Review: One Dot Audio (ODA) Amarantine

Sound Impressions

Summary

The Amarantine embodies a “universalist” and “adaptive” mindset reminiscent of the 2019 Harman Target Response Curve with a few unorthodox tweaks. Firstly, the Amarantine’s bass response is surprisingly deep, travelling close to the sub-50hz bass floor. The Amarantine is the torchbearer for powerful dynamics with excellent texture and detail; qualities unheard of in all-balanced armature arrays. Deep, impactful and certainly not neutral.

The upper midrange offers up some of the most exciting and analytical contrast to the already class-leading bass response. I’d imagine the Amarantine is an IEM after Moondrop’s heart but with faster dynamics and resolving capabilities. Saxophones carry the pre-requisite ringiness and bite that IEMS shy away from to err from the side of sibilance and discomfort. Speed across the frequency aisle, save for the purposefully exaggerated and forward bass-response boosts the Amarantine’s fun-factor twofold.

Bass

As alluded to earlier, the Amarantine has a buttery and luscious bass response with a slower drag (PRAT) and an extended delay for an impactful finish. It’s two steps from being a one-dimensional bass cannon, but what makes the Amarantine truly special is the textural detail contained within its powerful woofer. Bass guitars have a lively atmospheric presentation, followed by the expected contrapuntal reverberations in a live venue.

Sub-bass notes are not boxy, but fully fleshed out and defined, with complex baritone instrumentation in jazz quartets easily separated without difficulty. Interestingly, balanced armatures are not known for extruding air, which results in a clean but hollow bass response with no real definition. There’s meat to its bass bones on the Amarantine. This is a commendable achievement. I’d wager that this is the best bass I’ve ever encountered on an exclusively-balanced armature IEM.

Mids

The Amarantine’s midrange isn’t flat either, but that is not what I index for in IEMs. The Amarantine has a larger-than-life midrange with a distinct tilt in the upper midrange. The lower-midrange floor is elevated enough for a warm timbre; a counterbalance to what can be a hissy or bitter upper-midrange. Thankfully, the latter isn’t the case here.

The upper-midrange presence on the Amarantine is propelled forward. The result is a clarity-driven presentation. There are occasions of light sibilance and glare from poorly mastered recordings, but this is expected of mid-forward signatures with a zealous nature. Detail-retrieval here is uncontested relative to the other review units I have in circulation. Saxophones ring with verve, unbridled clarity. The same “wow” factor applies to vocal performance.

The Amarantine’s midrange is alluring as it is expressive.

Highs

From the previous section, the trend stays consistent. The treble is porous and diffuse, with a natural shimmer. The metallic harshness and brittleness of IEMs that poorly interpret “forwardness” are not present here. Yes, there are moments of discomfort when string sections are overly energetic, or when compositions are frenetic. But these are few and far between.

Apart from that shortcoming, the highs on the Amarantine are fully extended, with life-like realism and timbral accuracy. Odd-harmonics are full-of-life, with strong resonant performance with the occasional bouts of harshness (as described earlier).

Soundstage and imaging

The Amarantine’s lateral-width isn’t so expansive, but rather linear and narrow in scope. This is not necessarily a weak point, but it is nonetheless limiting if listeners are looking for flagship headroom that extends the X-axis. Z-axis performance, however, is well-layered with substantial depth and height between instruments and voicings.

Imaging performance here is solidly proficient, with its emphasis on cleanliness and clarity aiding in the legibility and definition of each instrument/voicing. The heightened transient performance mitigates draggier notes which can blend sonic cues into a swampy mess. Precision is the name of the game.

Onto the next page for the rest of the review…

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Picture of Kevin Goh

Kevin Goh

Raised in Southeast Asia’s largest portable-audio market, Kevin’s interest in high-end audio has grown alongside it as the industry flourishes. His pursuit of “perfect sound” began in the heydays of Jaben in Singapore at the age of just 10 years old. Kevin believes that we live in a golden age of readily accessible, quality audio.

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