The Aya Audio Siren is the company’s flagship 6 driver hybrid IEM featuring a 4 BA and a dual electrostatic driver configuration. It is priced at $590.
Disclaimer: The Aya Audio Siren sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion in this review. We thank the team at Aya Audio for giving us this opportunity.
You can read up on our previous Aya Audio reviews on Headfonics here.
Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2021 which you can read up on here.
It’s been over 3 years since we last covered AYA Audio with their well-received Nightingale single BA driver monitor in 2017 so a fresh review seems well overdue given how busy the Vietnamese audio market has become since then.
The AYA Nightingale was their debut product but since then they have expanded their lineup with the Bullet, the Silver SA-01, and our review sample here, their TOTL Siren.
The Siren is quite a contrast to the simple configuration of the Nightingale with a hybrid multiple driver design and one that includes including electrostatic drivers, normally reserved for high-end monitors.
The AYA Audio Siren is a six-driver hybrid IEM with a blend of 4 balanced armature drivers in combination with two Sonion electrostatic drivers. AYA Audio calls it a fusion between their reliable BA drivers with their high precision, low distortion new generation Electrostatic tweeters.
The precise configuration AYA Audio has used for the Siren is 2 BA drivers for the low-end and two for the midrange with the two electrostatic drivers being used as tweeters for the treble.
Each set was handcrafted at the AYA workshop. A quick visual inspection and you can spot a tri-bore output design that sends sound directly from the driver into the ear canal in what I would call a junctionless output tube system. AYA Audio says this is one of the Siren’s main features.
We need to take what we know about filters and rethink the concept on this one because AYA Audio does just that. The AYA Audio Siren has what they call filterless tuning but not really in the sense of crossovers as we would assume the filters would be. From what I gathered; they do have a 3-way crossover system.
What they did was instead of using Y junctions for the output tubes, they independently output all driver sets separately which is why you see the three separate output tubes at the output nozzle end. That ensures that each driver set works independently without getting mingled and combined by Y junctions before it gets to the ear canal.
The AYA Audio Siren body shells are hand made one by one and then matched in pairs. They use a quality resin for the shell then top them off with a faceplate laminate of Stabwood and are polished thereafter. An aluminum nozzle with a metal mesh screen and a female 0.78mm connector complete the assembly.
Given this are no dynamic drivers inside there are no venting holes anywhere on the shells and if it were not for the color scheme they would look completely seamless as if made of one solid piece of resin. Speaking of color, the shell color looks black until you look again under good lighting conditions and they seem to have a dark green/blue hue with some crystal flaking.
The Siren uses a recessed 0.78mm female connector for connectivity. The recess is a good idea and does add some strength to the plug itself in case you do a sudden karate move and accidentally yank on the IEM wire. I think the IEM female recessed plug on this IEM will outlast any cable plug out there.
Comfort & Isolation
One first impression of the AYA Audio Siren I immediately got was how well they isolate passively. The absence of vents, holes, or any means of sound either getting into them or getting out the IEM is virtually impossible. It also explains the absence of bleed attributed to the Siren. These would be great for public outdoor use, but you should use a DAC/AMP combo to get the best results.
The comfort level was great. They seem to be light, well-shaped with no intrusive pressure points or sore spots. The resin was not irritating to me and if you keep the tips clean I doubt you will have any comfort problems.
AYA Audio includes a rather nice Hakugei 7N OCC 4 wire hand-braided cable that complements the Siren. The wire does have a hand-made feel and the braid has that almost perfect pattern but is quite attractive with a small 3.5mm black plug and black 0.78mm male plugs.
The chinstrap adjustment is made with a rubber grommet. It seems to work okay and to be honest I rarely use the chin adjustment, but the implementation here seems minimal and cost-effective.
One thing to note is that only 3.5mm connectivity is included and it is sufficient but at this price bracket many other IEMs nowadays offer balanced and multiple connectivity options, even IEMs at a lower price bracket.
Packaging & Accessories
The unboxing experience of the AYA Audio Siren is quite basic. You do get a Pelican case with a dual pocket IEM bag which is made of vented cloth and well-cushioned. What threw me off was the rather plain box it all came in.
Personally, I am not an unboxing kind of person and rather have good products over gold embossed leather-lined boxes with velvet interiors if you know what I mean. I prefer beef over broth.
Besides the IEMs and the wire, you get 3 sets of black rubber ear tips with a medium size set of clear spin fits. You also get 2 warranty cards, a hard copy version which I think is a product authentication, and a paper copy.
The AYA Audio Siren aims for a natural timbre, vocal, mid-centric sound with a top-end that is crispy in nature due to the electrostatic super tweeters. Think good BA bass, smooth but a somewhat crispy BA midrange with sharp electrostatic highs.
I must admit, I am not a fan of BA bass but the AYA Siren seems to have a bass response that I could live with. You will not be greeted with impactfulness or visceral punchy, fat bass, instead, you get bass that is clearly heard and well defined, but it does take a back seat.
I find the bass to be way south of what I like, and I have to increase bass or use a bass boost to obtain a likable tonality from the Siren by at least 6 or 7 decibels. They do seem to like bass a decent amount of boost, unlike most BA bass drivers which will simply lose control and distort. I think the doubling up on the BA bass drivers works and the bass on the AYA Siren digs fairly deep and is well controlled.
One thing I noted doing a tone sweep test is that the bass sharply rolls off below 30hz and is absent below 21hz. However, the bass frequency curve seems flat through the rest of the bass region into the midrange up to around 2.5khz where there is a peak.
The midrange section is forward sounding compared to the stock bass output but is smooth and fairly flat up to the 2.5khz where I found a peak that gives the upper region of the midrange a lot of presence and sharpness, but it does remain under the bothersome level. The midrange seems very superbly detailed with good tonality.
The highs are very sharp, and I would say they border on sounding hot and sound very sharp. One of the tests I conduct on IEMs especially is that I raise the volume gradually one number at a time from zero and listen for tonal balance differences. In the case of the AYA Siren, the high frequencies were the first present and seem to be the most efficient part of the frequency spectrum.
I really like how Jazz music and any music with lots of acoustic instruments sound on the AYA Audio Siren. AYA Audio does specify in their literature that their tuning was for acoustic and instrumental music. They seem to take fairly well with any genre, but musicality takes a second-row seat to my ears to a more analytical character. To me, it is sort of a 30/70 split.
Two peaks dominate the upper midrange. One at the mentioned 2.5khz but there is another peak at around 4khz and this gives a sharp character to the mids which makes them sound analytical and somewhat forward.
The highs also border on sounding metallic, but I think it is a character that was intentional by AYA Audio. Not excessively and overexaggerated so but just on the borderline. The highs have lots of that good crispy Electrostatic characteristic.
The AYA Siren can handle complexity well. Listening to Chick Corea’s Akoustic Band “Morning Sprite” which is a fast-paced Jazz piece and on the Siren and you could hear every bass note, every piano stroke and, every tap on the drums. A great piece to listen to on the AYA Siren.
The AYA Siren has a particularly good dynamic response. For instance, drums sound great on the Siren. Listen to Blood, Sweat, and Tears “Blues 2 PT 2” which is a 70s recording, but the album is well recorded and the drum solo sounds excellent with great dynamics. The AYA Siren is particularly good for drum monitoring or lovers of the instrument.
So, it is also safe to say the Siren has a good transient response as well. The AYA Siren seems to handle speed and complexity well and do not mumble all the elements in a recording together and keeps everything within a recording separated and distinguishable.
The AYA Audio Siren has a medium-sized, realistic stage. You get a good 3-dimensional panorama perception listening to the AYA Siren. I personally like medium to small soundstage IEMs because they just sound more realistic to me.
A good example that shows off the AYA Siren staging capabilities is the drums on Chick Corea’s “You’re my everything” track from the Trio Trilogy Live CD. You get a good directional sense of where Brian Blade places those drumsticks, whether it is down below on the drum kick or up on top on the metal and every tap in between.
When I got the AYA Siren I was unimpressed, to be honest with my initial sound impressions. I let them play around the house for about a week and then went back to them. The difference was night and day. So, if you get a pair be aware of this.
Also be aware that these like power, not that they are inefficient or that you cannot use them with low power devices, but they sound best with good amplification. Not only good but they prefer warm sounding amps. They like warm amplifiers like the iFi iDSD Signature series or the Focal Arche or even the iFi ZEN CAN if you activate the Xbass.
If you go to the AYA Siren workshop page, you will see the Siren pictured next to the iDSD Signature series and I must admit, it was the best amplifier combination I heard with the Siren. Especially with the Xbass on of course and the 3D activated, the DAC on bit-perfect, and the power mode on normal. That was a winning combo for me.
Within the conversations I had with the great people over at AYA Audio, I was told to experiment with different types of tips including foam variants that were not included with my set. AYA Audio stated they might change that from now on by including some and that is good news. I think more accessories will make their product more appealing.
I tried every tip I have, which are many, and found the AYA Siren to be overly sensitive to tip selection, more so than other IEMs but I find that true with especially any IEM that produces bass with BA drivers. They also change sound characteristics with the slightest movement or placement of the tips within the ear.
In the long run, I settled for foam tips 4.5mm bore size because I got the best seal, isolation, bass clarity and the soundstage seemed to open up some. I also obtained good results with the medium black rubber tips included within the included accessories.
One other observation I must point your attention to is the lip size on the output nozzle. It has a very pronounced lip which makes it difficult to install tips on these IEMs.
On a positive note, I just reviewed a well-known IEM which had no lip and the major problem with that IEM was the inability to hold on to the tip and they sometimes stayed lodged inside the ear. With the AYA Siren that will never happen.
We reviewed the BGVP Zero a little while back and thought it was a good IEM that offered Electret technology at a very low price. I wanted to point out that although there is a large price difference, the BGVP Zero comes better accessorized.
You get twice the tips plus a good wire with a microphone and AYA Audio needs to step up their game in this area if they want to be noticed.
The BGVP Zero IEM earbud design is different in the sense that they have a unique shape made of metal and have a cool looking metal grill that looks like a precipitator. Not only is it different in appearance, but connectivity is also different and the Zero uses an MMCX connector instead of the .78mm plug.
Here is where things change, and the investment is well noted. The BGVP Zero is a good IEM for the price with features unheard of in this price but sounds veiled in comparison to the AYA Siren.
The area most noted is the midbass section because the BGVP Zero has an elevation contrary to the flat bass response of the Siren. Impactfulness is better on the Zero hands down because of the use of a dynamic driver for bass instead of BA drivers.
These 2 are similar in midrange response with both displaying peaks at 4khz, but the Siren has a second peak at 2khz. There seems to be more midrange presence and better clarity especially in the upper midrange region on the AYA Siren.
The high frequencies are polar opposites. The BGVP Zero high frequencies are pushed back and very relaxed which makes this set a very warm sounding IEM contrary to the bright top end and lively sound signature of the AYA Siren.
Clarity is also improved on the AYA Siren and the staging is more realistic and credible with a better ability at 3d positioning and more precise imaging. It is safe to say the AYA Siren is superior in many ways sonically.
Little Dot CU KIS
The Little DOT CU KIS is a top tier IEM with a slightly higher price tag. The CU KIS has become my favorite IEM from the many I have which have a 2×2 driver combo.
The earbud-style is rather unique with a shape that is rarely seen. IKKO OH7 and Little Dot’s own CU CEN are a couple that I could mention that are similar in style. The all-metal housing is finished off with a Crimson Anodic Oxidation and looks good as candy while the AYA Siren has a more traditional style body with a Stabwood faceplate and a body made of resin.
On comfort, the CU KIS has the edge because it is the smaller of the two and they also seem slightly lighter in weight. The CU KIS design has a character in which the ear tip is what is mostly felt and the IEM itself barely touches the inside of the ear.
The Little Dot CU KIS is way better accessorized with a larger number of tips and a wire that comes with adapters that offer the user 4 choices of connectivity. Even the box it comes in is more elegant.
Both these IEMs have somewhat contrasting sound signatures. The CU KIS has plenty of low-end punch while the Siren bass response is shy and soft mannered. The CU KIS also has a very forward presentation in the rest of the frequency spectrum, especially in the midrange area.
The CU KIS midrange has the forwardness, yes, but both IEMs have an exceptionally clean midrange response. I think most of the differences lie in the bass and the treble response and the Siren has the higher treble output and perhaps the sharpest sounding of the two.
Staging is wider on the CU KIS by a small margin and both are capable of some 3D placement.
One aspect which is different on both these IEMs is that the CU KIS has a more generally appealing sound signature because of the impactfulness of the bass and tends to be more forgiving with bad recordings.
The AYA Siren are IEMs that are a more analytical IEM that like acoustic instruments and have a recording sensitivity showing flaws in recordings, unlike the CU KIS.
AYA Audio intended to make an IEM that is pleasurably characterized by a high amount of clarity, blended with a natural timbre and balanced tuning with great chemistry with instrumental or acoustic instruments and they nailed it. They are great for that.
My major concern is if that would be enough to break into a market that is diverse and the AYA Siren seems to be for a particular crowd. My other concern is the lack of accessories. Most IEM users have dozens of tips at their disposal so that is not a big deal but I would not recommend these to first-time buyers for this particular reason.
Who do I recommend these to? These are for IEM seasoned buyers who want a bright sound signature that is best from top to bottom, treble, and midrange centric tuning. Bass heads will not like these much.
If you are a Jazz lover, a lover of Classical music, Chamber, trios, and anything that involves acoustic sources and music that depends highly on quality midrange and treble response, then you, in particular, will like these for certain.
Aya Audio Siren Specifications
- Stock tips – (S/M/L)
- Drivers – Sonion 2 Electrostatic + 4 Balanced Armatures
- Impedance – 16 ohms
- Sensitivity – 112db
- Connector – 2 pin .78mm
- Plug – 3.5mm
- Stock Cable – 7n Copper Hakugei (length: 1.2m)