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[Review] Earsonics SM3 - 2010's Star Child

post #1 of 74
Thread Starter 

Click here for Earsonics SM3 in Review: 2010's Star Child pictures and full review.

 

I've had the SM3 for... 2,5 months, so this review is not only late, but comes holding the hand of experience AND enthusiasm.

 

The bottom line: the SM3 is well-worth it. It sounds great, is easy to drive, and has overall good, but not great construction. I didn't come to the SM3 from the wilderness. I own the EM3Pro (review coming) and the SM2, the SM3's big brother. So, when I say that the SM3 duly (and pleasantly) surprised me, please don't take it as another inexperienced bout of praise.

 

I have a lot to fume over, but let's get to the good stuff.

 

Drivability: 

The SM3 is one of the EASIEST to drive IEM's I've ever used. Sure the Westone UM3x is also easy to drive, but for some reason, it does actually wake up a bit with an amp. The SM3 plugged into your favourite DAP is nearly as good as it gets. There is no reward for expensive cables and very little reward for expensive amp. I have a tangled mess of DAP's at my disposal and all of them (apart from the very hissy AMP3 Pro) sound wonderful with the SM3. Adding an amp won't really replace anything unless you have underachieving DAP's such as the iPod nano 1-3G, the Cowon D2, the Zune (actually, it is a really looooong list here). Those DAP's will enjoy a good chew of bass when driving an amp. But otherwise, telltale improvements: stage sparkle, depth, placebo, are there in the smallest of increments. 

 

That's a good thing.

 

Sound:

Well, it's easy to continue my praise here. Earsonics got the formula right this time. The SM2 is an amazing earphone and in some ways, smacks the SM3 around with no-frills performance. Driven properly, it is drier, chalkier, and tighter (not as in 'taiiiiight mate!', more like zipped up). The SM3 has no chalk: it is lush and expansive. From bass to treble, it is smooth, hitching no snags along the way. There're no zig-zaggy confused pathways between channels or frequencies. The SM3 is succinct. The SM3 is emotional. The SM3 is deep.

 

But it's not TOO anything and that is the brightest point, really. There isn't too much bass and the midrange, while prominent, isn't too emphasised. When it comes to high notes... well, there is something to chat about. Etymotic fans, stay away. Victor fans, stay away. Shure SE530 fans, you've found a great upgrade.

 

The SM3 is laid back; its treble is its left foot, neither having enough power to drive a deep goal, nor high kicking. Though languid, it extends fairly well, but never enough to really stand tall. Some call it perfect. Some call it rolled off. I call it tweener. It is a little of both. Earsonics obviously didn't build the SM3 with the ear's own EQ in mind. The ear rolls off frequencies in the highs and lows; we humans (well, at least I can speak for myself) tend to hear stuff in the middle more than the bottom and top. There is a method to emphasising bass. There is a method to emphasising treble. Earsonics didn't both with either one, but that isn't a problem.

 

I love the laid back, yet oddly powerful sound from the SM3. It adapts to any genre, to any singer/performer. A little loudness curve or treble boost turns it into a luxury barnstormer. 

 

Build:

I do not agree with the decision to mould professional earphones in plastic shells, particularly when those shells are as thin as they are. With the SM3, Earsonics had the chance to break Westone's mould, to up the bar. They didn't. The SM3 is the same 'careful now, careful now' earphone that the SM2 is/was and while a good-sounding earphone, is prescious weak for the money.

 

Final Score: GRAB or 4/5

 

Click here for Earsonics SM3 in Review: 2010's Star Child pictures and full review.


Edited by shigzeo - 6/24/10 at 1:29am
post #2 of 74

Great review mate, I agree pretty much all the way. These things can transport you to new dimensions.


Edited by Bennyboy71 - 6/24/10 at 1:33am
post #3 of 74

Great review shigzeo. Im edging a little closer to buying these ( or more accurately selling everything else I have in order to buy these) but I'm still not convinced they are gonna be worlds better than the DDM's or the eq7's or the se530's.

After all they are a professional monitoring phone ( of questionable build quality) and really I just want to enjoy the music and not analyse it to within an inch of its life.

Must convince myself not to buy them!

Anyone feel free to convince me otherwise tho, I have very little will power .   

post #4 of 74
Thread Starter 

It's not that they are weak, but they follow the same or slightly weaker build of the UM3x. My very firm assertion is that professional monitors should be made professionally. With that proviso aside, the SM3 is THE earphone - plain and simple.

 

It isn't analytical despite being 'professional'. These are stage musician's phones, not monitoring tools (though I think they'd work quite well there too). They are not ETYMOTIC scalpels. They are emotional (read the review at TMA!) and full of pleasure.

 

When I write the DDM review, I had already had the SM3 and to tell you the truth, I don't have an absolute favourite in terms of sound. The DDM blow nearly anything away for strings and that section of the frequency range. Their fibrous bass is second only to Victor. The SM3 have a sweeter midrange. They rock completely though the treble is ever so soft.

 

Lotsa love for both.

post #5 of 74

From your description it doesn't sound as if the sm3's are gonna stomp all over the DDM's so I guess I can hold off buying them for a while  . 

post #6 of 74
Thread Starter 

The DDM are great earphones, but they aren't usable in the same way. In fact, I'd hesitate to really compare them on anything but sound basis. I tend to get earphones based on pragmatic need and the DDM, while phenomenal sounding, don't fulfil that need: they are fiddly and I can't use them whilst exercising (or that well even whilst relaxing).

 

The SM3 are supremely comfortable, enough so that I can sleep with them in (I don't recommend it though). They rock completely. The only thing I'd change is their housing. 

 

Earsonics, you could stomp all over the professional earphone market if you only had a better housing.

post #7 of 74

Ive not even attempted to take my DDM's outdoors! Agreed they are pretty much stationary sort of phones.

I find the eq7's pretty good for on the move,  prefer the DDM's sound though.

Just need Ericp and Bennyboy to jump in and convince me I need the sm3's now

post #8 of 74

Go for it mate!

 

thumbs_up.jpg

 

post #9 of 74
Thread Starter 

No one NEEDS new earphones, but among universal sealed monitors, the SM3 is a great investment. 

post #10 of 74

Finally the long awaited review...I had been waiting for two weeks for this. Thanks.

 

You hit it right there. 'Ety fan, stay away'. 'Victor fan, stay away'. I am a fan of those two. But now I am a fan of the SM3 too.


Edited by koonhua90 - 6/24/10 at 4:34am
post #11 of 74
Thread Starter 

I tend to embrace earphones in any colour, from any creed. But I understand if those that crave a bit more... 'detail' from the high end shun these, it is likely because of their relative ease. Personally, I find them amazing and I am sorry for the long wait - but you seem to have found them anyway.

post #12 of 74

great review shigzeo..as tempting as they may be esp with the recent hype I'll have to pass for now. I have enough phones to hold me over for a very long time.

post #13 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

great review shigzeo..as tempting as they may be esp with the recent hype I'll have to pass for now. I have enough phones to hold me over for a very long time.


It'll itch and itch and you'll scratch it and it'll feel good. This is the truth of things.

post #14 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bennyboy71 View Post

It'll itch and itch and you'll scratch it and it'll feel good. This is the truth of things.


I'll find in a couple weeks when I get my reshelled customs in the mail. It really isn't difficult to not buy for me. I'm actually more interested in the SE535 but I need the price to go down first and I'm willing to wait. It also helps that I can't afford them without selling which is something I'm not planning on doing.

post #15 of 74

Thanks for the review shigzeo! Long waited :)

 

By the way what tips are you using?

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