AAW ASH IEM Review: Seven Driver Wonder!!
Advanced AcousticWerkes commonly known as AAW, is a Singapore-based exquisite HiFi IEM brand with many famous custom and universal in their catalog. Among their offerings, there’s a seven-driver hybrid set of IEMs, AAW Ash that brings us a classic combination of dynamic and balanced armature drivers. To be precise, One 13mm graphene-coated dynamic and six high-performance BA drivers. I got a unit for auditioning from Goldfinch acoustics, today I am sharing my review on the same.
AAW Ash here was provided to me for about a week as a part of a review tour organized by Goldfinch acoustics. The pair is priced at around 1099 SGD or 799 USD. All impressions in this blog are completely my own free from any interference from anyone. Hope you enjoy the read.
Design, Build, Look, & Feel:-
Ash has a rich design and feel to it. The earpieces here have quite a bulky shape but they are lightweight and aesthetically pleasing in terms of fit. They are complemented in looks by designer faceplates that have a combination of shiny gold flakes on one half and a beautiful wooden finish on the other half. The inner cavity is transparent but has a dark grey color, so the internal arrangement is only visible when the pair is lit properly. AAW has bundled an amazing cable with the pair. It is soft, sturdy, and well-finished with metallic connector casings and Y-Splitter.
About look and design I find no complaints here. But fit might be troublesome for people with small ears as the shell size is quite on the bigger side. Personally, I have medium-sized ears and find them comfortable with an above-average level of noise isolation.
Powering Up AAW ASH:-
Ash is not a demanding set. It can be powered easily straight off smartphones without any trouble. Though I find the pair sounding better with better amplification such as with Shanling M3X or xDuoo XD05 Balanced. Most of my critical listening is done with Shanling M3X + xDuoo XD05 Bal. The pair shows brilliant dynamics with this stack. It can be powered straight off the M3X too, never had to go above 50/100 volume on low gain. But the thing with the M3X is that the Bass is not as punchy as it is with XD05 Bal as an amp in the chain. This M3X+XD05 Bal has become my permanent stack nowadays.
Ash has a balanced and natural presentation. It is a highly transparent and detailed set. There is no coloration, no particular frequency emphasized with the ASH, you just get a pure musical sound with a balanced tonality and excellent detail retrieval. The overall presentation is kind of laid back and smooth, there is no fatigue or harshness even at loud volume levels. AAW has tuned the Treble to be well-detailed and extended while not sound harsh or sibilant. The pair produces true-to-life natural vocals, both the Male and Female vocals have a beautiful texture. They sound simply amazing with the Ash(example, Male vocals in Miracle Sister by Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Someone You Loved by Lewis Capaldi, and Female Vocals in I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor, Nightcall by London Grammar).
Another thing to praise here is the brilliant instrument separation with the pair. Each instrument can be heard separately even in complex tracks such as Billie Jean by MJ, Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons, and Hate me by Blue October.
Bass & Sub-Bass(Lower End):-
Ash features a large 13mm graphene diaphragm dynamic driver for the lower end. It produces a refined, well-textured lower-end response. The punch in mid-bass is definitely excellent with good texture to every single drum kick in “Hate Me by Blue October”. This excellent mid-bass response is complemented by a clean sub-bass rumble. The lower end complements the other frequencies with its quick precise response, though an extra bit of depth could’ve made it punchier and add more energy to the pair. Not the deepest bass I would say at this price point.
Vocals & Acoustic Instruments(Mids):-
Mids have a slightly recessed presentation. The pair maintains amazing clarity throughout the frequency range presenting the users with outstanding details in instruments and vocals. Vocals as I stated earlier have a well-textured response with excellent clarity and detail. Listening to acoustic music, vocal music is a blissful experience with the Ash. Favorite tracks here are Cannonball by Damien Rice, Hotel California by Eagles(Hell Freezes Over), Private Lawns by Angus & Julia Stone, and the list goes on and on.
The Higher End(Treble):-
AAW has played safe with the treble frequencies. They have a laid-back presentation with amazing clarity and detail. The pair complements complex tracks and presents them in a kind of tore-down version where you can experience every single beat being played separately. There is no noticeable sibilance or harshness with the Ash even at loud, uncomfortable listening volume levels. This laid-back presentation grants a smooth, non-fatiguing signature to the pair but at the same time, It kind of lacks some energy in the high frequencies.
Soundstage and Imaging:-
AAW Ash has more of a depth to the stage than Width. No, the pair isn’t intimate at all rather has a good 3D presentation with a decently wide and deep stage that has an average height. Imaging is excellent with excellent instrument separation.
AAW Ash Vs Unique Melody Mirage:-
Mirage is my personal pair that I own for about two months now. It is priced quite similar to the Ash(Ash is 1000 SGD, Mirage is 1000 USD). Yeah, there’s a bit of price difference but this is the closest in my possession right now.
>Mirage has a punchy, engaging signature, Ash has a laid-back relaxing signature.
>Mirage has more quantity in the lower end delivering a punchier presentation. Though the lower end of Ash feels more refined in comparison.
>Mids has a riches, forward presentation with the Mirage.
>Treble refinement, detail retrieval in Ash is exceptionally better.
>Treble energy is better in Mirage.
I would say Ash and Mirage both kind of complete each other. While the bass depths are about to reach hell with the Mirage, the refinement of treble is outstanding with the Ash. But then again I like the energy of Mirage over the smooth laid-back presentation of the Ash.
AAW Ash vs CA Andromeda:-
I had the Andromeda for about 8-10 days a few months back. I still have my memories intact of my time with the almighty Andros. Here’s my comparison between Andros and Ash.
>Ash has a more natural tonality while Andromeda has a leaner tonality in comparison.
>Vocal presentation of Ash is excellent in comparison to Andros(I find them getting very close to shouty in minutes with Andros).
>Andromeda has one of the best soundstage presentations I have listened to date.
>Treble refinement and energy of Andros is simply amazing. Though the Ash competes well in terms of detail retrieval it lacks in energy level.
>Ash is more immersive, Andros has better punch in the lower end.
I would say Ash is my pick among these two here.
AAW ASH stands tall in the 1000$ price segment with its rich tonality and detailed presentation. Simply said, the smooth laid-back signature, the powerful sub-bass rumble, crisp vocals, and class instrument separation make the Ash a worthy set in its category. The takeaway here would be, its smooth laid back signature might be too smooth for some, including me. Other than that, no complaints with the pair.