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Earsonics Sm2 DLX (vs/ Westone Um2, Um3X, PS200) UPDATED REVIEW

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
Earsonics SM2 DLX Review


Earsonics kindly sent me a Earsonics SM2 DLX for review, so here it is =)




Introduction

Earsonics from France, founded in December 2004. Has been creating Single, Dual, and Triple Driver Customs ever since. Being extremely popular to musicians and artists in France, Earsonics now offers overseas shipping through their online store. Early 2009, Earsonics has added a new member to their family, named the Sm2. This model differs from the rest as it's the first universal Earphone that Earsonics has come out with, housing Dual Balanced Armatures with a Passive Crossover. Later in the year, they now offer black and white along with their original Clear; They also offer a DELUXE version labeled Sm2 DLX, which offers the braided cable from their Custom series. Price of the Sm2 is 270 Euros for the original Sm2, and 320 Euros for the DLX, deluxe version. Why do they cost so much you ask? Well for one...French Taxes which are significantly higher than America's and Canada's, but most important everything Earsonics makes....is made no where else but...France itself.


Specifications

Variation: Black, White, or Clear available in DLX version (Braided cable upgrade)
Sensitivity (1mW): 119 dB SPL
Transducers: Dual balanced Armature Drivers
Configuration: Dual driver with Passive 2-way Crossover
Frequency Range: 20 Hz-18 kHz
Impedance: 16 ohm
Accessories: one pair each small and large heat-activated tips, cleaning tool, semi-soft carrying case, manuals


Packaging and Accessories


The Earsonics Sm2 arrives in a very attractive black and white box. Box itself if not of greatest quality, make from softer cardboard, however it’s a very stylish and thoughtful design. The inner packaging is a stiff clear plastic that safely encapsulates all accessories and the main character, the SM2 monitors of course. The plastic casing is a snap together design that doesn’t require the user to take scissors and cut through like the sealed plastic packaging that Shure uses, which can be quite a hassle for many. Within the plastic packaging are two small compartments that link together. The smaller side, are for the earpieces of the monitors, while the larger is to hold the semi-soft carrying case that the cable of the monitors run from, that also holds the cleaning tool and the tips. A simple design, but very organized.





The accessories packaged with the Earsonics Sm2 are rather skinny, what you receive with the Sm2 is a Semi-soft carrying case that I mentioned earlier, a pair each of small and large heat-activated foam sleeves, and a cleaning tool that consists of a soft bristle brush, and a wire loop for scraping out debris that has built up in the sound-tube of the monitor. This combination, though very universal and useable is rather lacking compared to competitors of similar price.

The Semi-soft carrying case is of high quality material and workmanship, even when compared to leading competitors. There are no loose threads, and stitchings are properly reinforced at the seams to prevent fraying and the case coming apart. There is more than enough room within the case despite being relatively small to accommodate the presence of the SM2, cleaning tool, and a variety of tips. The tips even thought lacking in quantity are definitely not short of quality, the tips chosen are heat-activated foam tips that conform to the ear canal of any user when inserted. There is a pick of a smaller diameter or a larger one, users with more narrow canals should choose the smaller diameter to avoid excessive pressure that could cause discomfort. Isolation and comfort of these tips are no less than spectacular. Tubing within the tip that slides on to the sound-tube of the Sm2 is properly constructed and glued together with the foam preventing the foam from coming off or coming loose.




Build Quality

Build quality is what Earsonics presses on for their company, and I can surely say they haven’t disappointed on this part. Earsonic refuses to have their monitors made anywhere but France, where they are located to allow them to strictly control quality of the monitors. The material of the housing is among the most rigid I have come across in any universal monitor, extremely stiff with a smooth finish to it making it appealing. Cohering of the monitor, whether it be the shell of the monitor or the attachment of the cable is done to the superb of quality, as well done as Westone has for their Universal Monitors. Adhesives putting the monitor together are very neatly put on, and do not show even when presented with a light, showing careful construction that’s organized and neat.
Cable that is used with the DLX version is Earsonics’ custom cable, a black braided type that is extremely flexible, durable and tangle-free. Earsonics has taken thought into the cable, incorporating large and flexible strain reliefs at the 3.5mm plug, Y-split, and the attachment of the earpiece itself. The Strain reliefs are all properly shrunk and assembled on to the SM2 where no loosing or twisting were to happen to avoid damage to the cable itself. Owning the Clear model, I am able to easily distinguish that the strain relief at the earpieces have a strong adhesive that binds it to the earpiece preventing the delicate soldering of wiring to the drivers to come loose or twisted in any way. The cable also exerts close to no touch-noise, or Microphonics in anyway, due to this; running and walking while listening with the SM2 DLX will not be problem where there is constant noise interrupting the beautiful music that you are enjoying.








Sound Quality


Earsonics has incorporated its same technology from its high-end custom monitor line, and placed it in the SM2. The result is a “Big Sound” in a small package, that doesn’t disappoint and puts its competitor on a stress level higher than before. The SM2 incorporates dual balanced armatures, with a passive crossover allowing the larger driver to become a low frequency driver, and the smaller driver to become a high and mid-range frequency driver, the result is to be explained in detail…

Soundstage


Earsonics has definitely taken time into tuning these drivers to perfection, among dual armature monitors or even triple driver; the SM2 have one of the finest soundstage on the market. The width of the soundstage is extremely wide with a great depth from front to back. The result is sound presentation that seems to be all around you instead of just strictly left and right. The soundstage is fair bit larger than Shure’s triple driver offering, the Se530. I would say if not better than the Westone UM3X, it is certainly on the same level.

Stereo Imaging

The SM2 effortlessly puts you in a position where you are able to tell if one instrument is attack from your right, or attacking from you left or if the performer is at your front or from your right. Stereo imaging is not a problem with the SM2, it may not be the best in the market today for universals but it’s definitely far above average delivering a fairly well done presentation in this department overall.

Instrumental separation

Instrumental separation is among the hardest attributes to accomplish well, but Earsonics has taken it’s time in exceeding in this category and they certainly have done their homework. The only universal monitor that is superior to the SM2 in terms of instrumental separation that I have heard would be the brand new Phiaton PS200. Otherwise, I would praise the SM2 as owning the best instrumental separation on the market. There are no signs of muddiness and cramming of instruments even when listening to orchestras or classical music where tens and hundreds of instruments being played at the same time. Each instrument shines and is heard with passion, without being overpowered or covered by another instrument.

Highs

The highs are fairly balanced, maybe with a tad of recession to them. Great amount of detail on the high frequencies, with a signature that’s not overly bright. Clarity and crispness are strong in their own respective, shining instruments like pianos, violins and flutes, along with the soprano singers of the industry. The highs terms of detail, clearness, and clarity are on par with the industries top monitors, like the Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10, Westone UM3X and so on, but there could be an improvement in the presentation of them where it would be nicer to have them slightly more forward then they are at the moment. Many will find the high presentation to be absolutely fine, but being a listener of the relatively bright JH|10X3PRO and the Phiaton PS200 I find the presentation could be better.

Mids

The mid-range of the SM2 has a vast amount of depth and detail at vocals, and instruments. Despite this though, the mid-range is relatively smooth and all falls together quite well. The presentation is relatively balanced, with a solid feel to it. Excellent transparency in the mid-range, no altering or colouring of the source is present. Overall, a very good presentation in the mid-range, I would say the SM2 it’s only a step behind the special mids from Shure.

Lows


This is the frequency band where the SM2 is absolutely stunning. In terms of Impact, speed, depth, and deepness the SM2 is definitely ahead of the game. Lows are extremely quick, with an extremely powerful impact to them, only steps behind a properly sealed Sennheiser IE8. There’s no distortion or struggling to reach the lowest notes of the spectrum, everything is presented with a great depth and feeling to them. The lows on the SM2 are definitely beyond what the Triple Fi 10, UM3X, and Se530 are able to offer in the same situation and configuration.



Fit
Fit wise, the SM2 are slightly lacking in design. Though thought, comfort, and isolation was put into mind designing the SM2, they seemed to have forgot about the customer! The problem with the SM2 is that due to the flat shape of it, that’s very compact and even smaller than the Westone UM2 its relatively harder to grasp and insert the SM2 when compared to the ultra ergonomic UM2 and UM3X. However, when you do get the SM2 in, which you eventually will after getting used to the feeling of the housing comfort is on par with the Se530, UM2 and UM3X, after a short while the monitors tend to feel as it they have disappeared in to thin air. Isolation is at the very peak of the best with the mentioned monitors, where after some tests is confirmed to be around -34dB to -36dB with the Heat-activated foam tips included.




Overall
The SM2 is a fabulous monitor I have to say. Whether it is Sound quality or build quality, the Earsonics SM2 exceeds in. Despite the highs being inferior to the Phiaton PS200 in terms of clarity and presenation, the Mids are rich and smooth with a fabulous depth to them, and the lows are deep and powerful. Build quality is among the highest ranking in the market today-along with Westone. Comfort and Isolation are all excellent qualities of the SM2. All put together with a friendly customer service from Earsonics, the only thing that one might have to think about is the price at $270 Euros, or $380 USD for the original Sm2 and 320 Euros or close to $450 USD for the DLX, deluxe model it’s rather expensive for many. Also the lack of accessories might also want to be put into thought before buying the monitor. However, on top of all this I would recommend this monitor to anyone looking for an spectacular sound quality with a near to perfect build that’s extremely comfortable to wear. Overall, a top-tier universal monitor that has finally arrived to target the top of universal mountain consisted of Westones, Ultimate Ears, Shures, and Sennheiser.

post #2 of 35
Thread Starter 
--------------UPDATE----------------


After Some Burning in....yes burning in on a Balanced armature Earphone. It may not be the Drivers that are burning in, but it could be the cable, i do it because for this reason, anyways. I Find that the Soundstage has widened a tad, the Detail is a tad higher, and everything sort of falls together a bit more Buttery.

I also find these excellent and fantastic with Klipsch Dual Flange Oval Gels, they give it the best fit...for me at least and on top of the fact that these fit perfect...nearly. They give it a very precise and accurate sound, though the lows aren't as warm as the Long Comply's that come with it.

Cables...well are fantastic. They are extremely comfortable, light and flexible like i said before...the only problem i find is that since they are so flexible and light, they tend to knot easily when you just wrap them around your fingers and sort of put them in a loop, otherwise, these are the best cables i have come across on any Earphone.
post #3 of 35
Lets start FOTM, shall we?

Kidding, Thanks for your review. How much is this exactly?
post #4 of 35
Thread Starter 
ahahah FOTM...ahahaha no problem. $380 for the Sm2, $450 for the DLX
post #5 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaoDi View Post
ahahah FOTM...ahahaha no problem. $380 for the Sm2, $450 for the DLX
Thanks for letting me know.

$380 is little pricey for dual driver IEM, got plenty choices between 300-400, like 10 pro, 530, um3x, w3, somewhere around 250-280 would be better for marketing tactics.
post #6 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gameboy115 View Post
Thanks for letting me know.

$380 is little pricey for dual driver IEM, got plenty choices between 300-400, like 10 pro, 530, um3x, w3, somewhere around 250-280 would be better for marketing tactics.
It's not really their fault, Taxes in France are amazingly high. So that's the reason they're this expensive. But To be honest, i don't find these to be below the 530, w3, and Um3x level. I myself am not the big fan of the 10 pro. I'm sure these would be around $280 or maybe even less if they moved to america, and made them there instead.
post #7 of 35
Great review, thanks.

How are taxes relevant if we're buying from out of country? They don't need to charge taxes for people buying outside of France. I think they should lower their price.. seems too high for their place in the market. Oh, and what's up with the minimalist approach with included accessories?? That's really cheap of them.
post #8 of 35
Awesome review! You really did a nice job of taking us through these IEMs. Very informative!
post #9 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kloan View Post
Great review, thanks.

How are taxes relevant if we're buying from out of country? They don't need to charge taxes for people buying outside of France. I think they should lower their price.. seems too high for their place in the market. Oh, and what's up with the minimalist approach with included accessories?? That's really cheap of them.
There;s taxes for manufacturers. And that costs money. Also shipping it outside the country is expensive, and shipping for these is free when you buy from them. So technically the price is for a 48 hour shipment from Colissimo plus the earphone.
post #10 of 35
Thread Starter 
OK PEOPLE! a Note, apparently i was drunk and beat in the head yesterday....i think at least. Cause above i say that the lows aren't the most powerful, i take that back. These really do punch you in the face...yes...like i think...sort of someone did to me yesterday...since i can't believe i wrote that... or maybe it was wire burn in....hmmm
post #11 of 35
Nice, MaoDi! Not too much info around about these, so your review is very helpful. I wonder if there's much sonic difference between the 'ordinary' SM2 & the Deluxe, cable & all. If not, ooh, tempting......
post #12 of 35
Nice review. Looks like Megane r26r styling for the ear. Oh, those crazy French. But then again, I like that look.
post #13 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by steviebee View Post
Nice, MaoDi! Not too much info around about these, so your review is very helpful. I wonder if there's much sonic difference between the 'ordinary' SM2 & the Deluxe, cable & all. If not, ooh, tempting......
I think there is, because the customs use a higher quality cable i was told by Earsonics. So i'm guessing the conductors in the DLX cable should be of higher quality and more responsive compared to the normal Sm2. I'm seen and felt the normal sm2 cable before, and i can tell you that the DLX cable is like a lot more flexible, it's like a westone braided cable, but a tad more flexible.
post #14 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Il Mostro View Post
Nice review. Looks like Megane r26r styling for the ear. Oh, those crazy French. But then again, I like that look.
I honestly, love the looka lot. Infact, these are so cool, you put these in like Custom monitors, you rock them forward, and they sit in your ear soooo well. I honestly think it's the only earphone i've tried that sits THIS flush with my ear.
post #15 of 35
wow, this is a least accessories IEM I've seen. 2 pair of tips and a simple carry case.
it look really small. I definately interested but bought a UM3X already deplete my quota for my birthday present
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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Earsonics Sm2 DLX (vs/ Westone Um2, Um3X, PS200) UPDATED REVIEW