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Contender for best stage monitor

A Review On: EarSonics SM64

EarSonics SM64

Rated # 76 in Universal Fit
See all 3 reviews
Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Isolation
Value
shigzeo
Posted · 3486 Views · 2 Comments

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. 

2 Comments:

Do you think build quality is improved over SM2/SM3 v2 versions? Does it still feel like the same cheapo dollar store plastic?
The plastic case is one area I really wish Earsonics would pay attention. The better part of the market is moving onto ceramic, metal, and polymers. The SM64 case is the same as the SM3 V2's case. It is good (as it pertains to stage monitors) but it is poor next to audiophile earphones such as Ultrasone IQ. 
 
In terms of sound, I would put the SM64 ahead of both the SM2/3 unless you like a drier sound. In that case, the SM2 is hands-down the best. I don't really like dry that much- at least now. The SM3 is pretty balanced sounding but the SM64 has a much nicer upper midrange. Space around instruments feels bigger, left/right separation seems better. Details in the upper mids are better. Bass may be somewhat similar but apart from that, the SM64 is, IMO, a rather large upgrade.
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