Simgot EM3 hybrid IEM

Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. twister6
    Beautiful on Inside & Outside: EM3 vs EM5 review.
    Written by twister6
    Published Jul 5, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - beautiful design, updated audiophile quality tuning, premium removable cable, great selection of eartips.
    Cons - no distinction between packaging and accessories (EM3 vs EM5), depending on pair up EM5 treble could get a bit hot.


    The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion. The review was originally posted on my blog, and now I would like to share it with all my readers on head-fi.

    Manufacturer website: Simgot, available for sale on MusicTeck.

    This is a combined review of Simgot latest EM3 vs EM5 hybrid IEMs.


    Intro.

    When the original EN series from Simgot was introduced, it received a lot of attention due to its unique shell design and build quality. As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and EN700 nailed it. Today you will find a lot of pretty shells with an empty content when it comes to some Chi-fi IEMs. EN series went through a few transformations of their own, from EN700 to EN700 Bass, and later perfecting it to EN700 Pro which I still enjoy and recommend to people who are looking for quality budget IEMs with removable cables. Following the success of EN series, Simgot decided to introduce a new EM series.

    The new series has 3 models, EM1 (single dynamic driver), EM3 (hybrid with DD and dual BAs), and EM5 (hybrid with DD and quad BAs). The focus of this series is to appeal to audiophiles who are looking for a more resolving tuning, need a decent removable cable, and prefer a premium shell design. Simgot EM series also features brand name quality drivers, such as Knowles TWFK-30017 and SWFK-31736. In my review I will focus on EM3 and EM5, and will combine these reviews together due to a nearly identical packaging and accessories, similarities in design, and upgraded EM5 tuning relative to EM3. Now, let’s find out more.

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    Unboxing.

    The unboxing experience of EM3 and EM5 is very similar, which could be looked at as both a positive and a negative thing. Each pair arrives in a giftbox quality large premium cardboard box with Simgot logo and a metal tab at the bottom, etched with a model number. Under the cover, there is a large foam cutout for a leather storage box and iems, with everything else under the foam layer.

    Fur sure, it looks and feels premium, and provides a satisfying unboxing experience, except for the part that EM5 is an upgraded pricier version where some might want to see more. Perhaps, packaging can remain the same while EM5 can get more accessories, to make it standout. For example, a balanced cable wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    EM3 unboxing.

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    EM5 unboxing.

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    Accessories.

    Just like with packaging, expect similarities in accessories. Both have the same manual/warranty card, and the identical storage travel case. Not sure if it’s a real leather or pleather, but this a high quality nice looking case with Simgot logo on the top and “Salute to Art and Science” slogan on the bottom, lined up with a soft material and with an elastic pocket for extra storage. The cover stays securely closed under a spring-loaded hinge, and this travel case can easily fit the pants pocket, though it is a bit on a larger size.

    I will talk about the cable in the next section where despite a different shielding and purity of wires, both use a premium 4core hybrid design. Eartips selection is also similar, despite EM3 set having a black core to match its dark shells and EM5 having a white core to match its transparent shells, with 2 sets of S/M/L silicone pairs that vary in diameter and depth. You need to look closer to see the difference where one set is wider and shallower, while the other one is narrower and taller. Eartips selection is critical to achieve an ideal seal which going to affect the sound signature. Wider eartips will give you more seal, enhancing the bass, while narrow ones relax the seal. And the depth/height of eartips will vary the distance between your eardrums and drivers which could affect the soundstage perception.

    EM3 accessories.

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    EM5 accessories.

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    Cable.

    Overall cable design has a lot of similarities, considering both feature a 4-core hybrid design with single crystal copper and silver-plated copper OCC wires. The obvious difference is the wire sleeve, which is like eartips, matches the shell design with EM3 cable featuring an all-black shielding and EM5 cable featuring a transparent shielding where you can see wire details. But according to Simgot, the wires itself have a different level of purity, and they selected more premium wires with a different level of coating and production techniques in EM5 cable.

    When you interchange these cables between EM3 and EM5 – you will hear subtle differences in sound with EM5 cable being brighter and more revealing to my ears. Also, please keep in mind, Simgot use these specific cables when tuning corresponding EM3 and EM5 models.

    As far as the cable exterior design goes, starting with a headphone plug you have 3.5mm gold plated TRS metal housing connector which has a single piece frosted transparent rubber sleeve over the top, which enhances the grip and extends to provide a strain relief. All wires are inner-twisted, 2 separately twisted L/R pairs twisted again below the y-splitter. Y-splitter design matches the headphone plug connector, the same metal cylinder with a rubber sleeve. Chin slider is a matching metal only piece.

    Closer to earpieces, you have a pre-shaped springy earhook, no memory wires. Earhook has a fool loop which wraps around your ear for a wire up fit, the only wait to wear these. The 2pin connector housing is clear plastic and has 110deg angle. 2pin connector has standard 0.78mm pins, but the connector housing itself is proprietary since it extends to cover the shell joint which creates a seamless look when cable is attached. Basically, you can use any standard 2pin cable with either EN or EM series IEMs, but their own cables can only work with Simgot IEMs to create that seamless secure junction look where you can’t even tell that cable is detachable.

    While Simgot tuned their IEMs using included premium cables, it’s still fun to try it with different aftermarket ones, to see if you can fine tune the sound further. I didn’t want to go crazy with super fancy expensive cables, so decided to compare Simgot copper/SPC cable to Effect Audio’s pure copper (Ares II) and gold/silver plated copper (Lionheart).

    EM3: stock to EA Ares II -> very similar presentation of bass and treble, but mids get more body and sound a little smoother. Also, I hear a little more rumble in sub-bass.

    EM3: stock to EA Lionheart -> more rumble in sub-bass, bass it tighter, mids are a little smoother with more body in lower mids, yet I hear a better retrieval of details and more transparency.

    EM5: stock to EA Ares II -> similar to EM3, mids get a little more body and sound a touch smoother, there is some additional rumble in sub-bass, and treble is just a touch smoother.

    EM5: stock to EA Lionheart -> similar to EM3, I hear a little more rumble in sub-bass, mids have a little more body in lower mids and sound smoother, and treble is just a touch smoother as well.

    As I mentioned already, both IEMs come with good pair of cables, and it's not necessary to buy a new one unless you want to refine the sound a little further. If you have any pure copper cables, I do recommend giving them a try since they help with adding a little more body to the mids and taking an edge off the treble sparkle.

    EM3 cable.

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    EM5 cable.

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    Design.

    When the original EN700 was released, many referred to it as HiFiMAN HE1000 mini clone. That all metal shell had an eye-catching design and high-quality build. In my opinion, EM series stepped it up to a whole new level with a new original design where this time it’s not going to be mistaken for any clone.

    Both have shells with a very similar shape, reminding me a little bit of slim guitar pick teardrop, with 2pin connector extension piece attached at the top. They both have the same layered faceplate insert, in a scaled down shape of the shell and a round metal circle on top. And similarly, facing-in you have a DD venting port. Both shells are plastic, with EM3 being dark brown with a little bit of transparency and EM5 being clear and fully transparent. Both have a gold-plated nozzle which feels like a lightweight aluminum material (it’s colder to the touch than a plastic shell, thus I assume it’s metal), and a mesh covering the tip of the nozzle.

    Simgot certainly tried to distinguish one model from the other with EM3 having a dark shell, black cable, and eartips with a black core, while EM5 has a transparent plastic shell, transparent cable sleeve, and eartips with a white core. On the inside, you will find some similarities as well, plus additional drivers in EM5 model.

    EM3 is a hybrid IEM with 10mm dynamic driver and dual Knowles TWFK-30017 balanced armature drivers. EM5 is also a hybrid IEM with the same 10mm dynamic driver and dual Knowles TWFK-30017 BAs and on top of that dual Knowles SWFK-31736 BAs. Both have the same 101dB sensitivity and 16ohm impedance. When I measured EM3 vs EM5, I found a very similar FR response up to 5kHz and only the variation in lower/mid treble with EM5 having more accentuated peaks, suggesting that’s where the energy of additional SWFK Knowles drivers is focused on. I will discuss this in more details in Sound analysis section of the review.

    EM3 design.

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    EM3 fit.

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    EM5 design.

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    EM5 fit.

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    Sound analysis.

    Let me first start with EM3 sound analysis which I find to be like a baseline core of EM5 tuning. Then, I will go into more details of EM5 sound which I feel was derived from the original EM3 tuning where they share the same DD and dual BA drivers. In my sound description I used multiple sources to make sure my analysis is consistent.

    Also, following tracks were used while analyzing and comparing these iems: Agnes Obel "The curse", Avicii "Lonely together", C-Bool "Never go away", Ed Sheeran "Shape of you", Galantis "Hunter", Iggy Azalea "Black widow", Indila "Boite en argent", Robin Schultz "Oh child", David Elias "Vision of her", Michael Jackson "Dirty Diana", and Counting Crows "Big yellow taxi".

    EM3 sound analysis.

    EM3 is tuned to have a mid-forward signature that has a more revealing upper frequencies tonality. It has a very good retrieval of details with a nice level of clarity. The sound is on a brighter side, not exactly as smooth and musical as the previous EN700Pro tuning, instead being leaner and more revealing. EM3 doesn't color the sound much, keeps the mid-bass at a neutral quantity level with a deep sub-bass rumble, whips lower mids into a leaner shape, and pushes upper mids more forward while keeping treble well defined, extended, and under control.

    The sound separation and layering is pretty good, keeping instruments and vocals distinguished and easily identified within a mix.

    Soundstage has a surprisingly good width and depth, with more depth which pushes sound a little more out of your head, giving you more space in front of the stage. It's not exactly at full holographic level, but has a good imaging with a convincing placement of instruments.

    In more details, bass has a good deep extension with a deep velvety rumble. Mid bass is fast and punchy, not too aggressive but punches through the mix well. Despite a hybrid design with DD bass driver, this is a fast driver with faster attack and shorter decay, articulate, and very controlled without any spillage into lower mids. Both sub-/mid-bass are relatively balanced, though there is more tilt toward sub-bass. Despite having a mid-forward tuning, in my experience other similar iems compromise sub-bass by rolling it off and keeping mid-bass neutral and boring. Here, maybe the quantity is more neutral relative to mids, but the quality shines with a nice rumble.

    With mids, lower mids take a little dip to accentuate more the upper mids, which makes them sound leaner. As a result, EM3 tuning lacks some body which goes along with a more revealing mid-forward signature of these iems. Upper mids are the focus and the shining star of EM3 tuning where you have a linear continuous lift between 2k and 5k. Mids are nicely layered and very transparent. Also, surprisingly, despite a leaner tuning, vocals rendition is pretty good, not as organic, but very clear, detailed, and focused.

    Treble has a very good extension, typical of some high-end IEMs, but in case of EM3 the treble peaks are more subdued (but not rolled off), giving the sound just enough airiness and precise definition, but keeping it more controlled and less fatigue.

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    EM5 sound analysis.

    Surprisingly, up to a lower treble, EM5 is tuned very close to EM3. And this is not something that I just hear, but also able to confirm it in my measurements with Veritas coupler. It’s quite impressive how the focus of 2 additional drivers went into improving the treble performance with crisper definition and higher level of airiness and clarity.

    The signature is still mid-forward and tonality is even brighter and more revealing, but the focus here is shifted to upper mids and treble, thanks to a more prominent 12k peak. As a result, I feel like there is more air between the layers, and the retrieval of details is closer to analytical level. At the same time, it makes sound a little colder and dryer, but brings more crunch and airiness with improved retrieval of details. With that shift, low end impact feels a little more neutral.

    I also noticed a perception of soundstage expanded a little wider. The depth is the same, but width has improved, now giving the sound a feeling closer to holographic expansion.

    Bass, both sub-bass and mid-bass, are closer to EM3, thus my EM3 description is still very much applicable. Lower mids are also nearly identical: lean and scooped out a bit. Upper mids follow the same EM3 DNA with a similar mid-forward presentation but as I mentioned already, the sound feels a little more layered, more analytical, and as a result a little colder.

    Treble is where you have the most noticeable difference with 12k peak pushing higher, giving the sound a sharper definition, more brightness, and more crunch. Also, I hear more airiness. If you are sensitive to brighter upper frequencies, as myself, the side effect of this improvement will result in a little harsher tonality. It's not sibilant or too fatigue, but after extended listening I personally preferred a more balanced treble tuning of EM3 which took some edge off the upper end. If you want more treble energy and crisper details, EM5 is the way to go over EM3.

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    Comparison.

    I'm going to combine EM3/5 in the comparisons to other IEMs due to similarity in bass and mids, while noting separately about EM5 treble difference. In every test, I volume matched each pair.

    EM3/5 vs EN700Pro - EM soundstage is noticeably wider while both have a similar depth. EN bass hits harder, deeper sub-bass, more impact in mid-bass, but overall bass is not as controlled and not as articulate as EM. EM lower mids are leaner and more neutral while EN is thicker and with more body. Upper mids presentation of EM is more forward, more layered, more resolving, while EN is smoother, warmer, detailed but not as resolving and pushed a little back in comparison. EM treble also has more sparkle, more control, better definition. Besides a superior technical performance, the main difference here is EN being warmer, smoother, less layered, while EM is more audiophile tuned with a better technical performance, improved resolution, more forward mids, and wider soundstage.

    EM3/5 vs iBasso IT03 - both have a very similar soundstage expansion, in both width and depth. IT bass hits harder, both in sub-bass and mid-bass, while EM is more neutral in comparison. EM bass is a little faster with a shorter attack and a shorter decay. Lower mids are not too far off, though I feel IT gives a sound a little more body. IT mids have a pushed back presentation, as detailed and resolving, but smoother and a little warmer, while EM mids are pushed more forward, brighter, colder, and even more resolving in comparison. With treble, IT has a more noticeable 6k peak which can get a bit harsh with some poorly recorded song, while EM 6k peak is more under control. The treble between IT and EM3 is very similar, while EM5 pushes it to the next level with more sparkle and crispiness.

    EM3/5 vs Campfire Audio Andromeda - Andro has a wider soundstage with more depth, making it more holographic in comparison. While Andro bass slams harder, they both have a similar sub-bass extension, while mid-bass in Andro is slower. In comparison, EM bass is leaner, more controlled, faster and with a little better articulation. Lower mids in Andro have a little more body, while EM is neutral. While I wouldn't call Andro a mid-centric tuned, it's more W-shaped tuned where mids have a similar presentation as EM. Both have a similar upper mids, detailed, resolving, layered; the only difference with EM upper mids being a little leaner while Android is a touch smoother/warmer. With treble EM3 is smoother an a little rolled off in comparison to Andro, while EM5 is as crisp and bright, just the lower treble 6k peak in Andromeda is more defined and could be harsh depending on pair up.

    EM3/5 vs HiFiMAN RE800 - remarkable resemblance between these two, especially EM5 vs RE800. With soundstage, both have a very similar soundstage width and depth expansion. RE has a touch more sub-bass rumble, but overall both have a fast, articulate, well controlled bass. With mids, both have lean lower mids and bright, resolving, micro-detailed, layered upper mids. EM3 treble is more controlled and a little smoother in comparison to more aggressive treble of RE. Contrary to that, EM5 treble is on par with RE800, except RE has a spike around 6k which makes it more sibilant with poorly recorded songs.

    EM3/5 vs Westone UM Pro 50 v2 - while soundstage depth is similar between these two, EM has more width. UM Pro 50 bass his harder, more sub-bass rumble and more mid-bass impact, but bass is not as tight or controlled as EM which is leaner and more articulate and faster. Big difference here in lower mids where EM is lean and has less body, while UM is ticker and with more body. Upper mids are smoother and warmer in UM, while more forward, leaner, and brighter in EM. UM treble is a touch smoother than EM3, and a lot smoother than EM5. Biggest difference here is UM Pro 50 having more bass slam and more body in lower mids.

    EM3/5 vs 64 Audio U4-SE - very similar soundstage expansion, in both width and depth. In tonality, this comparison reminded me of the one with UMPro50, where U4 bass slams harder with a healthier sub-bass rumble and a punchier mid-bass, while EM had a great sub-bass rumble and mid-bass punch, but it's scaled down in quantity. Both have a tight well controlled bass. Lower mids of U4 have more body but not very thick, while EM in comparison is a lot leaner. Upper mids of U4 are smoother and warmer, while EM is more revealing, more transparent, and more micro-detailed in comparison. With treble, EM3 sounds similar to U4SE, but EM5 steps it up with more sparkle and more crispiness.

    By a number of requests after posting this original review, I added a comparison between EM3 and a few other popular 3way hybrids.

    EM3 vs Oriveti New Primacy - EM3 soundstage is just a touch wider. NP mid-bass hits harder, while EM3 bass is more balanced, more linear. I also hear a little more sparkle in treble with EM3, while NP is equally well defined, but has a touch less sparkle. The biggest difference here is in mids, where EM3 has a lot more neutral lower mids and brighter, more transparent upper mids while NP lower mids are thicker with more body and upper mids are a little warmer and more organic. Also, EM3 mids presentation is pushed a little back in comparison to more forward NP mids.

    EM3 vs Hi-fi Boy OSv3 - Here, OSv3 has a little wider soundstage. While mid-bass is similar, OSv3 sub-bass has more rumble in this comparison. Also, EM3 lower mids are more neutral in comparison to a fuller body OSv3 which also gives OSv3 upper mids a warmer, more organic and less revealing characteristics. EM3 with it's more neutral lower mids have a thinner, brighter, more revealing upper mids. Both have similar treble, just with EM3 having a little more airiness. Overall OSv3 is warmer, smoother, while EM3 is more transparent, more layered, and more revealing.

    EM3 vs Dunu DN2000J - With soundstage, DN is a little wider and more out of your head. The sound signature is similar, actually very similar here. While EM3 might have a little deeper rumble, overall the quantity and quality of the bass in both are rather similar. Lower mids are also similar with a more neutral tonality, and the same goes for upper mids where you have a more transparent, more revealing brighter sound. The big difference here is in treble where EM3 has more control and a more natural sparkle, while DN has a little more sibilance and a brighter crunch (and I'm actually using foam tips with DN).

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    Pair up.

    In this pair up testing, I used only 3.5mm connection. Both EM3/EM5 are easy to drive, though due to its 101dB sensitivity, EM series requires a few more clicks to raise the volume to my preferred listening level.

    Cowon Plenue 2 mk2 - w/EM3 I hear a wide soundstage, dynamic sound with a deep rumble and punchy mid-bass, mids are forward, clear, brighter, detailed, treble is crisp, well controlled. EM5 treble is crisper, brighter, a little more extended. Both pair up great here.

    Cayin N5ii - w/EM3 soundstage is wide and even deeper, sound is closer to W-shaped with more sub-bass rumble and a little stronger mid-bass punch, making sound more balanced. Mids are still forward, bright, detailed, colder and more analytical, treble is crisp and extended. EM5 pair up pushes treble with more crispiness, making it brighter and more sibilant. Personally, I prefer EM3 in this pair up.

    Shanling M3s - w/EM3 soundstage is wide and a little deeper, sound is more balanced with deeper sub-bass rumble and stronger mid-bass munch. Mids are a little forward, very detailed, and have a hint of smoothness here, treble is crisp and well controlled. EM5 has a very similar sound in this pair up with an exception of brighter and crisper treble which is tolerable, not as harsh as in N5ii pair up, and the sound is a little airier. Both pair up great.

    Lotoo PAW Gold - w/EM3 soundstage is still wide but a little narrower in comparison to other pair ups, while staging depth goes deeper. Sound is more balanced, more w-shaped where mids are not as forward due to a stronger mid-bass punch and more lifted treble. Mids have more micro details and improved layering, treble is crisper and lifted a little more. EM5 adds a more piercing treble which makes sound crisper. LPG gives treble a lift which works ok with EM3 but for my personal taste not as much with EM5.

    FiiO X7ii - w/EM3 soundstage is wide and has a nice depth. The sound is dynamic, more mid-forward signature here. Bass goes deep, punches fast, mids are forward, bright, very detailed, a little on a colder analytical side; treble is crisp and extended. EM5 pushes treble higher in quantity with crisper, more vivid details, making it brighter and harsher and giving it more air. Unless you like your treble crisp and sizzling, EM3 pairs up better here.

    TheBit Opus#2 - w/EM3 soundstage is wide and goes a little deeper, the sound is more balanced with W-shaped signature where bass is lifted a little more, though mids are still pushing forward. Bass goes deep with a nice beefy rumble, mid-bass punches hard, surprisingly mids have a little more body, giving them a touch more organic tonality while still being detailed and layered, treble has a nice sparkle and well controlled. EM5 mids are a little more forward due to more energy and crisper treble which is brighter and more lifted, but still tolerable. Both pair up great with Opus#2, and together with EM3 it was one of my favorite pair ups.

    Hiby R6 - w/EM3 soundstage is wide and deep, great pair up without a need for iEMatch, sound is more balanced with bass lifted, mids more balanced, and treble is a little up too. Sub-bass rumble goes deep and mid-bass has a fast and powerful punch. Mids are a little smoother while still being micro-detailed, layered, and not as cold; treble is crisp and very well defined with a good extension and airiness. EM5 gives treble more clarity and sparkle, making it a little brighter, yet still under control. Both pair ups are great, and EM3 is also among my favorite here.

    A&K SP1000 SS - w/EM3 soundstage is very wide and has more depth, the sound is more mid-forward with a brighter tonality. Very nice sub-bass rumble and fast punchy mid-bass, mids are micro-detailed, layered, transparent, a little more on a colder more analytical side, while treble is very crisp and airy. With EM5 the sound is similar except treble is brighter, crisper, a little harsher, and right on the edge of sibilance without crossing it. Here, I preferred EM3 pair up better than EM5.

    Sony WM1Z - w/EM3 soundstage is wide and has more depth, the sound is more mid-forward with a brighter revealing tonality. Sub-bass rumble goes deeper, mid-bass is fast and punchy, mids are micro-detailed, layered, more analytical, treble is crisp and well defined and still under a good control. With Em5, treble becomes crisper, harsher, and more sibilant. Here, I preferred EM3 pair up over EM5.

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    Conclusion.

    Simgot slogan of "Salute to Art and Science" could be easily interpreted as them paying as much attention to the art behind the design as they do to the science behind the tuning. And it’s true. I know it probably sounds cliché, but this new EM series takes Simgot iems to a whole new level of a more mature audiophile tuning with a more expanded soundstage, a deeper sub-bass rumble, more revealing and resolving mids, and extended airy treble. And the design is pretty cool too!

    But what I found the most interesting here is how much EM3 and EM5 have in common. We are not looking at two entirely different tuned iems, but rather at EM5 as an enhanced treble version of EM3. That will be the deciding factor when choosing between these two iems, in addition to a price difference due to extra Knowles drivers and higher-grade cable. For me personally, I preferred EM3 with its more controlled smoother treble extension. But if you want an airier more micro detailed sound with enhanced treble, EM5 will suite you well.
      DocHoliday, Tragic, Vartan and 2 others like this.
    1. Carlsan
      Too bad they don't ship with a balanced cable, or offer a balanced cable as an option. That EM5 looks tempting, but the flipped polarity is a pain. The regular cable looks nice though.
      Carlsan, Jul 6, 2018