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ACS T2 Dual Driver Monitor review

Gordon Kelly



  • Editors choice
ACS T2 Dual Driver Monitor


Our Score



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


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

Review Price free/subscription

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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March 19, 2011, 11:53 am

You make it sound as though this product will destroy me and all my family and friends in some kind of pleasure-based nuclear blast.

Lee Moorhouse

March 19, 2011, 12:30 pm

Fantastic review, I've been looking to buy some high-end 'monitors' for sometime now, I think these have just topped my list! But before I do that...

This is going to sound silly and I'm sure everyone will laugh but, is there anyway you could right an article about audio ripping and the best way to do it? I've been meaning to sort out my bitrates for sometime now, but I don't really know where to start!


March 19, 2011, 1:30 pm

For those who can't afford custom monitors, it's worth pointing out that ACS also produces custom sleaves (i.e., earphone tips) for a range of popular earphone models.

They cost ~£90 and I've heard they make a massive difference. I have some on order for my UE SF5 pros right now...


March 19, 2011, 1:33 pm

Sound fantastic.....I know what I shall be using my student loan on next month

Tim Sutton

March 19, 2011, 1:57 pm

@Lee Moorhouse

If I were to write such a guide it'd be this: 1:Download LAME. 2:Using LAME rip your music at 320kbps. 3:Profit!

I actually can't reliably tell 320kbps from 256kbps when listening, but hey, why risk it.


March 19, 2011, 4:55 pm

I'm sold - very interested in these.
Can the reviewer (or anybody lucky enough to have a pair) comment on their serviceability or robustness, particularly with regard to the cable as these look to be fixed.
Would hate to drop £500 on these only to have a problem with the cable 18 months down the road.

Hans Gruber

March 19, 2011, 5:05 pm

How durable are these monitors? I couldn't tell but it looks like the cable isn't user replaceable?

dB PowerAmp is quite good for ripping music btw. http://www.dbpoweramp.com/


March 19, 2011, 5:16 pm

No comment on the cords? In my experience it's the cabling that is the weak link in these high end ear monitors â€" hence the welcome move to detachable ones by many manufacturers. Also, they get more rigid and prone to damage in the cold winter months, typically rupturing as they bend around the ear, or at the 'Y' junction.

I ended up pony-tailing my old Shure SE-420s when faced with the faff and expense of replacement cables (after about 18 months use) and am now very happy with my UE Triple.Fi 10s (whose warm, ballsy sound suits me much better than the transparent, but cold SEs it turns out). The UEs are already on their second set of cords, but at least replacing them wasn't a problem.

Inevitably, I'm very drawn to the ACS ear monitors by your rave review and the promise of portable audio excellence, but the prospect of spending £500+ on bespoke IEMs with tethered cords leaves me cold.

Carl Abudephane

March 19, 2011, 5:25 pm

What happens if the cables get damaged? Are they removable? I'd guess not from the photos; for 'phones costing this much I feel that replaceable cables are essential.


March 19, 2011, 7:08 pm

@MilkyJoe7 - pretty much spot on. I should have used that metaphor. They're custom though so remember it will be just for you, not family and friends.
@Lee Moorhouse two good suggestions in the comments. LAME and dB PowerAmp work well. The detail in these monitors means you will hear the benefit of 320Kbps and lossless encoding.
@99tollap - ACS does indeed and custom moulds do make a huge difference. As mentioned in the review they are an earbud tip replacement though, so you don't get the full canal mould which is another level again.

@Stewart @Hans Gruber @Tomsterix @Carl Abudephane - similar points so I'm contacting ACS for an official comment. Through my personal experience I've found the T2's to be extremely durable. The silicon, while flexible, is tough and protects the speakers. As for the cable it is reinforced with Kevlar and feels nothing like the cheap rubber cables you get on most earphones - you would expect nothing less. I'll see if I can get a response before the weekend is out.


March 19, 2011, 7:55 pm

Oh boy I wish I had £500 for earphones


March 19, 2011, 8:17 pm

Interesting product and a nice review, however I do have to spoil the party with two mayor drawbacks these type of products tend to have and these ones reviewed are no exception. First one was mentioned before and is regarding cable not being user replaceable. I'd have thought a high-end product would employ some high-end connectivity, say a magnetic audio connector on ear pieces. With it being such tight fit, I wouldn't want to imagine how it feels like when something/someone pulls on your kevlar reinforced cable with any force. Second drawback - at least how I see it - is one even more problematic, and that is a pressure build-up inside your ear due to this product not having any inner ear pressure equalizing hole drilled into it. I hope the sound is really as jaw-dropping as the article might suggest, as I can't see it being comfortable (or healthy to your ears) listening to them for longer periods of time without equalizing the pressure build-up through the Eustachian tube every few minutes. Sorry for what might sound like a rant, I was really hoping for an almost perfect product here, especially considering how much they cost. I'd even be happy to pay a few hundred pounds more to get them, if it addressed those two drawbacks.


March 19, 2011, 8:31 pm

@miha - I have yet to try and rip the monitors out my ear (!), but obviously any form of tight seal makes this an inherent problem. I'd suggest being careful. Otherwise decide what is more important to you. I understand this wouldn't be a problem with Apple earphones ;)

Your second point is interesting since it sounds logical, but I had no issues whatsoever wearing the T2s for many hours. In fact you'd think this would be an issue with any form of tight seal earplug as well. Many professions where these all day, such as construction workers and military personnel. Obviously all have managed to overcome it somehow, but I'm not scientifically qualified to say how. I simply didn't have any problems. More to the point they were so comfortable I forgot I was wearing them and twice walked off when still plugged into a laptop. A plus point for durability!

Again I'll check with ACS for an answer.


March 19, 2011, 8:57 pm

Thanks Gordon for your quick reply. Please, check with ACS if you can, I'd be hugely interested in their reply and/or if they plan on evolving this product any further. I should probably put my previous comment into perspective - what I'd use such product for is as "monitors" in its original sense (at least how I learned it). I play various musical instruments in a rock/jazz band and having ability to hear yourself playing with others "banging along" is essential. I would consider wireless connection for such products, but the signal lag using such solutions makes it a definite no-go. Thanks in advance!


March 19, 2011, 10:19 pm

I'm fairly sure that ACS charge £40 to change the cable...


March 19, 2011, 10:58 pm

Hi all. Here's the official statement from ACS:

"Every ACS product comes with a one-year warranty that covers against repairs that aren’t a result of misuse by the user. The monitors are to be removed by gripping the moulds and removing from the ear as opposed to pulling the cable, this is made clear in the instruction leaflet. If used properly there should be no issues with the cable.

ACS will be launching a removable cable solution before the end of the year but more news on this will follow. It is important to state though that the development on a removable cable is not because there is problems with the existing cable solution but because it forms part of a new groundbreaking monitor that will be announced shortly."

In short, you've got a year just like other earphones and monitors. I99tollap is right, ACS does offer a cable repair service, but cost is related to the extent of the damage. News of a T2 with removable cables and a new "groundbreaking monitor" has also peaked our interest! We'll be keeping our eyes peeled for developments and will keep you up to date.

@Miha - I have learnt ACS is working on an ambient product of which there should be news shortly. The company seems very excited about it.

Adam 4

March 20, 2011, 3:06 am

I've had ear moulds taken previosuly, can I use these moulds and save a few quid?


March 20, 2011, 4:14 am

They look like something out of eXistenZ, almost biological. Not sure I'd want them in my ear, in case they come alive and wriggle and bore their way into my brain


March 20, 2011, 8:52 am

@Adam 4 - no, the moulds on the T2 are part of its construction. They are not removable. That said the moulds are of such a quality that you wouldn't want to use third party alternatives.
@SRS - I must admit as they quickly warm to body temperature they do almost feel organic! Particular in that finish. The effect is less pronounced in other colours.


March 20, 2011, 11:57 am

Very interesting. I come from the same stable as miha's comments in terms of the health issue. With such a tight custom fit I can see how this funder-mentally improves the experience....but I am a tinnitus sufferer, and I can tell you that I naively brought this condition upon my self just from ONE night of loud music (mates birthday, peer pressure and all that) with a cold, and so these very Eustachian tubes, being blocked provided no release valve as it were!! Ear drums are pretty much getting the full brunt with this method. However you say you say this has not been a problem for you. Fair enough. You mention roots from ACS in hearing protection... and construction workers wearing them etc. I often wondered about getting a custom mould done, as in my job operating certain equipment like "Tree Chippers" etc, normal ear defenders just don't cut it! I would be very interested in the T2's from this point of view as well as enjoying them as the high quality monitors they so obviously are. What do you think? Is this an expensive way of doing it?


March 20, 2011, 1:04 pm

Great review. Completely out of my price range, but i enjoyed reading it :)
Quick note though; it's Ozzy Osbourne, not Ozzie.

D.I. Thomas

March 20, 2011, 1:34 pm

And on the pedantic side, it's piqued, not peaked.

I have the UE18 customs and the Klipsch X10s. The latter go right inside the ear canal and completely seal it. This is especially so as I have a pair of Comply ear tips on them. There is no problem about a build-up of pressure at all in my experience. I cannot explain the science of it but there really is no problem at all in my experience.


March 20, 2011, 3:45 pm

I'm surprised at the relatively small price difference between the T1s and T2s. If I wanted the best in ear monitor (and let's face it paying £500+ I should expect that!), I'd rather stump the extra £150 and get the triple driver version, they will be better without doubt! Therefore I'm confused at whom these T2s are aimed at...Honestly, until your last sentence I was really interested in buying these because they are well priced compared to the UE moulds. I guess I'll await your review on the T1s now !

Hans Gruber

March 20, 2011, 6:00 pm

@Kezman - ACS sell a range of protective ear plugs called the ER Series that seem more suitable to your needs.


ER9 - Recommended for light noise exposure and accoustic musicians providing and average of 9dB protection.
ER15 - Recommended for most musicians playing amplified music providing 15dB protection.
ER25 - Recommended for highly amplified performances and drummers providing 25dB protection.

They provide a good fit with a custom ear mould and cost £164.50.

@Gordon - 'Piqued' not peaked, though of course in this case it could be both! :)

Chris Salter

March 20, 2011, 6:33 pm

@Lee Moorhouse, @Tim Sutton, @ Hans Gruber, @Gordon.

A free (for non-commercial purposes) alternative to 'dB PowerAmp' is 'Exact Audio Copy'.


I cannot say how it compares with dB PowerAmp facility by facility, probably not as many, except that it is built around the same core AccurateRip technology.


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