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  1. cqtek
    The Balance of the Mid-Range
    Written by cqtek
    Published Dec 5, 2019 at 10:38 AM
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Overall sound quality, quite balanced.
    - Complete and harmonious profile.
    - Ergonomics.
    - Construction.
    - Great value for money.
    Cons - Some kind of rigid wire.
    - Very few accessories.
    Introduction

    On this occasion, the VS Audio Store had the courtesy to send me the Smabat M1 in exchange for my humble opinion.

    The M1 are the second earbuds that this brand has brought to the market, after the successful ST-10. This new model also has an original shape, it also uses MMCX cable and its ergonomics and construction are remarkable. Let's see what other surprises Smabat prepares in this new product.

    Smabat M1 01_resize.jpg Smabat M1 02_resize.jpg

    Specifications

    • Type of Drivers: Dynamic 14.2mm
    • Frequency Response: 10-22000Hz
    • Sensitivity: 110dB/mW
    • Impedance: 32Ω
    • Cable length: 1.2m ± 5cm
    • Jack connector: 3.5mm gold plated
    • Capsule Connection Type: MMCX

    Smabat M1 03_resize.jpg Smabat M1 04_resize.jpg

    Packaging

    The Smabat M1 comes in a small square white box, sealed in transparent plastic. Their dimensions are 100x100x36m. Although it does not seem so, on the upper face of the box, the silhouette of the M1 is drawn. On the back, only the name of the model and the minimum specifications. Once the lid is open, you can see the earbuds, fitted in a white mould, with the cable on and some anti-scratch protections, made of translucent blue plastic. The foam and silicone pads are also fitted on both sides of the cables. After removing the upper mould, you access the manual and a bag with 3 pairs of rubber fins. In short, the content is:

    • The earbuds capsules.
    • The MMCX cable has a silver-plated core.
    • 4 complete foams.
    • 2 silicone pads.
    • 3 pairs of silicone fins, sizes SxMxL.
    • Instructions.

    The packaging is solid and compact, of good standard. But, in my opinion, rubber accessories are not necessary. In addition, 2 pairs of foams is a very small quantity, I miss donut foams and a carrying bag/box.

    Smabat M1 05_resize.jpg Smabat M1 06_resize.jpg

    Construction and Design

    The design has improved compared to its brother ST-10: it has a smaller and more compact body. It just looks like several assembled cylinders of different diameters. They are almost entirely made of metallic material, including the grilles. The outer part of the capsule is a cylinder with an edge. On its outer face, the mark is inscribed on the inside of a polished metal ring. On the underside is the MMCX connection, next to the edge. While, on the other side of the edge, there is a white dot, with a letter inside, which indicates the channel of each capsule. On the upper side of the capsule, there are two slots. All this external part is separated by a metal ring, from the emitting body, which contains the driver. The edge of the emitting disc has an approximate thickness of 5mm. Its diameter is decreasing, being of 16mm, in its inner part, arriving almost to 15mm, in its outer edge, next to the microperforated grids.

    The cable of the M1 is quite simple: formed by silver-plated strands, totally sheathed with a transparent plastic protector, which has some rigidity. Both the pin and the divider are polished metal cylinders. The cable that comes out of them is protected by a transparent plastic cover. The 3.5mm Jack connector is gold-plated. After splitting, there is a very effective semi-rigid plastic pin, the inside of which has an eight-shaped through hole. In this way, the adjustment and sliding of the two cables, by its interior, is very suitable. The MMCX connector has a polished metal cylinder, with the letter of each channel inscribed on it. Next, there is a conical piece of translucent plastic. A 12mm semi-rigid plastic sheath comes out of it to protect the cable of each channel.

    The construction of the set is special, of enough quality, giving an idea of product very well finished, of clear vocation premium.

    The design is very original and, on this occasion, has been thought to maximize comfort, fit and ergonomics. Apart, of course, to maximize the acoustic qualities of the dynamic driver.

    On the negative side, it could only be said that the quality of the cable is questionable, due to its rigidity.

    Smabat M1 07_resize.jpg

    Adjustment and Ergonomics

    With the new design, the Smabat M1 has improved ergonomics compared to its previous model, offering a simpler, faster adjustment and a very firm fit. They can be used with the cable down or over the ear. Although, in my case, I prefer the traditional, downward fit. In this way, I get the best adaptation and sound, obtaining better listening sensations and a fuller lower zone.

    Smabat M1 08_resize.jpg

    Sound

    Profile

    The Smabat M1 has a light U-profile, but also balanced and gently warm. The gentle emphasis on the deepest zone, coupled with a certain distance in the initial midrange and that excitement point in the highs, suggest that particular and harmonious profile.

    Smabat M1 09_resize.jpg

    Bass

    The lower part of the M1 is very interesting, basically for its depth, realism, timbre, texture, speed and control. They are not anemic or light bass, their presence is felt from the first moment, as they enjoy good energy, but not at the bass-head level. The range is very enjoyable, for all the characteristics I have mentioned. Its good control and great depth, provide a very realistic area, nothing colored, where each note feels in its place, with a great articulation and precise execution. The degree of detail and resolution provide a very descriptive texture, easy to follow, compact, tight and remarkable recovery. Another good virtue of the low zone is its slight accent in the sub-bass zone, which provides a mid initial zone, quite liberated and does not dirty the high zones either. That is why warmth is present, but is soft and sweet, without obscuring the profile.

    But the great virtue of the low zone of the M1, is that Smabat has obtained a sonority and execution very similar to the one produced by some IEMs: that is a great news and an enormous work, which implies that the technology "3D Maze Acoustic Structure", really works.

    I also want to point out that the M1 are grateful for a source with a certain power, since the low range expands remarkably, when the energy provided is greater.

    Smabat M1 10_resize.jpg

    Mids

    The mid-range is slightly warm, the initial zone of the range is perceived somewhat further away. But as the mid-zone progresses, there is an emphasis that gives a good degree of definition, especially to female voices. In the same way, this particularity helps to raise the level of clarity of the whole central part. The range runs smoothly, naturally, relaxed, away from any analytical nuances. Once again, the timbre, colour and texture, especially of the voices, should be highlighted, as they sound very realistic, sweet, well defined, quite precise and with a clear and present projection.

    But, it is also true that this range is not expressed frontally, but offers a feeling of a certain distance, a presence halfway, a more relaxed nuance than other earbuds. This sensation is not a negative quality, only a particular sensation that provides a quasi-pleasant sonority, more fluffy and comfortable, far from the requirement of an imposing foreground. This does not mean that there is a lack of clarity, or that the sound is dark or not very detailed; it is just a different presentation, which sometimes invites you to turn up the volume to obtain a fuller sensation. And you can't get it!

    Smabat M1 11_resize.jpg

    Treble

    The treble continues with the warm, soft and relaxed look of the M1. That's why the whole sound is certainly balanced, where each band is expressed with good representation, but without excess. The highs are no less and so are shown initially. A little higher, is when that certain U character begins, since the upper zone extends presentially, but without losing control, nor overlapping other ranges. The highs in this area enjoy a crisper hue, a bright point, nothing disturbing, which provides that slightly sparkling sensation, characteristic of the sound of the M1.

    Smabat M1 12_resize.jpg

    Soundstage, Separation

    M1's offer good separation, no congestion, no lack of resolution. But their sound, more liquid and creamy, does not appear spatially open, nor with a very wide scene. There is good depth, a concave stage feeling, not too high, not too enveloping, but moderately ethereal and volatile.

    The overall feeling is of a remarkably compensated sound, very sincere, where most aspects are under control and well balanced. There is clarity, definition, good level of detail and nuance, a moderate scene and chord separation.

    Smabat M1 13_resize.jpg

    Comparisons

    Smabat ST-10

    As it could not be otherwise, the comparison was clear with his older brother. The first differences are obvious: the ST-10 have a larger diameter and a somewhat more forced fit, at least in my case. The M1 are more straightforward and quicker to adjust.

    At the sound level, the ST-10s move more easily. In addition, they have a more prominent, large, wide, lower zone of greater impact and extension, but comparatively, somewhat darker, slower and slightly less controlled. M1 bass is tighter, more contained, with better resolution, where the emphasis is on the deepest and sub-bass. In this way, the mids feels more liberated, cleaner and clearer, more defined. The ST-10 have a middle zone more influenced by the presence of the bass, dragging that certain darkness, greater warmth and a more turbid sensation, in the initial part of the zone. Even so, the voices have more body and a closer presence. In the M1, they are perceived somewhat more backward and relaxed, but with more air, resolution and detail. Something similar happens with the rest of the instrumentation, more closeness, presence and emphasis in the ST-10, more clarity and definition, but also more distance in the M1.

    The more relaxed and balanced character of the M1, makes its upper area perceived more complete, extensive and with greater impact on the sound. The ST-10 have an initial spark, but also an earlier cut. In the M1, the trebles are wider, with a longer travel and range, generating their characteristic cleanliness and greater amount of micro details. On the contrary, the ST-10 have a more direct, compact, present and dense sound, where the details are softer and are not revealed as much as in the M1.

    At scene level, both describe it with a similar shape, although in the ST-10 its perception is greater, perhaps due to the size of its sound. Also its proximity and depth seems to improve this aspect. While in the M1, the medium distance does not seem to widen the sound to the same level, although the differences are small.

    The separation is perceived to be greater in the M1, due to the greater clarity, as opposed to the denser sound of the ST-10.

    By way of conclusion, the ST-10 have a more direct profile, with more dynamics, dense and more frontal, with more presence in the lower zone, more warmth and more body in the middle. While the M1, have a profile more in U, of greater cleanliness, clarity, with a central zone that is perceived more distanced, but with greater definition, resolution, detail and extension of trebles.

    Smabat M1 14_resize.jpg

    Conclusion

    The Smabat M1 has the peculiarity of not lowering the remarkable almost in any aspect. They have a great design, they are very comfortable, of a size, weight, diameter and thickness that produce a firm and lasting adjustment, improving the sonorous experience and the immersion. Its construction is excellent and the sound has no fissures, but seeks balance in all its facets. And the great thing is that they get it. No one aspect of sound is placed above another, but everything is coherent and enjoyable, both as a whole and individually.

    Smabat has created tremendously competitive earbuds, very complete, all terrain, both in sound and construction, highly enjoyable and very pleasant. All this at an extremely competitive price. The M1 is a clear exponent of great quality within the mid-class.

    Sources Used During the Analysis

    • Burson Audio Playmate
    • Tempotec Serenade iDSD
    • ACMEE MF-01

    Ratings

    • Construction and Design: 90
    • Adjustment/Ergonomics: 91
    • Accessories: 70
    • Bass: 82
    • Mids: 85
    • Treble: 85
    • Separation: 86
    • Soundstage: 83
    • Quality/Price: 90

    Purchase link

    https://es.aliexpress.com/item/4000196831607.html

    You can read the full review in Spanish here:

    https://hiendportable.com/2019/12/05/smabat-m1-review/
  2. Wiljen
    Smabat's sophomore effort, feels all grown up
    Written by Wiljen
    Published Dec 4, 2019 at 1:14 PM
    4.0/5,
    Pros - well built, good value, good detail and tonality
    Cons - small (tends to shift in ear), bass light
    [​IMG]

    disclaimer: Having been one of the first reviewers of the Smabat ST-10 when it arrived, I was interested in seeing what the next generation product would produce. Nicehck was nice enough to discount the M1 for me, but aside from that, I have received no incentives or persuasion regarding this review. If you have an interest in the M1 after reading more, it can be found here on NiceHck’s Aliexpress page.



    Unboxing / Packaging:

    Unboxing is straight forward with the box showing a line drawing of the earpiece on front and specs on reverse. Inside the box, a tray contains the earpieces with cable attached, and the foams. Instructions, the bulk of the cable, and earhooks are hidden under the tray. Worth noting is the M1 ships with both foam covers and a rubber cover style, but no donut foams so fans of the donut style will want to pick up a few to use with the M1.

    [​IMG]
    Smabat-M1-box-front
    [​IMG]
    Smabat-M1-box-rear
    [​IMG]
    Smabat-M1-contents
    [​IMG]
    Smabat-M1-kit




    Build/Fit:

    The M1 has a barrel shape rear with a saucer shaped front of the standard size for a 15 mm dynamic driver. Construction is 5 parts comprised of a chrome plated grill, a black two-piece housing around the driver (seam is visible in last two pictures at right), a silver spacer, and gray metal housing with a vent at top and the mmcx connector facing downward. The rear face has the smabat name in a silver ring and L/R marked on the side/rear. Parts fit is very good with no gaps, glue, or play in any of the fittings. The discoloration of the silver ring in picture 2 below is from handling as the polished silver is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. Writing about earbud design is pretty monotonous as the form changes very little from one to the next and that is certainly the case here, classic shape with little deviation from it. The vent at top is probably the most unusual feature of the build. The M1 is smaller than most of my earbud collection and as such you may need to use the earhooks to get them to stay where they belong as the combination of small size and light weight makes them prone to shift quite easily and while jogging on the treadmill they fall out of my ears if I don’t use at least the rubber covers and the earhooks are a more secure fit yet.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]




    Internals:

    Smabat has made its reputation by building earbuds with transmission line style housings and the M1 is no different. Behind its 14.2 mm composite diaphragm dynamic driver sits a tuned acoustic chamber designed to give the M1 better bass response without requiring a larger housing to do so. Compared to the ST-10, the housing for the M1 is even more compact. Nominal impedance is listed as 32Ω with a sensitivity of 110 dB/mW which suggests the M1 should be usable directly from a phone or tablet. I found that it is indeed quite capable from a phone but does prefer the high-output mode on the LG and scales some both quantitatively and qualitatively with more potent sources. While I don’t think those who are using low powered sources will necessarily dislike the M1, I do think it needs a bit more umph to really get the most out of it. ​

    [​IMG]



    Cable:

    The provided cable is a very narrow gauge wire similar to the CA/ALO tinsel style. At the south end, the cable exits a 3.5 mm straight jack in a polished steel housing and a short strain relief. Cable itself is silver plated copper and runs to the splitter as a single wire of about 2mm diameter. The splitter is matching stainless steel with two 1mm wires exiting to the north. Aclear plastic chin slider provides a way to tighten the cable if needed. At the North end, the mmcx connectors are housed in a clear plastic and brushed stainless housing with L/R marked in white on the stainless section. This can be difficult to see in certain lighting. Connectors are tight and attach very solidly. The cable is well designed for an earbud designed to be worn tip down as it contributes as little weight as possible while still providing good connectivity.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


    Tips:

    The M1 comes with several sets of foams and a pair of what I can only describe as plastic “foams” as they serve the same function but are solid rubber. While they do offer good purchase on the ear and might be useful for wearing during athletic events, they also block a good bit of the sound and alter the signature even more than standard foams. I favor the donut foams for this reason that give me some foam around the exterior while blocking as little of the signature as possible. Unfortunately, none are provided with the M1 so I pulled a few out of my kit and used those while working on my listening notes.

    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Sound:

    [​IMG]

    Bass:

    Sub-bass is present but is not the focus here and won’t win any prizes from the basshead crowd. Mid-bass is lighter than the ST-10 as well and gives the M1 a bright tilt. Mid-bass is well controlled and has good definition and those who are not interested in a bass monster will find a lot to like as attack and decay are both quick and the driver takes a lot to overwhelm before it starts to get a little loose.



    Mids:

    Lower mids are well done and show little to no bass-bleed. Male vocals are well presented but a bit less forward in the mix than higher vocals. Timbre is good on male vocals but they can come across a touch thin. Here a bit more bleed might actually be welcomed to bring some warmth and thickness. As you move up, the mids move forward and female vocals are a step closer to the listener and are more present in the mix compared to their male counterparts. Strings are well done due to the upper mid push and this may actually be the strongest feature of the M1. If you are big into string quartet pieces, the M1 is a good pick. To me the vocals are tuned in almost opposite fashion to the ST-10 where male vocals are more pronounced and female are a step back.



    Treble:

    Treble is bi-modal with a push in the lower treble reaching a crest at roughly 3kHz. This brings some of the energy previously mentioned to strings and vocals. Above that peak, the treble drops back and then has a second peak in the 7kHz range before rolling off fairly early above 8kHz or so. Snares have a good solid attack to them which is nice but cymbals lack the energy needed to sound full and natural and can be metallic. Here the tuning is very similar to the St-10 which shared the lower push and 7kHz peak. To my ear, the sound is a bit bright and can border on harsh depending on source material.



    Soundstage / Imaging:

    Soundstage is usually good on earbuds and the M1 is no exception with good depth, width and even some sense of height. I don’t think it is quite as large as the ST-10, but still quite respectable. Seating the orchestra is straight forward and instrument separation is good throughout. Imaging is solid, if unexiciting. Layering as previously mentioned is better than expected and it takes a lot to overwhelm the M1.



    Thoughts / Conclusion:

    The M1 is going to draw comparisons to the previous ST-10 as they share a lot. I can’t say I like the M1 Pro better than the ST-10, but I can say that I think it is closer to the ST-10 than the price tag suggests it should be. The price at present is roughly 65% of the cost of the ST-10 and the M1 delivers closer to 80% of the signature. This is similar to the EBX/EB2 pairing where the flagship has the better signature but the underling is the better value. That’s the upside, the downside is these are small earbuds and can be tough to keep in place. Know that going in, and temper your expectations appropriately. It is a shame that the M1 will be so closely tied to the St-10 as if it had been introduced by another brand it would be thought of as a competent if a bit bass light earbud, as it is, most will think of it as the ST-10’s little brother.
  3. Nimweth
    Smabat M1 Pro: A Revelation
    Written by Nimweth
    Published Nov 29, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Linear bass with good extension and texture
    Neutral and transparent mids, not recessed
    Extended treble with excellent micro detail
    Soundstage
    Musicality
    Cons - Zero isolation
    Springy cable
    Needs work to obtain good seal
    The Smabat M1 Pro is a high quality earbud featuring a large 14.2mm diameter dynamic driver with a composite diaphragm, MMCX removable cables and a unique Maze bass enhancement system inspired by transmission line speakers.

    The packaging is clean, simple and neat. A simple white box with the Smabat logo contains the earbuds with the silver-plated MMCX cable attached. Also included are two pairs of foam covers, one pair of rubber covers, three pairs of ear hooks and an instruction manual. All in all, this is a good presentation.

    The earpieces are very well made from metal and there is a double vent on the top of the housing which is the output for the Maze chamber. This channels the bass output of the driver along an extended path in order to supplement the bass response, and it works very well (see text below). The supplied MMCX cable is of high quality silver-plated copper with a straight 3.5mm brushed aluminium plug and a matching Y-split barrel. A clear plastic chin slider is also provided.

    The M1 Pro was used with a Hifi Walker H2 DAP via line out with a Fiio A5 amplifier for evaluation with a wide range of music across various genres, and a burn in period of 100 hours was carried out.

    Having used IEMs for at least the last eight years, the different presentation of an earbud took a little acclimatisation. Getting a good seal was the key to maximising the potential of the M1 Pro, and I achieved this by using the supplied foam covers and earhooks. The lack of isolation was another difference and this was compensated for by increasing the volume. In fact I found the M1 Pro particularly power-hungry and the best results were obtained with the amplifier volume increased by around 25% compared to my regular IEMs.

    First impressions were of a very wide and deep soundstage with an unusually good depiction of height. Detail retrieval was exceptional, especially in the treble, which was very extended and clear. The overall balance was neutral with a very linear profile in the bass, which also showed good extension and superb texture. Imaging was also above average. The overriding impression was one of “naturalness”, with the effect similar to listening to high quality speakers. That “intimacy” found when listening to IEMs with a perfect seal was replaced by an airy, relaxed and open presentation. In more detail:

    Bass

    With the Maze bass enhancement being a USP of these earbuds, I was keen to hear what the bass was like, especially since my home speakers employ a transmission line bass system. I am pleased to report that it is a success, with the bass having a very natural, unforced quality with excellent extension. Sub-bass was deep and beautifully textured and resolution was top class. The powerful bass drums in the beautiful 88KHz Reference Recordings issue of Rachmaninov’s “Symphonic Dance No.1” performed by the Minnesota Orchestra provided a perfect example with great immediacy and impact underpinning the impressively wide and expansive orchestral arrangement. Electronic music also benefited from this with the deep synth bass tones of “Music from the Sky” by Charles Crevier and Francois Kiraly reaching down effortlessly to the nether regions! Mid bass carried on in a linear fashion to the border with the midrange with no undue emphasis, lending a very neutral quality to this region and allowing all the detail to come through.

    Midrange

    The midrange, like the bass, was neutral in character and again showed an open, transparent quality, enabling details to be heard which other transducers fail to resolve. There was no sense of a recessed midrange. The wealth of detail on offer here was certainly surprising and I was able to hear things I had not noticed before, even in familiar recordings. The guitar and percussion elements in Chris Spheeris’s “Lovers and Friends” from his album “Desires of the Heart” came over more clearly than I have ever heard, providing extra detail and producing a very “live” effect which was very enjoyable. The transient response was very incisive and lent an attractive immediacy to everything I played. Geoffrey Bush’s “Music for Orchestra” performed by the LPO under Vernon Handley displayed this perfectly. This is a piece written in 1967 showcasing all the instruments of the orchestra in a lively, modern composition and the M1 Pros revelled in it, showing excellent natural timbre and giving a dynamic, enervating performance.

    Treble

    The treble was exceptionally clean and clear with a remarkable extension. There appeared to be very little roll-off even in the highest frequencies which allowed the finest detail and elusive harmonics essential for accurate timbre to be resolved. This was very impressive for a single dynamic driver. Such resolution is normally to be found in multi-driver units with dedicated HF BA drivers. As a result of this, electronic music fared particularly well. Andrew Forrest’s latest album “Freefall” is a set of three long electronic pieces featuring an impressive array of keyboards and electronic effects. The crystalline high frequency details in the first part displayed a wealth of detail with the various textures clearly differentiated and the complex arrangement showing excellent separation of the different elements. George Deuter’s “Petite Fleur” from his “Land of Enchantment album similarly impressed with all the delicacy of the percussion sounds coming over cleanly and precisely. Orchestral strings were also well-resolved with the high violin parts in the second movement of Benjamin Britten’s “Four Sea Interludes”, “Sunday Morning”, beautifully rendered and presented with verve and animation.

    Soundstage

    The soundstage on the M1 was exceptionally wide, deep and high, much more so than any IEM I have heard, and it resembled the stage of a full-size pair of headphones. It was also reminiscent of listening to high quality speakers in a large room with a spacious and airy quality. Imaging and separation were also very good, with positioning of orchestral instruments very well portrayed. The deep brass accompaniment at the beginning of Liadov’s “Enchanted Lake” in a recording conducted by Charles Gerhardt displayed a wonderful sense of depth and distance with the horns and harp occupying opposite sides of the image and the percussion section rumbling menacingly in the background, all of which combined to convey a wonderful live quality. Pink Floyd’s “Cluster One” from the “Division Bell” album also impressed, with Rick Wright’s keyboards and Nick Mason’s drums spread across the stage, complemented by Dave Gilmour’s moody guitar solo placed high in the centre of the image to great effect. “Antarctic Echoes” from Vangelis’s soundtrack to the Kurosawa film displayed a cavernous acoustic punctuated by the evocative synth elements which possessed an impressive decay which added to the atmosphere of the piece.

    Conclusion

    It is many years since I last used earbuds, it goes back to when I used a portable cassette player. The M1 Pro is the first earbud I have tested after discovering IEMs around nine years ago and I have to say it was a revelation. The presentation is different from an IEM with a more open perspective. Coming from a V-shaped IEM, the initial impression was of a bass-light and mid-centric sound, but with further listening, a beautifully balanced neutral or “flat” response emerged which enabled music to be heard the way the artist (or producer) intended. Bass was in fact, well extended with excellent texture.

    Comparisons, therefore, are difficult, but the closest-sounding IEM I have in my collection to the M1would be the Tin T3, which has a similar neutral character with a somewhat bright upper range. If you are looking for a transducer capable of accurate and musical reproduction, then this M1 Pro should be high on your shortlist.
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    1. digititus
      Nice review! I have come to a very similar conclusion. These are excellent buds and just like you my first set after many years of IEM's. To me, they sound like my Genelec monitors, which is high praise indeed.
      digititus, Nov 29, 2019
      Nimweth likes this.