Advanced GT3 Review: Speed of Sound
I am no stranger to Advanced Sound’s products. The M4, the Model 3, the Alpha, the 747; there are tons of examples to point to in reference to Advanced Sound’s skill in developing unique and well-executed products. The GT3 is a new addition to their lineup and sports a dynamic driver with a light-weight diaphragm that increases the driver’s responsiveness. And sure, the GT3 has a respectable spec-sheet, but how well does it translate that into real-world performance?
You can find the GT3 for sale here for $200 on Advanced Sound’s official website.
About My Preferences: Heads up, I’m a person! As such, these words are my opinion, and they are tinged by my personal preferences. While I try to mitigate this as much as possible during my review process, I’d be lying if I said my biases are completely erased. So for you, my readers, keep this in mind:
- My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass.
- I have a mild treble sensitivity.
Source: The GT3 was powered like so:
HTC U11 -> Zorloo ZuperDAC-S -> earphones
Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones
HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones
PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones
All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.
- Driver unit: Light-coil multi-damping dynamic driver
- Impedance: 32ohm+/-15%
- Sensitivity: 92dB+/-3dB at 1kHz
- Frequency response: Ultra Wideband 10Hz — 40kHz
- Rated power input: 1mW
- Input power: 5mW
- Cable composition: Silver-plated copper
- Cable length: (SPC)1.5M
- Cable length (Mobile)1.2M
The GT3 features swappable tuning filters. Please note that all further analysis, unless otherwise stated, was done using the reference filter.
Advanced went with a mildly V-shaped sound signature for the GT3. Its treble gradually increases in emphasis up into the upper register, its midrange is slightly recessed behind the treble with a spike near the 1KHz-2KHz range to add vocal clarity, and its bass is matched fairly linearly with the midrange, bearing a mild emphasis past it. The GT3’s sub-bass is also startlingly well-controlled. It feels nearly like an electrostatic headphone.
The GT3’s treble is very precise, failing to detect essentially nothing. It is very quick, attacking and decaying with purpose and precision, though never betraying the natural timbre that the rest of the sound signature is aiming for. These characteristics are not often found on dynamic drivers and are mostly cornered off to titanium, carbon nano-tube, and PEEK diaphragmed drivers. While I don’t actually know what material that the GT3 uses, I’d imagine its one that is similar to those.
Furthermore, the GT3’s treble is capable of resolving very complex treble-bound textures. It manages to present the rapid-fire cymbal use of In One Ear effortlessly while not missing a beat with the rest of the upper register.
Advanced Sound graced the GT3 with a very expressive midrange. It captures much of liveliness of well-recorded and mastered tracks while handling the more pedestrian recordings with grace. It imbues my music with a sense of clarity that can only be accomplished with a highly responsive driver and a carefully tuned midrange. So while the mids are technically recessed, they really don’t feel that way.
The GT3 is particularly adept at showcasing the energy and expressiveness of acoustic instrumentation. The plucking of strings in the intro of Little Black Submarines staged with loads of nuanced sound. You can easily make out the partial-muting of the strings. As the song progresses further into the first stanza, the tambourines in the background articulate themselves with an impressive level of separation. And as the electric guitar and drums kick in the story continues: each hit of the snare and every riff layer with precision behind the vocals.
Speaking of vocals, the GT3 handles both male and female vocals well. Even at this price point, they are above-average in terms of intelligibility making it easy to discern those once-muddled words in your favorite songs.
The lower register of the GT3 is somewhat pushed passed the midrange, with a steady increase in emphasis from 150Hz to 20Hz. This emphasis enables the GT3 to express bass-bound instrumentation without “bottoming out” or feeling shallow. It doesn’t have a lot of impact or rumble and adopts a more “hear not feel” approach to the lower register.
And my personal preferences for tuning aside, I have to say that the GT3 does do a great job with what it set out to do: the sub-bass is cohesive and well-attached to the midrange, never overwhelming it or muddying the otherwise clear waters of the GT3’s sound signature. It’s easy to make out the bass line of rock songs and make out complex electronic samples in genres like Dubstep and Progressive house; a testament to the responsiveness of the GT3’s driver.
The reference filters are the default sound-profile for the GT3. They produce a gentle V-shaped sound signature that is easy to listen to while maintaining a very high degree of detail retrieval across the entire sonic spectrum.
These filters boost the treble production of the GT3 with a leveled-hand. The change isn’t huge and doesn’t feel like it was intended to be an overhaul of the sound signature. The treble filters, thankfully, don’t introduce any unreasonable harshness or sibilance.
The bass filters add a small amount of much appreciated mid-bass emphasis that brings some addition wetness to the sound signature that carefully emphasizes the lower-register without altering the sound signature’s core characteristics.
Packaging / Unboxing
The GT3’s shells are made out of a highly reflective metal that reminds me of a brand-new steel rivet. The entire shell is smoothly machined and well assembled: no unseemly panel lines or loose components.
The MMCX jacks are housed in a tough and thick rubberized plastic. They sit flush with the top of the housing and are firmly secured within. They seal with their cables very well, indicating that Advanced Sound sourced high-quality parts.
The GT3 features swappable tuning filters, and as such the nozzles unscrew from the housing. The nozzles and the inside of the housings are both threaded with extreme accuracy, so unless something goes horribly wrong there’s no risk of casually cross-threading these IEMs. The nozzles are backed into the housing with a rubber ring used as a buffer. This ensures that it is always reasonably easy to swap the filters, even when tightly twisted into the housing.
The filters are, thankfully, not of the bass-porting variety. Instead, they use a method known as dampening to selectively cancel out specific sound frequencies to change the overall sound signature.
The GT3 comes with two cables: one silver-braided TRS cable and one nylon-sleeved TRRS cable.
The silver braided cable uses a metal 3.5mm jack housing and Y-splitter with generous plastic stress relief. The nylon-sleeved cable, which actually turns into a standard plastic cable above the Y-splitter, uses a hybrid 3.5mm jack housing that features both metal and a tough rubberized plastic. Its Y-splitter is the same, using both metal and that plastic. Both cables feature earguides, though neither are moldable.
The nylon-sleeved TRRS cable has an inline-control/mic combo on it. The entire housing is made from plastic, as are its buttons, though the assembly feels tough and unlikely to break. The mic and controls are posited to work on both Android and iOS, though I was only able to confirm compatibility with my HTC U11 as I don’t have an iOS device.
The GT3 is worn over ear, and due to its bullet-style housings, is fairly non-invasive. It is lightweight, and as such, easily “disappears” into the ear when worn with the correct size of silicone or foam eartip. The GT3 is one of the most fatigue-free IEMs I’ve worn to date. Your mileage will vary though, as each person’s aural anatomy is different.
The GT3 comes very well equipped with accessories. Inside the box you’ll find:
- 3x pairs of foam eartips
- 6x pairs of silicone eartips
- 3x tuning filters
- 2x cables
- 1x semi-hard carrying case
- 1x Genuine Leather cable organizing strap
The foam eartips are soft and pliable and do a good job of isolating without becoming uncomfortable. The silicone eartips are in varying densities and should provide comfortable and competent seals to anyone who wishes to use them.
The case is of the standard Advanced Sound stock but does well to house the GT3, its tuning filters, both cables, and any extra eartips you want to carry with you. I was even able to (barely) fit a HiFiMAN SuperMini in there too!
1: Echobox Nomad N1 ($250)
The Nomad N1 and GT3 are very similar in many ways. For starters, they both feature metal shells and tuning filters. They both have detachable MMCX cables and they both aim for the $200-$300 range. But their sound signatures are quite different. The GT3 takes a significantly more linear approach for its “reference” sound, while the Nomad has a more intense V-shaped sound signature. Namely a more pronounced mid and sub-bass and a more emphasized 6–10KHz range.
2: Brainwavz B400 ($200)
The B400 has a more linear midrange resulting in it being warmer and smoother than the GT3’s midrange. The B400 also has a less pronounced vocal spike in the 1KHz-2KHz range, making vocal lines more embedded within the instrumentation. The GT3 has a more striking sense of “clarity” and “sparkle”, but the B400 is, as such, somewhat less fatiguing to listen to at higher volumes. The B400’s sub-bass is also a bit more pronounced than the GT3's.
3: 1More Quad-Driver ($200)
The Quad Driver is much warmer than the GT3 is, even with the bass filters on. It also has a much more recessed midrange and lower treble, making it considerably less clear. The Quad Driver does produce more bass than the GT3 though. And while the bass quality isn’t as good with the Quad Driver, it certainly can get the job done respectably.
The GT3 is an excellent IEM from Advanced Sound featuring the natural cohesion of a dynamic driver and much of the textural resolution and precision one might expect from a balanced-armature driver. Its easy-going and versatile sound signature combined with impeccable build quality make it easy to recommend to anyone looking for an all-arounder with a couple tricks up its sleeve. The GT3 is another truly worthwhile product from Advanced Sound and I’m excited to see what they come up with next!
As always, happy listening!