Hidition NT6-pro ($1200)
The NT6-pro seems to fall in a category of its own, due to its brighter treble. Even so, I’d classify it more as a W-shape due to its essential midrange bump. The W900 might also be qualified as such due to its powerful low-end and midrange bump, topped off by its lower and upper treble peaks. But still, the W900 comes closer to neutral, with a more linear and serious-sounding tuning.
As might be expected, the W900’s stage is a good deal wider, as well as slightly taller. Their isn’t much difference in depth, although the W900’s expanded stage seems to make it feel less deep. The NT6-pro constructs a more classic stage by comparison, relying on both its width and depth for separation, while the W900 tends to fall back on its width. In both cases their imaging is precise, and their stage appearance is organised. While the W900 has a minor advantage in separation due to its dimensions, the overall differences are not that great – the NT6-pro performs excellently as is.
In a classic ‘dynamic vs. BA’ bass-off, each display their relative strengths. The W900 has slightly greater low-end extension, but mostly greater sub-bass quantity. The bass is overall greater in body, and can be considered more engaging due to its weight and impact. The NT6-pro’s bass on the other hand is quicker, with slightly greater definition. It’s a tighter, drier bass, with a nice little kick.
Both iems have a bump in their midrange, creating a solidified vocal with a nice touch of density and power. The W900’s midrange however has more body, impressing with its overall size. In addition, its vocals sound a bit deeper. Even so, the NT6-pro’s vocals are slightly warmer in tone, although its instruments in turn are both brighter and leaner. The W900’s instruments are more neutral by comparison.
Both their treble is technically competent, and articulate. However, the NT6-pro’s treble is significantly brighter and more upfront. Accordingly, its treble has more sparkle, while the W900’s treble sounds more laidback and smoother by comparison. In addition, the W900’s treble has a more natural decay, while that of the NT6-pro dissolves rather quick. Finally, its extension is far greater, although the NT6-pro’s isn’t bad by any means.
Campfire Audio Vega ($1299)
Campfire’s Vega is a full-sounding monitor, fuelled by its enhanced low end. As a result of its powerful bass, it provides an engaging presentation with thick instrument notes. While the W900 shares a dynamic driver for its low end, the difference with Vega is vast; resulting primarily from its stage and transparency.
The W900 creates a significantly wider and airier stage, giving instruments more room to breathe. In addition, its midrange has greater transparency, although both are fairly neutral in tone. While their difference in resolution is not that great, the W900’s image is overall better-defined. The separation is cleaner, and instruments have a greater sense of immediacy within the presentation.
Vega in turn provides greater sub-bass quantity. In addition, its sub-bass hits are more clearly defined. It’s a rounder, more impressive bass in terms of impact, although the extra weight slows it down by comparison. In addition, Vega has a bit more mid- and upper-bass presence. While this takes some air from the stage, it generally creates thicker instruments. Accordingly, Vega’s bass is more prominent within the signature, though coming at the cost of speed and air.
Vega’s midrange is equally full-bodied, and relatively neutral in tone. Yet, there’s a different type of fullness in their sound. Vega’s thicker notes result from its enhanced bass, while the W900’s midrange body result from its forward midrange frequencies. In addition, its lifted lower treble provides more clarity to the midrange. Vega’s enhanced bass in turn provides a warmer tone, though affecting its transparency, the cleanliness of its notes.
Similarly, the W900’s treble notes are clearer, and slightly brighter in tone. It’s a cleaner, more upfront and detailed, treble presentation. Vega’s treble notes are closer to neutral in tone and quantity, although there can be traces of sharpness in rare occasions. However, in terms of timbre Vega has the edge. The W900’s treble in turn is slightly quicker. Finally, while Vega’s treble is well-extended in its own right, it’s hard to compete with that of the W900.
The W900 makes for an impressive listen, capitalising on its hybrid design, and extraordinary top-end extension. An engaging bass matches a full-bodied midrange, and is topped off with one of the widest stages till date. And importantly, its technical performance is up there with the best. A full package, with a lot to offer. Evidently, the W900 is a high-performing monitor with an all-round impressive performance. But at this stage the question isn’t just what it does right, as much as what it could have done better.
There is a certain relaxation in the presentation of its midrange notes, especially coming from monitors as the Dream and Samba; it isn’t a staccato, articulated type of sound. Rather, it relies on the instruments’ body and resolution to create a clear and detailed sound. The 5 KHz dip is instrumental in creating its smooth an even somewhat darkish sound, but it’s followed by a compensatory lower treble peak for clarity, as well as an additional mid-treble peak. It’s a tuning that colours the timbre of the treble, as well as its general tone. I might have preferred to see the treble attenuated instead of the upper mid region in order to benefit its timbre, and create a more natural sound. But my guess is AAW was aiming for a neutral signature, and more clarity in its midrange.
That being said, the W900 comes equipped with special placeholders for treble filters. Maybe AAW recognised the possibility of this critique beforehand, or just wanted to be able to provide the possibility of variation in its sound. I personally switch the cables to create a warmer tone, and more accurate timbre. In that case, the W900 is an all-round monitor that isn’t anything less than any iem out there. Even though there is some critique to be found on its tonal balance, the W900 first and foremost has an impressive presentation. And by now, the lesson should already be clear that there is no perfect monitor from an objective perspective, although there can be a perfect match. And with its wide stage, impressive midrange and fun bass, the W900 has a unique combination of selling points that will cater to the hearts of many.
Advanced AcousticWerkes W900
+Fantastically wide stage