Advanced AcousticWerkes Q earphone review - expatinjapan

Advanced AcousticWerkes Q earphone with the Hifiman MegaMini Dap

Advanced AcousticWerkes Q review

I tried the AAW Q earphone at the e-earphone show in Tokyo, July 2016 and surprised that such a powerful and full sound could come out of such a small earphone.

The Q is one of the latest earphone in a new line up of universal earphones from Advanced AcousticWerkes who also specialize in custom IEMs.
There are the Nebula One (S$149) and Nebula Two (S$199) universal models available also.

What you get

A beautiful and easy to use carrying case.

The earphones themselves. Strong and well built. 
The jack is well supported, also at the splitter and earphones relief points.

Close ups of the leather carry case,

Leather cable clip, flight adaptor and 1/4 inch (6.35mm) adaptor plug.

A wide range of foam and silicone tips to choose from.

AAW Q and CEntrance Hifi-Skyn.

Information, specifications and company history.

From the AAW website:

Designed to be the smallest audiophile earphone in the world, Q is a feat of precision engineering, advanced acoustic tuning, human ergonomics and audiology research.

The ICM Concept

Q forms its own unique class in the earphone world, which is depicted as ‘In-Canal Monitor’ or ICM. The patent pending design sees Q in a staggering micro size of 8.8mm in length, 6mm in diameter and weighs less than one gram per side. It is coupled with a proprietary designed silicone ear tip, approximately 70% of the Q’s body sits inside the auditory canal. Furthermore, the 6mm dynamic driver places itself in the front cavity of the acoustic chamber and the diaphragm spearheads the entire acoustic system, which makes the membrane to membrane distance minimized to a degree of less than 20mm. Such close proximity reduces unwanted resonation on the high frequency to produce a coherent and smooth treble while maintains excellent extension. Q is almost invisible when fully inserted, the smaller space in front of the diaphragm also reduces decay in bass energy and more accurately presents the deepness feeling in the bass realm. Despite the miniature size, Q offers a full bodied and organic sound, with deep impact and spatial sound stage.

The 6mm Dynamic Micro Driver

The AAW in-house developed 6mm driver is stainless steel bodied with ultra-thin bio-composite diaphragm. The center ring of the membrane is more rigid, coupled with lightweight voice coil allows faster movements and improves high frequency extensions. The outer ring is more tenuous configured so it moves air in higher amplitude and in turn offers better bass response. The tonality is specially tuned with in-canal application in mind. It is capable of extending to both extremes of the sound frequencies (10Hz to 40kHz).

Build and Ergonomics

Q’s acoustic body is completed constructed in stainless steel. It is milled to such precision that the outer shell is of 200-micron thickness, it enables Q to maintain such a petite footprint so it is adaptable even for the smallest ear canals out there. The stainless steel material ensures hardness and durability is maintained despite the ultra-thinness. The Y-split and 3.5mm connector are built in the same fashion for everlasting lifespan. Since Q is made to be deep canal fit, AAW has put every effort in minimizing the cable microphonic effect while delivering an unparalleled sonic performance. Q’s cable can be worn straight down or over-ear, paired magnetic cable clip, cable noise is kept at bay.


Q’s cable is designed to be ultra-flexible and sheathed with high quality nylon sleeve for the longevity and at the same time to be aesthetically pleasing. The conductors are made of premium grade Oxygen Free Copper, strengthened with tensile nylon strands. It ensures precise signal transmission and rich detail retrieval, providing immense clarity over the sound realm with better depth, width, image focus and finer low range resolution.


Being deep canal fit, right sized tips for Q are critical for a perfect fitting. Q comes with 3 pairs AAW proprietary designed silicone tips and 3 pairs of memory foam tips in various sizes. These tips are specially configured to have a special stem which hosts the Q’s stainless body and places the ICM firmly in ear canal. The memory foam tips expand to fit ear canal space and soften when in contact with body warmth. Q is also supplied with a magnetic cable clipper to fixate cable onto clothing to further eliminate cable noise. Standard flight adapter and 3/8” to 1/8” adapter is included as well. AAW has designed a premium leather pouch to holster Q, it is slim and compact to carry around and with cable management built in. A uniquely designed leather cable clip is also included to further eliminate cable noise.`

From the AAW website:

  • Q ICM
  • Earphone sleeve: Foam 3 pairs, Ultra-Flex 3 pairs
  • AAW carrying pouch
  • Flight adaptor
  • 1/4 inch adaptor
  • User manual
  • Warranty card

Specs from the AAW website:

  • Proprietary 6mm Dynamic MicroDriver
  • Impedance: 42Ohm
  • Frequency Range: 10Hz-400000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 113db SPL @ 1mW
  • Input Power: 3mW
  • Cable Length: 1.27m
  • Android/Apple dual mode inline remote control

Everything comes nicely sealed in a convenient bag.

Tips are nicely covered on arrival also, and arranged on a metal base.


I listened to the Advanced AcousticWerkes Q earphone after giving it a solid burn in of over 100 hours. Stock silicone tips.

I used the Opus#1 Dap, Shozy Alien Gold, CENtrance Hifi-Skyn (with Flacplayer app), Hifiman MegaMini and also straight out of the ipod touch 6G.

I used FLAC tracks throughout my testing.

The Advanced AcousticWerkes Q earphone as I have already mentioned is a surprising piece of design and engineering. Operating with only a small micro driver within a tiny casing the AAW Q produces an astonishing feat of accurate music reproduction.

The bass is crisp , deep and full with a fast decay.
The mids are lush, smooth and organic.
The treble is sweet and beautifully extended to a satisfying point.

To my ears it seems fairly accurate in its reproduction of music tracks.

Soundstage is medium to wide, more to the sides with the vocals from the middle to the front of your skull.
Sub bass hits just under and behind the ears, whilst general bass is one the sides of ones head.

Something like Jeff Buckley hits all the right notes.
Massive Attack comes across as dreamy and floating when the Mezzanine album comes on.
trespassers William with their attention to detail and lingering cymbals and melodic harmonies is reproduced faithfully and detailed. Yet, sweet and full to ones ears.
Portishead hits hard and deep as it short, the manufactured distortion comes across clear as a bell.
Leonard Cohen `Waiting for the miracle` thumps along and his grainy voice is deep manly as ever, the music in the background is deliciously reproduced.
Lana Del Rey `Dark paradise` is crystal clear in the nitro, when the bass comes on it hits hard with a fast decay.
Norah Jones `turn me on` is even, and well paced with a certain clarity and excellent separation of the instruments.
The Verve `This time` is very musical and seems to handle all the different instruments with aplomb.
The Smiths `Ask me` is quick and fast, separation is great, medium soundstage.

The Q is a little wonder and a headphone I plan to add to my general rotation. 
The size and full sound makes it a match for most daps. I did find my experience with the Hifi-Skyn to be a winner.
The small size factor makes it perfect for walking, commuting or even at the gym (I would not want to get sweat on this little beauty though).
The excellent sound quality the Q produces makes it a great choice within the $200 - $300 range.

Advanced AcousticWerkes Q and Shozy Alien Zero

At S$299 or US$214 the Q earphone is placed in the moderate pricing zone.

It is great value in my opinion as it out performs its price point, and in such a small footprint also.

Build is simple, well designed and robust.

The sound is wonderful.

I will probably be handing these onto my wife as they are the first earphones with a full quality sound, extremely small foot print to appear on my review table. She is sensitive to high volumes so I think these at a low volume will produce enough dynamics to satisfy. I would most certainly keep it for myself If she had not been waiting a long time for the perfect earphone for her.

The fit is so easy, they just nest within, very easy not to even notice them. just the tip, no hard edges to rub against one inner or outer parts.


The Advanced AcousticWerkes Q earphone is value for money.

It a medium to full sounding earphone, good detail retrieval, nice decent sound stage, great instrument separation.

It performs very smoothly and clear, yet also has a clarity and crispness to it. It seems to tread the fine line between pleasingly analytical and beautiful musicality.

Nice deep full bass, easy warm mids and reaching clear treble.

A very easy to listen, smooth and at times organic earphone, creamy female vocals, twinkling treble where it counts. A very enjoyable earphone.

I can listen to the Q for lengthy periods of time without fatigue.

Good isolation.

In short. I love this like wonder very much. How they managed to pack all this into such a small footprint is beyond me.

Excellent Advanced AcousticWerkes!

Thank you to Advanced AcousticWerkes for sending Head pie the Q for review


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