It is the very first take of mine on reviewing earbuds. Not that I haven’t ever used this type of earphones before but the constant feeling of something missing out of the sound prevented me from willing to write the reviews. It was the «delicacy» — a possibility to hear the tiniest nuances of each sound that is going directly to the eardrum, free of any noise and disturbances — that addicted me to the transparent presentation of IEMs. This review is not intended to give the new spin to earbuds versus IEMs confrontation. Instead, it is intended to show that even a huge fan of IEMs, one day, would face a model of earbuds that would get him very close to the verge of betrayal of all prior convictions. The model on the testing bench today is Ourart ACG.
Ourart ACG technical specifications:
- Type: earbuds
- Driver: dynamic driver, 14.2mm
- Diaphragm: ultra-thin titanium crystal
- Frequency response range: 20Hz — 32KHz
- Sensitivity: 122dB
- Impedance: 35Ω
- Distortion: < 0.5% (1KHz)
- Cable connectors: MMCX
Packaging, design and build quality:
ACG earbuds come in small square box with extra cardboard layer that contains shiny silver brand name and logo. The box itself repeats the visual style of the outer layer and has matt black finish with interesting rough surface pattern. Top box cover has folding design with strong retaining mechanism.
This box is common for several Ourart products and reminds about the packaging of luxury items like watches, rings or jewellery. The insides consist of one insert that secures earbuds at place while all the rest of the accessories are stored underneath.
- Ourart ACG earbuds
- audio cable, MMCX
- 7 pairs of exchangeable foam cushions
- cable clip
Ourart ACG have quite peculiar and very uncommon design of the shells. Usually, all earbuds would look more or less similar with some minor differences in the shape of back shell panels. Rarely there are some deviations from the sound output side towards experimenting with output channels. For example, I once owned Sony Groove earbuds with slightly protruding output channels that delivered much higher amount of lows in comparison to regularly shaped similar model.
Ourart went further and played much with the choice of materials, output side design and cavity that created such stunning look. Aluminum all around, wheel spokes, exposed diaphragm — don’t even want to hide all this beauty with the provided cushions… One extra feature that is usually not available for earbuds is the detachable cable.
Channel side marks are only available on the cable side since the shape of earbuds is symmetrical. MMCX connector ports are fully drawned inside the shells and have very tight fit.
Stock audio cable is packed into pretty thick silicone braid, equipped with plastic Y-splitter, aluminum limiter, transparent resin MMCX connectors and rubber audio jack housing. Red dot at one of the MMCX connectors identifies Right channel. Cable is also featuring in-line remote with mic.
This cable doesn’t feel as a premium one but neither it shows any issues in terms of the build quality. Mic effect is here and quite apparent.
Probably the hardest part to describe for the fan of custom-like shaped IEMs with ergonimic design and deep output channel fit. First of all, the initial feel is as if the earbuds are trying to jump out and not held securely. Furthermore, the presence of lows as well as the entire sound picture changes dramatically when trying to change the position of the earbuds. The best position as for me is when the output side is directed strictly to the ear canal. Funny thing is that ACG won’t stay in this position naturally resulting in some loss in volumetric feel of the sound. No possibility to avoid such behavior. No problems other than that. ACG earbuds are not heavy as they look and hold pretty well.
Tested with HiBy R6Pro DAP
Lows and midbass:
As it was mentioned in the section describing the fit — the performance, body and volume of lows would greatly depend of the earbud position. Slight shift would lead to great gain or loss. Therefore, I would try to describe what ACG are capable of with natural position (not trying to hold it tight with the fingers).
Didn’t expect from earbuds that bass would be so detailed, rich and textured. It definitely has the perceivable pattern. The reach and extension varies from moderate to impressively deep depending of the fit but staying pretty good even in the natural position. Although, the contouring of lows is not that evident and precise. The amount of bass feels very slightly underpowered, more lacking in volume rather than gain. It never gets boomy even with the most bassy tracks. Accurare — yes, but not boomy.
Midbass is similarly sensitive to earbuds position varying from powerful and rich to slightly bright and underpowered. But even with the worst scenario is still able to reproduce tight and natural sound of drums with enough dynamics. Treble steps in a bit more in this case but the sound of drums doesn’t become irritating.
Mids and vocals:
Mids are not that influenced by the change in the position in terms of main characteristics and perception. They always feel full-bodied and natural without excessive tendency to accent female voices and upper part instruments. One of the main advantages is pretty high resolving potential leading to alrge amount of details here while keeping lovely balance and sweet thickness. No screaming, no extra bright emotions — everything is pretty even and melodic. Moreover, all instruemtns are perfectly distinguishable in the entire mix.
Ourart ACG is another impressing side of of the sound… It is very clear, higly detailed and feels extended even in the natural position. At the same time, it sound pretty thick and perfectly controlled. The amount of presence is slighly excessive in comparison to mids but the sound doesn’t feel overly bright. Ourart has managed to maintain very good balance between the clarity and presence of treble that might even become an example for some hybrid IEMs. Of course, some micro details are lost due to the fit specifics together with the delicacy and intimacy but this is the physics that is inevitable for all earbuds in comparison to IEMs.
Might have been larger and deeper if the fit would be more tight. Range layering and instruments separation are both excellent and not influenced by the position. It is about the lack of volume of lows and midbass that would not fill the space to make the stage wider and deeper. Anyway, very disctinct performance of all instrumetns in overall partially compensates a bit limited stage size.
Sound in overall:
Ourart ACG sound could be described as slightly tending to bright tonality, with excellent bass texturing, full midbass presence, thick and detailed mids, impressive resolution, very clear and detailed treble. Sound greatly depends of the earbuds position and varies from balanced and full with the best position to brighter tonality with limited extension and presence of lows at their natural position.
The main conclusion that I’ve made is that Ourart ACG sound very close and even outperform such respected IEMs like BQEYZ KB100 (for example) but only after getting used to their specific fit. Another conclusion is that I’ve never heard anything like this before while testing other earbuds in $10-50 range. But the precise comparisons can only be done when I’d have other earbuds on hands.
Never preferred earbuds over IEMs but Ourart ACG forced me to reconsider this attitude. Strong feeling after testing its performance that shifting is now possible, especially when less distancing from the surrounding environment is a must. My doubts about earbuds audio quality seems to be disproved by Ourart ACG performance, at least for myself. Sound is full of details, rich with textures, well balanced and very disctinct — totally competitive to high-quality IEMs. If to ever consider earbuds after some experience with IEMs or in case if upgrading from other model — Ourart ACG seems to the best mass-market option currently available.