Astrotec AM850 MK2 Review
Astrotec AM850 MK2 Review
Astrotec is a Chinese Hi-Fi brand that was founded in 2002 by several members with more than ten years of experience in the audio equipment industry. “Astrotec” consists of Astro (Astronomy) and Tec (Technology), meaning that Astrotec embodies technical exploration and pursuit.
The Astrotec AM850 MK2 is the successor of the original AM850 that was released in 2018. The new AM850 MK2 features a 2nd GEN LCP (liquid crystal polymer) Diaphragm Dynamic Driver that is integrated in to a 5-Axis CNC machined monitor shell made from Aviation grade Aluminum material. Moreover, it has an Interchangeable Sound Tuning Nozzle design and comes with an OFC detachable cable with MMCX connectors.
I would like to thank Astrotec for providing me the AM850 MK2 as review sample. I am not affiliated with Astrotec beyond this review and all these words are reflecting my true and unaltered opinions about the product.
Price & Availability:
The actually price of the Astrotec AM850 MK2 is 169.00 US$. More information’s can be found under the link below;
Package & Accessories:
The Astrotec AM850 MK2 came in a rectangular black box with some product & company related brandings and an illustration of the AM850 on the top and some technical specifications at the bottom.
This box contains the following items;
- 1 pair x Astrotec Volans In-Ear Monitor
- 1 x Detachable OFC Cable with MMCX connectors
- 3 pairs x Semi Transparent Silicone Ear tips (S/M/L)
- 3 pairs x White Silicone Ear tips (S/M/L)
- 2 pairs x Memory Foam Ear Tips
- 1 x Leather Case
- 1 x Metal Plate with 3 Pairs of Sound Tuning Nozzles
- 1 x Carry Pouch
- 1 x Cleaning Brush
- 1 x Print Material (Warranty Card & Serial Card)
Design and Build Quality:
The Astrotec AM850 MK2 comes with a pretty unique monitor design that has a robust look and feel when I hold them in my hands, which is made from 5-Axis CNC machined monitor shell made from Aviation grade Aluminum material with a silver surface.
Inside the cavity is Astrotec’s special designed SQUAMA Damper Balance System that has been developed to reduce the secondary refraction of the sound in the rear cavity in order to reduce the resonance.
The faceplate of the monitor sports a surface area with a hexagonal design that looks pretty stylish. Here are three small openings, which are part of the internal pressure balancing system that is needed for IEM’s with dynamic driver.
At the inner surface of each monitor are the L (Left) or R (Right) markings and the screwing area for the interchangeable sound nozzles from that are three pairs available.
Right around the screwing holes of each earpiece is a laser engraved AM850 MK2 branding and two additional vents, which are part of the internal pressure balancing system.
On the top of the monitor housing is the MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) female connector that offers a tight fit with the male connector of the detachable cable.
The AM850 MK2 comes with a detachable cable with a braided design that is made of 4-core high-purity OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) wire material that a semi transparent soft plastic insulation.
The MMCX connectors do have a metal housing with red (right) and blue (left) color indicators. The cable features also transparent heat-shrink ear guides for a more comfortable over the ear wearing experience.
The cable has metal Y splitter in silver color that sport the Astrotec brand logo while it has also a small chin slider that is made of semi transparent plastic material.
The 3.5mm gold plated headphone plug has an L profiled metal housing in silver color and features a transparent plastic strain relieve for extra durability.
The build quality of both the monitors and the detachable cable is top notch!
Fit and Isolation:
The Astrotec AM850 MK2 has a pretty comfortable monitor shape that fits pretty good to my ear with an average sized concha. The passive noise isolation on the other hand is on a sufficient level for the use in fairly noisy environments like a bus or train.
- Model : AM850 MK2
- Driver : 10mm dia. LCP Diaphragm Dynamic Driver
- Frequency Response : 5Hz – 35KHz
- Impedance : 32 OHM
- Input : 1 mW
- Cable : High purity OFC Cable 1.2m±5cm
- Max Input : 3mW
- Sensitivity : 106dB/1mw (S.P.L at 1KHz)
- Connector : 3.5mm Stereo Plug
The Astrotec AM850 MK2 is a pretty easy to drive In-Ear Monitor thanks to the fairly low impedance of 32Ω and sensitivity approx. 106dB@1mW, which makes it ideal for the use with sources such like Smartphone’s dongles or small Portable Players that do have in general a weak amplification.
Sources used for this review:
- IEM : Astrotec AM850 MK2, TFZ MyLove III
- DAP/DAC/AMP : FiiO M11 Plus, xDuoo Poke II, Cayin RU6
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Adele – My Little Love (Spotify)
- Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
- Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sonya Yoncheva – (Giuseppe Verdi) II Trovatore, ActI (Flac 24bit/44kHz)
- Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- B.B. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
- Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
- Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
- Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Photek – The Hiden Camera (Spotify)
- Muse – Hysteria (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Rush – YYZ (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Rush – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)s
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
- Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)
The Astrotec AM850 MK2 shows a relative V shaped oriented sound signature with it highlighted lows and highs. The midrange is quite recessed, which shows a moderate level of clarity and resolution. However, the bass is pretty fast and impactful, while the treble region shows a high grade of saturation and coloration, which makes this area do sound somewhat unnatural compared to the rest of the sound spectrum.
This review has been written after a burn-in period of 70 hours. My sound impressions below are mainly based on my experiences with the Black (Neutral) Nozzle, which is the reference tuning of the MA850 MK2. I have paired the AM850 MK2 mainly with the FiiO M11 Plus (DAP), Cayin RU6 (USB DAC/AMP) and xDuoo Poke II (DAC/Amplifier, while I have used the stock semi-transparent silicone ear tips and the stock cable.
Interchangeable Sound Tuning Nozzles:
A) Black Nozzle (Neutral/Reference):
The Black Nozzle is the reference tuning of the AM850 MK2, which offers a close to U shaped sound signature with pronounced lows and highs, while the midrange is recessed.
B) Gold Nozzle (Air):
The Gold Nozzle creates the brightest tonality of all three Nozzles. The bass has slightly less intensity compared to the Black (Neutral) Nozzle, while the difference in terms of midbass depth and intensity is more audible when I switch back from the Grey (Tide) Nozzle. The treble range is highlighted and somewhat unnatural compared to the Black (Neutral) Filter.
C) Gray Nozzle (Tide):
The Gray (Tide) Nozzle offers a V shaped sound signature, and shows a warmer tonality compared to the Black (Neutral) and Gold (Air) Nozzles. It has more depth and body in the midbass and lower midrange area, especially in direct comparison to the Gold (Air Nozzle.
Bass / Midrange / Treble / Soundstage:
The subbass region of the Astrotec AM850 MK2 is reproduced with an efficient level of depth and extension. The intensity and rumble that is produced by the 10mm diameter Dynamic Driver is not overwhelming when I do listen to my reference tracks such like Lorde’s “Royals” or Massive Attack’s “Angle”. The sense of decay and control of this area is on a sufficient level, which will quite satisfy when you listen to genres like EDM or Electronic Music.
The midbass region on the other hand offers good level of impact and slam effect, when called upon, while the overall intensity and the level of extension is fine while listen to instruments like an acoustic guitar or organs, which are represented with a decent sense of fullness and body. The general bass performance of the Astrotec AM850 MK2 in terms authority, clarity and resolution is good, but not outstanding.
The Astrotec AM850 MK2 has a fairly recessed midrange tuning that shows a moderate sense of transparency and airiness, when I listen to complex passages with high instrument density. It shows a relative warm tonality and smooth overall character in this area, but without to create a veiled or dull midrange atmosphere.
The lower midrange of the AM850 MK2 shows an above average depth and intensity when I listen to male vocals or strings like violas, cellos and acoustic guitars. Male vocals like Elton John, Dave Gahan or Sting do sound pretty intimate and emotional, while the sense of clarity and resolution is on an average level.
The upper midrange is able to produce a good grade of clarity and brightness when I listen to female voices like Adel, Edith Piaf or Sertap Erener or to instruments such like a piano, clarinet or violin, without to have negative conditions such like sibilance or harshness, while the extension of this area is in general a bit short.
The Astrotec AM850 MK2 has a pronounced treble presentation that sounds somewhat unnatural and dry to my ears. It is the weakest part of the AM850 MK2, which couldn’t be improved whatever tuning nozzle (Gold, Gray or Black) I have tried.
The treble range sounds in general fairly detailed and the extension in both the lower and the upper treble register is on a sufficient level. The lower treble region shows a moderate sense of sparkle when I do listen to instruments such like organs, pianos or to soprano voices, while the separation is ok.
The upper treble register offers an average amount of airiness and sparkle, when I do listen to hi-hats, snare drums or cymbals that do sound a bit digital too my ears.
When it comes to the soundstage of the Astrotec AM850 MK2, I can say that it shows a sufficient performance for an In-Ear Monitor at this price level in terms of separation, layering and placement of instruments and vocals. The soundstage wideness of the AM850 MK2 is on a moderate level, while the depth of the stage is just fine.
Astrotec AM850 MK2 versus TFZ MyLove III:
The TFZ MyLove III has a warmer, smoother and more musical sounding overall presentation, while the Astrotec AM850 MK2 offers slightly more neutral tonality with more emphasis in the upper midrange and treble region.
The subbass region of the AM850 MK2 shows a better level of control, clarity and resolution, while the MyLove III sounds warmer and more musical in this area. The midbass region of the TFZ MyLove III is in general fuller and more impactful, but sounds also a bit muddy and less transparent in direct comparison to the AM850 MK2, which has the edge when it comes to the speed and control I this area.
The midrange of the TFZ MyLove III is warmer in terms of tonality, and shows also a smoother and more musical character. The Astrotec AM850 MK2 on the other hand offers a more transparent and detailed midrange tuning, with slightly better sense of airiness. The lower midrange of the MyLove III is more pronounced and offers a higher grade of fullness when I listen to vocals and instrument. The upper midrange of the AM850 MK2 is superior in terms of dynamism, clarity and resolution, while it sound a bit dry and thin compared to the MyLove III that sounds warmer and slightly more musical.
The treble range of the Astrotec AM850 MK2 is more pronounced and detailed, while it sounds somewhat unnatural net to the TFZ MyLove III, which is smoother and relaxed. The upper treble range of the AM850 MK2 is slightly more airy when the level of extension is relative similar.
The soundstage of the Astrotec AM850 MK2 sounds slightly more spacious and airy compared to the TFZ MyLove III. The AM850 has the upper hand in terms of wideness, while the level of depth is pretty equal.
The Astrotec AM850 MK2 is very robust looking In-Ear Monitor with a minimalistic but pretty attractive design, which offers a comfortable fit and average level of isolation. The Interchangeable Sound Tuning Nozzles do work pretty fine that do change the sound profile slightly but in a fairly audible manner. When it comes to the sound I can say that it will satisfy with its general bass and midrange performance, while the treble range needs drastically improvements, which is otherwise pretty capable when it comes to the macro detail retrieval.
Pros and Cons:
- + General Bass Performance (Subbas Depth & Rumble / Midbass Impact & Authority)
- + Transparent & Relaxed Midrange Presentation
- + Robust Build Quality & Attractive Design
- + Comfortable Fit
- + Small but Premium looking Leather Case
- – Treble range sounds somewhat unnatural
- – Not the most versatile sounding IEM at this price range
- – Average Level of Passive Isolation
Thank you for the Read!