Review: Accutone Studio S2
Firstly I would like to thank Accutone for sending me this sample to review; these have had well over 100hrs of burn-in before reviewing.
*disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of writing a review, no incentive was given to write a favourable review. All opinions expressed are my own subjective findings.
Gear Used: Audio Opus #2 / iBasso DX200 > S2 (Comply tips)
HP Laptop > JDS Labs OL DAC > O2 Amp > S2
1 x 10mm dynamic driver + 1 x Knowles balanced armature driver
Packaging, Build quality and Accessories:
The S2 comes in a nice little card box that has a plastic outer sleeve that has a picture of the monitors on it. Once you remove this sleeve you can fold open a magnetic flap and see the IEM’s through a plastic window, with the accessories below. The box is sleek and small, and looks very good, and if more than fitting for the price. The IEM’s are held in a foam insert, with the cable held in a compartment underneath this. Overall neat and professional looking packaging from Accutone.
The build quality is very good, the housings are a 2-piece plastic design screwed together, and they feel lightweight but also durable. The plastics feel good, on the end of the nozzle there is a lip to keep the tips on tight. The one thing that worries me is the paper wax filter; this comes off easily and could do with having some better glue hold it in place. The MMCX connectors are tight and providing you don’t change cables all the time they should last. The cable itself is soft and rubbery, with good relief on all ends, and they have a short section of mouldable memory wire, one thing missing from the cable is a cinch.
Accessory wise you get a fairly standard semi-hard clamshell case, a soft velvet pouch, a set of M size comply T-200 tips and S, M and L single flange silicone tips. This isn’t a huge amount of accessories, but they include the essentials.
Comfort, Isolation and Driver flex:
With comply tips these fit nice and tight, and also fairly deep but they still stick out of my ears at a funny angle, this is due to the angle of the nozzle. Once inserted they are comfortable to wear, and the cable is ergonomic. If it weren’t for the odd angle of the nozzle these would look a lot sleeker in use.
With Comply tips they isolate fairly well, they are vented so there is a certain amount of outside noise that leaks in and they do not isolate anywhere near as well as a fully sealed unit, but they are fine for most general usage.
Driver flex for me was only an issue when using silicone tips, and it was fairly bad, so I recommend sticking with Comply foam tips.
Split into the usual categories with a conclusion at the end. The below is written using Comply tips which I found tames the slightly exuberant treble, but also makes the lows a bit fuller.
Lows: With the dynamic driver taking care of the lows these are very dynamic and have a v-shaped sound signature with boosted bass and treble. The lows extend deep with ease, and are also very full and punchy. They do dominate the sound a little and slightly overshadow the lower mids. Saying that, the lows are fairly well controlled and can keep up with most genres, their ability to articulate bass guitars is very impressive. If you enjoy EDM these also work well really bringing out the impact and fun bass in tracks.
Mids: The mids are pushed back a little in the mix lacking in bite and aggression, they fall short a little if you want a more neutral midrange. There is still a good amount of detail in the midrange, and separation and air are very good. Female vocals sound a little better due to a bit more clarity in the upper midrange, and they are not as recessed as male vocals. If the bass was toned down a little it would let the midrange shine through a little better, as the detail and tonality is there. EQ can really help these.
Highs: The highs are nice and sparkly, and with Comply tips never too harsh or bright. They have the right amount of presence, cymbals crash with power and the highs extend with ease without becoming splashy. The highs are well defined and I wouldn’t really change anything here, but some may find the highs borderline bright. The thing about the highs is that they sound real, like when you go to see live music they are right there and audible but well separated from the rest of the sound.
Soundstage is wider than average with excellent layering, but the bass does make the overall sound full rather than airy. Instrument separation is good overall, but again the fullness down low does make the sound quite thick overall.
EQ really goes miles on these, due to not really needing to boost signals you don’t run into issues of distortion. I found around a -8dB cut at 32Hz, -6 at 63Hz, -4 at 125Hz and -2 at 250Hz brings the bass under control and allows vocal to shine through.
Once EQ’d you get superb detail retrieval in the midrange. This also means that for most tastes you can tune how much bass you want without ever having to boost it, as it is there in stock form.
iBasso CB13: The CB13 is a very soft and ergonomic cable, that fits the S2 very well and also compliments the sound in my opinion. Without EQ the lows are still full but they are much tighter suffering from slightly less bloat; however they are still a little overwhelming. The midrange is not quite as full, and it is still recessed, but there is a little extra air and detail. The highs are surprisingly not piercing and are actually toned down a little. This cable tightens up the sound a little, and widens the soundstage without making them sound thin or piercing.
Vs Clear Tune VS2:
These 2 monitors are tuned very differently, with the VS2 having a more neutral and slightly mid forward sound that focuses on air and detail. The VS2 does not extend as low, or as high, but does have a much better balance across the spectrum. The Accutone S2 is all about fun, with its bouncy V shaped sound signature that lacks presence in the midrange.
Conclusion: The Accutone S2 is not a reference monitor, it is a fun and engaging IEM that sounds best when used with comply tips to tone down the slightly over the top treble. The build quality is good, the fit is comfortable but they look a little odd in my small ears. The S2 are undeniably fun, and those who enjoy a V shaped sound signature will really enjoy these, they lack a little control and refinement but do have very good detail retrieval.
Sound Perfection Rating: 7/10 (full and fun but a little uncontrolled at times)