Pros: Massive Bang for the Buck! Huge Sound.
Cons: No Carrying Pouch - Low End Silicone Tips
Comparing the new Energy Sistem E214 vs SoundMagic PL-30 vs Meelectronics M6-Clear (Westone UM3x also commented on)
According to the company's website, this new IEM comes in various colors. The Black model is the E212, Blue is the E214 and so on. All the Energy Sistem models in this line look to have the same components, just made with different color bodies, and different colored cables. I have seen models from other companies that look pretty much exactly like these that get pretty bad reviews and are also dirt cheap, so my expectations were low...
Construction: Nice metal housing on the E214. Feels tougher than PL-30, but PL-30 hasn't had construction issues that I know of and is very reliable. M6 has a tough plastic housing and is just built very well from top to bottom. Cables on the E214 have decent strain relief, and look well made, but nothing to pull up the cable to close it together like the PL-30 and M6 have. E214 also lacks the rubber ear pieces for behind the ear wear that the PL30 or the mold-able wire that the M6 has, but this is probably because the E214 is not necessarily meant to have cable worn behind the ear like the other two are.
As you can see in the pics, the E214 have some sort of filter material in the shaft, but mine was stuffed a little too much in each hole, so when I put the tips on a little of the white filter material seems to come out. But it certainly doesn't fall out though like on some other IEMs. Not really an issue for me.
Tips: E214 comes with 4 pair of silicone tips in various sizes. I had a lot of trouble getting the stock tips that came with the E214 to fit over the shaft without pulling on the white filter material, so I used the black silicone tips from the PL-30 and they slid right on and fit perfectly. I like the tips from the M6 and especially the PL-30 more than what comes with the E214. Stock E214 tips I got were too hard to install because the shaft is really too big for them.
Fit: E214 and PL-30 fit perfectly in my ears. Easy to get a great long lasting seal very quickly with both, but the E214 is easier to put in just because of the body/cable style. Both are very comfortable for long term wear to me. The M6 for me are more difficult to get a good fit partly because of the mold-able wire, but for me also because of a fairly long shaft that protrudes a little too much into my ear. With the right tips, the M6 can get a great seal, but for me they never seem to isolate as well as the E214 and PL-30. I know others love the fit of the M6 though, so it may just be my ears. I doubt fit will be an issue for anyone with the E214. It is pretty straight-forward.
This is a pretty personal preference oriented issue, but we can certainly get some general ideas about strengths and weaknesses of the E214 by comparing it.
When the E214 is compared to the PL-30, the PL-30 has more detail but doesn't feel as fun from a bass perspective. The PL-30 has less punch than the E214, but more clarity in mid/treble instruments. Once a bunch of instruments kick in though say like on Jason Mraz's “Curbside Prophet”, then the PL-30 feel just a bit weak after listening to E214. The PL-30 is definitely the more mid treble focused of the two. Vocals stand out a bit more. The E214 sound is mixed with emphasis on bass and bass is a little less detailed than the PL-30, but somehow very pleasant. I never feel like I am missing something even though I know the bass lacks that clarity. Hard to describe. The E214 is just a nice mix of lows, mids, and highs. With NO sibilance to note.
Now the M6 is a different animal in the sound department. It is much more mid/treble focused than the E214 and even more than the PL-30. The M6 sound a little more high end quality when it comes to details in the instruments and vocals. M6 has clearer more defined bass but again less punch and more fatiguing highs than the E214 to my ears. Also the M6 have no filter in the shaft, so highs and sibilance may be an issue for some. It is for me, but after about 100 hours of burn-in on the M6 some of the sibilance has faded. No such issues on the E214.
(Tip - A little low density foam placed in the M6 shaft cures this though, and they can become bass monsters, and with the foam sound more like the E214, but with more detailed mids/highs.)
M6 definitely feels and looks more like an on-stage IEM. Doubt anyone would wear the $10 blue E214 as a stage monitor (although it sounds good enough), but the M6 can definitely be used as one and looks the part. But here's the thing...when I switch between the E214 and M6 on the same songs, I keep going back to the E214 and just like the mix better on the E214 (personal taste.) It is more pleasant and fun to my ears. This is saying something, because remember that even on sale the M6 is usually about three times the price of the E214, so that should be factored in also. I paid $31 for my M6-Clear while on sale from Meelec.
After burn-in, Soundstage on the E214 is about as wide as the PL30, but not quite. Maybe I just got a good pair, but It is really surprisingly close and quite similar to the M6 soundstage to my ears. Instrument separation is only a little better on the PL30. E214 is very pleasant though. Seems to handle more instruments without getting overwhelmed better than ME6 or PL30 IMO. My ears prefer the PL-30 soundstage by a hair, but what keeps bringing me back to the E214 is that they seem to be able to handle more instruments without getting confused or distorted and this is rare for such an in-expensive IEM. This is crazy cuz I am constantly reminded that the other two are 3 times more money even at huge discount pricing. Are they worth it in light of the E214? Hmm. Yeah...I think so, cuz all three are great over achievers for their prices.
Bonus - The Upper End - Energy Sistem VS Westone UM3x
Just for grins I compared the Energy Sistem to my Westone UM3X IEMs that I use in live band situations- This comparison yielded some interesting facts. As expected, the UM3x shows more instrument detail, mic location, and is no doubt less veiled than the ES. Every tone on the UM3x is more detailed. Bass is more detailed but there is definitely less of it. The UM3x sound seems more like an accurate representation of what was recorded..more like the mix monitors I use in my recording studio. But here is the thing...As much as it pains me to say it...The UM3x sound is not necessarily more fun to my ears. Depends totally on preference, mood, and the music being played. The flaws in highly compressed music are brought out with such great detail with the UM3x that it can be annoying to some people.I converted most of my collection to a lossless format and can really tell the difference with the UM3x.
The E214 sounds more like it is made to enhance the music in the bass and try to present a bass oriented but also detailed contemporary sound that hides some flaws like guitar string scrapes, compression, etc. So the Energy Sistem can't compete with the Westone UM3X in quality of sound really (other than soundstage which is as good or better than the UM3x IMO),
but is 30x less money, so the fact that I am even comparing them is interesting no?
So this really low priced IEM is very impressive in my book! I am in shock and awe. If you have ever tried truly cheap under $10 earphones from stores like Wal-Mart or Dollar General, then you know they are horrible sounding to anyone with any love for quality sound. The cheap ones are so veiled, so underwhelming, and just plain pukey! Not so with the Energy Sistem. These things blow me away for the price of admission, and I wish they were easily available in the USA. Easily competing with phones costing more than 3 times as much. I think they can compete with some much more expensive IEMs also in the under $150 and under range.
The truth is, I keep going back to them after switching between the PL-30, M6, and E214. They have burnt-in for about 50 hours and are sounding even better all the time. The comparisons continue, but these hidden gems are definitely players in the low price IEM game worthy of consideration.
I did not get the original packaging, but the package SilentServices sent me came with a little catalog, and a 36 month warranty card as shown in the pic below:
Looks like these are available on Energy Sistem's website:
Special thanks to fellow Head-Fier http://www.head-fi.org/user/silentservices for having a contest and providing the Energy Sistem E214 for review to the winners. I won the contest and he sent these out to me for review at his own cost. FYI -We do not know each other and he lives in another country. I have no connection to Energy Sistems or SilentServices, and had never heard of them until the contest was offered. These are just my honest opinions of the E214 compared to some other very popular IEMs in my collection that I use daily.