The Asura 2.0S carries a tone that lies on the brighter side of neutral with increasing emphasis approaching the higher-frequencies. That said, they are reasonably balanced overall with reserved bass retaining adequate quantity to produce a naturally voiced midrange and a treble response that isn’t overly forward. Mids also carry a brighter tone with heightened female vocal presence though male vocals don’t sound scooped or recessed. Their treble focus, especially middle treble, also grant the Asura 2.0S with impressive air. The Asura 2.0S will no doubt please fans of Grado/Alessandro headphones, they have a similar signature but differ due to form factor.
Of note, Lee designed the Asura 2.0 to be used without covers, which offers the most balanced, transparent sound. Of the included covers, the thin foams that debuted with the Monk+ offer the most agreeable experience for those looking for more warmth. However, as the Asura lacks the midrange presence and clarity of the Monk+, it does sound rather dark and warm when covered. Still, the thin foams are clearly more balanced than regular and donut foams.
The Asura 2.0S has a very clean, tight bass response that values agility over impact. Being an earbud, especially one designed for use without covers, the Asura 2.0S has rather poor sub-bass extension with little audible beneath the mid-bass frequencies. As a result, meaningful rumble isn’t present and deep-bass assumes a thinner character that doesn’t carry much information. That said, the earbuds produce respectable mid-bass body with adequate punch and excellent transience delivering well-defined notes. Upper-bass is also quite neutral in emphasis, producing no spill or warming of the midrange. As a result, the majority of bass notes are just slightly thinner than neutral; snare drums are clean and uncoloured and bass is controlled but bass drums are lifeless and lacking impact.
Though bass details do occasionally become overshadowed by the Asura’s more present treble response, the earbud has some fullness to its low-end when called for and never comes across as muddy, sloppy or bloated even on poorly mastered albums. Bass control is excellent and the Asura’s quick decay produces a detailed image even if its extension isn’t adequate to portray especially realistic timbre and texture. Still, the Asura has very pleasing bass quality paired with serviceable bass quantity and extension. This is a clean, snappy and defined earbud with plenty of articulation at the cost of dynamics, best suiting genres such as metal and vocal over pop and hip-hop.
As a result of the Asura’s reserved low-end, the earbud’s entire midrange carries a thinner body with quite an ethereal tone. Despite this, the earbud doesn’t overemphasize vocals and has an incredibly tasteful brightness that avoids fatigue, stridence and the sense of over-forwardness usually associated with this style of tuning. I would consider mids to be the earbud’s forte both tonally and technically, and this is certainly quite a standout performer within the earbud form factor.
Lower mids are sensational for an earbud, most of which are overly warmed due to a reliance on foam covers for adequate bass response. The Asura is rather quite neutral and transparent with a slightly cool tone. Clarity is emphasised due to their lack of sub-bass which saps that organic fullness from male vocals and instruments such as piano and guitar, but enhances definition and delineation between layers.
Upper mids tell a similar story but sit slightly more forward in the mix. Female vocals are less coloured by the bass, or lack thereof, creating a more natural timbre while retaining the same sense of clarity and resolution. That said, though clear, the Asura doesn’t over-do clarity, lacking any raspiness, and these qualities combine to produce a revealing yet well-layered midrange presentation. The Asura 2.0S therefore impresses with excellent balance, resolution and separation between elements that craft a spacious but focussed stage.
The Asura 2.0S delivers a detailed and crisp treble response with notable emphasis on middle treble. Lower treble is well integrated with the upper-midrange as far as earbuds go, delivering an especially detailed response that is more nuanced than competitors such as the 1More E1008, Cygnus and even the Rose Masya. That said, the Asura 2.0 is also brighter than all of these earbuds, which can cause some fatigue at louder volumes. This feeds into a middle-treble focus that aids air and shimmer but also over-shadows and colours some lower elements. As a result, treble sounds thin and a little tizzy, texturing is compromised and separation fails to match class leaders. Extension is also good but not outstanding like the dual driver Rose, with upper-treble notes sitting more in the background.
That said, treble quality still impresses, the aforementioned tone, especially with regards to lower treble, creates an uncommonly detailed presentation among earbuds. This is because foam covers, no matter the type, always suck out detail presence, even earphones with compensatory treble emphasis tend to sound over-dampened and dull higher up. The Asura is quite the opposite with slightly more aggression to these regions; cymbals and guitars are crisp and defined with pleasing attack, strings are forward if lacking some texture and high-hats, that many earbuds truncate entirely, are well-resolved if somewhat distant. The Asura 2.0S doesn’t fair so well against similarly priced in-ears due to the nature of its design, but among fair competition, this earbud is not only one of most revealing but also one of the most resolving.
Soundstage, Imaging and Resolution –
The Asura 2.0S produces a large stage on account of its form factor and airy treble response that bests the darker, more sealing Shozy earbuds. That said, it still lacks the grand space of the Rose and 1More earbuds that offer superior end to end extension. Imaging is excellent with clear layers and accurate instrument placement on account of the Asura’s quick, resolving sound and mostly balanced. Separation is also excellent due to a thinner note body that emphasizes the space between elements though treble can overshadow the lower frequencies on certain tracks.
Despite the Asura 2.0S’ 150ohm impedance, it’s not overly difficult to achieve high listening volumes, even from a smartphone, due to a higher 110dB sensitivity. That said, driving the earbud to potential is another matter and the changes when amplified can be very noticeable. From my iPod Nano 7G, one of my least powerful sources, the Asura 2.0S sounded subjectively more balanced as it was immediately bassier. However, the earbud also sounded considerably looser and less defined, a clear sign it is being under-dampened. When introducing a portable amplifier such as the Fiio A5, the earbuds quickly tighten up and assume a more neutral, transparent sound. Due to their transparency, they do benefit greatly from a more musical source such the Chord Mojo and Shozy Alien+ over more neutral sources like the X7 II. With the Alien+, the Asura 2.0S achieves greater balance through increased bass and smoother treble without sacrificing resolution and control. They might be missing a little control from a smartphone but they will still offer plenty of volume and a pleasing tone. Therefore, an amplifier is recommended but even a budget amp such as the Fiio A3 will drive the Asura well.
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