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Soundz Avant IEMs – Greek High-End Sound

Soundz Avant IEMs – Greek High-End Sound

Soundz Avant is a 1390 USD / Euro IEM or In-Ear Monitor made in Greece by Soundz Custom, with 10 drivers playing in each ear, being ideal for both on-stage performers, but also studio workers and audiophiles. There is a Custom version you can purchase, if you have an audiologist nearby and are able to take impressions for them. Given the fact this is the flagship from the Soundz company, and the price point, we will be comparing them to other high-end IEMs, including Sennheiser Ie900 (1499 USD), Letshuoer Cadenza 12 (2299 USD), HIFIMAN Svanar (1999 USD), Dita Audio Perpetua (2999 USD), Ambient Acoustics MAD 16 (2999 USD). 

 

Introduction

Soundz is a company with a history, having been in business since 2011, and having made hearing rehabilitation and hearing protection devices at the beginning. In 2016, the company expanded to making premium custom earplugs for DJs and musicians, and in 2018 the company expanded worldwide, in 2019 the company having acquired state-of-the-art 3D printers to make better equipment. Nowadays, Soundz is quickly expanding, having in their shop IEMs with up to 10 drivers playing for each ear, with multiple unique technologies, all designed in Greece by masters of music. Most of the Soundz products are currently available on their website, but I hope they’ll open up to Amazon and reach a global audience in the near future. 

I’d like to thank Soundz for providing the sample for this review, in exchange for my honest opinion. We are not receiving any incentive for this review and Audiophile-Heaven has no affiliation with Soundz beyond this review. This review is a description of my personal experience.

 

Product Link

Official Link – https://www.soundzcustom.com/avant/

 

Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

There is sparse information available on the Soundz website, which is a bit sad because the package of the Avant is impressive, as they come with a solid transport case, a high-quality cable, and a few neat pieces of tech inside the IEMs. We have 10 Sonion drivers in each IEM shell, arranged in a 4-way crossover configuration. 

The drivers are arranged in such a way that 4 Custom-tuned technologically advanced drivers are BA Woofers to provide deep low-end and a tactile midbass, with a quick response. There are 2 drivers responsible for the upper midrange, voices and most instruments. There are also 4 Balanced Armatures providing the treble and the ultra-high end extension, offering the resolution and crispness of the sound, the way a super tweeter would work for a pair of speakers. 

Since most music lovers tend to want a bit of extra boom and impact, the company has switches at the back of the Avant, which increase the bass response and quantity, with a default sonic signature that is neutral, and with the possibility to increase the bass quite a bit, using the Immersive Bass mode. For those who are looking at the Custom version, Soundz has a unique fitting with the Flex Fit PRO, a special resin that fully adjusts itself to the ear canal temperature within a few minutes, becoming colder, softer and more comfortable than most custom molds. 

The shells are 1.4mm in thickness, and they offer excellent protection for the IEMs from impact, allowing you to enjoy music, and perform without having to worry about your earphones. Soundz also considers the tech inside of the Avant the SoundzCore2, a special arrangement of drivers and components using the best tech available now, offering those for their premium models, Avant, Flame and Wave. 

To solve the issues with L / R matching, problems with phase and to decrease the THD, the company has a Complex crossover design, a custom technology for efficient crossovers. Interesting enough, even if you go with the universal versions of the Avant, you can expect outstanding comfort, as the IEMs fit quite naturally for my ears. The size is small, and just like with the custom variants, after a few minutes the resin from which the IEMs are made adapts to the ears, and you really don’t feel them anymore. The cable is a basic 3.5mm SE cable, which will be compatible for both musicians and those working in the music industry, with most equipment, but the IEMs have generic 2-Pin connectors at the IEM side, being compatible with most cables out there. 

The special BA drivers from Sonion that Avant is using are crossing the boundary between BA and Dynamics, offering a proper low-end extension. The sensitivity of the Avant is 105 dB, which makes them very sensitive, and I can confirm that they will respond well to impulse, don’t need a lot of driving power to get loud and punchy, but also they don’t sound overdriven and don’t show source noise easily, being easy to pair with most sources. The impedance is on the low side, at 16.2 OHMs, but once again, this doesn’t seem to affect the sound for the Avant. The passive noise isolation is quite excellent, up to 30 dB for the universal variant, as the Avant offers one of the best isolations for a high-end IEM that I’ve heard. 

As far as the pairing and sources used for the Avant go, I’ve paired them with Hiby R3 II, FiiO K9 PRO ESS, JDS Labs Element III MK2 Boosted, SMSL DO400, Audioengine D1 24-Bit DAC, iFi Audio Go Bar, Aune S9C PRO, iBasso DX320 MAX TI, Astell & Kern SE180, and Shanling M1S. The interesting thing is that Avant seems to upscale quite a bit with the source, sounding much better with flagship sources, but it also prefers brighter, more analytical sounding sources that reveal more detail, as the default sound is quite smooth in the textures. All sources provided more than enough loudness, volume, control and dynamics for them, but the resolution, clarity and generally the brightness of the sound seem to be affected by the source, and the best sound is with FiiO K9 PRO ESS, iFi Audio go Bar, and SE180, all of which are on the more neutral / brighter side of sound. 

 

Sound Quality

The overall sound and tuning of the Soundz Avant can be described as clean, either neutral or warm (depending on the bass switch position), with a super smooth texture, outstanding resolution and detail, but what I would consider the smoothest, most fluid, cleanest texture and detail representation out there. Avant is particularly good at reproducing classical instruments and at monitoring, showing every instrument as an individual entity, revealing the boundaries of each sound, showing excellent dynamics, and sensitivity to the original impulse and signal. This means that you will hear everything that was in the original mix, but the treble tends to cancel resonance quickly, traditional for balanced armatures, and with a smaller inner resonance, you hear the impulse pure and unadulterated. This means the soundstage is generally natural, sounding wide and expansive when the song was recorded to sound as such, for example large classical pieces or certain pop pieces, but sounding intimate with Jazz and room music. After getting used to the sound for a few minutes, Soundz Avant can be the most natural, tonally accurate IEMs you can grab for their price point, and they provide exceptional imaging. A good way to describe the Avant is a super wet character, and the company also has this mentioned a few times on their website, this is an IEM that is the least dry from all I’ve heard. 

Starting with the bass, there are two situations, you either want more bass and turn the bass switch to on, or off. Turning it on seems to add around 4-6 dB of bass, mid bass and even some upper bass, giving the sound a warmer, smoother and more lush, if a bit darker presentation. This being said, I love some low-end depth, and most of my review has been written with the bass boost turned on, and with it comes a full, deep and lush sounding bass, but which inherits the snappy and quick character of the balanced armatures used. For songs where the bass is long and has a slow decay, it gives just the right body, presence and depth, while for rock, metal and music with a quick sound, the bass of the Avant is most impressive, offering outstanding punchiness, but speed and resolution. I like the fact that the bass character is pleasing, smooth and deep, and it seems to respect the source material quite faithfully, so songs where the bass tends to be rougher will show it, but Avant doesn’t force the bass to be textured where it doesn’t have to be. 

The increased energy and presence of the bass switch extends to the upper bass and lower midrange, giving a bountiful, lush presence to all instruments, including male voices, and to some extent female voices too, showing a thick body for music. This kind of sound doesn’t take long to get used to, as the increased bass presence and weight of each musical note doesn’t create a veil or tonality tilt, just a substance / presence increase, so things always stay natural in the totality. This could likely be attributed to the crossover configuration too, as I suspect that the switch will only affect the 4 Sub-bass / bass drivers, and the upper midrange / treble drivers are not affected by the changes. 

The midrange is fast, clean and has outstanding control when it comes to distortions, volume and overall tonality. Soundz Avant is clearly tuned for music work, as it manages to stay as spot-on as possible at all times, even with complex songs with multiple layers of sound. The best part about the Avant is how well they handle classical music, as they can reproduce just the right amount of texture for brass and stringed instruments to sound right, all while keeping square waves smoother, and more enjoyable in pop and synths. We have superb dynamics and a really wide / holographic presentation, offering exceptional instrument separation, both with classical and acoustic instruments, but also with electronic instruments, special effects and guitars. Because the Avant is not sensitive to hissing, and because they are also somewhat smooth and lush, the background is always super black, so music comes through as playing in an acoustically treated room, most of the presentation is acoustically more capable than what I heard in the best rooms out there. 

The treble is well extended and airy, but takes a second place in presence and energy compared to the midrange and the bass, being a smoother, more laid back treble that sounds great with most music, including rock, metal, pop and pretty much everything. This kind of treble takes a bit to get used to, if you’re coming from a brighter, more peppy sounding IEM, but it is addictive, as Avant still has all the resolution, and clarity you expect from their price tag, but they present it masterfully, in a smoother and cleaner way, with a zero-grain policy, instead a fluid and pleasing character. The treble peaks between 12 and 15 kHz, which creates the feeling of air nicely, but given the friendly character, it stays super enjoyable. Because the upper treble tends to not have as strong of a presence, we get no harshness or metallic ringing / tinge between 6 kHz and 9 kHz, where most IEMs have a peak, and which causes listener fatigue. From the design all the way to this treble, Avant is made to be placed in your ears and never to be taken out. It feels a bit like Soundz designed the Avant to be used with ACG and Greek music, which is typically rich in harsher and more fatiguing instruments, to be as enjoyable as possible, taking out all the peaks and resonance points that this type of music has, but keeping it lively and enjoyable. 

 

Comparisons 

Soundz Avant vs Ambient Acoustics MAD 16 (1390 USD vs 2999 USD) – Starting with the comfort and the build, both of those are designed and made to be custom, but both are universal for me, and both sound quite nice. The comfort is great for both, MAD 16 actually offers a stronger isolation front he background noise, but is also physically larger and Avant fits better for my ears. The default cable is about equal for both, and both have a nice transport case, but both have a more minimalist package. Both have an interesting tech inside, and MAD 16 has 16 drivers, about 60% more than Soundz Avant, but this doesn’t tell much about the sonic performance and overall tuning of the IEM, so down to sonics, MAD 16 sounds more solid, and a bit more grainy compared to Soundz Avant, and the way they handle every frequency is different. Avant tends to be smoother, to have a smoother, more liquid, less grainy bass, but with more substance, a bit darker tonality, and more warmth in the bass, both lower bass and upper bass. The mid range sounds smoother, also less grainy on the Avant, with a wetter character, a wider soundstage, and less harshness in the upper midrange, and lower treble. This inherently leads the MAD 16 to sound more analytical and reveal more micro details and especially on square waves, they show those spikes sharper, but the treble extension is somewhat better on the avant, which has more air, but also the peak is placed much higher than with the Avant, which causes the MAD 16 to sound a bit more compressed in direct comparison. Both make good IEMs, but the character is different and you should get the one that sounds better for your ears, MAD 16 for a more dry character, and Avant for a wet character. 

Soundz Avant vs Letshuoer Cadenza 12 (1390 USD vs 2299 USD) – Starting with the package, Letshuoer does include a higher quality cable, along with more accessories, but when it comes to the IEMs that you will actually use, the Cadenza 12 is made of metal, and has a shell that is heavier, while Avant is made of resin and is lighter. You can get two tunings out of the Avant, which has the switch on the back for a neutral or a warm signature, while Cadenza 12 comes in just one flavor. Both isolate really well from the outside noise, but Cadenza 12 is a bit large for my ears, while Avant is just perfect. The sonics are quite different, with Avant being much warmer, smoother with a more wet character, while Cadenza 12 is much more dry, more analytical, more focused on detail, and how crisp it can sound, plus it has a brighter tonality, less bass, where Avand is a much warmer, smoother IEM that emphasizes more on how detailed, yet how clean and fatigue-free it can sound. I would pick Cadenza 12 if you prefer a brighter tonality, if you want more resolution, and if you want an IEM that will be as sharp as possible, while I would go with the Avant if you want an IEM that is smooth, yet enjoyable, clean yet detailed, and which has a zero-grain, zero fatigue but an all-fun sound that can be warm and pleasing, lush and which you can love without any remorse. 

Soundz Avant vs HIFIMAN Svanar (1390 USD vs 1999 USD) – Starting with the package, both have a nice transport case and a more basic cable , but the ergonomics of the cable is better for the Avant, while Hifiman has better ergonomics for the shells, smaller shells, smaller bore size, but metallic shells too, where the resin body is Avant feels like I’m not wearing anything after a few minutes. Sonically, both can be quite neutral, but I prefer the warmer tonality of the Avant for most music. The soundstage is similar, Avant is a bit more grand, quite a bit deeper, where Svanar has a stronger imaging and instrument separation. Resolution is better on the Svanar, but Avant has a wet character that is more fluid, smoother and more laid back, which comes through as much easier to listen to. Svanar is recommended for those who are detail addicts, while Avant is better if you prefer a more relaxed and smoother sound. 

Soundz Avant vs Dita Audio Perpetua (1390 USD vs 2999 USD) – The package of Dita is much better, a better default cable, more interesting transport case, and everything looks more premium. The fitting is far too similar, both are comfy, Dita is smaller, more ergonomic shells, but the resin of Avant feels more natural after they’ve been in my ears for a while. Avant has better passive noise isolation, and is easier to drive. Sonically, Perpetua sounds more solid, the character is more dry, about what I’d consider perfectly natural, while Avant spends what I’d consider super wet in character, both are super smooth and laid back, relaxed and enjoyable. Perpetua has more bass, more dynamics and a bit more details but Avant sounds warmer in the upper bass, it’s as wide and too similar considering the difference in price. If you want a better price performance ratio, get the Avant, and get Perpetua if you want the same signature and sound but taken to the max, at almost double the price. 

Soundz Avant vs Sennheiser Ie900 (1390 USD vs 1499 USD) – You likely know that IE900 is my latest love, so I have to start with the package, which is better for IE900, it comes with three cables, a neat transport case, and it has a more premium package. The comfort is a bit better on IE900, they have smaller shells, metallic shells and you can barely feel them in your ears, while Avant becomes comfortable after a while but they are generally larger in size. Avant has better passive noise isolation, and it is easier to drive, but much less sensitive to source noise. Sonically, they are different, IE900 sounds brighter, it has a stronger bass, especially the sub bass, with a more recessed midrange, and still a wet character. Avant, on the other hand is a bit more midrange forward, has a warmer tonality, more middle bass, more substance, but still a very similar treble extension and detail. 

 

Value and Conclusion

With a price tag of 1390 EURO / USD at the moment of writing today’s review, Soundz Avant has a strong position in the market, they offer exceptional resolution and deetail, but most important, a pleasing and lush sound with outstanding soundstage and layering, instrument separation and great comfort, the only thing that I’d add for the price / package being a balanced cable, for audiophiles, although I can see that increasing the price tag, and not being useful for most artists and those getting the Avant for studio work. 

Before the end of today’s review, I will be awarding the Avant from Soundz a place in the Audiophile-Heaven Hall Of Fame, for being one of the most enjoyable IEMs, and despite coming from a company I just heard a product from, offering a sound that’s not just respectably good, but actually engaging, lively, yet smooth and mature. 

At the end of the day, this is the IEM to get if you’re generally easily fatigued by harsher, and metallic sounding IEMs, if you want a warm, lush, but dynamic and tonally correct IEM that can be paired with most sources and still sound exceptional, Soundz Avant is one of the best universal or custom IEMs you can grab right now for their price point of 1390 EURO / USD. 

 

Product Link

Official Link – https://www.soundzcustom.com/avant/


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Full Playlist used for this review

We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature.  I recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music! The playlists are different for Spotify, Tidal and Youtube, and based on the songs I enjoy and are available on each!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_cjBXGmwSHSdGcwuc_bKbBDGHL4QvYBu

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5J3oloz8Riy9LxEGenOjQ0?si=979ba4f082414be7

https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/330fd544-8e5b-4839-bd35-676b2edbb3d5

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4 Comments

  1. […] a sound with a passion. Today we will be reviewing it, and compare it with other IEMs, including Soundz Avant (1390 USD), Sennheiser IE900 (1499 USD), HIFIMAN Svanar (1999 USD), Unique Melody Maven PRO (1799 […]

  2. […] M300 with both entry-level and flagship IEMs and earphones, and the list includes FiiO FH11, Soundz Avant, ThieAudio Hype2, Sennheiser IE900, Letshuoer Cadenza 12, IKKO OH10S, and Ambient Acoustics MAD16. […]

  3. Xinlisupreme

    Thanks for your review, it reminds me a lot how NG audio Eurus+ sounds, one of the best iems I ever heard!

    1. George Dobrescu

      I hope it will be just as fun if you decide to go for it!

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