Meet the ADEL A12

The Shell & Design

As I said before the one drawback of the designer tool is the lack of real-world imagery. Naturally, I was a bit cautious if my chosen design would come out as good as the graphical interpretation the designer tool showed me right at the end. These are not cheap customs, not by a long shot. Thankfully the landed unit was not only consistent with my design choices but it actually turned out to be one of the best designed customs I have yet to receive. By the way, I like brown so sorry, that’s just my bag. It is also a very small form factor, smaller than a lot of multi-driver units out there on the market and certainly much less cumbersome than the Roxanne.


It doesn’t have the instant wow appeal of the Custom Art Harmony 8 design, but it has a beauty and subtlety more in line with the Rhines Stage 5 design. The translucent brown shell has a really nice level of transparency; neither hiding all the innards nor looking totally washed out and matches that Koa wood faceplate neigh on perfectly. The enamel coating over the Koa wood is quite thick, thicker some other wood plate designs I have received before but the shine on the plate actually serves to give the wood grain excellent pop and good contrast under direct lighting.

The 4 bore shell is bubble free acrylic (non-filled) right the way around, very smooth and well finished with very little in the way of visible hairline grooves where the plate meets the shell due to that coating. Right at the bottom is the adjustably compliant membrane vent which acts as a small port screw to control the mix of internal and external sounds.

The Port

The port is right on the nose of the shell where it meets the faceplate. This particular a12 fixed measurement module and looks to be made of translucent plastic which can slot in and out according to the desired ambiance mix. 64 Audio is also touting this port to be modular in design meaning you can swap it out for different modules in the future for different effects on the sound. Not sure what that could mean yet but it’s unique and might give some longevity to the A12 way beyond some of the other competing units with switches and similar touches.

The port also acts as an adjustable secondary eardrum for filtering out the pneumatic pressure using the ADEL technology and leaving just the sound pressure going into your ear. It is relatively easy to pull out or slide back in from the rest of the shell so I presume modules can be simply purchased as and when needs and then swapped.

Fit & Seal

I felt the audiologist this time around was more focused on producing good impressions and so it was with the fit of the resulting A12 from those impressions. These are deep, tight and excellent sealing CIEMs. The acrylic is smooth and the molds are accurate even in my rather odd shaped left ear canal. Even prolonged open jaw stances had a 99% seal which is impressive for a CIEM primarily molded with relaxed jaw sealing. I highly doubt my jaw is going to be open during long listening periods but it just goes to show a good impression and an accurate designer is a must.

I would rate these as just slightly in behind M-Fidelity and Custom Arts awesome silicone injected and pure silicone molds which retail a 100% seal open or closed. They are more comfortable than the Stage 5 from Rhines and deeper than the flagship acrylic VE6X from Vision Ears for. I still think the SA-43 from M-Fidelity was the best combination in terms of comfort, depth and seal out of those I mentioned but for pure acrylic, the A12 is not far behind.

Of course, the beauty of the A12 unlike the other CIEM’s mentioned is that you can adjust that ambient noise to your liking with their variable modules. This means you can have a rock solid seal or something a bit more open, making the A12 that bit more flexible than the competitors.

Cable & Accessories

The ADEL A12 comes with the standard stock custom IEM cable. I have a growing farm of these now and such is the plethora of super soft pliant 2 pin custom cables being offered I have come to the conclusion this is by universal decree and thus globally a mandatory inclusion. AAW you are ‘rebel scum’ for the Null Vitesse cable but otherwise, it’s a singular universe when it comes to the stock cable of a custom monitor. I suspect many Bothans did not die bringing this cable to me.

Ok so maybe I am wandering off the point a little so let me refocus. The stock cable is the same as any other cable on a CIEM in the known universe and beyond – at least visually. It is soft, easy to manipulate behind your ear, terminated with a 3.5mm gold plated right angle jack with decent strain relief. There is nothing bad about it but nothing unique about it either. Thankfully it is detachable as most others are and as such, I would advise to go out there and grab a great aftermarket Twag or SXC type cable because in IEM world they do make a difference. If you can’t afford it then the stock is just fine …I guess.


On the plus side, the ADEL A12 carry cases rocks and second only to Vision Ears for size, form, and function. It more or less a converted Otter Box so it’s next to indestructible and well protected from the elements. On the outside, you get a small amount of personalization with a silver label which you can choose in the designer tool before you order. This one has Headfonics on the label naturally. Inside the foam is cut rather elaborately to house the A12, the cable, a quarter jack adapter, and a cleaning brush. It’s a nice layout and very photogenic indeed. Functionally everything is held in place when closed also with no unnecessary movement.

Sound Impressions

The A12 is fairly balanced with a neutral to warm tonality that is smooth, airy, yet very detailed and wonderfully musical from top to bottom. 64 Audio has cleverly dialed back the top end just a tiny bit in comparison to the likes of the super clean and slightly brighter Vision Ears VE6X to allow the detail to shine but make it sound incredibly natural and flowing.


The A12’s bass response is weighted and full sounding with decent pace though not as snappy and tight as the VE6X but I personally think it has better texture and detail. It’s a strong point of the A12 for modern genres such as rock and pop which need a little bit of oomph down below. It’s not a slamming bass, it does not have a huge midbass hump, but rather oodles of extension and a nice full beefy sound that has plenty of authority. Think LCD-3 rather than HD800 or Hifiman HE560 and you get a great idea of the type of bass response with the ADEL A12.


The A12 also has a very open and spacious presentation allowing the midrange to breathe and sound very clear and prominent. Layering is excellent and the vocal presence, whilst not as big sounding as the Harmony 8, has far superior control and texture. There is not one iota of sibilance or harshness on the A12 in the upper midrange. Unless you throw in a ton of crappy recordings with existing sibilance you just won’t hear it.


Yes they dialed the treble back just a tiny bit, it’s not as brash and forward as the VE6X from Vision Ears but it extends as smoothly as the Stage 5 from Rhines and outshines the W300AR, Harmony 8, UM Merlin and their own V8 in terms of resolution, detail, and evenness. Its got plenty of headroom and just enough shimmer to sound accurate and pleasingly articulate.

There is zero peaking in the lower treble yet cymbal and percussion sounds clear and present. That is a rare quality indeed and something I rarely find in many an IEM or CIEM. It’s usually sucked out or tapered down sounding a bit lifeless or too peaky and hot and sounding distracting and tiresome. The A12 managed to avoid both pitfalls with apparent ease.

Page 3: Comparisons and Matchability


17 Responses

  1. Matthew Quinn

    How is the isolation in comparison to other CIEMs? I have read some reviews saying it is not up to par because of the ADEL module. Do you agree?

    • headfonics

      Isolation will vary depending on your impressions and fit but outside of that I thought it was excellent – the modules I have not had a chance to compare given this one came with the stock plastic one.

  2. Clarence

    since the adel 12 is so efficient and easy to drive, do you think the mojo which is on my shopping list, is too much for adel 12 to handle.

  3. wasaki

    From your memory : which one let you enjoy the music more roxanne or adel 12?
    which one has bigger soundstage ,better imaging and sound fuller ?

    • headfonics

      Adel A12 overall for me, it has a nice full sound and the treble is just dialed back ever so slightly to make is a very pleasurable listen. Bear in mind though my Roxanne is the universal variant.

      • Coll. IEm

        I just bought roxanne ,did you think adel 12 and roxanne in the same level ?
        if the treble laid back you mean it sound darker in Adel 12 ,
        if the trble is bright why owners of rox. say it dark not bright or natural ?

        will you consider roxanne one of the TOTAL iem ? I’m not searching for refrance sound cause most of them is boring .is that true ?
        sorry I asked you many questions .

      • headfonics

        I think both are excellent performers but tonally I have a preference to what the A12 can do and I think the Vision Ears VE6 does what the Roxanne can do only better. Its aso huge in your ear for the amount of drivers given the A12 is much smaller and has more drivers.

        You can tune the Roxanne a little so rather than bright vs dark I would say what you are hearing is bass forward or neutral depending on where you hear the dial. In compairson to the A12 the treble on the Roxy is brighter.

        Best reference sound is the VE V6XC.

  4. PG

    Thanks for the great review
    I have a question
    I listen to R&B, indie, folk, pop and hiphop sometimes jazz
    I am considering between k10 and a12
    which one would fit me better?

    • headfonics

      I have not heard the K10 but the A12 is ideally suited to a lot of those genres.

  5. Lazar Ranisavljevic

    I’ve enjoyed reading many of your reviews, especially the CIEM ones. Having studied the ones that interest me most (A12, K10 and VE6 X), I feel that there is a reason that you’ve omitted any comparisons to the K10. I am in search for a main headphone that must be a CIEM (and cannot afford multiple pairs) and I would appreciate a three way comparison as that would greatly aid my decision.

    Kind Regards

    • headfonics

      Thank you for your kind compliments and we will certaily have more customs reviews before Xmas for you to continue to enjoy.

      Actually the reason why the K10 has not been part of the compairson is simply due to the fact Mike reviewed the K10 and I reviewed the other CIEMs. Mike is approx 10k miles away from me and its a custom so its unlikely we can ever do direct comparisons with the K10.

      Its one of the perils of multiple staff writers I guess.

      • Lazar Ranisavljevic

        I look forward to reading more quality reviews.

        In case i decide to rush my purchase, do you think I would be best served by VE6 X if my listening focus is classical (think Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Mussorgsky,..), and jazz & blues as secondary (think John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Louis Armstrong,..) or would you recommend some of the competition? (I am from Serbia, so I have no possibility of actually hearing any of the great CIEMs, hence my decision will be only review-based)

      • headfonics

        The VE6X is excellent for classical to be honest with its big and wide soundstage and slightly more strident treble range but if you want something slightly thicker with a heavy bass then the A12 will be a nice option especially with some blues. Tough choice but I would give the nod for the VE6X for your preferred taste.

      • Lazar Ranisavljevic

        You’ve just confirmed what I’ve been leaning towards- the VE6X is the one if I can digest the relatively sharp treble. I love the freedom that sound stage gives, and I love the air and details which can provide intimacy at the same time. Additionally Vision Ears are in Europe so I can get them personally and avoid paying customs and tax (30% combined) and reclaim VAT so they would be cheaper than any flagship from the US (the A12 would probably be upwards of 2700 USD) or the far east. Besides, what is a better excuse for a visit to Berlin.

        Thank you for your time and insight. Your help is greatly appreciated!


      • headfonics

        Sounds like a plan :) I personally do nto find the treble sharp on the VE6X it just seems brighter with a slightly harder edge than the A12 which is more laid back. I think that is a better tonal fit though for classics.

        VE is in Koln also – maybe you can go there and they will do the impressions when you visit Belin and save on any potential mishaps with 3rd party impressions.

      • Lazar Ranisavljevic

        So essentially not harsh but extra detailed- just the way I like my sound :). However, I will probably have to order them before coming to Germany because I can’t afford staying there for weeks until they build them… Unless I can ask as a special favour to get the impressions say Monday and be done by Friday. You just gave me an idea, no harm in asking.

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