Audiosense AQ4 Review: Sensible Choice

  • Meaty lows
  • Non-fatiguing highs
  • Great technicalities
  • Fine build quality

  • None

Audiosense is a company from China that right now, exclusively produces in-ear monitors in universal fit. At the moment they have three main lineups. The AQ series with a hybrid driver setup, with the exception of AQ0 that utilizes a single dynamic driver, the DT series with shells resembling a custom fit in-ear, and the T series with more universal fit shells that is reminiscent of what Shure and Westone uses. The AQ4 is latest addition to the AQ lineup that currently retails for 170 USD, and was provided to me at a discounted price by Audiosense in exchange for this review.

Driver units: 10 mm dynamic + 3 Knowles balanced armature
Impedance: 10 ohms
Sensitivity: 101 dB
Frequency response range: 20 Hz - 22 kHz

Poco X3, Redmi Note 10 Pro paired with Cayin RU6, FiiO KA3, Tempotec Sonata E35 and Zishan U1

Test tracks:
Africano - Earth Wind and Fire
Dark Necessities - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gurenge - Lisa
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
Monsters - All Time Low
Ours - Taylor Swift
Stay - Mayday Parade
Snuff - Slipknot
Yesterday Once More - Carpenters
So Slow - Freestyle
Aurora Sunrise - Franco
Attention - Pentatonix
Blue Bird - Ikimono-gakari
You're Still The One - Shania Twain
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is(Will Understand) - Irma Thomas
Salamin - Slapshock
AOV - Slipknot
Hey Jude - The Beatles
The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson
...and a lot more.

Unboxing and Accessories:
The AQ4 comes in a basic medium sized rectangular box. Opening will reveal the earphones inserted in a dense piece of foam, with the leather zipper case below it. The case containst the cable with a velcro strap, a cleaning tool, AT400/AT100, GT40S, and generic silicone eartips all in small, medium and large sizes. Underneath the case is the instruction manual.
Just like most Audiosense in-ear monitors, the shells of the AQ4 are made of 3D-printed resin. It has a smooth and glossy surface. The faceplates have this texalium design which looks like carbon fiber but silver in color. At the side of the faceplate, there is a small gold colored Audiosense logo. Right below the female MMCX connectors, there is a single vent. The nozzles has a lip but are relatively short compared to previous in-ear monitors from the brand. Underneath the metal mesh filter, it can be noticed that there are three holes, indicating that there are tubes connecting to the dynamic and balanced armature drivers.
The cable is the standard Audiosense 8 core 6N single crystal copper which is very soft, lightweight, and tightly braided. The male MMCX connectors are made of plastic with color coded side indicators. The splitter and chin slider are made of metal, while the 3.5mm L-type gold plated plug is made of hard rubber.
Now let's get to the sound.

The lows are the climax of the AQ4, having really powerful rumbles. Subbass has excellent depth; able to reach those strikingly low frequencies. Decay is above average yet does not overstay. The weight of the midbass is slightly elevated with sufficient slam, but it is positioned a bit laid back compared to the subbass

Overall, bassheads will definitely like the presentation of the lows in the AQ4. As expected, the lows will bleed to the other frequencies every now and then, but since the highlight is on the subbass and midbass is just adequate, the impact is very little.

The mids are just partially recessed but with very good transparency. Upper and lower mids are linear and share the same note weight. Instruments have great articulation and doesn't feel squeezed in due to the authoritative lows. Drum hits feel solid and acoustic guitars are very clear and crisp. 

Overall, despite the very slight recession and dominance of the low frequencies, the AQ4 still manages to present the vocals and different instruments with impressive finesse.

The highs are slightly elevated, but not as much as the lows. The reach in the treble is slightly above average, and noticeably there is a bit more focus in the lower treble. Decay is on the average side. Cymbals have sufficient substance but can rarely sound a little grainy depending on the track.

Overall, I would have preferred if the upper treble had a bit more push where it can match the energy of the lows. Nevertheless, the AQ4 can still reproduce a decent amount of details and subtleties.

Soundstage and Imaging:
The AQ4 has an average size of stage. The height has more expansion than the width. The accuracy in the imaging is slightly above average as well as the layering. Instrument separation is adequate but can sometimes get affected by the lows bleeding into mids. Small amounts of congestion can be noticed especially in busy tracks.

Audiosense AQ4 (1 DD + 3 BA, 170 USD) vs. Audiosense AQ0 (1 DD, 99 USD)
The AQ0 has a bit more quantity in the lows. Depth is just identical but the AQ0 has a slightly longer decay and marginally stronger rumble. However, it can be noticed that the subbass in AQ4 is more forward. Midbass is very, very close in both weight and impact, but the AQ4 has a smoother, rounder reproduction. The mids are also slightly more forward in the AQ4, and are much more natural and lively. Vocals have better articulation and clarity in the AQ4, and instruments sound more spacious and airy. The AQ0 though, has thicker lower mids. With the highs, the AQ4 has better reach and has longer decay. Cymbals and guitars are more lifelike and energetic. Soundstage, both height and width are bigger in the AQ4. Imaging is clearer and more accurate, instruments are more separated and has better layering as well in the AQ4.

Audiosense AQ4 (1 DD + 3 BA, 170 USD) vs. Audiosense DT300 (3 BA, 180 USD)
The AQ4 can definitely reach deeper in the subbass. Although the DT300 has cleaner texture, the AQ4 has more impactful, longer lasting slam. Midbass in the AQ4 is more pronounced and heavier hitting. Upper and lower sections of the mids sound slightly thinner in the DT300, but has better clarity and sense of air. Acoustic guitars and kick drums are reproduced more organically in the DT300. The biggest difference is with the highs. The DT300 was able to present better subtleties, much better reach and shimmer in both the lower and upper treble. Instruments in this section sound more solid in the DT300. There is not much difference in the imaging as well as the expansion in the soundstage, except that the DT300's stage is somewhat taller.

Audiosense has done it again. They seem to really prefer the V-shaped or warm sound signature, as most of their products sound this way. The AQ4 is no exception, but Audiosense still managed to tune it in a way that the soundstage, detail reproduction, and other technicalities are not left behind. It would be nice to see, and hear, Audiosense explore other sound signatures, but the AQ4 is no slouch and one of the best options for its price.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post