Despite sensitivity of 113dB @30 Hz, the G10 hisses very little even when connected to noisy amps and DACs. This is great noise for a number of my favourite DAPs:
and a few truly great amps that may hiss with sensitive earphones:
Paired with any of the above, the G10 is silent. Not that you’ll need an amp. The G10’s impedance curve is pretty curveless (as shown by Headfi’s ClieOS). If your player can handle a mean 32Ω earphone @113dB sensitivity, it can handle the G10.
Which brings us down to what the G10 is all about. I’m tempted to say bass, if only because the G10 really hits it down there. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard the opening seconds to Markus Schulz’s Mainstage yawn with low-end detail quite like they do through the G10. Refreshingly, that yawn transfers into lithely muscular mid and upper bass ranges that, despite heavily active and ferocious sound pressure, tread lightly on the midrange.
No, you won’t feel that bass like you feel it from an energetic over-the-ear phone. But because you feel the G10’s lows, it’s like your music has gone 4D. Lovely. Spatial elements in the low range run together more than I prefer, and low-frequency sound pressure generally congeals just under and in front of the ear lobes. But, it’s a very good take on high sound pressure low frequencies.
Better, unlike Atrio, which had the tendency to boom plastically where bass and mids crossed paths, the G10 is clean as a whistle, even when fed crazy fast trance and EDM. This is bassy done right. On the whole, the G10’s low range is wholesome, grounded, and absolutely egalitarian in its interaction further afield.
Which it doesn’t need to be. The G10’s midrange is clear, marginally forward, and pretty detailed. How its jumps out of such throbbing, energetic, and wildly elevated bass keeps me scratching my head. Vocals have both forward and rear edge. They are full, but do not jump out at you. Mid-to-high voices strings probably best demonstrate the G10’s ability to press out texture with feeling. That said, low notes from wild acoustic guitars can get hot, and press into their neighbours more than I prefer. Your mileage will vary.
High-frequencies are clear, but don’t drag much sound pressure behind them. They’re neither peaky, nor crazily spacious. In fact, the G10’s soundstage is best described as coherent, if not live: flat, broad, and painterly rather than photographically detailed. You won’t pick out all the minutiae of your favourite music. Instead, the G10 gives up a wide, centre-detailed array, where instruments play clearly, but whose payload is their interacting with the whole.
Which makes the G10 incredible for folk, rock, jazz, and anything live. Its throbbing, clear bass is great for any decade of hip hop, and is fast and clear enough for trance. But the G10 isn’t a trance phone. It’s not a death metal phone. It does both with grace, but it lacks enough absolute contrast between highs and lows that would do you before the ecstasy does.
So, while it’s not absolutely great for my favourite genre, it is miles closer than were the Atrios. Make no mistake, the G10 is bassy. It’s just that it’s bassy done right.
The G10 sounds good enough and fits well enough that I’d love to take it everywhere. Wherever I go, I leave the stock carrying case at home. It’s too big. And ugly. And while I imagine it will hold together, I’ve had it only for a couple of months and have treated it nicely. Then there’s the G10. It’s pretty solid, but it’s plastic. I’d like to be throw it around like I do the Echobox X1, but I dare not. I’d love if these things were metal.
In every area except maybe the cable, the G10 is a serious upgrade to the Atrios. Despite reaching even lower and despite packing more sound pressure in its bass band, it sounds more coherent. Its midrange is so natural. The G10 is less easy to scratch than the Atrios, and Future Sonics have done away with the latter’s awful rubbery stress relief. Both came with those lovely yellow foamies. And the price hasn’t really changed despite 10 years and a steady upward push from manufacturers across the board.
The G10 is a steal. If only it was made of steel.