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EarSonics SM64

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #81 in Universal Fit

Posted

Pros: Sound quality from top to bottom

Cons: Build quality

THE RATINGS:

 

Highs: 4.5/5

Mids: 5/5

Lows: 4.5/5 (probably would be 5/5 with amping)

Bass: 5/5 (swooshy style, though)

Value: 5/5

Soundstaging: 5/5

 

This is all to say that the Earsonics SM64s are perhaps the best IEMs I have ever heard, and I was always a big IEM person. 

 

Let's be short about this:

 

It absolutely slaughters the Shure SE530, SE535 line (which was an old-time favorite for me). It also is a large improvement over the famed Earsonics SM3s.

 

When I first received the SM64s, I was extremely disappointed. The sound was really bad. The sound was very muddy, the bass was extremely bloated and overbearing. There was a lack of energy everywhere along the spectrum. In my quest to figure out what was wrong (I didn't want to buy Westone 4s either; I had already spent so much damn money), I went out and busted $25 on Shure yellow foamies. The sound increased by maybe 10%-15%, but it was still bad.

 

Having owned the Sm3s, I suspected that it had to do with the filter located in the spout of the IEMs. However, as a fairly new product that isn't nearly as popular as the SM3s in terms of name, no one had really jumped the gun to modify their SM64s and take out the filters. One evening, in a rage about how bad my SM64s sounded, I said "screw it, let's take 'em out." So, I took out the filters.

 

The sound changed 100%. The IEMs sound NOTHING like they originally did with the filters. Now, it became the *best* IEMs I have ever heard:

 

SOUND

 

It is extremely transparent and clear. Everything has remarkable resolution. The last time I heard this resolution was when I had the UM3Xs, but the UM3Xs just aren't as good as the SM64s overall. I thought that in order to get technical prowess, you'd have to give up musicality. Somehow the SM64s seem to have reached this godly plateau of high technicality and good sounding music. It has a perfectly transparent sound. I can't even say that it's very colored or warm; it is almost perfectly neutral.

 

The SM3s sounded super fun, but they were very siropy and thick. The SM64s sound nothing like the SM3s in that way; they have fantastic detail from top to bottom. 

 

Soundstaging is great; for IEMs, the SM64s have a large soundstage. It does not sound congested at all. It's a perfect balance between spacious and intimate. Like I said, it's perfectly neutral; everything about this IEM is just spot on. 

 

This is giving me problems describing the sound, because there's nothing else to say except for it's completely neutral and spot on. Maybe it leans slightly more intimate than spacious, but really, it is in such stellar balance that people used to SM3s or SE530s might call these spacious. It's just perfectly situated.

 

It is a perfect balance between forward and laid back. If I had to compare with my big cans, it occupies the middle ground between my LCD-2.2s (which were very forward) and my HD650s (which were so mellow you wanted to fall asleep). This sits right in the middle of the two; it's forward enough to be fun, but doesn't stress you out. It's laid back enough that everything sounds effortless and easy-going, but without rocking you to sleep and coming off as without energy.

 

I seriously struggle to imagine how a universal IEM gets any better than this. I got to try out some AKG3003i for a few minutes at a fellow HeadFiers house, and from what I recall, these sound just as neutral as the 3003is. Maybe the 3003is had a larger suondstage and the SM64s are a tad more intimate, but these sound so transparent. There is absolutely NO veil; you hear everything with remarkable imaging and clarity.

 

Bass quantity was reduced upon taking out the filters. But it's still very much there, and will satisfy anyone who's not an explicit bass head. Bass is more than the SM3s and extends deeper. I don't care that much for bass, however, so this is not that important to me. It has a swooshier sounding bass, however. I think the UM3X punch is better, but some people like the more laid back swooshy sounding bass. This is just personal preference.

 

Instrument separation is good; it doesn't rip things apart, but it's definitely articulate. For instance, the UM3Xs rip things apart, whereas these bring them apart enough to appreciate every string, but is smooth enough to give a coherent sound.

 

Weakest part of the sound is probably the highs. Maybe could do with a tiny bit more energy, but only at the risk of becoming fatiguing. The lows also could also use a little more power. Remember, though, my entire test has been unamped. I reckon if these were amped, the lows would have enough power, and perhaps all my super minor suggestions would be satisfied. 

 

COMPARISONS

 

SE530s/535s: These eat the SE530s alive. Sonically, it is just better in virtually every way. It has greater technical ability and is clearly superior in virtually every way, except for maybe vocals (which the 530s are just beautiful at). 

UM3Xs: The SM64s is perfect for any fan of the UM3X (like myself) who still has a few qualms with the UM3X sound. This is basically everything you wanted your UM3Xs to do. Good separation, very high technical ability, transparent, but not cold, flat sounding. 

SM3s: Better in every way. The SM3s are veiled and muddy; these are not at all. The SM3s were good generalists, but if you listened to carefully, you knew that the mids weren't as good as the others. You knew the highs were rolled off, and resolution was lacking. The SM64s, I'm not sure what tops them (especially at this price range).

 

TIPS

 

Tips on tips. Well, I am using the Westone star tips right now, which reduces bass quantity a bit and makes everything sound a little brighter. However, I only am wearing them because I can't be bothered to start burning through my Shure yellow foamies just yet. I think the best tips for these are the Shure yellow foamies, followed by the Westone stars. Everything else sucks (especially the ES complys).

 

CONCLUSION

 

Whoops everything in its price range; I think it can contend with the super expensive universals. I honestly have no intention of buying other IEMs ever again, unless there's some serious new technology that comes out and blows me away. If I am to upgrade, it would have to be up to the likes of the Shure 846s, which I've not yet had the pleasure to listen to, or customs. 

 

Happy listening.

Posted

Pros: Excellently crisp sound, good low-end detail, generally sweet midrange

Cons: Cable could be better, finish quality is not perfect

 

 

 

I've been a fan of Earsonics since the SM2. Then the SM3. I found the SM3 to be almost perfect and the SM2 to sometimes be too dull. Actually, the SM3 had a similar voice. 

 

SM64 came along and surprised me.

 

1: it looked exactly like the SM3, even down to the accessories

2: it sounded way better than both the SM2 and SM3

3: it rarely hisses, and when it does, it is because the source is either too powerful or is absolute crap.

 

Numbers 2 and 3 are absolute killer points for the SM64. And number 3 really pulls straight into number 2. 

 

With an impedance of 98Ω, the SM64 puts no current stress on any portable player or microphone box. The only stress is if the source can spit enough voltage out. The answer is that most players out there can. In fact, at 122dB sensitivity and 98Ω, the SM64 is the perfect earphone. It hits the sweet spot because it never needs an amp. If you plug it into an iPod, it will sound the same as if you plug it into a DX100, that admittedly, has far better output. 

 

The SM64 is the great leveller of gear. It presents almost no load to even awful outputs. Amazing. Again, if your source is absolute crap (having very little voltage in its output) the SM64 will be too much. But I've yet to find a single source that can't make the SM64 sing perfectly. The sources I use are:

 

- iPod shuffle 1G (512)

- iPod nano 6G

- iPhone 5

- iPhone 4s

- iBasso DX100

- iBasso DX50

- Fiio X3

- iRiver AK100

- Sony A828

- iMac

and more.

 

Each one sounds great, has no hiss, and is balanced along all frequencies. The only other earphone I can say the same for is the Tzar 

 

Sound

I'll not go overboard into details here as I'm tired. I wrote a long review at Ω image. If you want, you can check that out.

 

Crispiness and space

These two were somewhat lacking in previous SM earphones. The SM2 could throw a large stage, but its rather dull upper mids and lower treble compressed the stage. The SM3, too, had a somewhat subdued upper mid range that tended to darken the sound. It however was a big step up. The SM64 stands firmly between the SM3 and a truly bright earphone like the Audio Technica CK10 (which I love still).

 

It has very good mid to upper bass response. Low bass <70Hz is audible, but not at all emphasised. It is a very good balance. Mids are bright and generally well balanced. Lots of detail to be had and also  lots of stereo separation. Very impressive. Slight suckout in the range of female vocals and upper violins dulls a very small portion of the music, but it is minimal at worst. Sound is overall excellent. 

 

Again, I went into more detail at Ω image.

 

Why is this the BEST stage monitor?

Previously, I had labelled the Sensaphonics j phonics the best. I believe that at the time it was. The j-phonics had a sturdier body than did Earsonics. It also had an easier to drive load. Today's SM64 is easier to drive, less prone to hiss, has removable cables, and a stronger body. Its (with some quibbles) flatter sound is also better for monitoring applications. I would be happy if Earsonics upgraded their stock cable and used deeper sinks in their cable-earphone connections. But I think they won't be the ones to change the par for this course.

 

All around a great earphone that is fully recommended. Its killer features: flat sound with good upper frequency energy and high resistance make it a winner that doesn't need an amp and plays well from 99% of the sources out there. 

Posted

Pros: Awesome highs, huge and precise soundstage, great isolation and comfort

Cons: Not that easy to drive (really a con?), first few batches have poor packaging

Copied from this thread:   http://www.head-fi.org/t/651654/earsonics-sm64-the-impressions-and-appreciation-thread/45#post_9195138

(Warning: broken english ahead)
(I'll borrow ljokerls review layout here)


Accessories: Because I was one of the first person to order the SM64 from Earsonics (ordered them literally 5 minutes after they were announced) I received one of Earsonics CIEM-box-thingys as a small bonus ( http://www.head-fi.org/g/i/752551/dfx-jpg/sort/display_order/ ). Besides that the accessoires are just the standard stuff you get with every IEM. Works for me.
Build Quality: Nothing to complain about here. I love this (Westone?) cable ♥
Isolation: Fit is 98% perfect for me with the included bi-flange tips. Never had any IEMs that fit so well.
Microphonics: Not really worth mentioning. Tends to zero.

Comfort: Seal is great and the ergonomic design too....so how could the comfort be? :P
 

Sound: I'm using a Cowon J3 with mostly flac-files as my source (soon to be supported with an Arrow 4G)


Bass:
Goes pretty deep and has a good punch to it! On some tracks I even get something like a subwoofer-effect. The SM64 always deliver the right amount of bass songs need. It's not overemphasized or to shy. It's just right on the spot, very natural and precise. Waaaay better than with my old TF10 (less quantity but overall just a lot better).

Mids: After the Earsonics upgraded my SM64 the mids are more forward than before. Overall more present but they never try to steal the show from the superb bass and highs. Even tough the mids are more forward than the other frequencies, the SM64 still maintain a more or less neutral sound signature. I really don't have any idea how mids could get any more transparent than on this in-ear.

 

Highs:
I love the highs of the SM64 with a burning passion. No, really. They could maybe be the best part of this IEM. Again, they are not emphasized or something like that, but just really really accurate and natural. They manage to get really high but only when the recording needs them to be. They can sparkle like nothing I have ever heard before. My brother has been playing drums for seven years now, and trust me, I know how cymbals sound. These IEMs manage to reproduce the sound of a cymbal perfectly. I'm pretty sure that there are just a few other in-ears out there that manage such a difficult task. They are not harsh or anything like that, but just very natural.

 

Soundstage/Precision/etc:
The soundstage is HUGE with an awesome 3D-feeling to it. One of my favourite songs has a few parts in it where you can only hear some "nature sounds" (see, there is the bad english :| ). It sounds like somebody just put a mic in a forest at night and recorded what was going on there. Anyway, the amount of details you can pick out of this sections with this IEM is just stunning. You can almost tell how many meters the birds you hear are away and how tall the tree is on which they are sitting on! There is a train passing by in the far distance and you can follow his track perfectly. I can't really put my enthusiasm in words, sry :D The soundstage is shaped something like this (borrowed that graphic from a SM3 review because it seems to be the exact same shape and amount) ( http://cdn.head-fi.org/5/5c/1000x500px-LL-5c20dead_1000x500px-LL-f5fc1cdf_SM3_Soundstage.jpg ). That shape makes live-recordings a whole new experience because you really feel like you are standing right in the middle of the crowd...you ofte even get the feeling that you can hear people behind you, which is a bit weird at first :D  These IEMs are fast and precise as hell. I can't really imagine how you could improve the SM64s performance in that sector. They can handle songs like this ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpfqpE6JoH4 ) like it's a simple lullaby!

 

 

 

So, yeah...that is my review of the IEMs I fell in love with.
I don't really have any other fancy in-ears I could compare them with and maybe you should take my review with a tiny grain of salt, because I did not test them with any kind of electronic music at all. Mainly listened to Metal, Jazz, movie scores and Rock. The sound did not really changed after ca. 250 hours. My brain just needed some time to change from TF10 mode to heavenly SM64 mode.

Overall these are very natural and precise IEMs with the best soundstage I could imagine.

You can take Earsonics really serious if they say that these earphones are all about "Headstage and Musicality" :)

EarSonics SM64
Description:

MUSICALITY AND HEADROOM. SM 64 earphones were made to handle music of all intensities and all volumes on any device, absolute control of the audio spectrum, incredible stereo image and maximum headroom, letting you crank it up without distorting the sound. With is new HQ crossoving process with impedance corrector and drivers combination, the SM64 provide a equilibrate spectrum at any intensities that make it very musical and accurate. Having the same circum oral headphone comportment. Our R&D departement worked on delivering a new audio quality reference when SM64 is coupled with a additional nomad amplifier that push forward the listening experience with a universal model. The SM64 universal model result of all the R&D experience we learned developing our EM4 and EM6 custom models. REPLACABLE CABLE. We know that the cable will always stay the weak point of any earphones. That’s why we’ve designed our cable to make it resistant and also replacable.

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