After completing the review of the Shure Aonic 5, I now move on to provide my detailed impressions on the Aonic 4. This is Shure’s first earphone that uses dual-driver hybrid setup – a balanced armature and a dynamic driver. This combination usually achieves good balance of bass and high frequency detail, allowing the earphone to produce a wider frequency range. The Aonic 4 retails in Singapore for S$419, distributed by Grandtech Systems.
The Shure Aonic 4 is packed with so much variety of ear tips – Shure calls them “sleeves”. From the standard silicone (grey) to black conforming foam and even a triple-flange silicon as well as Shure’s iconic yellow foam. As I mentioned in the Aonic 5 review, the ear tips play a very important role in altering the audio balancing.
Just like the Aonic 5, the Aonic 4 comes with carrying case and detachable MMCX cable with in-line remote that supports both Android and iOS smartphones. Also included is the 1/4-inch headphone adapter, a rare addition for a consumer audio product released in 2020.
These earbuds achieve excellent noise isolation. In a noisy food court, I can enjoy music details without the need for digital noise cancellation which technically compromises audio authenticity.
The Aonic 4 fills the ears with an immersive cohesive sound staging which allows lots of music details to be heard comfortably. Bass impact is felt more readily yet it’s not too pushy, treble clarity is blended into the mix and does not take over-prominence, yet achieves satisfying detail. Saxophone solos sound smooth and full, not too artificially bright. I am very comfortable listening tracks predominantly treble-biased on Aonic 4, for instance, Yanni Live At The Acropolis. For bass-heavy tracks like Billie Eilish “Bad Guy”, the bass is full and moderately kicky yet it does not overpower the vocals. For Sam Smith “Pray”, the vocals are so balanced with the accompaniment that I actually hear more of the instruments than just shouty chorus.
The Aonic 4 tuning is something that I rarely come across. When I compared it with my previous wired favourites, the Aonic 4 clearly outshines them. Yes, the Klipsch X12i offers more prominent details on certain instruments while retaining neutrality. Yes, the Creative Aurvana Trio delivers better bass experience and vocal sparkles. But the Aonic 4 delivers amazing balance and overall musical details where I could hear more readily across the board without cluttering nor getting drowned by any frequency. The musicality is achieved by spreading the instrumentation yet not too disjointed or distanced with one another.
If you think my description of Aonic 4 seems to make it seems so desirable, wait till you try the Aonic 5. Well, when it comes to casual enjoyment, I am happy to recommend many other earphones without guilt because they do deliver great impressions and fun to listen to. What the Aonic 5 betters the Aonic 4 is producing more midrange details, achieving even more balance, and delivering even more body across the frequency. Bass is fuller yet clean, treble is warmer yet clear without any mess or bloat. That is, once you fix the sibilance issue (which I have).
Still, what strikes me on the Aonic 4 is that it is easier to be enjoyed. There is no need to go through nozzle swapping or ear tip rolling to get the desired comfortable sound. On the Aonic 4, be it silicone tip or foam tip, there is no sibilance issue. A casual listener picking up the Aonic 4 would describe the sound as “full bass, clear controlled treble, good overall details”.
The Shure Aonic 4 and Aonic 5 are my top favourites for wired earphones at the moment. The triple balanced armature drivers on the Aonic 5 provides a fuller-bodied sound that completes the audio experience, while the Aonic 4 is easier to enjoy across genres. It may seem that there are many other earphones with hybrid drivers that retails at lower prices, but the secret is in the sauce. Too often have audio makers succumb to “bright treble, strong bass” tuning that degenerate the current decade of personal audio listeners who only wants impact (bass) and clarity (vocals). All the craft that puts into the musical arrangements do not get appreciated if headphones and earphones do not produce a well-balanced sound.
Technically speaking, the Aonic 5 delivers better balanced sonic details than Aonic 4, but for my enjoyment, I am very satisfied with Aonic 4. For consumers who are looking to improve their listening experience, they should try the Aonic 4 or Aonic 5 to hear more music from their existing collection. I’m sure there are other better earphones that deliver even more detailed musicality, and the Shure Aonic series is a good start to re-train your ears.
The Shure AONIC 4 retails at S$419 in Singapore.