Disclaimer: Whizzer sent me the A15 via e-earphone, free of charge, in exchange for this review. The A15 is a single driver earphone that goes for 70$. 70$. 70$. You can find out all about it here: Whizzer A15 Dynamic Driver HiFi in-Ear Earphones with MMCX Detachable Cable.
Initially the only WH-starting word I knew was Wheezer. I’ve followed Wheezer since their first album, and whose albums I later scrutinised as a twenty something burning high on critical theory. Dissecting hidden meanings that even Wheezer weren’t aware of was cool. And today I found out that Wheezer is spelled Weezer. I’m such a poseur.
No matter the age, being a poseur isn’t cool. I just turned 38. I didn’t get 38 DMs, but I got a bunch requesting me to check out the A15. Yep, I’m 38 and I learned through twitter about Whizzer, about their fighter plane-sounding A15. Gosh, it’s made kind of like a fighter plane, too. Except that magnets fasten to its hull. They do not to Duralumin aka aircraft aluminium. As I went on about on Sunday, the A15 blows my mind. 70$ and made as well as Ultrasone’s IQ, and finished better than a number of other high-end earphones.
If the A15 doesn’t revolutionise the earphone industry I don’t know what will. I’ve not held an earphone so well constructed and outfitted for 70$, not to mention way up the price ladder. Who in their right mind would spend that or more for something pitifully constructed?
Even the housing’s protective coating looks good for the long haul. Meanwhile, my 700$ Ultrasone IQ is eating itself in a bubbly and corrosive feast. Beyond that, it’s no better made than this bad boy.
I fully admit that I dislike the A15’s thick, glasses-prising cable. It’s elongated elbows get jut out too much and get in the way, specs or no. It also makes a bit of noise, flips back and forth on its stopless-mount, and generally bugs the hell out of me. The bit between the y-split and the crazy memory wire feels hollow and isn’t well insulated against cuts and harsh bends. Otherwise it’s made really well. It’s got a cheaply but goodly relieved plug that somehow works with slimline cases. It’s the first fly in the A15’s ointment.
The other is the A15’s mounting flange. It’s slim and strong, but it can’t hold onto its stock foams. They come off in the ear, or slip down the earphone till they’re stuck against its chassis. Even at 70$ this is a bit too much.
The A15 also comes with a pair of tweezers, which instal and remove foolproof foam filter plugs. Under the bonnet is a faux leather carrying case and above that in a precise metal tray are nine sets of ear pads, two sets of which are the slippy foams I mentioned above. A well designed and laid out box bolds up the Whizzer W branding like a boss. Inside the parts fit Lexus-well and whose parts fit well. 70$. 70$. 70$.
The A15 is Whizzer’s full salvo fired across the bow of every earphone company at every price point out there.
Where I want the A15 it to sound more open, it demurs; where I want more action, it plods along civil and receptive.
Vocals sit back a bit behind high mids and lows. The midrange never jumps out, warms up, or pushes forward enough to define any musical genre. It’s an ant lion flipping and flipping and flipping sand from its nadir, unable to catch the ants escaping up either side of its lair. In this way, its midrange is the opposite of the Grado GR8e.
And neither its bass nor its treble are terribly stereo detailed. Stereo soundstage spreads mildly wide but is shallow along the z-axis. It divvies into obvious circles that project out from the listener’s cheeks. Bass steps forward and treble follows a half pace behind. It’s is a beach ball just about half a face out from your face.
It’s bright where it needs to be, but without loads of detail. It’s like there’s plastic wrap around every mapped plot on every peak and trough of every frequency and measure. It is pretty nice, but not what I’m used to hearing.
I have nothing against V-shaped sounds. I love them. And the A15’s is mild. More accurately, it is a v-shape created by mids that occupy a lower sound pressure trough. It’s a V-shape that prefers atmosphere to absolute detail. Bass thumps away, comfortably, neither nagging, nor bottoming out. It’s pretty clean, reasonably fast, and it never oversteps the mids. But it lacks both hard attacks and acute positional cues.
My favourite band is the upper mids. While lacking positional precision percussion is natural, free of splash, and hits the right sound pressure. It can stretch a pretty wide stereo image, too, when called upon. If only bass was as well defined and the midrange even in pressure.
Obviously I’m not as excited by how the A15 sounds as I am by how well it is designed and manufactured. It sounds good, but it’s not a revelation at its price point the way its chassis, accessory set, branding, and general design are.
The plastic wrap thing I love. It opens the eyes like a polarising filter. I’ve not experienced its like in any earphone.
The A15 more than passingly resembles Beyerdynamic’s Xelento and Astell & Kern’s AKT8iEMK1/2. And yet it doesn’t fit anywhere near as well. The good news is that it is distant enough of an homage to avoid copycat allegations.
Most of all, it is now a proven physical design. If and when Whizzer decide to go upscale, they have all the pieces they need.
70$ covers a lot of ground. The A15 sounds good, but not great. It is manufactured great. I expect it prove to both the competition and customers alike what can be done for 70$.