Details: Unique-looking metal earphone from iPad accessory manufacturer PADACS
MSRP: $49.95 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $9.95 from padacs.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 98 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 4’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock foamhybrids, generic single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (2.5/5) – Foamhybrid tips (3 sizes), shirt clip, and drawstring carrying pouch
Build Quality (4/5) – The gigantic metal housings are finished in glossy gunmetal paint and feel very sturdy. Paper filters protect the nozzles from earwax. At the other end, a rear vent provides increased airflow to the large dynamic driver and beefy strain reliefs protect the rubbery cable. The cable is of average thickness and terminates in a 3.5mm I-plug. A large unit holding the integrated microphone, 1-button remote, and sliding analogue volume control is positioned at the y-split
Isolation (3/5) – The foam tips provide a good seal and isolate well but the earphones are still vented dynamics and isolate accordingly
Microphonics (3.5/5) – Noise made by the rubberized cable is slightly below average and the included shirt clip helps lower it further. In addition, because the mic is integrated into the y-split, the Aksent can be worn over-the-ear much more easily than headsets with cable-mounted microphones
Comfort (3/5) – Though the housings are quite large, they weigh no more than those of the average metal-shelled earphone. The oversize foam tips are soft and compress quite easily, expanding to provide a stable seal even with shallower fitment. I do wish that the spacing between the tip set sizes were smaller, with maybe a fourth pair included to bridge the gap between the current ‘Medium’ and ‘Large’
Sound (6.6/10) – The Aksent is a decidedly bass-heavy earphone, with the powerful sound signature befitting the enormous housings of the earphones. The bass is about as impactful but slightly more rumble-prone than that of the Fischer Audio Eterna. Low-end extension is very good – again on-par with the Eterna – and the balance of the Aksent very nearly matches its bass quantity to the true bass-monster earphones in the <$50 range – sets such as the TDK EB900, Sony XB40EX, and MEElectronics M31. The bass is full-bodied and has a bit more impact than texture. In a way, the character and quantity of the bass actually work for the Aksent since its foam tips require a bit more fiddling to form an airtight seal than the silicone tips commonly used by most other manufacturers. Even with a poor seal, the Aksent is highly unlikely to elicit any complaints of insufficient bass. With a good seal, on the other hand, the Aksent may elicit complaints of excessive bass from those who prefer a more analytical sound. However, unlike the bass-heavy sets from Sony and TDK, the bass quality of the Aksent doesn’t suffer much in favor of quantity.
Expectedly, the huge bass boost of the Aksent does bleed slightly into the midrange, warming it up and coloring the sound signature. However, the midrange is not nearly as recessed as that of the Eterna, making the Aksent sound more balanced and allowing the volume to be kept lower without sacrificing midrange articulation. Generally, the mids are smooth, rich, and a little thick. Clarity and detail are decent for a bass-heavy earphone but the leaner-sounding midrange and treble of the Eterna are more technically proficient. Still, the Aksent performs very well considering its price and bass-heavy inclinations. The treble transition is extremely smooth and emphasis doesn’t drop off until well into the treble region, providing solid presence across the range.
The presentation, similarly, is well-rounded and competent. The soundstage is average in size but layering is good. The huge bass has a tendency to be omnipresent, but that’s true of most reasonably-priced bassy earphones. The slight thickness of note also detracts slightly from instrumental separation though it is still easily as good as with Meelec’s similarly-priced M31 and M11+ models. On the whole, the Aksent doesn’t so much wow with anything in particular but impresses more with how little of a hit it takes in overall sound quality despite producing a copious amount of bass.
Value (8/10) – The Padacs Aksent in-ear earphones offer a unique blend of style, sound, and functionality at their (very popular) price point. The large gunmetal housings are similarly unique and, while probably not ideal for those with small ears, remain quite comfortable with the provided foamhybrid eartips. The sound signature of the Aksent puts it closest to truly bass-heavy mid-level IEMs without sacrificing a whole lot in the mids and highs. While not at all revolutionary, the sound is sure to appeal to the mainstream consumer and, combined with the generally good build quality and isolation, makes for a solid mid-range headset.
Pros: Well-built and attractive; integrated microphone and analogue volume control; bass-heavy but still competent sound
Cons: Only foam tips included; large spacing between stock tip sizes; very large housings