As you have understood from the title, today I will continue reviewing IEM models from Kyiv Ambient Acoustics lab and I will review several of them. I have managed to listen to their top MAD24 model and yes, there are 24 drivers per ear piece there. I have also listened to sub-top MAD16 model where the number of drivers is diminished. And yes, I have liked both those model. But what should one do if he likes sound and not the price tag? Of course one should look at the simpler models. As soon as I have got the chance, I have received several budget models on review. MAD4 with 4 drivers, MAD10 with 10 drivers and MAD3H that is 3-driver hybrid solution.
Packaging and accessories
I have already described this for previous models so this part of review won’t be extensive. There is a default variant that includes round zipped pouch. You can also get a named Pelican case, cleaning tool, drying capsule, paperwork and warranty. Additionally you can order fabric pouch (but I don’t think you need a third one), another cleaning tool and extra drying capsule. I think if you have extra wishes you might contact the manufacturer and they might sell another zipped case to you or something else. I recommend this by the way, it is very convenient.
Design and ergonomics
Ambient Acoustics have found their own body shape and all their models (universal ones) are issued in ‘universal custom version’. It is not strange, but it is not common at the same time. It’s inner part somewhat reminds of iBasso IT04 and has pleasant shapes and good nozzle angle. It has oval shape and is wide enough, has 2 projections in junior models and 3 projections in MAD10. It has no hook to keep tips in place but the tips are custom with wide base and sit perfectly well. Of course it is not the case for custom variants but it is nice to have such attention to details.
In my case all 3 pairs are made of stabilized wood for faceplates and some other material for inner part. I can’t say if this is a hard resin or plastic but joints are perfect and you can see it only visually but not feel it. It is again not the case because for custom variants since you can choose any texture or color, as well as stabilized wood for all body. By the way it looks very well and you can spend much time choosing a great variant for you.
There are 2-pin connectors for cable rolling. Stock cable is of good quality and it is hybrid (copper + silver plated copper). It is ergonomic, soft and convenient. And if you want to change it, I have personally liked Whiplash TwAg v2 and TwAu cables. However I don’t have too many 2-pin cables and I have not made extensive comparisons.
The sound of hybrid model is exactly as you expect. Full-of-drive, bassy and having great emotions.
Lows are deep enough, accentuated and slightly thick. Slams get more distinctiveness and weight and have slightly decreased speed and shape. The bass is also monumental and convincing, it brings needed foundation and remains one of the main lines of any recording. Taking the accent into account the IEMs can’t be called cold or warm, they are rather neutral.
Mids are neutral as well. Armature drivers transmit everything and don’t hide behind lows. They have needed level of details, speed and transmit nuances well. Timbres are great, sound is coherent and musical.
Highs are also great. Yes, it’s not totally treble-oriented IEMs but also they are not for those who like dark presentation. On the one hand there is a compensation of enhanced lows, on the other you can call the presentation full of macro details and comfortable. This range sounds good, detailed, quick and shapy.
Another interesting thing is the soundstage. It is not too wide, closer to medium and even compact. At the same time there is good depth. The IEMs have good volume and layering.
What differs MAD4 from MAD3H is plain and technical presentation. If hybrids could be called emotional and whole macro-detail headphones, MAD4 are micro-detailed on the opposite side. But if compared directly. Their presentation is balanced in terms of micro and macro details with good balance of warmth, thickness and dryness.
Lows have good length, weight and control. They are more dry than previous model, bass is more shapy and precise with good slams. To make it short, it is the kind of presentation you expect from armature transducer — a good one, with great speed but not at the expense of naturalness.
Mids are more micro-detailed. They maintain coherence and musicality but if the previous mode has put male vocals above female, here we have gender equality. The vocals are equally distinctive and convincing. The IEMs are more technical in this frequency range and are more sensitive to recording quality.
Highs have less differences, and probably then even sound very similar apart from the fact that MAD4 are more distinctive in this area due to thicker bass and its less quantity.
Without and compromises, the most flat, technical and detailed model out of three that are here in comparison. It’s more neutral and more natural and realistic. On the one hand it has good technical ability, on the other — good musicality and emotions.
Lows have good depth. They are clearly deeper than in previous model. In terms of slam massiveness it is probably between MAD4 and MAD3H. They are weighty enough and have good roar, combining 3H weight with textures and control of MAD4. The detailed level is good. The IEMs can transmit almost everything that there is in the recording. Timbres are correct, have good shape and transmit character and size and has ability to play light atmospheric moments.
Mids are good as well. They are detailed, natural and realistic. Recording emotions, instrument and voice timbres are well transmitted. They are more natural and realistic than in previous model and the level is clearly higher though not too much.
Highs are almost the same. They are more lengthy, detailed and natural. On the one hand we have good speed and attacks, on the other — enhanced weight and fullness. Highs are more neat and have better decays and reverberations.
The soundstage is better as well, it has more weight and depth and has better layering. Instrument sizes are more distinctive, as well as their positioning.
All 3 models are more than good. Depending on personal taste and source everybody will find something to like. Drive and emotions of MAD3H, condensed musicality of MAD4 or technical but full-of-life reference sound o MAD10 — everything has its positives. The choice is yours.
Translated by: Vadim Kolchev