When you look at this monitor briefly, the fashionable display might give an impression about a mediocre sound. I assure you though that is not the case at all. Although the sound is not flawless in itself, this is a good sounding IEM and the price is very correct, especially when thinking about the supplied accessories, the quality design and the good level of sound.
As well as the design elements, the sound also carries great importance for Aedle. I didn’t only get that impression by using the ODS-1, I also got to know that because of my chats with Baptiste. He convinced me that they really want to make good sounding products and he’s ambitious about that. Besides, what’s the point of creating a cool looking earphone with awful sound? As a result, we have a nice sounding IEM in our hands and we can really analyze the sound character.
Equipped with hybrid technology, the ODS-1 delivers superior sound quality. In each earpiece, a custom-made 10 mm dynamic driver offers deep and natural lows while yielding to the clarity and high output of a single balanced armature driver.
ODS-1 is V-Shaped monitor with an emphasis on low frequencies. The Dynamic Driver is really powerful and it reminds you of its presence almost everytime. I think that’s because it has only 1 Armature next to it, so it dominates the sound by its force. I also reckon the Armature Driver is somewhat small, based on the small shell of the earphone despite having a Dynamic Driver.
The DD usually doesn’t yield to the BA and just carries the sound on its own terms. There’s little work to do there in terms of finetuning but there are other options for that too. The general sound character is a little warm and full bodied, highly influenced by DD. The bass needs to be corrected for the sake of the whole sound and flexibility, but other than that ODS-1 really shines when it gets the right circumstances to perform well.
Lows are really powerful and they are the focal point most of the time. There’s a lot of quantity here. For the quality perspective of course it’s not a wonderful thing to have. It’s somewhat heavy and control is not very well. The reason for that is the midbass which is I think the only big flaw of this IEM. There’s just too much mid-bass. That single-handedly gives the IEM a more negative effect in terms of separation. That aside, the sub-bass part is good and you can rely on that.
The mid-bass issue is obvious but of course the source used is an important factor here, as well as the recording. But regardless, mid-bass should be a little less to have a clear Audiophile sound. When you do that you really start to hear what this IEM has to offer. Unless of course you’re a dance or trance music lover, and love the bass response. Long story short; if you’re a basshead then it’s OK but if you’re not then it’s possibly a problem.
When you equalize the bass response you get to know the IEM more closely. I’m not a guy who is against using EQ and I don’t know why some people are against it. It’s a wonderful tool. If there was no EQ, I couldn’t have enjoyed this IEM as much, but having the EQ simply allows me to love its sound. Some purists or audiophile folks are against using EQ because “it’s not native” or “you alter the original sound and its artificial”. But how legitimate is that argument, when studios are using EQ themselves?
On my Walkman ZX-2, I toned down the ClearBass by -3, and midbass slider also by -3. Well well, what a sweet sound I got here. Clear mids and highs, good separation and very good control. Tonal accuracy is also great. What more can I ask for? So to sum it up, the bass is (too) dominant on it’s own so I think this monitor can use some EQ’ing in that area. I also passed that opinion to Baptiste and I think he will bear that in mind.
Even though the mids are more at the back of the soundstage, the biggest success of this IEM is the tonal accuracy. The instruments and vocals sound so right and it does that with a beautiful smooth way. No dents or edges. Good level of control and everything is in check. It has a little dark sounding mids so it could’ve been a little more open but I guess that’s what gives the mids their sweet presentation.
The separation between vocals and instruments is what I take seriously and I think this is one of the important signs to call an equipment “qualitative” or not. The ODS-1 is very good in that regard, not missing the emotion of the vocals in order to put instruments too “flashy“. Hence you get the opportunity to praise a good recording because you hear everything right. It completes this quality with the correct tonality and as a result you hear great musical mids with good resolution. Don’t expect a top level resolution though.
Since ODS-1 is a V-sounding monitor, this is one of the focal points besides lows. Trebles are prominent; not like the bass response I should say, but still distinct. The monitor often manages to give articulate highs but in terms of tone it’s little higher than I expected. Not a big problem of course especially for this price level.
ODS-1 is very detailed thanks to this treble response. But be careful about the tips you choose though. Foam tips make the sound darker and treble becomes less in quantity. Extension and quality is still nice though. With silicone tips you get a brighter and clearer sound across the spectrum. Mids also are affected; you get about the same results between foams and silicones but not as much like with the highs.
It’s not an aggressive monitor to say the least. It has a very nice control across the whole spectrum, just like it does with the highs. The tonal accuracy and general ability to control almost every part of the sound is impressive.
The best part of this IEM in my opinion is the tonality. Everything sounds like how it should be, the timber and the level of detail among the mids is very very good. Another strong point here is the detail retrieval. I was surprised to hear those details at this price level as you usually only get this kind of performance in the + $500 level. You don’t expect this kind of quality from a monitor with this sort of style. The bass is a problem like I told in its section but when you sort it out via EQ there’s no problem in terms of control and separation.
Resolution is just what I expected. Not amazing but not bad either. The background usually manages to be quite dark so you can without problem imagine the instruments and singers most of the time. Stereo imaging is quite well in this regard because the soundstage is wider and taller compared to most IEM’s around this price. This without doubt is a success. Of course the dynamic driver helps that a bit, because of the airy bass response, despite being overpowering for my taste. Mids are a little back, and treble is clear with good emphasis, so automatically the monitor gains an advantage about the soundstage.
Drivability is not a problem as you can use it with smartphones and DAPs flawlessly. Overall my thought is that the technical prowess of this monitor is very strong for the money.
I’m impressed. The design part is just fabulous to me and the sound is nothing less than that. First impression-wise you can be prejudiced, but I think this IEM targets the Audiophiles just as the casual listeners. It’s extremely comfortable, appealing, durable and convenient. You can use it with your phone with mic support and you can even look very cool wearing it. Aedle no doubt knows how to impress via the presentation of the package, design elements and sound quality.
I will continue to use it in my daily life and I’ll definitely be in touch with Baptiste to talk about general sonics and their product line. For now I can say they’re on the right path. I think there will be more products especially targeting Hi-Fi listeners in the future though.
Thanks to the guys at Aedle and especially Baptiste Sancho. Now it’s time to open a Liqueur and chill out.