In late 2012 I was consulting with Baptiste Sancho on what was to be his first headphone to hit the market. He is the head honcho of French startup Aedle and they wanted to make sure their VK-1 was perfect. I was set up to review that in May of the following year but like so much in this profession, a sample didn’t end up materialising. Fast forward to last year and they finally expanded their product range, bringing in an IEM to support their superaural headphone. Named the ODS-1 and costing £300, they have joined the in-ear party with a serious product.
Now if there is anything I have established about this brand is that they are about more than just the sound quality. They rely on the following three fundamental pillars ‘Excellence, Exploration and Intemporality’ and have set out to redefine what audio luxury should be about. Their workshop is in Montparnasse, Paris and this where they both think up and create their unique pieces that take on a role of both art and functionality.
Aedle, without a doubt, creates an experience for their end users. The website is something to behold in itself. It takes you through a journey of the brand and its products and the same is to be said when you actually receive and unpack the ODS-1. It nails the finer details from interesting data on the box, the metal ownership card and little boxes designated for individual accessories (foam tips, silicone tips and airplane adapter). You also get a leather topped fabric pouch to travel with and while it isn’t made from a hard material, it is heavily padded! It is one of the most gorgeous cases I have ever received.
Something very apparent is that the team at Aedle have a thing for leather. With your full-size headphones there are plenty of ways to add a touch of leather to them, but with IEMs I was yet to see the day until Aedle came along. They haven’t gone overboard with leather at all, but the way they have engulfed the ear loop/memory wire section of the cable in leather is one of the best aesthetic choices I have seen. Oh and I should clarify it isn’t just any old leather….
“The hooks are coated with hand stitched calf leather from Venetia in Italy”
In fact, the cable as a whole is 50% amazing. Sadly the other half of the cable is subpar. Continuing with what I liked about it and they have actually made MMCX connectors in a way I can approve of. It isn’t up to q-Jays standard but the way they have recessed the female connectors is very secure and because the leather protects the top of the wire you aren’t going to have to worry when applying pressure to remove the cable. Moving onto what I don’t like and there is a combination of two things. The first is just a minor niggle and I find the actual cable a little basic reminding me of a budget Meelectronics wire.
The complete deal breaker was the mic/remote unit. God, it is darn right horrible. It suits the styling of the earphones just fine but why on earth is it constructed so badly. It is so noisy, even before the earphones are in your ear, rattling when you take the earphones out of the pouch. I really wasn’t impressed and actually meant I was persuaded to want to use another cable, quickly killing the style they have worked so hard for.
Onto the actual earpieces themselves and they are made from a machined aluminium that allows them to be both durable and lightweight. They are finished flawlessly and I have them in their Classic variation. If you would rather a black housing then there is an Eclipse version and should you want my aluminium shell with black leather, Legacy is for you. In front of the metal, you have what feels like a plastic or ceramic with some very stubby sound bores. These have proven problematic to me as they lack a rib to secure tips on them (I have had silicone left in my ear on the removal of the earphones) and they also only allow for a very shallow fit, causing real trouble when seeking a seal. When trying to push the circular buds as far as I can into my ear I also got a considerable amount of driver flex, perhaps from the titanium diaphragm 10mm dynamic driver that is supported by a single balanced armature.
Not being too intrusive to your ear these are rather comfortable. On top of that, I generally prefer an earphone that fits over the top. While it does leave it comfortable, isolation could be improved with a deeper fit. I really do want to emphasise that I think these are visually stunning, but for practical reasons could do with a longer, ribbed sound bore and a cable without a microphone unit.
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