On my quest for world CIEM ownership my research took me too a Ukrainian brand, a little more unknown on a worldwide scale but very successful in their native country and Russia. Ambient Acoustics its the outfit and I have their 6 balanced armature model, the AM6 HiRez. I had actually asked for their 10 driver flagship, AM10 (they now absurdly do a 14 driver), but they said I was getting their AM3 Reference but here I am now with the €676 AM6 and thats absolutely fine with me and I guess that is the model they wanted to showcase to me and I said it was going up against the best.
When I first come across Ambient they were a solely CIEM company but since then they have introduced a range of universals spanning from 1-6 drivers and they also do custom tips/reshells. What I find cool about their range of CIEMs though is how each model as lots of detailed information. You have a blow up of whats its inside the monitor, a frequency response graph (which we will compare to my measurements later) and then a bar chart outlining how well it does for individual genres and types of musicians. Even though the AM2 VocalEdition ($420) is much less than say the AM4 Hybrid ($590) they really will recommend it for some people over even the $1100 AM10, if it suits them right. I like this detailed information more than simply a boastful written description and it gives purpose to each and every model in the range.
So it is said that this is the high res model and in that vain they say it is best for instrument performers rather than vocals and Rock, Pop and Classic over say Jazz or Electronic music. It has a twin driver for bass, a single driver for mids, another independent armature for treble and then another twin unit for the so called ultra highs. This four driver units are split into 3 bores. Strangely the mids and bass share a bore and dampener and the super highs have their own damper less bore. The AM6 comes with most of the Key Technologies of Ambient Acoustics but the one that interested me the most was their phase and impedance correction, that seemed to read similar to JH Audio’s FreqPhase. Talking of impedance this is 18 ohms with a 100dB sensitivity, both at 500Hz.
A Few Differences
While with the likes of universal monitors we have so many factors to talk about other than simply sound, CIEMs differs much less, they are all custom fit to my ear and look similar shapes, most use acrylic and even accessory sets are pretty much the same. I mean this comes with a dehumidifier, wax removal tool, pelican case (this is new as I got a little clamshell case like with my Starkey Tunz and Cosmic Ears) and a velvet pouch. That is very standard for a product of this caliber.
The same goes for the feel, which is very standard of an acrylic monitor although I am very happy with their great fit. One of the biggest differentiators for this company is the design. Yes I know most companies now offer a HUGE range of faceplate and shell options but these do a niche thing where the right angled connector of the cable is also customised inline with the monitors. Its not much but that is about all you will get these days with minuscule differences between models. I mean what else can you really ask for. That being said the design of mine is really cool. There are like 3D flakes of blue in the shell and they put some Game of Thrones inspired artwork on the shells that is nothing out of the norm. Not like the finish of the shell, which I haven’t really seen much similar it other than what Noble and Heir do with gold flakes for a similar effect.
The actual cable while cool with its custom coloured connector and Y-split and even a logo bearing wooden jack with my name on it, sucks as a cable. It is not one of the OEM variations that I am used to the gauge of the wire is tiny and the tight braid has hard, almost sharp edges that are not nice to touch. It also tangles and being so thin almost knots, causing most listening sessions to start with a you trying to rethread the cable. Meh. They wanted me to add some more about the cable. “We use silver/copper (20/80 %) wire with Teflon insulation. It is twisted cable with 4 Wires per chanel. Such structure has more wear resistance than standart PVC cables. Also such cable have no problems with stiffening in cold weather like cables with PVC insulation. We use such cables due to extreme usage from stage performers. Such protection make our Ambient cords more reliable but at the same time more unlike than standard cables for CIEMs.”
At least the shells are smooth on the fingers and with no imperfections other than the bore on one side joining with another due to a little crack.
Past that it is more of the same, yes they are comfy due to being custom fit and obviously that enhanced seal means great isolation. Nothing new here. Actually I do find these one of the comfiest. They are not as tight as my UERM while not being as loose as the Lear LCM-5. They fit much easily than the Heir 10.A or ACS Encore and nothing is sharp of obtrusive like I have on my M-Fidelity SA-43. They feel good in my ear.
I must say that the genres listed seem pretty spot on for what these CIEMs do sonically. That being said they don’t sound HiRez, whatever that even meets. To me they are more AM6 Soft & Musical. Maybe that should be the new name. They suit pop and rock well because they are not too brutal or revealing in a sense that worse off recorded music that is highly compressed won’t sound messy or congested. I have been listening to Slaves and Slipknot with these off the AK380 and impressed by how easy this sort of high paced crunching music is. Tonality wise is it is warm and bass thick but not because the bass is so much boosted but more because it has a lot of decay and body. The un revealing nature of these comes from a obvious chill out from the upper mids onward.
The bass seems to advance towards the sub bass, probably maxing its presence just under 100Hz and holding itself from a steep roll off well. Because of that the deep bass is dynamic and textured and shows its emphasis with it extracting any bass frequencies it can find an driving them a lingering reproduction that can be felt and heard. The bass does have a lack of speed but it certainly seems on purpose and while I think it creates an exaggerated timbre that is certainly richer and bolder than life. That feeling continues into a very baritone midrange that loves Michael Bublé and some mellow blues. It is almost seductive. Going back to the dense bass and while it certainly can be very pleasant to let it just wash over you, it does seem like sometimes it becomes out off control and struts its stuff a bit too much and while it may not be a hugely bass CIEM in pure frequency response and doesn’t push ahead of the midrange, the certainly are something that people who like a pure bass may not enjoy. I fall into that category and the much more articulated and speedy bass of the Hidition Viento-R that can still rumble is much more up my street.
As I said though it still is not ahead of the midrange and that is an area that is clear and smooth, albeit not the most focussed or hard in sound. More so just in the mix. As I have said deeper vocals and instruments have pleasant feel to them, even if they also share the bass’s apparent love for decay. They are however a little unbalanced as they start to relax as things go up a pitch. Yes it stops sibilance completed in its tracks but also doesn’t give these headphones a great sense of clarity and I don’t feel they have heaps of details either. They lack quite obviously in fact compared to say the Hidition Viento-R or UERM in that regard. That being said I find them to have more clarity and zip still than the Rhines 7, which are a much more obvious example of enhanced bass not just powerful bass like these have. Even though they don’t have the crystal transparency of say the Viento-R, when comparing a model such as them to the AM-6 you end up finding them to sound very thin or even brittle in comparison because of thick and bodied the Ambient is. The Ambient does however feel a bit more muddied. There will always be trade offs.
The treble certainly feels at bay after the reduction towards the top of the midrange but comes back in full force for some sparkle around 10kHz. For the sake of coherency like the rest of the earphone it sounds thicker and is still smooth and pleasurable as well as having now shard edges. It is a pleasant finish to the way the monitor sounds and thankfully keeps these sounding together and as one. Even though it is not as fast as a lot of monitors I have reviewed and compared too, it still managed to keep calm under pressure and generally doesn’t feel jumbled ever, it will just never be vivid or with the hardest of outlines, as I said right off the bat it is very soft. The soundstage seems very much full in all dimensions without being the biggest. Depth is certainly good, better than say the JH Audio Roxanne but that is a lot wider.
When listening to these I found leaner amps that are on the brighter side seemed to do wonders. Speeding up the sound and giving us more energy across the spectrum. The Leckerton UHA760 seemed like a perfect amp for the job and combined with my PWAK120-B it certainly outdid the AK380 with its smooth analogue treble. But if your getting this sort of earphone, maybe you want that sound the 380 will, give it almost adds to what the AM6 does.
Of course I have taken my my measurements for this using the Vibro Labs Veritas and I feel like this is a good place to start!
As we can see they certainly don’t seem like a hugely bassy monitor with a pretty but not completey flat bass. It stays level nicely until 2kHz, and does drop off after (especially from 6-10kHz) that much more than the UERM of Viento-R but nothing is hugely worrying. More scary is how different the treble gets as we move on to 10kHz with the two channels almost looking inverted at one point. That certainly does not seem right.
As I mentioned earlier Ambient give you their own take on the measurements. The detail of the graph certainly looks like something that is not manufactered and it also says that it has been done with a 711 at the reference plane, but does not say if raw or compenstated, I am betting they have done something to it. It does confirm that the company are at the very least measuring their monitors, which worries me why they did not see the treble imbalance, or mayb they just did not care?
While 250Hz to 2kHz on our graphs look very similar, this shows a much earlier and more prominent rise in the bass and no roll off all the way to 20Hz. While I do feel the boost is more than my graph shows, I do feel it rolls off more than this. It certainly is not that present at 20Hz! For the rest of the graph we have similar chacteristics but as the Veritas likes to do, moves things down a few dB, but we should all bare that in mind, and comparing graphs helps do so. That being said the left channel (light green) of mine seems more in line with this, especially with the two peaks after 10kHz. My right channel is certainly much more dramatic. I am thankful for them providing measurements but it is a shame each indivudal unit does not come with its own measurements, that would be cool!
This is an earphone clearly designed by people who know what they are doing but seemed to just miss that level of top tier you can get from CIEMs. While it still is an obvious step up from a few like my Earmo or Starkey and certainly will go toe to toe with the Custom Art Harmony 8 Pro which is not a small feat, I don’t think it is Heir Audio 10.A, Vision Ear VE6 or JH Audio Roxanne level. You have to understand though that these are OBVIOUSLY much cheaper than all of them and the price certainly is not shabby for a 6 driver. Especially with a lot of the more budget friendly companies like 1964 Ears (64 Audio) moving on technology and getting more expensive. That being said these are only about £20 more than Cosmic Ears CE6 so the value proposition from these is on the cards. However you can’t rule of similar priced universals, such as the Campfire Lyra, which seems like a more fun and bassy version of these, but certainly on a similar level of sound quality. While I think the sound could certainly be better, these are still good and they also fit and look great, even if the cable does suck.