‘Advanced AcousticWerkes (AAW) W500 AHMorph’ Review: The Tell-Tale Heart

12

Singapore-based AAW launches an impressive freshman Hybrid IEM

Mon Sep. 28, 2015

By jelt2359

[divider]

Sound

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.

Advanced AcousticWerkes AAW W500 AHMorph

Bass

The bass is bone-chilling. Could it be the heartbeat of that old man who’s freshly murdered? No, deep down you know the truth. This is not someone else’s heartbeat; this is your own terrified heart beating as furiously as a guilty man sweats under a blinding spotlight. With the W500 in your ears, the bass reaches deep into your chest, wantonly squeezing and bending your heartbeat to its will. Prepare to be possessed by this devilish bass…

Let’s get technical. The bass decays in a freakishly natural way, and hits with such authority that you’re probably still reeling from the bass note from two songs ago. The sub-bass is also incomparably good, possessing oodles of darkness and depth alike. Bass timbre, speed, tightness and detail are all very good as well, though they don’t quite reach the splendid heights of the other bass traits.

Bass Score: 9.2 (Elite)

 

Midrange

Look, I get it. Sometimes it’s really fun to go for a ‘boom or bust’ type of midrange. It could equally soar like an eagle (thanks, R Kelly) or crawl like an earthworm (argh, that’s the best I can do); but what keeps you coming back is that when it’s good, it’s really good. That limitless potential somehow always cajoles you to look past all the maddeningly inconsistent flaws.

The W500’s midrange is the exact opposite. Like a blue-chip stock, you always know what you’re gonna get. This is not a box of chocolates- sorry, Forrest Gump. The mids are beautifully even, always and forever. They are passionately energetic, with leading clarity and naturalness of tone. All is not perfect, however. All that steadiness keeps them a bit too grounded, and I felt that they could do with a bit more air. As well, detail could be improved. One interesting thing to note- the AHMorph boasts a tuneable system to direct more or less power to the Dynamic or BA drivers. Turns out, the more juice you give to the dynamic drivers, the more the mids (not just the bass) come alive- weighty, rich, lush. Yes, these mids have both a dash of both Dynamic and BA in them! Yummy…

Midrange Score: 8.7 (Very Good)

 

Treble

The best airport runways of the world and a top-notch treble tuning share one critical trait. They’re both flat. The treble on the W500 is impossibly so, concocting a dizzying plateau of smoothness and sparkle. It also sounds very natural, with a tone and decay that’s makes high-hat notes sound very lifelike, for example. On the other hand, its extension and clarity is only ‘good’, which in this shootout actually ranks it as rather middle of the road compared to the others. The speed of this treble is also unfortunately slow. All and all this was a bit of a shame- I’ve seldom heard a flatter treble, which is extremely important in getting treble done right. If only everything else did just as well.

Treble Score: 8.3 (Very Good)

 

Spatial

The W500 is not a size monster- its soundstage, while reasonably large, was not among the biggesin this shootout. Its width was top-notch, but depth and height both fell a bit short. But the quality of that soundstage, mamma mia. It is beautifully consistent, with sound that naturally diffuses out in every direction- among the best I’ve ever heard in this regard. It also boasts great air, with subtle sonic cues capably filling the stage all around. The imaging is another real standout trait, coming in second only to that secret alien Adel technology that 1964Ears stole from Area 51. Be it layering of depth; imaging across the left-right plane or forming a coherent center image, the W500 handles all of your imaging needs with equal aplomb.

Spatial Score: 9.6 (Elite)

 

General Qualities

Doing well across the board, the W500 comes across yet again as a good, steady performer. It scores in the top quartile in everything, but doesn’t actually win the race in any one trait. For example, it has great balance across the frequency spectrum, but there are probably just the one or two IEMs I’d pick over it if this was my primary concern. Similarly for note articulation; the ability to have the note resonate with strong musicality after the initial harmonics; and the thickness of the notes. All in the top echelon, but not the leader of the pack.

Perhaps because of the strong dynamic driver influence, however, one thing that the W500 didn’t do quite as well in was in PRaT. Let me qualify that, since PRaT has multiple facets (Pace, Rhythm and Timing). The W500 boasts a fantastic, toe-tapping sense of rhythm. This is not merely a rhythm or timing that endeavours to be accurate to the Nth-degree of millisecond-count, either. It has its own soul, and imbues the music with some great fun- think jazz, not classical. Where it comes to speed, however… Let’s just say I’ve heard faster.

That being said, the W500 is a hybrid IEM, and you can hear the different presentations between the dynamic and hybrid drivers. I personally think it ends up helping rather than hurting; adding to the W500’s ability to separate the musical notes from one another more clearly and succinctly. I could see why some people may think this lacks in coherence, though. Caveat emptor!

General Qualities Score: 8.7 (Very Good)

 

Page 3: Comparisons, Summary, and Overall Score

1 2 3
Share.

About Author

When jelt2359's Shure earphones stopped working ten years ago he was forced, kicking and screaming, to replace them. He ended up with more than 20 new IEMs. Oops! jelt2359 flies to a different city almost every week for work, and is always looking for the perfect audio setup to bring along.

12 Comments

  1. Thank you for these amazing reviews! Just a couple questions…

    I am looking for a CIEM suited best for Rock Music such as Metallica. I like to feel the energy, presence and urgency of the music. I also identify with the clarity of the notes, and want something that is huge sounding where I feel the sound is surrounding/encapsulating my entire brain. Naturally a lot of this is subjective, and I read all of the reviews and being very new to this process I am finding myself unable to determine which features are required for this genre vs which I can allow to be less standout. For reference I had Shure SE530 which I found to be pretty good which decent bass and definition. I find the SE535 to be less “present” and “in my face” tone wise. They also fatigue my ears after listening for awhile.

    Appreciate your help and guidance.

    • I also listen to Blues, Classic Rock and Acoustic Guitar Instrumental. So strong performance within these would be great also.

      I don’t listen to Classical, Jazz, Vocals, R&B, Rap, Country, electronic.

  2. Loved the review, what a joy to read (and look at – what pretty photos!)

    A quick check – I’m assuming the W500 AHMorph review was done with the power distribution knob at neutral position? I am deliberating if i should get the W500 non-AHMorph version. Is the adjustable variant worth the premium?

  3. Thanks Jelt! Been waiting patiently for the review. Now I’m dead set on getting one of these based on your earlier suggestion. Do I order from Null Audio?

Leave A Reply