I've just switched from an Ultimate Ears UE11pro to an ACS T1 and the decision was made at a spur of the moment. Impulsive? Yes. Regret? No! All opinions are solely mine and biased.
ACS website: www.hearingprotection.co.uk
-First company to come out with full silicon customs, unlike other brands like Westone, UE, Livewires, etc which are hard acrylic. Silicon is generally more comfortable to wear and in term of isolation, isolates better due to its material over acrylic. They are also the company that taught sensaphonics how to make silicon customs.
-Uses Kevlar-reinforced cable, which are more durable and yet flexible and comfortable to wear around. Unlike companies like Westone and UE, the cables are not detachable and directly soldered onto the drivers for a good reason – better contact, therefore better signal.
-2 years warranty
-Local ACS distributor – Stereo (Causeway point)Equipment used –
-IPod classic 160GB, Imod and Creative Zen vision w (tracks in lossless or WAV)
-Iqube and Predator
-Ultimate Link “new prototype” (on loan), ALO super cotton and Qables silvercab pro, Ultimate Link Silver Master
-ALO Vcaps and Valgrind sonicaps (on loan)ACS T1 review
The ACS T1 exudes greater control in mid and upper bass while retaining its deep bass quality. Every dimension of the bass region is clearly more defined with no problem in sounding tuneful yet forceful, delicate, detailed and never lumpy or fat.
For instance, UE11pro can present double bass really well but when it comes to cello and bass guitar, the ACS T1 lets you hear the finesse of each bass note and its harmonics without sounding lost amidst the overwhelming low bass resonance.
The UE11pro can sound a tad overwhelming in this region albeit with slam and punch much desired for bass heavy music but can be a slight hindrance with classical or orchestral music as certain finesse of instruments like flutes, violins and the likes may sound masked.
Anyone who claims that you cannot achieve a soundstage in an IEM should listen to the T1. Yes, capable of producing sonic foreground and background, channel separation and are characterized by a very decent, handling of frontal imaging. At times when I close my eyes, I could feel I was listening to my set of Wilson speakers in my hall when I’m actually sitting in my office at work. No doubt UE11pro is an excellent set of IEM but when it comes to soundstage, it is still pretty much “in my head”.
T1’s treble is accurate, natural and clean, with precise highest notes, beautifully delineated. I personally feel that this treble extension and lack of colourations as ACS' forte. Instead of rolling it off and risk a darker sound like the 11pro, the T1 manages to scale through the highs in a smooth and elegant manner which leaves nothing to desire and avoid any intolerable sibilance that can impair our enjoyment.
The ACS T1 forte is also in its speed and handling of the lower bass which is really deep for an IEM, the UE 10pro’s richer upper bass/lower mid range is pivotal to its favour. However, some audiophiles will consider this signature as colouration. Once again, to each its own. In my case, the improvement in almost the entire sonic range plus the perception of speed and control are more than enough to prompt me into the ACS household.On the side note…
A month ago, I bought an imod and an ALO vcap but later to realise the vcap was way too much a bulk to carry around and decided to leave it permanently in the office with my imod. Yesterday I met Aron at Stereo (off day but in the shop...) and he push 2 cables and a small plastic box to me.... Ultimate link prototype cables and Valgrind sonicaps.Valgrind Sonicaps (First impression)
No website nor shop (Maybe Jaben or Stereo in the near future)
For those who PM me for contact details :
I must say I’m rather surprise by the Valgrind sonicaps, at $200+, the tight deep bass, thunderous dynamics and snappy transients, sounded almost amazing. The Sonicaps also unravelled subtle harmonic variations with ease; I could hear their distinctive harmonic overtones much more clearly than ever before; in other words, I could better distinguish instruments, tonally, spatially, and harmonically through the imod.
When I decided to write this review, I was planning to save some “face” for vcaps, but the brand new Sonicaps did trash my 400+ hours ALO vcaps! Feel rather stupid paying 3 times the price for the ALO now and returning this poisonous box back to Aron tomorrow, what a mistake to listen to it... If anyone out there needs another reason why you should pay $200+ to carry another bulk out that would be for the soundstage - wide, deep, precisely imaged. Ultimate Link "Prototype" cable (First impression)
Ultimate Link’s success based on the silver master has lead Aron to continue his research into better cables and I think he might just have hit the jackpot. A brief listen between the new flagship and the former SM-I proves that anything is possible as long as you keep trying, I’m impressed how the brand new cable beat the ALO supper cotton in the bass dept, beat the SM-I in the vocal dept and beat the Qables silvercab pro in the soundstage dept, some cables achieve tonal beauty at the cost of transient detail, but the “prototype” delivered both.
I've always put a high premium on how a cable handles micro dynamic contrasts—the slight variations in loudness or softness when a singer stresses a note, a violinist bows a bit harder or softer, or a drummer hits a cymbal in some different way that's barely perceptible. This isn't merely the sort of detail that audiophiles like to show off; it's the sort of detail that reveals the rhythm and the soul of music—and the presence of a human being blowing, bowing, singing, pounding, or otherwise playing it. That my friend is an ultimate link to me. However, I will continue to burn-in and demagnetised the cable further for a couple of days and see how far this cable can go.
Time for lunch...