Firstly I would like to thank AAW for this sample for review, I always try to write honest reviews, this sample received over 50hrs of burn-in before review, no major changes were noted.
Audio Opus #2 > AAW Nebula 2 (Comply tips)
Frequency Response: 10Hz – 40,000Hz
Max input power: 3mW
Cable Length: 1.2m
Driver: 1 x 10mm Dynamic, 1 Balanced Armature
MSRP: Aprox $145 (S$199)
Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
The packaging is simple and effective, it has a white outer sleeve with a picture of the IEM’s on the front, on one side of the box you have company info, on the other side you have a list of included accessories and on the back you will find a text about the IEM’s, feature and tech specs (with an exploded diagram of the IEM’s). Once you remove this sleeve, you will find the IEM’s neatly in place in a foam in tray, with the case below. Underneath the part where the IEM’s are held in place you will find the tips and jack adapters. A well thought-out design that is also aesthetically pleasing.
The build quality feels sturdy, the housing is plastic with a metal faceplate, there is a section of memory wire (I would have preferred them without memory wire), with a translucent plastic 3 button remote, and an L shaped jack with good strain relief. The cable is supple but does not feel weak, overall the build quality is good and they should last a while with some care.
The included accessories are plentiful, you get a good selection of tips (3 pairs of Silicone, 3 pairs of Foam), a clamshell carry case, a flight adapter, a 3.5-6.3mm adapter and that’s it, everything you need is included. I found myself using Comply tips as I prefer their feel, but the included tips should allow most people to get a good seal.
Comfort, Isolation and Cable Noise:
Comfort is very good once you get a good fit, I do prefer cables without memory wire, but the memory wire doesn’t cause much discomfort on these. I find I can wear them for prolonged periods of time with no discomfort.
Isolation is good, not as good as some fully sealed IEM’s but enough for most day to day usage, the housing only has small vents so there is minimal loss in isolation.
Cable noise is not an issue, as the cable is routed behind your ear, if you do get cable noise, there is also a chin slider you can use.
Split into the usual categories with a conclusion at the end.
Lows: The lows on these are full and deep, they extend effortlessly with excellent control and definition. They don’t have any noticeable dips or peaks down low, they are fairly linear and kick drums sound real with air behind them, they are clean and clear, with a little boost in presence to keep them sounding engaging and fun without bloat or fatigue. You get real rumble when listening to the likes of The Prodigy, and the notes of the double bass in Diana Krall resonate with realistic timbre. They lend their hand to all genres and always stay in line without overpowering, and can keep up with fast metal tracks too. If you like your bass fun but in good measure and quality, these would definitely suit you.
Mids: I’m not sure where the crossover point is in these but the mids again come in with excellent clarity and separation from the lows. Female vocals don’t suffer from sibilance, male vocals don’t come across with added warmth. I find that these have a way of bringing out subtleties in your music, and the mids are very well separated and nuanced. Guitars and vocals always have good air between them and they don’t get congested. These are headphones that you can tell the difference between well recorded music and poorly recorded music (and MP3 vs FLAC makes a difference). Listening to the likes of Radiohead’s In Rainbows album really highlights the technical ability of these to dissect your music and present it as a whole but well separated, Thom Yorke’s vocals are up front, and the guitar picking is always present, with pulsating underlying bass notes are not forgotten and the snare and cymbals are just spot on, also the special cues and overall soundstage and imaging is probably some of the best I have heard under £150, maybe even £200.
Highs: These have it all, crisp highs are also on hand to keep things from sounding dark and dull. They are not harsh or bright, but they have good energy and also detail up top, I often find myself craving more highs yet these strike the balance between too little and too much. The highs are always there and noticeable, they have good tone and also the placement is very good on these. Treble heads these may not completely satisfy your needs, but they are a lot better than most of the competition in terms of transparency and detail, yet they are not fatiguing in the slightest so people sensitive to treble won’t have a problem with these.
Instrument separation is superb, there is air and space between everything, and the soundstage is much wider than all the other IEM’s I have heard at this price.
Conclusion: If you haven’t noticed I really enjoy these, from now on if anyone asks for IEM’s under £150 these will get my recommendation. They are balanced but also quite fun to listen to, they have the right amount of detail and a bit of fun factor added in without bloat. They really do it all very well with convincing imaging to boot, the build quality is great however I have never been a fan of memory wire, and detachable cables would have made these better. Overall they are a very cohesive sounding dual driver, hybrid IEM.
Sound Perfection Rating: 9/10 (memory wire and non detachable cable let them down)