Cons: Springy cable
Requires work to obtain a good fit
Could do with a few extra foams
Zero isolation (it's an earbud)
The Smabat ST-10 is the flagship model from the company and sits above the new M1Pro. It is a high-end earbud featuring a large 15.4 mm diameter dynamic driver with a triple sandwich diaphragm and titanium coating. Like its sister model, it features MMCX removable cables and the same unique Maze bass enhancement system inspired by transmission line speakers.
The packaging is simple and sophisticated. The box is black with an embossed shiny Smabat logo also in black. Opening the box there is a cover over the foam insert containing the earbuds with the cable already attached. Below this there is one pair of foam covers, one pair of donut foams and one set of perforated rubber covers. Under the foam insert you will find a faux leather storage pouch and an instruction manual. The presentation is very nice.
The earpieces are constructed from CNC machined aluminium and are finished in an attractive sage green color with a grained effect and emblazoned with a white Smabat logo. There is clear channel identification and on the top edge there is a silver-coloured output vent for the Maze system. This channels the bass output of the driver along an extended path in order to supplement the bass response.. 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. The portion closest to the MMCX plug is reinforced and intended to be worn over the ear. There is also a clear plastic chin slider. The build quality is excellent.
As with the M1 Pro, getting a good seal was essential in order to unlock the potential of the ST-10. I found it impossible to obtain an effective fit wearing them over the ear. This was partly due to the springy nature of the cable, but also to the large diameter of the earpieces. I therefore followed the procedure I used with the M1 Pro and fitted earhooks and the supplied standard foams, wearing them cable down using the cable from the earlier model.
The ST-10 was used with a Hifi Walker H2 DAP via line out with a Topping NX1a amplifier for evaluation with a wide range of music across various genres, and auditioning was carried out after a burn in period of 100 hours. Similarly to the M1 Pro, I found the ST-10 power-hungry and found that I had to increase the volume by around 25% compared to my regular IEMs. This was partly necessary to offset the poorer isolation common in earbuds.
The immediate impression was one of “speed”, with the snappy transient response making music exciting and portraying rhythmic elements very well indeed. Like its stablemate the M1Pro, the ST-10 displayed a largely neutral sound signature with a good deal of air and space and brimming with detail. However, where the M1 Pro was somewhat brighter than neutral, the ST-10 possessed greater warmth in the lower registers, not enough to make the overall sound V-shaped, but with greater bass extension and mid-bass output. The detail retrieval was similar with excellent layering and separation. The tonality more resembled that of an all-BA earphone rather than a dynamic driver model, and the presentation was also reminiscent of listening to speakers or full-sized headphones.
The larger 15.4mm driver, coupled with the Maze system, delivered a bass response which could best be described as “effortless”. Extension was good, but did not achieve that “rumble” often delivered by a good DD unit, rather it remained accurate, clean, well-defined and musical in nature. “The Flow of Time’s Arrow” from the album “Thousand Star” by spacemusic maestro Jonn Serrie was a good example of this. This track contains some deep bass tones and the ST-10 delivered a very well-balanced performance here, enabling the atmosphere of the piece to be appreciated. The bass extension was also showcased well in Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular World”, from the album “The Songs of Distant Earth”. The synthesised low frequency percussion elements in this piece displayed excellent impact and remained clean and precise. The timbre of classical instruments was particularly lifelike. In the second movement of the “Moorside Suite” by Holst, in a string arrangement conducted by David Lloyd-Jones, the warmth and character of the basses towards the end of the piece came over very authentically with the natural ambience of the recording venue reproduced very well. The prominent organ part in Saint-Saens’s Symphony No.3 in a recording conducted by Louis Fremaux and the CBSO came over with a lifelike breathy quality, providing a solid foundation and underpinning the dramatic orchestral writing in a most attractive way.
Moving to the midrange, there was little or no bass bleed thus allowing the lower mids to display an open, clean and natural sound with lots of air and space. The upper mids were a little brighter, which allowed plenty of detail to come through. Julian Lloyd-Webber’s cello solo in “Un Apres-Midi” accompanied by Vangelis on keyboards, was a very good example with the solo instrument possessing a natural timbre and placed high in the centre of the stereo image, producing a perfect foil for the sparkly synthesised accompaniment. “Castilla” from the “Suite Espanola” by Albeniz, in an orchestral version conducted by Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos was full of verve and elan, with the brass shimmering, lively percussion creating animated rhythms and strings with incisive attack all combining to produce a very enjoyable effect. The slightly forward nature of the midrange resulted in excellent reproduction of vocals. Enya’s “Echoes in Rain” from her “Dark Sky Island” album has a very powerful accompaniment but the ST-10 managed to project her voice effectively above the background and enable the lyrics to be clearly heard.
Like the M1Pro, the treble was clear, open and full of detail. There was a slight emphasis in the lower treble and another rise in the upper frequencies which added sparkle and detail, but overall the impression was neutral with perhaps a little extra brightness. Alexei Zakharov’s “Above the Stars” is an electronic piece with a synth drone and powerful drum accompaniment and a string-based melody line. Above all this there was a wealth of treble detail which was handled with aplomb and preserved all the finest nuances, producing a beautifully balanced performance. The delicate cymbal work in Jacques Loussier’s “Air on a G string was very clearly depicted, allowing the subtle brush sounds to be appreciated and in Linton Kwesi Johnson’s “Man Free”, Sly Dunbar’s superb percussion was exceptionally clear with excellent transient attack, cutting through the dub production to great effect.
Soundstage and imaging was very good, due in part to the immediacy and fast transients with the detail resolution equally fine. The stage was roughly spherical in shape having equal dimensions in width, depth and height. Vangelis’s “Metallic Rain”, from his album “Direct” was a good example. A myriad of electronic effects danced across the stereo image, whilst maintaining precise detail and tonality, even when accompanied by the heavy synth bass and melody lines. Classical music also benefited from the great clarity, with the aggressive woodwind tone clusters in Ives’s “Unanswered Question”, performed by the NYPO under Leonard Bernstein, creating a marvellous contrast to the serene string background, with the prominent trumpet solo clearly defined in a natural hall acoustic.
Having recently tested the M1Pro earbud, I had some idea of what to expect from the top model in the range. The two models share a similar sound quality, but the ST-10 added some extra bass extension and mid-bass warmth, a more defined midrange and a faster transient response. Soundstage was perhaps slightly more intimate than the M1 Pro, which excelled in this respect, but definition was superior. The closest comparison to IEMs in my collection would bring to mind the recent all-BA TRN BA5 and (like the M1 Pro), the Tin Hifi T3, both of which have a clear, neutral/bright presentation and linear bass. To achieve this with a single full-range dynamic driver is an achievement and the extra cost over the M1 Pro is certainly justified.
This item was provided by Sunny at a substantial discount from Better Audio US.
Pros: High quality bass response, forward upper mids without harshness, ability to take bass EQ, light and comfortable, good build and packaging, good soundstage and positioning
Cons: lack of fullness in the mids, treble not very extended
source for the review - Sabaj DA3
Songs used for the review
Jim Keltner - Improvisation
Eric Clapton - My father's Eyes
Nah Youn Sun - My Favorite Things
Inception - Dream Collapsing
Steve Strauss - Youngstown
Stimulus Timbre - Expression
Diana Krall – Let's Fall in Love
Trevor Jones - Clear The Tracks!
The DALI CD - Zhao Cong , Moonlight on Spring River
Baba-Yaga, for orchestra, Op. 56
Rebecca Pidgeon - Grandmother
Sara K - Maritime
Trevor Jones - Promentory
Patricia Barber - Regular Pleasures
Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms
Dire Straits - Your Latest Trick
Dave Brubeck - Take Five
Marcin Przybylowicz - Go Back Whence You Came
James Horner - Going After Newt
Hans Zimmer - Dream Is Collapsing
Hans Zimmer - Molossus
Harry Gregson - Emergency Launch
Shpongle - Shpongle Spores
Dizzy Gillespie - Could it Be You
Dominik Eulberg - Bjorn Borkenkafer
Trentemoller - The Forest
Kryptic Minds And Leon Switch - Ocean Blue
Nirvana - MTV Unplugged In New York (Album)
Xiomara Laugart - Tears and Rumba (2015) [192-24](Album)
Xiomara Laugart (2006) Xiomara (24-96)(Album)
Xiomara Laugart (2010) La Voz (24-88)(Album)
Jed Palmer - Upgrade (2018)(Album)
Jon Hopkins - Insides (2009)(Album)
Eric Serra - Lucy (2014) [flac](Album)
Jim asked me if i want to review the ST10, i saw some reviews praising the bass response.
That got me very curious because i have OURART ACG and the only weak point was the bass response. So i told Jim to send them in.
carrying case, mmcx cable, foam covers and some rubber covers
Build, fit and comfort
The build is very good, half plastic half metal build, they are very light but feel solid.
At the beginning i was not able to get a good fit over the ears but when i changed the cable with another one that has no hooks i was able to do it, over the ears and cable down also.
The comfort is great, they are very light and comfy.
Overall sound signature. (i am using them with full foam covers)
ST10 is neutral with a little bit of a bump in the upper mids.
On some reviews i was reading that the bass is boosted, for me the bass sound neutral in DF target with very good extension for earbud. It goes down to about 40hz and that is a very good result.
The bass is tight with excellent texture and details, reaching deep with fast hits, that makes them very enjoyable with bassy types of music like DNB and EDM. The bass is very articulate and clean, very unusual for earbud, most of them are trying to cheat with boosted mid and upper bass but not here.
ST10 can take bass boost without distortions retaining the bass control and texture, the driver inside is very capable.
The mids have some boost in the upper part, the lower midrange sound linear. Male vocals sound clean but not full, the female vocals are forward and clean sounding. I was worried that the midrange will be very aggressive on some bad recordings but it is not. Overall clean midrange performing better with female vocals.
The treble have some sparkle in the lower to middle treble but after that it rolls of, not a lot of upper treble here but is not harsh or overly bright. Overall clean and articulate treble without aggressive peaks but not the airiest out there.
Soundstage and imaging.
The soundstage has good width and dept, it is tall also so the shape of the whole soundstage is more like a sphere, the positioning is very good, the driver is very fast and there is no congestion even on complex tracks.
ST10 VS ACG
ST10 has deeper bass response, ACG has more mid and upper bass but no sub bass at all.
ST10 sound more natural and it is better for modern recordings.
Also ST10 can take bass EQ if you want to have some fun, ACG cant, the driver on ACG is fragile.
ACG has fuller mids and more mids overall, ST10 sound thinner and a little bit in the back compared to ACG.
The treble quantity is similar, ACG sound smoother with a little bit more upper treble.
Soundstage and imaging.
ACG has similar stage size but the imaging is better and more distinct.
I like them very much for doom and DNB, for vocal music i prefer ACG.
The Smabat ST-10 comes in a black rectangular box which is housing the logo of Smabat and its website address. When it’s opened, ST-10’s itself and its leatherette carrying pouch welcome us
Under the leatherette pouch, ST-10’s cable is replaced. The rest of the accessories are two pair of foams(full foam and donut foam), a pair of vented silicone tips and an owner’s manual. Overall, the packaging and presentation is very nice but there would be a pair of earhooks to get the fit better.
Design and Fit
ST-10 shares the same design of the Svara Pro. The only difference is the position of the MMCX connector. Shell and the material of the Smabat St-10 is different from most of the plasticky earbuds. It has a brushed aluminium outer surface which is housing the company’s name, L/R indicators and the product model number. Overall design is very good and ST-10 looks attractive and premium.
ST-10 is an earbud which is worn over ear. You can also wear them cable down purchasing an aftermarket cable. The stock cable make it easy to sit the earbud in your ears thanks to its well-shaped memory-wire. Fit is dependable from person to person. To get the most out of ST-10, you should make a couple of trials while music is playing to find the best fit. Fortunately, this is not a case that only applies to ST-10, it’s an earbud lover activity
· Drive Unit: 15.4 mm
· Frequency Range: 10-22000hz
· Sensivity: 115dB
· Impedance: 45 Ohm
Although ST-10 has a relatively low impedance, it needs a little more power to perform it’s best. It’s not a must. ST-10 is an efficient earbud to listen with cellphones and digital audio players but you had better match the ST-10 with powerful sources, stack it with a portable amp or replace its cable with a balanced one and plug it into a balanced out of a DAP.
Earbuds: Shozy BK (Balanced)
DAPS,DACS,DAC/AMPS: Sony WM1A, FiiO Q5(with AM3D amp module)
I have witnessed to positive effect of burn-in and i have written this review after 110 hours of burn-in. I have attached full foams during my listening sessions. Imho, included vented silicone tips affect the sound in a negative way, it smooth out every frequency.
The Smabat ST-10 is an earbud with a slightly bright tuning which has well extended bass, clear mids and non-piercing but lively treble section.
One of the most outstanding frequency range which impresses most from the first time is the lows. Yes, it is a “love-at-first-rumble” type of earbud, because subbass extension is comparable with, say, Astrotec Lyra Collection which is almost 3 times more expensive than the ST-10. Subbass goes very deep and has decent rumble especially for an earbud. The song “&burn” by Billie Eilish is an good example to witness to ST-10’s low frequency extension abilities (Actually, it is a song that you can almost completely test all capabilities of an earbud/iem etc…).
Emphasis on the subbass and controlled midbass provide fast and accurate bass presentation. Beside that, kick drum hits have a more than average punch and this makes the ST-10 a very good earbud to enjoy metal music archive. For instance, Nightwish’s Wanderlust or Dark Tranquillity’s Encircled can be listened effortlessly through ST-10.
Midbass region is behind the subbass region in terms of emphasis, but it has warmth that prevents the ST-10 sounding too thin and adds some body to instruments, like acoustic guitars in the song “Volcano” by Damien Rice.
As a result of the V Shaped tuning (not completely V-Shaped exactly), mids are placed somewhat behind bass and treble. This is not the end of the world because ST-10’s mids are very clear and effortless. Additionally, their detail retrieval capability is very high and represent good level of clarity.
High mids are presented more obviously than the low mids. Low mids lacks a little body and in terms of tonality, they are close to neutral(I don’t mean that they are completely lean, they have enough body. I think that engineers chose to tuning the ST-10’s low mids to represent clarity rather than body). In spite of this lack of body, there is no dryness to point out.
In contrast, electric guitars in Dream Theater’s Bombay Vindaloo or Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Little Wing sound extremely lively and crunchy.
Female and male vocals have good presence but i want to admit that i love listening female vocals with ST-10. It portraits Norah Jones’ rises well without being sibilant in the song Don’t Know Why.
ST-10 has non-fatiguing clear treble section which adds extra clarity and an airy presentation to the whole sound. To my ears, they have good energy(especially hi-hats) and cymbals or hi hats can be easily counted due to fast attack. As you listen, you start to think that engineers spare a special room to the drummers for only hit cymbals, hi-hats and rides. There is no harshness or congestion to worry about. I think that there is an attenuation regarding crush cymbals and this may be done for preventing ear-fatigue. There is no such an attenuation in hi-hats, they sound very energetic and shimmer.
Treble extension is an another strong point of ST-10. It extends very well and make you feel as if they are endless.
St-10 is one of the most technically talented earbud i have ever listened up to date. The sounstage is both wide and deep but depth of the stage is more remarkable.
Instrument seperation is above its price point and along with the successful imaging, you can pinpoint instrument wherever they are. There is very good attack and decay thanks to the cleverly tuned midbass and almost neutral low mids. Pace and rhytm is another successful point that keeps almost all music genres listenable with a good clarity.
I have a lot of earbuds but none of them is directly rival to the ST-10, considering their sound performance. Comparing the ST-10 with the Shozy BK is not fair, but i think that judging an earbud with only its price tag is completely wrong because there are good earbuds that have a sound above their price and now i will compare one of them with Shozy BK.
Shozy BK is flagship earbud like ST-10 and both of them have strengths or weaknesses to each other.
Shozy BK sounds warmer than ST-10. In terms of subbass depth, ST-10 is an absolute winner thanks to its IEM-like subbass presentation. Shozy BK has also good subbass depth but it lacks extension and rumble compared to the ST-10. By the way, Shozy BK is very successful on delivering lows for an earbud on its own.
St-10’s midbass is more rigid and rounded. Both of them have controlled midbass that doesn’t tend to mess midrange. Tonality-wise, Shozy BK’s midrange is more thicker, fuller and better in portraiting lushness and emotion, while the Smabat ST-10 is more detailed, thinner and less textured.
Both of them have pronounced and controlled upper mids but Smabat ST-10 has more crispness that doesn’t lead to fatigue at all. Shozy BK’s vocals have more emotion and sound more intimate than those of Smabat ST-10.
Treble region of the Smabat ST-10 is more upfront than those of Shozy BK and this keeps ST-10’s sound signature more airy compared to Shozy BK. Both of them present fatigue-free treble response. In terms of shimmer, Shozy BK has softer treble presentation which has less sparkling than that of Smabat ST-10
As far as soundstage width and depth concerned, Smabat ST-10 is a winner by a large margin. Shozy BK has more intimate soundstage. In terms of pace and rhytm, both of them is very good to enjoy fast genres.
ST-10 is the first earbud produced by Smabat and it proves that the company should be followed for the next products. If you want an earbud that has iem-like bass, headphone-like soundstage, clear mids and crisp, airy presentation without any fatigue, Smabat ST-10 will suit all your need. I really really love them, highly recommended.