AZLA 01R review

AZLA 01R: A PIECE OF BLUE SKY…

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About AZLA:
AZLA is a new generation of earphone maker founded in South Korea in 2017. BTW, AZLA 01R is the first IEM of this company.

Official Website of AZLA

 

Disclaimer:

This unit was provided to my by AZLA. I am not affiliated with AZLA beyond this review and these words reflect my true, unaltered, opinion about the product.

 

Price:
The AZLA 01R is for now only in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan available. Other countries – includes South Korea – will be launched in the near future.

The retrial price of the AZLA 01R is around 450 USD.

The Meaning of AZLA:
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**PS: This is a quotation from the official webiste

For creating new sound, be existed in the world before, AZLA is motivated from ‘meteorite’, a small fallen piece from the universe, it is composite word using Azur, ‘sky’ by French and Lapis, ‘stone’ by Latin.

Significance of AZLA: A PIECE OF BLUE SKY

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Package and Accessories:

The AZLA comes inside a small and compact card box. This is the first time a saw such a small box with such a big and stylish case inside.

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This card box includes the following contents;

  • 1 pair of AZLA 01R In Ear Monitor
  • 1 pcs. of Case with zipper (Made by Dignis)
  • 1 bag with 3 sets of silicone ear tips
  • 1 pcs. of Labkable’s SilverGalaxyMix MK2 cable

Cable:
The cable provided in the box is called SilverGalaxyMix MK2 and has a 2 pin interface and is made exclusive for AZLA by Labkable. According to official information, from Labkable, SilverGalaxy Mix MKII (4w) is made by 2 wire silver plated OCC copper + 2 wire 7N OCC copper to enables the best sound transmission.
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SilverGalaxyMix MK2 is also treated by a special HQT30 process “that takes 24 hours” for each cable and is a unique treatment process by Labkable.
BTW, I didn’t notice any annoying microphonic effects due this review.

Case:
The case that comes inside the box is a nice looking special made case for AZLA by the company Dignis.

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There is also Velcro separator that can be removed or folded to carry different items at the same time.

If you I remove the separator, the case volume will big enough to put my Chord Mojo and the AZLA 01R at the same time inside this case.

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Design and Build Quality:

Design:
The AZLA 01R has two color options; one in gray color that is called Meteor Gray and one in silver that is called Lunatic Silver, what I am using now for this review.

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The company did a great job by using a sophisticated metal housing to protect the BED™ (Bull Eye Driver) in combination of a transparent polycarbonate chassis that looks different and eye-catching.

The first thing that I have thought about this IEM when I saw it for the first time was, that it looks like a piece of modern art, simple but glamorous.

Build Quality:
The outer housing is made of a special type of polycarbonate material that has a UV coating. This housing has a solid build quality without any noticeable burrs or gaps.

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The core of the AZLA 01R is made of a single piece of high purity aluminum block material, in order to suppress unnecessary resonance and realize further Hi-fi sound.

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The 2 pin connector interface looks also solid and should last for a long time.

Fit, Comfort and Isolation:

The AZLA 01R is not a small IEM like the Sennheiser IE800 or MEE Audio Pinnacle, but don’t worry it is smaller then the Oriolus MK2 or Rhapsodio Solar (UIEM Shell). It sits good in my ears and it is also comfortable. The Isolation with the stock ear tips is very good, not as good as semi custom IEM like InEar Stage Diver lineup or the Ibasso IT03, but good enough to isolate you on the go.

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Technical Specifications:

Driver Unit BED ™ : 1 pcs. Dynamic Driver (11mm Ø ) + 1 pcs. of Full Range Balanced Driver
Sensitivity : 104 dB ± 3 dB @ 1 kHz, 1 mW (0.155 V)
THD : Less than 1 % max @ 1 kHz, 1 mW
Rated Input : 4 mW (0.31 V)
Max Input : 100 mW – 1.55 V (Short Term)
Impedance : 24 Ohm ± 15 %
Frequency Response : Refer to the following data, Input 1 mW (0.155 V) Sine Wave
Frequency Range : 5 Hz – 40 kHz
Weight : 25gr (with Cable)
Plug : 3.5 mm Stereo gold plated

Infinity Sound and BED™ Driver Technology:

PS: The following contents are quotations from the official Website:

Infinity Sound Technology

The method is normal stationary speakers’ enclosure style, open two sound vents in integrated metal body which covers BED™, and use closed housing as for acoustic suspension role.

Especially top-tier grade poly carbonate as an enclosure is specially designed for sound, finally finished by various challenges for the best sound.

Unique bass and space, also designated for enjoying bright and clear sound.

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The BED™(Bulls Eye Driver)

BED™ driver to AZLA is unique hybrid style which integrates dynamic driver and wide band B/A, Particularly tuned for perfect balancing with Infinity Sound Technology.

Especially, significantly minimized reflected wave and phase difference issues from normal hybrid type earphones and multi BA system, and maximize features by linear metal body design.

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Drivability (Impedance):

The AZLA an easy to drive IEM with an impedance of 24 Ohm. Even my Smartphones was able to drive the AZLA to very loud volumes.

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Sources:

Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Pink Floyd – Money (Flac 24bit/96Hz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
  • Opeth – Heritage Album (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Otto Liebert & Luna Negra – Up Close “Album” (DSF) – Binaural Recording
  • Max Richter – The Blue Notbooks (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
  • Max Richter – Recomposed by Max Richter : Vivaldi and The four Seasons (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (DSF)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Metallica – The Black Album (Flac 24bit/96Hz)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
  • Melody Gardot – Who Will Comfort Me (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
  • Daft Punk – Get Lucky (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – A Watchful Guardian (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
  • Dr. Chesky’s Binaural Album (Flac 24bit/192kHz)

In Ear Monitor : AZLA 01R
DAP/DAC : Aune M2 Pro, Chord Mojo, Smart Player (Yin Lu Mei) D200+, Zishan Z2, Ipad Air2, Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

The Sound:

This review is written after an intensive burn-in process of 100 hours. I have used the stock provided silicone ear tips due this review.

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Tonality:
The AZLA 01R has a warm and liquid tonality. It reminds me a bit to analog sources.

Lows (Sub Bass and Bass):

One of the first things I have noticed on the AZLA was the bass region. It sounds like it would come from a full-sized loud speaker and I think that the two sound vents that are integrated in to the metal body are responsible for this effect, exactly as advertised by AZLA.

The Sub Bass area of the AZLA between 20-50 Hz provides a full bodied presentation where bass guitars really shine. For Example; the AZLA sounds beautiful with Pink Floyd’s – Money where you can here and feel the emotion of the legendary rhythm of the bass guitar.

The Bass of the AZLA 01R is punchy, powerful and dynamic with a very organic decay. This IEM is capable “If Called” to reproduce big and tight bass impulses. Both, the quality and the impact around the 80 – 200 Hz area are simply amazing for this price point.

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Mids (Lower midrange – Midrange – Upper midrange):

I must say I am very impressed how good AZLA has tuned the midrange of the 01R. It is well controlled and reflects good amount of detail. The lower midrange around 250 – 400 Hz frequency band gives the bass of the AZLA 01R some extra clarity. Good that AZLA gave the right amount of boost around 500 Hz, because to much boost could make the 01R sounding too warm and muffled in the Lower midrange.

Again, the midrange sounds warm, a tad bold and there is plenty of detail. I don’t know how AZLA did this happen, but this is the first time I hear a midrange with this type of warmth without loosing clarity and definition. The instrument and vocal presentation in the midrange is a touch warmer then normal. But it doesn’t sound muffled or unnatural to my ears.

My only complain could be come around the 2 kHz range, I would prefer a bit more prominence in this area too add some extra clarity, but otherwise great tuning and definition, especially for this price point.

My ears are very sensitive to the upper midrange brightness, that’s why I prefer a good tuning in this region when I buy a new IEM. Some IEM that I have try or use in the past had problems to handle Female voices with strong presence in the upper midrange like Diana Krall, Céline Dion, Aretha Franklin or Melody Gardot. The upper midrange of the AZLA 01R is well balanced and controlled. The AZLA 01R passed some of my test tracks of Diana Krall (So Wonderful) or Melody Gardot (Who Will Comfort Me) fatigue-free.

Instruments like Cymbals in tracks of Megadeth (for example Sweating Bullets) are well defined and controlled. BTW, I didn’t experience any noticeable stress in the upper midrange due this review.

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Highs (Treble – Upper treble):

The treble range of the AZLA 01R is transparent and well controlled, but doesn’t sound too distant. Good that AZLA doesn’t Over-boosted the 5 kHz range that could otherwise cause to an irritating, harsh sound. The tuning and amount of the treble gives the AZLA 01R clarity and definition without being ear piercing.

Instruments like Piano, Drum or Violin sound natural and pleasurable, especially for a sub 500 USD IEM. For example; you can feel the emotion that comes form the violins in Max Richter’s epic song “On the Nature of Daylight” what really impressed me.

The upper treble sounds gentle and delicate. The 10 kHz range is well tuned and gives the overall sound presentation enough sparkle and air. The slightly boost around 11 – 13 kHz adds an impressive resolution that makes the AZLA 01R to a good bang for the buck.

There BED driver with its Hybrid driver configuration doesn’t sound metallic or digital like some other IEM’s with Hybrid divers.

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Soundstage:

The soundstage of the AZLA 01R is maybe not as huge or expansive like these of the Sennheiser IE800, but gives you in any case a great instrument separation and good amount of space between the instruments. The instrument separation of the AZLA 01R gives you a great impression of 3D staging.

Comparison:

Now, I will compare the AZLA 01R with the Rose Cappuccino MK2 and Oriolus Forsteni that have nearly the same price and using a hybrid driver configuration.

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Vs. Rose Cappuccino MK2 :

The bass of the AZLA has nearly the same quantity as the Rose Cappuccino MK2, but with slightly better texture and control. The bass of the 01R sounds also more organic.

The midrange of the Cappuccino MK2 is more forward and the upper midrange is brighter and a bit digital sounding so that you can fell that the sound comes form a Balanced Armature Driver. The AZLA in the other hand sounds warmer and intimate.

The treble of the Rose Cappucciono MK2 is brighter with more presence and has a boost around 2.5 kHz barrier, so that it sound more vivid and crisp in direct comparison with the AZLA 01R. Both have better Upper treble control than the Oriolus Forsteni that I will also compare with the AZLA 01R.

The AZLA 01R has a slightly bigger soundstage (both in width and depth) than the Cappucciono MK2.


Vs. Oriolus Forsteni :

The bass of the AZLA has more presence then those of the Oriolus Forsteni with better overall texture. The bass of Oriolus is more midbass oriented, while AZLA 01R is present on top and bottom.

The Oriolus has a more natural midrange presentation than booth AZLA and Rose. It is slightly more forward and sounds airier then AZLA 01R but with same amount of midrange detail. The AZLA has a fuller and warmer midrange that gives recordings a more analog like emotion. The upper midrange of the AZLA is also more controlled and has no sibilance in caparison to the Forsteni.

The Forsteni has more presence in the treble section and the boost around 10 kHz gives the Forsteni an airier presentation. The upper treble of the Oriolus Forsteni has some stress that is noticeable with instruments like piano and violin, while the AZLA is not affected form such issues.

The Orious Forsteni has a slightly wider soundstage while the AZLA is better in depth.

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Conclusion:

The AZLA 01R is the sort of IEM, which is a great all-rounder with excellent detail level and suitable for almost every type of music genres, packed in a beautiful housing with amazing build quality. This IEM is to too good for the price to criticize it about some of its minor flaws.

Pros and Cons:

+ Beautiful and Modern design
+ Solid Build Quality
+ Nice and useful Case made by Dignis
+ Great Stock Cable
+ Amazing Bass Response
+ Great Detail Level
+ Smooth Highs

– Only 3 Pairs of Ear Tips
– Little bit recessed upper midrange

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