AKOUSTYX R-210 REVIEW:
- Well articulated smooth and neutral sound
- Nice&Tigh mid-bass attack
- Rich natural timbre
- Super Uber Small and Comfy
- Nice Accessories
- Rolled off bass and treble
- Average Imaging
If you take a look at AKOUSTYX logo, which is a pronounced frequency curve, you can naively think it means the sound signature of their earphones are rather peaky, super sharp or offensive, but with the model I will review today its quite the opposite in fact and most probably with more of their other model too because they describe their sound signature target as ‘’truly neutral’’.
AKOUSTYX is an American start-up manufacturer based in San Jose, California with their assembly line in Nashville, Tennessee NOT in China….which is something I truly admire nowadays where even big brands do not tend to care to assemble their product in their own country mostly to higher their benefit, not to lower the price of their final products. This fact tends to make the final product less rushed in production, which at the end can result in more trustable craftsmanship and quality check.
Behind their company, they have a team of musicians and audiophiles, which serve them to achieve acoustic qualities that will please as much musician searching for reference monitor sound than audiophile searching for musical reference sound.
The model I will review today is from their latest R2 series. The R-210 is a single balanced armature in-ear which is ultra-small and a little similar to Etymotic iem in the design of housing. But Akoustyx gives a lot of work in the material used for their housing as well. It must be noted that they collaborate with Knowles’s balanced armature company to create their specific tuning too.
Give a read to know how the R2 serie is birth HERE
I always appreciate when a company explains how their product is created, to me its a proof of seriousness and professionalism.
Priced at 120$, I consider the R-210 budget-friendly, especially if we take into account the number of accessories included as well as the fact it’s made in the USA.
Anyway, like always, even if I receive the R-210 as a review sample (Disclaimer) I will be objective in my personal judgment and try to discover if this iem gives an audio performance on par with its price range.
UNBOXING experience is a very rewarding one. The presentation is minimalist, but youare spoil by lot of accessories in the box. I’m often underwhelmed by the protective case included with earphones, not this time because we have a superb neoprene padded carrying case that has 2 pouch with a zip so you can bring an extra cable with the R-210. It’s really a well-crafted carrying case that I will use daily. As well, you have good amount of ear tips including their own-designed customization kit ear tips, silicone ear tips and a pair of memory foams ear tips. The cable include have a mic and is multi braided OFC cable that looks of good quality too.
CONSTRUCTION is simple yet well made. It’s supremely small, and a unique look that looks like a mix of Etymotic and Final Audio F iem. Material of housing is a mix of alluminium alloy and polycarbonate plastic. Sturdy and classy looking iem that promess long durability.
DESIGN is nice and comfy, it’s so small that it will fit any size of ears. As well, you can both wear it over ear or cable down. It must be noted that if you wear it cable down, cable will create microphonic. As well, with earhook, over ear design is less comfortable than with a soft flexible cable without ear hook. But, and this is an important BUT, if you use the earlock tips, the earhook problem is partly solved as the fit will be very secure.
ISOLATION is impressive and it really acts like noise ears plug when used with memory foam tips. As well, sound leakage is inexistant, which is a big plus.
DRIVEABILITY at 50ohm of impendance do benifit from good amping, should it be with a powerfull DAP or with the help of portable amp. If not properly amped, the sound will be more congested and lack in dynamic impact.
OVERALL SUBJECTIVE APPRECIATION is quite good, and more on par with what I would have expected from a micro-dynamic driver than a balanced armature. Nope, this isn’t bright, ultra-detailed, thin-sounding bass light single balanced armature and I really think Akoustyx collaborates with Knowles to tune this badass full range BA their way. The sound is slightly warm, with weighty mid-bass, quite thick mids for a BA and smooth treble that do not feel tamed, just well balanced. In fact,everything is flat but the mid-bass, upper mids and mid-treble. This isn’t aggressive iem, even if the level of clarity is rather high.
SOUNDSTAGE is wider than deeper, intimate and a little ‘’in your head’’ but in an immersive way. It feels like you’re in the middle of the band instead of being in front of them.
IMAGING is average, which is due to warm tonality and soft attack in mid-range that affect overall clarity, this is a drawback if this iem was mean to be used as monitor iem. Instrument lack clean space between them.
CLARITY is good but have soft sharpness in the definition. Timbre texture is soft as well as attack. Tonality is warm and quite opaque.
BASS is very impressive for a single BA, all its dynamic comes from mid and high low, making the lower end recessed and rolled off, but still, bassline are hearable in a dry way. Kick drum have a nice weighty punch and rounded definition that can move some air and warm lower mid-range. This is good for low notes of electric guitar, or higher range of bass, but when it comes to 20-100hz region, it’s rather dry. This type of bass do good with rock and classical, less so for jazz or bass heavy music.
MID RANGE is flat, clear, with warm tonality and above average body for a balanced armature. All this range sound very neutral, not pushed fowards wich can make the vocal feel a little recessed when the drum of a track is on the heavy side, but it isn’t and what impress is how smooth and inoffensive it sound, you will not heard any sibilance or artificial peak in this range wich perhaps stole some energy in attack but give a very natural musicality. Akoustyx play it safe with this tuning, and the soft tone can affect imaging especially in very crowded music track where single BA show its limit.
TREBLE is relaxed and surely rolled off on top, all its energy is in lower highs wich give nice crunchiness to electric instruments. You will not hear lot of sparkles and decay with the R-210, wich have a type of treble reminding me Final Audio E serie. I would have like crisper treble with more attack so instrument like acoustic guitar and harp can have natural decay and more presence but this type of gentle highs have the advantage to make overall sound smooth as well as intensify mid-range presence.
SUB BASS : 6.5/10
MID BASS : 8/10
MID RANGE : 8.5/10
TREBLE : 7.5/10
TIMBRE : 8/10
ATTACK-DECAY : 7/10
SOUNDSTAGE : 7.5/10
IMAGING : 7.5/10
RANDOM TRACKS TESTING:
The bass kick is weighty, softly rounded and tigh, it really is the lead of all track attack. Vocal is centered, intimate, very clear and free of any sibilance. Its neither too grainy or too soft, have flat presence with good clarity. Guitar line are accurate, again, not particularly sharp and the organ keyboard could benefit a little more texture but still is on line with other instrumental. Lower bass line is a little recessed but still easy to discern. The overall song is very well balanced and laid back, their no unpleasant peaks anywhere wich make it very enjoyable and avoid to be boring due to good mid bass response.
KATIA LABEQUE & TRIPLE SUN (MOONDOG) ‘’Bird’s Lament’’
Again, everything sound clear and flat, inoffensive until drum begin and electric guitar take first seat. Clarity give good discernment of instrumental even if show in an intimate way. Bass line this time are hard to hear when all instrumental are togheter. Piano sound a little dry and recessed, lacking in decay and attack, while kick drum have good natural weight. Chime too is little too soft, which shows the limit of upper treble. This track lacks the Grand presentation it should have and even if everything is quite balanced it lacks overall energy in attack and some treble sparkle to help liveliness and give more air between instrument.
The F3100 is a single balanced armature, not a Knowles like the R-210 and surely a little smaller due to its smaller housing. Still, its a very capable and fast single BA with different flavor than the Knowles house sound.
SOUNDSTAGE is slightly wider with the R-210, while the F3100 win with more deepness. The IMAGING is sharper and more precise with F3100 even if slightly more intimate in presentation. BASS dig deeper with the R-210, its weightier and more punchy too, tough the dryish mid-bass of F3100 tend to be faster and more controlled. MID RANGE is clearer and flatter with the F3100, as well its more transparent and detailed than warmer, thicker R-210 that have more peaky upper mids to compensate the slightly recessed vocal. Timbre being more transparent and sharp, its thinner too but have better overall attack wich give impressive accuracy compared to less clinical sounding R-210. TREBLE is sharper and more sparkly with the F3100, it sure have more emphasized extension and nice snappy attack compared to more natural and balanced treble of R-210 that stay on line with the rest of the frequencies response.
All in all, R-210 is warmer, more bassy and natural sounding while the F3100 win in technicalities, clarity and attack.
VS EARSTUDIO HE100 (100$) :
Akoustyx use a Knowles Balanced armature, tough its a single full range one while HE100 have special dynamic driver.
SOUNDSTAGE is this time more wide and deep with HE100, with a sens of airyness the more intimate R-210 lack. IMAGING benifit from this spacious sound as well as tamed attack with the HE100, offering clearer positioning but lacking is physical separation as if we look at a wall of sound instead of being in the middle like the R-210. BASS is faster, tigher and way more weighty and punchy with the R-210, but it lack buttom line extension of the HE100 wich do not warm lower mid range as the R-210 do. For a reference targeted iem, R-210 is notably more bassy than HE100. MID RANGE is clearer and leaner with HE100, again, its thinner in timbre and softer in attack but deliver wider definition and better accuracy, wich make the HE100 more a reference sounding iem that the R-210. TREBLE is more emphased and foward with R-210, but it do not have lore of decays and sparkle and sound harsher on top than the more delicate and relaxed HE100, wich in they end deliver a more detailed sound and easier to perceive high range even if more recessed.
All in all, if your searching for a reference sound, skip the R-210 and take the HE100, but if you want lively, punchy and aggressive sound with a weighty attack, the R-210 will sound less boringly flat perhaps to your ears.
I didn’t know what to expect for this new American Audio company, especially in this affordable price range, and i’m sincerly impress by what I got. The tuning is balanced, smooth and neutral with good thickness to timbre, the construction is excellent and super comfortable, number of accessories is very impressive. Yep, Akoustyx sure offer tremendous overall value that can easily compete with mass produced audio products from other countries.
I respect the fact its crafted in U .S.A as well as the attention to acoustic engineering.
Akoustyx is a serious audio company to keep an eye on, and the R-210 is sure an excellent introduction to the rich sound experience they offer.
If your looking for super small single balanced armature IEM that offer quite a big sound experience, with rich timbre, smooth bass and treble, clear and articulate mid-range, I think the Akoustyx R-210 will not disapoint you at all because this type of easy going soundsignature is just too cuddling in musicality to not like it.