This review is a roller-coaster of sorts for me to write after being overly surprised by what I have been subjected to hearing in the last couple of days. Yes, many of you might find this review really surprising too, so hang on in there till the end!
The product under scrutiny here is called the ‘Apaisant’, from a company called ‘Soundsly’, an Indian firm, brought to life by Hifinage, a name which many of you would have come across from time to time here in India. My review unit came to me for free from Hifinage, on a rolling rotation basis for 3 days as part of the review tour, to get honest un-biased opinions from fellow audiophiles in India.
Soundsly Apaisant Review
What’s all the fuss about?
Soundsly claims, they have managed to make an open-back iem with dual hybrid drivers per side, that costs a mere 4,000 INR. Immediately off the back, hearing something on the lines of ‘open back’ and ‘sub 5k INR’ price tag would ring bells as to, there is some cheap gimmick at play here to lure customers into pulling the plug on a purchase, similar to how many cheap chi-fi companies play at nowadays.
Well, with the same impressions, I decided to go ahead and try them out anyways because here goes nothing!
Unboxing the Apaisant is a no-nonsense & basic ordeal, nothing shouts premium or stands out w.r.t. the unboxing experience in general. It’s a pretty simple packaging, with the earphones neatly tucked inside in a 2 stage layout, earphones up-top and accessories beneath.
Accessories include a small semi-hard carry pouch with a zipper, not the best quality that one would have come across, but hey, there’s a carry case! So lets’ not get too picky here! Also included are 1 pair of foam tips, 3 pairs of silicon tips and a shirt clip. Pretty standard list of accessories that we have come to expect in this price range.
There’s nothing shouty about the Apaisant by any means in terms of the touch and feel. The earpieces are solid metal, so is the splitter and the microphone unit. Very solidly built I must admit, no doubt. However, the cable quality leaves a lot to be desired as they feel flimsy and tangle easily.
Microphonics are also an issue with the cable while travelling outdoors or using them for your regular jogs, although it’s not too bad. Cable thickness is what could have been much better, or should have had the option to swap out cables for a better one, but cables here are fixed and non-detachable, the only main complaint I have with the Apaisant.
After the initial unboxing impressions, I wasn’t expecting too much from the Apaisant in the sound department. I didn’t have high expectation even before I unboxed them, nevertheless I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by the sound either. But, this is where, the Apaisant draws the line.
The Apaisant has one AFM-2000MS BA Driver and one 10mm Dynamic Driver, per side.
I used my Shanling M0 DAP for the review purposes here. Using the stock medium silicon tips, which are pretty comfortable and fit pretty well, I started the usual chore of running them down with a few usual and known songs. First few notes into “Hotel California – Hell Freezes Over”, I am stunned on what I hear.
Let me clear any myth and gimmicky ideas out of the way for everyone here because these sound open and way more spacious than any random iem that you pick up, irrespective of the price. You really need few songs to run through to really appreciate and understand, how the imaging and soundstage is really placed.
Unlike most iems that perceive sound to start right from the center of the head, the Apaisant’s imaging is a little different. It starts from say at the outside of each ear and remains around you and you feel how airy the entire presentation gets. Makes you to believe that everything you hear is presented to you live, around you. Adding the stereo effect into place, you immediately want to listen to more because the music is absolutely engaging irrespective of the fact the earphones sound so balanced with the right amount of sparkle up-top!
Let’s break the sound up and explain a little more in detail:
You will really be overwhelmed at how much depth and body the bass has on the Apaisant. Sub-bass is adequate, and even though the mid-bass does have some heft to it, everything remains relaxed, controlled, yet quick paced without any bleed into the lower mids. This is something of an achievement really because not only do they have really punchy bass, the bass isn’t boomy or completely lacking any sort of texture.
Its rich, thick and delicious…….that’s what it is. Playing “Starboy” by The Weeknd on them and you immediately feel the energy come to life in the bottom end. There’s quick decay and really good fast paced transitions in each beat, without making anything muddy. The open back design shows its merits here by sounding really natural, yet packs a punch. Absolutely no complaints here.
If the bass notes were surprising, the mids are even better. Yes, these are not completely flat but they were never intended to be so either, in-order to keep the musicality intact and straying away from the Apaisant to sound too dry. However, don’t mistake this to be your regular mainstream ear-pleasing ‘V’ sound signature.
These are really very balanced and the mids never give you the feeling of them being recessed at any given point of time. What’s really interesting is that, even though there is a really good bass response on the Apaisant, the mids are not hampered by them in any way whatsoever. Listening to “Always” by Gavin James and you are immediately treated to a very smooth and forward sounding male vocal with plenty of texture to the voice. Female vocals sound extremely sweet on them which scales really well.
It’s very interesting to know how the high frequencies are tuned on the Apaisant. It’s so much that the highs never get ear-piercingly bright, nor do they sound heavily rolled off by any means. There’s a slight peak at around the 5kHz region which smoothly and gradually drops at the 6kHz mark only to be picked up again at the 7kHz mark. There’s a considerable dip at 10kHz and a peak at around the 14kHz mark again. On the whole, there’s a lot detail packed into the upper frequencies without sounding overly bright or overly rolled off.
Just for example, the Fiio F9 Pro takes a very different approach and packs in much more details but sounding shrill at many instances due to the 6khz to 7kHz peak. Source plays a vital role on how the Apaisant showcase their treble.
Paired to the Shanling M0 which already has a mid-forward and slightly bright signature, the treble on the Apaisant could come off as harsh to some, not overly so but there are a few instances. I tried the OSTRY 100 / 200 tips with them and the sound becomes perfectly balanced if any of you might be really sensitive to bright highs.
However, the OSTRY tips do cut into the wide soundstage a bit, leaving a little disappointment with respect to the natural airiness of the Apaisant reduced a bit. I prefer the sound of the stock tips, as I like my highs to sparkle and pack in those details.
On the whole the sound signature and impressions are eerily similar to the Fiio F9 Pro in many ways! NO, I am not saying that they compete in any way. The Fiio F9 Pro are a much more sorted iem in terms of packing in intricate details and provides much higher resolution to your music. However, listening to the Apaisant for longer periods of time, does make you forget the signature of the F9 Pro! And that’s no small feat!
Since a lot of questions do come up as to how do these compare with the Fiio FH1 and the Sennheiser Momentum in-ear wired, here a quick comparison of the Soundsly Apaisant with both of those iems:
Apaisant vs FH1:
Build quality point of view as well as in box contents and quality of materials used, the Fiio FH1 leaves the Apaisant for dust. Everything on the FH1 shouts premium and they are so rightfully. Also, the FH1 comes with detachable MMCX cables and can be used with the provided balanced cables too, none of which is possible on the Apaisant. Coming to the sound quality, I just couldn’t get around liking the FH1.
The bass is big on presence, but lacks body and comes about as boomy, loose and intrusive (too much of rumble) irrespective of the change in tips. Only the foam tips help reduce the rumble in the bass, but the foam tips also don’t provide the best sound in terms of the mid and high frequencies, so it’s a trade-off you have to make to get the bass right.
Mids although very well done, are still recessed and sounds slightly warm and thick in comparison to the Apaisant’s effortless mids which seems more neutral, forward sounding and balanced. Treble on the FH1 is quiet rolled off and hence lacks those details up-top, making cymbal crashes sound damp and subdued at times. The Apaisant is brighter, has much more details in their presentation and is the better option with respect to overall resolution.
Apaisant vs Sennheiser Momentum in-ear wired:
Again starting with build quality, the Momentums are a looker even though made mostly with shiny plastic parts. There’s enough bling in there to keep the millennials happy for the years to come. Same goes with the cable quality and the L-shaped 3.5mm connector. Everything screams quality with Sennheiser.
However, that’s where the party is over for the Momentums. When it comes to sound quality, they may want to find a place to hide their shiny face because it suddenly seems to be lacking in every department when compared to the Apaisant. The bass seems heavy and hits a little too hard and doesn’t feel natural and has the knack of bleeding into the lower mids ever so slightly.
The mids are super recessed, not surprising as they have a typical ‘V’ sound signature. However they still sound rich and warm, plus the recessed mids mean, music and instruments on the whole sound much more in front as compared to the vocals, which would suit many people’s tastes and suffice for many types of genres too like hip-hop, EDM’s etc.
The Apaisant has much clearer and forward sounding mid-range, with better resolution and texture to the vocals. Treble is where the Sennheiser is extremely rolled off in comparison here, making them sound damp and unable to showcase much details up-top, inspite of having boosted upper frequencies, making them sound harsh at times. The Apaisant tramples over this one with ease.
It’s not the first time that I would have misjudged something to be something and it turned out to be something else altogether, but the margin of error here in this case is astonishing. Not only have Soundsly got the tuning of the earphones right, it’s a really great accomplishment for a company to come off with something like this as a first product.
Yes, the build quality leaves much more to be desired from, but they nailed what matters the most, THE SOUND. And not to forget, all this is made available, at a price that undercuts most of the mainstream mass-market competition out there.
Apaisant is the earphone that can find the right sweet-spot connection between a regular casual listener, and an audiophile crowd at the same time!
Looking forward to their next big iteration!
Buy Now – Hifinage
Name : Sahil Santosh
Bio : Budding Audiophile, Occasional Photographer, Nokia Fanboy!
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