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Earsonics SM64: The Impressions Thread

post #1 of 1211
Thread Starter 

Thought this new IEM could use an appreciation thread!  Just got mine a week ago and I'm loving mine!  Here my review of which can also be seen on amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/EarSonics-SM64-Universal-In-Ear-Monitor/dp/B00B77T1SC/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

The Earsonics SM64 is a beautiful IEM, it may looks like a “Westone” copy but is really far different.  This phone isn’t a “value” headphone per-say, but those that make the splurge will be happy they did, as it’s articulate, slightly warm, immersive and has a gorgeous soundstage.

 

I sold my Westone 4 and a full size can to acquire these.  Yes I miss my Westone 4 and thought I might regret it but after having this IEM for a few days and comparing it with my Heir 4ai quite a bit I am not sorry I made the choice.  Throughout this review I will make comparisons to the Westone and the 4ai as those are my two points of reference.

 

I should also mention that Earsonics has so far done an “update” to this IEM.  They are not calling it V2.  It seems every IEM sold after JAN of 2013 is the revision version.  Apparently you can send the earlier version and get it modified.

 

PACKAGE/ACCESSORIES:

 

Pretty simple packaging.  You get a nice pocket size zip case, a cleaner, and some various silicone tips and Comply tips.  The P-Series tips that come with this are not my favorite as they provide VERY deep insertion to the point where I find them slightly uncomfortable.   To make my favorite Comply 500’s work I cut the bore out of the silicone tips and put it inside of the comply 500.

 

I compared it between the p series comply and no discernible difference in sound can be detected.  Soundstage is very similar if not the same.  All listening was done with the comply tips.

 

The fit is very similar to the Westone Headphone’s, the one thing I do appreciate is that they include bendable plastic ear holders on the headphone cord so that you can mold then around above the ear.  My Westones did not have this and one problem I always had with them is the cord would fall over my ear.  Not a problem here.

 

The cable is wound around itself, westone style, I’ve only had this a few days but it hasn’t unwound at all. 

 

SOUND:

 

The sound has not changed in approx. 50 hours of use.

 

This is the best all-around balanced armature I have used.  I have owned at one point the entire westone line including the Westone 4, and currently own the Heir 4ai.  As many know, it’s not the amount of Armature units, but how they are implemented.  There’s a three-way cross-over here and it has proven for a very cohesive sound.  Each frequency is smooth, yet detailed with a high amount of clarity.  The bass is slightly impactful and full with a nice reverb quality that stays in it’s range.

 

LOWS:  No leakage into the mids, what-so-ever.  I am used to slightly warmer sounding IEM’s like the Westone’s.  There seems to be a very slight bump in the VERY low sub-bass frequencies that is very pleasing but once over 100 HZ it is very clean and flat.  By personal preference I actually add a little in the EQ to the mid-bass to provide a slight amount of warmth.

 

The bass quality is tight with a hint of loose warmth almost like the hifiman re262.  The difference is that quality and quantity is better than re262.  I really appreciate the fact that EarSonic’s made the bass sound a little more like a dynamic driver.  It makes the sound slightly more analog which is to my liking.  The control and separation of the bass is what makes this section special.  It really does act like having a good sub-woofer in a full system.  It interrupts when called upon in a charming and pleasing way, but when it needs to purr just to add to a vocal it does so.  Very cohesive, very clean, a little dynamic.

 

This isn’t a bass-head IEM.  It won’t blast you away, but it will suit anything from EDM to bluegrass.

 

In comparison to the 4ai, this actually is more controlled within the frequency range, with slightly more quantity.  The quality is about the same, but the 4ai has more mid bas which adds a pleasant warmth to the 4ai.  I like that this section is flatter on the SM64 as I would prefer to EQ this in instead of having it already present.

 

MIDS

 

I haven’t heard the SM3 which came before this but the only complaint I ever really heard from reading was that the mids were slightly veiled, which is what led me to go for the SM64 instead of the SM3.

 

The mids here was ever so slightly forward but the quality of them is astounding.   For me this is what really sets the EarSonics apart from the Westone 4. The Westone 4 has beautiful mids but they are ever so slightly congested.  The Westone does every really well, but doesn’t astonish me in any one area.  The Earsonics have a touch of warmth but emphasize clarity, and a hint of weight in the mids.  This makes for an IEM that does female and male vocals remarkably well. 

 

The soundstage becomes quite apparent here too, as many times IEM will have soundstages that are either more tall or more wide in presentation which makes for a less cohesive sound.  The EarSonic’s have a very round soundstage that has incredible detailing that adds to its width, but also just the right amount of distance and reverb that puts the listener at the center point of the theatre instead of too close or too far away.

 

In comparison to the 4ai it’s really a toss-up.  As they both have incredibly beautiful mids and soundstages.  The main difference is the 4ai comes across as slightly smoother and liquid, where-as the SM64 provides a slight bit more clarity in the upper mids.  This can possibly be contributed to the slight dip the 4ai possesses in 4K area.  But nonetheless I haven’t seen a freq. curve for the SM64.

 

HIGHS

 

This is where EarSonics hit it out of the park.  An extreme amount of clarity, separation, and imaging, without any hint of sibilance, peaks, or discontinuity.

 

I can hear the banjo player move his fingers along the strings, the right amount of reverb recorded by the studio engineer, and the distance the singer is standing from the mic. 

 

The treble and high frequencies are smoother than any IEM I’ve heard and this includes the 4ai by a very small margin.  It doesn’t make the SM64 better to listen to, as depending on one’s taste it’s a toss up.

 

The SM64 doesn’t add air to the music, it just present it in an effortless and beautiful manner.  No earphone I have does this as well as the SM64.  The TDK IE800 does this remarkably well too, but compared to the SM64 it is strained and artificial sounding.  The natural quality of the treble is astounding.

 

COMPARISONS TO THE HEIR 4ai

 

The main differences between the two are:

  1. Slight mid-bass in the 4ai that adds nice warmth that isn’t as present in the SM64.
  2. Slightly more bass quantity in the SM64, although when Eq’d the bass quality and quantity is remarkably similar.
  3. Upper mids are more liquid and even on the SM64 while the lower mids are more liquid and even on the 4ai.
  4. Slightly more “air” in the 4ai generally, but it seems to be a slightly  more focused on higher frequencies, while the “air” within the soundstage is more “even” with the  SM64.
  5. Separation and Imaging is slightly better on the SM64 to my ear, but it’s a close race.
  6. Spectrum and frequency range is equal.

 

NOTE ON AMPING:

 

These do have an impedance of 98 I believe, and when tested without my C421 JDS Labs amp, they sounded a little sloppy and most noticeably thinner on the low end.  The upper mids became a little "grainy" and both sides of the  frequency spectrum and the soundstage were seemingly lessened.  These WANT THE POWER!  They actually sound best the best off my Schiit Lyr!  If you have a powerful desktop amp I'd urge you to give it a run.  These are just as finicky power and source wise as my HIFIMAN RE262, which was a nuisance to match up.  The Mullard CV2492's sounded especially incredible with these.  They actually warmed up the lower mids a tiny bit too. 

 

I'd be interested to hear others notes on source and what they find best with these incredible IEM's.

 

That’s all for now I will add more if I see fit.

 

I’d love to see someone do a comparison between these, and the FITEAR 334.  Has anyone compared the Heir’s to the FITEAR? 

 

Thanks for reading, these are highly recommended!

 

I don't have any pics so I'd love it if somebody could post some!

post #2 of 1211

Ehhh, damn Head-Fi...  I was in the market for some portables in the $350USD range, but after reading about the SM64, I started to become intrigued, even though current street price exceeds my self-imposed budget.  Then WHAM!!  I found out a buddy of mine has these...so I visited him to try them out...and fell hook, line & sinker.  I just now ordered them from SoundEarphones...$500 gone...just like that!!!  LMFAO

post #3 of 1211
Thread Starter 

Did you go for the Free Amp?  I got the Calyx Coffee with mine and it's a nice little portable, but if you sold it you'd be right back down to your budget.

post #4 of 1211
Quote:
Originally Posted by zach915m View Post

Did you go for the Free Amp?  I got the Calyx Coffee with mine and it's a nice little portable, but if you sold it you'd be right back down to your budget.

 



I applied the code, but I don't think I was one of the first 15 to order because it never showed up on the confirmation page when I submitted payment info.  Guess I'll be pleasantly surprised if I open the package & find an amp included.  Gotta say that free overnight shipping is a nice bonus, however.

post #5 of 1211

That's the kind of review I've been waiting to get the SM64...

Overall, what I've been reading is that the SM64 is like a SM3 with clearer mids and improved highs(smooth like the SM3 but not as rolled-off) and more balanced soundstage.

Also, the comparison to the W4 makes it even easier a pick, it was one of my possible upgrades.

 

Me, I simply love my SM3,  and that's why I gotta try out the SM64.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zach915m View Post

 

HIGHS

 

This is where EarSonics hit it out of the park.  An extreme amount of clarity, separation, and imaging, without any hint of sibilance, peaks, or discontinuity.

 

I can hear the banjo player move his fingers along the strings, the right amount of reverb recorded by the studio engineer, and the distance the singer is standing from the mic. 

 

The treble and high frequencies are smoother than any IEM I’ve heard and this includes the 4ai by a very small margin.  It doesn’t make the SM64 better to listen to, as depending on one’s taste it’s a toss up.

 

The SM64 doesn’t add air to the music, it just present it in an effortless and beautiful manner.  No earphone I have does this as well as the SM64.  The TDK IE800 does this remarkably well too, but compared to the SM64 it is strained and artificial sounding.  The natural quality of the treble is astounding.

 

The highs were what worried me the most, as most people were pointing out they were more noticeable on the SM64, cause I am pretty sensitive to sibilance and one of the reasons I liked the SM3 so much.


Edited by tehort - 2/17/13 at 2:59pm
post #6 of 1211
Thread Starter 

I should note that I didn't try the silicone tips, as I just don't like them.  So if you're a silicone tip person the treble may be slightly different. 
 

I still love the Westone 4 but I no longer own it.  For me it is a close third to the Heir and the Earsonics SM64.   Too much great stuff out there!

post #7 of 1211

I'm going to write a review too, but I think it will mainly be copy of yours, Zach :D
I think I was the first person that ordered this IEM (maybe 5 minutes after ES announced them) and since then they went through about 250 hours of listening and recently the upgrade to the second (and now standart) version. Still have to think really hard about stuff I could add to your review :P
 

post #8 of 1211
Thread Starter 

I just added to the review with a bit at the bottom about Amping and source.

post #9 of 1211
Sounds like I might actually want these given your impressions on the fr. So basically neutral then you say?
post #10 of 1211
Quote:
Originally Posted by zach915m View Post

I just added to the review with a bit at the bottom about Amping and source.

 

 

I really must have done something wrong when I used an iBasso D-Zero with my SM64, because it did not change the SQ at all.
Well I guess I need something better than this because everyone here is enjoying their SM64 through 200$ plus amps :D
Or...
Would be interesting to hear how well a Fiio e17 can drive this IEM. Because there seems to be a e17 running inside Fiios first DAP that will be released this summer and I'm really tempted to buy one :)

post #11 of 1211
Thread Starter 

I think the SM64 is really just a power hungry little beast.  My JDS C421 has been more than powerful enough for everything, but after hearing what the SM64 sounded like through my lyr I'm tempted to get a more powerful portable amp....it was just so silky smooth and powerful through the lyr.  Not that it doesn't sound beautiful through the JDS amp.
 

post #12 of 1211
Quote:
Originally Posted by zach915m View Post

I think the SM64 is really just a power hungry little beast.  My JDS C421 has been more than powerful enough for everything, but after hearing what the SM64 sounded like through my lyr I'm tempted to get a more powerful portable amp....it was just so silky smooth and powerful through the lyr.  Not that it doesn't sound beautiful through the JDS amp.
 


What do you mean with "more powerful"? Do you think there is a minimum power-outputwhateverthingy (no idea how you call that) that the amp should be capable of?

post #13 of 1211
Thread Starter 

Oh I just mean a portable amp capable of powering headphones with higher impedances.  The c421 is really meant for up to 300, where-as if i got on that could do anything all the way up to 600 ohm's, then the SM64 could like the extra power, as it did when I plugged it into the lyr.
 

post #14 of 1211

The Headstage Arrow seems like a good match, it's "able" to drive headphones up to 600ohm.

 That's what I have in mind to pair the SM64 with, too bad they got delivery problems.

post #15 of 1211
Quote:
Originally Posted by tehort View Post

The Headstage Arrow seems like a good match, it's "able" to drive headphones up to 600ohm.

 That's what I have in mind to pair the SM64 with, too bad they got delivery problems.

 



Oh yes...Headstage...  Love the product...the service, not so much.  3 weeks ago I sent in my seldom used 2G Arrow (which took almost 6 months before I received it back in the day) to upgrade to the 4G.  I live in the Midwest; shipped to Cali my 2G.  They got it Feb. 11....and my order still sits as "processing."  Anywho...once I eventually get my 4G Arrow, I think it'll work nicely w/ the SM64s I ordered yesterday.

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