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Soundz Avant Review – Peppy

Sound –

Tonality & Immersive Mode –

The Avant provides good tri-frequency balance and a slight vocal focus. As it is a higher contrast sound, it assumes a W-shaped signature overall with a vibrant character. Turning on immersive mode provides a slight rebalancing of the sound signature towards the lows with a smoother top-end that is subjectively more balanced to my ears. Without, the upper-midrange and treble tend to take a slight precedence but as aforementioned, the difference is subtle with only a few dB between each setting. Alternatively, bassier tracks can overwhelm so turning Immersive mode off can provide better balance in this instance, and having the option is a good solution to maintain genre versatility alongside an engaging tonality. My preference was with immersive mode on, and this is what I will be using for the majority of the sound analysis.

Broadly speaking, the Avant has a large, warm bass and light warm albeit lean midrange that gives it an energetic character. There’s a reasonably large bass shelf albeit one that is well balanced by pinna gain in if anything, greater proportion. Though the bass tuning may suggest a warm or full sound, this isn’t the case due to the large lower-mid nadir and boosted upper-midrange; with the 4kHz region especially introducing the vocal-forward character. It also contributes to a strong sense of clarity and aids overall transparency. As the bass is present and full, the midrange retains a convincing sense of body and coherence, avoiding over-forwardness, intensity and coolness. A small lower-treble hump aids crispness while a modest boost of the upper-treble emphasizes sparkle and micro-detail atop a darker background.

Though the tuning isn’t the most accurate out there, it is well-compensated to deliver a mostly natural voicing and superior separation between frequency bands. This does come at the expense of consistency track to track but the Avant is overall easy to adjust to and timbrally correct the majority of the time. The Avant is also a strong technical performer which isn’t showcased due to its tamer treble presentation relative to some high-end IEMs, but is still very apparent during scrutinous listening.

Eartips

The Avant is very tip-sensitive and comes with some interesting ear tips out of the box. Among these are some firm silicone tips and foam-filled silicone tips. The foam-filled tips were to my preference as they delivered a slightly more spacious top end and a tighter bass with a bit more sub-bass slam as opposed to the regular tips that came across as more mid-bas biased. I did experiment with aftermarket ear tips but found none delivered the same balance as the included ones. If you’re looking for a bit more comfort, Acoustune’s AET07 Eartips provide just that and don’t affect the sound as much as others.

Bass –

Balanced armatures have come a long way in their ability to reproduce bass frequencies and this is apparent when listening to the Avant. It delivers very solid sub-bass extension through the audible range with just a smidgeon of roll-off at the very bottom. Dynamic drivers provide more pressure meaning the sensation of slam at the very bottom. However, the Avant is tighter and faster in return with similar audible quantity and impressively, some pressurization too which is very rare for a BA woofer to produce. The tuning prioritizes the deep-bass region with some mid-bass sustain granting lows a bold, full quality yet without overly rounding bass notes. As the upper bass and lower midrange are attenuated, midrange colouration is only mild and bass upholds strong separation. There’s convincing weight to the low-end, emphasized slam and a fast, concise punch in the mid-bass.

This impression is reinforced by the swift note presentation afforded by the multi-BA design. Attack is focused and decay is very swift. Texturing still feels a little plastic as a result and many will find slower decaying dynamic driver IEMs to deliver a more visceral, realistic sound. Nevertheless, bass showcases sensational definition and detail retrieval despite its size. Though notes are large, they are responsive and exhibit excellent control. Separation was never an issue even on complex tracks due to the pacey presentation. Combined with the punchy tuning, bass is one of the most rewarding and satisfying aspects of this monitor. The Avant excels at delivering powerful and well-weighted lows without upsetting balance or muddying the image. The adjustable bass boost is the icing on top, allowing users to dial things back one notch should it become excessive on sub-bass heavy recordings.

Mids –

There’s not too much that differentiates the Avant from your standard Harman-target in-ear besides sustained emphasis into the 4kHz region that gives the Avant a boost in clarity and openness. Usually, I am quite averse to this style of tuning yet in this context, it works quite well. In particular, the beefed-up low-end balances out the vocal forwardness with aplomb. With immersive mode off, the tone is a touch cool and note body is relatively neutral, emphasizing separation and each layer in vocal harmonization. However, this setting can sound intense at times so turning on immersive mode also comes with an increase in midrange listenability. Balance is also slightly improved and note body and warmth both increase one step meaning the Avant still sounds relatively revealing even with immersive mode on. The Avant doesn’t come across as exceedingly coloured overall but is evidently vibrant and vocal-biased.

Turning on immersive mode makes the Avant sound more forgiving whilst upholding the same clear and energetic nature. As the emphasis is gradual, male and female vocals are brought forward in equal proportion though female vocals do sound a little more flattered by this tuning. Even with immersive mode on, male vocals can occasionally sound overly thin though vocal size is kept in check, thereby maintaining a natural voicing overall. Articulation is balanced avoiding breathiness and excessive sharpness. Besides caveats with thin male vocals and songs already mastered with forward female vocals that can sound a touch shouty at times, the Avant is a broadly well-tuned and enjoyable monitor. The benefit to this tuning is the separation as vocals, bass instruments and midrange instruments are all clearly defined. This is aided by good resolving power yielding a strong layering performance.

Highs –

To top it off, the high-end is well-metered and tuned in a very ear-pleasing manner. Treble presence is well balanced with the remainder of the sound, perhaps lying just a smidgeon behind the upper midrange. It isn’t perfectly accurate in timbre but avoids excessive brightness, splashiness and sharpness. In particular, the Avant excels at delivering plenty of bite and a focused foreground detail presentation whilst dialling back the mid-treble to portray a clean, dark background. Accordingly, treble instruments can sound slightly thinner than neutral, focusing more on the leading edge than the subsequent note body. Notes also decay a little quicker due to the mid-treble nadir which gives highs a grounded and focused presentation over an airy and esoteric one. As the upper treble picks up above, impressive atmosphere and headroom are maintained, and micro-details are abundant.

Compared to other high-end IEMs, the transient response isn’t quite as sharp and you can miss a little mid-treble detail. The Soft Ears RS10 for instance, offers similar focus and crispness but also superior separation of fine detail. The Avant portrays an impressive level of fine detail to almost the same degree but lacks the same instrument separation which slightly lowers resolving power. That said, the presentation is broadly focused and resolves at a high level as you would expect given the asking price. They also demonstrate commendable extension which permits enjoyable sparkle and an involving soundstage presentation if still not the most overt sense of openness and energy in these regions. The Avant beautifully balances foreground bite with high resolving power and strong extension without introducing fatiguing levels of brightness in the mid-treble especially.

Soundstage –

The Avant offers impressive soundstage dimensions and is a spacious sounding in-ear in general. This is especially true concerning width that extends easily and frequently beyond the head.  Depth tends to be more intimate on account of the forward vocal range but can display a good sense of projection when called for by the track. Imaging performance is also quite involving with especially impressive delineation between layers and the ability to organize into multiple layers. This keeps the stage very organized. However, some high-end IEMs do portray a sharper sense of direction and distance than the Avant which can suffer in this regard due to its more coloured tuning. Otherwise, separation performs at a good level if shy of dead neutral in ears. Its larger bass tends to fill in the lower registers despite the speed. However, the midrange and treble perform at high levels with ether surrounding each element that helps to isolate and discern small details. There is especially good separation between the three core frequency bands too with bass, vocals and highs being easy to isolate.  

Driveability –

The Avant offers a 16.2 Ohm impedance and a 105dB sensitivity. This makes it an efficient IEM despite the large driver count. I never struggled with volume output even from portable sources.

Output Impedance Sensitivity

The Avant has a relatively flat impedance curve but is affected by output impedance to some degree. Subjectively, I hear a small bump in treble presence and a more recessed upper-midrange which brings vocals a few steps back. Bass has some roll-off which overall gives the impression of a more compressed sound. It isn’t a huge difference but I would still recommend a low impedance source under 2 ohms to get the best tonality out of the Avant.  

Driving Power

The Avant is efficient and reaches high listening volumes from lower-powered portable sources. Due to the adoption of an efficient multi-BA design, I didn’t notice much difference in bass power and dynamic performance compared to the DITA Navigator to my desktop stack. The Desktop stack offered a bit more detail and soundstage comparison alongside slightly better sub-bass weight but extension and overall tonality were very similar.

Suggested Pair Ups

The Avant benefits from a bit more midrange body and smoothness and, with immersive mode off, can also tolerate a warmer source due to its bass speed and great bass/midrange separation. This means ironically, warmer sources tend to suit it better. If pairing with a neutral or revealing source, turning on immersive mode usually does the track. You also benefit from better treble presence going this route but the upper-midrange can stand out still. Output impedance is best kept under 2 ohms but the IEMs are otherwise not too bothered by hiss or lower driving power.

Next Page: Comparisons & Verdict

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Picture of Ryan Soo

Ryan Soo

Avid writer, passionate photographer and sleep-deprived medical student, Ryan has an ongoing desire to bring quality products to the regular reader.

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