Review - TRN TA1 Max (Sub 50€)

Review - Aune Jasper

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Also available on YouTube in Spanish: Acho Reviews YouTube 

The Aune Jasper have been kindly sent to me by Aune in order to publish this review. They haven’t actually made any specific requests but I will include the link to the Jasper on their website anyway, as it is the least I can do.

As always, my review will be as honest and unbiased as possible but it is always good to consider the fact that these IEMs have not cost me anything.

You can find the Aune Jasper here: https://www.aune-store.com/en/aune-jasper-headphone-p9130/

(as usual, this is a non-affiliate link, more info here).

Intro…

Before starting with the review, I have to say that I had absolutely no idea that these IEMs existed! 

Aune is a company who have made some interesting stuff that has caught my eye but I only really knew about their amplifiers and DACs etc. So, I was talking with Aune about reviewing their new portable DAC/Amp, the BU2 (which will be coming up soon, by the way), and they asked if I had heard their IEMs. I was totally honest with them and said that I didn't even know they made IEMs.

They mentioned the model name to me and said that they had been released either late last year or early this year, so I did a quick internet search and I was very surprised to find that they were actually reviewed by Audio Discourse in March this year. The reason that I was surprised is because I usually follow most of the AD reviews and somehow I had just completely ignored this one. In fact, I have still completely ignored it (sorry Antdroid!) because, as Aune said they would send them out for me to try, I have avoided reading any reviews about them at all.

I always try to avoid reading reviews of anything I am planning on reviewing, although some details always manage to make it through, but in this case, I was going into this completely blind as to what I was going to receive. All I knew was that they sell for around 280€ (on the Aune page) and that they are a single DD that is available in Black or Silver.

So, I went into this review hoping to be surprised and I must say that I have been, but I’ll get to that next.


Presentation…

The Jasper arrive in a simple white cardboard sleeve with a picture of the IEMs on the front. From inside the sleeve a black cardboard box slides out to reveal the brand logo on the front in silver. As a totally random comment that has nothing to do with the IEMs, I just want to say that I really like the Aune logo, a simple logo that is easily identifiable even when upside down :D

Anyway, opening the black box reveals a simple content that actually impressed me far more than it should have. At the top of the felt covered lining there is a large leather storage case which seems to be of very good quality. I am not certain it is real leather but it certainly looks the part. In the lower half of the box, in their own cutout, we find the IEMs themselves, in my case in black.

Inside the storage case we get a selection of silicone tips, a cleaning tool and the cable. Below the case we find a microfiber cleaning cloth, which comes in rather handy for these IEMs, which can be a bit of a fingerprint magnet.

That is it. As I said, the presentation impressed me more than it should have, there really isn’t anything out of the ordinary but the packaging just gave me a good vibe, which is always a nice way to start out with a product.


Build and aesthetics…

The IEMs, which are black as I just mentioned, have a very smooth and rounded shape to them. They look good in their simplicity, although they are quick to pick up fingerprints, and I must say that I personally find them very comfortable. However, the nozzle is not very long, meaning that they don’t insert very deeply into the ears, at least in my case, but they fit my ears very well and I get a great seal with Xelastec tips. There are no sharp edges or weird shapes and they just work very well with my ear anatomy.

The cable is something that may not appeal to everyone. Let me be clear, I have had no issues with the cable, it works fine, is well built, non microphonic, but it is rather thick. The cable is reminiscent of cables that are included with some of the bigger names, such as Sennheiser, Shure, etc. It is a no frills, no weaves, straight cable that does its job. However, it is premolded to the ear shape (for over ear fit) and the thickness does feel a little “beefy” at times. 

The included tips are ok, they do their job, however I have opted for the Xelastec tips on these as they are tips that I really like and I find that in the case of the Jasper they work great for both sound quality and a comfortable fit with a good seal that is not too deep.

Now, my only real negative as far as build is the use of MMCX connectors. This is not because they have used bad quality connectors, they seem to be very well made, it is just that I much prefer 2-Pin as I have had issues with MMCX connectors in the past. For some reason, I am always hesitant when disconnecting cables that use MMCX connectors as I always get flashbacks of the times that I end up with half a connector, or a broken pin etc. Again, the connectors in this case seem to be of good quality and I have swapped cables around a few times without issue, it is just a pet peeve of mine.


Sound…

Getting straight to the point, I like these IEMs. I have already mentioned the price and it is a bracket which basically puts them in competition with things like the Blessing 2: Dusk, a set of IEMs that sees a lot of use in my case and that I feel is a very good set of IEMs at its price. Therefore, it was to be expected that I would automatically compare these. Are they better than the Dusk? Well, that depends on what you seek in IEMs. But just the fact that they can compete is a very positive start in my opinion. I will get more into comparisons in a moment but first I will go through my usual process of explaining, or trying to explain, what I find is good and bad about the Jasper.

Starting off with the subbass, I find that there is some roll off as we get down to the lowest registers. This is not an exaggerated loss of the lowest notes, there is still enough subbass to appreciate that low end rumble that is found in tracks that need that low end (such as “Chameleon” that has become my main reference for subbass). I must say that I have found listening to EDM and other music with a lot of low end rumble, very pleasant and enjoyable, although I don’t think that the Jasper tuning is something aimed at that style of music, at least in the case of those who like the subbass to rumble their brains and tickle their ear drums.

Moving into the midbass, here there is more presence than in the case of subbass, making the bass frequencies be nicely presented but without them dominating the sound. I have said before that I am a fan of dynamic drivers for bass and the Jasper remind me of why I like the DD bass. While they are clean and articulate in the bass regions, they still have a bit of that smooth round bass sound that I associate with dynamic drivers. They work well here for EDM also but in my opinion they excel with more natural bass notes, such as those from electric and acoustic bass guitars, double bass and the lower end of guitars.

The mid to upper bass regions are slightly more present than I would have chosen on paper but after listening to them, I must say that they do not detract from the sound in my opinion. They use that slight extra presence around the 200Hz mark to their advantage and I find that my favourite music, which is heavily centered around acoustic instruments, to have a very natural low end and timbre. I especially enjoy acoustic guitar through the Jasper, such as “Something Just Like This” by Missy & Blonde and Julia Ross, “Billie Jean” by the Civil Wars or “Long After You’re Gone” by Chris Jones.

However, there are a few tracks where this additional presence in the mid/upper bass regions does have a bit of a negative effect. In songs like “Black Muse” by Prince, I do find that the bass is a little too warm, making the clarity of Prince’s bass playing lose some of its magic. This is something that I have experienced on a few tracks, mainly containing electric bass guitars that are very present in the mix and depend on clarity for the best appreciation of the bass playing. It is not something that I have found very common, it seems to just be when a specific mix of prominent bass and an already warm bass sound in these (200-300Hz) regions, not something that I notice on the vast majority of music I listen to.

Moving into the lower mids, the transition is mainly clean except when experiencing what I just mentioned with the odd song where the bass is a little too warm. In these occasional moments, it can seem that the transition is not quite as clean as it should be. But, really, I can’t complain about the transition as it is clean on 99% of the music I listen to.

Moving up through the mids, there is a slight dip just before the 1kHz mark which I would have expected to make vocals seem more recessed than they actually are. The reason for this is that it is only slightly below my preference in this regard and the space from 1kHz up to 3kHz has a smooth climb, reaching a point at 3kHz that I would have also expected to be more shouty than it actually is. I am not sure if it is the fact that the slight reduction around 1kHz counteracts the slight over elevation at 3kHz but it does work very well and does not come across recessed or shouty.

Up in the higher regions is where the Jasper really surprised me, providing much more extension than I am used to finding in single dynamic driver set ups. The treble is smooth and defined, without any unpleasant experiences (such as sibilance etc.), and provides a nice sensation of air. It is true that not all single DD IEMs suffer from roll off in the higher regions but it is something that I find in the majority of them, the Jasper is one of the cases that proves the point about it not being all of them.

The soundstage and image placement is also a very pleasurable experience. The soundstage is larger than average, providing plenty of space for the music to spread out and the image placement, while not the best I have ever heard, is also above average and makes the most of that nice space.

In fact, the airy openness of the Jasper, with above average space and decent image placement makes these very enjoyable IEMs and I have found myself reaching for them more and more. Tracks with layering like “Strange Fruit” by Dominique Fils-Aimé or even “Bubbles” by Yosi Horikawa are presented in a way that make it very easy to get lost in the music.

The detail retrieval of the Jasper is also rather good, maybe except for those cases where the upper bass becomes a little too much, but again, those are very limited occasions (at least with the music I listen to). They are not a set of IEMs that throw a huge amount of detail at you, but they are a set that has enough detail to appreciate all of the small background details, while keeping them there, in the background.


Comparison with the Dusk…

If you are someone who reads (or watches) many of my reviews, you will probably have noticed that I don’t do a lot of comparisons in the majority of my reviews. I try to keep my reviews consistent, using the same music and focusing on the same characteristics, so that my reviews can easily be compared by reading/watching one and then another. Well, that and the fact that my reviews are usually always way too long anyway! ;)

However, there are occasions on which I find that it is necessary or just seems to be the best way to go. Those are usually reviews of two versions of the same headphones/IEMs, or very similar headphones/IEMs, or, as in this case, because I feel that something is competing directly with something that I already like. 

In this case, my comparison is with the Moondrop Blessing 2: Dusk. I already mentioned previously (and in countless other reviews) that the Dusk is a set of IEMs that I use a lot and that I think highly of. In the case of the Jasper, I feel that they address some of the things that I am not so fond of with the Dusk, while maybe not quite hitting some of the things I do feel the Dusk is very good at.

First, the comfort. Yes, this is a very personal thing and is only relevant to me but I find that the Dusk are oversized and not that comfortable. I had to play with tons of different tips before I found something (the CP155) that worked well, fitting the huge tunnel that is the nozzle and was comfortable for long sessions. With the Jasper, although I have settled on the Xelastec as my preferred tips for them, I have found them to work well with quite a selection of tips and they are also very comfortable, sitting nicely inside my ear and not sticking out like I have a Cadilllac parked in each ear. Don’t get me wrong, the Dusk are not uncomfortable (otherwise I wouldn’t use them as much) but the Jasper are just much more so.

With regards to sound, both sound very good to my ears but excel in different ways. The Dusk has more bass, is more impressive in the lower registers, with a more powerful presentation and works very well for things like pop, electronic music etc. I still enjoy acoustic music on the Dusk but it doesn’t really make the bass shine like other genres do with the Dusk. In the case of the Jasper, I find the bass to be smoother and more inline with acoustic music, while still maintaining detail. If I had to pick one, I would probably go for the bass on the Dusk as it can be more impressive and doesn’t seem to suffer no matter what you throw at it, whereas the Jasper does have just a touch too much mid/upper bass on occasions, as mentioned in the bass section of the review.

The mids are probably also more inline with my preferences with the Dusk, especially when looking at a graph. However, I don’t listen to graphs and I must say that I can’t complain about the mids on the Jasper. They don’t look like they should sound like they do, but ignoring measurements and focusing on sound, I have no issues with the Jasper mids.

In the higher ranges is where I would definitely pick the Jasper over the Dusk. The treble is smoother, less harsh, and extends way more than the Dusk to my ears. I am obviously not listening up to 20kHz (my last check up showed 17kHz) but I feel that I am not missing information, at least within my hearing range, and at the same time, it is not overly done, the treble is not the center of attention.

Finally, the soundstage and general spaciousness of the Jasper is something that I find superior to the Dusk. Don’t get me wrong, these are still IEMs but with the openness of the sound, along with the comfort I find in them, they are perhaps the most enjoyable IEMs I have heard in this regard.


Conclusion...

The Jasper have sort of been a Deja Vu. Not long ago I received the T Force Yuan Li, a set of IEMs that I knew nothing about and just clicked with me, becoming one of my most used IEMs. The Jasper is a repeat of that. They are IEMs that I knew nothing about, not knowing what to expect, and I have found them to coincide very well with my preferences.

Another major factor for me is comfort, these are actually one of the few IEMs that I forget I have them in my ears, especially with Xelastec tips and a cable swap (the included cable is a good cable but is a little stiff to forget it is there). There are plenty of IEMs I find comfortable but very few I can forget are in my ears. The spaciousness of the sound also adds to the comfort, they are not open back but they are not a closed in sound either, making them far more enjoyable for me.

I feel that they are a set of IEMs that are reasonably priced at where they sit. Are they the best IEMs for less than 300€? Well that is going to be a question that gets a different answer from each person you ask but for a large proportion of my music which is acoustically based, I find that these are a great choice and will happily continue to reach for them when wanting to enjoy a relaxed listening session.

Now I am going to go and read Antdroids review of them and see if I still agree with (most of) his impressions 😉 

(if you want to read it also, you can find it here: https://www.audiodiscourse.com/2021/03/aune-jasper-review.html)