EarSonics SM3 Universal Fit IEM - Reviews
Pros: Nice tone, detailed highs, sounded fun!
Cons: Build on the V1
I really liked these headphones, they sounded more lush and substantial. When compares to other headphones I've owned in this price range I often chose them for their fun sound signature and cool looks. Easy to drive and sounded fully alive out of an ipod though they sounded kinda 'scratchy', switched to a Cowon J3 for a couple months but preferred ipod. They benefited from an amp but only in a minor fashion, the Ibasso D10 Cobra seemed a little too powerful in the low end which resulted in a bit of quietness in the high end with the J3s. In conclusion these headphones are source-picky, since they sure are sensitive and generally easy to drive. I liked them most out of my iphone, which was a treat.

Very musical nice sounding; lush and with great detail. I very much liked their color and presentation of the music. Totally great! 
The SM3 V1 had quirks which ended up compromising the headphone's usefulness. The stems where slick and the earplugs just slipped off at the end of their life. The cables where stiff platic and the housing cracked open (covered by warranty)
Would recommend the V2 highly! 
Pros: Relaxing sound signature done right, one-of-a-kind staging, Very even tonality
Cons: Notably Recessed Treble, Unique presentation may not be for everyone, Clarity is just 'ok'
 
Build/Accessories:
 
The Earsonics SM3 is a triple balanced armature IEM, with one driver for the lows, one for the mids, and one for the treble region.  the shell is clear acryllic on the outside, and black on the ear-facing side, as seen from the picture, on both the inner and outer sides, there are physical "ES" letters engraved into the housing, an understated touch that many modern IEM manufacturers can learn from.
 
 
IMG_20170224_0022421.jpg
 
 
The cables are non-removable, which was the norm when this IEM was released but is rather archaic nowadays, luckily, the cables themselves are nicely braided, with what appears to be thin, but tough material, there is no memory wire section (I don't mind either way but some prefer this way) and a thoughtfully designed y-splitter. Microphonics are little to non-existant when worn in the default over-ear style.
 
IMG_20170224_0034551.jpg
 
 
The accessories for the IEM include:
- 3 pairs of bi-flange silicone tips (S, M, L)
- 2 pairs of Comply tips
- 1 filter cleaning tool
- 1 zippered carrying case to store them when not in use
 
 
Ergonomics/Usability
 
The housings are made of plastic, in a flat and boxy way, with squared-off corners that seems anachronistic given the designs coming out nowadays, these would be major marks off for ergonomics if not for a saving grace: the shells themselves are very small compared to modern competition, which means that these should fit in most ears without the edges causing discomfort, YMMV though. Also of note: Isolation is decent, but not great.
 
Sound
 
All listening and comparisons were done on the Hifiman HM650 (Balanced)
 
Bass:
Not what I expected at first, and definitely not what most would have in mind for "BA" bass. The bass is somewhat pronounced above neutral with good extension, and unlike the vast majority of its BA brethren, has great sustain and weight, which gives music great foundation and body that's rare with a lot of more modern BAs, and more akin to a dynamic driver in this regard. Unfortunately, this comes at the exchange of the speed and crispness that many high-end BA IEMs possess lower in the region. While the bass is pronounced, the rounded note presentation also means that it doesn't slam as hard, nor reveal as much texture as a quality DD IEM can, overall a nice, unique presentation.
 
Mids:
Leading on from the bass, there is some warmth in the lower mids, with the rounded note presentation also being a prominent feature of the mids. There is virtually no unevenness in this part of the frequency range, with vocals from both genders getting equal (good) treatment, sounding smooth, full-bodied and musical. The rounded note presentation, however, means clarity takes a step backwards, which may give the false impression that the SM3 are not particularly detailed, when it is actually pretty detailed in the mids, it's just that it takes more effort to notice the details. Which is just as well, since the other nice properties of the mids should be enough to compensate most of the time.
 
Treble:
Arguably the weakpoint of the SM-3's presentation, there is a clear recession from around 4-5k onwards before rising up to the 10k mark. The recession in this area means that some instruments have off timbre, electric guitar riffs lack crunch which gives them energy, while cymbals can sound dull and lack shimmer, for those that have experience with headphones from the Audeze LCD series, the treble is tonally akin to those headphones. On the upside, the recessed treble means that the SM3 is very forgiving of poorly mastered recordings, where harsh treble and sibilance may be an issue with more revealing gear.
 
 
Soundstage:
The uniqueness of the SM3's presentation is most apparent with the way staging and imaging is presented. The soundstage is not particularly wide, even by IEM standards, but depth is top-notch, making for a stage that is nearly spherical in nature, almost unheard of in the land of Headphones/IEMs. Which gives the feeling of music that envelops you, which may be a 'love it or hate it' feature, that aside, imaging is pretty good, with individual musical elements getting there own spots, but in a way that may not be the most accurate to the recording, an analogy would be staring up at the night sky and looking up at the stars, while each star is clearly seperated from the others, it's very hard to discern the relative distances of the stars from you, that would be analogous to the staging of the SM3, with each star being a musical element.
 
 
Comparisons:
 
IMG_20170224_0035451.jpg
EX1000 on the left, SM3 Center, Jupiter on the right
 
Below are comparisons to various IEMs that I have experience with through ownership and A/B comparisons.
 
Sony MDR-EX1000
A legendary Dynamic IEM that is still seen a benchmark to this day, they are nearly polar opposites with the Earsonics in terms of tuning. Immediately, the most striking difference is that the Sony's have a much more energetic presentation and thinner notes, courtesy of significant treble emphasis, which includes prominent lower treble peaks that will put off a LOT of people. Needless to say, the Sonys are much more fatiguing and can be brutal with songs that the Earsonics has no problem handling, but in exchange, get stunning clarity and resolution through all frequencies in return. Bass is relatively shelved down on the Sonys, but provide marvelous texture and timbre that leaves the SM3 in the dust. (16mm dynamic driver doing wonders). Headstage is massively wide (in IEM terms) on the EX1000, bringing with it great imaging, but losing some intimacy in relation to the SM3. Macrodynamics on the EX1000 feel effortless in a way that can make the SM3 (and most other IEMs) feel compressed. Isolation and wind-noise are big disadvantages to the EX1000 for outdoor use.
 
Campfire Jupiter
Another Multi-BA (almost) flagship, but 5 years later. First impressions comparing the Campfire Jupiter to the Earsonics SM3 shows how much technology has progressed in the timeframe, the mids on the Jupiter are significantly cleaner, effortlessly retrieving microdetail not apparent in the SM3. The bass is more typical "BA" style in the best way possible, being extremely quick, utterly devoid of any bloat which may crop up with the slower bass of the SM3. The treble is also masterfully tuned on the Jupiter, providing plenty of sparkle and air lacking in the SM3 while being nearly as forgiving. One of the few spots where the SM3 claws back points is in the upper mids, which are very even on the SM3, but not so on the Jupiter, which can cause some weirdness with female vocals and a few instruments. Staging on the Jupiter is far more conventional, with excellent separation and imaging that handily trounces the Earsonics SM3's efforts, but loses the enveloping sensation that makes the SM3 so special.
 
Summary
 
Many years have passed by since the SM3 was getting top billing as a flagship, and the world of IEMs has moved on, for better or for worse, despite being surpassed, in both aspects of build and sound performance, there are still some intriguing qualities to the SM3 that make it, if not timeless, at least an interesting footnote that should be remembered.
Pros: good
Cons: good
good
BadMoose
BadMoose
lol, this review
 
I don't know why but I'm just giggling to myself excessively
thatBeatsguy
thatBeatsguy
"Cons: good"
 
I just lost it here. LMAO
Pros: Bass, soundstage,
Cons: bass kicks specifically, vocals sometimes,
Some Background:

 I’m currently 18 years old which as little as that matters to me seems to be interesting to many people in this community. I’ve always liked music...

...and sound equipment but I never really got into the head-fi hobby until I discovered the Live Sound field from my schools drama club. From there I began to appreciate sound quality as it was just satisfying for me both from listening but also the engineering and everlasting ability to tweak and work on such.

 

I have worked with home audio, car audio, theater/show systems, portable/personal audio, digital audio (IP-LAN(uhg…) and DSP) and lots and lots of DIY projects. I’ve gone as far to make some of my own speaker cabinets and sound systems from various components too – most notably a very large 2 driver, 4 voice coil, 16ohm, band-pass subwoofer box that I’m quite fond of for its bass quantity and quality.

 

I’ve owned many headphones/IEM and related gear. Ill list some here but this certainly isn’t all; Shure SE846, Shure SE315, Shure SE215, Westone UM3x, Westone UM3x RC, Westone UM1, Earsonic SM3, Sansa Clip Plus, Sansa Clip Zip, Bravo Tube AMP v3, Sennheiser IE80s (the fake ones) and Sennheiser HD420s

 

So while I don’t like to be arrogant I do feel qualified to judge products effectively and share my opinion and I hope you find my opinions and ideas entertaining and helpful
. 

 

 
 
Prelude:
I bought my Earsonics SM3s’ after owning my UM3x for a while because I was looking for more soundstage and everyone on the internet was like “SM3s are the god of soundstage!1!!1!11!!!”  so I figured I had to try them. I got them used for a decent price and I still have them. I do have the intention to sell as I don’t use them as much as my 846 but I do like them and would recommend them.
Apparently Earsonic created a second version of these. I have heard from some people they sound the same but also that they sound worlds different from others. I’ve never heard the second revision though.
 
Style and Shape:
They are strange and ugly looking… But they fit nice in my ears. Everyone is put off by the angles of the case but this is something you won’t notice. They are very light – lighter than my 846 by a lot and this is very nice. The cable can get kind of stiff and silly if you don’t use it often but it doesn’t bother me personally.
 
Sound:
So first off I’ll admit I wrote this review from the point of comparing the Earsonics to my Shure SE846. So there probably is some sort of bias so Ill try to remain objective.
Keep in mind that the price difference is substantial so some credit is due to the SM3. For testing I used my surface pro for sound with no EQ settings. All 320kbs tracks.
 
First with the earsonics(sm3) I noticed that the soundstage and binaural effect is very present. More so than my 846 – it was kinda fun but would also distract from the vocals which in my mind is the main focus of a song.
 
Next I noticed the bass is impressive for these IEMs. I’m so used to the bass of my 846 and the praise I often give the 846 for this that I was expecting less from the SM3. But I was pleasantly surprised by the bass quality and quantity. I did find it lacking in kick and presence at some points but for a 3 way driver system it’s hard to fault them.
 
Separation is up next. I noticed that rather than really precise instrument separation its more so an effect of separation of frequencies. It’s almost as if the volume of the drivers is set differently so that you feel like the highs are everywhere while the bass is emitting from ‘over there’ (which is interesting considering bass is not supposed to be binaural given its wave length) and the mids are just there in the middle.  This is not bad. It kind of makes for an easy listening environment and its entertaining.
 
What I did notice in accord to that is that vocals are kind of pulled everywhere. Especially more full sounding female vocalist. They don’t sound bad but I do notice that they are not as distinct and forward as on my 846. Rather they feel mixed/swirled in with the mid and upper high range. Less directional.
 
All that is interesting because somehow it makes up a very large and impactful sound stage. It almost feels kinda enhanced in the way that the soundstage is ‘boosted’ to give you more of a 3D effect.
 
Notes on EQ:
During my initial impressions I didn’t bother EQing either of my headphones but I did the SM3 later on. I found that a sub bass boost helps and just a hair of treble between the mids and highs. It gives it more of that Shure sound im used too.            
 
Accessories:
My SM3s’ were new and they came with only the box, case, and silicon tips. All of which are okay quality. I found myself using the Shure Olives I used on my 846 though for the sake of consistency and comfort.
 
Overall:
So what’s all that mean?  The SM3s’ are a solid choice especially considering the price you can get them for now. They can handle most genre but I did feel electronic music feeling kind of dull in comparison to my 846. BUT this can easily be fixed with a touch of EQ – which is kinda fun.
 
Quick impressions: (things I wrote while listening intently)
Good bass, smooth mid-range but still warm. Not bright or forward.   Highs are there but like the really high highs get louder than the rest. Kinda… Sharp?
Could be more sensitive.
 
Sounds spaceious. Drum kicks are lacking presence. Wide soundstage.  Vocals kinda bland.   Good separation of frequencies? – bass is over there. Highs are kinda… everywhere mids in the middle. Certain vocals mixed around and in the background.
Can get crowded with lots of tracks.
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Bytor123
Bytor123
Nice review! I guess your age could be of interest because our hearing changes over time, so your impressions will be in that context
Pros: Great all-rounder, enveloping presentation with captivating mids, punchy but unintrusive bass, and delicate treble, moddable filters
Cons: AWFUL DURABILITY AND CUSTOMER SERVICE, will hiss with most sources, distorts at medium-high volume, awkward plug, short cable
These were my favorite sounding universal IEMs, and my praise for their sound can be read throughout the most recent iteration of the SM3 appreciation thread, but I feel a strong need to let people know about the durability issues with Earsonics products, and the company's treatment of customers as a whole.
 
My first pair of SM3 V2s lasted about 3 months before half of the right shell came off while walking down the sidewalk. I pinched the IEM gently by the shell to pull it out of my ear, and it just came straight apart. I got in touch with Earsonics customer service, and shipped them to France for about $60 with the assurance that they would be repaired at no additional cost to me. The repair took about 3 weeks, and it was over a month before I had my SM3 back in hand, only to have them fall apart in exactly the same fashion the first time I used them. I sent them back again, and had to pay repair costs this time, because Earsonics decided it was my fault, despite being within the warranty period. Again I was patient for a month, and got them back, only to have them fall apart a THIRD time. This time I demanded a full replacement; I had to climb to the top of their sales ladder before Max, their manager, gave me a replacement, along with self-righteous admonishment that I would not receive such treatment in the future. I sold my replacement, still sealed in plastic, but the Head-Fier I sold my pair to had build issues within a few weeks of purchasing them from me, and was denied ANY kind of service despite being well within the warranty period; I had to email Max again and threaten to do exactly what I am doing at this moment in order to get my buyer a replacement. 
 
I tried other universals, but unfortunately I was addicted to the SM3s sound, so I eventually sold off my other IEMs and repurchased the SM3. Fast forward a year of using them as sparsely as possible, and almost exclusively at home to avoid any issues, and despite my highest efforts, they fell apart a FOURTH time. And then I was done.
 
If you own the SM3, just look at them, touch them, and if you forget for a moment that you paid $350 or more for this product, you will see that they are made out of the same kind of plastic as those cheap toys you get from the little machines you put a quarter in and turn the knob. iBuds and Skullcandies are made from more durable material, and, in my experience, hold up much better.
 
For those looking for alternatives, I am now in love with my UM3X and do not have, nor foresee, any durability issues; the shells are made of sturdy plastic and seem well-built, and the stock cable is more flexible with a less awkward plug. They also don't distort at higher volumes. If I could have the Earsonics house sound without distortion or hiss, a less claustrophobic presentation, and the build of Westones, I'd gladly pay $400, maybe even more, but as a complete package, the UM3X destroy the SM3 in my opinion.
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Sweden
Sweden
I always enjoy hearing about people telling their honest story about gear and the people behind them. Are you also talking about the SM3 V2 when you say they are poorly built?
RapidPulse
RapidPulse
I have to say that I find your experience surprising. Not that I am doubting you for a second, but my SM3 v2 seems pretty solid so far. Regardless, a customer service experience like you had is not acceptable. I applaud you for posting this. Hopefully, Earsonics will clean up their act and learn to treat their customers more fairly.
Gilly87
Gilly87
@Sweden: Yes, these are the v2s I am reviewing.
@RapidPulse: I certainly hope so. I love the SM3's sound, and would gladly have kept them if they either offered acceptable and affordable service to US customers, or made their products as sturdy as, say, Westone or Aurisonics.
Pros: SQ, 3D imaging, cohesive soundstage, isolation
Cons: fit could be bad for people with small ears
I'm not going to go into a long review on here (thats for my blog) but I have to say the SM3 V2 (which is the same thing but with a better housing and removable cable) is easily one of the best universals you can get.  From the punch bass, crisp yet never harsh highs, those wonderful forward detailed mids to the above average soundstage and the amazing 3D imaging there's nothing I can find wrong about how they sound.  I love the warm smooth mids that have as much detail in them as an IEM I've heard, even as much as the very resolving Heir 3.Ai.  The one thing that may be a problem for some would be the new housing on the V2 because it is quite large and it just fits on the inside of my ears which aren't small but other than that the new build on them is great.  The removable cable is a big plus and is the same as the UE and Westone cables so after market cable will be no problem at all.
 
All in all these are a fantastic IEM and I'd recommend them to anyone wanting a warm detailed IEM with great imaging.
D
davidcotton
Nice review, might be an idea to put a link to your blog (if thats allowed) so we can read the rest of it! Tempted by these for something different as my back up pair of westone 3's went through the wash :frowning2:
Cheers
Techno Kid
Techno Kid
I haven't put the review of them up on my blog yet but if you want to checkout some of my other reviews here's the address,
iemsound.blogspot.com
Its just a little blog where I do some review of IEM's I've have or had, nothing special just something fun to do.
Pros: Sound, Comfortibility of fit, Sound isolation
Cons: Design, Materials used , Shorting out
After more than a week of research, I purchased these monitors solely based on the reviews I read on this website. Although am NOT a music professional, I do enjoy quality products such as these. Having to wait as long as I did for them to ship to me, out in Afghanistan, was like waiting to open Christmas presents in the morning. I was pretty excited, to say the least.
 
Upon first inspection, I first unboxed them and saw the cheap plastic that supposedly houses the "magic" parts inside the ear. I was moderately concerned that I might break them or drop them and be out of $350 USD, but I looked beyond it and tried them out.
 
Next, I go to plug them into my ipod to realize they did not fit as snuggly as I had hoped. They didn't fall out of the ipod or anything, but they didn't feel like they were securely connected, either. I inspected the connection to find more of this cheap plastic being used in the connection assembly. Again, I was moderately concerned that I have spent $350 USD on this "PLASTIC" set of monitors from France, but I looked beyond it and tried them out.
 
WOW! That was what came out of my mouth when I turned them on. Amazing clarity and satisfaction warmed my soul, and I melted into my music for hours.
 
Skip forward a week and more than 100 hours of use.
 
I lift my wrist, slightly moving the braided cable, and BAMM! Sound cuts out of the right ear monitor. Anxiety and slight panic rolls over my body. Have I broken them? Have they become disconnected from the ipod somehow? Were they connected as they should be? No, NO, Yes. Everything was connected as they were when I first plugged them in, but there appears to be a short in the braided cable. I ensure the connections again and give it another go, this time only moving the cable around. Same short!  
 
Now what do I do? I have discarded the original box, hoping I wouldn't need another set for another few years. Based on these reviews, I felt obigated to share my story with you all and sorrowfully suggest NOT purchasing these monitors.
Ra97oR
Ra97oR
Pro tip: Never throw away original box at least until warranty is over.

While the SM3v1 was pretty meh on the plastic, the v2 is very much Westone like on the casing and cable. You might just got unlucky.
sari0n
sari0n
I'm sort of surprised, the SM3's are supposed to be hand made or at the very least thoroughly inspected before shipped out. At least the V2's have a replaceable cable so you can fix your problem without too much hassle.
MuppetFace
MuppetFace
Firstly: They may have cut out when you "slightly" moved your wrist, but how much care did you give these in the 100 hours of use before that point? Secondly: the cable is replaceable on the SM3v2. Thirdly: the mistake of discarding the packaging is yours, not EarSonics. Your advising people to not buy these is a bit ridiculous when they could simply get a replacement cable under warranty by keeping the box and proof of purchase.
Pros: Speed Speed Speed
Cons: Feels a little clostrophobic at times
I've been reading a lot about the sm3 having low bass output. These are monitor headphones, designed give a flat response. If you want more bass, simply turn up the bass levels on your equalizer and you will get mindblowing bass.
 
After a few minutes of fiddling with the equalizer you will realize that it's perfect the way it is.
 
I really do beleive there is ACTUAL burn-in. Hearing bass-heavy tracks out of the box and comparing it with bass-heavy phones (Panasonic Zirconias with shure triple flange tips), it sounded a little anemic at first. In fact I hated the way they sounded. A month later I did the same comparison and found them to be much better in bass in quality and quantity
 
The V2 fit is very comfortable. Sits right against your ear.
 
I've tried a million types of tips but double flange seems to work best (cut the tips off the Shure triple flange).
 
I've compared these to UE TF10, MTPC, Sennheiser 8s, and none seem to compare.
 
The only drawback is that it can sound a little "closed in" at times. Ran it through a Cmoy and that seemed to help. I think it would work well when paired with the ALO RX. Gotta start saving up...
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drez
drez
I can't remember my impressions of the SM3 when burning in but honestly I never had a problem with the bass level. Extension was plenty good for most music driven from ipod. My only complaints were a that the SM3 often sounds overly bombastic on material which requires subtlety - a little tilted in the macrodynamics - not really ideal for classical or ambient music. My other gripe was that these are not as coherent as a good single driver over-ear - they were a bit uneven in the detail retreival, tending to have "sweet spots" and "dull spots". Soundstage was quite good given I was using a stock ipod 5gen.
All in all a very musical yet neutral headphone which does little wrong - I really enjoyed the sweet treble presentation and intimate mids - I liked the highs better than those on the Westone ES5. If the SM3 came with better coherency and more even handed dynamics you would have my ultimate IEM.
Pros: rich, detailed mids; stock tips
Cons: a lot of stuff ... see below
IEM refs (own): Senn IE-8, Shure SE530, EC2, Teclast R8 (came "free" with T51 DAP).
 
This is a work-in-progress review. I'm waiting for sonove or Inner Fidelity or other unbiased 3rd-party (= those who don't profit from the sale of this 'phone) to measure them before I write a detailed review; scientific metrics/measurements are extremely important for double-checking one's hearing :wink: IAC, lots of other reviews of the SM3 already ... so no point re-reviewing (note: I mostly disagree with others' positive (esp. rave) reviews of this model -- I suspect these cans may have gained their high reputation based on the psycho-somatics of multiple, highly-positive reviews [which may themselves be due to "feedback"/bandwagon effect]).
 
I let them burn in over 100 hrs, but sound charac. did not change all that much (compared to dynamics). For important-to-a-balanced-review reasons, I also waited several months (post-purchase) to post this review. (I withdrew participating in this models dedicated thread to disconnect from emotional bias).
 
No beating around the bush ... HUGELY DISAPPOINTED (especially after so many glowing reviews)!! ...
This model's worst sonic aspects: pronounced, fwd metallic+UNnatural treble; too mids fwd FR (waiting for measurements; suspect it may indicate diffuse field curve); compressed dynamics (esp. macro-dynamics); poor on harmonically-complex + dynamic music (e.g. Mahler, Enigma);  lack of PRAT (pace, rhythm, acceleration, timing --- e.g., the subjective ability to induce toe-tapping); sonics change too drastically based on tip type.
 
Even with relatively big discount from SoundEarphones, I now consider them way over-priced. 
 
EDIT 2011-12-20:
OKAY FOR: chamber music, slow jazz, ambient/space electronic. NOT GOOD FOR: Big band, large orch., complex multitrack (Enigma, Delerium, Way Out West)
 
More later ... meanwhile, see the SM3 v2 thread for some of my other comments.
 
EDIT 2012-02-26:
For roughly the past 2 mos., I've been listening to the SM3v2 with their in-line (fabric) filters removed. Although this made the sound quite forward and detailed (some may even qualify it as "shouty"),  filter removal pretty much makes me retract most of my above criticisms. My long-time fave IEM, the IE-8, now takes a back seat in most departments INCLUDING bass. The BIGGEST improvement was my pet peeve (and what I feel many head-/earphones lack in): PRAT. 
See my posting on SM3 filters here
BOTTOM LINE: The SM3v2 is my go-to IEM!
 
alphaman
alphaman
SoulSyde:
I guess we have diff. expectations/tastes!
I have the SE530s, which are VERY similar to the 535s ... and if I HAD to choose between the two -- (i.e. at gunpoint over other, far better IEMs, like Senn IE-8) then I'd opt for SM3.
I haven't hear the UM3X, but I doubt I like Westone or just about any armature-based IEM over even cheap dynamics. E.g., i prefer the $29 Beta Brainwavz over SM3/SE530 -- ANY effing DAY :wink: -- and even prefer its bass slightly over my overall ref. IE-8.
alphaman
alphaman
Aero Dynamik: I don't know what to make of that CONFUSING + LONG-WINDED, anythingbutiopd review you quoted. At first, the reviewer hates it ... and then voila (via "brain burn-in" or something like that), the ES3 magically transforms into one of the best IEMs ever?? What.... Like effing 'Cinderella'! Time to step out of the efff-fairy tale, folks, and onto something better .. like Sony EX1000, perhaps.
Techno Kid
Techno Kid
I've read your impressions of the V2 and I hear nothing you describe at all. They handle complex music as good or better than any of the 30+ IEM's I've heard/have/had and the mids sound fantastic. These are the best IEM I've heard and I've heard and have had quite a few.
Pros: Superb SQ & Isolation (Captivating sound quality), Marvelous mids, most realistic piano keystrokes I have heard
Cons: Needs to adjust nozzle angle to get more impactful bass, uncomfortable fit, SM3 Version 1 looks better
Best sounding iems- SM3 deserves it's top tier status; they easily beat lesser iems and even sound more impressive than other top tiers I own. (I was blown away on first A/B attempt with my ie8; they make the IE8 sound boring)
They performed admirably in all genres of music, however I prefer my ie8's soundstage presentation a bit more. Nevertheless, I was so impressed by the sound quality these that I bought them as an upgrade to my IE8. (was demo-ing westone 4, Ortofon e-Q5 at the same time against my IE8)
However, they are slightly uncomfortable for to wear over the ears and the short Y connector hugs your neck. Can be painful and annoying to wear for prolonged listening

Btw please check out my review of the JVC (Japan Victor Company) HA FX700, Sennheiser IE8.
zachchen1996
zachchen1996
do you have version 1 or 2?
Pros: Sound that puts me into bliss
Cons: Tips tend to come loose when pulled out of my ears
[size=medium]This is the first review I've ever written about anything, and although there are already many good reviews out there, these IEMs are so special to me that I feel I owe it to the head-fi community to write my own review. I should warn you that this isn’t an audiophile’s review, but rather about what I feel the EarSonics SM3s bring to my musical experience.[/size]
 
[size=medium]Before getting to the core of this short review, I'd like to give you some background on my way of thinking. I love great music. But what is great music? The answer, of course, depends on who you are. To me, great music is sound waves that give me an emotion so strong it often creates a physical reaction. If it makes me smile, if it makes my eyes fill with tears, if it makes my body dance, if it makes me feel I'm flying, if it gives me goose bumps, or what not, then to me it's great music. So, do I need great equipment to enjoy great music? Certainly not! I can enjoy great music in mono from a $10 transistor radio. However, the EarSonics SM3s certainly amplifies the musical experience, to say the very least. These IEMs are nothing short of magic. It feels like these IEMs take possession of the eardrums and integrates the sound with the brain. Everything is there, every little detail, perfectly portrayed. The separation of instruments and voices is so good I can easily choose to listen to any voice separately, however subtle. Yet, I can just as easily enjoy the entirety. Magic! Perhaps the biggest difference between these IEMs and other headphones I have is that they always make me forget that the music is electronically reproduced.[/size]
 
[size=medium]With these IEMs I am rediscovering my album collection. I keep hearing myself thinking things like: "Aha that is the true timbre of his or her voice." and: "Oh, I never noticed those subtle trumpets in the far right background before."[/size]
 
[size=medium]Another funny thing is that they seem to reduce the time length of music. The reason, of course is that the sound is so unreservedly enjoyable. Even when I really haven't got the time to listen to music, I keep hearing myself thinking: "Just another minute" over and over. This seldom happens with poor equipment.[/size]
 
[size=medium]As I already told you, this isn’t an audiophile’s review so I won’t go into details about bass, mids, treble, soundstage, separation, etc. Let me just put it this way. To my brain, the SM3s sound perfect, as close to live sound as I have ever come.[/size]
 
[size=medium]I should mention that I usually connect my SM3s to my portable amp, the TTVJ portable slim. However, connecting them directly to my iPod/iPhone works really great too. The quality is still there, but with a sound signature that is just [size=small]slightly different with some songs[/size]. I.e. you don’t need an amp to really enjoy these IEMs. The TTVJ portable slim is a great amp, and I highly recommend it, but that’s a different review.[/size]
 
[size=medium]Would I have written this review after my first twenty minutes of listening? The answer is a very definitive no. My experience is that the SM3s need burn in (and possibly the brain as well), in my case 10 to 20 hours to become enjoyable, and another 50 to 100 hours or so to get to their near full potential. It’s probably imagination, but I think they are getting a little better every time I use them. I guess I've used them for a couple of hundred hours or so by now. To be sure, the first time I tried them, I tried them with the comply foam tips and was utterly disappointed. Absolutely nothing felt good about them. Even the thought crossed my mind that I somehow might have been conned. Later I switched to the silicone double flange tips and thought the sound was now ok, perhaps even a little better than my $60 (or so) Sennheiser IEMs, but not much. I decided to plug them in to my iPod, but not into my ears, and let them play for about some ten to fifteen hours. I then tried them on again, and what do you know, the magic was starting to emerge. [/size]
 
[size=medium]About the only thing that I find a tiny bit cumbersome is fitting them into my ears. My ear canals are absolutely dry (never heard the word earwax) and a bit narrow. So I always use a tiny bit of lubricant on the silicone double flange tips. As experienced IEM users already know, fitting the IEMs properly is absolutely 100 percent crucial. This just can’t be stressed enough. I’m considering ordering the custom ear molds from EarSonics. Hopefully, in my case, I then won’t need the lubricant.[/size]
 
[size=medium]These IEMs enrich my life. If you can afford them, buy them, and with some patience and burn in, you'll never regret it.[/size]
 
[size=medium]As I live i Europe, do note that the price paid includes European tax and shipping costs.[/size]
 
[size=medium]For some reason, and though it isn’t really relevant, I’d like to finish this review with a quote by Mike Oldfield: [/size][size=medium]“I don't feel I'm a musician. I create sounds that are reflections of my emotions. To be a musician is something quite different.”[/size]
 
[size=medium][size=medium]Update December 15, 2012.[/size][/size]
[size=medium] [/size]
[size=medium][size=medium]512 days have passed since I wrote the above review. So, am I still as enthusiastic about the SM3 as I was then? Yes, and even more so! Since then I have also invested in Earsonics’ flagship, the EM6. In comparison, the sonic aspects of the EM6 outshine the SM3 in every audiophile term I can think of. They simply play in different leagues.[/size][/size]
[size=medium] [/size]
[size=medium][size=medium]Nevertheless, the SM3 gets the most of my ear time, and for two good reasons. The first reason actually being one of its characteristic sound aspects. The SM3 is quite often "accused" of having a slightly veiled sound. In my opinion this is true (especially when compared to the EM6), but in my opinion this is for several reasons not a bad thing.[/size][/size]
 
[size=medium][size=medium]First of all, this slightly veiled sound somehow gives all music a mellow (rich, luxurious) sound. The SM3 simply sounds very “expensive”, very Hi-Fi. Also, this feature eliminates listening fatigue completely. At moderate volume levels I can use the SM3 an entire work day. The slightly veiled sound also conveys the feeling that the SM3 has “more to give”, like listening to one of the world’s greatest violinists, Jascha Heifetz. Heifetz always played in a very high tempo, faster than any other violinists, but at the same time his playing was very relaxed, like he could play even faster (and maybe he could’ve). As listener this makes you feel very relaxed and able to focus on the music, rather than having to fear that something might go wrong because the performer is on the edge of his ability. The same is what the SM3 will do for you, that is, make you feel very relaxed and trust the SM3 performer. It will play (almost) anything thrown at it with ease and make it sound fantastic! The EM6 on the other hand will reveal every possible detail in the recording, and trust me, although this is the goal of the audiophile, it is not always a good thing, especially so with not so great quality recordings (although having great music). If your goal is simply to enjoy great sounding music in one of the best possible ways, the SM3 will do the job effortlessly. The sound signature takes some time getting used to, but once you do, you will hear and sense the golden liquid pouring out behind the veil.[/size][/size]
[size=medium] [/size]
[size=medium][size=medium]The second reason to why my SM3 gets more listening time is that it is a “Universal In Ear Monitor” (UIEM). As such it is much more flexible than acrylic customs (i.e. my EM6), and isolation is really good too. This means I can use the SM3 lying flat on my back in bed, or half lying in a comfortable armchair, which are my favorite positions for listening to music. Doing so with acrylic customs just won’t work, as doing so changes the anatomy of the ear canals and consequently changes the fit and sound of the customs. I find this to be a major drawback with CIEMs and the reason I prefer UIEMs.[/size][/size]
[size=medium] [/size]
[size=medium][size=medium]One thing I no longer completely can stand for is the name of this review: “As close to live sound as I have ever come”.  If I had written this review for the first time now, I think I would have named it: “[size=11pt]The most pleasant sounding IEM I've ever heard[/size]”.[/size][/size]
[size=medium] [/size]
[size=medium][size=medium]I must also mention that the bass of the SM3 is very engaging. I sometimes lack this in the EM6 which is a lot more neutral. One good example is the bass wind instruments in “Act I: Scene 3: The Window of Appearances” from the opera “Akhnaten” by Philip Glass. When heard with the SM3 the bass reaches my soul, whereas with the EM6 the bass wind instruments just reach my ears, although in all honesty, with extreme realism and precision. (By the way, Akhnaten was a pharaoh, known as “the rebel pharaoh”, in ancient Egypt, which by the way I have just visited. If you want some deeply fascinating history, see this video and then also listen to the opera.)[/size][/size]
 
Syros
Syros
Great review, thanks a lot!
Aero Dynamik
Aero Dynamik
Very nice to know that someone read my review and that it was appreciated. Many thanks!
Heret1c
Heret1c
Excellent review and I share alot of the same feelings about the SM3. Keep finding myself wanting to listen to music with them more so than any other IEM in my modest collection.
I love this product. It's so easy and comfortable to use no wonder it's ranked as no. 1.
--
Pros: everything
Cons: the build and the highs
 
this is a review of the famous sm3 and a comparison to the eq7.

 

 

 

PICS first:
















 

 

 

 

[size=12pt]INTRODUCTION:[/size]

the ortofon is one of the best among all top tier iems.
to me it is one of the hardest iem to explain.
hardest to describe.
the sound is just very hard to capture.
and turn it in words.
its warm. its cold. its bright. its everything. 
and that everything is the ortofon eq7 and your music.
what makes the ortofon eq7 stand out among the rest is its tube like sound and very sweet voice presentation.

now, the sm3, is considered and highly regarded as the best iem in all universals.
well, to some it is.
to me?
well let's see.
to ceph, my friend in headphiles, it is his cure to all the iem poisons that surrounds him.



[size=14pt]BUILD:[/size]
The phones are shelled in a plastic case, transparent in front and black in back.
its amazing how Earsonics fitted 3 drivers inside. 
it looks like a semi-custom-shelled iem.
but, it feels cheap to the touch.
the wire and plug is very well built.
there were 3 strands that were held together to make a one single braided wire.

however, upon inspection at the phones, youll notice how fragile this iem is.
one fall, and it will surely break.
there were reports already that this iem is very prone to breakage.
so...
taking care and handling of this is critically and essentially important.

the case is sturdy and strong, but it doesnt feel classy like the ones that is included in the ortofon eq7.

[size=14pt]NOTE:[/size]
i just wish it was made more of HIGH QUALITY material, instead of just breakable plastic, they can use hard plastic shells, or the ones that is currently use in customs...acrylics. or something made of metal...aluminum like the ortos or the zirconias of tha pannys.
the wires are already fine with me...and the case too.

bro daniel once told me...the secret to sm3s sound is its poor build.hahaha.




[size=14pt]MATERIALS:[/size]
ipod classic EQ off
.wav format files

[size=14pt]SONGS:[/size]
ACOUSTIC - LOVE MOVES IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS, NINA
INSTRUMENTAL - ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING, CHIELI MINUCCI
LIVE - ONLY WHEN I SLEEP, THE CORRS ACOUSTIC LIVE
POP ROCK - BAD ROMANCE, LADY GAGA
JAZZ - HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART, MICHAEL BUBLE (MALE VOICE)
        - COME AWAY WITH ME, NORAH JONES (FEMALE)








[size=14pt]SOUND:[/size]

you all know sound is very subjective.
so, i only have limited experience with it.
my background for reference:
have been using the ue700 for about a year now...
mx980 earbud, by sennheiser, for 6months now.
ortofon for about a month.
a grado sr325is for 3months.

my aim is to define the sound of the sm3 and compare the voice presentation of the sm3 to the ortofon eq7.





ACOUSTIC - LOVE MOVES IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS, NINA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWh4eHoRI2o

SM3:
at first, youll hear a few number of people clapping...in a great distance.
the soundstage is very one of kind.
its special here.
its like it defines the space where the performer is.
here its like in a small room, with very few people around.
the sound of the piano here is thick and strong...textured.
and youre very close to that piano, its like its in front of you.
Nina's voice is sweet as it is... its sounds natural to me.
then, came the guitar and the thump of an instrument that i dont know, its  like youre listening to a live acoustic session.
it brings you to the space theyre in.

its like i am listening in a smokey room...
full of small band and listeners...its like the air in that room is here too...
you can feel it.
the acoustic of the room.

to define it beautifully, the sm3 is inviting/engaging and i once told the panny is dreamy, well, here youre not dreaming, its like youre in there with the performers...the voice, very few listeners and instruments have good spaces in them.
it doesnt mix the voices from instruments.
everything is clear as day.
the sound of cymbals crashing doesnt seem too lively like in my ue700, its like its there, but its not clearly defined. not lacking....BUT...
but its alright...just fine.


EQ7:
people clapping... then the space seems smaller here in EQ7 than in sm3.
its much better in sm3 to my ears.
however, NINA's voice seems...
sweet but id prefer the voice in sm3...its very natural there.
here, its limited in space, in instrument separation.
its like crowded a bit in a very small room...
theres a bite of stick pounding in the drum, the guitar is lively as well, pianos is textured too...
but ill choose guitar sounds here over the sm3.
sweet. lush and smooth all at the same time.
but space/soundstage, its the sm3.

 

 

 

 

INSTRUMENTAL - ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING, CHIELI MINUCCI (guitar)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul5sVddWqj0

SM3:
rumbling then...the sound of the guitar..
strings sounds just fine.
i can differentiate clearly the front and the supporting guitar here.
the sound is relaxing as it is...
very nice.
tototot...tooowwttt...
its like the guitar is crying...
hear that?
nice.
youll be amazed by this song...on how it can bring you that emotion...
youll be swayed here...as what was meant by the artist.
very addictive here too.
the sparkle just isnt here...i wish i could hear it here so that, the sound will be more on the LIVE side. (ue700s)

EQ7:
refreshing...
something new to my ears...coming from sm3.
its like the sound here is much nicer.
airy, and theres the lushness in the midrange.
making the sound relaxing and warm...definitely engaging.
the HIGHS here is alive.
its kicking and there that bite at the top...
here i hear the sound i long for...the sound stays longer in the air...the highs...it dies with sweetness at the end, decays much better than the sm3...
it sounds cleaner in sm3, here is smoked, but...in a good way.
the guitar here is more lively.
and better.
one quality of the ortofon that the sm3 just cant simply beat.




LIVE - ONLY WHEN I SLEEP, THE CORRS ACOUSTIC LIVE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq4eeHZOpfs

SM3:
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN...PLEASE WELCOME...THE CORRS!!!!"
people clapping and whistling...its like im there!
wow.
claps are everywhere...surrounding me.
unbelievable...this isnt the sound coming from an iem!!
then the stick...counting 1,2,3...then the orchestra along with the band...
Andrea's voice is very sweet and nice. very natural again...just like NINA's.
its like she is singing to me and everyone's performing around me...
you call it 3 dimentional?
yeah it is!
im in the middle of the space theyre in.
too many instruments here, from guitars to drums to violins...
some are placed far from my ears, others are in front of me...some in between.
i say, this is a very good iem that can perform unbelievable in some certain kind of tracks...
Andrea's voice is in the center in front of my face, the sound of the guitar in my right, inside my head, there are the orchestras and the back up singers...its place everything beautifully.
 

EQ7:
with the same intro, well id say the sm3 is better with all the clapping everywhere, its more lively and true in that part.
here its like youre drown by the ortos magic...something relaxing.
the sound is limited like before..
it cannot portray the sound space like the sm3s...
too bad.
but id like the sound of decays here.
sweet...very!
Andrea's voice is nice.
but id prefer sm3s version of Andrea's voice.
its more organic there.
addictive? lush? its in here.
mellow? smooth? its in here.
all coloration can be heard here to make your music more beatifully and artificially done.
but, being TRUE AND ORGANIC is in the sm3...
its there.
Simply, the ortos cant match the soundstage and deeper depthness of the sm3.
its the sm3's aura and prowess.
but coloration for goodness' sake...its in the ortos.
its more addictive there.





POP ROCK - BAD ROMANCE, LADY GAGA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrO4YZeyl0I

SM3:
please dont hate me if i chose this song...i really like LADY GAGA, just much as i like MADONNA.
same as before, the sm3 wont fail you on its sweet voice presentation.
the honesty and truthfulness is all there.
no matter how big, how hard, how fast the sound is...it can do everything with flying colors.
but the highs is just right just like as before.
every details, nuances, but seems like to me...the sm3 sounds dark.
dark.
making the track uhm...lifeless.
but i dont mean it as its not a good performer, it is in voice, in soundstage.
but...here, clearly, id say...the HIGHS plays an important role in some tracks (POP, ROCK, anything with energy and with fast beats)  that needs it...the LIVELY HIGHS..
sparkling...crispiness...isnt here.
it sounds lifeless. dull.
it sounds...is this it?
is this the sm3s weakness?
well it is.
i found it at last.
i didnt notice at first. but upon listening to the middle of this song...its somewhat lacking now to my ears.
its dark and dull at this kind of tracks...
no matter how hard the sm3 tried...there isnt a lively, sweet, sparkly, crispy HIGHS.
the bass is great. deep and accurate. well defined.

EQ7:
now the eq7 goodness.
the voice is very refined.
very defined.
very nice.
oomphs are here...but sounded limited at times because its a BA, only MOVING.
i say, this can match the sm3s details...but not much..at least it can compete with bravery.
the bass doesnt go deep in the ortos as the sm3s.
the highs is of high quality...smooth and nearly earpiercing.
beware if youre sensitive to that kind of HIGHS (ala-mx980 highs)
there is this kind of sig in the ortos that makes this music...addictive air/liquidness.
and i like it, really...
strange.
but the coloration is really pleasant too at this kind of tracks...
or i say, most of the tracks i played with this iem.
it welcomes you at first sound it gives...
youre  IN-to music...that fast!
call it inviting, engaging, everything...its here.
and really, i like it very much.
something that is not present in the sm3.
the coloration.
the flavor...is enjoyable.
and it helps you to be IN to your music and long listening sessions.





JAZZ - HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART, MICHAEL BUBLE (MALE VOICE)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aML0e2eZl3s

SM3:
michael's voice is inspiring.
there is a quality to it.
truthfulness to his voice.
...even the breathing, the thickness of the breath he inhales and exhales..
the texture of the words he utter/sings...
he is like singing only to your ears...privately in front of you.
i really like the sm3s presentation in voice.
very high quality and unique.
sweet and "mapapadala ka", youll be swayed.
the instruments sounds wont also fail you to be emotional along with michael's voice.
its perfectly done.
everything.
theres some crispness i hear now, that is not present in lady gaga's bad romance, pop rock track.
just lovely...

EQ7:
crispiness of the cymbals...nice.
i like it here. sweet and defined well.
michael's voice is brilliant as the sm3s.
but i will choose the ortos this time in this kind of slow jazz music.
its really UUGGGHHHHH....
hard to explain.
its addictive. 
addictive in many ways.
clearly, the soundstage may not be as perfect here as the sm3s, but the sound is so..
yummy.
so delicious.
its like in ortos, all the goodness is near you, in front of you, with the sweetness, all in your face, all you can eat, all you can hear, all you can feel.
it doesnt do honesty like the sm3s presentation.
but pianos are more alive here, the voice is great as the sm3s...but the HIGHS are again cautiously spiky at times.






COME AWAY WITH ME, NORAH JONES (FEMALE VOICE)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBKcKQHZXks

SM3:
the intro of this song is so lovely.
its like the air is welcoming you.
there is a cymbal crashing softly. very softly...
something that doesnt sound offending at your listening.
the pianos are soft as well...with a careful lightness to it.
its done with care.
Norah's voice is superb as it is.
im in the jazz club.
where i hear the lonely sound of BASS.
its like im alone and i want to cry with this music.
im IN-to the music again.
and im feeling very emotional right now.
im happy.
content.
feeling very luck at what i have right now.
i imagine myself...walking in a lonely street...under the hot hot sun. but feeling cool..because the clouds covered the sun.
and under the tree, wind blowing my way...
walking now on a greenly grassy field...
so nice.
there's a magic here in the sm3 and in this music.
and its done.
the music just died just like that.
it ended....without me noticing.
i replayed the song again...
under the power of this song again...its like im in HYPNOTIZED by its magic.
very very nice.

EQ7:
the eq7 way...now.
i hate to take the sm3 off my ears...
i wish it stayed there while listening again in this music.
im missing the sm3...now.

well, for the ortos, sorry, i played it back again...
i missed the sm3 so bad.
now, i hear clearly the softness of instruments in sm3s.
here, its like a bit veiled...off.
but the pianos is very well done.
alive. true and accurate.
the voice is just right.

upon hearing the sm3...sorry guys...im having a hard time defining the ortos right now.
its like the power of the sm3 lingers in my mind.
and im out of focus in the ortos...

well, ill press play again, and try to do it again...
sorry.

here.
the air here is much stronger, its thicker, than in the sm3.
the pianos is of much thicker here.
the sound of the bass, is audible..thick too.
the voice is nice too.
it is on par with sm3.
maybe...i forgot. sorry.
been playing this song for 3x now.
and...simply nice.
and right.
the addictive air/liquidness is helping alot to make the music enjoyable and sweet.
 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION:
well, here is where i want to give my final words on this iem...the final verdict.

the sm3 is an overall good performer, from jazz to rock.
it can penetrate you in many ways.
its musical, with the capability to portray music in its 3d space goodness.
the sound is really UP there...
UP there kind of quality.
its a TOP tier indeed.

it can do something that others just CANT.
wanna know what that is?
one is the voice.
it can match and sound more realistic than the ortos vocal presentation, the ortos main strength.

it can do the FAST TRACKS/POP ROCK kind of music easily...effortlessly and with realism.
it isnt lacking in spaces. soundstage. or instrument separation.

it can do what other universals cant.
its unlike any universal that makes the sound tuned in a small space.
here, youre IN that kind of space where the music was recorded.
wether its a THEATER, a HALL, a JAZZ CLUB...or in a STUDIO.

its like a MONITORing iem with the FUN factor.
youll hear every nuances...every bit of air, and sound...

i hear its weakness and also can be considered as its strength...being DARK.
why?
well, its really important to certain tracks to give that LIVELY sound.
being dark gives you that ...dullness and lifelessness in music.
without the help of those CRISP, SWEET, AIRY highs...it just sounded off at times.
only at times, and only at some certain tracks.

i say, this is a very very good iem that has and will shape the history of ALL UNIVERSAL iems.
the sound isnt limited.
its not an iem at all...
it produces sound brilliantly on its own ways.

you gotta respect that this iem just simply cant produce that HIGHS im looking for.
but, for long time listening, that present HIGHS can be fatiguing at times...
so...the SM3 created something better for long listening sessions.

its not very hard to love the sm3.
the fit is not a problem.
the build is....
but, im not bothered, because the future of this iem lies in RESHELLING/REMOLDING.

the sm3 is an all rounder iem.
it can play anything.
it is an iem...that shakes the universals.
and shapes the history of audiophiles.
it is like a dark as a chocolate.
oozing and bursting with sweetness...

a custom in a package of a universal.

 

 

 

NOTE:

to all the readers...sorry for my kind of style of writing.

its easy for me to take notes and read in this kind of style...

so i chose this kind of writing.

I previously owned the UM2 for more than 3 years and had a lot of fun with it until i gave it away last year. I heard a lot about the SM3 but i never expect it to be this good. The bass, detail and soundstage surpasses the UM2 in almost every way. The bass is as much or even more than the UM2 but much faster and more controlled, smooth mids and almost no hiss. The soundstage is huge and amazing. Seriously I´d take these over everything i currently own when it comes to music listening including my Razer Mako, K701 + Heed Canamp + V-Dac.
 
+ Controlled, punchy bass
+ Huge soundstage, make me feel like standing right on the dance floor
+ Sound great with all kind of music
+ easy to drive, sound great straight out of my Clip
 
- Looks and feels very fragile unlike the UM2
- Hate the edges around the earpiece
- The V-shaped cord might be too short for some
 
xEcuToR
xEcuToR
Great reviews but I still like the W3s. Although I consider that the SM3 is a better option any day compared to the SE530.
Pros: Soundstage, deep bass, lush mids, smooth highs, comfort
Cons: hmmm...they are IEMs and not HD650's? Stock tips are just WRONG.
What's not to love about these?  Ok ok...they're French.  Fine. 

 
There's not a whole lot I can add to what has come before, but...
These very much remind me of my HD650's, minus the openness of presentation.  I don't find them muddy or congested, just a tad on the warmer/darker side of things, which I love.  Ample and suprisingly visceral bass isn't something I was expecting from a 3xBA, but it's there in spades.  Midrange to my ears is slightly accentuated but in a pleasing way.  Highs are clean and slightly rolled off.  Lovers of Sennheiser's house sound should love these.  AKG fans, not so much. These are the polar opposites of my Ety ER4's...very fun, lively, lush and warm...not dry, sterile, analytical and boring.  They are also not the miserably uncomfortable ear-spears that the Etys are either...I can wear these for hours, and even sleep with them in. 
 
Also, regarding the "short cord" complaints...you guys DO know they are meant to be worn over the ears, with the cord behind your head, right?  Slide the clear thingie up to tighten the fit to the back of the head, and you'll have a cord and fit that is totally unobtrusive and extremely comfortable.
 
Gripes?  Well...I don't think the mids and highs benefit from a touch of EQ in order to balance them out a bit.  Tone down the mids, add a little top end, and all those complaints of "too muddy, too bloaty" go away.  Also, the stock bi-flange tips are ok and the Comply's are very comfy but they really wreck the sound on these.  I think the users griping about muddy/bloaty/congested/blahblahblah are probably using the Complys.  See below...
 
It took me a while to find a good pair that was a trade-off between fit, comfort, sound quality, and isolation, but once I DID, it really changed the overall SM3 sound to perfect without EQing at all.  I'm using some MEElec M6 tri-flanges.  These are soft silicone with a larger diameter inner tube/sound chamber, so you need adaptors (either make your own, or in my case I use the little red Monster ones).  The larger space in the tips makes for a more open soundstage, and the material doesn't muddy up the lows and mids and absorb the highs like the foams do.  Only drawback is they are a little thinner in construction, so they don't isolate extremely well (they DO isolate just fine, but with no music playing it's not like Etys in that you can hear people talking to you...you don't have to lip read).  This is fine as they are easily the most comfortable tri-flanges I've used.  For reference, I tried several different Comply models, all of the Monster Super Tips (foam and gel), Ety tri-flange, grey and yellow foams, Sony Silicone, Shure Olives, and of course the stock tips.  All I can say is reserve final judgement on these IEMs until you've tried a lot of tips, and you WILL be rewarded once you find what works for you.
Doing everthing very well..
Pros: tight and deep bass, nice highs and mids, warm and clear =) the isolation is great too!
Cons: None
All I can say it this IE reminds me of my car sound system... Im lovin this... 
Drake
Pros: Forward Mids,accurate bass, smooth treble with no sibilance, great soundstage, detailed.
Cons: Big for small ears, Y split too short,
 
View attachment
 
[size=medium]After countless hrs of research (mainly on this forum) I took the plunge and bought myself Earsonic SM3’s!  Here is my review.[/size]
 
[size=medium]Finish:[/size]
[size=medium]The SM3’s body is made of plastic which makes it very light but also seems fragile.  The cable is nice and strong, doesn’t tangle and is also very light.  The Y split on the cable is too short, makes it a little tight if you wear down the front. They come with a cool case, a couple of medium size silicone bi-flange tips, and two Comply tips (medium & large).[/size]
[size=medium]I must mention that I had to send my first pair back for exchange.  The right earphone wasn’t as well constructed as the left one.  The two halves of the body didn’t completely seal together on one side, there was a hairline gap where you could see into the inside of the earphone.  It didn’t affect the sound quality but I worried about it coming apart down the line so I had it exchanged.  The new pair I received did not have any issues with build quality.  I have to give the guys at Soundearphones.com props.  They really took care of me.  I had a new pair of SM3’s in hand 2 days after they received my defective ones, great customer service! [/size]
 
[size=medium]Fit:  [/size]
[size=medium]I was concerned the SM3’s would not fit my small ears because they look big in pictures.  Well, I was partly correct they are big, however, I can still wear them comfortably.  They partly stick out of my ear instead of completely sitting inside of the ear.  But they are so light that it doesn’t bother me.  I still get a great seal and can wear them all day while I work.  I found the stock silicon bi-flange tips work perfectly for me.  I get a great seal and sound isolation, which is a relief after reading endless threads on how hard it can be to find a tip that fits.  I’d like to try the Sensorcom tips just because they seem to be a favorite for the SM3 but I’m not in a big hurry since the stock ones work.[/size]
[size=medium]I do wish the body of the SM3 was a little smaller and had a more rounded ergonomic shape like the Westone3.  [/size]
 
[size=medium]Sound:[/size]
[size=medium][size=medium]Edit 1/7/2011:[/size][/size]
[size=medium][size=medium]I have upgraded my source and files.  I now have a Cowon J3 32GB player and have re-ripped my CD collection to FLAC.  The difference in sound from my previous portable setup is amazing![/size][/size]
[size=medium][size=medium]I cannot praise the J3 enough!  Any issues I had with my SM3's are now gone thanks to the great EQ on the J3.  It just takes a little tweaking to brighten up the SM3's and they sound perfect.[/size][/size]
 
[size=medium](Old setup)[/size]
[size=medium]Apple lossless -> iphone ->Fiio L3 LOD->Fiio E7->SM3’s. [/size]
 
[size=medium]Edit 1/7/2011[/size]
[size=medium]The sound of the SM3’s is smooth and detailed.  I’ve never heard vocals sound so natural and clear.   I find the bass accurate, tight, punchy, non fatiguing.  Mids are forward, smooth and full.  Treble is smooth, clear, no sibilance, non fatiguing.  Soundstage is great, it sounds like you are up on stage with the band, music projecting all around you.  Vocals are up front, and instrument separation is excellent.  [/size]
[size=medium]Best of all they are very musical, you can actually feel the music (at least I can), it’s hard to explain but the sound they put out is something special.[/size]
 
[size=medium]Conclusion:[/size]
[size=medium]If there’s anything I would change about them would be to make them smaller so they would fit better in my small ears.  Oh yeah and make the Y part of the cable longer as I like to wear the cable down the front instead of the back.  Other than that I think they are great and would highly recommend them!  I would like to thank this forum, without it I would have never known of these amazing IEM's![/size]
 
[size=medium]Here are some albums I think sound awesome on the SM3’s[/size]
 
[size=medium]Coldplay- Parachutes[/size]
[size=medium]Coldplay- A Rush of Blood to the Head[/size]
[size=medium]Lenny Kravitz Greatest Hits[/size]
[size=medium]Beatles- 1967-1970 Blue album[/size]
[size=medium]Radiohead’s Greatest Hits[/size]
[size=medium]Incubus- Morning View[/size]
 
[size=medium]Edit 1/7/2011: With my new J3 all my albums sound great not just those listed above![/size]
baboen
baboen
Pros: forward mids, non-sibilant but present highs, outstanding detail, easy to drive, more than adequate bass.non mic cable.
Cons: Expensive new, y-split is too tight.Somewhat square edges on the body may not be comfortable for some people. Feel a bit flimsy.Cable not replaceable
If you can get them for around $300 - then go for it. If you can live with the pros and cons above.

Outstanding detail, somewhat warm sound mids-wise with extended highs (not sibilant, I guess some might find them slightly recessed compared to top end sony ex700 or stax, but I can live with it. Or you can take the filters out and see whether you like them that way - the highs should become more prominent then). Good soundstage that does not sound artificial. (some people still find it weird, re: forward projection - see the other reviews)

These seemed to go well with any music I had - folk, classical - solo, voice, soloist+orchestra, many types of metal, hip-hop.
I had a chance to compare with top two westones, Se530, sony mdr7/500, and overall preferred SM3 to all of them.

For only around $500 incl my cowon d2, these can do match much of what my 1k+ Stax system or 3k+ balanced Beyer T1 systems do.

You may need to get a another set of tips, and be sure to fit them well (trim to size), otherwise isolation and comfort may suffer (not that 3 driver IEMs are that comfortable). I didn't like any of the bundled tips, but Sensorcom Double-flange alpine silicon eartips were great, after I trimmed them to fit.

edit:only 6 months after purchase, my pair failed because of the bad y-split design that lead to the wire going into the y-split being constantly tugged. So it's not only uncomfortable but poor design. Earsonics refused to honor warranty.
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