A fresh take
There are barely any hybrid earphone in this price range which can do what the AQ3 has done. Keeping things balanced while delivering a detailed and transparent mid range. The treble could have been slightly more exciting.
Matching with sources
Feel inside the ear
The AQ3 used 2 Knowles drivers paired with a 10mm dynamic driver.
Even when the AQ3 has a healthy 10mm driver working behind the scene for the lower end thump, Audiosense has managed to keep the sound signature fairly balanced. Not as balanced or flat as some BA based earphones but it is not bassy. The lower end is very calm and composed with good amount of thump and rumble to it. Mid range can feel slightly forward but I find is nicely balanced with the rest of the spectrum. Treble region is slightly less energetic and forward.
The sound signature is balanced, nearly colorless with natural tonality.
Driver Unit：Knowles Two Balanced Armature and one Dynamic-Hybrid 3Unit Audiophile Earphone
Frequency response: 20Hz-22kHz
Plug Type: L Bending Mornitor
Plugs: 3.5mm connector
Pin Type: Copper MMCX Connections
Cord Length: 50“ /125cm
With a nominal impedance of just 18ohm AQ3 is fairly easy to drive out of mobile phones, not to its fullest potential but it doesn’t sound bad either. The tradeoffs come with some micro details, treble extension and energy. Pairing it with a nicely powered DAP like Shanling M5s opens the AQ3 up. It sounds fuller with bigger stage size and better micro details.
At 102db the AQ3 is not the loudest earphone by a long shot. It doesn’t get really loud with weak sources. If you want to enjoy the AQ3 to its fullest, you better pair it with a nicely powerful source.
The 10mm driver powers the lower region delivering a healthy dose of thump with balance in its mind. With good amount of texture and plenty of details it manages to keep things entertaining. It doesn’t try to go out of the way to deliver bass note that is not there. I will not call it flat in any case but it is balanced when compared to other hybrid setups in this price range, you cannot expect heavy bass from the AQ3. The sub-bass extension is good with nice reach, it is not really rich with rumble and air but doesn’t feel lacking either. Mid bass is slightly more prominent with good slam to it. It moves good amount air giving fullness to the lower end. I cannot call the lower end very healthy with the body but I will not call it lean by any means either. Upper bass too is very well defined with nice control over notes.
The decay speed of the AQ3 is what makes it stand out of the crowd. It is tight and fast. Notes make their presence felt and make way for the next without overlapping. When it comes to quantity it lies in between the Spring1 and TSMR2. The quality of the bass is a notch above the segment. Don’t expect a lot of thump and you are in for a very good time.
As I mentioned earlier the AQ3 has two BA drivers for both mid and treble region. There are dedicated mid and treble drivers with their own bores. Even with this 3 way crossover the transition from upper bass region to lower mid region has barely any dip in energy or details. AQ3 has one of the best crossovers in this price range.
The mid range of the AQ3 is a delight with plenty of details and resolution. The level of micro details is 2nd to none. It doesn’t feel much aggressive or forward but has plenty going for it. Those who are used to V shaped sound signature might find this mid range a bit on the forward side. The notes are accurate and nicely composed. The AQ3 manages to keep everything under control, there isn’t a single offensive element while delivering notes with class leading amount of clarity and transparency.
Vocals have fantastic accuracy. It doesn’t limit the notes delivering nice sharpness with both female and male vocals. Notes have accurate thickness and depth to them. Tonality is a hair on the metallic side. Instruments too exhibit fantastic transparency with plenty of clarity and details. They don’t bite with sharp notes or sibilance but do leave a nice impression. The upper mid range has no peaks to bother. The stage size is nicely rounded and has very natural expansion with plenty of room for instruments with nice air between them. Stage size is up to the class and is as big as the VG4. What makes the AQ3 standout is its Sonicality which is better than VG4 and even the TSMR2.
If you are coming from a hybrid setup with plenty of treble energy you might find the AQ3 slightly dull. It has very good transparency and details but is not as aggressive or forward. The treble region is slightly less forward than the mid range while keeping things clear and nicely defined.
The transition region of upper mid to lower treble is one of the best one can find in hybrid earphones. It doesn’t drop with details or energy while maintaining good amount of details control. Earphones at times get the tuning wrong and things get unnaturally sharp or dull in this region but that is not the case here. The extension feels a hair less extended when compared to more expensive Avara AV3 and similarly priced TSMR2. Until the 10k mark the AQ3 maintains very good transparency and clarity. I find the level of energy a bit decreasing as it goes deeper into the spectrum. It doesn’t lack attack or bite but it doesn’t have plenty of it either.
Layering and separation is very accurate with good amount of space between instruments. The stage size is big while maintain nice density. It doesn’t feel clumsy or congested.