Apos Caspian Review – Smooth like Butter
Hifiman Sundara ($299): The Sundara is a very well-rounded offering that isn’t a giant killer by any means but is surprisingly versatile especially considering its increasingly lowering cost. The Caspian has it beat in terms of build quality with a better cable and more solid frame, it also has slightly deeper albeit small pads for those with wide ears. Sonically, the Sundara is immediately the more balanced option making it more genre versatile. The Caspian is more bass focused and this is its main advantage over the Sundara. The Sundara has a light warm mid-bass and good definition, but the Caspian blows it out of the water in terms of extension, dynamics and tightness. The low-end is far better developed on the Caspian in addition to being more forward. The Sundara is cleaner and more balanced, boasting better separation but also lacking the same impact.
The midrange isn’t perfectly balanced on the Sundara but is a pleasing performer. It has a more balanced presence with just slightly warm and laid-back vocals. Both are naturally voiced, but the Caspian is further recessed and full-bodied albeit, not to the extent of veil even in direct comparison. The Sundara has a more prominent top-end giving it a u-shaped character. It has more mid-treble meaning its notes are thinner but also clearer and airier. The Caspian doesn’t have quite the same extension and background detail retrieval but a more linear lower treble with a more accurate timbre. It is more laid-back but similarly detailed in this area. The soundstage is wider on the Sundara but deeper on the Caspian. I perceive the imaging as being superior on the Sundara as is separation.
Sendy Audio Apollo ($499): The Apollo, like many other competing offerings at this price, offers a planar driver. It also shares a wooden design. The Apollo is a dark, almost v-shaped headphone. It has less bass focus than the Caspian but a similar sense of recession in the midrange. The bass is fast and mid-bass focused to some degree but also lacks in the dynamics department. This contrasts to the Caspian which offers awesome sub-bass extension and kick alongside a thicker note structure in general. While the Apollo has better separation, the Caspian sounds similarly defined. The midrange is much thinner on the Apollo giving it a clearer expression.
The Caspian is warmer yet but has a more natural voicing with more accurate vocal size and a bit more presence. The Apollo is less consistent track to track due to its roomier nature and wonkier midrange tuning in general. The treble is where the Apollo makes more of a case for itself. The Apollo is quite evenly tuned as well but has superior extension giving it a more vibrant, spacious feel. The Caspian is darker, cleaner but also more closed in. The Apollo also has a slightly cleaner transient response with a noticeable bump in fine detail retrieval. It also has a slightly wider stage though the Caspian has better imaging and depth.
Ovidius TX-901 ($499): The Ovidius is a newcomer to the market, offering a planar driver and metal build for a similar cost. Despite being heavier and almost entirely metal, it has some wobbles and loose joints that give it a cheaper feel. On the flipside, I do feel its deeper pads and suspension headband offer slightly better long-term comfort. The Ovidius is more balanced through the bass and treble but has odd, recessed vocals that mire its performance. The low-end is stronger and bolder on the Caspian. It extends deeper offering thicker, more weighted notes and a more concise slam. The TX-901 is cleaner and more linear with better separation. Despite this, both have similar separation. The TX-901 decays a bit quicker but lacks the same texture and dynamism. The midrange is more tonally neutral on the Ovidius but it has a very odd vocal dip that gives it a strange voicing.
It sounds overly roomy and its vocals sound off. The Caspian has a more natural voicing but also a more coloured one with greater warmth and body. It has less separation and is also a bit more recessed than the Ovidius albeit without the odd voicing. The top-end on both sees some lower-treble bump but differs in the mid-treble where the TX-901 sees a second peak, the Caspian a dip. The Caspian is more linear in the lower treble, its notes are more natural and accurately bodied with greater texture. The Ovidius has a slightly more defined leading edge, retrieving more fine detail at the cost of a thinner note. The Ovidius has greater air but doesn’t have much of an extension or sparkle advantage. The Caspian has the more organized stage to me and it has superior depth and imaging.
Audeze LCD-X 2021 ($1199/1699): A substantially more expensive headphone, the revised LCD-X shares a similar style of sound. This means buyers that desire this style of sound may consider saving up for a more versatile option. The LCD-X is a bigger, heavier headphone but that also affords it much larger pads and a wider headband. It is a much more balanced headphone overall. The Caspian has quite a bit more bass, especially deep bass. This gives it a much bolder note presentation. By comparison, the LCD-X sounds far more linear, it doesn’t have quite the same slam but is tighter, faster and more defined by a good measure. This compounds with its more balanced tuning. The Caspian has better dynamics and a thicker, more textured mid-bass that some may prefer. The midrange is more present on the LCD-X too and it shares a natural voicing.
It’s on the dense and coherent side but isn’t at all lacking clarity or openness. The Caspian is much more recessed here and it sounds much warmer and stuffier. The LCD-X has much better separation and definition alongside a far more transparent tone. However, these two represent foils in this regard making it more a matter of preference. The two are more similar in the treble with even lower trebles and some mid-treble darkness. The LCD-X differs with a far better extended and sparklier upper treble that gives it a more micro-detailed and energetic sound without adversely affecting body and timbre. The Caspian sounds darker and cleaner yet but lacks the same layering and resolving power. The LCD-X has a larger stage, especially width and much sharper imaging. It represents a more balanced take on a dark, low-fatigue sound that makes it a far more versatile choice if also a far more expensive one.
The Caspian strikes as a bass/dynamics specialist within its price range with a low-end that performs at a level exceeding essentially all similarly priced offerings. However, ironically it is its mature execution elsewhere that really sets it apart. Bass indeed stands out in terms of both performance and presence but this is not to the detriment of its natural midrange and treble. The build quality inspires as does the fit for the most part, and it has an attractive design appropriate for the price point. Being easy to drive is the cherry on top, meaning you can enjoy its standout dynamics and a consistent sound signature from the vast majority of sources. I do also feel that, as enthusiasts or reviewers, we tend to lose touch with the wants and preferences of average listeners. In this sense, though the Caspian is far from an ideally balanced sound, it is one I can see being quite popular with non-audiophiles and enthusiasts wanting this specific style of tuning. This headphone never once feigns balance but delivers excellent bass performance from a snappy driver that allows it to achieve surprising genre flexibility.
The Caspian is available from Apos Audio (International) for $499 USD at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with Ovidius or Linsoul and receive no earnings from purchases made through these links.
Track List –
Billie Eilish – dont smile at me
Bob Seger – Night Moves
Courtney Barnett – Rae Street
Cream – Wheels of Fire
Dire Straits – Communique
Dirty Loops – Next To You
Eagles – Hotel California
Elton John – Honky Chateau
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
H.E.R – I Used To Know Her
Jasen – BYE
John Mayer – Continuum
Kanye West – Ye
Missy Higgins – The Sound of White
Radiohead – OK Computer
TALA – ain’t leavin` without you
The Beatles – Abbey Road
The weeknd – After Hours
Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride
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