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EarSonics SM3 Appreciation, Discussion, & Review Thread - Technically Best Universal? (see first... - Page 2  

post #16 of 2831
Actually I got them for nearly 2 months...

Out of the box, I was seriously disappointed. When my pair of SM3 arrived, I was having honeymoon with CK10. So, everyone who has CK10 know that transaperency and clarity are some of their strong points. My first impression was (with the supplied comply tips, which goes in deep into the ear), SM3 has no high and veiled in the mids. You know if you have a pair of CK10 on hand and your $400 new purchase saying 'sorry I don't deliver any treble'...

I emailed Franck, asking him whether SM3 needs any burn in. He said no burn in is needed, and he recommended me to use some silicone tips, but not those from Etymotic as they will suck out treble. Franck didn't mention which type of Etymotic's, my guess is the triple flange. Strange thing here is, since Franck is suggesting me to use some silicone tips, why Earsonice doesn't supply silicone tips which come with the products? I asked for a frequency responese chart, twice, and was isgnored twice. My last little hope was to try burn in, even Franck said that they don't need any, because I believe that burn in is the panacea for all the disappoinment in audio equipment

Past 300 hours, as Franck said, nothing change. I brought them with me to a trip, so I didn't have a chance to buy tips and try them with different tips immediately. Then I got some Westones silicone tips (which turn out to be total rubbish), and some Shure yellow foamies. I guessed that deep insertion is the cause of lacking clarity. So I tried the Shure foamies. By the way, I haven't found a solution on the tips yet...

Time passed and now I realised most of the time I am using SM3 I think after a month or so, my brain has adapted to the sound signature. I see people saying W3 is very tip-dependent, so as SM3 in my opinion.

Some thoughts on different tips on SM3:
With the stock long comply tips: A little bit veiled in the mids, treble is laid back, more laid back compared to IE8. Vocal is the most forward compared to what I have now: IE8, CK10, TF10, e-Q7. Soundstage is good! This is what I call wide soundstage for an IEM. Instrument separation and imaging is impressive for a warm sounding phone.

With Shure yellow foamies: Treble becomes more prominent. However, the dynamic is all gone. Mids go several row backwards. 3D presentation is not as good compared to the stock tips.

So, I guess I just have to try some Monster triple flange. @average_joe, do you hear any difference between the stock tips and Monster tips?
post #17 of 2831
Quote:
Originally Posted by KLS View Post
Vocal is the most forward compared to what I have now: IE8, CK10, TF10, e-Q7.
More forward than the CK10 and e-Q7? TBO, I suspected this from Joe's comparison with the FX700, but then he clarified that they are less forward than the e-Q7. So, please may I ask you to come to an agreement and stop puzzling inquisitive fellow Head-Fiers with contradictory impressions.
post #18 of 2831
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post
More forward than the CK10 and e-Q7? TBO, I suspected this from Joe's comparison with the FX700, but then he clarified that they are less forward than the e-Q7. So, please may I ask you to come to an agreement and stop puzzling inquisitive fellow Head-Fiers with contradictory impressions.
To my ears, SM3 with the stock tips has a more forward vocal compared to e-Q7 with Sony hybrids. Mids on e-Q7 is drier but has better clarity than SM3. Comparison based on iPhone 3G.

e-Q7 straight out from HiFiMan has a lusher mids. I have yet to try CK100 or SE530, SM3 straight out from HiFiMan without EQing, all you get is mids
post #19 of 2831
Original post of MayaTlab:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/6584729-post12.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by MayaTlab View Post
I don't know about the UM3x availability in the USA.

For the Earsonics, you'll have to import them from their website :

EarSonics ® / Ear Sonics in-ear monitors / custom earphones / in ears / ear monitors / earplugs / earmolds.

Don't be afraid because of the translation - yeah, it sucks. Trust me, they're very serious and the customer service is fantastic.

Also, their price is 350 WITH TAX, and probably if my mathematical skills aren't that terrible around 290 without - still very expensive in dollars (387 + possible customs taxes).

However, I'd wait if I were you, because there are only a handful of head-fi feedbacks about them. The French forums are just raving about them about pretty much everything, but it would be nice to have different points of view. However so far I've read the following comments :

- Better details and instrument separation than the UM3x (that must really be something then)
- Soundstage as wide as IE8
- Superb imaging and depth
- "Spot on" EQ - ie very flat and neutral (though I bet we're talking about the Hi-Fi side of neutrality, that is to say rather warm but not too much)
- Very tight and controlled bass (at least tighter than IE8), with thunderous and fast impact. I haven't read anything about its texture. They have less bass quantity than the IE8, but I cannot say in comparison to the UM3x. I bet given my SM2 experience that they'll slide in between the SE530 and UM3x in terms of quantity.
- Superb mids (very likely to be the best of the current universals, given Earsonics' pedigree), and super extra ultra "liquid".
- Airy and extended treble
- Effortlessly dynamic - they sound "big", "powerful"

They also have the exact same ergonomics as the UM3x, but there isn't a version with removable cables.

On the one hand, that sounds too good to be true (hence my recommendation to wait a bit), but on the other hand, Earsonics has been around for years, is producing a two-way three drivers custom that goes head to head with the JH13 (and was designed more than four years ago) and is a very serious company - so they're totally able to pull this off.

Also, even if the SM2 might have the traditional Earsonics sound, they just won't work at all for fast-paced rock (because contrary to the SM3, they're slow and tend to become a bit muddy). So if you finally go the Earsonics way, don't try to save 50 euros given the genres you listen to.

Good luck in your search, and remember that all those IEMs are very good, I'm pretty sure the UM3x and SM3 will both be improvements over your precedent ones (don't know about the E-Q7).
Have yet to try UM3X, which I probably won't even bother about them now Thanks MayaTlab for translating information from French forum

SM3 with stock tips, I second what MayaTlab said in the highlighted parts As for detail, SM3 has good details in bass and mids, but not in the high, in my opinion.
post #20 of 2831
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KLS View Post
Actually I got them for nearly 2 months...

Out of the box, I was seriously disappointed. When my pair of SM3 arrived, I was having honeymoon with CK10. So, everyone who has CK10 know that transaperency and clarity are some of their strong points. My first impression was (with the supplied comply tips, which goes in deep into the ear), SM3 has no high and veiled in the mids. You know if you have a pair of CK10 on hand and your $400 new purchase saying 'sorry I don't deliver any treble'...

I emailed Franck, asking him whether SM3 needs any burn in. He said no burn in is needed, and he recommended me to use some silicone tips, but not those from Etymotic as they will suck out treble. Franck didn't mention which type of Etymotic's, my guess is the triple flange. Strange thing here is, since Franck is suggesting me to use some silicone tips, why Earsonice doesn't supply silicone tips which come with the products? I asked for a frequency responese chart, twice, and was isgnored twice. My last little hope was to try burn in, even Franck said that they don't need any, because I believe that burn in is the panacea for all the disappoinment in audio equipment
I too was disappointed out of the box. BA IEMs are supposed to sound the same no matter what, there is only one type of tip in the box (2 sets), and the clarity is not good because of warmth. But for whatever reason, that has changed for me.

Quote:
Past 300 hours, as Franck said, nothing change. I brought them with me to a trip, so I didn't have a chance to buy tips and try them with different tips immediately. Then I got some Westones silicone tips (which turn out to be total rubbish), and some Shure yellow foamies. I guessed that deep insertion is the cause of lacking clarity. So I tried the Shure foamies. By the way, I haven't found a solution on the tips yet...

Time passed and now I realised most of the time I am using SM3 I think after a month or so, my brain has adapted to the sound signature. I see people saying W3 is very tip-dependent, so as SM3 in my opinion.
So you like what they do, I take it!

Quote:
Some thoughts on different tips on SM3:
With the stock long comply tips: A little bit veiled in the mids, treble is laid back, more laid back compared to IE8. Vocal is the most forward compared to what I have now: IE8, CK10, TF10, e-Q7. Soundstage is good! This is what I call wide soundstage for an IEM. Instrument separation and imaging is impressive for a warm sounding phone.
I still do think there is a slight veil compared with the CK10, but not IE8 veil levels. And as I posted above, I think the presentation of the SM3 is more up close and personal, like being on stage, but the rest of the spectrum is right there with you. To me this is different than others that are 'mid-forward' as they present the mids up-close and personal, but the bass and treble are usually not so up-close and personal, if that makes sense.

Quote:
With Shure yellow foamies: Treble becomes more prominent. However, the dynamic is all gone. Mids go several row backwards. 3D presentation is not as good compared to the stock tips.

So, I guess I just have to try some Monster triple flange. @average_joe, do you hear any difference between the stock tips and Monster tips?
As far as tips go, the Ety Glider tips are currently on the SM3, but as still swapping to see which I like best. However, I do not think there is any lack of treble now. And when I A/B it is not like the treble is lacking as it was at the beginning.

There is a pic of the tips I have tried. The little thing pictured is the olive core I use as a spacer (but it is not quite big enough for the bi-flange, and I need a T-400 core inside that). Now, with all these tips I have better treble, but it does vary from tip to tip (as would be expected). I to like the Ety Glider tips the best at the moment. I do have Shure triple flange tips, but have not tried those yet (I got the same email from Franck about those tips being bad). I also have yet to try my Ety triple flange that have been cut to double flange.

Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post
More forward than the CK10 and e-Q7? TBO, I suspected this from Joe's comparison with the FX700, but then he clarified that they are less forward than the e-Q7. So, please may I ask you to come to an agreement and stop puzzling inquisitive fellow Head-Fiers with contradictory impressions.
To me, the e-Q7 has close to the same distance from the music, but the SM3 is more "in the music," which you may call mid-forward, but because of how the treble and bass are also presented, I would say you can get an "on stage" presentation. The SM3 sound has made me think of these things and re-evaluate how I define things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KLS View Post
To my ears, SM3 with the stock tips has a more forward vocal compared to e-Q7 with Sony hybrids. Mids on e-Q7 is drier but has better clarity than SM3. Comparison based on iPhone 3G.

e-Q7 straight out from HiFiMan has a lusher mids. I have yet to try CK100 or SE530, SM3 straight out from HiFiMan without EQing, all you get is mids
I will have to try with the iPhone, but I am not hearing a difference in clarity between the e-Q7 and SM3. I am hearing a difference in warmth, but it is not affecting the clarity for me. This is using the HUD-MX1 and iPod (see sig) to Arrow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MayaTlab View Post
However so far I've read the following comments :

- Better details and instrument separation than the UM3x (that must really be something then)
- Soundstage as wide as IE8
- Superb imaging and depth
- "Spot on" EQ - ie very flat and neutral (though I bet we're talking about the Hi-Fi side of neutrality, that is to say rather warm but not too much)
- Very tight and controlled bass (at least tighter than IE8), with thunderous and fast impact. I haven't read anything about its texture. They have less bass quantity than the IE8, but I cannot say in comparison to the UM3x. I bet given my SM2 experience that they'll slide in between the SE530 and UM3x in terms of quantity.
- Superb mids (very likely to be the best of the current universals, given Earsonics' pedigree), and super extra ultra "liquid".
- Airy and extended treble
- Effortlessly dynamic - they sound "big", "powerful"
Thanks for linking that, as I can't say I disagree! To my ears, they are very special and a step up from everything else!
LL
post #21 of 2831
Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post
I still do think there is a slight veil compared with the CK10, but not IE8 veil levels. And as I posted above, I think the presentation of the SM3 is more up close and personal, like being on stage, but the rest of the spectrum is right there with you. To me this is different than others that are 'mid-forward' as they present the mids up-close and personal, but the bass and treble are usually not so up-close and personal, if that makes sense.
Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post
To me, the e-Q7 has close to the same distance from the music, but the SM3 is more "in the music," which you may call mid-forward, but because of how the treble and bass are also presented, I would say you can get an "on stage" presentation. The SM3 sound has made me think of these things and re-evaluate how I define things.
The first few days I listen to them I always thought that I am actually the drummer inside the music

Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post
As far as tips go, the Ety Glider tips are currently on the SM3, but as still swapping to see which I like best. However, I do not think there is any lack of treble now. And when I A/B it is not like the treble is lacking as it was at the beginning.

There is a pic of the tips I have tried. The little thing pictured is the olive core I use as a spacer (but it is not quite big enough for the bi-flange, and I need a T-400 core inside that). Now, with all these tips I have better treble, but it does vary from tip to tip (as would be expected). I to like the Ety Glider tips the best at the moment. I do have Shure triple flange tips, but have not tried those yet (I got the same email from Franck about those tips being bad). I also have yet to try my Ety triple flange that have been cut to double flange.
Thanks for the picture! I decored a pair of T-100 comply to use with Sony hybrids on SM3, but the result is not as good compared to Shure yellow foamies. Ety glider? Everytime I see this I am very suspicious whether they are friendly to the ears

Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post
I will have to try with the iPhone, but I am not hearing a difference in clarity between the e-Q7 and SM3. I am hearing a difference in warmth, but it is not affecting the clarity for me. This is using the HUD-MX1 and iPod (see sig) to Arrow.
I think SM3 is more source dependent than e-Q7. SM3 sings well with iPhone and Corda Move, but out of HifiMan, both DAC and player, Hayley Westenra is too close to me I am being strict here, for this is the first time I paid over $400 for a pair of universal IEMs, and they should do everything well I still feel that SM3 is lacking clarity compared to both CK10 and e-Q7. Perhaps my brain perceives additional warmth as muddy...
post #22 of 2831
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by midoo1990 View Post
Let us know your impressions Joe,I was looking and asking about this iem two days ago.
Don't forget the pics ofcourse
Updated the first post with my "appreciation" story and a picture Yes, I am back to the triple flange!

I will do a tip writeup at some point, but the Ety and triple flange both offer something a little different.

And the HUD-MX1 to Rx pairing is simply superb! The iPod to Arrow is surprisingly good also.
post #23 of 2831
@average_joe, how does SM3 sound straight out of iPod?

So French forum is descibing them precisely! Thanks to MayaTlab
post #24 of 2831
Thread Starter 
As shigzeo said, and I now agree, the SM3 is pretty easy to drive. It sounds OK out of the iPod HPO (only tried my 5.5g so far), but out of the Fuze it sounded surprisingly good! I personally don't think the Fuze drives most high end dynamics well, but the SM3 was really good out of the Fuze HPO!

But here is my experience...when you get to the level of performance of say the SM3, any weak link in the chain will degrade the sound. And for my 5.5g HPO, the internal circuitry choke off some of the detail and space. It is there when a clean line out signal is amped. To me it is more enjoyable with the best source possible. While I have not tried with my iPhone, I know the line out of my 5.5g is far superior to my iPhone line out. Enough of my digression!

I know shigzeo, whom I deeply respect, does not use an amp with the SM3.
post #25 of 2831
Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post
As shigzeo said, and I now agree, the SM3 is pretty easy to drive. It sounds OK out of the iPod HPO (only tried my 5.5g so far), but out of the Fuze it sounded surprisingly good! I personally don't think the Fuze drives most high end dynamics well, but the SM3 was really good out of the Fuze HPO!

But here is my experience...when you get to the level of performance of say the SM3, any weak link in the chain will degrade the sound. And for my 5.5g HPO, the internal circuitry choke off some of the detail and space. It is there when a clean line out signal is amped. To me it is more enjoyable with the best source possible. While I have not tried with my iPhone, I know the line out of my 5.5g is far superior to my iPhone line out. Enough of my digression!

I know shigzeo, whom I deeply respect, does not use an amp with the SM3.
Hope that iPhone is not having the same problem But I doubt it

Will look into the Sansa definitely. Not going to spend more bucks on amps......
post #26 of 2831
Quote:
Originally Posted by KLS View Post
Original post of MayaTlab:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/6584729-post12.html



Have yet to try UM3X, which I probably won't even bother about them now Thanks MayaTlab for translating information from French forum

SM3 with stock tips, I second what MayaTlab said in the highlighted parts As for detail, SM3 has good details in bass and mids, but not in the high, in my opinion.
Could it be that you're indeed using foam tips which are supposed to reduce treble response and quality ? This review said that the SM3 had excellent details in the trebles region, but they used the custom earmolds from Earsonics (Acrylic) :

Test écouteurs IEM EarSonics SM3 | Le Journal du Geek (french)

I'm pretty sure Frank Lopez designed the SM3 (and SM2 for that matter ) to be optimal sounding with their own customs - even at the risk of not being optimal with universal tips. This is not a problem Sennheiser had to deal with with the IE8 for example.

They cost quite a lot, but I heard Westone's ones can be used as well. But are they made out of acrylic ?

PS : Also, I just wanted to say that my SM2 seem to pair very well with my Cowon S9 (much more so than my iPod touch). The improvement is especially noticeable in the highs and bass to me.

EDIT : I tried my SM2 with foam tips and indeed treble response is lessened, as well as treble quality. I've contrasted it with the weird biflange that came with my pre-release version of the SM2 - a kind of biflange I've never seen eslewhere - and while these biflange are surprisingly able to render bass in a way that's almost as convincing as the foam tips, they have better mids and treble. Mines though are completely worn out and i'd like to find replacements.
post #27 of 2831
Quote:
Originally Posted by MayaTlab View Post
Could it be that you're indeed using foam tips which are supposed to reduce treble response and quality ? This review said that the SM3 had excellent details in the trebles region, but they used the custom earmolds from Earsonics (Acrylic) :

Test écouteurs IEM EarSonics SM3 | Le Journal du Geek (french)

I'm pretty sure Frank Lopez designed the SM3 (and SM2 for that matter ) to be optimal sounding with their own customs - even at the risk of not being optimal with universal tips. This is not a problem Sennheiser had to deal with with the IE8 for example.

They cost quite a lot, but I heard Westone's ones can be used as well. But are they made out of acrylic ?

PS : Also, I just wanted to say that my SM2 seem to pair very well with my Cowon S9 (much more so than my iPod touch). The improvement is especially noticeable in the highs and bass to me.

EDIT : I tried my SM2 with foam tips and indeed treble response is lessened, as well as treble quality. I've contrasted it with the weird biflange that came with my pre-release version of the SM2 - a kind of biflange I've never seen eslewhere - and while these biflange are surprisingly able to render bass in a way that's almost as convincing as the foam tips, they have better mids and treble. Mines though are completely worn out and i'd like to find replacements.
Hi MayaTlab,

Yes I am using the stock foam tips and Shure yellow foamies. I have yet to find the best tips for them

I thought of custom eartips, but I guess it would cost another $200? That's just to much...@average_joe just recommended me some tips and I am going to give them a try.

I am wondering about one thing: how could you resist from not buying SM3 after reading all those raves in French forum? If I could read French...
post #28 of 2831
Quote:
Originally Posted by KLS View Post
Hi MayaTlab,

Yes I am using the stock foam tips and Shure yellow foamies. I have yet to find the best tips for them

I thought of custom eartips, but I guess it would cost another $200? That's just to much...@average_joe just recommended me some tips and I am going to give them a try.

I am wondering about one thing: how could you resist from not buying SM3 after reading all those raves in French forum? If I could read French...
Earsonics customs are 90 euros WITH TAX. So I suppose you could have them for around 75 without tax + shipping. I don't know about Westone, but if you're in Northern America and if they do it with acrylic then it might be better to buy earmolds from them instead of Earsonics.

I'm resisting much because 1 - I'm skeptical by nature , so that I'm never disapointed, 2 - I'm actually hesitating between pursuing into IEMs or going for full-sized portable headphones (ES10, t50p). The reason is that I've never found any IEM that gives me good handling of reverb / echo / decay effects and gives weight to the entire sound (not just the bass), especially with percussions. In other words, I never found any IEM that gives me the sensation of fullness, "big sound". Also, I feel the IEMs I tried are not able to retranscript subtle "emotional" (as opposed to purely details related) nuances (piano soft pedal effect for example). The SM3 though, might be the first to do that for me.

There is though one thing I know for sure : the Earsonics sound signature is the one I love most of all the ones I know of. The ruthlessly neutral frequency response associated with the very space-conscious, euphonic, lush and playful presentation is what I prefer. And That's the reason why I hesitate because I know I won't find that with full-size headphones (for example, I'm afraid of the ES10 mids, especially their alleged graininess - another reason why the E-Q7 don't attract me at all BTW, however good they might be).

As a sidenote, I'll continue to retranscript what I've read in French forums, but currently there's nothing new. Hell, it's already good enough, and a small dozen of people already tried them and seem to have a rather consensual appreciation of them - they're not very polarizing phones anyway (unlike the W3). The summary I've written earlier is the addition of all the impressions.

Average_joe, which tip are you finally using ? The glider or the Ety triflanges ? Woul it be a good idea to cut the ety triflanges into biflanges if they suck out too much treble ?
post #29 of 2831
I should really stop coming to this forum.

I originally came expecting to spend ~£70.

Then I went to look at the Phonaks. £100.

Then the Triple.fi 10s, £200.

Then the IE8s, £180.

Then the MTPC, £250.

Now these. £300. And with that price range, W3s are obtainable too. Eurgh.
post #30 of 2831
Quote:
Originally Posted by rsuffix View Post
I should really stop coming to this forum.

I originally came expecting to spend ~£70.

Then I went to look at the Phonaks. £100.

Then the Triple.fi 10s, £200.

Then the IE8s, £180.

Then the MTPC, £250.

Now these. £300. And with that price range, W3s are obtainable too. Eurgh.
If what you mean is that you hesitate between W3 and SM3, to me there's simply no hesitation to have : my W3 are only comparable to my SM2. So the SM3 are necessarily better in technical terms (of course you might still prefer the V-shaped sound of the W3). And in the eurozone, if they live up to the hype, which they seem to do, they're just a complete steal in comparison to Westone products. In pounds, less so, but I feel they seem to justify the pricetag.
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