Review: Shozy & AAW POLA – HOLA

And then there’s the sublime treble section where the ES-driver comes to play. Evidently, if you’re not a fan of treble, this type of hybrid monitor isn’t for you as Pola really excels here. Treble is powerful, very clear and precise. It’s detailed and well layered and together with the powerful bass it delivers an energetic, yet musical sound signature. Pola performs superbly with electronic music where bass and mids are most important. So you wouldn’t expect it to impress when you switch to a different musical style where the mids come into play more, but then Pola surprises you again as it performs marvelously. That being said, the mids part is the most difficult one in the sense that it will depend on your source used. IF you’re all about mids then you better use a good source or this probably won’t be the perfect monitor for you. Taking into account however what most people listen to nowadays, Pola will impress.

Portable Player Matching

According to Shozy and AAW, the POLA really doesn’t need amplification to shine and so we’ll mostly be focusing on the most poplar DAP pairings.

The Astell&Kern SP1000 is still my favourite portable player up to date. With POLA hooked up via the single ended output, you get a neutral sound signature with an impressive clarity and precision. Delivery is fast and tight but lighter in amplitude and impact overall. Music is oh so clean and precise but it might be a little flat for some of you because of the lighter bass and neutral presence of body overall. The detail level is very high though, bass is precise, fast and tight and the mids are spacious with excellent separation. If you like clean and precise sound without added bass or body, this is the combo to go for.

One of the Cayin N8’s strong points is that it offers a tube output in single ended mode. With the POLA that results in a warmer and smoother, very musical sound. The positioning, layering and balance is extremely good here. You get a little more weight in general with fun bass, really good mids and soft treble. This combination is very musical and natural sounding, but for some it might be too soft. I really like this combo for relaxing after a hard day at work myself, it’s just such a joy.

With the N8’s solid state output you get a faster and tighter, more precise sounding POLA. You still get good body and bass impact but not as much as on the balanced output. You also get a more to neutral presentation instead of the smoothness and that results in better speed, precision and higher clarity with more clear and extended treble. The POLA and N8 seem to be made for each other and you get very good synergy here with both outputs.

The new Hiby R6PRO has very quickly grown on me and I actually am using it more than I’m using the SP1000M. Great design, a nice UI, a top quality screen and good sound. What’s not to like? The Pola gets the nice full bodied sound of the R6PRO and it makes the bass and mids shine. The R6PRO is fairly neutral but bass and mids have good body. With this source the treble is the least impressive but mids and bass have excellent detail and layering. Treble is a little smoother here and for the POLA it’s missing dome energy compared to with the other players. It’s not my favourite source for POLA even though I’m really loving this DAP.

Compared to the Hiby, the volume of the Astell&Kern SP1000M has to go all the way up. What you get is more energy and a more neutral sound with less bass and mid body but with increased clarity, better separation and a more spacious presentation. Even though the SP1000M is less neutral and analytic than its big brother, those characteristics are clearly audible in the POLA. You also get great depth, excellent layering and a wider sound stage. For me POLA sounds so much better from the SP1000M than it does from the Hiby. An excellent synergy and combo if you ask me.

The good old Sony WM1Z shows great depth and bass reaches down incredibly low. Bass retains good detail and layering and so bass is impressive. Mids have a little less body in this setup and sound more veiled but the voices are very natural and attractive. I expected the least of the treble with the WM1Z but it’s actually energetic and dynamic and it never sounded too soft. I just wish the lower mids had a bit more body, clarity and presence in this combo. If you’re a fan of electronic music you will probably enjoy this setup a lot but for me there’s something not as it should with the mids. Too bad.

Amplification

Even though the volume on the different DAPs has to go quite up to get o my normal listening volume, they still all perfectly manage to power and drive the POLA as was stated by AAW and Shozy. However during testing it immediately became clear that the POLA will sound even better from a good amp. And then were talking control, speed, precision, layering and energy. So let’s involve two of the most popular devices of the moment, the Mojo and Hugo. And then well just for see how it performs with a big high end Hi-Fi unit, the Flux Lab Acoustics Atlas with a few Watts RMS per channel at 32Ohm.

With the Mojo however I couldn’t really find the energy and clarity and for me this combo just doesn’t show the magic as much as the other combos do. It’s a different thing when switching to the Hugo as everything is better. Great depth, layering and detail with good energy from bass to treble. This combination doesn’t have the veiled feeling and it’s so much more emotional.

I absolutely adore how POLA sounds from the Flux Lab Acoustics Atlas: great presence, a powerful sound (controlled) with a wide sound stage, the perfect amount of air and great detail speed and layering. For me this clearly is the best source I have listened to the POLA to, it’s incredibly good. IF it wasn’t for the price I’d recommend all POLA owners to buy the Atlas together with it. Beautiful.

Conclusion

I loved POLA from the start. I quite like my treble section detailed, extended and clear with a lot of energy and the POLA delivers just that with the Electrostat tweeter.

The beauty is that it’s not only the treble that shines but the bass is equally impressive: it goes down low, has good impact, shows great detail and has excellent layering.

The mids section is spacious, detailed smooth and well layered though it mostly depends on the source used how they will sound exactly. Anyway, it’s important to say that POLA isn’t just about bass and treble, as the mids are very good on their own.

There’s no real need to use an amplifier with the POLA but if you can, why not. My favorite amp for sure is the neutral, high-end Atlas and it makes POLA sound way above its price point. It’s big brother “Canary” will be released soon and it will be Linus reviewing that monitor. So stay tuned.

For now the Shozy & AAW POLA go on the recommended universal IEM list. Well done.

Review: Shozy & AAW POLA – HOLA
4.9 (97.65%) 17 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

10 Comments

  • Reply January 31, 2019

    Michael

    Thanks for this review? Speaking of DAPs, would you advice any mid-fi models which pair well with Pola?

    • Reply February 1, 2019

      Lieven

      R6Pro?

      • Reply February 12, 2019

        Michael

        I mean something within USD 400-500 range, like Fiio/iBasso/Cayin/Shanling model range… Any ideas?

  • Reply February 4, 2019

    Skirmantas

    Do you think Pola would sound good with my Ibasso DX90?

    • Reply February 4, 2019

      Lieven

      Oh yes, for sure. the only downside might be the speed maybe. Lurker fw?

  • Reply February 4, 2019

    Skirmantas

    Pola universal or Noble K10 universal? Especially for jazz and vocals. Which is more detailed with better treble extension? What would main sound differences between the two be?

    • Reply February 4, 2019

      Lieven

      Smooth jazz or energetic sharp jazz?
      The K10 is softer while Pola is more energetic with better top end extension. But you’re also comparing different technologies and sound signatures to each other, it isn’t that fair/comparable.

  • Reply February 4, 2019

    Gunwale

    When are you guys getting the canary, nightingale and mockingjay series?

    • Reply February 4, 2019

      Lieven

      They won’t all be available at he same time. C is in already.

  • Reply March 7, 2019

    FOBean

    Michael,
    I have had a Shanling Audio M5s DAP since they were FIRST available in the USA, and I absolutely LOVE it. I only have experience with a handful of different DAP’s, but it’s easily the nicest AND best sounding DAP I’ve EVER used/owned 😎👍🎧

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