PROS: Big open soundstage, natural tonality and timbre, hefty flexible warm bass, good imaging with rich layering, fatigue and sibilance free, smooth lush vocal-mids, superbly sparkly treble, holographic 3D presentation that doesnt feel forced, fast yet non edgy attack, highly musical-emotional (subjective), nuanced tone, well balanced crisp harman curve tuning, dense bodied never muddy sound, incredible tuning for a first IEM, sutrdy yet beautifully refined construction-design
CONS: Warm bass definition so kick drum lack a bit of separation-presence, not very textured timbre, a bit colored treble that push ultra highs micro details on top, tiny hint lean mids, poor cable choice for a flagship IEM
SOUND VALUE: 9/10
AUNE company are in the audio industry for more than 17 years, manufacturing DAC, DAP and Amplifiers. They are well respected among audiophiles and have a solid fan base which they take by surprise by launching their very first earphones, the Jasper.
When an audio company that hasn’t experience in a specific area decides to go out of their expertise, i’m always concern about lack of experience that might lead to an amateur product -FIIO being a good example with their first IEM release which were rather mediocre. But Aune is very serious about their new Jasper and work 3 years to come up with all the techs and acoustic design needed to achieve a flagship single dynamic IEM that sound like no other, cause well, everything in there is patented by them and they don’t use pre-fabricate DD or BA from other brands.
Unlike some overly skeptical (or cynical) audio enthusiast that don’t believe in transient response property of dynamic drivers diaphragm material, i’m always earger to know what type of material it use, including for voice coil and magnet. As well, i give great importance to inner acoustic design of IEM housing, which is the home of sound transmission and resonance. This is something not enough taken seriously with lot of lazy earphones creator, including Campfire Audio which just stock BA’s in same housing over and over again. You know how audiophile give extreme important to speaker placement and room size-type to achieve best sound with their sound system? Well, it should be the same with IEM. It should be seen as an acoustic room, which it is.
Aune give great thinking about acoustic engineering, as well as DD driver material. For the dynamic diaphragm, they use something mysterious and exotic call ”Multi-Gradiation-Diaphragm” drivers, which promise fast well-articulated transient response with unique flexibility properties.
”The 10mm dynamic driver unit features a self-developed MGD material. MGD stands for Multi-Gradation Diaphragm, the Diaphragm unit is made with high-fidelity material that has high damping force, high speed, and high stiffness. The multi-gradation diaphragm is paired with a specially designed ultra-linear symmetric magnetic system that builds the dynamic core with ultra-low distortion. This ensures the user gets a fast, lifelike audio experience with ultra-low distortion and precise detail retrieval.”
To some extent, this remind me topological driver properties of the Hifiman RE serie, which have unique transient response abilities too, especially the RE2000 Gold flagship model that I love alot (but find insanely overpriced at the time).
So, Aune does not just have random ideas for their IEM but a symbiotic vision, the driver, ultra-linear magnet and sound chamber all working together for the very same purpose: delivering a smooth life like revealing sound with great technicalities that would not stole musicality emotion. Let’s see in this review if they achieve their vision and more importantly if this single-DD IEM can compete in sub-500$ mid-tier range without looking like a midget.
PACKAGING is nice and sober, not bling-bling, but more than adequate for 300$ IEM. The star of the show is the Jasper and when we open the box its what impresses and excites us first. After we are happy to see the well made round carrying case….and a little underwhelmed by the quality of the cable as well as type of earhook it use. When we try to twist the carrying case cover, we are surprised by a loud unpleasant squeaky noise, so i would not suggest using it in public!
CONSTRUCTION of the JASPER is a real piece of art both in durability and beauty, something refined, sensually curvy yet sober and timeless. The metal is thick with a mirror finish that like any mirror finish will be prompt to easy scratching. The MMCX connector is all metal, ultra sturdy, promising long durability even with frequent cable disconnection.
DESIGN is curvy without any sharpness and a bit bulbous, and it has a rather short nozzle, so while its very comfortable it can be problematic for secure fit with short ear tips. The best ear tips for me are the KZ Starlines which permit to fully open the sound and have enough deep seal. To note that these are a bit heavy, so cable with earhook is suggested even if i do enjoy them with Final SPC cable too. For me, the included cable has a ear hook shape that doesnt permit perfect IEM placement, so if its the case for you too, swap cable asap!
SOUND (source: SMSL SH9-SU9, Ibasso DX90, Xduoo X20, Audirect BEAM2, Jcally JM20)
I’m an emotive being, and yes, I get intense crushes from time to time that are irrational even in IEM world, to some extend I can say that for the Final E5000 which is far from perfectly balanced and uncolored…and other ones including this delicious Aune Jasper because yes, instead of my typical snobby yuck face, it was a happy WOW face that I wear while listening to the very first minutes of this IEM and i never disconnect them from this dumb happy face even after hours and hours of use. Waking up next day: same thing, dumb happy face that cannot stop to be WOWed! But why, whyyyyyyy?? Because JASPER is a guilty pleasure well balanced IEM with excellent technicalities, making it both fun, realist and competent.
Aune follows the Harman Target curve to tune their first IEM, I guess this serves to compensate for lack of experience in tuning, but not in hearing because the tuner nail what we rarely found in the overly serious audiophile world, something that boosts the balanced W to neutralish tuning which is lively in dynamic, vivid in imaging-clarity, yet smooth in timbre and attack bite. I mean, my happy face at first listen was due to bass impact weight-roundness-decay, mids lushness and both treble fullness and sparkle-airiness. I was like, how can it! Well, now for the sake of this review I will try to enter my dirtiest grumpy critical mood so I can find at least some drawback in the Jasper acoustic realm. But I will still be honest about the positive side too.
SOUNDSTAGE is very wide, quite tall and a bit average in term of deepness but still very holographic and complex in spatiality. It’s not hall-like, but not far from it. Why it is not hall like? Cause it sounds immersive, organically condensed and dynamic, not distant-resonant.
IMAGING is extremely impressive in terms of fluid layering and in my audio perception their 2 things in spatial placement and its sound layers and nailed positioning. The Jasper excels more in open organic layering than clinical positioning, it mixes both very well but the layers stole some crisp positioning when bass it occurs. This is due to modern mixing more than Jasper, listening to classical, I can easily pinpoint at right-center-left any instruments. I would say the imaging is 3D holographic and uniquely nuanced and articulated yet super immersive (and addictive).
BASS is flexible, weighty and rumbly, with slight lower-mids bass emphasis bump that give extra body to both kick drum and sub-line, it has dense well-controlled rumble that can easily be extracted from rest of the frequencies which add fun without killing balance. The low end is what hooks me at first and while its not the most textured, it’s this kind of juicy authoritative bass we never have enough. Let’s say its for ”romantic headbanger” more than an immature bass head. Like the Final E5000, it do add a bit of warmth to mids and vocal in an organic, dangerously addictive way. Warm, yet nuanced in tone and refined in natural non-amplify texturing. This isn’t snappy ultra-fast thumpy bass but avoids being boomy due to soften impact lead.
MIDS are as lush as it can get, I say i wanna get severely critical but the mids are sincerely good, smoothly forwarded without any sibilance, they are wide, holographic and super layered. While the definition isn’t the sharpest, the body is dense, timbre is natural and macro-resolution out of this world for a single DD. The level of transparency is excellent, this isnt intimate ultra-centered mids and vocal, it open and float in spatiality. Some will find them a bit recessed due to tamed upper mids but it’s only the case with bass-heavy music or warm audio source. Female vocal has hint of euphonic breathiness that give extra body. Mids aren’t very textured, a bit organic but with great tonal nuance and enough pitch contour to permit good layering. What it lacks is a bit of attack lead and snap, so if you have a violin quartet playing super fast it might be not as well articulated as solo violin or trio, but man, the violin sound sooo naturaly real again, free of this fatigue that upper mids can create with this instrument. If your a lazy listener, the mids might lack forwarded details and impact, but if you are critical like me, you will dive deep in Jasper sound and understand its intricate richness.
TREBLE is oh so sparkly, airy and extended , yet a bit darkish in low-mid highs region. Jasper uses a tuning trick to open the sound and add air to the top, so it extracts micro-details in the ultra upper highs region but do tame texture of the instrument a bit, this is where it would be love or hate affair I think. Acoustic guitar will have more snap and decay than electric guitar bite and if you are a fan of folk your in for pure bliss. Less so if your into metal or fast rock. What Jasper achieve is something unique, cause while the treble is smooth overall, it got good snap and excellent separation, it never sound boring or rolled off, yet, never aggressive and overly analytical. Airy, delicate, refined, superbly articulated, perhaps a bit thin or too organic for some, just perfect for me for long listening session free of fatigue but not of excitement and musicality.
Side notes: The Jasper will scale up with good amping and clean clear neutral DAC, they do less good with warm or not very transparent and resolved source. Eartips have big impact ou soundstage imaging. Cables pairing is perhaps something worthy of interest too. Feed them well and these beast will sign like angels!
COMPARISONS (all made using SMSL SU9 DAC+SH9 AMP)
VS VSONIC VS9 (300$ Flagship single DD)
VS9 are brighter and more fowards sounding, with more intimate soundstage and inferior imaging-layering. Bass is dryer, more textured and lean. Attack can get messy with busy track unlike Jasper even if lower treble have less texture. VS9 can get a bit shouty in treble, even splashy, Jasper being way more organic and clean sounding. Everything is more bodied with the Jasper, vocals are lusher fuller and less sibilant. The timbre of VS9 is more grainy, saturated and artificial, less natural and liquid. Treble is more axed in lower-mids highs and lack natural extension-decay-sparkle-airiness of Jasper. Going from Jasper to VS9 is kind of aggression, as well as regression, it sounds edgy, saturated, overly bright and thin, body less and cold. Jasper is from another league in terms of technicalities and fuller more natural-cohesive-sounding in terms of tonality.
VS DITA FEALTY (around 1000$ single DD)
Brighter WAY brighter with more forwards upper mids, so female vocal has more fake presence but it sound thinner and less transparent and natural than Jasper. Bass is dryer, way less boosted and more rolled off in sub-bass extension, its more textured but in a grainy way. Attack have more bite but less natural decay. DITA are bright-neutral with treble emphasis, it can dig more details but will not layer them properly in spatiality like the Jasper. Treble can get hot and harsh with aggressive music, not the Jasper. Even if i was wowed by DITA soundstage before, it isnt as wide and holographic as Jasper. Here, the real flagship DD IEM seem to be the 300$ Jasper, not the 1K$ FEALTY. Unless your an aggressive treble head.
VS NFaudio NM2+ (180$ single DD)
These 2 seem to follow a similar harman tuning curve, but NM2+ in a more aggressive W shape approach where the mids+upper mids are brighter and more forwards. While it’s the less expensive contender, its the ”closest” fight. Firstly, the Jasper is smoother and better balanced as a whole, and that even if bass moves more air and create more rumble-resonance. While smoother, its transparency is better too, as well as soundstage size and openness which permit more realist imaging, as if NM2+ suffers from lack of sound layers articulation. It was clear that NM2+ is about 30% easier to drive too. NM2+ present a wall of sound while Jasper a circular room where your in the middle. Some might find NM2+ attack faster at first, but its just due to more fowards upper mids that offer extra grip and all illusions fall apart with fast busy track where the NM2+ will go messy and saturated due to lack of space between instrument and well, transient speed flexibility. Timbre is more liquid and gently nuanced with Jasper, bright and saturated with details for the NM2+. Treble is more crunchy but less sparkly than Jasper.
All in all, apart when I nitpick the attack speed in busy tracks, the NM2+ is very good, similar in balance to Jasper apart for brighter tone and lack of extension at both extreme bass-treble end.
Technicalities is where the NM2+ can’t keep up with 120$ pricier Jasper.
VS FINAL A8000 (2000$ single Pure Beryllium DD)
Ok this is just for fun, cause unlike the Fealty these are real end game IEM, but let’s begin by saying they aren’t as lush and musical as the Jasper, which have a more laid-back, bassy, yet transparent and open presentation. Sure, Jasper can’t keep up with A8K attack speed snap-control as well as clarity, details, imaging cue, but the timbre is smoother and more natural, while hyper-realist hyper textured with the A8K. Soundstage is wider, taller but less deep. Imaging feel more layered but not as analytical and precise in spatial placement. While a8K have cleaner separation, the presentation feels a bit more intimate and closed. An instrument like the woodwind sound more airy, wide and dense with air with Jasper, violin is very different in presentation, wider denser but not at abrasive in attack lead, still, A8K mids, while more clear and upper mids forwards, sound thinner too. I prefer vocal presentation of Jasper even if a bit more laid back-recessed they are more open and smooth. Treble is where Jasper is put to shame and even feel a bit dark apart for upper highs sparkle wich have more decay and brilliance. A8K treble is full and doesnt forget a tiny bit of micro details or texture richness.
All in all, these 2 complements well each other and the Jasper would have sell for 1000$ i would not find it more irrationally priced than A8K.
It’s pretty evident i’m a BIG fanboi of the Aune Jasper by now and literally can’t stop to listen to them, even stealing the sacred listening time of my precious Final Audio A8000, because well, they complete each other very well with their different tonality mood. And their mirror finish too.
In the other hand, i’m very rarely a fanboi of an IEM to the point of being addicted that intensely, which is a subjective reaction to some extend.
What isn’t subjective is the fact the Jasper are among best single Dynamic Drivers that I heard in this price range, even putting to shame IEM like Dita Fealty, Vsonic VS9 or Hifiman RE800 in term of well-layered tonal coherence and dynamic technicalities.
When an IEM nail everything connected to musicality, it’s because it has more than one trick in it’s pocket, and the wide range of technical aspect like imaging, clarity, transparency, attack weight etc that the Jasper delivers with prowess is something to not only be heard but enjoy too, due to it’s smooth tonal balance inspired by harman target, natural dense timbre and delicately sparkly highs.
From an audio company only know for their DAC-AMP-DAP experience, it’s a tour de force to have achieved such a refined mature yet natural fun tuning and I just can’t imagine what would be their second IEM creation.
Please Aune, if you read this, keep the audio engineer team and tuner that make this IEM possible and keep up the great earphones work!
PS: This IEM came from HIFIGO, it was provided as loan review unit after I personally share them my great interest in this IEM due to unique driver tech inside. I’m not affiliated or pay by Hifigo but do adore their contact agent because he accept my honnesty for the better or the worst. Now it’s for the better, good for him so if you want to buy the Jasper follow this link, you can’t go wrong with Hifigo compared to well biiiiiip.