In recent review of Ambient Acoustics MAD24 I have said that the magicians from Kyiv have managed to put a great amount of drivers into the earpiece and to tune them the way you never doubt it’s necessary to have them all. But what about the people who are not prepared to spend that much money? Probably there are more cheap variants? Of course there are. For example, MAD16 sub-top. It can be easily understood that the amount of drivers is lower but there are all the same technologies in place — no crossover and all the rest. I won’t dig deep into tech things, it’s all on the manufacturer’s website.
Accessories and packaging
In terms of accessories there is not much difference from MAD24. The same custom earphones, different design capabilities, everything can be broadened or corrected according to your desire. In stock variant we get already known functional zipped pouch, named pelican case that is capable to protect your IEMs from whatever, drying capsule, hybrid cable, paperwork and warranty card. Additionally you can purchase: fabric cable, cleaning tool and extra drying capsule. It seems not much, but having so rich stock accessory range leaves almost nothing to desire.
Design and comfort
Again, this is a custom model and you can choose design up to your liking. Especially given that the company has not only standard single color palette, but some premium materials as well. For example, you can choose marble, stabilized wood, onyx texture etc. There are many variants and plenty of choice. You can also choose the number of сable cores, length and cable connectors. As for universal model, the manufacturer has used the same materials as in MAD24. Same 3D-printed cases without extra inner space. Also the inner part remains of either plastic or resin and outer is made of stabilized wood. Both of them seem to be fused with each other. On the right ear piece there is a company name, on the left – the model name. This is a good variant in terms of comfort end even if the bodies are rather large, it is still convenient. The nozzle is wide enough and has oval shape and three holes. Regular tips fit tightly so it has also been well thought over. There are three pairs of tips with wide solid base but narrow output. The sound of universal IEMs is rather close to custom ones.
And what about the sound?
MAD24 have been good in soundstage and have tended towards the lows. MAD16 are more linear. They are detailed, technical and natural, with great balance of micro and macro details and involving presentation.
Lows have good length and control. Control is what you pay attention to here. They cope with everything – speed and slams. Bass has enough weight to sound monumental and massive. Of course it is far from being basshead, but rather sounds natural, distinctive and shapy.
Mids fall into this canvas too. They have good balance between macro and micro details and you can easily catch the main idea of performer. While listening to well-known track you expect each next passage and it sounds the way it’s meant to. On the other hand small nuances are not omitted and you clearly see why there are several armature drivers on mids. They sound technical, shapy and emotional but without being overly thick or sharp.
Highs are always showing the quality of recording to me and MAD16 do not fail. The length is very good and speed and technicality is better than in most multi-driver model due to absence of crossover. At the same time they sound live and full. There are enough details and they have good body and true timbre. The decays have correct length and peculiar sound depending on instrument character.
The soundstage is clearly above average in depth and width. Separation of layers brings attention. Good dynamic range provides each instrument with the correct place in composition. There is enough air but not overly so and the IEMs provide good interaction between all sounding instruments and whole canvas.
Summing up, the IEMs are good. They slightly fall back behind MAD24 in terms of soundstage but are more honest. Despite having no crossovers, they react to cable rolling. They have 2-pin connectors. I’ve tried some cables and have liked silver from PW Audio and Whiplash Audio. I’ve also heard about good synergy with Double Helix. I think other variants will show themselves well, but I can’t be sure about it. This is practically all you need for good IEMs. Well, probably good source and music, but I think there won’t be any problems.
Translated by: Vadim Kolchev