ngoshawk

Headphoneus Supremus
Earsonics Corsa: Built like a tank, and with sound to match.
Pros: Built like a tank
Quality materials
Engaging sound (see below), but not harsh
Bass is of good quality
Cons: Case
Build quality not what it should be
Sound is quite tip dependent
Might be too laid back for some
Earsonics Corsa ($450): Built like a tank, and with sound to match.

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Corsa

Corsa Shop

Intro:
Thibault, from Earsonics contacted me to see if I was interested in a review of the Corsa. Having just read B9Scrambler’s review of the unit I was intrigued. I said yes, and 2½ short weeks later I had a Corsa in hand. I reread The Contraptionist’s review to get a better handle on the company and the unit. It is understood that the unit is mine to keep but may be asked back for at any time. As such, the unit is not to be sold for profit, as that yet remains cheap, lowdown and uncool. What follows is an honest impression of the Corsa and how it sounds to me, and me only. Used across many platforms and compared to comparable wares, I do think this is a very valid review and comparison.

Earsonics is a French company founded by Franck Lopez in 2005. Catering to both professional and enthusiast IEM markets, they currently offer a variety of universal and custom-fit earphones, which feature both hybrid and pure armature setups (courtesy of The Contraptionist’s introduction).


Specs:

SPECIFICATIONS:


Sensibility: 119 dB/mW
Fréquence response: 10 Hz -20 kHz
DCR: 31 ohms
Drivers: 3 BA drivers with 3-way impédance corrector crossover


IN THE BOX:

CORSA with 4C HI-RES cable
4 Comply tips (various sizes)
8 silicon tips
 (various sizes)
Cleaning tool
Carrying box
User manual


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Gear used/compared:

Dunu SA6 ($499)
Fearless S6 Rui ($479)
Noble Savant II ($499)

Shanling M6 Pro
Cayin N6ii E01
MBP/XDuoo XA-10


Songlist:

Eagles-Hotel Cali Live 1999
Brian Setzer
Joey Alexander-Warna album and others
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado
twenty one pilots Christmas
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Big Head Todd & The Monsters-Beautiful World
Mark Knopfler-Down The Road Wherever
Elton John-yep, still good, still cool



Unboxing:

Coming in a plain black box, expectations were that the inside would be a bit more exciting on one hand but thinking simplicity rocks on the other hand. Opening the lid on the front, the top opens like a hood. Inside you find a printed note from company founder and CEO Franck Lopez, written in French. Popping that up, you get the small zippered case with the cable tucked neatly inside, except for the bit, which connects to the IEM’s.

Those metal-shelled IEM’s are tucked into individual round cutouts, with the cable running in their own groove around the top. Not uncommon, but nonetheless still a nice-looking feature. Taking the right ¼ of the box is the accessories box, complete with three different types (shapes) of tips (single flange common silicon, double flange silicon & foam; all in two sizes and packed in three bags). You also get a white cleaning brush, which is a nice departure from the typical black (that can fall and quickly become lost).

Under the medium foam protection and ¼ cardboard case you find the “handcrafted by” (Carine Cot) and the warranty card again in French.

Simple, subtle and all right in my book.

Add in that the Corsa comes with a plethora of tips ranging from two foam sizes to two set of single flange and two sets of double flange tips, and you have a well apportioned kit. The double flange even has a long center shaft for positive connection with the nozzle. This is indeed the longest shaft I have seen on a set of tips, and it does hold onto the nozzle well.

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Technicals:

Made with three proprietary BA’s, the Corsa holds true to the “made in France” mantra, with the 3D-acrylic compartment or “heart” structure made in well, France. A metal jacket rounds out the unit looking every bit a clamshell pattern on the inside, and a melted candle seal reminiscent of days of yore on the faceplate. A nice change from the “inlaid” or acrylic painted patterns to me. Mind you I really like stabilized, inlays and patterns; but this just seems right with the “ES” logo embossed in that “melted wax.” While not all of the above is about the technical aspect it does tie the whole together showing Earsonic’s commitment to the overall unit when it comes to technology.


Build/Fit/Finish:

A metal three-piece shell gives the Corsa a higher-end look, and the burnished bronze color adds to the “luxury” segment look. A long pressed in nozzle is of good diameter and tips take a good amount of force to mount. Not a bad thing in my mind. The inner shell has curves much like you would see on a clamshell and is screwed (with a glued lip) to the faceplate. The nozzle has a filter covering it to keep unwanted items out as well.

That faceplate varies of different thicknesses depending upon where it is in relation to the ear placement. Something I have not seen much of before. I do like the look. At the back of the faceplate (thicker end) there are two “slots,” which act as vents for the unit. If you look inside, you can see the mechanicals, much like you would on a furnace cover. There is also a slight detent on the main shell, to accommodate the insertion of the 0.78mm 2-pin cable, which is inset into the thicker portion of the faceplate. This is a fairly complicated design to a shell, amongst the most I have seen, but not without thought, care and design engineering for proper functioning of the unit.

There is even what would be akin to a melted wax “seal” bearing the “es” logo on the faceplate, much like letters of old. The 2-pin cable is a bit hard to insert for my tastes, and care is warranted when inserting the cable. Grip and feel across the board is very good, and not slippery as you might expect with the burnished color treatment.

The cable is a 4C 4-wire wrap in silver. Reminiscent of a good, solid Litz cable, it plays very well in use. A longer than normal over ear guide is soft and pliable, making this one of the best fitments I have witnessed of late. It lays excellently around my ear. A well protected right angle 3.5mm jack of lightweight aluminum is followed by the same aluminum Y-splitter and 2-pin ends. Light in feel, use and touch. Quality while being usable and softer of character. With protection where needed the cable works well, as does the fit of the unit in-ear.

While the unit is cold due to the metal, fit in my average-sized ear is good, with a modicum showing outside my ear. This does not stick out nearly as much as some, but it is not flush either. Good to excellent fit, without bother and the angle of the nozzle helps with a proper listening environment as well as fit. Nothing to worry about here.

The only downside here is the case. While it is of good quality, it is a bit too small for something of this price. Small size is good for in-pocket, but bad for not smashing the tips of choice. I also have to wind the cable tighter than I prefer for the Corsa to fit inside. Another ¼” thickness and ½” in diameter would have made a world of difference.

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Sound:

Summary:

The Corsa presents itself as a highly detailed triple balanced armature IEM, with good spatial representation and emphasis on the mids to higher range rather than the low end. This does not mean the lows are missing or unsatisfactory for when I listened to the Corsa, my focus indeed went towards the very good detail retrieval, and a cohesiveness with the mids; which makes for a crisper sound than not. Bass while not as deep as I might like is certainly present to keep things under control. The acoustic bass on David Grisman’s Chili Dawg comes across as the foundational aspect it is. Supporting but setting the tone, without encumbering the whole signature with an overexuberance of bass. A thoroughly satisfying sound emanates from the Corsa, with energy aplomb.

Moar:

Tip choice play a big part in how the sound will be represented with the Corsa. And yes, of course this happens with many, but to me it is more pronounced here than many of what I have had of late.

My preferred were the smaller (which was odd for me...) foam tips as this allowed a slightly “less neutral” sound to come through with a bit deeper reach of bass. This is my preferred choice, and I would keep it that way save I switched to the double flange for a listen. As stated above, this is the first time I have actually liked double flange tips in use. I am not sure what the synergy here is in order to accommodate my tastes, but whatever it worked. The bass was brought back to a support mechanism, but details flourished with the double flange. If you are going for detail and that crispier sound, then this might be your best bet.

Anyway, back to the foams and bass. A certain richness pervaded my senses with the foam tips and the low end, but not like an SA6 or Legend X mind you. No, this is a fruitful sound that still represents the sounds below the beltline well. On Grisman’s O’banion’s Wake, that bass guitar holds the show together as you might find in a fine Irish Pub on a Saturday night after a funeral. Drinks flow, talk and song permeate the air, and it is a right jolly good time as memories flow. This representation is accurate and realistic to me, which lends to the tuning being spot on.

Carrying this song into the mandolin and mids, Grisman reaches high with the strumming as violin plays the lower end of the mids with authority, but not authoritarian. This is such a fine song for judging the qualities that I ran the song over three times to make sure I caught all of the nuances. Coming through the XDuoo XA-10, the sound comes clean and slightly dry, but the tuning of the Corsa negates that quite nicely bringing the listener into the fold as Natalie Merchant’s hauntingly vivacious vocals engulf my ears on The Peppery Man, but not before Dawg Daze finishes. This is a raucous song, with much to disseminate and like. Piercing highs from the guitar work allow you to see the upper folds of the treble notes reach and it is very, very good. Piercing only in reach, quality with excess for sure.

Merchant’s voice to me is very underappreciated, and almost forgotten from the 10,000 Maniac days. That was such a fine group, that we tended to take her voice for granted. It is good to hear her music again. Natalie’s voice here reaches that upper end with succinct S’s, again piercing the top end, but not wincingly. More like an emotive sound. The song digs deep with the help of her accompanying male entourage and you get the feeling of sitting on a front porch in northern Mississippi on a hot steamy evening, drinking anything cool to take your mind off of the oppressing heat. The Corsa allows the song to come through with that near visceral experience and so far, all are working together presentably.

Kenichi Tsunoda’s Big Band version of the seminal Take Five allows me to experience a nice 3D aspect to the sound. Big band can come across as wide and overpowering in many situations, but that is the nature of the sound. Here though, the spatial representation is still broad, but deep as well with a good height presence. I get the feeling of a nicely filled out medium sized venue and that is right for the purposes. Layering as a result is good with instrumentation quite nice as well. While the detail retrieval will not break any new grounds, the sound comes across as firm, and with solidity, I would not call it thick as in too much density even though that is there. That solidity of which I speak makes that detailed sound, which is there come across all the better; but not analytically clean like some of the class leading ones in this price. Crisp, but not as crisp as the class leading IEM’s. But this bodes well for the overall tonality, which exudes that emotive sound of which I mentioned above. Calling it a mature sound would not be unfair.

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Comparisons:

Earsonics Corsa ($450) v Dunu SA6 ($499):

Since the SA6 came out, I have rated it as either at my top or near the top of recommendations for this price. Completely enthralled with tuning, including the fine-tuning switches, the SA6 comes loaded as is so there is no need for another cable. Using that unique jack switching connections allows you to run balanced or single end at the change of a jack. Pretty cool, but how is the sound comparatively?

The SA6 runs deeper with better reach, but not overly bass heavy. Mids to me are a bit forward and cleaner as well. Where the Corsa promotes that emotive response to me, the SA6 comes across as a raucous good time. That semi-boosted mid-section might not be for everyone with the SA6, but you can tailor the signature somewhat with the switch. If you prefer a more mature sound, then the Corsa might suit your bill. If you prefer deeper reach with a more mainstream tuning, which boosts those mids a bit as well then, the SA6 might fit the bill. I close by going back and forth on The Eagles live MTV version of Hotel California, just one of the absolute greatest songs ever, especially in person.


Earsonics Corsa ($450) v Fearless S6 Rui ($479):

When I first reviewed the S6, it was the then flagship of the new Fearless line. Since then, they have blown completely up in price and scale. This is a line with which to be reckoned. The S6 has the most bass quantity of any listed here, with some definite reverb as well. On Hotel California, it hits hard and wide. The mids seem to be spread out more than the others as well. I liken this to a quite wide soundstage. Clarity is as good as the SA6, but I still get a feeling of a somewhat “smashed” signature. More like intimate, or hourglass shape. Don Henley’s voice is dead center, and close in. The instruments seem to stretch for miles, either side; giving a somewhat odd signature to the listener. I do still like it but acclimating to it takes a song or two.

To me it is obvious that Fearless wanted to focus on the vocal presentation and as such is the best of the lot here. If you want to get over that (to me) hourglass signature, this is still a very good bet. Prefer a smoother signature? Then there are worse choices than the Corsa.


Earsonics Corsa ($450) v Noble Savant II ($499):

The Savant II comes across as the more neutral tuned Noble, with a bit more emphasis down low. I do not regret this purchase, but it does not get enough listening time from me. Running a bit deeper than the Corsa, the Savant comes across as detailed and well thought out and is probably the closest to the Corsa of any here. I find the near neutral maturity of the Corsa signature to suit my current tastes more. The Savant does not bother me in any way whatsoever, but it lacks that reach out and grab you of some listed here. That could be its biggest strength and biggest panacea all rolled together. It does all quite well but does not do any one thing extraordinarily; hence it may be looked past for a more vibrant signature or something, which could be construed as “more fun.” If I had to choose, the newer Corsa would be my choice here, but that is not the fault of the Savant.

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Finale:

When first approached, it was a nice surprise to hear from Earsonics. I had not expected the contact, so other than reading a singular review I had no expectations let alone prior experience with the marque. After researching a bit, I came away impressed that a company could continue to have the staying power they do. This is a trying time for pretty much any company, let alone a company, which portends to a hobby such as ours. So, to continue the way they have is a testament to their commitment.

The Corsa comes across as a mature, solid tuning for a mid-priced IEM. One, which can hold its own in this crowded priced market not for its merits, but for what it doesn’t do: swim in the mainstream of boosted bass, boosted mids and a sparkly tune up top, which seems to fit some far off “curve.” Going a slightly different route, while still providing a solid tune is its trick. That to me is a very laudable approach and just may pull some of the consumers from that mainstream curve tuning, which really isn’t for all. Well done, Earsonics.

I again thank Thibault and Earsonics for the review sample and wish the company well on its future endeavors. From what I hear, the Grace is a worthy addition into the top tier market as well and might be worthy of a look at that price. Good options to have all around.

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B9Scrambler
B9Scrambler
Great review!
ngoshawk
ngoshawk
Thank you, kind sir. :sunglasses:

Dobrescu George

Reviewer: AudiophileHeaven
Earsonics Corsa IEMs - Natural To The Maximum
Pros: + Natural Midrange
+ Not hard to drive
+ Soundstage width
+ Nuanced sound
+ Refined sound
+ Details
Cons: - Can be a bit large / heavy for smaller ears
- Cable is Single Ended only
Earsonics Corsa IEMs - Natural To The Maximum

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Earsonics Corsa is what you could call a natural, refined and tastefully french IEM, priced at 400 EUR / 450 USD, and it will be compared to other well performing competitors, like FiiO FH7 (450 USD), Unique Melody 3DT (400 USD), and Campfire Mammoth (650 USD).






Introduction

Earsonics is the kind of French company that you'd imagine serving their headphones to be tasted, in the same manner one tastes rare cheese and fine wine, with passion and fine taste. Thus, the company is known to provide some great support to their customers, and they name their IEMs helmets, plus they are entirely made in France, so if you're curious to hear the sound of purely french-made BA IEMs, this is the best shot you got. High-end Hifi products from France are generally really well regarded, so I have fairly high expectations from the Corsa IEMs.

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It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Earsonics, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I'd like to thank Earsonics for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in Earsonics Corsa Earphones find their next music companion.



Packaging

First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

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The package of Corsa is actually more interesting than that of most competitors, and they come with a nice high-quality carrying case, plus the way the IEMs are package really shows that the company wants to present their IEMs as more than just mere Earphones.

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The full package includes the IEMs, the high-quality cable, a cleaning brush, two pairs of foam tips, two pairs of silicone tips, and two pairs of silicone double flanged tips. The best comfort can be found with either the foamies or the single flanged tips, where the double flanged ones tend to offer the best overall passive noise isolation.



Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

While this is my first review focused on an Earsonics product, I surely want it to be the first of many, because I simply love the way they package and present their IEMs. The design of Corsa is centered around their fully metallic shell, for the best phase control, along with their special crossover based on the EVS and fision technologies. The inner parts are made of Acrylic, to offer a more complex sonic room, and the drivers are made as 1 X Low, 1 X Mid, and 1 X High, in a very classic way.

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The company takes great pride in the way the IEMs are made for the most natural timbre possible, and their offer includes multiple products, but Corsa is special even among them, having their 4C Hi-Res cable, which comes as single ended, but which you could easily replace with a balanced cable. In fact, I spent quite a lot of time testing the Corsa with a high-end Plussound Copper+ Cable, as I really wanted to get a better idea of their maximum resolution and detail. The cable is detachable and based on the popular 2-Pin connector. You could cut the 3.5mm ending and make it balanced, as far as the wires are concerned, but you'd void the warranty by doing this.

We're looking at an especially sensitive IEM at 119dB/mW, with an average impedance of 31 OHMs, so driving Corsa should not be too complicated, but I would recommend a high-end source to fully hear their ability. You could start with fairly low-power sources like Shanling M3X, but also use high-end dedicated sources like Lotoo PAW 6000, Astell & Kern SE180, iBasso DX240, and pretty much everything in between.

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Corsa has a very solid cable of a very high quality, and the cable is not prone to tangles. The IEM shells use screws, and it is one of the very few IEMs that use screws, but the IEM bodies end up being a bit heavy and large. There's plenty of ventilation, even though the design is all-BA, but you should keep in mind that even with an all-BA design, venting is important for the best sonics possible, and to avoid void and the IEMs sucking your eardrums out. I have excellent overall comfort with Corsa, they're not too big for my ears, and the cable feels really nice as well.



Sound Quality

When I first approached Earsonics, I knew I would most probably be looking forward to a really open and natural sound, but I was impressed that this is exactly how they sound like. The sound is exactly what you'd expect when talking about how natural and open the midrange can be. Sadly, this means that you have some loss in the bass quantity, and the treble is also fairly smooth, so the whole signature is mid-centric, but with a certain magical quality to those mids. Corsa is really different from other IEMs in terms of transparency and soundstage width, as they are incredibly wide and transparent for their price point. Quality Bass, Clarity and Control are strong points for corsa, as they have a sound you're likely to appreciate more, the more you listen to them, rather than be surprised by them right away.

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The bass of Corsa is clean, fairly quick and adds a good amount of substance to the midrange, as well as warmth. It has good extension, as low as 20 Hz, but the actual quantity is natural, with the sub-bass being a few dBs lower in quantity than the upper bass. This being said, it never rolls off entirely, and we get to see Corsa having a signature tuned for open and airy signature lovers. Because of this way of present the bass, Corsa has better focus on nuance and where some IEMs have an uplift in the bass, but all songs kind of have the same buzzy bass notes, Corsa is able to render difference between bass notes really easily, so their sound comes through as really nuanced and transparent. Songs with heavy basslines are presented as such, but you get to hear how the bassist's fingers slide across the strings, each bass note having their respective sound. Most basshead IEMs and Headphones tend to mash up the bass sounds as one "buzz" sound without actually differentiating between different bass notes so well. Corsa is tuned especially for acoustic music, rock, metal, pop. Rap may come through as too light on Corsa.

The midrange of Corsa is where the magic of those IEMs happens, as Coprsa presents music in a really open, wide and airy way. The lower midrange has a similar amount to the upper midrange, and the entire midrange is uplifted above the bass and the treble. The detail of the midrange is incredible, but Corsa presents music with a good amount of substance too, and instruments never sound shallow or hollow. In fact, I took the time to appreciate the atmosphere of many songs, and to appreciate classical music much more with Corsa, and the way they blend everything in a huge space, but with a smooth texture. Even your typical emo-pop music like All Time Low - A Love Like War sounds sweet, and the voices are pushed with a sweet undertone to them. The guitar riffs are juicy but not over textured, while drums have their intended impact, keeping a good rhythm for the song. There's a special detail and clarity to Corsa's midrange, to the point where in songs like Alesana - Ambrosia, a song I've known for years, I hear the clearest separation between the two voices during the chorus, Corsa being able to hold such control and detail that it can play to screaming voices at the same time, both clearly, and so well separated from each other, a feat not seen in most IEMs below 1000 USD.

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The treble of Corsa is on the smoother side, and the strongest part is around 10kHz, Corsa avoiding having a metallic treble, or a strong headed treble. Even on songs like Black Sheep from Scott Pilgrim Vs The World movie, you can hear a strong focus on the guitars and the sweet voice of Envy Adams, rather than the drums, although the cymbals do not disappear completely from the scene. Dynamics are excellent on Corsa, while the instrument separation is good, but instruments are blended naturally rather than being separated and cut apart. The overall headroom of Corsa is high, and you can EQ them to give them more bass, and more treble, without distortion, and I've been able to achieve more than 7dB in either direction, just for the fun of it, but I strongly suggest giving the default sound of Corsa a go, because you'll be surprised by how good they can sound, and what clarity they can bring. Songs with a brighter tuning like Bullet For My Valentine - Tears Don't Fall have the cymbals projected in the back, but having a clear and crisp resonance, and a strong presence.

One word of caution I want to have is that Corsa is really transparent, so they will reveal source quality. This means that using better DAPs, better DACs and better AMPs, along with better music is essential to enjoy them. I am not talking about thrashing your taste in music here, but about using redbook flac files, as well as well recorded music. I personally listen to some of the worst music when it comes to recording quality, and even enjoy some youtube because I like music videos, so don't' be shy, enjoy what you enjoy.



Comparisons

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Earsonics Corsa vs Unique Melody 3DT (450 USD vs 400 USD) - UM 3DT goes for a really similar signature compared to Corsa. Both have a big body, but Corsa is heavier, while 3DT has a marginally larger / more voluminous body, the comfort being slightly better on Coirsa. The overall cable is better on 3DT, and the package is as well. The sound is more mid centric on Corsa, which is much more focused on a natural mid, 3DT being much brighter, with a stronger treble, and a stronger bass presentation. There's more weight to the sound of 3DT, with more sub-low impact, and more treble sparkle, but less midrange focus. Both have similar levels of detail, dynamics and overall refinement. If you fancy a really well done V-Shaped or U-Shaped sound, then 3DT will be it, while if you appreciate classical music and a clean, natural midrange, Earsonics Corsa will be your best bet.

Earsonics Corsa vs Campfire Mammoth (450 USD vs 650 USD) - Mammoth is clearly a polar opposite from Corsa. Corsa has a bigger body, with a heavier IEM shell, so Mammoth is more comfortable. The default cable is similar between them and it is impossible to say that either is better in any way. The overall sonic presentation is thick, heavy and impactful on the Mammoth, where it is light, airy, snappy and quick on Corsa. The two focus on vastly different elements, and if you're looking for the cleanest presentation possible, Corsa will be it, while if you desire more weight, impact and a stronger bottom end, Mammoth will be there to decimate all competitors.

Earsonics Corsa vs FiiO FH7 (450 USD vs 450 USD) - The comfort is actually equal between the two, slightly better on Corsa thanks to slightly longer bore tubes, but FH7 has a better package, with a better default cable. The overall sound is cleaner on Corsa, with more focus on the midrange, less focus on the treble, and with much better detail in the midrange, and a wider soundstage. FH7 sounds brighter, more analytic, and with more texture, and more instrument separation. This being said, Corsa has more soundstage width, less depth, and more overall nuance and better transparency. The way Corsa is mid centric without crushing the treble and the bass means that music is closer to you, and you hear differences between voices, and less distortion in music, where FH7 was amazing at its release date, but presents a bit too much brightness and becomes fatiguing after a hour of listening or so, especially if the source music is aggressive like Lucrecia - Sleeping Slaves Of Fate.



Value and Conclusion

Priced at 450 EUROs for an IEM, you may argue that the price is a bit on the high side, but at the end of the day, Corsa is enjoyable, fairly comfortable, and extremely clean / clear. In fact, I have a hard time finding something as clean, as clear, as detailed, yet as natural and coherent around this price point. There's a good amount of IEMs I reviewed to this date, as Audiophile-Heaven slowly draws closer to over 400 completed reviews, and I simply haven't yet heard of something that's as good with the midrange as Corsa is.

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The package is also interesting, and we see why European companies still stand a chance, even after some EU based companies having to increase the prices of their products to keep up with the ever stronger growing regulations and requirements for physical items production here.

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At the end of the day, Earsonics Corsa is the perfect IEM for those who love a clean, clear midrange, for those who want to hear the best detail possible but with a huge soundstage width, good nuance, and with excellent overall control, making them easy to recommend at their 450 EUROs default price point.
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B9Scrambler

Headphoneus Supremus
Earsonics Corsa: Keeping The Competition On Their Feet
Pros: Built like a tank – Refined, neutral-leaning tune – Beautiful, comfortable design
Cons: Part fitment not quite up to snuff – Underwhelming cable – May be too large/heavy for small
Greetings!

Today we're checking out the triple armature Corsa from Earsonics.

If you've been following the high end portable audio market for a while now, you're likely familiar with Earsonics. The French outfit founded by Franck Lopez in 2005 has been catering to professional and enthusiast markets alike for over a decade. They currently offer a variety of universal and custom-fit earphones featuring both hybrid and pure armature setups.

The Corsa that we're looking at today is a universal fit model containing three proprietary balanced armatures per side; one for the lows, one for the mids, and another for the highs. While the exterior of the shell is all-metal, the interior has been borrowed from their hybrid lineup and is dominated by a 3D printed acrylic structure in which the drivers and crossover are securely housed.

With a neutral-leaning signature, the Corsa is squarely aimed at audiophiles looking for a balanced audio experience. Does the Corsa deliver the goods? I spent the last few months finding out.

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What I Hear

Ear Tips: The stock ear tips are fine but I definitely recommend upgrading if you want the best possible sound and fit. My preferred alternative is the Spinfit CP145 in small size. It provides extra fit depth, a reliable seal, and outstanding comfort. The medium bore does little to affect the sound, retaining the impressive balance the Corsa is capable of. Sony Hybrids and Final Type E are also good choices since they provide a similar experience to the CP145. Both provide a slightly more shallow fit with the Sonys having reduced durability, so I'd stick with the Final tips if you have the option. The smaller bore of these tips also warms up the signature a hint which might be more suitable to some listening preferences. I had no luck with any wide bore tips. Foams sound similar to the small bore tips mentioned above, but with a mild hit to midrange clarity..

The Corsa is tuned to be a well-balanced performer with no particular area being significantly more emphasized over another, though, I found the treble region to be the least emphasized. The presence region sees a shift in bias over the brilliance region. Detail and clarity are good but not class leading with notes having a solid weight and density to them. The most impressive part is how well-defined and controlled the upper ranges are, ensuring the Corsa avoids adding any splash or sloppiness to the presentation. It works just as well with electronic tracks such as Gramatik's “Bluestep” as it does with jazz on Otis McDonald's “A Walk Down 7th St.”

The midrange is a gem to my ear, even if it's not the most detailed I've heard. Vocals are thick and weighty with plenty of emotion and body to them. Their default positioning is just outside the ear which allows the Corsa to accurately display the most intimate moments of a track, such as the vocals during the closing moments of Culprate's “Undefined” where the artist feels like she moves in and starts whispering mere centimetres from you. This region isn't particularly warm though, with a slight dryness to everything that isn't entirely unlike releases from EarNine and some of Sony's earlier all-armature products. This leaves the timbre relatively accurate, but not quite spot on. Still very pleasing in general though, at least to me. Plus, I'd much rather have this than any amount of the plasticy quality to hear from some balanced armatures.

The low end will certainly be light on bass for those used to products with a dynamic driver handling this region. Extension is quite good with the Corsa able to reproduce the deep rumble in the opening of Kavinski's “Solli”, but anything much deeper than that will result in rapid roll off. Mid-bass is quick and punchy with excellent control and texture. It just doesn't move air like a dynamic so the physical aspect is missing somewhat. That should be expected given the drive tech being used. If you need some extra low end emphasis, with a few extra dB added in via EQ the Corsa can slam pretty well, though it's certainly nothing a bass forward listener is likely to be content with.

The Corsa's sound stage is relatively expansive and indeed a strong point. Width is good with sound and effects easily able to spin off into the distance. I found the Corsa to be a solid pairing for both competitive and casual gaming. It was relatively easy to follow the opposition thanks to the accuracy of imaging and depth, aspects which also help keep music tracks from sounding congested. Instrument separation and layering are good too, but the denseness of the overall presentation limits what the Corsa can do. It's not really noticeable until directly comparing with more analytic-focused products though.

Overall I have really enjoyed the Corsa's mature tuning. I appreciate that Earsonics refrained from falling into current trends, like a boosted upper mid, or adding lean treble spikes to add energy, or bumping up the low end to the point where it dominates the tune. The result isn't something that will necessarily blow you away out of the box, instead growing on you over time.

Compared To A Peer (volumes matched with Dayton iMM-6)

Fearless S6 Rui (389.00 USD): Like the Corsa the S6 Rui contains only balanced armatures, but doubles the quantity to six per side vs. the Corsa's three per side. Where the Corsa offers a relatively flat signature, the S6 Rui bumps bass and treble quantities to offer a more lively, vibrant sound. This is immediately noticeable in the low end. Both mid- and sub-bass regions are more emphasized giving the S6 Rui a thicker, warmer, punchier presentation. While the drivers on both products are quite nimble the Corsa provides improved texture and detail. If EQing bass quantities to match, the Corsa also sounds better controlled and more accurate. Leaning into the midrange, I perceive vocals on the Corsa to be more prominent thanks to the lessened bass and treble quantities in comparison to the S6 Rui. Both male and female vocals from the Corsa are more dense and weighty with a more realistic reproduction, though detail and clarity are a step behind what the Fearless offers. Neither suffers from sibilance. The S6 Rui's stronger upper mid presence gives it a notable edge in terms of aggressiveness with the attack of drums and other percussive instruments. Heading into the upper ranges shows the two taking on very different qualities. The Corsa is thicker and more relaxed with a cleaner, more defined note presentation. Notes attack and decay at a more leisurely pace which once again gives it the edge in realism, though for my tastes the S6 Rui's extra brilliance region energy is more to my tastes. Unfortunately for the S6 Rui, it produces more grain and sounds quite a bit less refined. When it comes to sound stage the Corsa provides a more spacious presentation. The default vocal positioning of the Corsa is just outside the outer ear while it's quite a bit closer on the S6 Rui. Both have a well-rounded stage, it's just overall more compact on the Fearless which in my opinion plays into it's more aggressive tune. Imaging is quite nuanced and accurate on both with smooth channel-to-channel transitions. I wouldn't give either an advantage here. Layering and instrument separation go to the S6 Rui, however, thanks to its superior clarity and detail everywhere but in the low end.

When it comes to build they're both good examples of their respective material choices, though I'd have to give the S6 Rui the nod. Since the S6 Rui is 3D printed and all one piece, fit and finish is flawless. That said, I dislike the way the 2-pin connectors fail to sit flush against the body, unlike on the Corsa where the design is more cohesive and offers better protection from potential damage. Fearless' cable is also an improvement with additional and more flexible strands, stiffer, more supportive preformed ear guides, and beefier hardware, though strain relief is more effectively applies to the Corsa's cable. The lack of a chin cinch on the Fearless also cannot be overlooked. Comfort is quite good on both thanks to similar, low profile designs. The S6 Rui has the advantage here too though thanks to a significantly lower weight. Isolation is also better on the Fearless which is unvented, though this does lead to pressure build up with certain eartips which can be unpleasant.

Overall I find these two products to cater to different crowds. The Corsa is the better pick if you're looking for durability and sonic accuracy while the Fearless S6 Rui is more stylish and provides listeners with a more traditionally consumer-friendly sound; aka. somewhat v-shaped and Harman-esque. They each have their place in my listening rotation.

FiiO FA9 (499.99 USD): [Switches set to OFF/ON/OFF] Like the S6 Rui in the previous comparison, the FA9 contains six armature per side vs. the Corsa's three. In addition, the FA9 adds in a crossover-based tuning system that subtly adjusts treble and either bass or mid quantities. For ease of comparison, I'm comparing with the FA9 set to my preferred configuration, as noted above.

Starting with the low end, the FA9 has more emphasis along with improved extension. It's not quite as articulate or as well-textured resulting in it coming across smoother but also less dynamic. Nice for electronic music, but falls behind the Corsa with live instrumentation. Speed on both is equally excellent with neither getting caught up on rapid notes. The midrange of the Corsa is thicker and more forward than that of the FA9 but lacks the raw clarity and detail. It's cooler tonality and a slight breathiness applied to vocals also leaves it sounding a hint less natural, something that carries over to instruments as well. Treble of the FA9 is more emphasized, notably the brilliance region, giving it a brighter, more energetic sound. Instrumentation in this range stands out more on the FA9 and depending on your tolerance, the extra shimmer and sparkle can leave it more fatiguing than the Corsa. Adding to this notes are cleaner and better defined on the Corsa which sound looser and less well controlled on the FA9. Staging size is in the FA9's corner. While depth is similar, width is quite a bit more impressive. A default vocal positioning resting even further out of the ear than the Corsa's helps with this perception. Technical performance rests solidly in the Corsa's hands with it providing more nuanced imaging. Channel-to-channel movement is cleaner and easier to track with subtleties being more obvious than on the FA9. The same goes for track layering and to a lesser extent, instrument separation.

When it comes to build much of what I said about the S6 Rui applies to the FA9. The quality of the 3D printing is basically flawless. Fit and finish is immaculate. The FA9 utilizes MMCX connectors instead of 2-pin and while they're not perfectly flush with the body upon being plugged in, they're at least as well integrated as the Corsa's 2-pin connectors and do not look at all out of place. When it comes to the cable there are aspects of both I like. The FA9's hardware is beefier and in general feels more robust, especially the 90 degree angled jack. The cable is made of 8 strands with a reasonably stiff sheath, so it lacks the flexibility and comfort of the Corsa's lighter, less intrusive cable design. While both earphones are nice to wear for fairly long periods, comfort for me is better on the Corsa. The FA9 is similarly large but the sealed design causes discomfort due to pressure build up if I'm not careful when inserting it and the nozzle angle also doesn't feel quite as natural.

Overall I prefer the Corsa. The FA9's tuning feature doesn't add much to the overall experience and while I like how smooth and refined it sounds, I prefer the Corsa's additional micro-detail, less fatiguing nature, and improved technical performance in terms of imaging, layering, etc. The Corsa is also more comfortable and while fit and finish is a step back, the metal shells should make it more durable long term.

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In The Ear The Corsa's shells are all metal, which is very obvious the moment you pick them up. They carry a lot of weight, which makes sense given they're also larger than your average in-ear. The weight isn't really an issue when it comes to fit, but we'll circle back to that. Construction quality is top tier with the shells having an organic, shapely design. The inner ridges, rear ventilation, and face plate design containing the Earsonics logo are all well-formed and free of unrefined edges. While the nozzle is unfortunately lacking a lip for holding tips on, it is quite long. This helps ensure there is enough friction present to hold most third party tips in place when inserting and removing the Corsa from your ears. My preferred tip, the Spintfit CP145, fits and holds on just fine. Where the Corsa is a step down from other products in this price range is in part fitment, namely how the face plate interacts with the main body. The gap between the two is prominent and uneven with glue peeking through in some areas. There is also some overhang around the front of each ear piece where the face plate is a bit longer than the rest of the shell. It's nothing I'd worry about and doesn't take away from the visual appeal. That said, it certainly gives the impression that the Corsa is more of a boutique product which makes sense given it's handmade and not mass produced on an assembly line.

The cable isn't anything particularly special and comes across underwhelming given the asking price of the Corsa. That said, it's not a bad cable and sells by itself for 99 USD. It's a simple quad-strand, silver-plated, braided design with Kevlar reinforcement that doesn't look or feel too dissimilar to the silver-plate cables KZ has been including with a number of their recent products. The cable is quite slender and has fantastic aluminum hardware at the compact, well-relieved angled jack, y-split, and the 2-pin plugs. Tangle resistance is pretty decent for a thin cable, it transmits barely any noise during movement, and it retains little memory of bends. Leading up to the earpieces are preformed ear guides which I am always a fan of, though I wish they were slightly stiffer. The light weight of the cable is overwhelmed by the heftiness of the earphones themselves and as a result, the flexible ear guides do little to help stabilize the earpieces during heavy movement. Thankfully, the Corsa uses a common 0.78mm 2-pin design so finding a replacement better suited to ergonomics of the Corsa is quite straightforward. KBEAR's outstanding 8-core silver-plated copper cable gets my recommendation as an affordable (~30USD or less) replacement for the Corsa's stock cable.

When it comes to ergonomics Earsonics crafted a thoughtfully designed shell. While the size will be limiting factor for those with smaller ears, for everyone else I suspect it will be quite comfortable to wear. The inner half of the shell is smooth and well-rounded, completely free of any sharp edges which could cause discomfort. The bulbous shape feels form-fitted to the outer ear and spreads the weight of the earpieces fairly evenly across the surface of your skin. If the Corsa were lighter, I'd easily be able to wear it for an entire 8-hour work shift with no complaint. As-is, I find the areas the earphone touches getting slightly sore after a couple hours, requiring a few minute break to mitigate. If taking the health of your ears and hearing seriously, you shouldn't be listening for hours on end anyway. Isolation with silicone tips is below average. Unlike most all-armature earphones I've come across which are fully sealed, the shells of the Corsa are heavily ventilated with two large, vertical vents on the rear of each earpiece. While this does reduce the Corsa's ability to passively block outside noise, it does improve comfort by ensuring there is no pressure build up when they've been inserted into your ear. If you need to boost isolation tp more average levels, the included Comply foam tips works wonders.

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In The Box The Corsa arrives in a very understated package. On the front of the matte black sheath the logo is oriented vertically, along with 'monitors' written horizontally beneath it. France's flag can be found centred along the bottom. To the rear of the sheath is a sticker with the model name and a barcode, along with some additional branding tucked in the bottom left corner. Sliding off the sheath reveals a black monolith of a box with ES written in contrasting glossy font. The rest of the box is featureless. Flipping back the magnetically sealed flap you are greeted by two small viewing windows for the earpieces. Courtesy of Frank Lopez, their CEO, a paragraph in French thanks you for purchasing an Earsonics product and welcomes you to the world of professional audio.

From here you might wonder how to get to the earpieces taunting you through their viewing windows. Sliding your fingers down the right edge of the box reveals a small cutout enabling you to remove the main insert like a drawer. This reveals an ES branded carrying case, two pairs of Comply foam ear tips, and a cleaning brush. In all you get:
  • Earsonics Corsa earphones
  • Clamshell carrying case
  • HI-RES 4C cable
  • Cleaning brush
  • Comply foam tips (s/m)
  • Single flange silicone tips (m/l)
  • Bi-flange silicone tips (s/m)
Overall a very simple, clean design for the packaging that uses fewer materials than much of the competition. Since mostly cardboard is used, you won't be tossing it in the garbage and can instead recycle. In terms of accessories, this kit is fine. Comply tips are pretty much the defacto standard for foam tips so you can't go wrong with them. The included silicone tips are the same generic sets you've seen with countless other products, at a wide variety of price points. They work but you'll be tempted to replace them with something more premium out of the box.

Final Thoughts The Corsa is a high performance earphone with a closer to reference-style sound than similarly priced, competing products I've tried. I appreciate its extremely balanced presentation which doesn't place significantly more emphasis on one frequency over another. While this means it lacks the out-of-the-box wow factor of products with more aggressive, coloured signatures, those same products lack the long term staying power and versatility of something like the Corsa which only gets better over time.

I also love the physical design which not only looks wonderful and is quite comfortable, but should also be very durable long terms thanks to the use of metal instead of the plastic and acrylic designs more commonly used by the competition. The accessory kit is a bit of a letdown though, so expect to factor in the cost of third party ear tips, and possibly a more suitable cable if you find the included one a bit too light for the hefty ear pieces.

Overall I find the Corsa to be an outstanding earphone, one that finds itself as a personal favourite that will absolutely be sharing listening time with some of my other preferred all-BA sets, like the Campfire Audio Ara and Astrotec Delphinus 5. Great work Earsonics.

Thanks for reading!

- B9

Disclaimer A huge thanks to Max with Earsonics for reaching out to see if I'd be interested in reviewing the Corsa, and for arranging a sample. The thoughts within this review are my subjective opinions and do not represent Earsonics or any other entity. At the time of writing the Corsa was retailing for 399 EUR (~460 USD). You can check it out here: https://www.earsonics.com/in-ear-monitors/en/corsa/

Specifications
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 119dB/mW
  • Impedance: 31ohms
  • Drivers: 3BA with 3-way crossover
Gear Used For Testing Huawei P40, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501

Some Test Tunes

Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
King Crimson – Lark's Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams

Attachments

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ngoshawk
ngoshawk
Great review, sir! Well deserved!

Ichos

Reviewer at hxosplus
The balancer
Pros: - Warmish overall presentation
- Resolving and detailed
- Great integration between mids and lows
- Transparent
- Tight bass
- Excellent build quality
- Good quality cable
- Nice selection of ear tips and carrying case
- Made in France
Cons: - Bright top end and forward upper mids may not suit everyone
- Timbre lacks in coherency
- Bass is not full bodied
- Bulkier and heavier than the competition
The Corsa was provided by Earsonics in order to be reviewed for Headfi and hxosplus website.
They never asked for a favorable review and as always this is my honest and subjective evaluation of it.

Introduction

The French brand Earsonics is pretty well known among Headfi enthusiasts around the world but let us copy - paste some useful information from their website.

Earsonics was founded in 2005 by Franck Lopez, a musician and sound engineer, who, unhappy with the quality of in-ear monitors available at the time, decided to create his own.
In 2006, he began to offer his creation for sale and, enjoying immediate success, Earsonics was born.
Franck then decided to release a mainstream model which would appeal to markets outside of France: the SM3.
In 2012, Earsonics launched the first universal 6 driver earphone in the world, the S-EM6.
From its very beginning, Earsonics has always been associated with professional musicians, and it is by developing products for this industry that it has been able to offer earphones of exceptional quality to the discerning public.
For Earsonics, the most important criteria about listening to sound is absolute precision – just like the original recording, no effects or modifications – just reality.

The brand is offering most of their products both in custom and universal form and lately they have expanded to include wireles earphones.

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The Corsa

The Corsa which is the latest addition in their catalog is a three way full balanced armature set up.
It uses three proprietary drivers designed exclusively for Earsonics: one for the lows , one for the mids and one for the highs.

They have implemented an impedance corrector crossover , coupled with EVS and FUSION technologies made in EarSonics, as well as their exclusive TRUEWAVE system incorporating the output cannula.

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The outer shell is made from anodized zinc and magnesium alloy while the internal electronics are housed inside a new 3D full Acrylic structure that brings sound rigor and phase control.

Impedance is 31Ω and sensitivity is 119 dB/mW.

The design , manufacture and packaging of Corsa are entirely carried out in France in Earsonics' private labs.

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Cable

The detachable cable is a four core design featuring the 2 - pin connector system.
The plugs are well made and they fit snugly into the shell sockets.
The cable itself is of good quality but the white color doesn't match that of the shell so we do think that a black one would be a better choice.

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Accessories

Inside the box we are going to find four comply and eight silicon tips of various sizes plus a cleaning tool and a carrying box.

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Build quality and fit

Build quality is just excellent and the Corsa looks and feels premium with a minimalistic industrial design and a matte , non shiny surface.

Truth is that the Corsa is a little bulky and weighty but thanks to the anatomically shaped outer shell and the extended nozzle we were able to get a good and comfortable fit.
Users with smaller ears may find it more difficult to get used to it and the increased weight can cause ear fatigue after a prolonged time of use.

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Listening impressions

The Corsa is easy to drive so it is going to be happy with just a quality USB dongle like the EarMen Sparrow and the THX Onyx that we have used for the greatest bulk of the listening tests.

The Corsa is a slightly warm and musical sounding earphone with increased upper - mid and treble energy that adds a brighter and detailed top end.

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The Bass is the typical balanced armature type with an agile and fast paced response that sits on the leaner side of things rather than being full bodied and weighty.
Tuning is balanced with good sub-bass extension and no traces of mid-bass bloat while masking is minimal , so various low register instruments sound well defined with nice layering and separation.
Bass is very tight and dynamics are present with a wide range of contrast that builds up an enhanced sense of realism although we would like it to be more controlled.

Mids are warm and balanced but there is a noticeable upper-mid emphasis that favors the top register of instruments and vocals of the region that have the tendency to become shouty.
Timbre is quite natural and organic with satisfying harmonic wealth and a full bodied note texture although upper-mids can sound a touch out of tune and slightly metallic.
Clarity is good but not crystalline and we would have loved some finer articulation but truth is that we didn't bother a lot since we were busy enjoying the thoroughly integrated and well blended sound between lows and mids.

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Treble is definitely emphasized and prominent, giving a brighter and forward top end to the Corsa but thankfully not reaching harsh or piercing territory.
There is a great sense of clarity and transparency while we get an excellent portion of detail retrieval without becoming too analytical.
One issue is that there is a loss in timbre quality and the higher frequencies don't sound very well integrated with the rest of the audible spectrum.
Treble seems to stand detached and projected with a leaner texture and an overly rushed sound decay splitting the performance into two parts with uneven tone grades.

The soundstage is open and spacious , well proportioned without being artificially stretched.
Positioning of the instrumentalists is precise with good layering and depth for the category while there is a remarkable feeling of the inherent reverb and echo of the recording location.

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At the end

The Corsa is trying to balance the warmish and organic sound signature with the luminous and highly detailed top end and it quite succeeds without becoming overly bright or clinical.
Quite versatile and suitable for most genres, it combines a musical and engaging character with good levels of transparency and clarity in a spacious and open presentation.
It is not perfect and driver integration with timbre cohesion could be better but still it is a great mid-priced offering with virtues that should appeal to a certain audience.
Build quality is top notch , cable is of high quality and accessory pack is full, making for an appealing offering made in France.

Test playlist

Copyright - Laskis Petros 2021
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