Astrotec Volans IEM Review

 

 

 

 

 

Astrotec Volans IEM Review

 

Introduction:

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 Volans is an In-Ear Monitor that features a 10.5mm diameter Brass Driver with Tesla magnetic flux which comes with a multi-layer Biological Diaphragm. The Development of the Brass Driver with Biological Diaphragm took five-years and is the first known Brass Dynamic Driver Unit on the market.

 

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Astrotec for providing me the Volans 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:

The actually price of the Astrotec Volans is $329.00 USD and can be purchased under the link bellow;

 

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The Astrotec Volans came in a rectangular black box with Astrotec branding on the top which was wrapped with a cardboard sleeve with light blue colour transition that sports the Volans branding in silver colour on the top.

This box contains the following items;

  • 1 pair x Astrotec Volans In-Ear Monitor
  • 1 piece x Detachable OFC Cable with MMCX connectors
  • 3 pairs x Silicone Ear tips (S/M/L)
  • 1 pair x Memory Foam Ear Tips
  • 1 piece x Pelican Case
  • 1 piece x Small Carry Pouch
  • 1 piece x Cleaning Brush
  • 1 piece x Warranty Card and Serial Card

Right after you open the top cover you will see the Pelican Case a cardboard box with the label Accessories.

Inside the Pelican Case are two separate foams one for the 3 pairs of Sony style silicone tips and one with the Volans.

I like Pelican storage cases and the one that comes with the Astrotec Volans is of high quality.

Inside the Accessories box came the detachable OFC cable with MMCX connectors, 1x cleaning tool/brush and a small protective carry pouch for the monitors. Inside of the carry pouch came 1 pair of foam tips which was a nice surprise.

 

 

 

Design and Build Quality:

The Astrotec Volans are beautiful looking In-Ear Monitors made of high quality engraved aluminium material. It is available in two different colour options which is Mint Green and the Galaxy Blue one which is the colour of my review unit.

The monitors are a combination of three (3) parts, the front part or so called faceplate, the rear shell and the sound nozzle.

The faceplate represents the Volans which is a constellation in the southern sky, which is a flying fish; its name is a shortened form of its original name, Piscis Volans. (Reference Wikipedia).

At the rear side of the Left earpiece is the Astrotec branding and a Left indicator (L), while the right earpiece sports the Volans branding and a right (R) indicator.

Here is also the sound nozzle made of brass material which has a mesh on the top that prevents the insertion of small partials like dust and other unwanted materials like earwax from entering in inside monitors. I do highly recommend you to clean the mesh periodically with the brush that came inside the box.

Each monitor has a small bass vent near the nozzle and sports also the “Brass Driver” branding which is engraved on to the surface of the nozzle part.

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 monitor shells of the Astrotec Volans do show a very high quality craftsmanship and are built to last!

 

 

 

The Cable:

The Astrotec Volans does come with a detachable cable that has a 3.5mm headphone jack and MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) connectors.

The cable has a nice braided design and is made of 4-core high-purity OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) wire material that a semi transparent soft plastic insulation with a greenish tint.

The MMCX male connectors do offer a pretty tight connection, but are also not very hard to remove. The MMCX connectors do have a metal housing with red (right) and blue (left) colour indicators.

The cable has metal Y splitter in silver colour that sport the Astrotec brand logo while it has also a small chin slider that is made of transparent plastic material.

The 3.5mm gold plated headphone plug has an L profiled metal housing in silver colour and features a transparent plastic strain relieve for extra durability.

The overall build quality of the cable is very good and is not prone to mixings or to microphonic effects.

 

 

 

Fit and Isolation:

The monitor housing of the Astrotec Volans do offer a pretty ergonomic shape and doesn’t hurts your ear concha even after longer listening periods.

The noise isolation on the other hand is on an average level and highly depends to the ear tips you will use with it.

 

 

Technical Specifications:
  • Driver Unit                  : 10.5mm Tesla Dynamic Driver
  • Frequency Response : 8Hz – 40000Hz
  • Impedance                  : 32 ohm
  • Sensitivity                   : 110 dB/1mW
  • Cable                          : High purity OFC cable
  • Cable Length              : 1.2±0.03m
  • Connector                   : MMCX
  • Plug                            : 3.5mm stereo gold plated plug

 

 

Drivability (Impedance):

The Astrotec Volans is a pretty easy to drive In-Ear Monitor thanks to the fairly low impedance of 32 Ω and sensitivity approx. 110dB @ 1mW. You can use it with portable sources with relative weak amplification such like Smartphone’s, Tablets, small Portable Players, while it shows its true potential with DAP’s or DAC/AMP’s that do have better hardware.

  

 

Sources used for this review:
  • IEM                              : Astrotec Volans, Final Audio B2, Sennheiser IE400 Pro
  • DAP/DAC/AMP          : iBasso DX220 MAX, FiiO M11 Pro, HiBy R3 Pro

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:
  • 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)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • London Grammar – Interlud (Live) (Flac 24bit/44kHz)
  • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Spotify)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • No Doubt – Hella Gut (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Twerl – Lishu (Spotify)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Portishead – The Hidden Camera (MP3 320kpbs)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
  • Tom Player – Resonace Theory “Album” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)

 

 

 

The Sound:

The sound of the Astrotec Volans is characterised by a fatigue free and slightly warmish tonality that makes it to an ideal IEM for long listening periods even in higher volume levels.

The bass is present but mainly focused to the midbass region, while the treble range shows a noticeable roll-off after the upper midrange area. The main attraction of the Volans is the Midrange region that sounds very musical, pretty intimate and detailed.

 

Bass:

The Astrotec Volans shows a bass character that is focused to the midbass region which shows more intensity and depth compared to the subbass region which has a moderate rumble and extension. The subbass area shows an average depth but is fairly controlled in its presentation. Instruments like kick drums are punchy and controlled, while acoustic guitars or organs do have shown a sufficient level of intensity.

The midbass region of the Astrotec Volans is pretty highlighted, tight and fast in its presentation. Instruments like bass guitars do have good weight, while acoustic guitars and organs are full bodied in its presentation.

The bass of the Astrotec Volans shows in general a pretty good performance in terms of speed, layering and overall extension, while I would which slightly more intensity and rumble in the subbass area.

 

Midrange:

The Astrotec Volans has a pretty forward midrange tuning and is a very successful in terms of midrange tonality / timbre and musicality. It shows a warmish tonality and smooth velvet like presentation without to sound veiled or dull.

 

Vocals:

The Astrotec Volans is able to reproduce both male and female vocals with a nicely emotional and pleasant to listen to timbre. Vocals are intimate and emotional thanks to the fairly forward midrange character.

The lower midrange of the Astrotec Volans has a pretty good level of depth and intensity that adds male vocals like Barry White or Isaac Hayes nice sense of fullness, emotion and body. Male vocals do have good depth and extension without to sound muddy or veiled.

Female vocals on the other hand do sound quite detailed, musical and intimate. The highlighted midrange tuning and the fairly highlighted upper midrange character that offers sufficient extension and detail makes female vocals like Aretha Franklin and Edith Piaf really shine without do be sibilant and ear piercing.

 

Instruments:

The Astrotec Volans shows an instrument tonality that is warmish, musical and pretty smooth, while the level of separation, detailed and airiness is on a good level for an In-Ear Monitor below the 500 USD price range.

Instruments like acoustic guitars do have a natural level of depth and intensity, while pianos and flutes are transparent and detailed. Violins on the other hand are mildly bright and fatigue-free, while hi-hats do have a sufficient level of presence.

 

Treble:

The treble range of the Astrotec Volans shows a very noticeable roll-off right after the upper midrange area and the extension is in general short. The transitions from the upper midrange to the treble range are quite controlled which is a remarkable plus point for the Astrotec Volans.

The lower treble range shows more intensity and extension compared to the upper treble area and offers also a better level of detail retrieval which makes the Volans more successful with instruments like kick drums or violins compared to more upper treble intensive instruments like snare drums and cymbals.

The treble tuning makes the Astrotec Volans less detailed in the treble range compared to the midbass and midrange region, while the actual tuning makes it to a highly fatigue free In-Ear Monitor that offers an moderate amount of airiness and sparkle in this area.

I have found out that the Astrotec Volans give a very positive reaction to tips rolling. The stock Sony silicone tips are one of the reasons why the treble reproduction of the Volans is limited. If you swap to some silicone eartips with longer profile and wider opening the treble response does change in a very positive way. The treble range gains additional airiness and sparkle, while the treble extension and intensity changed in a positive manner.

So if you are a treble-head or listen to treble intensive genres like metal music the Volans won’t be the most suitable choice for you.

 

Soundstage:

The Astrotec Volans do show sufficient performance in terms of separation and placement of instrument and the vocals, while it has not the most spacious soundstage presentation. The Astrotec Volans is more successful in terms of soundstage depth compared to its wideness which is on an average level.

 

 

Comparisons:

 

Astrotec Volans versus Sennheiser IE400 Pro:

The subbass region of the Sennheiser IE400 Pro shows more subbass depth and intensity compared to the Astrotec Volans. The IE400 Pro has also more subbass rumble and a better level of extension, while the Volans is slightly more controlled in this area.

The midbass region of both IEM’s shows a good amount of impact and depth, while the Astrotec Volans is superior in terms of speed and control. The detail retrieval of the Volans is also on a higher level thanks to the higher amount of transparency in this region.

The midrange of the Sennheiser IE400 Pro is warmer and is also more recessed compared to the Astrotec Volans which has a more upfront and intimate midrange presentation with higher level of airiness and clarity. The midrange of the Volans offer more clarity and also a better level of detail retrieval compared to the IE400 Pro which sound a bit veiled in this area.

The upper midrange and lower treble region of the Astrotec Volans is more pronounced and detailed especially the upper midrange region which adds the Volans additional airiness and sparkle. The Sennheiser IE400 Pro on the other hand the upper hand in terms of upper treble extension, detail and sparkle.

The soundstage of the Astrotec Volans is superior in terms of depth, while the Sennheiser IE400 Pro shows slightly better wideness.

 

 

Astrotec Volans versus Final Audio B2:

The Final Audio B2 shows a more linear bass response compared to the Astrotec Volans and shows a mildly boost in the midbass region. The Astrotec Volans subbass intensity depth and extension of both IEM’s is pretty identical, while the Volans has a slightly advantage in terms of control especially in track like Massive Attack’s “Angel”.

The midbass region of the Final Audio B2 shows a more linear / closer to natural response, while the Astrotec Volans do offer more depth and intensity. The Volans has also the upper can in terms of midbass extension, while the B2 offers more control in this area.

The midrange of the Astrotecs Volans has a more upfront presentation compared to the Final Audio B2. The general midrange tonality of the Volans is more musical and intimate especially while listen to vocal. The Final Audio B2 sounds a too dry I direct comparison to the Astrotec Volans.

The lower midrange of the Astrotec Volans has more depth and extension which makes it more successful with male vocals, while the Final Audio B2 has a more highlighted upper midrange that offers lightly better detail retrieval for female vocals.

The both the lower and upper treble range of the Final Audio B2 shows more intensity and sparkle compared to the Astrotec Volans. The Volans has a warmer and smoother timber in the upper register.

The soundstage of the Astrotec Volans has the upper hand in terms of depth, while the Final Audio B2 shows a slightly better performance when it comes to the wideness.

 

 

Conclusion:

The Astrotec Volans is an outstanding product in terms of build quality, aesthetics and comfort that offers also a great performance when it comes to musicality, vocal reproduction and overall smoothness which makes it to an ideal In-Ear Monitor for a fatigue free listening experience even at higher volume levels. The High quality Pelican Case and the 4-core OFC cable are also some nice bonus features of this beautiful looking IEM.

 

 

 

Pros and Cons:
  • + Overall Timbre/Tonality
  • + Tight and Controlled Bass Reproduction
  • + Musicality and Vocal Performance
  • + Smooth / Fatigue Free Presentation
  • + Design & Built Quality

 

  • – Audible Roll-Off in the Treble Region
  • – Maybe too smooth for some specific genres
  • – Soundstage Wideness

 

 

 

 

 

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