Monday, April 20, 2015

ACS Custom - Evolve Live! (T1 Live! ) Review (Part 1)

It’s true that I am fussy. I only trust a few people with my hearing, mostly just me. I first came across ACS over 15 years ago and enjoyed my original ER15’s very much (still have the little green rucksack to prove it!)

So, when it came to custom monitoring, I took great confidence in choosing the guys that were there at the beginning with Garwood when good IEM really started. With my ear impressions and sent off to ACS Custom, I waited.

At the end of 2014, the custom moulded 3 way IEM with the Live! Feature was called the T1 Live! It’s now the Evolve Live! And that’s what I’ll refer to them as for simplicity. The full spec  is on the website (insert link) but the Evolve uses 3 drivers with a passive crossover network all packed in to each ear, to deliver a sound akin to sitting in a studio control room but where you can’t hear the person next to you.

I use mine both as a drummer, and as a sound engineer, especially when on monitors. As such I speak drummer and tech, not hifi, as you’ll see from the following description. I've also tried to avoid too much technical language and jargon.

They are a very true and natural sounding monitor where you get out what you put in. Checked with my Sennheiser IEM system and various other headphone amps on digital desks etc, I found them to sound good whatever they’re running on.

I was particularly looking for more kick drum in my mixes without sacrificing clarity on other instruments and the low end is strong and clear. In fact, the separation on each instrument is very clean.

Vocals sit nicely across everything and, if monitoring in stereo, the image can be massively wide.
One area I really notice the quality is when using effects. On a recent gig using 3 reverbs and a delay (drums, brass, vox & vox respectively) I was genuinely surprised that I could hear and identify each reverb, even though the differences are quite subtle.

The sound isn’t particularly ‘shaped’ but neither is it flat and clinical. I find it particularly natural and not at all fatiguing. From punk and ska through to grand pianos and string sections, they have faithfully reproduced it all so far.

Comfort is of course really important. If I’m drumming I might be singing as well, so there’s lots of movement going on, plus you get hot or sweaty. If I’m engineering, I’ll be taking the monitors in & out whilst I swap between them and my listen wedge.

I loved my original ER15’s and I love these too. I will never understand someone who wants to put a hard acrylic shell in their ear and the medical grade silicon is superb. Genuinely comfortable enough to forget you have them in.

Whilst their Linum cable isn’t yet available for these, the black multicore cable you do get is great. Given how may cores it has (including the Live! Feed) it’s still low profile and pretty tough. The multipin plugs are Neutric and are a good solid fit and won’t pull out, but the ears end will do with enough force, saving your ears & monitors from damage.

I had mine supplied in a pelicase, which has kept them safe whilst working and you can fit the accessories in there too. I have dry ear canals (apparently) so having the lube with me is very handy.

For me the attention to detail from ACS is exactly what I need from a high end supplier. From the 3.5mm adaptor, to the support from the team in Banbury; from the wax guards to the 1st class sound. This is why I trust them with my hearing.

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