Price: 300$ / 270€
Where to buy: [link]
I want to thank AudioSense for providing a beneficial discount to us for this review. This is their TOTL product, developed in close cooperation with Knowles (in fact, there are 8 Knowles balanced armatures inside this IEM, without any crossover: there’s a deep research behind this particular model). You can find other really interesting models which contain Knowles drivers, too, for a more affordable price. I’ve immediately appreciated this brand because they asked for some critics, “knowing they are not perfect”. Good philosophy in my honest opinion.
Unboxing and first impressions
This is a fabulous experience: this IEM is on a premium Chi-fi side, even if this driver configuration (and other things) is usually prerogative of much pricier Hi-fi products. The elegant black box is very minimal: there’s a proud Knowles branding on the front, as well as the model name and a picture with the shape of the T800. Not much more, honestly, even on the other sides. The specifications are written inside on the papers. When you open the cardboard, there’s a massive box which is a pelican-like case (you can buy it on the same store of the earphones for about 10€), water-proof, shock-proof and dust-proof: it’s very hard to open and close, and it’s perfect if you need to protect your purchase. Honestly, I think its only problem is that it’s massive. You can’t carry it around everywhere. But I also understand it’s a product for professional users – and it really is, believe me – so this is not something I can complain about. Inside the box, there are the buds, three pairs of silicon ear tips and three pairs of foam tips (a pair is black, another is blue, another red), the cable and a cleaning tool. The silicon tips are comfortable and high quality. I really like the foams too, they are different from Comply (denser and faster to return to their original shape after being squeezed) but I would have put three different measures as they did with silicon tips. A great set of accessories, for sure. The shape of the T800 is custom-like. To make a comparison, it’s similar to the BGVP DM6, but slightly larger. I find them comfortable with the silicon tips, but too tight with the foams (and I don’t really need them for the seal, because it’s already great with the silicon tips). The cable is good, it seems very professional; it may look like a FiiO silver cable because of the hooks, but it’s a proprietary unit. I like it, even though the MMCX connectors are a bit loose. However, AudioSense suggested to use at least an 8 core upgrade cable, so I chose a 16 core single crystal copper-plated cable by HiFiHear, which is a good match.
My sources: FiiO M7 (standalone; to XDUOO XP-2/iFi xDSD via Bluetooth; to XP-2 via line-out; to xDSD via USB), Dodocool DA106 (mainly to XDUOO XP-2 via line-out); Mi MIX 2 to XP-2 and xDSD (via Bluetooth and USB), to Zorloo ZuperDAC-S, to Audirect Whistle; MacBook Pro 2012 to Focusrite 2i2.
My music: Jon Hopkins, “Singularity”; Billie Eilish, “When do we fall asleep, where do we go?”; Coldplay, “Ghost stories”; Bon Iver (Discography); Jack Garratt, “Phase”; Jamie Cullum, “Taller”; Sia, “Colour the small one”; The Bloody Beetroots & Jet, “The great electronic swindle”; Jacob Collier, “In my room” and “Djesse (Vol.1)”; John Coltrane, “Giant steps”; Lauv, “I met you when I was 18”, Oh Wonder (Discography), Radiohead (Discography), ecc..
My files: MP3, M4A, FLAC, ALAC, few DSDs (Pink Floyd).
I have no doubts this is an IEM meant to be used by professional users to produce music. It’s not a pleasant-sounding earphone. It’s not gentle at all, it’s not bass-heavy, it’s not colored, it’s not fun. It’s a perfect tool to analyze micro-details, though. Let’s explain.
I’ve used the T800 to test the iFi iPurifier SPDIF version. So, I had to use a precise In Ear Monitor to compare various audio systems and stacks and catch even the small differences. The 8 balanced armatures of the T800 are really capable: they produce a fairly neutral sound, with a controlled bass, great mids and a slightly emphasized treble. I’m very treble sensitive, so I usually prefer a smooth and relaxed one. This is, on the contrary, is solid and it doesn’t mitigate any sibilance. If I had to choose an earphone to listen to music with, this certainly wouldn’t be the one for me; but I’m a musician and wanna-be producer too, and this is the perfect IEM for that. I quote myself because I’ve already posted a preview on these earphones on a Facebook group: “So, here are my first impressions of the AudioSense T800. I had to try them for a while to calm the hype and un-bias myself. At first, I thought they were simply amazing, best IEMs I’ve ever tried (and I’ve tried the 3k$ UM Mason V3 in the past). Now, after some time, I still believe they are amazing, but I have some critics to do. Having the BGVP DM6 as the only similar priced all-BA earphones, I’ll try to make some comparisons with those. First: the T800 are incredibly detailed. It’s something you’d expect by a BA earphone, sure, but the step forward from the DM6 is clear. The instrument separation is stellar, and they luckily are airy, so you don’t have the congestion of the DM6. The stage feels wider too, and this is also due to the emphasis on the treble area (I believe 2 to 6k and even above). So, if you are sensitive to high frequencies like me, you could be a little fatigued by the sharpness of the T800. They are not gentle at all with sibilance. If you are familiar with the Tin T3, you’ll know the feeling; here the sound is even sharper. Vocals are stunning: at first, I wouldn’t have considered them as “vocal oriented” because I had something like the Simgot MT3 as a reference for that; this is a completely different tuning, because vocals are perfectly clear and airy here, but the instruments aren’t “notched” to give them space. Does it sound comprehensible? I feel like they are perfect for mixing and mastering because they aren’t smooth or “buttery” like the Ufo112 by UfoEar, for example, and they have no particular emphasis on certain frequencies. Even the bass is very controlled and it extends deeply on the sub when needed. If you try to pump it (eq or a booster like the one on the iFi xDSD) it can be very satisfying, with a noticeable speed and a substantial body. The DM6 are bassier, but I’d rather the quality of the T800 even on the low range. The clarity of the AS T800, for me, wins over the less-fatiguing listening experience of the BGVP DM6; and even though the T800 are bigger, so less comfortable to wear, I’d choose them. I found a terrible synergy with my phone (Xiaomi Mi MIX 2) paired with a Zorloo ZuperDAC-S (ES9018) and low-quality files (low bitrate MP3s). The same files don’t feel that bad on Bluetooth with something like the FiiO M7 as a receiver, with the same DAC. In the end, I’d say they are not the most musical earphones out there, if you consider “musical” as fun and colored. But they are perfect tools for professional users, even on live stages. Audiophiles would be amazed. With a little less sharpness, they would easily be mid-fi endgame earphones. If you want to talk about money, if you believe DM6 are worth their 200$, T800 are well worth their 100$ more; I would even pay twice their price for a sound like that. Peace”
Do I agree with the past myself now? Yes, but I’ve now tried the Ufo112 for a longer period. Those are perfectly tuned, more comfortable, more versatile because they can be used for music listening with satisfaction too. The Ufo112 are 370$, while the T800 are 300$. Is a Tin T3 (70$) of difference justified? It’s difficult to say. This Chi-Fi game is improving day by day, and while it’s true that 300$ for the sound of the T800 is a crazy low price, I honestly think the Ufo112 sound better and they may be worth the extra money. But you have to understand the will of both: the T800 for monitoring during music production may be better, due to the micro-details they can catch; however, the Ufo112 are way more versatile. My choice would be – sound-wise – on the Ufo112, but I aesthetically prefer the T800. Also, even though the accessories are great on both contenders, the T800 are more pragmatic, they look and feel more professional-oriented. And their case is stellar. Notice these are my personal impressions and tastes, while one of my team mates absolutely chooses the T800 over the Ufo112, because of their amazing detail and instrument separation, as well as vocals shining over the instruments.
AudioSense is a well-known brand in the East, it works really close to Knowles itself and it’s had various recognitions on their official pages. It seems that they decided to embrace the western countries by selling directly on Amazon and by striking deals with some stores (Linsoul, for example). I’ve only tried their TOTL IEM, and I’ve really appreciated it, as you’ve read. I believe they can do great things on lower models too. Do I recommend the T800? Sure, but not to everyone. If you can deal with sibilance to get some crazy details, this would certainly amaze you. The covered spectrum is crazy, and the stage feels wide. Not the most natural IEMs, but I’d define them “precision monsters”.
Average cable for the price
Bass may be lacking for some