Aiderlot M5 - How to Balance Fun and Detailed
Sometimes a new IEM manufacture comes along that takes you by surprise. Some IEM arrive with big promises but can't deliver and others come in a simple package but deliver sonic bliss. Then along comes the M5 from Aiderlot; an IEM manufacturer that you more than likely have never heard of; I sure hadn't. What does the Aiderlot M5 provide, let's find out?
Aiderlot provided the M5 for review and only asked for an honest review. I wasn't influenced, directed to say something positive or paid for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
4 crossovers, 4 separate sound tubes
4 crossovers, 4 separate sound tubes
Drivers: 1 Low +1 Mid + 2 High +1 UHF
Shell material: Stainless steel + Resin
Impedance: 26 Ω
Sensitivity: 110 dB ± 1 dB（at 1 kHz）
Frequency range: 20Hz-40KHz
Passive noise isolation: -25dB
Aiderlot provides a quality unboxing experience starting with the outer sleeve that has more than enough information to browse before slipping it off.
Underneath the sleeve is a brown leather looking box with a magnetic flap.
Flipping open the top reveals a foam protection tray that houses the M5.
Underneath are two more trays that house the accessories; tuning filters, airport adapter, silicone and foam tips, two cables (non-mic and mic), cleaning tool, cable clip, cleaning cloth, paperwork and carry case.
Overall, I find that the presentation is pleasing to the eyes and contains more then enough accessories to exceed expectations for the price.
The design of the M5 is an ergonomic shape with a long nozzle. I find the shells to be on the cusp of too big but just small enough. The M5 is very light in the hand and ears. The materials are quality feeling and give off a vibe of more expensive products. The smokey, transparent shell is pleasing on the eyes. The Aiderlot M5 is similar in build and shape to the Moondrop Blessing 2 and the SeeAudio Yume. If you have the SeeAudio Yume, the M5 shell is slightly smaller.
The stock non-mic cable is fantastic. There is a thickness but not a stiffness or a hefty weight to the M5 cable. Quality build and feel with metal connectors. I really enjoy the cable and it is well controlled; tangle and twist free. I didn't try the mic cable version but the build feels alright, it is thinner and not as premium as the the non-mic version.
Fit and comfort may not be for everyone. If you are ok with the fit of the Moondrop Blessing 2 or SeeAudio Yume then the Aiderlot M5 won't be an issue for you. But if you are not a fan of deeper inserting IEM then the M5 may not be for you. Also, the shell has a wing on the inside that is to fit around the pinna area of your ear but for some it may not fit properly. I didn't find the M5 to be the most comfortable IEM but I was able to wear them for about 3 hours before I had to take them out and give my ears a brief rest before resuming the listening session for another 3 hours.
One thing that really impresses me about the Aiderlot M5 is the isolation of outside noises. I didn't think that it would that great but it really is. I can barely hear anything and trying to carry on a conversation with the wife, even with paused music, is nearly impossible.
The Aiderlot M5 comes with three screw-on filters, bass, reference and treble. I found that all three filters impacted the sound in subtle but noticeable ways. The filters are very small and easy to lose. The little carry plate that is included is solid metal but can be a bit tough to screw the filters into. The bass filter adds a touch of warmth and thickness to the bass and mids but darkens the treble region and the M5 can sound stuffy on some genres. The reference filter adds an embellished elevation to the mids and treble, which gives a false impression of detail retrieval and soundstage and along with it comes harshness and sharpness. I can see the draw for the reference filter, if you are going to be doing monitoring with the M5. The treble filter provides a balanced and cohesive sound throughout, the bass is extended and detailed with enough warmth and thickness, mids are detailed and accurate and the treble has the right amount of extension without sounding boosted to artificial levels. I prefer the treble filter for monitoring over the reference filter because it isn't as artificial sounding.
Sound: (Impressions are done using the stock silicone tips (small) and the treble filter)
The Aiderlot M5 bass is extended and detailed with just the right amount of impact but bassheads may say the M5 lacks the "it" factor. The M5 bass is extremely close to linear with a slight uptick to provide some impact but it is far from being a slam master. The M5 excels with bass detail, resolution, tone and timbre and is one of the very best IEM bass I have heard in the sub $400 range. Details are presented with clarity and precision but do lack that authoritative punch. For me the lack of authoritative punch wasn't an issue as I found that the resolution was more then pleasing and accurate. The tone and timbre is natural and realistic in the bass of the Aiderlot M5. The differences in instruments and vocals are made easy to determine with the M5 and you can follow anything you want thru the mix . The Aiderlot M5 is one of my favorite basses on an IEM, as it has a natural balance of detail, definition, tone and timbre.
The Aiderlot M5 mids are clean, detailed, balanced, cohesive and natural. A lot of IEM that are tuned to diffuse field can be a tad too far forward in the mids but that isn't the case with the M5. Aiderlot has done a fantastic job getting the mids focused and balanced all the while being cohesive with the rest of the mix. The details are special in the mids, expressed with clarity and tenacity but not aggressively forced. The tone and timbre of the M5 is pure and accurate. There is a realism and naturalism that the M5 portrays, especially in vocals.
So controlled and realistic with natural extension are the Aiderlot M5. A lot of IEM seem to miss on treble, either rolling it off too soon or extending it too far or elevating it to unrealistic levels; none of that exists on the M5. Aiderlot provides a proper amount of extension that balances between being too airy and not airy enough. There is a fine line walked by the M5 that reveals natural harshness and crispness but doesn't elevate and boost too much so that the harshness and crispness sound artificial. The M5 is naturally fatiguing but not unnaturally fatiguing, there is a difference. Adierlot also nailed the details and resolution of the treble, avoiding the too intense and unnatural presentation. Aiderlot has made this treble lover very happy with the M5.
The Aiderlot M5 has natural width and depth in the soundstage. The M5 has a common sense soundstage, by this I mean that it makes sense of how large or small the stage is to your ears according to the music you are listening to. Some IEM have massively wide stages but that isn't accurate even though it sounds cool. Some IEM are way too intimate and that isn't accurate either. The Aiderlot M5 does an incredible job of putting you in the moment. The imaging capabilities of the M5 are ridiculously good. Movements about the stage are easily identified and have defining cues of placement. There are no gaps or blobs in the imaging, it is buttery smooth in transitions from one side to the other. Depth is great; you can diagnose a stage of a 100 piece orchestra and determine how far back the percussions and brass are in comparison to the strings. Layering is impeccable; everything just melds together in a cohesive manner without becoming crowded or smushed.
Exceptional for the price; the details and resolution of the Aiderlot M5 have meekness to them that a lot of IEM in this price point lack. A lot of IEM have a rise in the presentation area of the frequency response (6k-9k) but elevating too much will cause there to be an unrealistic amount of audible details and often times will not be resolved well. The M5 does a fantastic job of balancing the rise and resolution without lacking in retrieval or resolution. The details retrieved are more than adequate and I never felt like I was missing something. The resolution or definition of the retrieved details is spectacular, trimmed to realism.
The Aiderlot M5 has a natural tone with realistic timbre. There are very few all BA IEM, especially ones with 5 BA in each shell, that sound as natural and realistic as the M5. You can forget about that BA timbre talk with the M5 as it doesn't exist.
Mytek Liberty DAC:
(Please note that I use the iFi IE Match as there is an audible hiss)
Awesomeness! The Mytek Liberty DAC brings out the best performance of the Aiderlot M5 in every way possible. This is my favorite pairing, hands down. I don't use IEM at my desk setup too often but a few IEM have changed my mind and beg for listening time and the M5 is one of them.
Incredibly impressive! The Sony NW-WM1a brings out the best of the Aiderlot M5 in every way possible. This is my favorite portable pairing, no questions asked. I understand the price difference is crazy but if you already own the WM1a then why not get a solid budget friendly IEM to pair with it? Your ears will not be disappointed.
Sony NW-A105: A fantastic pairing that is in a similar budget range. The little brother to the WM1a doesn't slack at all with the Aiderlot M5. Everything described in the sound impressions above are on display in full force with the NW-A105. I highly recommend this pairing, I love it!
A pleasing pairing that is satisfying but not gratifying. I can live with the Xduoo Link and M5 but I just know what there is better out there. I like the clean sound but it can be a touch too aggressive up top and has a slight unnatural sound; also it can get fatiguing quickly depending on the music genre choice.
Nextdrive Spectra X: Now this is a dongle that pairs well with the M5! There is a bit more life and energy to the sound versus the Link. The Spectra X and M5 are what I am looking for in this portable setup, fun, engaging, detailed and tonally correct.
ThieAudio Voyager 3:
The ThieAudio Voyager 3 has a lighter presentation overall. The upper mids and lower treble are a little more elevated, nearing closer to artificial sound on the Voyager 3. The mids lack a bit of note weight and density on the Voyager 3. Soundstage is a little wider on the Voyager 3 but the depth and layering are better on the M5. Detail retrieval is similar but resolution is better on the M5.
Thieaudio Voyager 3 review: https://youtu.be/AfDMAJi6i-4
Moondrop Blessing 2:
Are you looking for a similar sound to the Moondrop Blessing 2 with a tad more note weight and density? Your search is over with the Aiderlot M5. The Blessing 2 has the advantage when it comes to detail retrieval and resolution but the increase is small for the extra pennies. The Blessing 2 has more treble presence and is more leaning to the bright neutral side. The Blessing 2 also has a hint of metallic timbre that is noticeable at times.
Moondrop Blessing 2 review: https://youtu.be/gMIEv9C64qM
SeeAudio Yume: Holy Moly! There is nearly no differences to speak of between the Yume and M5! The biggest difference is the sub bass and mid bass slam is more prominent on the Yume. Also, the Yume has a slightly more airy approach to the presentation. But there is one other factor that comes into play and that is the somewhat boring presentation of the Yume mids that the M5 doesn't have. Other than those differences; these two IEM are nearly identical.
SeeAudio Yume review: https://youtu.be/Z7EN_dKIl94
Shuoer Soloist: Yet another similar sounding IEM to the M5 but there are some differences to discuss. The Soloist has a harder hitting bass. The mids are tipped in the upper reaches on the Soloist causing a lack of cohesion. The Soloist treble has some glare in the lower reaches at times and can be a touch too aggressive. Soundstage width is similar but imaging, depth and layering goes to the M5. Tone and timbre have a slight metallic edge with the Soloist.
Shuoer Soloist review: https://youtu.be/4Hchfe21f0Q
Let's keep it simple and obvious; I love the Aiderlot M5. Everything from the top notch unboxing, the premium feeling shells and design and the musically neutral sound; the M5 is excellence for a first offering from a brand hardly anyone knows about. I see the Aiderlot M5 as a multi-purpose IEM that can be used as a reference or for enjoyment. I highly recommend the Aiderlot M5. I look forward to hearing what Aiderlot has planned for their next IEM. Give the Aiderlot M5 a listen, you'll be surprised and impressed at how good it really is.
YouTube reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgMj7xJ1SDxGqqxZ5l3g_jg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TalkDbs @TalkDbs
DBS Tech Talk research and review process: https://youtu.be/UkSnoZZNyYc
Audio Terms and Definitions: https://www.stereophile.com/reference/50/index.html
Meze Empyrean: https://mezeaudio.com/products/meze-empyrean
Hifiman Ananda: https://hifiman.com/products/detail/290
Sennheiser HD600: https://en-us.sennheiser.com/best-audio-headphones-high-end-stereo-hifi-hd-600
Sennheiser HD660s: https://en-us.sennheiser.com/hd-660-s
Meze 99 Classic: https://mezeaudio.com/collections/all/products/meze-99-classics-walnut-gold-wood-headphones
MrSpeakers Ether C (non flow version) https://danclarkaudio.com/
(similar to:) https://drop.com/buy/drop-mrspeakers-ether-cx-closed-headphones?utm_source=linkshare&referer=FTSS2S
Meze Rai Penta: https://mezeaudio.com/collections/all/products/rai-penta
Meze Rai Solo: https://mezeaudio.com/products/rai-solo
ADV. M5-12D: https://www.adv-sound.com/collections/pro-audio/products/m5-12d-universal
Tin Hifi T3: https://www.linsoul.com/collections/tin-hifi/products/tinhifi-t3
Tin Hifi T2+: https://www.linsoul.com/collections/tin-hifi/products/tinhifi-t2-plus
Tin Hfi T5: https://www.linsoul.com/products/tin-hifi-t5?_pos=1&_sid=a6d49043d&_ss=r
Moondrop SSR: https://www.moondroplab.com/ssr
Monoprice Monolith THX AAA 788: https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=24459
Mytek Liberty: https://mytekdigital.com/hifi/products/liberty-dac/
Soekris DAC1421: https://soekris.modhouseaudio.com/soekris-audiophile-line/dac-1421
Tor Audio Roger: https://toraudio.com/main.html#
Massdrop THX AAA 789:
Grace Design SDAC-B: https://drop.com/buy/drop-grace-design-standard-dac-balanced?utm_source=linkshare&referer=FTSS2S
Geshelli Labs Enog 2 Pro: https://geshelli.com/shop/ols/products/enog2-pro-dac-metal-case
Geshelli Labs J2: https://geshelli.com/jnog
Geshelli Labs Archel 2: https://geshelli.com/shop/ols/products/archel-pro-amp-metal-case-b5ca9a41-69ed-4786-98b2-18f72ae911bf
Geshelli Labs Erish: https://geshelli.com/shop/ols/products/erish-balanced
https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/5bbf80ce-33f3-4222-a1fc-6539a95415d6 (in order of playlist)
Tingvall Trio “Beat” - piano tonality
Sinne Eeg “We’ve Just Begun” - multiple layer soundstage
Molly Johnson “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” - female vocal tone
Leslie Odom Jr. “Under Pressure” - male vocal tone
Eric Clapton “Change the World” - soundstage, layering and placement
Yo Yo Ma “Ecstasy of Gold” - acoustic instrument timbre
Adam Baldych “Spem in Alium” - acoustic instrument timbre
Pain of Salvation “Stress” - percussion balance
Michael Buble “When I Fall in Love” - orchestral dynamics
Patricia Barber “Code Cool” - sibilance check
Christian Scott “New New Orleans” - shouty upper mids
Tool “Chocolate Chip Trip” - imaging
Hans Zimmer “Why So Serious” - sub bass extension
Marcus Miller “No Limit” - bass control
Dave Holland Quartet “Conference Of The Birds”- bass check
Ilhan Eshkeri “47 Ronin”- orchestra and bass dynamics
Hans Zimmer :2049” - sub bass extension
Cher: Believe - sibilance
Stanley Clarke - Passenger 57 main title - percussion, bass, separation and placement
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra - The Pine of the Appian Way - soundstage, imaging and separation
Houston Person - You are my Sunshine - tone and timbre
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