The Earstudio HE100 is a bright-neutral earphone on the upper end and warm on the lower end with a punchy bass added. The frequency response is a very gentle U-shape. It has a very good technicalities but you have to be able to handle that broad 3 kHz peak.
This review was originally published at www.audioreviews.org
Earstudio by Radsone is an upsurging company out of Korea that has had a strong presence at drop.com and several discussion forums, recently. Their first success was the famous Earstudio ES100 Bluetooth receiver and currently their powerful miniature HUD100 dac/amp, which I reviewed [here]. The Earstudio HE100 are the company’s first earphone. They are an upgraded version of the Sonicast Dirac MK2. According to Radsone, the HE100 deliver a more balanced sound and are better suited for cold weather. They share the frequency response with the Sonicast DIREM E3. And the DIREM E3 enjoy a very high appreciation by some purist experts. Dear reader, you are in for a treat, the HE100 are not your average funster earphone, they require a bit of understanding to be appreciated – and will then be appreciated even more. The HE100 are earphones for the expert.
Driver unit: single dynamic, hi res
Impedance: 27 Ω
Sensitivity: 103 dB/mW
Frequency range: 10 – 40,000 Hz
Tested at: $59.99
Product page: https://earstudio.store/products/he100
Purchase Link: Earstudio Store
PHYSICAL THINGS AND USABILITY
The Earstudio HE100 comes with 3 pairs of silicone eartips (S/M/L), a shirt clip, a textile storage bag, and a manual. The shells are made of aluminium with nozzles of plastic added. Haptic is good, the earpieces feel solid.
The cable is fixed – sigh – and has a classic round cross section. It is nylon coated between the 90-degree-angled headphone jack and the separator/chin slider, but the two individual strands leading to the earpieces are plastic coated. And they are rather microphonic. There is an inline one-button remote with mic on the right-hand side.
Fit and comfort of the earpieces are great, isolation is only soso. The Earstudio HE100 are probably meant to be driven by a phone on the go (inline mic!) and my iPhone did a fine job. I used the largest stock tips.
TONALITY AND TECHNICALITIES
My tonal preference and testing practice
My test tracks explained
The Earstudio HE100 is a speedy single-dynamic-driver earphone characterized by a warm low end whereas the rest of the frequency spectrum is on the neutral side, with brightness infused by that strong broad 3 kHz peak. Call it a gentle U-shape.
Bass is boosted above neutral in order to balance the strong upper midrange. Sub-bass extension is good and still tight, but the low end does not come across as strong as in the graph. It is perceived as well-dosed, articulate, and has a pleasant, subtle, energizing punch, it bleeds a bit into the lower midrange, which it is somewhat painted over the upper midrange.
Midrange is generally on the neutral side and is very clear and clean. The lower midrange, that is the vocals area, is sitting in a valley between bass and upper end and is slightly attenuated and sharpened by the upper midrange.
The upper midrange is strongly elevated which adds clarity and sharpness to the image, but it also lowers the ceiling of the soundstage. The tuners obviously intended to combine a punchy low end with an overall clear, transparent sound. The price paid for his is splashiness in the upper midrange and the immediately adjacent lower treble. In my perception, the upper end dominates the sound despite the elevated lower end, and cymbals/hi hats sound tizzy. This signature is popular in Asia, and it does not come as a surprise that the Earstudio HE100 are popular in Korea.
Soundstage is impressively wide, not so deep, and it lacks a bit of height. Instrument separation and timbre are very good. Spatial cues is also good. Overall, very well resolving for a single dynamic driver, and wonderful imaging at small to moderate levels, but it may get shouty when you turn the volume up.
WHAT WOULD I DO DIFFERENTLY?
I would definitely shave the broad 3 kHz peak a bit which would heighten the stage and enrich the midrange (and the low end, too, for reasons of balance). This can be done with our various reversible modding techniques, explained here.
EARSTUDIO HE100 COMPARED
The Earstudio HE100 wipe the warmer $59 Tin Hifi T2Plus and the less hot $99 Tin Hifi T4 dry in terms of detail resolution. They share a lot of their frequency response with the $40 Moondrop SSR, however are punchier at the low end. They are tonally more accurate than the $30 KBEAR KB04 and much more so than than the fun $23 KBEAR KS2 (which have the largest soundstage of all of the above).
WHY WOULD YOU WANT IT (OR NOT)?
The Earstudio HE100 will appeal first and foremost to the audiophile crowd that appreciates tonal accuracy at a good resolution. It is not for LOUD listening of rock and electronic noise as this may lead to premature fatigue. Fans of classical music will lick their fingers.
The Earstudio HE100 are very well-made earphones that feel good in my hands and ears – and they have a very refined sound and exceptionally good technicalities for their class. B ut: you cannot be deterred by a “spicy” upper midrange. In the end, it comes down to personal preference. If you like the extra energy of an elevated upper midrange, you will enjoy the tastefully dosed bass punch and the clear, wide imaging and excellent detail technical abilities of the Earstudio HE100.
Until next time…keep on listening!
You find an INDEX of all our earphone reviews HERE.
The Earstudio HE100 was provided by Radsone up my request. I thank them for that. This unit was passed on to co-blogger Biodegraded…maybe is will write another review. We don’t get any remuneration from that $45 promotion.
Our generic standard disclaimer.
About my measurements.
You find an INDEX of our most relevant technical articles HERE.