The sound does quickly become one of the biggest differentiators between the two IEMs. The One has a warmer and richer sound while still maintaining good balanced throughout. I do notice it to also have quite a relaxed treble. On the other hand the 2 is much lighter and airier, probably from the noticeably better treble extension and a bit more energy near 10kHz. It is certainly the more agile and detailed model.
Starting with the One and this meets the price range head on with the plumper and probably more engaging signature of the two. It has body and weight and provides just another thickness and boost in its mid bass to give off a warmth in its sound. Unlike other warmer earphones I have tried in and around this price it actually holds its position right into the lower mids that are equally as warm and sweet even if it does take away from the upper mids a little which don’t quite have the bite of something such as Trinity’s Sabre. A smoother more relaxed treble tops this model off in the most correct of ways. Delivering the frequency range in a way that gives the earphone really quite good end to end balance but doesn’t take on too much attention for itself or cause ear annoyance.
The bass does take a slight favouritism to mid bass if comparing to the sub bass but even with that being said it’s not like that is a region that is lacking. The bass is firm and weighty, impressive for its quantity and while it sits so well next to the midrange!
At the price is it really is impressive just how open and clean everything sounds with this monitor. The midrange may have a slant to lower mids with the upper mids having a thinner sound and more tinny timbre but in the same breath everything is pacey enough to never get a bit jittery or under pressure. That being said I don’t think things like clarity or detail are exaggerated. This has more of a smooth and buttery refined sound than a chiseled edged one, that’s more where the 2 comes to play.
These are practically an open earphone and the soundstage is WOW. They aren’t as airy as the two but that’s not to say these are struggling in terms of presentation size. It is a complete holographic soundstage.
These are earphones that have just the smallest taint of colouration that makes them quite versatile and friendly to a range of genres while still holding on to a lot of impressive abilities that you would expect from a more neutral and expensive earphone. I have never got the chance to see what AAW did in the custom domain but I am not surprised that I read they offer a lot of value!
With the price increase and the addition of an armature driver they have made this the more technical performer of the Nebulas. While its bass is just as capable with just a touch less mid bass. It is the quicker decay that really sets it apart, as well as the dryer more controlled lower mids, that don’t have the warmth or body of the One. They do however have this extreme sense of openness and delicacy to note presentation that makes it a complete different ball game.
These also have a small swelling in the mid bass but not as carried away as with the One. It may just be me but I swear the bass is even more pacey with these incredibly dynamic punches. It is without the presence in the lower mids that leaves without any warmth and also thins the entire frequency response of this earphone.
By the time we get to the midrange speed is unreal and clarity is top end. I can’t believe the instrument separation and how dark a background this model has! I am not putting all this down to the addition of a BA, they have clearly re-tuned the dynamic driver especially for this model. I must add coherence here is just magnificent, gone are all my original concerns about blending different driver technologies and TrueXcrossTM is clearly something impressive. Compared to something like Dynamic Motion DM200H and Audibly AF78 which may have common traits in driver arrangement, the come up considerably shorter when put up for direct comparison. I mean take the perfectly balanced midrange that has not the slightest of bias, even the single driver Nebula One couldn’t manage that!
Another earphone that has a similar arrangement internally would be the Dunu DN-2000J, also a hybrid with a titanium driver and I must say I hear similarities in the sound, mainly from the midrange through treble which are both just so clear and precise, just with the AAW we have a bit more bloom in the bass! Before you worry that this may have a similar slightly grating treble, rest assure this is not far off in quantity but is much more controlled and clean and it is without doubt this is winning in terms of extension and airiness.
For me the One could perhaps be the more accessible earphone for consumers to pick up and be impressed but to the 2 is by far the biggest stand out. This is one of those rare earphone that can really perform above its price range, making me think directly to Dunu’s hybrid series and being level with their ranks!
Improvements to be Made….
While it is without doubt both have clearly won me over purely on sound quality I could see these being made even better with some different options and alterations. Firstly I just wish there was a non mic version, even if it was the same price, I just don’t want to have to constantly hold the buttons when listening through my HiSoundAudio S6 (one of my go to players). Then I think the cable is way to tangle prone, hell the quickest solution would be removable cables, that would make this an even bigger force to be reckoned with. Lastly I find this way to prone to tip rolling, initially I tried the 2 with some foam tips on them and me and Josh both couldn’t believe how bad they were, thinking the One (with silicone) were leagues ahead. Maybe it is to do with the angling of the nozzle or the shallowness of the housing but some tweaks could make these a little easier to get a correct seal.
Giving constructive criticism is part of my process but taking everything back a step and looking and the price and sound quality once everything is in place and we have two beautiful earphones establishing AAW as an impressive brand as far as I am concerned, and one I need to try more from!
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