Rank #6: Advanced AcousticWerkes W900

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Bass
Alas, with the W900 the last of the dynamic bass in this shootout has come to fall. Dynamic-driven bass is something to special to behold, to cherish even. For many listeners it’s the primary reason to prefer dynamic drivers over pure multi-BA setups. Generally speaking, it’s hard to substitute the depth and power a well-implemented dynamic driver can provide. The W900’s bass encapsulates some of those special qualities, providing good low-end extension, and a greater than neutral sub-bass quantity. It’s a rounded, full-bodied bass that carries weight, and provides a delicious impact. It might not be quite bass-head level in quantity, but it’s a thoroughly engaging bass – more of an ‘audiophile that wants to be a bit naughty’ type of bass perhaps.

While the weight of its sub-bass tends to slow it down just a bit, the bass maintains a good speed, and doesn’t necessarily come across as slowing the general pace. Especially the mid-bass performs quite well in this regard. It’s slightly forward, with relatively good definition. And importantly, it remains an airy bass with good control. As a result of its laid-back treble it’s a bit warmer and darker in tone, but it’s a nice bass to hear, and especially feel.

Midrange
The W900’s midrange is full-bodied and transparent. It’s a midrange that complements the bass nicely in weight and size. If I had to sum its qualities in one word, it would be ‘impressive’. Both its instruments as well as vocals have nice body, creating an overall full sound, with good ability to fill the headspace. While normally such a presentation might easily tend to congestion, the W900 makes excellent use of its exceptionally wide stage for its instrument positioning. In addition, the stage positioning is neutral in terms of forwardness, resulting in a nicely spread out presentation. As such, the W900 maintains a generous amount of space between its instruments, constructing a separated and organised stage. In addition, its notes are highly resolved, resulting in a clear and well-defined midrange.

At the same time, it’s a somewhat relaxed and smooth midrange presentation, as a result of a 5 KHz dip. Yet, its instruments sound clear, and detailed. As with iems as the S-EM9, the upper midrange dip is followed by a lower treble peak. The dip makes the sound smoother, but also takes some of the light and beauty from its tone. Instead, its timbre is coloured by the lower treble peak; a tuning that leads me to believe the primary intention of the design was approaching neutral, rather than natural. While instruments don’t necessarily sound bright, they sound clear, rather than warm. But as the rest of the treble region is relatively laid-back, the W900 doesn’t come across as aggressive, but maintains a smooth presentation.


The vocal presentation is only slightly forward, and relatively neutral in overall size. But when vocal power is required, it’s there – a singer giving it their all, doesn’t have to hold back. It’s a vocal presentation resulting from an essential bump between 1-3 KHz, providing body and density to the sound. It creates a solidified, three-dimensional vocal, as if the singer can rely on an impressive lung capacity to produce their song. This sense of power is even further enhanced by the upper midrange dip, which edges the vocal balance towards depth, rather than pronunciation. The top end of the vocal range is flattened off a bit, enhancing that nice throaty feel of the vocals. And as an additional bonus of the 5 KHz dip, their articulation is smooth. But while their tone is lightly warm, it isn’t an overly warm-sounding midrange altogether, and vocals could be a bit warmer to sound completely natural. But taken together, it’s a quality, above average, vocal presentation.

Treble
The W900’s treble presentation is somewhat unique. As a whole, the treble region is slightly attenuated, following a lower treble peak. As a result, the W900’s presentation is smooth, and even somewhat laid-back. Yet, its treble notes sound clear, and well-defined. They have nice size, good pace, and a fairly natural decay. In addition, the W900 boasts an extraordinary top-end extension. Its proper extension benefits its resolution, and contributes to the structuring of its stage. However, its upper treble is not only well-extended, there’s also a minor peak around 12 KHz.

Similar to Katana, the 12 KHz peak tends to bring out finer detail, which normally gets obscured. Even though the treble presentation as a whole isn’t bright, and accordingly upfront, it’s a very detailed treble. But since they’re not thrown in your face in terms of quantity, it remains an easy-going treble presentation. But even though the W900’s treble as a whole can be considered smooth in terms of quantity and brightness, I struggle to get on board with its timbre. The mid treble peak colours its tone, making it sound clear, but slightly bright in terms of timbre. Not harsh by any means, but not necessarily a pleasing treble to listen to, at least to my ears.

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About Author

Nic is currently in pursuit of a PhD degree in social neuropsychology, while trying not to get too distracted by this hobby. In pursuit of theoretical knowledge by day, and audiophile excellence at night. Luckily for him, both activities are not mutually exclusive which helps to lighten the workload. Always on the go, Nic's enthusiasm for hi-fi is focused on all chains of the portable system: iems, cables and daps.

1 Comment

  1. Vel on

    Can’t wait for the top 5 now!

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