Awards

  • Editors choice

Summary

Our Score

10/10

Pros

  • Exceptional sound quality
  • Silicone moulds are much more comfortable than hard shell customs

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Cable can't be replaced
  • Not as nicely finished or customisable as hard shell alternatives

Review Price free/subscription

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Key Features: Custom silicone earpieces; Kevlar reinforced cabling; Customisable look with option for laser etching; Dual balanced-armature drivers; Waterproof, rugged case and soft pouch

Manufacturer: ACS

What is 'value for money'? When a product is cheap, well featured and well made it is easy to assess. It is good value for everyone. Where the problems start is when the price goes up. The Sony Vaio Z Series is the best portable laptop on the market, but at £2,400 is it good value for money? Perhaps. The Dyson Air Multiplier is the best desktop fan, but it costs £199. Is this worse value for money because it is 'just a fan'? Ultimately value for money comes down to individual requirements and personal finances. The rule is it's subjective. And if this is something of a drop intro apologies, but value for money is the fundamental quandary when reviewing ACS's truly remarkable T2 monitors.

Let's get it out of the way. If you want a pair of T2s you will have to find £499. For £510 you can buy a 16GB iPhone 4. For £569 you can take home a 40in Sony Bravia KDL-40EX503 television. Are we in 'just a fan' territory? Why on earth would you spend £500 on a pair of earphones? And here's the hard bit: you should.

There are obvious caveats. Clearly you have to be seriously into your music. Unless you obsessively rip your music at the best possible bitrates (or still insist on buying the CD) then the T2s aren't for you. If you don't own a phone, a TV or decent laptop then prioritise - what are you thinking? Do you have a large mortgage to pay? An ex-wife to appease? Best stop reading now, because the next 1,200 words won't make you feel better about your life. On the other hand if you can consider spending £500 on a pair of earphones find a comfy chair and start stroking your credit card because you're about to learn these are the ones to get.

First things first. What sets these apart from most other high-end in-ear monitors (IEMs), such as the Shure SE 535 or Sennheiser IE8s is the fact they're custom moulded to perfectly fit the contours of your inner ear. This creates a better seal, reduces outside noise and preserves fidelity. Other companies such as Westone and Ultimate Ears also offer this service though ACS is one of the few to offer soft silicone moulds rather than hard plastic ones.

The rest of the monitor is no less bespoke. It can be laser etched with lettering or symbols of your choice. Clear, purple, red, blue, yellow or black finishes are standard options, but virtually any colour can be requested and the same goes for the Kevlar reinforced, anti-friction cable (its length can also be specified). Cable positioning is offered either at the top of the monitors (to feed behind the ears) or at the bottom to mimic a typical earphone arrangement - the former is generally better for avoiding pulling the phones out or damaging them when you snag the cable. A personally inscribed rugged case is supplied as well along with a soft carry leather pouch. £500? It's a start…

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