AAW‘s measurement on their website tells you that W900 is supposed to have a pretty balanced sound with a sick treble extension. Measurements are nice if you want to get a picture of the sound signature, but in my opinion are not everything when it comes to audio. They are good indicators, but they will never tell you the whole story. Reviews give you a good impression as well, but in the end it‘s a very subjective matter. We all have different tastes, are sensitive to different frequencies and hear things differently. That is why it is always critically important to listen to them yourself.
The AAW W900 does a lot of things well, that I can tell you. Its end-to-end extension is exceptionally impressive, it reaches far down low and high in the sky. It constructs a very nice stereo image with great left/right balance and top imaging qualities. The sound stage is en par with some flagship models of other manufacturers. It is very wide and deep, but not as high as others. This gives it a very realistic staging. It has good resolution, but could use a finer rendering for better micro detailing. The transparency and instrumental separation are very good as well,with good amounts of air. At the same time it is not the airiest I’ve heard yet in its price range. Layering is good but some sounds also get a little mushy in depth.
The nine Millimeter bass driver is doing a very good job. It sounds organic, well controlled and dynamic. I usually tend to like the tighter and punchier bass of balanced armature drivers more, but AAW has managed to tickle out a very enjoyable reproduction out of it. It‘s well rendered and has great texture. Its impact and hit is softer and airier, decay is again very organic and smooth. It isn’t overly thick but rather neutrally light in body.
A double of balanced armatures is squeezing out the mid-section of the spectrum for the AAW W900. Not exactly the biggest number we’ve seen in current flagships, but it isn’t about driver-counts in the end. It is all about the right tuning. Mids are a little recessed and also thinner with a cleaner and more uncolored sound. They sport good resolution and texture. For my taste they could use some more blood to sound fuller and a little more organic. Midrange overall is clean and clear without lows to overshadow their clarity.
Two drivers for highs and four of them for super highs, giving them a total of six BA‘s just for treble and upper treble. I don‘t know if I’ve seen any other monitor using a quad-BA setup for upper highs. Treble is very extended and airy, with a brighter and bitier presentation and lots of energy. On occasions treble can become overly bright and harsh. Some cymbals caused me real discomfort and have kept me from longer listening sessions with the W900.
That actually is reason number two why I have sent back my AAW W900. I was afraid something was wrong with my unit, but as said, AAW confirmed that all drivers were in 100% full force working condition and that they expected my fit issues to be the source of all these discomforts. So when I got my refitted model back, I was pretty disappointed to find these exact things again.
Personally I like my treble a little north of neutral and with a richer presentation and some portions of warmth to it to get a nice silky cover over it. I am someone who likes the treble of Noble‘s Encore and the M15 A18t by 64 Audio. Both of which have made other audiophiles uncomfortable before…
The balanced but brighter signature of W900 should best be matched by a warmer source, like the L3 or L5 Pro by Luxury & Precision or a Sony DAP. The cleaner Astell&Kern‘s have proven to be not the best choice. The AK70 though would fit great, sadly I have given that one away some many weeks ago. The smooth and detailed sound of L5 Pro however was a nice partner in crime for the AAW.
Sound tweaking with aftermarket cables? All on the next page!