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Earsonics SM3 Appreciation Thread - Third Time is a Charm?

post #1 of 1666
Thread Starter 

Here is my original SM3 thread.  It was locked due to arguing.

    My comparisons

    My ear tip chart - MC triple flange tips can be purchased here

    Review by SolidVictory

 

Here is the second SM3 thread.  It was locked due to arguing.

 

Here is a review by shigzeo on TouchMyApps where it won Editor's Choice

 

Here is a review by dfkt on anythingbutipod

 

So, can we all get along in this new thread?

 

Some recent questions: What is better, the JH5 or the SM3?

 

And the SM3 build quality was an issue and was supposed to be fixed.  Was it?

 

My current thoughts on the SM3:

- It does many things I have never heard any other IEM in the price range do, but the number one thing for my ears is the realistic sound from a soundstage proportion perspective combined with that soundstage being much wider than the few other IEMs that also have a realistic proportion.  What I mean is, the side-to-side proportion is correct compared with the front-to-back proportion and top-to-bottom proportion.  Other IEMs I have heard with great width (IE8 & FX700 for example) seemed compressed front-to-back and top-to-bottom.  Others that got the proportions right (CK10 & UM3X for example) have a much smaller overall space, compressing everything and hiding some of the instrument (or electronic note) detail making it more difficult to make out the complete musical picture.  The proportion has allowed me to hear instruments in ways other IEMs did not portray.

- The sound signature is not for everyone as the treble is not sparkly (except after a filter mod, which I have not tried) like many other IEMs (FX700, CK10, DBA-02, etc.) leading some people to say the treble is lacking.  I think the treble is natural and neutral, reminding me of what I actually hear at live venues.  The bass is powerful and the mids are rich.

- The sound changes quite a bit depending on tips used, sources it is paired with, and the original recording.  If you have a rich, thick recording with a warm source, the SM3 can sound too thick and veiled making me skip the track.  But when paired with a neutral source thick, warm songs are reproduced with thickness, but not overly with my source/tip combination.  Of course, something like the DBA-02 will offer more clarity for those thick songs, but due to the sound signature, everything has that clarity and many tracks sound overly lean to me.  I think the DBA-02 & CK10 etc. need a warm setup to sound their best, but still will not be able to approach the SM3's richness.

- I baby my stuff, but have still had both shells come lose.  Of course, being one of the first 2 on head-fi with the SM3, my SM3 uses the old material that has this issue.  I used plastic weld and since have not had a problem.  Build quality issues?  I don't know.

- The cable past the Y split is short, but it stretches.  I usually listen to the EM3 Pro and LCD-2 these days, but I put the SM3 in the other day and think the cable shrunk a little bit.  It wasn't really a bother, just a surprise!

- With the right tips/fit the SM3 bass can compete with most dynamics (and surpass others such as the RE252).

- In my opinion, the SM3 (and EM3 Pro and LCD-2) have different sound signatures than is typical, so an adjustment time does help.  I hated the SM3 out of the box.  Well, not hated, but was disappointed.  I have read similar statements from the EM3 Pro and LCD-2 owners.  Just something to think about!

 

I have to admit, I don't use my SM3 much anymore due to my EM3 Pro, which is a worthwhile improvement in my opinion ,and the LCD-2 which shares a similar sound to the EM3 Pro, but I still do use it from time to time and do enjoy the sweet music it produces!

 

What are your appreciation stories?

 

*** The SM64 is out to replace the SM3.  You can read my review here. ***


Edited by average_joe - 5/9/13 at 10:11pm
post #2 of 1666

Thanks average_joe, for opening the third thread. I sure do hope third time's charm. (: I'm sure everyone will benefit from all the constructive discussion rather than the senseless bashing that could be taken to PM / real life.

 

What can I say? I love my SM3s! (:

 

It may sound paradoxical that I might have to sell them to fund my upcoming JH16s but listening to them (even right now) always makes me want to hold them back and keep them as well.

post #3 of 1666

Thanks, average_joe. Honestly, I do not understand why the SM3 threads seem to attract such arguing.

 

I think third time is a charm for the SM3. Pun intended smily_headphones1.gif.

 

Here's my review of the SM3 for anyone interested in my take on the EarSonics SM3's sonic characteristics.


Edited by SolidVictory - 10/14/10 at 10:44pm
post #4 of 1666
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by asphyxiation View Post

Thanks average_joe, for opening the third thread. I sure do hope third time's charm. (: I'm sure everyone will benefit from all the constructive discussion rather than the senseless bashing that could be taken to PM / real life.

 

What can I say? I love my SM3s! (:

 

It may sound paradoxical that I might have to sell them to fund my upcoming JH16s but listening to them (even right now) always makes me want to hold them back and keep them as well.

 

Can you keep them long enough to compare the two?  I know the EM3 Pro is better than the SM3 and the SM3 isn't the pinnacle when price is not considered, but I am interested to here a comparison between the them.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolidVictory View Post

Thanks, average_joe. Honestly, I do not understand why the SM3 threads seem to attract such arguing.

 

I think third time is a charm for the SM3. Pun intended smily_headphones1.gif.

 

Here's my review of the SM3 for anyone interested in my take on the EarSonics SM3's sonic characteristics.

 

Ah, yes, I forgot about your great review.  Thanks for reminding me; it really is a great read!
 

post #5 of 1666

Thanks average_joe.  I have had my SM3s for about a week and am still getting use to them.  I have found the past threads helpfull, sure hope that everyone plays nice in this sandbox.  I pretty much agree as to how you describe the SM3s, I do find them a little dark, lacking some in the highs, not that any thing is missing, just recessed.  I may come to grips with that in time.

post #6 of 1666

If I were to buy a headphone, full-size(not IEM), what should I be looking for?

Something that sounds like the SM3, and same or less treble.


Edited by tehort - 10/14/10 at 11:21pm
post #7 of 1666

I will try. Frankly, I am so swarmed with college projects and tests and presentations and assignments that I need 48 hours a day + I'm not fluent in describing what I hear. However, if I do get a break and if I still have my SM3s when I get my JH16s, I will give them a comparison. Perhaps I'll throw my ATH-ES10 in the mix. Having the ATH-ES10 really makes me appreciate the SM3s even more. I do find the ES10s more enjoyable and better in certain aspects (but not trumping the SM3s in every way) (though unfair comparison as the ES10s are portable headphones), the SM3s amaze me in the sense that something so small could produce such great sound that it's almost comparable to a headphone that is regarded to be one of the better portable headphones by some.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post



 

Can you keep them long enough to compare the two?  I know the EM3 Pro is better than the SM3 and the SM3 isn't the pinnacle when price is not considered, but I am interested to here a comparison between the them.
 

 

 


Edited by asphyxiation - 10/14/10 at 11:44pm
post #8 of 1666

I opened a fresh thread to ask this question, but it didn't attract much attention. So I'm going to state my question here as well:

 

How does Rockboxed Ipod 5.5g (not Imod or DIYMOD) get along with a pair of Earsonics SM3?

 

I had a bad experience with Zune 120 + SM3 combo because both were warmish and midforwardy; it looked like a customizable EQ would solve the situation, but unfortunately the Zune 120 harbours none! I heard that Ipod 5.5 is also warmer than the 6th Gen Ipod, so I wanted to hear from Rockboxed Ipod 5.5 owners that the EQ works perfectly to tame the SM3s' midforwardness... Please let me know about your experience with the mentioned combo.

post #9 of 1666

I got my SM3s this week and have spent a good deal of time listening to them, and like a lot of people who have had these, I was a bit underwhelmed when they came out of the box. Sure they were good, but I questioned whether they were worth the money I paid for them, something that didn't happen with any of my other audio equipment. Burn in, brain burn in, whatever, they grew on me and I'm absolutely loving them now, the bass hits just right and most importantly it's very well controlled, the ever present fast double bass kicks in metal hit hard and decay perfectly.

 

The soundstage is impressive for an IEM, the only fringe case that I've encountered are the recent remasters of the Beatles collection, for some odd reason the soundstage is ridiculously wide.

 

The non sparkling highs took a bit of getting used to, at first I didn't like them, cymbals seemed to lack the weight and sparkle they seemed like they should have. But after listening more closely, it's still there, just far more subtle, hi hats and crashes still resonate and sparkle, but not overly so, it's much more natural sounding. Bonus points for not being ear numbingly fatiguing to listen to as well.

 

My only slight complaint is vocal presentation, although I don't even know if I can fault the SM3s for the this. On some recordings the vocals seem recessed, they still sound great but it feels like the singer is standing a meter or so back from everything else, it was really subtle, and really weird. But then I only started noticing it in certain recordings, it wasn't a consistently occurring phenomenon. Which leaves me to believe that the SM3s are just presenting the recordings as they were mastered, flaws and all, which is REALLY interesting because some of these songs I'd listened to numerous times and never noticed it. And that's exactly what I was hoping for with the SM3s, an IEM that would leave no stone unturned in my music, no smoothing out and no false coloration.

 

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to put a couple more hours on these things before heading to sleep.

post #10 of 1666

Thanks for this SM3 thread average_joe. Hoping for more appreciation for these wonderful iems. I love them. The third time really is a charm. smily_headphones1.gif

post #11 of 1666

Received a pair of SM3 two days ago. After all the comments of people being underwhelmed with them straight out of the box I was suprised they sounded pretty good (to me) straight away.

I got them to replace my UE-11 after becoming so, so angry & frustrated at Logitechs customer service relations & support that I had to get rid of them as i was starting to resent them.

 

I am not going to give an indepth A-B comparison or review but I will say that they do have one up the '11s in ONE aspect. Male vocals are glorious & notably less grain free on the SM3. the '11s have them beat on MOST other aspects.

 

I also think they are too smooth sounding. Its almost unnaturally so. Some tracks benefit from this & some sound odd. I also think thats why male vocals sound better then the '11s...

 

BTW, I bought 2 packs of the Sensorcom tips but they're too small. They're in the FS forum if anyones interested. 

post #12 of 1666

Here are my SM3 impressions written on 17th & 18th August. There the SM3s are compared mostly to the SE535 and my ES3X (customs). If you scroll all the way down, I've added a link from 6th September which includes further impressions, but now adding a new set of UM3X and CK100 plus some comments about the IE8s. Note that I was able to do a direct comparison (had all 3 at the same time) between the SM3, UM3X & SE535:

 

OK, I've had two short listening sessions. First, the SM3s out of the box for about 20 mins., then after about 4 hrs' burn-in for another 30 mins. Can't say I notice a real difference between both short sessions, but out of the box the SM3 proved more of a shock than on the second session. I attribute this to the fact that I was already expecting not to be impressed after the initial shock. They also proved more shocking & disappointing out of the box than my very first session with my SE535s.

Right now I find the SE535 a better IEM than the SM3, although both cannot come close to what I've come to regard -- today more than ever, actually -- as the wonderfully sounding ES3X. By contrast, the IE8s I ordered a few weeks ago did not shock me at all, ie the ES3X sounded better, yes, but not so drastically so, and there are so many claims of the IE8s needing 100s, yes, 100s of hrs to sound their best - had them for a week, 150 hrs' burn-in and no big change, really; they were just very good right out of the box to these ears, anyway.

I honestly never thought both of these universal IEMs (SE535 & SM3) would be so different from my ES3X, and I didn't expect that because my other universal IEM, the UM3X (sold 7 months ago), was so close to my customs SQ-wise. I've even gone as far as purchasing a new pair of UM3X -- it's mad, I know -- after the shock I got from hearing the 535s. Yes, spending over $1,000 on three IEMs for testing purposes is not fun when your intention is to keep only one of them. But, I'd been reading so much on the two that I've just received that I had to try them for myself. Initially I was just going to get the SM3s based on apparent similarities with the UM3X, then also decided on the SE535s after reports of it being an upgrade SQ-wise AND construction-wise on the old SE530, which I simply seriously disliked.

I expected better results from the SM3, and more so because I'm not a believer in burn-in, specially with BA IEMs. I immediately tried my all-time favourite tips, the soft grey silicone (SGS) tips from Westone (almost identical to the Shure's). I then tried the Sensorcom tips, and then the stock bi-flanges.

The 535s, overall, sound better, more balanced, and though a little bright sounding and somewhat bass anemic for my taste (at least compared with my ES3X), today I have no doubt I'd get the 535s over he SM3s, though I much prefer the SM3 (and UM3X) cable for it's flexibility and complete lack of microphonics. But from a purely SQ stand, I'd get the 535s.

The SM3 has more bass, yes, but everything sounds veiled! Highs are recessed no matter which tips I try, SGS and Sensorcom tips sounding very similar, the SGSs being just a little more comfortable. The Sensorcom and stock grey bi-flanges also sound similar, but the former renders highs a little better and are more comfortable, for me at least. I got a good seal from both, BTW.

I most definitely have not heard yet that "glorious" SM3 sound and 3D type of soundstage/ headstage reported by some people. Unlike the 535s, which I decided to put up for sale in less than 24 hrs after I got them, I will give the SM3 more time (2 weeks at most) as there have been quite a few reports of dramatic changes in sound. I remain sceptical, though. But, as of today -- and please note this may change if the unusual SM3 burn-in effect reported turns out to be true -- the old UM3X is the best universal I've heard, followed by the IE8.

 

Further impressions (18th August):

My SM3s have now got about 16 hrs' burn-in, 10 of which with pink noise; so far there's been no change whatsoever - still generally sounding quite muddy. I can make out details in the music but it's more my brain, I think, helping bring out those details I've come to know so well. There is a veil, no question about it.

Also, I gave the 535 an added 5 hrs' burn-in with pink noise, and I still get the same anemic bass I first reported, and pronounced treble. And still prefer the 535s over the SM3s.

The fact there's been, in my view, far too much talk of which tips to use with the SM3s only further confirms, to me, there really is something not right about the SM3 sound presentation; still cannot believe how underwhelmed I am. With the IE8s, by contrast, I attribute so much talk of tips and tip mods to the somewhat awkward shape of the IE8's earpieces. I was lucky I got a perfect fit and very good seal right from the moment I tried them on. Burn-in in those was practically unnoticeable after 150 hrs, perhaps just a tiny bit of refinement - can't tell for sure.

I find the treble still more bearable on the SM3 than the 535s, though the SM3's treble is still clearly recessed. I can see myself managing much longer listening sessions with the SM3s due to what I perceive as pronounced treble on the 535s, but on the whole I still prefer the latter's overall sound along the whole frequency range.

I can also now confirm what I've been sensing for some time now: namely that too many things written in these forums tend to be exaggerated, and very much dependent on factors such as the all too familiar FOTM. Our ears, at least mine, become used to a particular type of sound fairly quickly and I feel quite a few people often, unknowingly, deceive themselves believing they've found a new 'holy grail', that is until the next new toy comes round. I strongly believe as well that the influence of so many of these posts cannot be underestimated.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/511135/ck100-um3x-se535-sm3-ie8-a-journey#post_6908339


Edited by music_4321 - 10/15/10 at 1:53pm
post #13 of 1666

A plea to any UK owners of the SM3:  my pair have just been returned by Mark, with the comment that he thinks the left / right balance is off.  Listening to them, I don't actually think it is but just to validate this, would one of you be willing to test them for me alongside your own pair?

 

I will pay for delivery to you and back.  Please pm me if you can help me out with this. 

 

Cheers

post #14 of 1666

I don't think this forum has had an earphone that inspired two threads on it to be locked before.

 

If Mr. Lopez takes Shigzeo's advice to heart and redesigns it for much better build quality, then it seems like it will be in the top-tier for a long time.

post #15 of 1666

^^ if the SM3 can be made better, it will be THE earphone (of course, sound personality is very personal) for a lot of people. I went back to the UM2 the other day and loved it - there is no revolution under the sun, just revolutionary marketing combined with some technological advances. Buying a great earphone today doesn't lessen its value for tomorrow; it remains great no matter who comes along. But your eyes can be taken away to a different product.

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