Oriveti New Primacy ($300): The New Primacy is an aggressively priced earphone, providing a very comprehensive overall package. Though it may not be as resolving as the AG2, it is appreciably more affordable and has far more robust aluminium shells. Moreover, the New Primacy, at least for my ears, features class-leading ergonomics, they fit exceptionally well and isolate just as much as the sealed AG2. Both sport removable cables, MMCX on the Oriveti and 2-pin on the Audio Genetic.
The New Primacy is also a very balanced earphone, but has it’s gently u-shaped as opposed to the more mid-forward AG2. Sub-bass is immediately more extended on the New Primacy with greater emphasis on both deep and mid-bass. It has a more neutral upper-bass/lower-midrange transition that permits more transparent vocals. Though slightly warmed, mids are more neutrally positioned on the New Primacy and its midrange is a little more even-weighted than the brighter AG2. It lacks the same sense of clarity and articulation but is far smoother due to the New Primacy’s more laid-back high-end. That said, the New Primacy still layers incredibly well and its full-bodied midrange retains nice separation.
The AG2 has a noticeably more aggressive lower-treble tuning which also contributes to its more articulate midrange. On the contrary, the New Primacy is neutral to smooth. Still, the Oriveti manages great detail-retrieval, both background and foreground, due to its linear midrange and high-end. It doesn’t extend as well as the AG2, with a slightly distant middle-treble and a general lack of air. However, the New Primacy still has fairly high levels of resolution. Regardless, the AG2 is appreciably more open and resolving. This aids the AG2’s stage dimensions, delivering an appreciably larger presentation than the New Primacy. I also feel the AG2 images better, more notably as a result of its more precise high-end.
Rose BR5 MKII ($300): The BR5 MKII provides much of the same experience offered by high-end IEMs despite carrying a lower-midrange price. Its fit is very solid and isolating, slightly more so than the AG2, though it may also cause discomfort due to its fit depth. Both IEMs have removable cables, MMCX on the BR5 and 2-pin on the AG2. The Rose has a nice silver-plated cable, but it has a tacky texture. That said, I am a fan of Rose’s choice of pre-moulded ear guides over memory wire.
The AG2 is more balanced and natural whereas the BR5 MKII is a little more mid-focussed. The AG2 has slightly greater bass presence, especially deep-bass where the BR5 MKII rolls off a bit sooner. The AG2 sounds a lot more natural as its low-end is more linear, where the BR5 MKII has little sub-bass, relatively neutral mid-bass and a dip in its upper bass. This creates greater bass/midrange separation though it also saps body from midrange elements. Combined with its brighter midrange, the BR5 MKII has greater clarity. It is also more separated as its notes are thinner though instrument timbre and background detailing suffer. The AG2 is more realistic, and its midrange lies in better coordination with the rest of its sound.
It is also the more linear earphone, benefitting both layering and background detail retrieval without sacrificing too much separation. Highs are interesting, the BR5 MKII is incredibly detailed considering its asking price, almost on par with the AG2. However, the Rose is quite lower-treble forward, sounding very aggressive as a result. Though the AG2 has a lower-treble peak, it is more restrained, delivering more realistic instruments. The BR5 MKII has a bit more air up top while the AG2 sounds cleaner. Both are very well extended, the AG2 slightly more so. Resultantly, the AG2 has higher resolution and it is just as nuanced as the BR5 MKII despite being smoother. The BR5 MKII has a larger stage with greater separation. However, the AG2 is far more layered and coherent with superior imaging on account of its more extended, balanced sound.
Fidue A85 ($400):
The A85 easily has the superior construction with a striking aluminium shell that is both durable and ergonomic. Due to its very open nature, the Fidue doesn’t isolate nearly as much so it’s better suited for home listening over commute and travel. Both have removable cables, though I much preferred the ergonomics of the AG2’s cable over the stiff, rubbery unit on the A85.
When perusing the spec sheets, the AG2’s 2 BA setup may not sound as sophisticated as the A85’s proprietary triple hybrid driver internals, but in listening, both are impressive in their own regards. Both have similar tuning, with a mid-centric signature, but the A85 sounds considerably different. The hybrid A85 has significantly better bass extension, delivering greater rumble and impact, despite not being particularly bass-forward. It also has more mid-bass quantity, delivering larger notes. The AG2 is a little faster, but both are similarly well defined. The A85 has a recessed lower-midrange that produces a thinner midrange with fairly laid-back vocal positioning. Despite this, it has a bump in its centre and upper-midrange, granting larger midrange presence.
As a result, the A85 sounds pretty unique, it is incredibly spacious but not nearly as natural or coherent as the AG2. The A85 also lacks a little density and its layers are a little sparse due to its diffuse sound. Highs are also quite unique on the Fidue. Of note, they have a smoother lower-treble which contributes to its laid-back vocals, but also a notable middle treble lift that grants substantially heightened air. The AG2 is more balanced unsurprisingly, it sounds a lot cleaner and also more obviously detailed. The AG2 extends further and produces greater resolution. The A85 has a larger stage with greater separation but it doesn’t image nearly as well as the AG2.
The AG2 represents a very tastefully executed mid-forward earphones in the, now quite modest, $400 price class. In particular, it retains impressive overall balance and pleasing timbre despite its tuning due to a linear low-end. Moreover, the AG2’s excellent extension and resolution deliver great clarity and detail without over-articulation, and the AG2 sounds fairly natural as a result. This is garnished with a well-layered and spacious presentation that provides some dimension to what could easily be quite a congested and intimate sound.
I’m also a big fan of Audio Genetic’s choice of housing. Their plastic construction doesn’t inspire confidence quite like the aluminium clad competition, but what the AG2 loses in premium feel, it gains in ergonomics. They also produce high levels of noise isolation which, in conjunction with their comfortable and stable fit, makes them perfect for travel and activity. Not everyone will love their bright mid-forward signature, but those seeking alluring female vocals and a detailed high-end without sacrificing too much overall balance will find much to love within the AG2’s sound.