Though undoubtedly a controversial sentiment, the earbud form factor has always been a kind of work-in-progress, as manufacturers struggle to balance a poor seal with adequate bass response and the physical dampening of foam covers with clarity and treble extension. It’s not a new market, but one that has been recently invigorated with huge customer interest and newcomers popping up at a lightning pace. Yet somehow, few are able to harness the strengths of the form factor whilst simultaneously balancing its complications.
If anyone were to nail the execution, my eyes would be on Venture Audio, masterminded by the aptly named Wild Lee. Renowned manufacturer of the Monk+ and Zen, Lee has been maximising the form factor on a consistent basis. And yet, Venture’s midrange model Asura doesn’t have nearly the acclaim of its more accessible and more premium brethren. As a result, Lee has updated this model to bring a more alluring sound at the same comfortable $78 USD asking price. With a new silver plated cable and the same updated internals of the regular 2.0 variant, let’s see whether the 2.0S can finally put the Asura on the map.
I would like to thank Lee very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Asura 2.0S for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earbuds free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
The Asura 2.0S has a simple unboxing with a comprehensive accessory set. Inside the box, buyers will find a nice zippered hard case that is well sized and protective in addition to the earbuds themselves. Lee includes a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter with balanced models, enabling them to be used from unbalanced sources.
In addition, the Asura comes with a fit kit with a variety of foam and silicone covers offering differing styles of fit and differing levels of seal. This includes 2 pairs of regular foam covers, 2 pairs of donut foams, 4 pairs of Monk+ style thin foams, 2 silicone rings and 4 silicone covers with Bose-style fins that lock into the ear. Through this, Lee ensures a stable and comfortable fit though to my ear, the earbuds sounded best with no covers at all.
Like the majority of earbuds, Venture assume the typical Sennheiser MX500 style shell that embodies simple yet effective. The Asura’s plastic construction doesn’t imbue it with the same premium quality as 1More’s sculpted aluminium designs, but tasteful smoked housings add some level of visual intrigue. The earbuds also have a satin texture that doesn’t get as oily as gloss or scuff like matte earbuds.
Ergonomically, the Asura will feel immediately familiar to any earbud user. They don’t form much of a seal, if at all, simply resting loosely in the outer ear. As a result, they are very comfortable, almost disappearing in wear. They also don’t produce that sense of pressure than sealing in-ears tend to. This does come at the cost of isolation, which they lack almost entirely.
Still, the earbud is undoubtedly, the perfect quiet environment listening device; comfortable for hours on end, slim enough for sleeping and non-sealing to enable the listener to remain aware of their surroundings. And, with a grand soundstage presentation, some would even go so far as to dub them the in-ear equivalent of open-back headphones.
For those that do experience issues with fit stability, the included covers can do a lot to improve their stability though all affect the sound in some way or form. The MX500 shell is also slightly larger than the Yuin-style earbuds out there, but when in the outer ear, that size can work to their advantage, offering more purchase on the ear.
Venture are proud of their acoustically transparent yet affordable cables and this extends to the new Asura 2.0S which features high-purity silver plated wire. Honestly, in use, the cable itself is subpar with a stiff, springy feel that makes it impossible to coil for storage. The cable’s incredibly tacky texture doesn’t help when competing against the supple braided units found on other similarly priced earbuds. That said, the cable is built well with excellent strain relief on the plug and a nice, low-profile y-split with chin slider, Lee also promises that the improved conductors offer improved bass depth and resolution.
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