MDK-ESS ASE

ø10mm + ø3.8mm Dynamic Drivers + Balanced Armature

$35~$40
3.5/5.0

The new ASE model by MDK-ESS look better than all of their previous models and have the most impressive setup. However, you'll be surprised to hear that ASE are not on the same level with ASK and ASY when it comes to sound clarity. These earphones have some nice bass and potent mids, but the highs are muffled in comparison. The sound lacks that sparkly treble that MDK-ESS offered in their previous models.

Just like with ASK, I have to critique the chosen connectors: IM-style 2-pin. Not only it's harder to find good replacement cables for those connectors, but they also used what seems to be low-quality IM-style plugs on the cable, which may result in losing sound while jerking the plugs accidentally. I didn't have that issue with the ASE, but it's just a possibility to mention.

Overall, they still sound nice, but are they worth their price tag? I would have to say 'No'. If I had to pick a MDK-ESS product, I would pick ASY over these earphones any day.

Also known as: Yinyoo ASE

Pros

  • Decent sound quality overall.
  • Very comfortable to use for prolonged listening sessions.
  • A uniquely designed triple-driver hybrid setup.

Cons

  • The treble is noticeably muffled, at least compared to MDK-ESS's older models.
  • Bass shaker test exposed some concerning rattle on lower-end bass frequencies.
  • The IM-style connectors aren't great. I had to tweak the male plugs with a plier to get a consistent contact.
  • The cable looks sturdy, but the strain reliefs are just too rigid to be useful.
  • The L-shaped plug sometimes got accidently unplugged while connected to my phone while it's in the pocket.

Package & Accessories

Package*:

Hard paperboard

Ear Tips - Single-Flange:

S+M+L, black, ø4.5mm turquoise bores

Extra:

Hook and loop fastener, generic

  • MDK-ESS used ASK's package for ASE at the time I purchased them. ASE may have got its own package since.

Build & Materials

Housings:

Plastic (glossy) + metal*, ø5mm nozzles (4.5mm openings), cable connectors

Connectors:

2-pin (IM-style)

Remote:

Plastic (matte), single-button

Y-Split:

TPE, rigid strain reliefs

Cable:

Silicone-coated (smooth), 128cm, semi-soft, straight

Plug:

TPE, 90° angled, short, rigid strain relief

  • The housings have metal back plates.

Comfort & Fit

Although oddly shaped, the unique shape is actually quite comfortable, at least for me. The cable might be too stiff to sit around the ear while you're walking, which is common with earphones that don't have built-in ear loops, so if you have that issue - consider getting some attachable ear loops.

Lows / Bass

The bass is powerful but I wouldn't say that it's very controlled, even a bit excessive. It's likely due to the underwhelming treble, but nevertheless, I feel like the bass gets too muddy for my taste, while not being that deep on the sub-bass at all. Bass shaker test exposed a lot of rattle on the lower-end of bass frequencies.

Mids / Vocals

The mids are emphasized, but lack clarity and detail due to relatively weak treble. This results in a darkish sound and underwhelming experience. It makes me wonder how they managed to botch the experience. The added micro-driver was supposed to improve clarity and detail, and yet something went wrong.

Highs / Treble

Decent, for those who are too sensitive to sharp highs, but nothing too impressive considering the price and the hardware these earphones contain within. The highs are blanketed and detail seems to be quiet and far away. Not awful, but disappointing when compared to ASK and ASY.

Frequency Response

ASE
ASK ASY