Astrotec launched AM850 that year, as a mid-to-high-end positioning product in its classic AM series, its quality performance has been widely praised. This year the manufacturer finally launched an upgraded version: Astrotec AM850 MK2. The appearance design has undergone a qualitative change, and a large cavity design of the second-generation casting process is adopted. It is equipped with LCP (Liquid Crystal Polymer) diaphragm, and has added Interchangeable tuning nozzles, including circular, plum-shaped, and hexagonal tuning nozzles. Three kinds of tones and three kinds of experience, let’s take a look at it together.
Astrotec AM850 MK2 specs and features
- 10mm LCP diaphragm dynamic driver
- 4/8N OFC silver-plated cable
- Interchangeable tuning nozzles
- MMCX socket supported
- 5Hz-35KHz frequency response
- $169 – Check latest price on: AliExpress (Official Store), Amazon US or other Amazon countries
Appearance & Accessories
In addition to earbuds and wires, there is a hard storage box, three pairs of tuning nozzles, cleaning brushes, 6 pairs of silicone eartips and 2 pairs of sponge eartips.
AM850 MK2 is the first earphones in Astrotec AM series with interchangeable wire design, and it is one of the very few earphones with interchangeable tuning nozzles on the market. The three pairs of tuning nozzles provided differ in shape, tone, and coloration: Neutral Black is designed to bring out the natural tone of the earbuds themselves. Tide Gray boosts the ambience of the sound with gain in the low and high frequencies. Air Gold enhances the airiness of the sound by attenuating low frequencies and enhancing high frequencies.
The shell of the earbud cavity is made of aviation-grade aluminum alloy, which has the characteristics of light weight and high strength. The entire shell is integrally formed by the five-axis CNC process, so the surface is very smooth and round, without any burr. A bulge at the front end of the tuning nozzles helps to secure the eartips and prevents them from falling off during use.
There are three small holes on the panels of the left and right cavities, the purpose is to prevent the LCP liquid crystal diaphragm from being deformed due to air pressure during long-term use. The earphones use a standard MMCX interface, which is convenient for users to replace or upgrade the earphone cable.
Of course, for most users, it is not necessary to replace the wire in a short time. Because the standard earphone cable is a very high-quality 4/8N oxygen-free copper silver-plated cable, which has excellent sound conduction performance. The standard earphone cable uses an L-shaped 3.5mm plug, which is more durable than a straight plug.
Comfort is excellent and sound insulation is mediocre
The weight of a single earbud is 6.5g. With the ergonomic cavity design and the way of wearing it around the ear, the burden on the ear during use is actually not large. 1-2 hours of continuous listening to music will not cause obvious soreness in my ears, but after more than 2 hours, my ears still feel slight discomfort.
Because this earphones adopts an in-ear design, as long as you choose the right eartips, you can achieve not bad passive sound insulation. Of course, when used in a too noisy environment, there is definitely a gap between the immersion and ANC headphones.
Sound Quality: A pair of earphones with three tones
Astrotec AM850 MK2 uses a 10mm LCP diaphragm dynamic driver, and the frequency response range reaches 5Hz-35KHz. The main advantage of the LCP diaphragm is that it can effectively reduce nonlinear distortion and harmonic distortion, and it can flexibly handle different types of notes, providing fast strikes and clean decay.
The impedance of earphones is only 32Ω and the sensitivity is 105dB/1mw, so the requirements for front-end thrust are not high, and there is no problem with using mobile phone + decoding amp. Of course, if you are accustomed to using a professional DAP to listen to songs, the sound quality will naturally be further improved. The listening sense of the AM850 MK2 is affected by the tuning nozzles to a certain extent, but in general, the sense of quantity of this earphones in the low-frequency and high-frequency parts is more than the mid-frequency part.
When using black (Neural) tuning nozzles, the low frequency of AM850 MK2 is very solid and powerful, and the low frequency extension is also sufficient, which can create a three-dimensional and well-structured sound field, and the overall atmosphere is extremely good. The low-frequency middle section has some appropriate attenuation in the sense of quantity compared to the low-frequency lower paragraph. This way of tuning can effectively prevent low-frequency notes from flowing to the mid-frequency part.
After switching to gray (Tide) tuning nozzles, the low-frequency middle section becomes fuller, making the overall tone warmer and the mid-frequency coloration more obvious. The boosted low frequency notes flow heavily towards the mid-frequency position, resulting in a noticeable drop in sound resolution. As the thickness of the bass notes increases, the spacing between each note decreases, resulting in a somewhat crowded sound.
After installing the golden (Air) tuning nozzles, the sound performance of the AM850 MK2 is actually the most balanced. Because the sense of quantity in the low frequency is reduced, the precision of the sound is improved instead. The reduced thickness of low-frequency notes also boosts the speed of transients, with more natural hits and decays.
No matter what tuning nozzles are used, the mid-frequency of the Astrotec AM850 MK2 is slightly recessed, and the sound orientation is relatively warm. Vocals are warmest and richest with grey (Tide) tuning nozzles, but this comes at the expense of clarity. After using the golden (Air) tuning nozzles, the whole mid-frequency resolution has been improved a lot, and there is even a taste of listening earphones. But compared with the transparent vocals of Astrotec Volans, the AM850 MK2 still has a big gap.
The Astrotec AM850 MK2’s high frequencies are bright and detailed. However, when extending to the high-frequency upper section, the details and thickness are not properly attenuated, resulting in a large number of high-frequency notes being squeezed together. At the same time, it attacked my eardrums, which sounded a little stiff and unnatural. And unfortunately, there is such a problem when installing any tuning nozzles. It’s just that the stiffness and unnaturalness are slightly less when using black tuning nozzles.
AM850 MK2 has a wide sound field and a complete structure, with good vertical and horizontal extension capabilities, and the separation and positioning of instruments are also relatively clear. It’s worth noting that when using the grey tuning nozzles, the soundstage is somewhat compressed, especially when listening to complex tracks.
In terms of my listening preferences, I prefer the presentation of the golden tuning nozzles when listening to any type of music. Among the earphones I have used, the Creative Aurvana Trio is not as good as the Astrotec AM850 MK2 in terms of low frequency ambience and mid-frequency layering, but the high frequency transient is much higher. The Logitech UE900 four-unit armature earphones is better in terms of resolution and instrument separation, but the AM850 MK2’s sound is fuller, warmer and more melodious.
The Astrotec AM850 MK2 is currently priced at $169, which is a lot more expensive than the Astrotec AM850. But for earphones with excellent workmanship, rich accessories, comfortable wearing, and the ability to change the tuning nozzles to achieve a different listening experience, it will still make you feel that it is worth the money. If you’re considering a wired earphones, the AM850 MK2 is one of the best things to consider for under $200.