I’ve been loving the products from AAW lately, with every model I try impressing me further than the last. And today I’m checking out another staple from the Singapore-based company, the AAW Mockingbird. But at a hefty $1699, how does it sound? And does that sound compare to other AAW models?
AAW Mockingbird Review
Like other high-end AAW earphones, the Mockingbird comes in a solid leather-ish fabric case/box. Inside, there’s a wood earphone case, a symphonym copper cable, the earphones, a 1/4” stereo adapter, an airline adapter, and several pairs of eartips.
Featuring a translucent build with a stylized faceplate, the Mockingbird looks gorgeous but packs some pretty impressive innards, too. Inside each earpiece, a total of nine drivers handles sound quality.
Arranged with one dynamic driver tackling the lows, four BA drivers handle the mids, and another four BA drivers address the highs. Between the nine drivers, the Mockingbird offers four-way crossover.
The earpieces are a little larger to accommodate all those drivers, but no more so than most other AAW models, and about on-par with the earpieces that Empire Ears uses. Once placed in my cavernous ears, they feel comfortable – and that comfort holds up during even my longest listening session.
Utilizing a 2-pin connection, the earpieces connect to the included silver cable from Symphonym. At first glance, this cable looks a lot like the stuff from Effect Audio (but it does feel more comfortable looped over my giant ears than the Effect ARES II).
While a little weighty, the solid plug and braided design go a long way in imparting an impression of quality. This cable feels like it could withstand any abuse.
With ample detail and a solid bass response, the AAW Mockingbird features a full low end. Clean and clear, there’s no bleed here, and the Mockingbird’s lows feel more reference-grade than any other earphone in the AAW lineup. Bass comes in tight and precise – not overblown but still energetic and engaging. Indeed, the whole low end seems to follow this trend – fun enough to induce subconscious toe-tapping and head-nodding, but still with plenty of focus for extended critical listening.
Meaty to a fault, the mids deliver a flood of detail in strong fidelity. Instrumentation remains contrasting and sharp, readily complimenting the equally-impressive vocals. Not exactly forward, the vocals seem to float over the instrumentation. And, with no compression or distortion, this sound feels fairly bulletproof. But the longer I listen, the less I actually pay attention to the sound of this earphone. Instead, I’m focused on the music, and I have to say, this is the most transparent midrange I have ever heard. Less about character or flavor, forward-leaning or recessed, these mids just do what any midrange should: deliver the sound and get the Hell out of the way.
When it comes to the highs, I was almost expecting a brighter sound more on par with the AAW Canary – the current flagship of the AAW lineup. Yet, once the highs start coming through, the Mockingbird feels just a tad bit reserved. And not in a bad way, either. High notes never reach the piercing or uncomfortable excesses one usually associates with a bright earphone. But when it comes to all the little nuances – the high pitch of a chanteuse’s voice or violins peaking at a crescendo – the Mockingbird gracefully dances along a thin line few earphones can even begin to tackle.
The AAW Mockingbird feels deep and spacious. While somewhat hampered by its in-ear design, any test track reveals a good amount of room for a lifelike listening experience. Clarity and separation are hallmarks of this sound, and each layer of a track feels like it exists in its own sphere, allowing you to hear any given composition as a final product or a collection of its individual parts.
If you’re a critical listener, or someone who just wants a damn fine earphone, you’re going to love the Mockingbird. For professionals who need a hi-res monitor, the Mockingbird sounds better than Shure, Westone, or Campfire. Compared to the vast majority of IEMs from Noble Audio and Empire Ears, the Mockingbird also comes out on top. For an improvement on this sound, you would need to shell out $2999 for the 64 Audio U18t. Otherwise, forget it.
But what if you’re looking for a slightly different sound profile? The Empire Ears Legend-X offers a bit more punch in the lows and a little more verve in the highs. However, even at $2299, it isn’t necessarily more accurate, but more of an audiophile earphone.
If you’re looking for something with a bit more zazz in the high end, my recommendation would go to the AAW Canary. For only $300 more, you get a world class earphone with highs that will make your toes curl.
But for overall clarity, accuracy, and precision, I would stack the Mockingbird up against almost any other earphone except the U18t. For value-per-dollar, though, even the U18t starts to lose its luster when compared to the Mockingbird. And that value only increases when you unleash the Mockingbird on your music library. Because it soon becomes apparent that as clinical as this earphone can be, it can still sound incredibly fun and engaging.
I don’t often consider dropping $1699 on a pair of earphones at the drop of a hat. But when I do, it’s because I’ve heard the AAW Mockingbird. While this price point may make the Mockingbird a bit more elusive for most folks, seasoned listeners should know this bird ain’t no jive turkey. With its excellent build, immaculate sound, and eye-catching good looks, this earphone packs one impressive punch. But it’s that perfectly-tuned sense of accuracy that overwhelms my ears and proves the Mockingbird stays on your mind long after you’ve stopped listening to it. Our take? Possibly the best earphone yet from AAW, and one colossal technical achievement for audio lovers everywhere.
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