1964Ears debuts Adel technology in a new twelve-driver flagship
Mon Aug. 24, 2015
Disclaimer: My scores are awarded after extensive comparisons with different IEMs. The scores below reflect the results of this exercise, and do not indicate my personal preference for one IEM over another. Depending on your sonic tastes, category scores may also be more relevant than the overall score. For example, a basshead should look primarily to the “Bass” sub-section; a soundstage nut should look at “Spatial”, and so on. Finally, the overall scores are an average of all the sub-section scores combined. Read more about how I did these comparisons, and about my overall scoring methodology.
It takes a master swordsmith several weeks to forge a samurai’s katana. Layers after layers of steel are heated, hammered, and folded upon themselves, as the blade strengthens and purifies with each succeeding repetition. Before the end, a million individual layers would have been created, and only then will the katana find its lasting form as a seamless, complete, whole. This is the bass on the A12- there are a million layers of bass in the thing. Forswear it, sound! For I ne’er heard true bass till this night. If it isn’t clear yet, the detail on this bass is remarkable, although the detail comes in the form of neverending layers; rather than being born of raw fibrous emotion. Subbass is also the best I’ve heard from a BA bass driver, driving deep and slammin’ as hard as a dinosaur’s egg. Sadly in other aspects it doesn’t do that well- speed is just above average, decay is about par for the course for a good BA IEM but nothing special… In fact, this story also repeats itself for bass authority, tightness and timbre. It’s as if someone took a legendary katana, and then sharpened it only casually; and didn’t have time to polish it too thoroughly. So much potential…
Bass Score: 8.4 (Very Good)
The timbre on this midrange is breathtaking: my instruments and vocals sound more lifelike, more natural and just all-around more pleasing on the A12 than any other IEM I own. *Rubs my hands in glee*. This satisfying timbre is also served on a steady platter of evenness, which allows you to relax after dinner and enjoy every beautiful tone like a soothing massage. The airiness is also sublime, and unlike a lesser ground-bound IEM, this midrange seemingly glides itself effortlessly into your ears. But the A12 is not just an artist; it’s a technician, too. It achieves very good levels of detail that are played back, like His Master’s Voice, with unfaltering clarity. One thing though- these mids are smooveeeeee operators. They’re refined and measured rather than wild and passionate; and may not appeal to the hardcore midnatics out there.
Midrange Score: 9.0 (Elite)
The best pole vaulters in the world combine speed, strength, and a clean stroke to propel themselves skyward and beyond. Okay, so the A12 is more like an elite NCAA pole vaulter, but she’s got some of these traits all the same. This IEM combines top class speed, crystal clarity and limitless extension in its treble. The A12 also passes the eye test, always seeming to hit every height with a beautiful, natural tone. She is an athlete with great potential, and she knows it. The only thing keeping her from breaking world records is a lack of sparkle in her approach; and movement that could be smoother. But everyone has something to improve in their technique, right?
Treble Score: 8.5 (Very Good)
The imaging on the A12 is real as Aliens. Let’s face it: Aliens are awesome. If you meet them you’ll be awestruck; and when describing what had happened you’d probably sound like a monkey on steroids. Err… erm… ooh… ahh… It’s similarly gonna be difficult to explain how the Adel’s imaging could sound so real. Nonetheless when in doubt, mom always said that the simplest explanation was best. So here we go. After careful consideration and deliberation, I’ve decided that the most likely explanation is that this Adel tech comes from outer space. Specifically, my money’s on Pluto. After all, there was that Nasa flyby recently…
Put all that freaky realism in a cup, and add two spoonfuls of the deepest soundstage I’ve ever heard- one that retains great air across the stage. Mix thoroughly, and serve. What you now possess is the precious recipe for Aladdin’s magic carpet ride, one that can take you all the way to Pluto, no less. The other aspects of soundstaging- width, height, naturalness of diffusion- are all rather good as well, although I’d hesitate to say “oh Genie my Genie”.
Spatial Score: 9.6 (Elite)
I hope you like some meat on the bone, cos’ the A12 is full-bodied and proud of it. The music it plays is forever thick but never muddy. In fact, it was the thickest sounding IEM in this shootout. Fortunately, it has beautiful articulation of notes. As if a part-time newscaster, the A12 relays every word distinctly, clearly and precisely. The combination of a thick, lifelike presentation with fantastic diction is really quite a sound to behold. But other general qualities drag her down. The PRaT is merely above average- although treble speed is outstanding, bass speed is not quite as good, hence dragging down her overall ability to keep pace. The overall balance in the tuning and frequency response of the A12 is also just above average. Finally, musical resonance is not the best, probably because all that girth keeps the IEM from dispersing subtle cues gently into the outskirts of your brain.
General Qualities Score: 8.0 (Very Good)