Earsonics is a boutique audio equipment company located in Castries, France. They specialize in custom in-ears and hearing protection equipments. Earsonics is a well known company around the world and they are in business for quite a long time. I first encountered with Earsonics when I purchased SM3 in 2011. God it was so good… I immediately put them on my radar. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Earsonics is an eccentric company. They have a vision. They are prioritizing personal enjoyment over the classic hi-fi norms in their earphone tunings. Their aim is a musical, smooth but detailed sound. New ES lineup is a product of this exact idea. Crafted with this vision in mind.
In every october, Earsonics introduces a new lineup of earphones. This year, they surprised the market by choosing mid-tier their target range, which is quite extraordinary considering the dramatic price increase of the In-Ear market that causes serious financial trouble to the end user.
- Sensitivity: 119 dB/mW
- frequency response: 10 Hz -20 kHz
- Impedance: 26,5 ohm
- Driver: 2 drivers, 2 way crossover with impedance corrector.
- MSRP: 299€
- Sensitivity: 116 dB/mW
- Frequency Response:: 10 Hz -20 kHz
- Impedance: 31,5 ohm
- Driver: 3 drivers, 3 way crossover with impedance corrector.
- MSRP: 399€
We have used quite a few gear to unleash their full potential.
List goes like this:
- Lotoo Paw Gold (Main Source)
- Audioquest Dragonfly Black
- AR M20
- Plenue P1
- Shanling M5
- Linum Cables
The new ES serie comes with an elegant, grey box.
Inside the box, there is a little carrying case and tips. Accessories are quite modest, minimal. You only get what you need.
- 4 Comply tips
- 4 silicon tips
- 1 cleaning tool
- Carrying case
- User manual in French
- Stock cable
Design | Build | Fit
Both of the new lineup models are equipped with the same type of housing that had been used by Velvets. The housing is made of reinforced plastic. It’s a 2 sound bore design with a diffractive acoustic chamber.
Fit is seamlessly good. You can even lie down with them without any problems. Earphones themselves are quite lightweight and low profile. They look fashionable too!
When used with thin cables like Linums, you literally forget about them being in your ear after a short time.
Shall we start with ES-2? The younger brother has a non-fatiguing, smooth sound signature with an enhanced low end and laid back treble.
Let’s say after an incredibly long day, you’re feeling exhausted. The audiophile inside you urges you to listen some high quality music but you are so tired that you can’t even bare the idea of hearing all the micro details, extending cymbals, crackling hihats with your Velvets or your full size HE-6. You.. you just want to listen and relax. At that point, ES-2 comes into play. ES-2 is musical, smooth and dark. You won’t get tired of cymbals or snares.. In this regard, ES-2 and SM64 is very similar. Long story short, ES-2 is a great contender for those who love lush and warm in-ear monitors. Oh, and it doesn’t cherry-pick recordings either. During the review session I find myself amazed by particularly these artists: Brad Paisley, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Crash Test Dummies…
ES-3 on the other hand, reminds me of S-EM9 a lot, smooth but detailed presentation, good instrument separation, tight bass.. Meaty mids.. I can easily state that ES-3 is a lot more balanced than ES-2. It has more upper mid spark and treble extension. It feels a lot airier and energetic. In terms of technicality ES-3 is more resolving and refined than ES-2. It feels more coherent as well.
Bass of ES-2 is powerful, thick. Not boomy, not excessive. Given enough power, ES-2 mimics the characteristics of a dynamic driver. Airy, broad, punchy. There aren’t absurd amounts of bass that come out of nowhere. On the contrary, deep and tremendous bass only comes into play when the recording calls for it. It does not feel like it’s elevated or overly saturated. Timbre is just right. Even the micro details of sub-bass, like vibrations of the strings just before the tonal resonance, is presented delicately. I especially enjoyed listening to string and percussion instruments with the ES-2.
ES-3’s bass however, is more linear compared to ES-2. It is fast, neat, whacky. When listening to fast paced songs e.g. megadeth, dragonforce etc. bass impact stands strong and keeps up with the rest of the spectrum. It surprised me a lot to hear a bass so clean and textured in this price range. I remember the first time putting them on, the very first thing that popped in my mind was “these do not sound like they are 400€ at all!” Earphone itself can easily be compared with such high priced sets like SE846, IE800, ES Velvet, bass-wise. Mid bass and Sub bass are both very well tuned and offers a great balance. I also wanted to see how the ES-3 pairs up with cables like Linum BaX and Linum Music. After an extensive testing session with BaX, it is safe to say that the sub-bass quantity increases significantly with Linum BaX.
ES-2’s mid region is warm, welcoming and full. It gives you the feeling of a crackling fireplace in a cold rainy day. ES-2 is an emotional presenter but it does not push the vocals into your face like the Westone um30. You do not lose the sense of airiness when you are listening to a romantic acoustic track with a velvety woman vocal. Long story short, the mids are meaty, lush and full. I really like ES-2’s acoustic reproduction. It’s somewhat creamy and tranquilizing.
The midrange of the ES-3 is well-positioned, neither recessed nor forward. Vocals are transparent, articulate and elegant. Mids are blending into the spectrum very well, resulting in a very coherent presentation. Upper mids are smoothened but the detail level and resolution still remain uncompromised like in every Earsonics product. This is their house sound after all. Lower midrange on the other hand, feels natural and I really enjoyed women vocals with the ES-3. (e.g. Melody Gardot, Norah Jones and Diana Krall.)
ES-2 is on the darker side of the force. Highs are more recessed than the rest of the spectrum, but they definitely do not lack in detail and coherency. They are not prominent, they are not harsh or edgy. ES-2 is a great option if you like your eardrum where it already is. Joking aside, ES-2 has a way of throwing you hi-hats, snares, crashes like they’re literally smoothest instruments in the world. I actually love that a lot. I can literally throw any cymbalfest Dragonforce or Behemoth song at ES-2 and it just finds a way to smoothen all up and somehow rejuvenate your soul …while listening to metal. Yeah.
After some smooth afternoons together, you may want to pull the little guy into the interrogation chamber and ask it whether it is a natural sounding monitor or not. Well I have bad news for you. It is most probably not.
Comparatively, ES-3’s high frequencies are smooth but still carry great level of detail. They have good extension and resolution. Just like the upper mids, they are completely lenient. They are definitely not harsh or edgy in any way. Additionally highs never dwarf the mids, they have great control and this gives ES-3 a more coherent presentation across the spectrum.
Soundstage, Imaging and Instrument Separation – Dynamics – Speed – Articulacy
Despite its powerful low end, rolled off upper-mid and polite highs, ES-2 offers quite a good headroom. Layering and stage depth is excellent for this price range. Imaging is good, reminds me of SM64. PRaT-wise, it is a relatively fast monitor, it can keep up with the majority of the tracks I threw at it, but there are still few that it couldn’t and gave up to congestion.
ES3 offers a spacious presentation which feels even greater when combined with a good player like Lotoo PG. Instrument separation is somewhat source dependant and it can be quite impressive if the source you’re using is well-matched with ES-3. PRaT and speed is something that Earsonics fans got used to and this remains unchanged with ES-3 as well. It is fast, dynamic and articulate. Both imaging and layering are also excellent and very well defined. Staging is airy and spacious. ES-3 handles congestion very well and I am quite fascinated by this to be honest.
To understand it better, please proceed to the comparison section down below.
vs. Earsonics Velvet (700€)
Velvet’s notes are lighter, less meaty. Velvet feels airier and it’s more spacious. Velvet’s bass extends better and it has more bass than ES-3 in general. Margin is not big, if you like Velvet’s bass presentation, but if you want a more balanced signature, go for ES-3. If you want more bass and less treble fatigue, go for ES-2.
Resolution-wise, ES-3 is almost on par with tight Velvet which is quite good. ES-2 falls behind a bit in this regard.
vs. Earsonics S-EM9 (1.500€)
Think of S-EM9 as the homo sapiens and ES-3 as the homo erectus. S-EM9 is the evolved and upgraded version of ES-3. Almost same signature, a lot more resolution, better EVERYTHING. If you love Earsonics products like I do, you should definitely give this speedster a chance. Its review is in the works too!
vs. Noble K10 ($1.650)
K10’s upper mids are wilder than those of ES-2 & 3. Control degrades when combined with high volumes.
Resolution-wise K10 is better and more refined. K10’s vocal presentation is more successful and feels more natural. Its bass also goes deeper and have more whack effect. ES-3’s stage is more spacious compared to the Noble.
vs. Oriolus + PW.5 ($1.300)
Oriolus’ strong suit is its natural presentation. I am afraid that many of the in-ears to this date will fall short in this regard. Nonetheless, ES-3 is faster and it’s timbre is not unnatural compared to Oriolus. For an IEM priced so modestly, it is a great accomplishment if you ask me.
vs. In Ear SD-2 (400€)
ES-2 has more bass than SD-2 and ES-3.ES-3’s vocal presentation is nearly identical but SD-2 has A LOT more upper mid spark than ES-2. ES-3’s stage is wider. Both of the ES twins have more exciting tuning than the SD-2.
ES-2’s soft, smooth and lush sound signature should be considered very unique. Especially it can be an excellent companion if you enjoy acoustic music. Its percussion and string instrument presentation is very satisfying. ES-2 is a unrivalled earphone for treble sensitive audiophiles. Plus considering it’s price, it is a quite good in-ear if you like meaty mids, recessed treble and abundant bass presence.
ES-3’s smooth but also detailed sound at this resolution and separation should be considered quite extraordinary, especially at this price point. Even with the TOTL monitors, you might not get the PRaT and dynamism of the ES-3.. It can easily keep up with the fastest songs that we could find. Congestion is entirely out of the picture. To sum it up, ES-3’s 3d imaging, transparency, coherence, and capability are all excellent for the asking price.
We really recommend these gems to all Earsonics house sound fans out there!