have big manufacturers like AKG coming out with a universal IEM with a previously unheard $1,300 price tag (at least from a mainstream manufacturer). But none of these have been able to force me to come out of my IEM review retirement until the ASG-1.

We have both the ASG-1 universal and the more expensive AS-2 demo unit at the store. And while the AS-2 is the higher end product, it actually is the ASG-1 that I find to be more interesting to write about (and I happen to enjoy more too). What we have here is an IEM tuned to be so dark that you can describe it as having no treble. Of course that’s just a metaphor, because no drivers these days, no matter how cheap, have a problem in producing the general treble frequencies. But the ASG-1 is just super dark. Air is not its thing, and on first listen you’ll be surprised on the sound that is completely void of air. You’ll probably hear a lot of people describing it as “muddy”.

 

The Black Black Sound

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an IEM or a headphone so dark. You may remember that all these talk about a dark sound is somewhat similar to the way I describe AIAIAI’s TMA-1 or the Audio Technica Pro700 Mk2, but they are differently tuned from the ASG-1. The AIAIAI TMA-1 is tuned for club music and the Pro700 Mk2 is a purebred basshead headphone, but I would categorize the ASG-1 as a musical IEM. Amid the lack of treble, you get a full bodied midrange all the way to the lows. And though the lack of treble may give an impression of dull and lacking detail, the midrange clarity is actually extremely good and mind blowing. In fact, the moment I hear that thick and full sounding mids paired with the clarity, I swear I must be hearing one of the best midrange in the IEM business.

This super dark sound it’s not an easy thing to appreciate. Yet one of the reason that I want to write about the ASG-1 is because I don’t think it tries to be a crowd pleaser. I figured that the guys who designed the ASG-1 tried to create something that sounds good to their ears, and when they have done that, they decided to stick with the sound and not worry about how the other 99% IEMs in the market sound. It tells people that this is their identity and they are sticking to it (although the fact that this is a revision 1.2 ASG-1 means that the company does listen to feedback).

If you spend some more time and you manage to get through that dark sound, I think you’ll be surprised to discover the magic behind the dark sound. This IEM grows on me like no other. It’s so dark that it makes the HD650 sound normal, and it’s even darker than the first revision LCD-2 was. With this sort of a tonality, we learn to see that detail and clarity is not in the trebles. The 15mm single dynamic driver produces sound with such effortlessness, with a timbre that sounds so natural and a super smooth texture. Apparently rather than buying an off-the-shelf driver, Aurisonics had the drivers custom designed, so that may explain why it’s able to do a smooth natural bass yet without the typical dynamic driver boomy-ness. Some people may question the fact that this IEM with a single dynamic driver costs as much as triple-drivers balanced armature models. But to  my ears, a single well tuned dynamic like on the ASG-1 is worth more than triple or quad balanced armature drivers.

 

Music Pairings

All this talk of the ASG-1 being super dark, full mids and lows and the supposedly well tuned single dynamic driver would mean nothing if it can’t do music. Well I really wouldn’t be raving about the ASG-1 if it can’t do music. At least to my ears, there is nothing like the musicality of the ASG-1. I’ve thrown it everything I have and it never fails to disappoint. Even genres that naturally appreciates good treble like Jazz and Classical, the ASG-1 somehow manages to bring out the music even with its lack of treble. Old analog recordings with grain and noise are played so well on the ASG-1, where those grains tend to be super-amplified on IEMs with “normal” treble levels. I’ve played the latest pop recordings on it, the big classical recordings, the 24/96 HD stuff, remastered Beatles, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage, all sort of different stuff and the ASG-1 just played them with such effortless musicality.

 

End Words

I’m not going to talk for too long or try to explain every single aspect of the ASG-1′s sound because it’s just something that you have to listen for yourself. For me, it’s just great to see an IEM that has the guts to stand up and be different from the rest. Over time, I discovered that while IEMs like the Triple.Fi 10 and the Etymotics ER4 have big polarizing flaws, they managed to create their own following after the others have been overshadowed by the newer products. Obviously the ASG-1 today is not as big as the Triple.Fi or the Etymotics were when the two were first launched, but I do hope that this IEM would be able to have the same following that the other two has, years from now.

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/WilZC Wilson Lim

    I struggled with this one frankly. And cave in about 3 weeks. Sold it off.

    The presentation was too cavelike and echoey. But I had the first revision of it. Hopefully the 1.2 is much better

    • http://www.theideate.com/ Gorboman

      Cavelike and echoey? I didn’t hear any when I try them. But they do have a black sound signature, which I’m not used to. But the thing is, listening through them was not fatiguing.

    • AnAudiophile

      The ASG-1.2 has a very smooth sound with great bass and warm (yet detailed) mids. Warmer than the ASG-1.0, which I read that it has quite a cold midrange. Treble is still dark.

      • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

        I heard the rev 1.2 changed the midrange a little from the 1.0 to be less upfront. But that’s just what I’ve heard from people, not my own ears.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=688434417 Brian Hamrick

    I thought the sound of them were great, except the lack of a lower treble made it sound too mixed together to my ears. I got the Earsonics SM3′s, which I found to be a good upgrade from the ASG’s (though I wish they had the ASG build quality!)

    • AnAudiophile

      What kind of improvement have you seen?
      About the build quality.. yes, I think these are the toughest top-tier IEMs I’ve ever seen. I actually sat on them accidentally for one hour (and I’m quite a heavy guy = 99 kgs), and they had no problems.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Not a fan of the Earsonics, but I thought the ASG-1 while very tough doesn’t have a very fine build quality.

      • Andre

        Neither was I. I purchased the SM3 V2 and was very very disappointed. The depth was actually very good. Quick punchy bass and great clarity but the mids were way to pronounced and upfront and ruined what easily could have been the best I.E.M’s for the money. Shame.. I’ll stick with my future sonic Atrios

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Yea that mids is too upfront for me too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alex.kong.547 Alex Kong

    Um there are actually 4 models:ASG-1, ASG-1S, AS-1 and AS-2

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      You mean on other sites?

  • dog ears

    I’m keeping mine, I’ve tweaked it and it is sounding great WITH EQ just to extend the highs. Very musical IEMs!

  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

    Sorry I just found your comments, somehow, in the pending section. The AS2 I believe uses one (or two?) BA drivers to handle the treble/mid (I’m not so sure) and what you get is a much livelier treble than the ASG-1.

    Personally I think the mix with the BA ruins the magic, but that’s just me not being a fan of BA Drivers. The majority of people we give the AS-2 to audition to, however, prefers it over the ASG-1 as the treble is more present and overall just seem more “right”.

    I do think that aside from my preference for dynamic drivers, the treble on the AS-2 tend to be quite sibilant.

  • reckoncile

    I was wondering if you could make a comparison between the two dynamic driver IEMs: the EX1000 and the ASG-1.2. That would greatly be appreciated. I listen to mostly Hip Hop and I’ve been enjoying the EX1000s over the last couple of years very much, if that helps.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

    hi Mike, any good recommendations for portable amp pairings with the ASG-1?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.yeung3 Jonathan Yeung

    mike, do you think the sound will be an upgrade from the ultimate ears trifi10? i have the trifi10 now and i dont like the noise isolation and comfort of it. im looking for a custom iem, so i want to know if the asg1 is an upgrade from the trifi10, if it is, then maybe i will get an as1, the custom version (im guessing the internal components are all the same)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      More of a different sound, not an upgrade.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.yeung3 Jonathan Yeung

        mike just to be sure i stated clearly what i wanted to ask, they have different sound sigs but the as1 is not superior in sound quality, right? confusion was when i asked you if its an upgrade (better in technicalities) then you may think i asked if its a “direct upgrade” (same sound sig but better)

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Different sound, that’s all. Of course the ASG is superior on some aspects like midrange quality, the TF10 on others.

          Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.yeung3 Jonathan Yeung

            thanks for the info nick and mike, i think im going to pass on the as1… and will be looking at other customs iems

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

          In a way it is a definite upgrade. The ASG-1 is known for one of the largest soundstages compared the balanced armature counterparts and even besting the IE8/IE800 in many ways

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.yeung3 Jonathan Yeung

    mike does the asg1 kind of share the same sound sig with the audeze lcd2? i never tried the lcd2 myself but always wanted to try it…

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Both are dark, the ASG-1 darker and has less air. But that’s about where the similarities end.

      Depends on what you’re comparing to. If you’re comparing the ASG-1 to say a Sony EX1000 then yes the ASG-1 is more LCD-2 like. But at the end they’re different designs (open back full size vs IEM, planar vs dynamic), done by two different companies. How similar can you get?

      • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.yeung3 Jonathan Yeung

        thanks mike for answering my question

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          You’re welcome Jonathan.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.yeung3 Jonathan Yeung

            well what im looking for is a fairly warm sounding custom in ear monitors that can let me listen for hours without fatigue while having good audio qualtiy. im currently using my ultimate ears trifi 10, the sound is ok to me though it doesnt impress me like its used to anymore. what i dont like most is the fit, and second thing i wish theres more is the amount of noise isolation. i used to use etymotic research hf 5 before and the isolation part is awesome though right now its broken and soundwise, its a bit on the thin sounding side. thats why im going custom next. i will not be using an external amp or dac (at least not anytime soon and all my fund will go to the ciem instead of carrying around a portable dac or amp). i probably wont need external dac or amp anyway, my dap should suffice. my dap is ibasso dx100. so any ciem recommendation? also i never have any experience with ciem…

            • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

              IMO the frequency balance on the AS-2 is extremely good. Not the neutral transparent type, but the type I would choose for music listening. Good bass body, enough treble amount. Fairly smooth. I think it’s worth a listen.

              You also should look into the JH line up. They’re generally great. The JH5 is my favorite due to the price.

              The TripleFi remolded into a 6 drivers by Unique Melody is also another one you should consider.

              • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.yeung3 Jonathan Yeung

                Mike have you ever heard of dream earz? The aud5x is said to be similar to the jh16, the aud7x is advertised to have the same sound signature as the aud5x but better mid and treble due to extra mid and treble drivers. If you recommend Jh audio, shouldn’t I look into dream ears too since its more affordable? I read that remolding the tf10 doesn’t improve the sound too much and I would like to save my tf10 and try something new.

                • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                  No I don’t know about those. The TF10 remould into a 6 drivers is one of the nicest customs I’ve listened to.

                  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.yeung3 Jonathan Yeung

                    oh, i see why you recommended remolding the tf10 now :) i will do more research myself and see what decision i finally come up with. im in no hurry of deciding though because i dont have money right now anyway

          • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.yeung3 Jonathan Yeung

            btw, i havent set a budget yet, so feel free to recommend any recommendation though i dont see myself buying a ciem over 1000 bucks on my first purchase really…

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          If you like the LCD2 then the ASG-1 is worth a try.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          And if your budget allows, the AS-2 probably is closer to what you’re looking for.

  • http://brianlimusic.com/ Brian Li

    I agree! Vocal music and classical are my two favorite genres when listening with the ASG-1s. They just make gorgeous string lines sound so lush!

  • http://brianlimusic.com/ Brian Li

    I share similar thoughts. I was a little taken aback at first, but after listening for a few days, you really fall in love with the power of these IEMs.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      It’s a special IEM but not easy to appreciate.

      • http://brianlimusic.com/ Brian Li

        Have you listened to the latest 1.3 revision?

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Sorry No.

  • Michael

    Mike, do you think this will work with iBasso DX50?

  • chris

    question? Im using these for rapping and larger performances? You think these are good?