Firstly I would like to thank AAW for making me this set of custom monitors to review, I always try to write honest reviews. These monitors received over 50hrs of burn in, they do contain a dynamic driver and I did notice very slight differences over the burn-in period.
iPod Classic > W300AR
iPod Classic > Oppo HA-2 > W300AR
Dell XPS 15 > Oppo HA-2 > W300AR
Configuration: W100 Reference Proprietary 9mm Dynamic Driver + 2 x Balanced Armature Drivers
- TruXross Electronic 3 Way Passive Crossover
- Triple Sound Bore Design
- Frequency Range 18Hz-23000Hz
- Sensitivity 100dB SPL @ 1 mW
- Impedance: 16.8 ohm @ 1kHz
- THD <= 0.2% @ 1kHz
- Filter-less Design
- 26db+/- Ambient Noise Attenuation
- 46" Null Audio Vitesse Cable(4 Braid Detachable)
- AAW Shock & Waterproof Carrying Case
- Cleaning Brush & Cloth
- 60 Day Refit Guarantee
Singapore Dollar $899
Packaging, Build quality and Accessories:
The packaging is great, you get a nice AAW branded box with the IEM’s carefully placed in a soft pouch inside the hard case. Inside this you will also find the included accessories, the packaging is great, and protects them perfectly in shipping.
The build quality feels great, they are hollow acrylic customs, so just be careful not to drop them on a hard floor, but with care I see no problems with the build quality, and the included cable is an aftermarket one and feels very well built, it should last a lot longer than standard CIEM cables. The housing is vented due to the dynamic driver in these, but the finish is very good and no air bubbles are visible and the join of the faceplate and body is perfect. I love the finish of these with the blue interlaced between the carbon fibre.
Accessories included are great too, you get a soft velvet pouch, a hard waterproof carry case, a wax cleaner, a cleaning cloth, a 3.5 to 6.3mm adapter and also a flight adapter, the included accessories are great and nothing else is needed, a great set of accessories.
Comfort, Isolation and Cable Noise:
The comfort is great, as they are custom made. I did have to get the right side refit, but that is because my ears are weird and my right canal is hard to get a good impression of. Now I have a good fit, I can wear these for hours with no discomfort. They go deeper than my Inearz but with no discomfort, and once they warm up to your body temperature, you forget you have them in. I like the stock cable, but personally I prefer cables without memory wire, the stock cable doesn’t have mouldable memory wire, but it still has a thicker section that goes behind your ear.
The left side of mine sticks out a little further than the right, but it fits fine, they are not as flush as my Inearz, the connector is at a slight angle which makes the cable stick out a little further than the right, so they are not as good for sleeping with in, but I still find the comfort great.
Isolation is great, much better than standard fit IEM’s and also over and on-ear headphones, but the isolation isn’t as good as fully sealed CIEM’s, due to the vent these have for the dynamic driver. I still have no issues with the isolation, they offer more than enough isolation for all public transport, and flights.
Cable noise is rarely an issue with CIEM’s, and these don’t suffer from it either, the cable is soft and the routing behind the ear eliminates any cable noise.
As stated before these have had plenty of burn-in, I did notice some very minor changes. Split in to the usual categories with a conclusion at the end.
Lows: Well these are hybrid CIEM’s, and the dynamic driver takes care of the lows, to very good effect. You get very dynamic and full lows that are more articulate and fuller than most BA based CIEM’s at this price can deliver. They are also however very well controlled, steering clear of bloating and warming up the mids. The lows are fast and can keep up with most rock music, but are best suited to filling out the sound of acoustic and jazz, or even slower rock. They offer good punch and have very good body, they never sound flat or hollow. Bass guitars sound excellent, and the lows extend very deep. Quantity wise they won’t satisfy bass heads, but they have enough to satisfy and I would say they are slightly above neutral in presence and quantity, this is not a bad thing.
Mids: The mids are very clean, one of my favourite things about these is their portrayal of vocals and other instruments in the mid range. They present them with perfect presence, they are never overpowering, yet never recessed either. They are detailed and never harsh, they don’t suffer from sibilance and are very well controlled. Everything in the mid range is well separated, tonally wise everything sounds like it should, which is not easy. They have just the right amount of body, compared to my Inearz, these sound like a veil has been lifted from the mid range.
Highs: Here is my only gripe, they are not present enough. These need a boost up top, or another driver. A slight boost at 4khz and 8khz on media monkey helped a little, it just gives them a little more air and makes them sound that little bit better. Without the boost I find the highs to sound quite recessed and just lacking any real sparkle and extension. It does let these down a little, as they could be very well balanced if they had a bit more top end.
Soundstage is not particularly huge, it’s wider than quite a few IEM’s but nothing spectacular.
Instrument separation is very good, there is enough air between everything to stop them sounding too congested, but a little added top end helps open them up even more.
Well most don’t believe in cable differences, but with these I can hear a slight difference between the stock cable and my Forza Audioworks hybrid cable.
I prefer the ergonomics of the Forza cable, and also the mids gain a little extra clarity, the lows are tighter and the highs gain a little more presence. The highs are still not quite as good as I would like, but definitely better than the stock cable.
Well it depends on what your preferred signature is, with the stock cable I find the sound a little too dark, the mids are clean and clear, and the lows are full and articulate but the highs did leave a little to be desired. When paired with a different cable, or even after a little EQ these do sound quite a bit better, but I would still like a little more top end. On the one hand, these are never fatiguing to listen to, but on the other hand you lose out on some air and detail and also excitement with the highs as they are stock.
These are a bit more expensive than my Inearz IE-P350, and these are definitely more detailed, it sounds as if a veil has been lifted. But I still find the IE-P350 to sound a little more coherent and also the overall signature is more balanced. I find the W300 to be technically better in most areas, but not necessarily more pleasing to listen to.
I would like to try a pure silver cable with these one day.
Well my final verdict, if you are willing to do some system matching, these can be very nice CIEM’s with excellent customization options, very nice mids and articulate dynamic lows. However using them with the stock cable straight from an iPod you may find yourself wanting more. Pair them with a neutral or brighter DAC and also a cable made of silver, or silver plated copper and these really open up a bit and turn in to some very clean, clear and detailed sounding IEM’s, with the added body and articulation of a dynamic driver.
Sound Perfection Rating: 7/10 (the highs let these down, but system matching can improve this)