Review - Fosi Audio SK02

Review - Aful MagicOne

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TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Aful MagicOne

The Aful MagicOne have been sent to me by HifiGo in exchange for the publication of this review. They have not made any specific requests and I will do my usual best to be as unbiased as humanly possible.

The MagicOne can be found on HifiGo here: https://hifigo.com/products/aful-magicone

As always, this is a non-affiliate link.

To avoid being repetetive in my reviews, you can find all the info about how I create the reviews, equipment used, how I receive the products and how to interpret my reviews by visiting: About my reviews


Intro…

While I personally haven’t had the chance to hear it, the Aful Performer made quite an impression when it was released in late 2022 / early 2023. I think that the name also worked in favour of people taking notice, which, although I am told it is pronounced A-Fu (meaning blessing in Chinese), I think we all remember what was the first thing that sprung to mind when reading the name. I will refrain from any jokes, as they have already been done, but I actually think it was quite a smart name from marketing terms. It was certainly less forgettable than many of the other brands and models out there.

Looking at the Aful site, it seems that there are 2 versions of the Performer available, the 5 and the 8, while the model I am reviewing today is a more budget oriented set, coming in at just under 130€ on HifiGo (at the time of writing this review).

Where the Performer series are based on hybrid technology with multiple drivers, the MagicOne is as simple as it gets, a single balanced armature driver. There is plenty of mention of it being a special custom design BA, with innovative SE-Math Electro-Acoustic Intermodulation Technology (I have no idea what that means) and Nautilius Acoustic Maze (which sounds difficult), but at the end of the day, we want to know what it does when we plug it into the device of our choice and hit play!


Presentation…

A black sleeve featuring the IEMs on the cover and specifications on the back, slides away to reveal a simple black box with AFUL shown in small letters on the top. Inside this box we find two cutouts for the IEMs and a larger cutout for the storage/travel case.

The case is round, black, and made of what feels to be aluminium, with AFUL on the top in white letters. These round cases do offer quite a bit more protection but are more difficult to carry around in a pocket.

Opening the case reveals the included cable, along with two packets of additional tips. One packet contains 3 sizes of simple white silicone tips and the other contains 3 sets of black silicone tips with a slightly smaller, and more robust, core.

A nice touch is that the black tips have one blue core and one red core for each size, this means that you can easily identify the left and right IEM when using these tips. I actually found the black tips to be comfortable and to grip and seal very well, being my choice for this reviews.


Build and aesthetics…

Starting with the cable, it is quite a nice cable although it does feel a little plasticky on the outside. A quadruple weave in gray and silver, featuring all metal hardware, including the chin slider for those who prefer it. The cable terminates in a 4.4mm balanced connector (also available in 3.5mm) that sports AFUL on it, leading to the two pin connectors at the other end that sit flush with the IEMs. The cable matches the IEMs and gives a quality aesthetic to the package.

The IEMs themselves are of clear resin with a faceplate that is white but is not just a simple white plate. It is more of a sprayed finish under the clear layer, along with a silver design that has been “inspired by snowflakes” sporting matching silver letters underneath that read AFUL on one IEM and MagicOne on the other. 

The shape is rather generic and on the smaller side with longer nozzles, which I think will work well for many people. However, one thing to note is that there is no vent on these IEMs, meaning that those who suffer from pressure build up will notice it with the MagicOne. I personally noticed it after some longer sessions.

As the shells are clear, we can see what is going on inside and, although this is a single BA driver set, there is quite a bit in there. The HifiGo page refers to an RLC Computning Network, along with an Acoustic Computing System, so it is more than just 2 wires to a BA driver.

I have to say that I like the looks of the MagicOne, they are clean and smart (in my opinion), with the comfort only being an issue when suffering from pressure build up due to the lack of vents.

Edit: After putting this review together, I realized that the MagicOne is actually vented. This does not change the fact that I suffered from pressure build up after longer listening sessions, which may or may not affect others. It does mean that my comment about the being unvented is totally wrong though. I apologize for the misinformation!


Sound…

All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, etc.)

It has been a long time since I have had a single BA driver come across my desk, at least that I can remember. I have had plenty of multi BA sets, along with even more hybrid sets containing BA’s, but no single BA. There may be a model (or models) that I am forgetting but when thinking of a single BA, I have memories of IEMs from a couple of years ago that were not that impressive. Yes, some of them could be decent as far as details but usually came with an unimpressive bass and a sort of metallic shine in the upper ranges.

Therefore, when sitting down to listen to the MagicOne, I wasn’t exactly expecting much. This is one of those cases where we prove once again that preconceived opinions are not much use until we actually get to listen to an IEM, they are not always what we expect.

As usual, let’s first take a look at the frequency response in relation to my usual personal preference:

Now this is not one of those cases where I am going to say that the IEMs sound nothing like the graph, as I find the graph to be very representative of what I am hearing. However, the performance of the BA driver, along with whatever magic that is that Aful jargon I mentioned earlier, gives for a very good outcome, even if it is not my favourite tuning.

Starting off at the lowest notes, as I always do, with my usual subbass test, there is a noticeable lack of rumble in these ranges, even if there isn’t a noticeable lack of presence. Let me explain… there is extension down into the lowest sub notes on “Chameleon”, with them being reproduced, yet there is no sensation of vibration or rumble from those notes.

This gives the sensation of a lack of subbass, which I guess is true but not because it isn’t there, it is because it is not reproduced in the usual rumbling low note way. A frequency sweep proves that there is extension down to the 25Hz mark, yet it is more of a polite tone than it is what we would normally associate with subbass. Listening to “Royals”, due to the politeness and cleanliness of these tones, it does make the track seem to not have subbass at all.

While the midbass is more boosted in comparison to my usual preference, again that cleanliness and politeness of the single BA makes things lack punch in this area. For example, with “Shot Me Down”, there is no real bass presence, with a focus more on clarity than reproduction of EDM.

If we move over to things that are more based on instrument, such as the electric guitar of Tracy Chapman in “Give Me One Reason”, there is not much warmth in the lower end of the guitar notes. The same could be said with the guitar in “Crazy”, where the midbass is noticeably reduced, leaving more of a clean tone than a warm tone that is usual with this track.

As we move into the mid range and even to the upper mids, the clarity and definition is excellent, with vocals and instruments being the center of attention, allowing us to pay attention to things like nuances in the playing of said instruments. “Dreamin’” is presented in a way that it is much easier to appreciate that the the guitar playing is not quite as simple as it may seem on so many other sets. 

With “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes”, the fretless bass guitar may not have the body that other sets would give it but at the same time, it allows me to focus on some of the amazing things that Bakithi Kumala pulls off on this track.

The upper mids really do add clarity into the equation, at the expense of some tracks becoming slightly harsh on occasions, yet things like the brass section in the track I just mentioned are not painful like they can be on many sets. In fact, even the voice of Paul Simon manages to avoid sibilance and harshness in comparison to many other IEMs.

On the subject of sibilance, my usual test track “Code Cool” is not actually that sibilant, I would place Patricia Barber around a +1 or +2 (on my -12 to +12, totally unscientific, sibilance ranking), whereas some other vocals that I dont usually find sibilant, or very rarely, can present sibilance on the MagicOne. One of those cases would actually be Daniella Andrade in the track “Crazy”  that I mentioned a moment ago.

I think this is very much due to that slight boost around 6kHz which, although it does avoid my dreaded 5kHz pain point, it can react to certain vocals in a sibilant way. This is by no means terrible but it is noticeable.

Moving into the treble areas, there is a bit of a lack of air and shine, although, that 6kHz boost does sort of take control of that upper range, masking the treble that is found above it. Reducing that 6kHz area (playing with EQ) reveals a treble that may not be the most extended or present but is smooth and pleasurable.

I have already mentioned details throughout the review and they are rather impressive. Added to this, I find that the MagicOne have a very good sense of separation between layers and good placement of those details. The soundstage may not be huge but Aful have done a very good job of using the space, with everything well located and easily distinguished from the surrounding details.

Isolation is also very good due to the non vented shells and the great seal that these IEMs offer. As always, you can see the isolation and compare it with other models here: achoreviews.squig.link/isolation


Conclusion…

The Aful MagicOne are quite a pleasant surprise, even if they do still inherit some of the usual issues with single BA set ups. There is a noticeable lack of bass which will not suit many and that boost just above 6kHz does hide what would otherwise be a rather smooth and elegant treble, even if slightly rolled off.

Other than that, they are a well built, good looking and very well performing set of IEMs. They do a great job of revealing and separating detail and layers, making it very easy to appreciate the nuances in the playing of many great musicians.

If you are in the market for a simple set of single BA IEMs, then I think you can do far worse than the MagicOne, in fact, I think they are a very competent set in a segment that is not really full of options nowadays.


All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on achoreviews.squig.link
 
All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation

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