Advanced Sound's Model 3

Advanced Sound kindly sent me a sample of their Model 3 wireless IEMs in exchange for my honest opinion. I’ve had them in my ears for the past month or so, and have had a pleasure using them. Advanced Sound has employed a very unique and, in my opinion, great design that intuitively offers a better user experience than I have come to expect from wireless IEMs.

Fit and Form

Included in the magnetically clasping box is the following: 3 sizes each of both silicon and foam ear tips, a short, green USB-A male to micro USB male charging cord, the Bluetooth connecting cable, a standard cable terminating in an 1/8” TRRS auxiliary connector, and a hard-shelled, zippered carrying case, with a small mesh net in one of the half-shells, for carrying the accessories. Both cables terminate with an MMCX connection at the IEMs. Interestingly, I initially had quite a hard time pulling the cable off one of the IEMs, but that issue only occurred once, with my first disconnection seemingly having loosened the connection satisfactorily.

I’ll take this section to talk about the design I referenced in the opening. The wireless cable (which I understand is funny phrasing), starting at the MMCX connection, is a silver-y grey, rubberized cable that moves to a magnetic clasp. When separated, the smaller side of this clasp is where the charging port resides. The other side, which is longer, is where I assume the battery is. These two parts click together behind the user’s neck, leaving the remainder of the black, fabric-wrapped cable to hang in front of the user, like a necklace. The cables meet when they enter the three-button controller, which is also where the microphone is. This worked incredibly well for me. It kept the cables entirely out of my way, regardless of whether I was sitting still or out for a run. However, it didn’t have me reaching behind my ear to click buttons sight-unseen, like many other options on the market do. As a relevant aside, the controller worked very well with my Pixel, and it can also function to answer and redial calls, alongside its volume-up/-down/play/pause functions.

The IEMs themselves are plain, shiny, black plastic. They have a visually attractive, indented design that sits in the wearer’s concha. I have had issues with IEMs in the past, in terms of both comfort and appearance, but these neither caused me any discomfort of note, nor did they protrude from my ears significantly.

Neither cable was particularly microphonic, thankfully, but I did have a pretty significant problem with the included wired connection. The non-wireless cable is incredibly flimsy, to the point that it would, without provocation, just fall away from the backside of my outer ear when worn over-ear. Additionally, the three-button controller on the wireless cable is swapped for a single-button controller which can only pick up or redial calls. This felt somewhat lazy on behalf of Advanced Sound, when it would be very simple for them to include a hardier cable, maybe with some memory wire over-the-ears. However, that’s just one issue, and for how much I harped on it, I mainly used these in their wireless configuration, partially as a result of this cable issue. I’d like to see Advanced Sound remedy this in the future, as it seems like it would be a relatively simple fix.

Sound

These are very much a consumer pair of headphones, in terms of tuning. However, while instruments do take a backseat, vocals of both genders still retain good detail and clarity, even if they do sit a little bit back in the mix. Bass is powerful and slamming, even if it isn’t particularly detailed. This is partially, near as I can tell, a result of the design; the nozzle feeding sound out of the sound chamber and into the ears is much thinner than I am accustomed to seeing, which I believe was done purposefully such that it essentially acts as a de facto low pass filter, amplifying the lower frequencies. If this was intentional, I give Advanced Sound props for innovating in their design in pursuit of their acoustic goal. Treble is relatively laid-back, but is present enough to give good sparkle and a little bit of much needed air. These can get a little bit sibilant at times, but it didn’t detract significantly from my listening experience.

For the critiques above and some of the reiteration below, I’d like to clarify that beyond all that, I really enjoyed these headphones for their sound. They are a lot of fun, and have a very musical sound signature, without sacrificing every ounce of detail and clarity as some competitors do. In my use (very frequently while out and about or traveling), they served their purpose extremely well, and they’ve become my go-to recommendation for friends looking for a pair of work-out headphones.

The soundstage is pretty small, with not much escaping beyond the space between your ears. Imaging is fairly good, especially given the small soundstage. Separation fares slightly worse; instruments have a very solid place in the mental soundscape, but there is a little bit of blur between them.

Bass

Songs used: Temptation by Joey Bada$$, Quick Musical Doodles by Two Feet, and Oh My Darling Don't You Cry by Run the Jewels

Given the single micro-dynamic driver that is used in these headphones, it's logical that bsas is an emphasis, especially when combined with the above design aspect that I mentioned. The bass is full and slams very hard. When called for, it has pretty good texture, and, although not the fastest I've heard, its attack/decay speed is better than I would expect, particularly in this price bracket. It wont' catch every, articulate detail of more complex, fast-paced bass-lines, but it certainly is no slouch. The bass was the main contributor as to why I had so much fun with these; it added a liveliness and vivacity to the majority of tracks that I put through these that, although it may not be true to source, was very musical.

Key descriptors: textured, powerful, and rich

Mids

Songs used: Mama's Gun by Glass Animals, Makin' Ice by Ripe, and Hajanga by Jacob Collier

As one would expect with a V-shaped sound signature, the mids recede fairly noticeably. Instruments and accompaniment take a backseat to the bass, but interestingly, vocals keep the majority of their presence. I think that this likely corresponds to the ~4kHz peak in Advanced Sound's own frequency response graph, but I tend to take those graphs without too much reverence, as measurement techniques can fairly violently sway the resulting graphs. But, experientially, these manage to keep vocals fairly close in the mix. The mids are, aside from all that, very lush, partially as a result of some bleed-over from the bass, which is understandable, and contributed to the musicality that I've been mentioning thus far.

Key descriptors: lush, detailed, and natural

Treble

Songs used: Ageispolis by Aphex Twin, Viol by Gesaffelstein, and Goodnight Kiss by Ibrahim Maalouf

The treble is fairly laid-back, much like the 1More Quad Drivers. Although recessed, it is still fairly poignant, and has good impact (even though that word is being used out of context...). It extends very high, which lends the headphones a good sense of air and precision, as well as adding a sense of realness to instruments, since their overtones can reach all the way up. I found that these can get a little bit sibilant, but it was very rare in my listening and was never too extreme in the few cases that I heard it.

Key descriptors: laid-back, poignant, and airy

Minutia and Miscellaneous

Advanced Sound claims something around 5 hours of listening time, and that was very consistent with my use, with each charge lasting almost exactly five hours. This may seem a bit short compared to other offerings on the market, but they only take about an hour (or less with a high wattage charger) to charge back up, so I didn't have much of an issue with this; they never explicitly died on me during use, although it did get close a couple times.

Wrap-Up

These are a really great offering at their $80 price point. They offer an attractive, understated design in-the-ear, with a very innovative and well-guided design beyond that. The controls work well, and the sound, although far from analytical, is very musical and has few intrinsic flaws to gripe about. For working out, or commuting, or traveling, I'd be hard pressed not to recommend these, and I'm certainly happy to have them around.

Disclaimers

These headphones were provided to me for review by Advanced Sound. I am not being paid by anyone to write this review, to endorse the product reviewed, or for the content that I put in the review.

These headphones were powered by an Astell&Kern AK Junior, a Google Pixel, a Neurochrome HP-1, an iFi Pro iCan, and by whatever soundcard is in the motherboard of my computer.

I have had these headphones for about a month, and I have put about 55 hours of analytical listening through them during that period.

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