Excellent design and build quality, Strong ergonomics, Very controlled and high-definition bass, Smooth and balanced sound, Source agnostic
Slightly truncated midrange voicing, Sound lacks attack, Narrow soundstage
If you’re interested in a soothing sound for longer listening sessions, the Volans is a great example with a premium form factor and class-leading bass quality
Astrotec are a long-standing and experienced audio manufacturer from Shenzhen, China. They first stood out to me with their gorgeous high-end earbud designs that are only just now starting to retake root in the audiophile market. Lately, the company has shifted their focus to IEMs in the form of the flagship electrostatic Phoenix and now, the single dynamic driver Volans. Astrotec differentiate themselves by building each model from scratch, implementing customised drivers, acoustics and housings to achieve their desired sound performance. The Volans is looking to be a very ambitious model, sporting a highly customised driver and ergonomic design while occupying a much more affordable price range than their flagship model. Note that the unit being reviewed today is a pre-production version, however, Astrotec only noted that the retail units will have “brass driver” laser etched onto the sound tube with no other confirmed changes.
The Pitch –
Brass DD with Biological Diaphragm
The headline feature of the Volans is its highly customised 10.5mm dynamic driver. It sports a multi-layer biological diaphragm, not to be confused with bio-cellulose, alongside a brass acoustic chamber. Astrotec’s reasoning is that instruments historically have implemented brass so the acoustic environment for this DD should enable it to output a more realistic sound. Indeed, brass is 3 times denser than aluminium and even higher than steel which should produce a low-resonance and quicker-decaying sound as tested empirically. It also implements Tesla magnets as seen on the Beyerdynamic Xelento and iBasso IT01. Though the company was unable to further clarify the biological diaphragm to me.
The Volans offers a premium unboxing experience. The clean blue outer sleeve slides off to reveal a hard-box. Inside is a pelican-style hard case within protective foam. The earphones are safely stored inside along with 3 pairs of Sony Hybrid ear tips. The box below contains the cable. Though a smaller pouch for portable use would have been a nice touch, this is a high-quality accessory set for an earphone around this price.
Astrotec have always impressed with their designs and the Volans follows suite. We observe a full-metal 3-piece shell, aluminum with a brass nozzle. The weight immediately impresses in the hand as does the smooth satin finish and subtle sculpting of the faceplate that adds some dimension to the otherwise round and unassuming design. The metal nozzle is very reassuring, making this feel like a tough earphone built to last. The level of finish is also desirable, with rounded edges, even the seem running along the earphone’s perimeter and a complete absence of glue marks or other imperfections.
The cable too is a pleasure to use day to day. It’s an OFC 4-wire cable with MMCX connectors. I admire how the MMCX plugs are very short which means there’s less chance they’ll dig into the temples. The connectors are all a matching silver aluminium and the plug feels very sturdy with ample strain relief and a 90-deg design. The cable itself is very supple with a smooth texture. It resists kinks and tangles well alongside coiling easily for storage. The pre-moulded ear guides hug the outer ear well, permitting a stable and comfortable fit.
Fit & Isolation –
The Volans achieves a comfortable fit, being a smaller earphone in al dimensions. It is also well-sculpted, rounded and smooth, its teardrop housings putting little on the outer ear and forming no hotspots for me over time. There’s minimal wearing pressure too, so you don’t get that locked-in sensation that fully-sealed monitors provide, but a stable fit nonetheless. It isn’t the lowest-profile earphone as the housings are on the wider side in addition to possessing an elongated nozzle that positions them slightly further out from the ear. However, they weren’t overly susceptible to wind noise since the only vent on the housing is located on the inner face right next to the nozzle.
They possess a slightly deeper fit depth in turn and are very stable due to their small size and over-ear fit. Skipping for a few minutes wearing the Volans and they didn’t budge, they were also fine during daily commute. Isolation, however, it fairly mediocre. They are sufficient for public transport and allow the listener to retain some spatial awareness during commute but you will lose some bass presence when out and about, they also aren’t ideal for especially noisy environments such as air travel and the metro.