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Earsonics EM4 - Page 5

post #61 of 94

@Aero Dynamic, thanks for your impressions and nice illustration. "Airy, clean, detailed and realistic" has caught my attention. However, one big issue I had with the SM3 was that their soundstage presentation lacked forward projection and made me feel like being among the musicians, with sounds coming from all sides - not like part of the audience in front of an orchestra. Since I'm just a concert-goer and not a musician, this kind of presentation spoilt realism for me.

 

I'd like to know whether the EM4 have more forward projection to their soundstage than the SM3. Can you hear sound coming from very far out left/right at times, or even from behind your head? How far away is the singer on vocal tracks? With the SM3 I most often felt that the singer was standing nose to nose with me, again pretty unrealistic. The EM4 sound very interesting from your description of their sound signature, but if they have the same "surround" presentation as the SM3, they're not for me.

post #62 of 94

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

@Aero Dynamic, thanks for your impressions and nice illustration. "Airy, clean, detailed and realistic" has caught my attention. However, one big issue I had with the SM3 was that their soundstage presentation lacked forward projection and made me feel like being among the musicians, with sounds coming from all sides - not like part of the audience in front of an orchestra. Since I'm just a concert-goer and not a musician, this kind of presentation spoilt realism for me.

 

I'd like to know whether the EM4 have more forward projection to their soundstage than the SM3. Can you hear sound coming from very far out left/right at times, or even from behind your head? How far away is the singer on vocal tracks? With the SM3 I most often felt that the singer was standing nose to nose with me, again pretty unrealistic. The EM4 sound very interesting from your description of their sound signature, but if they have the same "surround" presentation as the SM3, they're not for me.


I do agree in substance with your portrayal of the SM3s. However, I consider their characteristics a feature rather than a bug smile.gif. My way of putting it is that the SM3s integrate the sound with the brain. So, anyone looking more for an all-round phenomenal musical experience rather than a realistic experience, I’d say the SM3s or possibly the EM3-PROs are your natural choice.


Yes, the EM4s are something quite different, to say the very least! They do not have a “surround” presentation. The projection is definitely forward in comparison to the SM3s (but not like speakers), and on audiophile recordings you can easily tell the distance, direction and altitude to instruments and vocalists. Whether or not I can hear sound coming from behind my head is more difficult to answer, but studio sound reflection is definitely present.


One thing I’ve noticed in particular during tonight’s listening session is the (in a positive sense) tremendous attack produced by words beginning with a consonant when sung. It sounds extremely realistic, but is probably also the reason why some electronic recordings sound too intense, almost attacking the ear drums, for example the album “The Mix” by Kraftwerk.


My conclusion is that the EM4s very well might be for you, but don’t blame me if you find them just too revealing. basshead.gif
 


Edited by Aero Dynamik - 11/4/11 at 1:50am
post #63 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post

I’ve altogether spent a couple of hours listening to Stravinsky’s:” L’Histoire Du Soldat” from the Chesky’s: “The Ultimate Demonstration Disc” over and over, going back and forth between the SM3s and the EM4s. With this particular piece of music, I now definitely prefer the EM4s, which sound airy, clean, detailed, and above all, realistic. Furthermore, the width, height, and depth between the instruments sound just perfect, like being in front of a real orchestra. Mind you, during the first hour or so I felt the SM3s were superior. Now, in comparison, the SM3s sound like a damper has been placed on the music, the soundstage is too much in the face, and the instruments too close to each other.

 

The realism is the most striking difference. Try this analogy; imagine two pictures portraying an interesting object (the recording) in the exact same way, but in two different lightings (SM3/EM4). The SM3s put the light straight on the object, erasing a lot of ugly, but also a lot of beautiful fine details. The EM4s, on the other hand, put the light from the side, making every little detail stand out.

 

This picture should give you an idea of what I mean.

SM3vsEM4.jpg

 

I wish I could say the above for all music that I listen to, but unfortunately I still feel that the reality becomes too harsh with a lot of recordings, especially electronic ones. The EM4s are so sensitive I suspect they may require acoustic audiophile recordings to shine the way they were intended to.


Thank you, Aero for this excellent and concise impression of the EM4! They are starting to sound more and more interesting to me now. Now, to find a way to finance such a purchase in the reasonably near term....hmmmm cool.gif

 

post #64 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post

I do agree in substance with your portrayal of the SM3s. However, I consider their characteristics a feature rather than a bug smile.gif.


I know a lot of SM3 lovers do and I'm fine with that, as I don't consider it a flaw, just a characteristic that's not suited for me. I frequently listen to live recordings and hearing instruments from behind my head simply freaks me out.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post

Whether or not I can hear sound coming from behind my head is more difficult to answer, but studio sound reflection is definitely present.


May I ask you to take this easy test? Starting from 0:58 you can hear some castanets. They should be far right on stage, but still slightly in front of you. If you hear them from behind (like I did on the SM3), the phones are not for me.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post


My conclusion is that the EM4s very well might be for you, but don’t blame me if you find them just too revealing. basshead.gif


That's not to worry about. I already have two of the presumably most revealing IEMs on the planet, the UERM and FI-BA-SS - and like both of them. smile_phones.gif

post #65 of 94

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

I know a lot of SM3 lovers do and I'm fine with that, as I don't consider it a flaw, just a characteristic that's not suited for me. I frequently listen to live recordings and hearing instruments from behind my head simply freaks me out.


May I ask you to take this easy test? Starting from 0:58 you can hear some castanets. They should be far right on stage, but still slightly in front of you. If you hear them from behind (like I did on the SM3), the phones are not for me.

 

That's not to worry about. I already have two of the presumably most revealing IEMs on the planet, the UERM and FI-BA-SS - and like both of them. smile_phones.gif


 

James444, I didn’t mean to imply you think the SM3s to be "defective". I was just trying to be a bit funny (I work as a system developer). Guess I failed. redface.gif

I’m afraid I hear the castanets pretty much in the same position with both the SM3s and the EM4s. It surprises me, because pretty much everything else I’ve listened to so far has definitely had a more forward projection. Are you sure it isn't in the recording? What I hear are castanets to the far right with the last clap sounding just a tiny bit behind my head (or I may imagine it...). How about your UERM and FI-BA-SS?


Edited by Aero Dynamik - 11/7/11 at 12:36am
post #66 of 94

Lol, guess I didn't dare taking it as a joke, since I've talked to several SM3 lovers who said more or less the same thing and called the SM3's enveloping soundstage 'more involving'. I wouldn't want to appear like I'm trying to force my POV on anyone.

 

Anyway, thanks for doing that test :)  On both the UERM and FI-BA-SS I hear the castanets from far right, yet still in front, consistent with a listener's placement vs. the stage. Regarding your question whether it could be the recording, sure the castanets are placed hard right in the mix. But in my understanding forward projection is a feature of the headphone, not the mix. Here's an earlier post of mine trying to illustrate that pont:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

 

LL

 

Here's my humble take on the matter, I agree with those who've said (back in the SM3 threads) that soundstaging depends widely on the mix. But IMO forward projection is a feature of the headphone, not the mix. We don't need it when listening to music from stereo speakers, because speakers are already located in front of us. Yet listening to the same recordings from our headphones, most folks would desire some kind of forward projection (tricking the brain into believing that the source is in front of us) to recreate the same feeling we get from speakers or from a live venue. Just think of Ultrasone making millions off their S-Logic and you'll see what I mean.

 

Well, there's one group of listeners that presumably don't want forward projection and that would be live musicians on stage, because they need to recreate the feeling of being among their fellow musicians. This is where Earsonics are coming from and I guess they simply didn't consider those different needs between professionals and non-professionals when they designed the SM3. Now that doesn't make the Earsonics bad IEMs at all, but IMO it is something to consider before deciding on these phones.

 

post #67 of 94

Finished translating... Sorry, I was quite busy

post #68 of 94

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Damnegy View Post

Finished translating... Sorry, I was quite busy

 

Brilliant! Thank you very much! bigsmile_face.gif

 

Eventually I'll try to comment on the part about the bass. I think I may have something to add to the description.

post #69 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post


I know a lot of SM3 lovers do and I'm fine with that, as I don't consider it a flaw, just a characteristic that's not suited for me. I frequently listen to live recordings and hearing instruments from behind my head simply freaks me out.

 


May I ask you to take this easy test? Starting from 0:58 you can hear some castanets. They should be far right on stage, but still slightly in front of you. If you hear them from behind (like I did on the SM3), the phones are not for me.

 

 


That's not to worry about. I already have two of the presumably most revealing IEMs on the planet, the UERM and FI-BA-SS - and like both of them. smile_phones.gif



Interesting. I don't use YouTube for stuff like this (and am not that driven by spacial from IEMs in general) but that's a neat example for your point. Never realized that upping the vid res also does the audio. Seems to flow a bit better at 480p. Of course we can't be sure what that is supposed to sound like, especially from my bone stock pc but your point is well made. I just tried it and I got slightly forward and high with a deep insertion with my phones. With larger tips and shallow it tends to open up more in general but the castanets held position. Thanks for a bit of early morning fun.smile.gif

post #70 of 94

Some thoughts about the bass of the EM4s:

 

In the French EM4 review: “EarSonics EM4 Le Test”, previously translated by “Damnegy” (Again, thank you!) in this thread, the reviewer makes the following comment about the bass of the EM4s: “bass-heads should pass... No over-boomy bass, no ‘feeling’ of the bass.”

 

That the bass of the EM4 monitors isn’t “over-boomy” would be expected by the entire audiophile community, right? But, “no feeling of the bass” can certainly be debated. However, before I continue I’d like to put my comment into context. Yesterday I put my KOSS iPorta Pro headset on my head to make a phone call. By accident I happened to start the music player on my iPhone. I think it was “The Beatles” streaming into my ears. My first and immediate reaction was: “Wow, this is so good!” Actually, it felt so good I forgot to make the phone call, and I decided to switch to my (wannabe) audiophile personality to listen more critically. As soon as I did I realized the inferior audio quality (in comparison to my EarSonics IEMs; SM3 and EM4) and quickly decided to make the initially intended phone call instead. However, I made this reflection; Ask 1000 non audiophiles if they prefer the Porta Pros or the EM4s, and I’m sure 999 would say: “Porta Pro”. Why? Because boomy bass is “sexy” and easy to absorb!

 

Boomy bass is all around. Radio, TV, too many sound systems and especially commercials long ago realized boomy bass sell. Deep, boomy voices sell everything from deodorant to cars to headphones, and we buy them, the sound as well as the products. No wonder our perception of what bass is and should sound like has been distorted!

 

During my first listening sessions of the EM4s I too “felt no bass”, and I was disappointed. Now, after some 50 hours or so with the EM4s I have come to grips with why the bass eluded me for so long. The mids and treble of the EM4s are extremely airy, clean and detailed, and guess what, the bass is too. No other headphone of mine has that quality, not even the SM3s. Also, the bass has the same kind of uber resolution as the rest of the gamuts. I’ve probably listened to Mike Oldfield’s Amarok a hundred times or more with my SM3s and thought it couldn’t be heard in a more favorable way. Now I know different. Now, for example, I've noticed (which I really did't before) that Oldfield is clapping his hands in front of his mouth forming the sound of each clap with his lips while at the same time listening to five or so other instruments. The feeling of authenticity is eerie. Same thing with the bass! You can hear both the clapping and (a few seconds later) a very fast and deep bass starting 22:10 into the (60 minutes long) piece. This can be heard with the SM3s as well, but the magnitude of the EM4s’ resolution is mind-blowing.

 

Audiophiles are EarSonics’ market, not “every Tom, Dick and Harry”. Still, if 999 people out of a thousand would prefer more “oomph” (sacrificing detail, purity, and texture/resolution), it probably takes tremendous integrity and discipline not to monkey with the bass for commercial reasons. This certainly makes Franck Lopez more of an artist than a businessman, and that I salute!


Edited by Aero Dynamik - 11/10/11 at 12:45am
post #71 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post

Some thoughts about the bass of the EM4s:

 

In the French EM4 review: “EarSonics EM4 Le Test”, previously translated by “Damnegy” (Again, thank you!) in this thread, the reviewer makes the following comment about the bass of the EM4s: “bass-heads should pass... No over-boomy bass, no ‘feeling’ of the bass.”

 

That the bass of the EM4 monitors isn’t “over-boomy” would be expected by the entire audiophile community, right? But, “no feeling of the bass” can certainly be debated. However, before I continue I’d like to put my comment into context. Yesterday I put my KOSS iPorta Pro headset on my head to make a phone call. By accident I happened to start the music player on my iPhone. I think it was “The Beatles” streaming into my ears. My first and immediate reaction was: “Wow, this is so good!” Actually, it felt so good I forgot to make the phone call, and I decided to switch to my (wannabe) audiophile personality to listen more critically. As soon as I did I realized the poor audio quality (in comparison to my EarSonics IEMs; SM3 and EM4) and quickly decided to make the initially intended phone call instead. However, I made this reflection; Ask 1000 non audiophiles if they prefer the Porta Pros or the EM4s, and I’m sure 999 would say: “Porta Pro”. Why? Because boomy bass is “sexy” and easy to absorb!

 

Boomy bass is all around. Radio, TV, too many sound systems and especially commercials long ago realized boomy bass sell. Deep, boomy voices sell everything from deodorant to cars, and we buy it, the sound as well as the products. No wonder our perception of what bass is and should sound like has been distorted!

 

During my first listening sessions of the EM4s I too “felt no bass”, and I was disappointed. Now, after some 50 hours or so with the EM4s I have come to grips with why the bass eluded me for so long. The mids and treble of the EM4s are extremely airy, clean and detailed, and guess what, the bass is too. No other headphone of mine has that quality, not even the SM3s. Also, the bass has the same kind of uber resolution as the rest of the gamuts. I’ve probably listened to Mike Oldfield’s Amarok a hundred times or more with my SM3s and thought it couldn’t be heard in a more favorable way. Now I know different. Now, for example, I can hear Oldfield clapping his hands in front of his mouth forming the sound of each clap with his lips while at the same time listening to five or so other instruments. The feeling of authenticity is eerie. Same thing with the bass!

 

Audiophiles are EarSonics’ market, not “every Tom, Dick and Harry”. Still, if 999 people out of a thousand would prefer more “oomph” (sacrificing detail, purity, and texture/resolution), it probably takes tremendous integrity and discipline not to monkey with the bass for commercial reasons. This certainly makes Franck Lopez more of an artist than a businessman, and that I salute!

Well said, Aero. I too think Lopez is an artist of sorts as I love my Sm3s immensely and wouldn't replace with any other IEM. Sure, there are detractors and there IEMs which are 'better' as per the mass consensus. But to my ears, the SM3s are just in their own league. No comparison. It does what it does and it does it frickin' well. 'Nuff said. biggrin.gif

 

Could you perhaps do a comparison with the SM3s wrt lows/mids/highs/sig/presentation/soundstage, etc? If you've already done this and I've just ignorantly glazed over it somewhere, could you please point me in the right direction

 

Thanks in advance!
 

 


Edited by Heret1c - 11/8/11 at 9:30pm
post #72 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heret1c View Post

Well said, Aero. I too think Lopez is an artist of sorts as I love my Sm3s immensely and wouldn't replace with any other IEM. Sure, there are detractors and there IEMs which are 'better' as per the mass consensus. But to my ears, the SM3s are just in their own league. No comparison. It does what it does and it does it frickin' well. 'Nuff said. biggrin.gif

 

Could you perhaps do a comparison with the SM3s wrt lows/mids/highs/sig/presentation/soundstage, etc? If you've already done this and I've just ignorantly glazed over it somewhere, could you please point me in the right direction

 

Thanks in advance!
 

 



Couldn't agree with you more on the SM3s! They're definitely some of the best stuff that ever came out of human hands.

 

No, I haven't yet done that kind of comparison between the EM4s and the SM3s, and really don't know if and when I'll be ready for the job. I'm too sort of waiting for a seasoned head-fier to that. Anyone!? Anyway, until I'm ready I'll keep you posted on anything that lights my passion about the EM4s, good or bad.

post #73 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post



Couldn't agree with you more on the SM3s! They're definitely some of the best stuff that ever came out of human hands.

 

No, I haven't yet done that kind of comparison between the EM4s and the SM3s, and really don't know if and when I'll be ready for the job. I'm too sort of waiting for a seasoned head-fier to that. Anyone!? Anyway, until I'm ready I'll keep you posted on anything that lights my passion about the EM4s, good or bad.


Great, thanks! Any impressions are better than none at all, I say! biggrin.gif

 

post #74 of 94

Some time has passed since I posted anything in this thread, so I figured it’s about time I updated interested readers about my life with the EM4s.

 

For a while I was on the verge to send my EM4s back to France for a rebuild to the EM3‑PRO specification. I mailed EarSonics and explained my considerations. They replied back that they were willing to rebuild my EM4s for (what I felt) was a very reasonable fee of 71 EUR. No questions asked. However, in the end I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I had to admit to myself that I am quite devoted to my EM4s. It’s just that coming from the SM3s, the (brain) burn in process is very, very time consuming. The sound signature compared the SM3s couldn’t be more different. No one describes the sound signature of the EM4s better than EarSonics themselves. I have reflected over their short description over and over, and it’s spot on.

 

“Deep and ‘clean’ lows, a "Earsonics touch" medium and treble with incredible sharpness.”

 

Once you get to grips with the overall sound signature, the lows are truly mind-blowing. Listening to the last 17 seconds of “Tubular World” from “The Songs of Distant Earth” by Mike Oldfield is like entering into a new sound universe. The bass is monumental, yet just as clean and detailed (sharp) as the mids and highs. Incroyable ( “incredible”, in French)! If I were to describe the EM4s with as few words as possible, I would say: “Ear openers”. The transparency and resolution is by far the best I’ve heard in anything.

 

“Transparency can be described as an open window to the sound. That is, as if there was nothing between the listener and the music. The hardware has disappeared and only the music remains.” (Quote from “The Ultimate Demonstration Disk”).

 

So, if you’re considering buying the EM4s, read the above quote by EarSonics over and over and try to image what it would sound like. Once you get your EM4s you’ll be nodding your head thinking: “Yes, that’s exactly what they said they would sound like.” Now, whether or not that kind of sound signature suits your personal preferences or not is a different story.

 

And now for something completely different (to quote Monty Phyton). The EM4s are my first and so far only custom IEMs. I really don’t know how many hours I spent reading reviews, considering various fabrications and models before making my call. One of those many reviews that stayed with me was Steve Guttenberg’s review of the JH Audio 16s. He writes, among many other things:

 

“One night a few weeks ago I was standing on a New York City subway platform when a deranged homeless man started screaming his guts out three feet away from me, and I didn't hear him! He was facing away from me, but then I noticed that everyone else on the platform started to walk away! If you want the best possible noise isolation, you need custom, molded to your ears headphones.”

 

Now, the first time I tried my EM4s having Steve’s review in the back of my head, they didn’t isolate near as well as I had expected. So I went to a noise place and twisted them back and forth, pressing them into my ears. Of course, while doing this the acrylic expanded somewhat from my body heat, and I eventually got the isolation near my expectations. Nevertheless, getting the desired isolation has been a bit of a problem, until just recently, when I started experimenting with various skin creams. The skin of most people is a bit oily. Mine isn’t. It so dry it almost falls off by itself (Yeah, sounds gory, but to give you a picture). So, I rub a little skin cream onto the part of the ear where the IEMs rest, and the isolation becomes perfect. Even when not playing music I can’t decipher what people are saying, not even if they are standing just a few feet away from me talking directly to me while looking at their lips. Definitely a near deaf experience. The skin cream is named “Hudsalva ‑ Försvarets”, which is Swedish for “Skin cream - Armed forces” and can be bought in Swedish drugstores. It’s supposed to be edible too, in case of emergency, but I haven’t tasted it yet. I guess it will come in handy when I’ve spent all my money on hi-fi equipment tongue.gif. Anyway, when applied its texture is very similar to the body’s own skin oil.

 

Like any other custom IEMs the design (of course!) is made to be as comfortable and isolating as possible. You’re not supposed to press them into your ears as hard as you can. You’re just supposed to twist them into place, and that’s it! So, my advice is to use some skin cream if you’re not perfectly happy with the isolation. For me it made a world of difference!

 

My experimenting also led me to try how the sound is affected by how I hold my body and head, and my conclusion is final. The body must be standing or sitting. The head should be held straight and upright, and preferably be tilted slightly forward. Forget lying in bed on your back (my most preferred listening position); it changes the sound signature completely. Why? Simply because when the imprints are made, the body is sitting, the head is held straight upright and is slightly tilted forward. Changing the position of the body changes the form of the ears’ anatomy, consequently the fit of the custom IEMs changes, and subsequently the sound signature changes. In this respect universal IEM’s are a lot more flexible.

 

I’m surprised that after having spent so much time reading about custom IEMs I’ve never read anything about of what I’ve just described. Hopefully, this post will help a few first-time users of custom IEMs.

 

So, will I keep my EM4s? You bet!

 

Wishing you all A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

post #75 of 94

Thanks, Aero. Was beginning to wonder if you had forgotten about this thread. LOL.

 

Again, your description of the EM4 makes it sound very intriguing and tempting to me but as customs are hard to audition, getting into this game is still a big gamble for me. Worse still, on top of trying to decide which custom make / model to go with, I have now been tempted by the option of getting my SM3s reshelled into customs and maybe even adding drivers. Argh!

 

Anyways, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family as well as to all on Head-fi!! biggrin.gif

 

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