Prior to the Nightingale I have only experienced full sized planar magnetic headphones. I have always liked what I heard, headphones like the Empyrean, the Ether 2 or the Diana Phi have brought smiles to my face and I was very curious to find out how AAW has tuned a 15mm planar driver. Make sure the Nightingale isn’t underpowered, as you will lose a lot in terms of performance. Most DAPs aren’t up for the task in my opinion, Nightingale needs good and proper power to shine.
Nightingale indeed has very nice extension on both ends of the spectrum. It goes low into the sub-bass, but doesn’t really focus on it. There is a good foundation in its deepest of lows, but the star of the show clearly lies further north in the frequency response. Mid and upper bass are certainly more in favor of the Nightingale, as they are more forward.
Bass has excellent body and weight. There is good resolution and texture, but to me it could use a portion more speed, as it seems a bit slow and relaxed for some faster genres. If you’re a fan of Electronica, you might find the same. Bass is a little looser, but still controlled.
Mids are well proportioned and like bass, have great texture. There is good body in all instruments, vocals do seem slightly distant, but not so much that there would be a problem with them. Lower midrange has very nice resolution and to me stands out the most from the entire midrange. Female singers fall a bit behind here and miss some of the finesse of the lower mids. Especially when there is a good bit going on in the bass segment, it seems that upper registers might need some help coming through.
The sound stage has good dimensions, but seems a bit compressed to me. Some vocalists and instruments could use more space to breathe. Imaging however is really nice and well achieved, as the instruments are separated with care. The resolution is good, but not the best out there. The same can be said about its ability to bring out fine details of the sound.
Treble is more laid back and lacks a bit of energy, but it still brings out decent sparkle. The warm/darkish base tonality however doesn’t give highs the articulation needed for some genres, but it certainly isn’t completely cut off or lost. Treble at times does come across as slightly veiled, but has no issues with harshness or sibilance.
Nightingale is a very forgiving monitor, that won’t tell you all the flaws of your files, but rather it covers them up and presents you with a listenable sound.
AAW ships the Nightingale with the very nice Tiburon copper cable by Null Audio. If you’re after tweaking the sound a little, you might want to consider replacing the cable with one of the many choices you can find in the portable-audiophile world.
Effect Audio – Leonidas II
The Leonidas II is my weapon of choice for testing out cables on new monitors. I have yet to find an IEM it doesn’t suit well and the Nightingale is no exception.
With the Leonidas II you will get a darker background, with better instrumental separation and imaging. Bass is better controlled and more in line with the midrange. The sound stage does get a noticeable stretch in terms of width and depth, as well as height. The Nightingale receives improved layering and resolution.
While the base tone of the Nightingale is still intact, the AAW will perform at a higher technical level.
Effect Audio – Leonidas II Octa
I don’t see any other reason to get a cable that’s double the price of the monitor itself, other than already having it in the possession prior to buying the AAW.
The Octa brings similar alterations as the regular Leonidas II, but it gives the Nightingale a tighter bass, a more open stage and most of all, a more articulate treble with a brighter sound up top. You will get excellent amounts of air and resolution out of the Octa with Nightingale.
You get a bigger sound stage, with wider and deeper extension. Improved layering and a pitch black background for the musicians to perform in front of. The stage will be slightly more holographic, with the band playing in front of you.
Double Helix Cables – Clone Fusion
The Clone Fusion gives the Nightingale higher resolution and better texture. There is more thunder in the bass and more rumble in the sub-bass regions. You get a faster and tighter low end, with slightly more weight.
Midrange is more open sounding with additional air around the instruments. Upper mids still sound slightly neglected in comparison to bass and lower mids, but they do enjoy some extra attention to detail. Upper midrange seems richer with a brighter glow.
The sound stage did extend in depth and width slightly, there is also better layering and improved instrumental separation and imaging. One thing I love about the Clone Fusion is the superb resolution from top to bottom, and with the Nightingale it is not different.
Treble is crisper, faster and brighter, though still falling behind the lower frequencies. Details come out a bit easier and with higher precision.
Find out more about Nightingale on the next page.