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ACS T15 Universal Fit Monitors review

Gordon Kelly




  • Editors choice

1 of 5

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Our Score:



  • Small design makes for comfortable, light and secure fit
  • Class leading audio performance combines bass and accuracy
  • Premium cable is durable & eliminates cable noise


  • Be nice to have a mic option
  • Non modular cable

Key Features

  • Small, lightweight design
  • Kevlar bonded durable cable
  • Silicon soft moulded tips
  • Single driver
  • Bundled hard shell travelling case
  • Manufacturer: ACS
  • Review Price: £149.99

Despite dividing millions of impassioned audiophiles, earphones hide a dark secret: many of their components are virtually identical. As such where the real magic happens is in the applied sound signature, the fit and any other extras you may want, and it is here we find a new affordable champion…

The 'T15' is made by ACS, the company behind the remarkable 10 out of 10 T2 custom IEM. The T15 represents two firsts for the company, namely it is the first time ACS has made an earphone that is relatively affordable for the mass market and it is also the first time ACS has offered an earphone with a universal fit. These seem strange risks to take for a company famed for no compromise audio and unique soft silicon custom moulds, but they are risks which look set to pay off in spectacular style.


Unpack the T15 and the earpieces aren't much to look at. This is a compliment. Unlike so many earphones which have become akin to pushing lead bananas into your ears, the T15 earpieces are tiny. They weigh just 11g a piece and measure 15mm long. This means the majority of each earphone can fit right into your ear so their weight holds them in rather than hanging outside pulling them out. This makes them particularly good for runners and regular gym goers. The fit will also be sufficiently unobtrusive for some that, like the T2 and even the dedicated bedphones, the T15 can be worn side on against a pillow or train/plane seat.

In addition, while ACS supplies a range of different tips, what really stands out is its tweak of the classic triple flange design (a style many consumers we encounter normally like the least). Leveraging its custom expertise ACS has made the flange from the same medical grade silicon it uses in its high end monitors. This not only makes the tip softer and more comfortable than any other flange tips we've tried, but it moulds more tightly to the individual shape of your ear canal. The result is superb noise isolation (-26dB) and improved bass response, which can often be a little light with the single flange tips. We also like the addition of a tab at the back of the tip which makes the T15's easier to remove.

The T15 has one of the best cables we've seen on earphones of any price. As with its custom IEMs ACS has reinforced the cable with Kevlar threads and coated it with an anti-friction sheath which helps keep microphonics (the noise of cables knocking against clothing or such like) to a minimum. Meanwhile ACS fits a "custom pressed binder" that joins the two cables to guard against damage. We don't have the luxury of long term testing, but the join certainly seemed tougher than many. ACS has also wisely opted for a right angled plug (with gold-plated 3.5mm connector) which withstands pulling better than a straight plug and is the only sensible choice for devices like BlackBerrys and Sony Ericsson smartphones which place their headphone jacks on the side. The only obvious downside in all this is the lack of removable cables, thus if the cable breaks you can't just buy a new one, but ACS offers a cable repair service and at this price/performance level we can't complain.


A tasteful if rather oversized hard shell travelling case is provided too. We tend to find such robust cases a little impractical in day to day use and prefer a soft or semi-soft construction, but at least the design is simple, unlike some of the strangely elaborate examples we see.

A final clever touch is the use of coloured bands at the base of each tip to designate left and right earphones. Red corresponds to right ('R'ed) Blue (b'L'ue) to left making it easy to see at a glance which is which. This has been done before, but it isn't used nearly enough and really should be an industry standard to replace the tiny 'L' and 'R' symbols we have to strain our eyes to find on most earphones. That said, even better would be some raised markings or different textures which let you tell them apart by touch alone.


November 10, 2011, 5:02 pm


Based only on durability the cable, what would be better? this kevlar bonded cable or something like a pair of Shure Se215's with their detachable cables?



November 15, 2011, 8:07 pm

How do these compare to the Shure range in terms of sound? In terms of price they are closest to the SE315, is that also the closest in sound, or do they trump them?


David 33

November 30, 2011, 12:47 am

Well, these proved extremely difficult to track down, but DJMMusic had them for sale at £159, which was £10 more than the price quoted in the review. The packaging seemed cheap (and fiddly) for a fairly premium pair of phones. Initial impressions weren't favourable: difficult to get an optimum seal with either the triple-flanged or single buds and the treble was harsher than I expected. I compared them with both my gold standard Shure SE535 and my gym-buddy Soundmagic E10: not surprisingly the SE535s blew them away with pretty much the first chord; and even the E10s were easier on the ear both in terms of fit and sound. So, it's a thumbs down from me and back to DJMMusic for a refund.


January 5, 2012, 8:42 pm

I have to concur with Dave 33 about the sound quality of these. I've tried them over a range of classical, pop and rock, and found that the treble is shrill and scratchy and the mid-range lacks warmth and depth. They sound like a fuzzy, old-fashioned record player. I asked for them for Christmas on the strength of this review, but I'd strongly advise anyone else to choose a different product: these are ghastly. They don't have a volume or track control either, which is pretty poor in earphones in this price range.


July 19, 2013, 8:03 pm

I must urge all those who believe this product is good to think again, after ordering these from the offical website, acscustom.com which was broken and i had to order them over the phone for $230. These earphones instantly looked like you could buy them for 3$ at a local corner shop. i disregarded myself and listened to Radioactive and realised my gut instinct was correct, they sound EXACTLY like $3 earphones, everything was shrill and terrible! i am currently in the process of a refund, please divert your eyes from these earphones and please take a look at these fantastic earphones which i should of bought to replace the ones i broke a few weeks ago


October 5, 2013, 11:04 am

These need time to break in, and the sound really does develop. Like all good headphones you cant expect the best sound out of the box. I left mine to just play for a few days connected to my amp before listening. I have had mine for about two years now and they sound great, much better than my mates shure 315 and half the size and no weight. They are warm and clear, there is no harshness at all. I have never had a problem with the seal, using the black tips but there are a range provided for all ear shapes.


November 1, 2013, 4:46 pm

I'm with David123, I've had mine for about 1.5 years now and they are truly fantastic. I previously had a pair of Klipsch Image X10is which I loved at the time, but they kept breaking over and over again due to the flimsy cables and joins so after an obscene amount of research I bought these. They are so much more subtle, which would explain why so many people find them lacking warmth in the mid-range. But they are also unforgiving - if you are listening to either a poor recording (so so common nowadays) or low quality file or a low powered device then they will disappoint (note the review says these have a high impedance - that means they need higher voltage but lower current to drive them) - possibly a reason why people found the treble shrill. Having left them to bed in for 48 hours, I read some more and ended up buying the JDS Labs Bass Boost cMoy v2.03 Headphone Amplifier and some Comply foam tips. I have not heard anything like the sound these tiny things produce. Very accurate, not too bassy and plenty of mid-range. If you're sending these back within a week then you haven't given them enough of a chance. Experiment with tips (including the comply) and power them properly and you'll reap the audible rewards...


January 13, 2014, 5:10 pm

David 33, Kate1, Georgio169 are all correct. I am currently on my second pair after my first pair broke and these have just broken too, in exactly the same way (the left piece is now far quieter than the right). The sound has always been terrible - very muddy and squashed. Easily beaten by my $50 headphones. (I've even been using them with my custom ACS earmoulds). Whatever you do stay away from this terrible product. I find it hard to believe this reviewer and I are discussing the same product.

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