I have nothing but loved what I have yet to hear when it comes to titanium drivers so was as excited about the sound potential as I was the seductive design. The ODS-1 is a U-shaped earphone and that was exactly what Aedle intended, as you can discover from the graphics on the sites product page.
Alongside being overall fairly U-shaped, the biggest focus of the earphone is what happens in the low end. Boy, are these bassy…. The treble does regain some attention after a more distant-sounding midrange, not to the heights of the bass mind you. The thing with how bassy these are is that you notice the bass on almost any track. So when something bassy does come on, an example would be Kanye’s track ‘Barry Bonds’ that I am currently listening to, vocals are washed out and the bass is not even satisfying, just overbearing.
The bass is full throughout its existence. It has capabilities right down to the deep end with no sign of losing gain and that is a lot because the mid-bass is excessive. It isn’t a pleasant or tastefully executed big bass either; It rattles, lacks control and doesn’t even have the welly to punch with satisfaction. I compared it to Echobox’s Nomad, itself an IEM with an elevated sub bass but an agiler mid bass. The difference was very apparent. I got more of a kick out of the sub-bass due to it having a more breathing room to show off and the mid-bass was more natural with less distortion. I think that is the smarter way to go if you want to do bassy sounds at a higher level. Unless you are someone who needs to be constantly reminded that bass exists on a track and can skip definition for quantity, I think they have overstepped the mark.
That comparison to something like Nomad is, even more, one-sided when you take into account the differences in the midrange. I will be honest and say my preferences like a full and hearty vocal and natural midrange timbre. That isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed my fair share of V-shaped earphones in the past. With the ODS-1 I find the midrange to be a bit vague. The dynamically driven bass overpowers the lower midrange and I don’t find much to be recovered by the upper mids, which is an area the Nomad really shines in when comparing. We do get a touch more bite in that region and it isn’t quite as washed up. That does come with the benefit of these sounding balanced and not as pitchy as the Nomad or Oriveti’s New Primacy. It is a shame that balance is veiled and strained in timbre.
The treble is probably the best region. This is when the balanced armature finally kicks in they really got it right in my opinion. Sadly, it may end up being too little too late. It is boosted above the midrange but in a much more polite and structured manner. It has some sparkle and shine to it but doesn’t start to grate on my ears. Even with its upper treble peak. It is detailed as one would expect from a balanced armature and extends nicely providing a touch of air. Soundstage is also quite capable, with the average width being heavily supported by a solid depth and thickness to the sound.
Beautiful (but with work to do)
These are stunning, but sadly not in all departments quite yet. They no doubt look it, I don’t need to tell you that and minus a few little quirks like an annoying mic and short nozzles, build quality is great too. Ergonomics should be their main development next time around as even when I found tips that got a seal (bigger tips than I normally use and I went through much more) it was still a long winded process getting them to completely seal every time I stuck them in my ears. A deeper insertion with a better angle may actually improve the sound a notable amount even with their current driver configuration.
The sound is not too far off the mark for its intended purpose. It is a very smooth and bodied sound but I think they let it have just a bit too much bass and not allowed the midrange to offer some support. Some balancing of these frequencies along with an already lovely treble would still make for a V shaped sound signature, but a much more likeable and listenable one. Maybe if you listen to music without vocals and love a tonne of bass these may already be for you but I think the sound signature is aiming at a slightly to a niche audience in its current state. Regardless of this, I do love that a company are going that extra mile in the often overlooked departments!