REVIEW – EARBRIDGE HPSD E70 – Magneto-Static EarphonesOfficial info may be found at the E70 product page and Indiegogo project site.
Website – EARBRIDGE
Website – EARBRIDGE
The E70 was provided directly by EARBRIDGE for review.
The HPSD E70 is now officially available in in pre-order from Indiegogo. There are two package options, Basic and Premium. Price is U$D 115 for the Basic U$D 200 for the Premium. Express shipping costs are included in the price. The differences are only in the package and contents. For now the Basic will have a simple package with the E70 earphones and three pairs of silicone ear tips in three sizes, while the Premium includes a Pelican micro case and six extra sets of capsules, which are exchangeable, replaceable housings.
Do note that there are available drivers, Gold and Silver as well. Still unsure if both of the drivers’ units will be included in any of the packages or be optional. For review, the whole package and two units were sent.
The E70 is quite simple in design and build quality. Straight cylindrical shaped shells made entirely of plastic (polycarbonate), very lightweight. Not particularly small, but nothing large either, differing from many more fancy IEMs in an over-ear wearing style and more (or less) ergonomic shaped housings. It can be quite easy to fit with either the cable down or up around the ears. The comfort is decent for this kind of design and there are no sharp edges that may imply any issues. Nozzle is of average length and has a thin mesh at the top acting as a filter. Isolation is decent too.
The cable is fixed to the rear part of the earphones, however this whole rear section is removable. The connectors are placed on the inner side of this part, and the drivers inside can be exchanged. There are two sets of drivers offering different sound. The package includes a variety of extra plastic shells (or capsules, as called by Earbridge) in different colors. The already installed clear shells are quite tight to unscrew and so extra care might be needed in as not to break them. It is recommended to not attach them so tightly when changing the shells either. The cable is of silver-plated cooper wire consisting of 4 strands. A bit thin but yet comfortable and has not showed any signs of oxidation after a couple of months of use. A detachable cable option would have been more favorable considering that almost every company are using at least the common MMCX type.
The E70 offers two kind of sound signatures. Many other earphones usually adopt an exchangeable filters’ system, while some others add switches to alternate the sound presentation in a more internal electronic way. Instead, the E70 is offered with two pairs of drivers which produce a different overall sound. Both Gold and Silver labeled drivers are identical from the outside and internally have the same exact Magneto Static setup. The different tuning appears to be made by simply having the Silver a piece of mesh material inside at the top, and as can be expected minimizes the amount of higher frequencies and enhances the lower. Moreover, the different replaceable capsules shells are supposed to add a slight effect to the sound; however, the real changes arrive from the different pair of drivers. Those who may want to ‘tailor’ the sound a bit even further should have no difficulties in doing so as there room enough inside the plastic shells.
The E70 may not have a fancy design or top build quality, but when it gets into sound quality it is just so impressive. The drivers’ setup inside is called Magneto Static hybrid, which is a low-voltage alternative to the Electro Static drivers for IEMs. There are already some known companies that implemented these same Magneto-Static as Earbridge is the manufacturer company behind these drivers. Electro and Magneto static drives use a similar principle but differ in some ways. The EST require a much higher voltage to work, reason why they need an extra amplifier even in the IEM forms, while the Magneto play at lower normal voltage and can be driven by any music source. It seems that the E70 has a dual hybrid driver setup, with the MST driver for mid and highs and extra ‘dynamic’ driver for lows, but there is not much info shared about that.
Technical facts aside, the sound is highly detailed, very accurate and fast. The bit higher impedance asks for extra volume but not to the point of needing external amplification. Though the E70 scales quite well with a more dedicated audio player source. The so detailed sound may sometimes lead to think of being a too flat type of sound with lack of warmth or impact in the bass. The E70 however goes for a more balanced approach having all the micro detailing from the nature of the speakers.
If starting with the Gold drivers, the sound follows a more lively, slight v-shaped curve, but with strong focus on the treble frequencies. The bass is above neutral but far from being overwhelming in quantities. Lacking it is not and is capable of showing very good impact and body. It is still not as thick or dense as with usual hybrid IEMs that have dynamic unit inside for a warmer low-end. The Gold driver is more about superb accuracy, very high speed and fine layering. The extension is not missing either, unlike with multi-BA based earphones that can miss that last bit of reach on the sub-bass. E70 is just more dynamic and realistic in that regard.
Up to the midrange, it is very clean with zero bleed from the low-end part. It’s very, very transparent and extremely detailed. The separation is razor-sharp and very airy. It is mostly neutral, and maybe too neutral for some. Never missing or sounding distant, but not a forward midrange centered sound either. There is no emphasis on a certain range and has more or less equal weight on each instrument. It can a bit cold so less suited for vocal focused genres; female vocals can be more highlighted but still lack the sweet texture. Sibilance will depend on the source, so in occasions the E70 can sound a bit sharp. Ear tips can help here too.
Still on the Gold drivers, the treble is more accentuated. The so much detail and air arrives with a brighter high frequency. It is not too aggressive per se but it is forward. The treble extension is superb, more than any of Knowles TWFK or ED based IEMs, and it also performs more naturally. I don’t find it too analytical or dry, instead the E70 shows greater treble dynamics and excellent resolution; unbeatable for the price and clearly rivals more expensive options.
Switching to the Silver driver option. Technical performance is all kept, but as expected for having a small mesh filter, the signature shifts to a bit darker, more laid-back one. Well, it is more relatively to the Gold driver’s sound, but the changes are fairly obvious. The low-end gains more body and impact, forward and thicker texture and a bit more fun factor. There is not differences in terms of extension or speed, nor it sounds less resolving or accurate, but does has a bit more natural tone. The transition to the lower midrange is just as clean; no bass bleeding, but yes fuller in lower notes. Transparency is taken a half step back for an overall slightly smoother presentation yet keeping the same positioning. Some may find the result more pleasant. Treble has the most changes; smoother, still energetic if a bit less notable extension, but then cuts the potential sibilance issues.
Soundstage scales well depending on the playing source. The E70 is wider than average on its own and sounds open and airy. Transparency is well shown when paired with different sources. Not what I could be calling picky, source dependent, however it can sound darker or lighter depending on the pairing.
With the iBasso DX220 which holds among the best staging and timbre, the E70 gains a more expansive soundstage. It has more v-shaped presentation with elevated bass and more aggressive treble, less forgiving and sometimes catching some sibilance on vocals with the Gold drivers. The detail is still excellent and tonality rather natural.
The HiBy R6 Pro, brings a more forward treble and overall aggressive presentation. The treble quality is actually very good; great dynamics and very high detail. Soundstage is less wide than with the above DX220, especially as it is limited to being used single-ended output. The Gold and Silver changes are less noticed with the R6 Pro. On the contrary, with R5 the Gold drivers have a most balanced sound, while with the Silver sound dark and more biased to the low freq. Shanling M6 gives more treble control and wider stage, with a colder tonality and leaner texture on the midrange, but better sub-bass quality and good extension.
Yet the best synergy was with the iBasso DX160 and then the Shanling M5s. The E70 Gold drivers with the DX160 have an excellent balance, fuller bass and thicker and richer midrange that plays much nicely on vocals. The treble is energetic and still well controlled. Soundstage is not as wide as with the DX220, but the thicker midrange gives a more organic sound, and actually headroom is expansive. For the M5s, then the Silver drivers are the best match. More linear and very neutral signature among all the DAPs paired with the E70; smooth and yet detailed. More narrow than the DX160, but still the second of the favorites’ list.
Regarding the different colored exchangeable shells. Supposedly, they should offer a bit of different tuning on the bass and treble. Changes, however, are very minimal. The clear or silver gray has the most balanced response, with about equal bass and treble, while red ones offer a tad warmer touch and then the blue ones a lighter bass and clearer treble. Again, huge differences are between the Silver and Gold drivers, while shells changes are very subtle. If pairing a clear/silver shell with a red or blue, changes may not be heard in terms of channel balance, but yes if using a red and blue combination. Otherwise, they serve more as replacement.
E70 (Silver) vs. final E5000 (Single Dynamic)
While the Silver drivers give a darker, warmer tonality, the final E5000 is still more powerful and bass oriented next to the E70. The E70 has the upper hand in speed, detail and resolution over all the freq. response, though it is also less forgiving and more aggressive. The E5000 requires extra driving power to sound best, but then it offers a larger soundstage and more natural tuning. It can be considered as more ‘fun’, not just due the greater low end, but also with a smoother and richer midrange that sounds better with vocals music genres. The E70 is more airy and open on the highs and extends further and more effortlessly.
E70 (Gold) vs. Akoustyx R-120/220 (Dual BA)
The upper Akoustyx models with same Knowles dual BA TWFK (which seem to be an upgraded version or tuning from the previous TWFK) are quite similar in sound, both being very detailed oriented with neutral to bright signature. They have the typical light bass and then so fast, limited in lows extension, liquid mids with a highlight towards the upper-mid and low-treble region which can sound aggressive and not sibilance free. They have a kind of analytical character and very focused in putting all micro details forward. The E70 is more dynamic, with better extension on both ends, greater and more realistic presence on the lows, hitting with more impact. The midrange is less forward than on the Akoustyx’s, and it is more textured and more even from low to upper mids. The treble maybe less ‘hot’ and aggressive but it is sharper and not much less tiring. The detail retrieval, however, is even greater on the E70, has more air and sounds more open and spacious.
E70 (Gold) vs. Custom Art Fibae 3 (3 BA)
The Fibae 3 is one of the most detailed IEMs under $1000 I’ve listened to. Despite costing just a fraction of the Fibae, the E70 easily rivals it in total sound quality. They do differ in their presentation. The Fibae 3 is lighter, less bodied on the bass response and more forward and smoother on the whole midrange, and even though it is not the best match for vocal genres, it is sweeter than the E70. The E70 offers more bass, and especially a greater and natural sub-bass reach. The midrange is thinner and cooler, and less forward but has a more even balance through the whole mids. Both earphones are on the bright side for treble. The treble balance and their extension is about the same, and so is the micro detail level. Neither of them is sibilance free, though the E70 can be a tad sharper on upper notes. Fibae 3 can be a bit picky on the ear tips used and source dependent, while the E70 is more transparent.