BASN ASONE Review
Hello, today I am reviewing one of BASN Audio’s latest iems, the “BASN ASONE“. The ASONE just so happens to be a planar magnetic driver iem that I have been eyeing up for quite some time. So, I thank BASN for providing the ASONE for a full review and feature at Mobileaudiophile.com. I have to say that I’ve been impressed with the ASONE, and I am quite surprised that we don’t see more out of this company within the community. I’ll just get this out of the way right now… The ASONE is a nicely tuned set which quite easily stands next to the better sets within the price point as far as planar iems are concerned. In my opinion of course. This company is quite new to me although I’ve seen their iems floating around Amazon US for a long time. I just never took the plunge and purchased anything. I suppose BASN is certainly worth looking further into.
-Some of the best accessories I’ve seen with a set of earphones @ this price.
-Look & Aesthetic
-Great fit and comfort with a feather light design
-Deep and penetrating low-end
-Clean bass region
-Smooth midrange for vocals
-Nicely detailed mids
-Non-Offensive treble region for long listening sessions
-Decent treble bite and extension
-Nice sized stage all the way around
-Details are very well done
-MMCX connector became a bit loose over time (one off thing)
-Very slight Planar Timbre (not really a con)
-Midrange could use a bit more forward presence
-Not for treble heads
-Bass may be too much for some hobbyists
Note: All critical listening was done after a lengthy burn-in. I also did some tip-rolling using the KBear 07 large sized tips. All critical listening was done using both 3.5 single ended sources as well as balanced sources. All of my music is flac or better files which are stored on my devices.
I just want to preface this entire section with… The BASN ASONE needs a lengthy burn-in. I know that many of you have feelings towards burn-in but there is a definite tightening up of the bass region as well as a reduction of planar timbre. Planar timbre is something that is unmistakable and easy to spot, so when that timbral issues goes away after a long burn-in… well… I guess there isn’t any more confusion about the topic. I gave the ASONE about 120 to 150 hours (roughly, best guess) of burn-in mixed with some “listen-in” over the course of a number of days. This review would actually have been completed about a week and a half earlier if it wasn’t for the lengthy process.
I was actually completely surprised with the overall sound quality of the ASONE. Let me start by saying that the ASONE features a musical sound yet also has a nicely technical sound too. More melodious than it is analytical though. The sound is big, full, yet also clean & airy with some rather large macro-dynamics for a planar iem. I love surprises like this as the ASONE “looks” completely unassuming and if I’m being honest, I did take it for granted. I won’t make that mistake again.
The ASONE has a warmer sounding Harman type replay with very good dynamics and a nicely resolute replay. A few words which come to my mind are… Incisive, fervent and emotive. The sound is direct, clean, and has nice vigor or energy, but does so in a warmer, rhythmic, and melodic setting. The ASONE carries a certain warmth, yet the sound isn’t at all veiled. The sound is smooth but clean, atmospheric but also a detailed replay. I realize these descriptors all sound like subtle contradictions but as I sit with them in my ears these are the words which make the most sense. Believe me, this one took me by surprise.
Peanut sized sound impressions
The bass is big and deep for a planar magnetic earphone and it’s tidy per its size. The midrange is recessed to a slight degree, especially in the lower midrange but I also hear very nice note weight and vocal clarity. Despite the recession or midrange scoop, I found good presence and spacing. Females come across leaner and more forward, but also they have some gleam and shimmer to them that males don’t always have. Sibilance is not a problem, and neither is there any great shout to my ears. The treble is actually well extended with some nice treble bite which is also something I didn’t expect. Details are nice so long as bass isn’t prioritized in the track and the stage is larger than average with nice imaging.
There are some shortcomings, as with any iem, and I will do my best to spell those out to you from my vantage point. Still, whether there are subtle subjective issues or not, I’m hearing a very nicely tuned and dynamic, Harman style sound. Without question this sound will not be for everyone. Some will say there’s too much low-end emphasis, some may prefer a more vocal or mid-centric replay, or some may simply desire a more neutral sounding earphone. For what it is I think that BASN put together an appealing effort that should spark some interest and suit many hobbyists. So far so good, let’s check out each 3rd of the spectrum.
Folks, I will always be partial to a dynamic driver low-end. I think I’m not alone in that assessment. There are textures and timbral cues that a dynamic driver can exhort that other driver types simply have a harder time producing, so it seems. I don’t mean they “can’t”, but it’s simply a tougher task. DD’s have a certain depth and density that you cannot always get with other driver types. It doesn’t necessarily mean Dynamic Drivers are better either. We all have different tastes. The ASONE however, comes very close to a dynamic driver sound in the lower regions. There are only a few other planars that get close, and I can say that this one trades blows down low with those sets.
Beginning with the sub-bass and a track like “Groove” by Ray Wylie Hubbard, the bassline is the focal point of this track, and it quickly became evident to me that the ASONE can represent very well. I like the way that the ASONE is able to interpret that growling and gravelly sound while keeping in good control. From the genesis of each individual note to the release, there is a concreteness or conciseness at the leading edge through the release. Compact is a word which comes to mind. For instance, “Jealous” by Nick Jonas hits right away with a very deep and tactile boom, it’s compact. Listening with the ASONE I enjoy its ability it has to render a clean and tight bassline like this. You can hear the planar agility with a dynamic driver type boom and textured sound.
The sub-bass really does add a sense of haptic “feel” to any track which demands it, without overdoing it. I don’t hear anything lean or fuzzy and certainly not laid back in the lowest of lows. I think if you enjoy a more-fun representation in the sub-bass area and you listen to genres which cater to this type of bass then I’ll go out on a limb and say you’ll probably enjoy it.
The mid bass has some nice slam without spilling over too far into the midrange. Just enough I’d say. Enough to give somebody to vocals and bass guitar (I’ll cover that in the “midrange”). As far as quantity, I feel the ASONE was tuned for fun and to make your head bob to your favorite track. It hits hard! No doubt about it. About 27 seconds in on “Uncle M” by Young Thug there is this penetrating and authoritative bassline which has some serious boom listening with the ASONE. Despite the emphasis on this track, I also hear a tight decay that doesn’t impede upon Young Thug’s lyrical skills. “On Melancholy Hill” is a track by the Gorillaz which is another example of the “speed-meets-quantity” coupled with very good control as the bass sort of “stays in its lane”… in a manner of speaking.
The ASONE has some oomph my friends. The ASONE can bang! Agwin, I find the quantity of bass doesn’t hinder the attack speed yet still decays with enough lingering harmonics to have some atmosphere attached to it. Deeper in density than the Raptgo Hook-X, but in no way is it a muddy bass for my preferences. The bass has some meat to it… some gusto. The low-end goes deep with good extension and a good slam. Just short of Bass Boi territory. This is not some forced & cheaply boosted low-end either. Better said, this bass isn’t simply arbitrarily over-emphasized to appease the mainstream. The bass has control and fits the overall tuning very well. Bass guitar has plenty of meat and presence without sounding too full or bloated. Also, depending on the track, kick drums have that satisfying hollow boom with the tacky wet edge. Pretty nice.
Downsides of the Bass Region
Without question this bass will not appeal to everyone. It’s accented and colors the sound. It isn’t the most natural sounding low-end either. Fans of a more neutral sound will probably desire less down low and those who simply detest bass presence and coloring in their midrange will likely not completely enjoy the ASONE. Do you want something fun? Do you want something that will help to move your feet and bolster any track with a bassline, bass guitar, kick drum etc.? If so, then you may want to stick around.
The midrange comes across warm, with a resolute and dynamic sound. It sounds smoother overall rather than crispy. Not dry at all and not analytical I would say. There is some recession in the midrange with a slight scoop to my ears. However, I don’t find this scoop to be a problem, as there is a very nicely textured sound for the price which sounds more natural than it doesn’t. I always look for at least marginally good vocals and midrange presence and I feel the ASONE doesn’t lack here at all. What we have is speedier transients yet with nice note weight, sound field depth and details are nice.
Males come across with a good amount of warmth. Warm enough to sound organic and bodied enough to have a physical intonation and realism. There is the slightest lack of resolution on some more complex tracks in this region when heavier bass tracks are playing but that should be expected. Still, listening to a deeper bass singer like Avi Kaplan in the track “On My Way” he has such a wonderful tone and timbre with a chiseled edge to his earth moving and sonorous sounding vocals. His voice carries with the right amount of resonance and harmony. Or a track like “Idol; Re-run” by Westerman shows off the lead singer’s tenor voice as it cuts right through the deep rolling bassline. His voice is well uplifted and very clean. Or a higher pitched male like Muscadine Bloodline in “Azalea Blooms” which actually comes across a bit thinner but also more forward and accentuated.
The upper midrange has a cooler and more uplifted sound altogether. Females sound closer to the listener and even have some shimmer or luster to them. Not overly elevated either as I don’t hear any crazy pierce killing my ears or any bad sibilance. There is some planar timbre which shows up, but it is very minimal and easy to overlook. Female singers like Ellie Goulding in “How Long Will I Love You” are slightly boosted past natural with a sheen to her voice that sounds softer and sweeter than anything else. In my opinion she sounds beautiful with the ASONE in my ears. Her voice has this robust softness that is very well illuminated. “Stampede” by Jess Williamson shows off her more coarsely melodic voice that comes across with good body and a crisp note outline.
I find that separation of instrumentation and voices is very well accomplished with nothing that sounds congested at all. I would say that bassy tracks with more complex musical arrangements will somewhat blur a bit but those are very few and very far in between. For the most part the sound is detailed and the ASONE is able to keep up with most any track I throw at it. The midrange has great pacing and cadence with very nice note definition for the asking price.
Most instruments sound nice in the midrange. Strings have a nicely technical sound with a detailed presentation. I can hear every pluck of the guitar string mostly with very nice secondary harmonics. Percussion like cymbal strikes have a solid “chisk” and are well featured. Or snares, they come across with a nice “pang”, that sounds more like an exclamation point to any snare hit than anything else. Very tight and composed and with good note structure. Piano sounds nice and resounding too. Please remember, all of these examples depend heavily on the track you are playing. I could give examples for each, but this review would be extended a bit too far. However, in my opinion these are correct generalizations that should ring true across the board.
Downsides to the midrange
If anything, I would say that the midrange could use less of a treble impact and ear gain as the ASONE can get slightly shouty in the right track. I didn’t hear enough of this for me to call it a “con” but it’s there when listening to overtly shouty tracks. Also, there is that slight planar timbre that I spoke of. It is there and it isn’t going anywhere. Having said that, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as 90% of the planar iems out there. Yet it still exists. Planar timbre is that electric fuzz that resides at the note outlines. All in all, the ASONE has very nice timbre for a planar. Is there better? Sure, there is. Will it matter to 85% of hobbyists? Probably not. After that, those who like a more neutral sounding midrange may not appreciate the warmer lower half and the slight bass bleed.
The treble has a nice emphasis. It’s not artificial sounding up top either like some earphones out there that feign some forced resolution. What we have in the BASN ASONE is a treble that doesn’t peak-out with any unusual saw-blade type treble activity. It’s pretty even with a natural sounding slope through the upper treble. Nice extension too. The lower treble certainly sounds as though it carries the greatest emphasis in the region and uplifts the entire spectrum. I think the treble counteracts the low end very well actually. That said, it isn’t emphasized so much that it becomes offensive. At least to my ears. Just a nicely lifted treble with a little bit of bite, some crispness but overall is on the smooth and laid-back side with enough shimmer to spice things up when called upon.
Some of the test tracks I usually check out are from Billy Strings. You’ll notice that I use his songs often as his banjo play and the instrumentation that he uses is normally in rapid fire style. The song “Know It All” has a ton of treble activity and one thing I listen for is an earphone’s ability to help my brain keep track of each string pull. If it can do that then we have a nice set up top for treble activity. The ASONE quite literally rolls it’s eyes and says, “hold my beer“! Truly it catches everything, and the speed of the driver is pretty nice. Granted there are a number of BA and Planar, DD and certainly EST drivers which handle this no problem too. What I like is the treble bite I’m hearing in the ASONE. There’s an edge, a crispness at the apex of a note. I hear an overall smooth body up top with very snappy transients.
Treble Instrumentation snapshot
The secondary harmonics of a cymbal strike don’t come across splashy and sheened-out but rather a quick decay. Violin isn’t bad at all but can come across a hint peaky, not bad though. Trumpet has a nice fullness too, with a resounding type of brassy coloration. Really nice for the asking price. Harmonica can become a bit peaky as well but for the most part I feel the ASONE nails it with the crispness it can add to a harmonica set. Electric guitar actually is kept in check which was nice to hear. Honestly, I didn’t hear anything that was brazenly and blatantly “Bad”. I think that BASN did a great job of tuning the ASONE for all types of instrumentation without killing my ears in fatigue.
Downsides to the treble region
As far as some issues up top, I would say that treble Heads would likely want more, and those who prefer a warmer/darker sounding set will want less. You can’t make everyone happy. If anything, I could see some people wanting a bit more body up top with a more rounded note definition, but I am really stretching to find any issues. In truth the only issues would be personal and subjective likes or dislikes and not any real outright “flaws” per se. Again, nothing is for everyone.
I’d say the ASONE sits around the top of the heap of similarly priced planar magnetic iems as far as soundstage goes. In truth, they all are similar. However, I do think that the ASONE has many planar sets within the price point beat in the width department. Depth of sound field is nice too as there are certainly layers in my music. I would say that height is above average as well. If I were to describe the ASONE’s soundstage in one word, I’d say “full“. The sound covers all of the listening space within my mindscape. It’s simply full. Not pushed back or outstretched, it’s more intimate than that. Also, it’s not a wall of short sound like the Timeless either. It’s obviously not a coliseum or some stadium sized venue but the ASONE creates a very satisfying psycho-acoustic image with big macro-dynamics.
Separation / Imaging
The question of “separation” of elements in an imaginary stage in the ASONE provided an answer which surprised me. First off, the bass is pretty big casting a warmer hue across the spectrum. A lot of the time this would also create a sort of veil on lesser quality sets. Sounds would usually mishmash together a bit. However, I found that the ASONE has very nice clarity, nice perceived speed of the driver and perceived transient swiftness which all serve as attributes that aids the ASONE in delineating and partitioning off instruments and voices. Is it perfect? No, it isn’t. Extremely congested music, bad recordings or songs that are very heavy with low-end emphasis can all trip-up the ASONE. These are rare though. Rare enough that I’d say that separation is a “pro” for this planar set.
You can basically take almost everything I just said about separation and copy/paste those words here. Those same attributes that bless the ASONE’s tuning also converge to help with placement of instruments and vocals on an imaginary psycho-acoustically rendered stage. Of course, imaging and separation usually walk at least somewhat hand-in-hand with each other, but it isn’t a given. There is nice depth, maybe not class leading but it’s there and it helps with layering of sounds from front to back which coincidentally also helps with providing a good picture of an instrument and with placement on the stage.
The ASONE is above average in detail retrieval in my mind. Of course, when playing tracks with more low-end emphasis than the ASONE will struggle a bit to render those details. For all other situations the ASONE does very well. Now, it isn’t tuned to be a technical marvel or some “detail monster”. This is a Harman tuned set that relies on musicality before anything else. The sound is a bit warmer too, it isn’t that crystal clear neutral, or dry and analytical type technical sound. Having said that, the ASONE actually presents micro details very nice with a very snappy planar driver that can move at breakneck speeds. Listening to the track “A Lens Turning” by Westerman, I heard every last little finite sound and every little bit of minutia as I was truly impressed.
Note: all ratings are based upon my subjective judgment. These ratings are garnered against either similarly priced sets or with similar driver implementations or styles with the unique parameters of my choosing. In the case of the BASN ASONE ratings below, that would be $100-$200 planar iems. Please remember that “ratings” don’t tell the whole story. This leaves out nuance and a number of other qualities which make an iem what it is. A “5” is exactly average and please take into consideration the “lot” of iems these ratings are gathered against. $100 – $200 US is a small scope of iems and so seeing a 9 is easy to understand. My ratings are never the same and each set of ratings tells a different story. Each time you read one of my ratings it will be unique to that review. Basically, I create a Rating that makes sense to me.
-Build Quality: 7.9
-Accessories: -.- (At this price Accessories don’t apply)
Not much here to really add to the conversation. The ratings are pretty cut ‘n dry for the ASONE. There is not a huge lot of Planar iems between $100 & $200 US. So even though build quality is a 7.9 it’s actually pretty good considering. How many planars are there in this price range, very few. So, receiving a 9.4 in overall sound ratings against the rest of the field is legit to me. Also, I do think the ASONE is that good. Everything else makes sense to me. A 9.8 in overall bass is in my mind absolutely correct. I don’t think there are many planars that do it better. 8.9 in midrange stands to reason because there are a couple sets which specialize in the midrange and vocal areas better. However, an 8.9 is fantastic for a Harman tuned set. So, these are subjective ratings based on the planar sets that I’ve either owned or heard of at the price point and how the ASONE compares and competes against those sets.
One more thing, I purposely did not do any comparisons as I didn’t want to run this review too long but please comment below if you’d like me to edit a comparison into this review of one of the planars in this price point. Also, comment about anything else and I’ll be happy to get back to you.
Boy was I happily surprised by the ASONE! I am actually thrilled to see what else BASN can do in the future. To think that this was their first planar and it sounds like this?! That’s crazy. Job well done BASN!! So, to conclude I want to thank the good people of BASN Audio for providing the ASONE in exchange for a full and honest review as well as a feature at Mobileaudiophile.com. BASN makes it very easy to respect this company. BASN isn’t scared to hand out review samples and aren’t worried about the subjective thoughts of reviewers which says a lot about how well BASN believes in their product. They know it’s good! They are just waiting for the rest of us to figure it out.
Other perspectives and… thank you!
With all that said, please do not just stop at my thoughts. I write these reviews to help you and because I love writing them. Please take in other thoughts about the ASONE from other reviewers and other perspectives. As I always say, we are all different. We all don’t hear the same, we don’t all have the same music libraries, or likes and dislikes, we don’t have the same gear and sources either. Most importantly we haven’t all been down the same journey through the audio landscape. So do yourself a favor and take in other thoughts. Also, thank you for reading, it is an honor that anyone chooses to read anything that I write. Take care, stay safe and always… God Bless!
A Review of BASN ASONE___From Chris Love