A3000 Sound Breakdown
Testing Methodology: Measured using Arta via IEC 711 coupler to Startech external sound card. 7-9KHz peaks may be artefacts/emphasised due to my measurement setup, less so with deep fit. Measurements besides channel balance are volume matched at 1KHz. Fit depth normalised to my best abilities to reduce coupler resonance. Still, due to these factors, my measurements may not accurately reflect the earphone or measurements taken by others. I gave the A3000 and A4000 100hrs burn-in to ensure maximum performance prior to subjective breakdown.
Coming from the E-series, the A-series definitely pursue a style of sound more reminiscent of the A8000 with a brighter, tonally cleaner expression now made more “accessible” with a mild bump in the bass. The A3000 represents this well as what I would characterise as a slightly bright, slightly W-shaped earphone offering a mild mid-bass bump balancing out a steady climb through the midrange and plateau in the treble until a small 8kHz peak (note: emphasized on my measurements due to coupler resonance). It’s an atypical tuning with no dip in the top-end to redeems smoothness or density and a slightly sucked out lower-midrange that increases separation and definition. This approach delivers an open, tonally clean and well-separated sound that hasn’t been pushed too forward or bright so as to sacrifice overall balance and listenability.
The A3000 has moderate sub-bass extension and minimal pressure as is typical from micro-driver earphones – though the E-series represents an exception in this regard. The mid-bass has medium emphasis just above and is the source of the A3000’s fullness. Bass then falls off progressively into a recessed lower midrange. The timbre is slightly tubby due to the mid-bass hump and notes are pleasantly full, though not overly warm or rounded. Overall, a fast and punchy sound that upholds good timbral accuracy.
Control operates on a good level but can get a bit sloppy on complex tracks relative to high-end DD options. Still, though emphasis isn’t huge, bass certainly occupies good presence in the sound and, despite this, is quick in both attack and decay, especially for the price. This helps to redeem separation and contributes to strong mid-bass definition. The sub-bass is lacking some slam and dynamics are affected as a result. Altogether, this is a punchy, articulate and well-detailed performer with a relatively clean bass-boosted signature.
Following a dip in the lower-midrange, the A3000 implements a small centre-midrange hump to bring vocals forward followed by an incremental climb through the upper midrange and lower treble. In turn, this isn’t a smooth, full or especially coherent sounding earphone. Instead, it prioritises clarity, extension and separation. Being well-separated from the bass, the tone is dead neutral. Similarly, though resolution is not outstanding, definition and clarity operate on a high level throughout the midrange. There is evident bias towards vocals over instruments and some bias towards female over male vocals. Body is on the thin side, though sufficient to avoid a metallic timbre or hollowness.
The voicing is impressively natural too though quite articulate so vocals on poorly mastered tracks can lie on the cusp of sibilance. However, they aren’t peaky or strained as vocal size remains very respectable and body is ample. This is a deliberately coloured style of sound so don’t expect a perfect timbre. What elevates the A4000 above many brighter earphones around this price and above, is that there isn’t a huge bias towards the upper-mids, so I’d characterise it more as an articulate and delicate over forward and upfront presentation, achieving relative parity with the bass. In turn, you reap the benefits of huge clarity without huge intensity, a good combo.
The A3000 has a smart treble tuning that provides the listener with that “high-end IEM” sound at an accessible price. Some may call it cheating as this earphone is tuned to grant the impression of an extended and detailed sound, even if the fine nuances and upper-treble sparkle are mostly absent. I do think the execution matters most and that it is tastefully done here. Of note, the midrange does generally steals the show on this earphone, though treble does have a little more presence than it when called for by the track. This is so as emphasis hasn’t been placed in the lower-treble, much like the upper-midrange and accordingly, the A3000 achieves its qualities without excessive forwardness or sharpness.
Instead, the lower-treble showcases good linearity and emphasis about on par with the upper-midrange. Instruments are imbued with a pleasing euphonic tone and just slightly thin body in turn. A quick transient response delivers a crisp, detail dense foreground with very strong in-class fine detail retrieval. What defines this earphone more, however, is the middle-treble peak around 8kHz. This instigates its open, airy sound and establishes heaps of headroom. To reiterate, extension and resolution are not enormous but the tuning does help to extract maximum fine and background detail from its sound. It isn’t the cleanest, most contrasted presentation as a result, and layers aren’t especially defined. Though the A3000 is very nicely detailed for the price and does so without excessive glare or sharpness.
I feel that high separation is often misconstrued for a spacious soundstage and this appears to be the case here. The A3000 doesn’t have a huge soundstage if judging with price as no object, but still has good amounts of space and makes very good use of what it has. Width and depth both outperform its asking price, stretching nicely beyond the head. The stage is also well-rounded, and imaging is quite sharp too on behalf of its clear directional cues and agility. It isn’t especially multi-dimensional nor organised and layered. But it is easy to localise most lateral elements unless the track is especially busy. Separation is the A3000’s forte, being a very strong performer. This makes the smaller details easier to perceive and works in tandem with its airy tuning to grant a strong sense of openness.