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EarSonics Velvet In-Ear Earphone Review

59


Brief: Variable-tuning universal-fit earphone from French IEM experts EarSonics

MSRP: €699 (approx. $800) (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $950 from Amazon.com
Specs: Driver: Triple Balanced Armature w/ 3-way Crossover | Imp: 31.5 Ω – 41.5 Ω (depending on sound setting) | Sens: 116 dB | Freq: 10-20k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 4mm | Preferred tips: Stock double-flanges; Westone STAR tips, MEElec M6 double-flanges
Wear Style: Over-the-ear

Accessories (4.5/5) – Small (1 pair) and regular (4 pairs) double-flange silicone tips, large single-flange silicone tips, cleaning tool, antibacterial wipes (2), 6.3mm adapter, flathead screwdriver for adjusting the sound tuning, and zippered protective carrying case
Build Quality (4.5/5) – The lightweight shells of the Velvet are made of plastic and come in either black or clear. The twisted cables are detachable and feature a memory wire section and standard 2-pin connectors. The construction is solid and the overall design is very understated – all that really stands out are the tuning screws, which are accessible from the faceplates (more on these in the sound section). Two minor complaints – first, the plastic of the tuning screws is rather soft, and can be scratched easily with the included screwdriver. Second, there are no external filters on the nozzles of the earphones, so the included cleaning tool should be used periodically to remove any earwax buildup
Isolation (4/5) – Isolation is quite good with the included double-flange tips – about on-par with the SM64 model
Microphonics (5/5) – Basically nonexistent, as with all similar designs
Comfort (4/5) – The Velvet has a relatively small footprint in the ear, reminding me of the Noble universals. The angular design of the housings harkens back to the EarSonics SM2/SM3 more so than the smoother shape of the SM64 and can introduce some pressure points in small ears but on the whole the earphones are lightweight and very comfortable

Sound (9.4/10) – The EarSonics Velvet is a 3-way, triple balanced armature earphone featuring variable sound tunings selectable via a built-in tuning screw on each earpiece. In my experience the tunings mainly affect the bass of the earphones, with the full clockwise position yielding maximum bass and full counterclockwise – the most balanced sound. The three marked settings are “tight” (minimum bass), “balanced” (medium bass), and “warm” (maximum bass).

An explanation on the Velvet webpage indicates that EarSonics considers listening volume a factor when selecting the best sounding tuning to use, with “tight” being best-suited for low-volume listeners and “warm” for high-volume listeners. The nomenclature is relative, of course – per headphone community conventions, all three of the Velvet’s the sound profiles are on the warm and bassy side and just differ in degree.

With that said, the Velvet is an excellent earphone. It actually shares quite a few similarities with the far more expensive FitEar TG334 – both are BA-based earphones with enhanced bass and fairly level mids and highs yielding good overall clarity. Admittedly, the Velvet is a little less neutral – its upper mids are slightly brighter and the bass hump is a little more audible. It is also much less sensitive, but at their core the two are much more similar than they are different.

All three of the Velvet’s sound settings have significantly higher than average bass impact (especially for a BA earphone) and a nice balance of mid-bass and sub-bass. Compared, for instance, to flatter IEMs such as the InEar StageDiver SD-2 and Shure SE535, the Velvet sounds warmer and offers more bass depth and impact. Compared to hybrid earphones such as the DUNU DN-2000 and FLC Technologies FLC8, which tend to have very good bass extension with little mid-bass boost, the Velvet sounds more full-bodied and impactful, and can be considered “bassier” in the conventional sense.

One of the things I like best about the bass of the Velvet – especially in the “tight” and “balanced” configurations – is that, while noticeably enhanced, it never becomes overwhelming to the point of being fatiguing. Unlike, for instance, the Sony XBA Z5 and InEar StageDiver SD-3, which have comparable bass quantity, the low end of the Velvet never feels overwhelmingly bassy. This may stop me from recommending the Velvet to a basshead, but for pretty much all other listeners it is definitely an asset.

The mids of the Velvet are surprisingly clear for a warmer-sounding earphone – much like those of the FitEar TG334. For instance, the Velvet has no less clarity than the flatter, more mid-centric StageDiver SD-2. The treble is also very well-balanced and accomplishes the rare feat of being smooth and non-fatiguing without sounding dull or rolled-off. There is more sparkle and presence than with the SD-2, but not too much so – the treble is not very bright compared to the DN-2000 or FLC8, which means the Velvet loses out on some of the perceived clarity those earphones gain from their extra treble energy but also sounds a little richer and more full-bodied. The other upside, of course, is that the Velvet is less prone to harshness and sibilance.

The deep, impactful bass and good end-to-end presence of the Velvet benefit its presentation. The soundstage doesn’t have the sheer width of earphones with more laid-back mids (like the DN-2000 and FLC8), but it ends up sounding well-layered and versatile. Compared, for instance, to the rather flat StageDiver SD-2, the Velvet does sound more lively and dynamic by a margin. There are earphones that have all that plus a wider soundstage, but they are few and far between – the only one that currently comes to mind is the FitEar TG334.

One last thing to note – while better in this regard than the SM64 model, the Velvet is not very sensitive for a BA earphone, with much lower efficiency than your typical Shure/Westone/Ultimate Ears IEM.

Select Comparisons

EarSonics Velvet vs EarSonics SM64 ($449)

While both the Velvet and the older SM64 can be classified as having a warm and smooth sound, they actually sound fairly different from each other. I kept the Velvet in its minimum-bass (“tight sound”) setting for this comparison, and even then it offered more mid-bass impact than the SM64. I happen to think that the SM64 has fantastic bass – punchy and well-extended, yet linear in response and free of bloat. As a result of its extra mid-bass boost, however, the Velvet is a little more rich and lush-sounding.

The Velvet also lacks the upper midrange dip of the SM64. If not for this dip, the SM64 would sound significantly more neutral than the Velvet; as is, the Velvet is just a little more colored. The greater upper midrange presence helps it sound clearer than the SM64 despite its mid-bass hump. Vocals are fuller and more intelligible on the Velvet, and the overall sound is more cohesive. A side effect is that it is less tolerant of sibilance – while the SM64 does a great job of killing sibilance on tracks prone to it, the Velvet is more revealing, though still smoother than most IEMs in its class. It also has a more forward presentation, versus the more laid-back SM64.

EarSonics Velvet vs RHA MA750 ($120)

The dynamic-driver, enhanced-bass MA750 has been one of my most consistent recommendations for warmer-sounding mid-level earphones. Its sound falls between the minimum-bass (“tight sound”) and medium-bass (“balanced sound”) settings of the Velvet. While closer to the latter setting in bass presence, the MA750 is actually a little less impactful than the Velvet, which has much more headroom for those who crave even greater impact.

The bass is less controlled and more intrusive on the RHA unit. The mids are more recessed for the most part, before gaining emphasis in the upper midrange. There, the RHA sounds less refined and a bit “tizzy” compared to the Velvet. The Velvet has more midrange presence and is smoother and clearer, but also warmer and more rich-sounding.

EarSonics Velvet vs DUNU DN-2000 ($270)

The Velvet was kept in its minimum bass (“tight sound”) configuration for this comparison, but these earphones still have very different sound signatures. The V/U-shaped sound tuning of the DN-2000 boasts a bit more sub-bass presence with similar overall bass quantity and a much colder, brighter tonal character. Interestingly, the warmer EarSonics keep up in clarity despite being much smoother. The DN-2000, on the other hand, sounds more metallic through the upper mids and treble. At lower volumes this is not a big deal, but at higher volumes the Velvet sounds quite a bit more natural.

EarSonics Velvet vs InEar StageDiver 3 (SD-3) ($599)

The SD-3 is a triple-driver, enhanced-bass universal IEM from Germany-based InEar. Being closer to the Velvet in both price and sound tuning than the more balanced-sounding SD-2 on which it is based, the SD-3 seemed like a better point of comparison. To match the SD-3’s sound most closely, the medium bass (“balanced sound”) tuning of the Velvet was used. Clearly, EarSonics’ definition of “balanced” differs not only from mine, but also from that of the folks at InEar.

In its medium-bass configuration, the Velvet has similar impact and depth to the SD-3 but its bass seems a little tighter overall, likely because the bass boost doesn’t reach too high into the upper bass. The Velvet never feels overwhelmingly bassy, yet the solid deep bass presence gives it a dynamic and engaging sound. The midrange of the Velvet is more forward and a little clearer. The upper midrange and lower treble have more sparkle and excitement, while the SD-3 sounds smoother and a bit more dull. The Velvet’s presentation is a little more layered and well-imaged. As usual, the SD-3 is way more sensitive.

EarSonics Velvet vs Westone W40 ($500)

Westone’s former flagship is a quad-BA monitor with warm and smooth sound signature. For this comparison I put the Velvet in its minimum bass (“tight sound”) configuration. Even then, it generally provided a bit more bass impact while also having its bass emphasis focused more on the subbass region. The W40 has more mid/upper bass, and a result suffers from a bit more bass bleed. This, in turn, results in lower clarity, though on tracks with less sub-bass presence the Westone can appear punchier than the Velvet (of course, the Velvet can be retuned to one of its bassier settings to compensate if needed).

Above its sizable bass hump – from the upper bass region and up through the treble – the Velvet is on the whole more accurate-sounding than the W40. The W40 has less upper midrange presence, which doesn’t help its clarity. Vocals are more intelligible on the Velvet, and the treble is a bit more sparkly on the whole. Otherwise, the two are not far apart in performance though, as is the case with most other BA-based monitors, the W40 is significantly more efficient than the Velvet.

EarSonics Velvet vs Sony XBA-Z5 ($700)

Sony’s flagship IEM is similar to the Velvet on paper – a warm-sounding high-resolution earphone with plenty of bass and good treble quality. I started out with the Velvet in its minimum bass (“tight sound”) and medium bass (“balanced sound”) configurations. Compared to the XBA-Z5, these had more prominent mids and sounded brighter and clearer. The XBA-Z5 is bassier, warmer, and darker. The bass is a little boomier and the overall sound is a little dull in comparison, with less forward and slightly more muffled mids. The Z5 is also even smoother and more forgiving than the Velvet, which is hardly harsh itself. The presentation of the XBA-Z5 is more spacious, due in part to the more laid-back midrange and excellent treble extension.

Switching the Velvet to its maximum bass (“warm sound”) setting evens the playing field quite a bit. With the Velvet in this configuration, the XBA-Z5 becomes the more balanced of the two earphones, though its bass still has a bit more rumble and the midrange is still not as forward or clear as that of the Velvet. However, in this setting the Velvet has a sizable bass hump and lots of bass impact, which removes its tighter, less powerful bass as an advantage over the Z5 and allows the Sony to keep up in other ways. Not only is the presentation more spacious in the Sony set, but the treble seems to be better quality as well – more level and also more extended.

On the whole, while the two are similar in general tuning philosophy, the Z5 is a very good basshead earphone while the Velvet sounds best when kept it in its warm-but-not-quite-basshead configurations.

EarSonics Velvet vs Gorilla Ears GX-4b ($799)

The GX-4b is a quad-driver, enhanced-bass custom in-ear monitor that performs on a similar level to the Velvet. The Velvet is no less impactful than the GX-4b even in its minimum bass (tight sound) setting. The midrange of the GX-4b is slightly drier and the top end is a bit more revealing. The Velvet, on the other hand, is even smoother and does a better job of killing sibilance and harshness. The Velvet at times sounds clearer but on some tracks its bass gets in the way a bit more. The presentation of the Velvet is less forward while the GX-4b is significantly more intimate, and much more sensitive as well.

Value (8.5/10) – It is always hard to put a value rating on a ultra-high-cost earphone like this, but the Velvet may just be an end-game IEM for those who  like the “warm and smooth” type of sound signature – and that in itself can be worth a lot. With the ability to fine-tune its sound (mostly the bass boost) and a compact form factor with all the usual trappings of a top-tier BA earphone, what’s not to like?

Pros: potential end-game IEM for warm and smooth sound, detachable cables
Cons: N/A

Check out average_joe’s Velvet review for another perspective.


« View EarSonics Velvet in the List

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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

59 Comments

  1. Ivano on

    Never heard the bass of the XBA-Z5 boomy, maybe first hours out of the box, these are not bass-head at all; in fact with electronica I prefer the much more bassier JVC.

  2. Joey on

    Hi Joker,

    If you get a chance, could you give me a quick comp of the Velvet and the AF180?

    Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      Sure, but these are pretty different-sounding. The Velvet is a lot more colored, in any setting it has enhanced bass and a bit more treble presence and crispness than the AF180 – sort of like a v-shaped EQ curve (with a bass bias) applied to the flatter Audiofly sound.

      AF180 on the other hand is pretty flat – it has a bit of a smoothed-out upper midrange (which differentiates from the Velvet even more) but otherwise is quite level. Closest to this voicing among the other quad-driver IEMs is probably the UE900.

  3. Rr on

    Hi Joker,

    How these compares to Inear Stagediver SD4, especially regarding bass slam and rumble.

    • ljokerl on

      I haven’t tried the SD-4, unfortunately.

  4. Erik on

    Hello |Joker|,

    I’ve recently been reading up on the Velvet. I’m in search of a rich, full-bodied, warm, but nonetheless high-performing IEM to compliment/contrast my Brainwavz B2’s dry tone; something more intimate and impactful/fun in other words. Do you think the Velvet fulfills this niche?

    I also see you mention elsewhere in the thread that its little brother, the SM-64 performs similarly on the lower end (as in tuning). With that in mind, are the differences between the two more marginal than I’d like?

    Thanks,
    Erik

    • ljokerl on

      Normally I would say yes, but coming from the B2, which is a top-tier clarity-focused IEM, you will be very sensitive to the difference in clarity between the Velvet and the SM64 – i.e. the SM64 will seem veiled coming from the B2. The Velvet less so, and I think along with everything else that will add up to a bigger difference between them than what it is objectively.

  5. CaptainTeemo on

    Dear joker
    I purchased the velvet from reading your review and it was every bit as you described, can’t be happier, thank you.

    The stock grey ear tips are too small and does not have a good seal of my ear, I was wondering if you have any recommendations for ear tips that can retain the quality of the sound as well as provide a good amount of comfort for the velvet ? Thank you so much !

    • ljokerl on

      I liked the Westone STAR tips on them as well as the MEElec M6 tips. The latter are pretty inexpensive, something like $6-7 for the full set which comes with a bunch of different shapes and sizes, so one of them should give you a better fit. Might be worth a try to just get the full pack and go through them one by one.

      • CaptainTeemo on

        OK ! I will check those out, thank you so much Joker !!

  6. Luiz Bana on

    Hello ljokerl, I’ve been enjoying the ES Velvet for quite a while now (with the help of this review). I pair it with a Fiio X7 and I quite like it. However, I’m looking for a CIEM that would fit that same sound sig and match the Velvet or even be an upgrade to it. What’s your recommendation?

    • ljokerl on

      Unfortunately none of my high-end CIEMs are a good match for the ES Velvet sound signature while also being at least on-par in sound quality. The closest is the Westone ES5, but I actually think it sounds worse than the Velvet. The next closest is the Heir Audio 8.A, but I think it’s overpriced and don’t really recommend it.

      • Luiz Bana on

        ljokerl, thanks for the answer. Guess I might wanna keep the Velvet and go for something a little different to complement it. Would the UM Mentor V2 be a good option for a 2nd sound signature?

        • ljokerl on

          Unfortunately I wouldn’t know about that one, never tried it

  7. Alejandro Martinez on

    Hi, Joker.

    I bought one of these months ago based on your recommendations. Love the sound!!
    However, the eartips always stay into my ears after I try to remove the headphones. Do you know how can I solve this issue? This has never happened to me before, even with the same tips in other earphones. The eartips slid through the tube, and endup staying in my ears.

    Best regards,
    Alejandro

    • ljokerl on

      In my experience this is often just caused by earwax collecting inside the eartips and on the nozzles, making things slippery. I would clean the outside of the nozzles with peroxide and also give the eartips a peroxide bath to dissolve any earwax that might be inside the stems. This should give you a little more friction between the eartips and the nozzles.

      I’ve also heard of people solving this by putting a bit of masking tape (the type that has a rough texture but doesn’t leave any residue) around the nozzles. This would create tons of friction.

      • Alejandro Martinez on

        Thank you very much, Joker.

  8. zoso86 on

    I listen mainly rock genre. Classic rock, progressive rock, brit rock, alternative rock. I like guitar solos and also blues. Which one should I prefer? Velvet, Z5, W40, Savant, FLC8 or? .

    • ljokerl on

      Sorry, can’t tell you which one you would prefer – that’s why it’s called a preference. Some people like to hear their (insert genre here) with lots of bass, while other strive for the most accurate sound. I would go for something relatively accurate with a slight bass bump for those genres. Mildly v-shaped is okay, too. From your list my pick would be the FLC8, but I also generally prefer that earphone to sets such as the Z5 (too much bass) and W40 (not enough clarity).

  9. Feilong on

    Hello,

    I’m looking at the FLC 8S and the Earsonics Velvet and am wondering why someone would get one over the other.

    Also if I found the midrange in the IE800 a little recessed for my liking and the treble way too harsh for me, would I like either of those?

    Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      In your case I think the Velvet will be a better choice. The FLC8 is more along the lines of the IE800 – compared to something like the Velvet it tends to have more recessed mids, brighter treble is thinner and less smooth, etc. The Velvet is more on the rich, warm, and full-bodied side, or at least as far as you can get in that direction without starting to lose treble energy, clarity, and detail resolution as truly “warm” IEMs tend to do.

      Of course you can try and use the tuning system of the FLC8 to remedy as much of this as you can but you’ll never get it to sound as rich and full as the Velvet, just like you won’t get the Velvet to be as bright as the FLC8.

  10. ochosisco on

    Love your site and the lists! Ok, question. I’m looking to upgrade my IEM (from a lowly Klipsch Image S4 😳) to a real serious IEM and so far I love what I’ve read about the Velvet and love that it has the adjustable bass dial. But I’m no audiophile, I have no DAC/amp, but I do want a IEM that is fairly accurate (for amateur sound mixing and on stage performance), extends into sub-like bass territory, and isn’t harsh with treble. My main sources would be from an iPhone 6 Plus, an iMac, and from Aviom onstage monitors.

    So would the Velvet be worth the money for me? I don’t completely understand all this balanced armature vs dynamic driver stuff yet…

    • ljokerl on

      The Velvet would be an excellent upgrade but it might be overkill in this particular case – depends on how big a deal spending $700 is to you. You’re coming from something that’s barely mid-fi, and thinking of investing in a top-tier monitor without really getting a great sampling of different sound signatures.

      For about half the cost of a Velvet you could get something like the FLC Technology FLC8. It won’t have the same sound signature as the Velvet, but it doesn’t sound like you’re looking specifically for this sound tuning. It’ll still do everything you want and the difference in sound quality (sound tuning aside) will be minimal, especially from an iPhone/iMac.

      • ochosisco on

        Great feedback, thanks!

        Read your review of FLC 8, and love what I read. Like the Velvet, I like that it has the adjustable ports/filters. Spending $700 is a big deal and I do feel more comfortable spending $500, so I definitely love $340 for FLC 8! But I don’t plan to spend $400 now and a few years from now spend $700 to upgrade, so I just want to make sure I make a good choice now! Btw, I was also considering the EarSonics SM64, but your review of the FLC 8’s almost sounds like you prefer them over the SM64…

        Again, not certain of the sound signature I like yet, but I’m thinking I’d prefer a warm-ish sound to a bright sound, but still be fairly neutral. I love good punchy bass and sub-bass, but I’m not a basshead. And IEM’s with a “good soundstage” sounds like something I’d like to be able to experience 😉

        I’m sure I’ll eventually get into better quality sourcing, but I’m not there yet, so I want a good all-around IEM that will sound fairly good regardless of if the source is an iphone or DAC.

        • ochosisco on

          P.S. if I went FLC, would I want the FLC 8 or the FLC 8S? Can’t tell what the difference is besides the 8S cable is a memory cable at the end, which people don’t seem to like…

          • ljokerl on

            The FLC8 and SM64 are tuned very differently, though they do both fit your requirements to an extent (the FLC8 is bright-ish but still more neutral than the SM64). I do personally prefer the FLC8 but they’re not really direct competitors. SM64 also lacks the tuning adjustment, which is an asset in your case.

            As far as I know FLC8 and 8S don’t differ in driver or sound tuning – all of the changes are external.

  11. Alan Wang on

    Hey joker
    I lost my SM64 a year ago, and I lost my velvet(Which I really love) two weeks ago….I’m kind scared to purchase again and again. Therefore , I’m looking for a cheap substitute of Velvet. Have you heard Sony A3? Does it have the similar sound signature?

    Thanks in advance.

    • ljokerl on

      I’m not familiar with the A3. I do have an H3, which is another hybrid from Sony. I guess you can say it has a somewhat similar signature to the Velvet but the bass is not as tight which in turn affects the entire balance of the sound – I’d classify it as a bass-heavy earphone while the EarSonics tend to be warm, but relatively balanced-sounding.

  12. Thomas on

    Hey Joker,

    I’ve been wondering if I should get the AKG K3003i, Earsonics Velvet, Z5 or the 4R…

    I like a generally balanced sound with a bit of warmth, but not too neutral. I have a feeling the Z5
    might sacrifice too much clarity while the AKGs might not have enough bass quantity for me. Don’t know where the Velvet lies.

    On the other hand, I can get the Westones much cheaper than the others – maybe about $200 less! Is the price difference really worth it ? And are the others better than the Westone?

    I generally listen to mainstream pop and maybe even some rock. I do like to listen to classical sometimes though.

    Thanks,

    • Thomas on

      Oh and maybe the IE800s as well… …so many choices…

      But again, like the Z5s, I feel as they might be too bassy for some genres

      • ljokerl on

        I compared the W4/W40 to the Velvet above. I thought the difference was sizable, but as always it depends on how big a deal it is for you to spend the extra cash.

        The sets you’re looking at are all over the place in terms of sound. The Z5 is a borderline basshead earphone (the Velvet also if you use the max bass setting). The K3003 is more bright and v-shaped than the rest. The W4 is relatively balanced, but lags behind the others in clarity and resolution.

        The IE800 is quite bassy and also v-shaped overall. It’s a good earphone but many listeners (myself included) don’t experience the benefits of Sennheiser’s patented treble-smoothing solution when listening to the IE800, so it ends up sounding somewhat harsh.

        Keeping in mind that none of these are balanced/neutral-sounding IEMs by any stretch, I’d get the Velvet as having the best balance through the mids and treble, and bass quality/tightness on-par with the less bassy sets (W4/K3003).

        • Thomas on

          Yeah, I think the Velvet would strike in the middle.

          Haha, thanks!

          • Thomas on

            Actually, one more question…

            Where do you think the bass quantity of the Noble 4 lay?

            A lot of people say it does not have that much bass, but I would be
            happy if they had the same quantity as the 4Rs.

            Thanks again

          • ljokerl on

            The 4S is very balanced. It does not have as much bass as the W4R or AKG K3003.

  13. CK on

    how you compare this westone um pro 50 and noble savant ?

    • ljokerl on

      Sorry, don’t have either of those in my collection.

  14. HBash on

    Hi ljokerl,

    Would this model qualify as an “end run” upgrade on the Yamaha EPH-100 ?

    Thanks for your efforts.

    • ljokerl on

      Yeah, this and the FitEar TG334 are the two absoulte best universals I’ve tried for that type of warm and enhanced-bass, but also clear and smooth, sound.

      • HBash on

        Would it do well driven by the following sources ? I am worried about the high impedance..

        – iPod Classic
        – Laptop Audio Jack
        – Fiio E7 DAC/Amplifier

        • ljokerl on

          The impedance is not problematic – 32 Ohms is typically considered average between IEMs and portable headphones, and no portable source should struggle with a load in that general range. When it comes to multi-balanced armature IEMs, I prefer this approach than having ultra-low impedance with wild swings – lower likelihood of source interaction this way.

          The iPod Classic and E7 should drive these fine – you may see a small improvement with a properly high end source, but I was very happy the Velvet driven by the E7. With laptops there will be a lot of variation and it’s hard to say. Some are good, others have various issues, especially with hi-res multi-BA earphones like these.

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  16. Skeith on

    Hi Joker.
    Can you compare Velvet with TG334 ???
    Which one has better resolution, transparency, extention, imaging, and soundstage ???

    • ljokerl on

      I did a bit of that in the review above:

      “It actually shares quite a few similarities with the far more expensive FitEar TG334 – both are BA-based earphones with enhanced bass and fairly level mids and highs yielding good overall clarity. Admittedly, the Velvet is a little less neutral – its upper mids are slightly brighter and the bass hump is a little more audible. It is also much less sensitive, but at their core the two are much more similar than they are different.”

      and

      “There are earphones that have all that plus a wider soundstage, but they are few and far between – the only one that currently comes to mind is the FitEar TG334.”

      I would say the clarity/transparency and imaging/soundstage are slightly better on the TG334 while everything else you mentioned is evenly matched.

  17. Jason on

    Hello, I truly adore SM64. I am thinking to get it reshelled in silicone. I also have Lear LCM BD4.2. But I like darker presentation of SM64 better. So, would it be wise for me to go for the Velvet?

    Thank you.

    • ljokerl on

      I wouldn’t – the Velvet lacks that upper midrange dip that the SM64 has and the overall tuning of the top end is different. If the treble curve of the SM64 is a strong selling point for you, the Velvet may be a step in the wrong direction.

      • Jason on

        I see. Do you know any other iem/ciem with the similar treble-upper midrange curve?

        Thank you very much for your time.

        • ljokerl on

          Yes, but not one that I’d also consider a good SM64 upgrade. There are several Westone models that do this, for instance, including the Westone ES5 (which is good but not an amazing value these days at $900+).

  18. oldschool on

    Where would you put the loudness compared to the SM64 when adjusting the volume knob?

    • ljokerl on

      If the SM64 is about 15/60 on my Fiio E07k at a moderate listening volume, the Velvet is like 7 or 8. A highly sensitive earphone like the Fidue A83 would be a 2 or 3.

  19. getclikinagas on

    Very interesting review ljokerl. Especially compared to average_joe’s take on them.
    Interesting tuning choice by EarSonics. Sounds like a little make or break(suiting-ones-taste wise), despite the tuning options. Maybe auditioning is the best.
    Then again, I guess it’s more because I’ve never heard any of the IEMs you’ve used in your comparisons. Just for a reference point, could you give me a 1-2 liner on how the midrange and treble compare with the RE272?

    PS: No shiny badge? 😉

    • ljokerl on

      Interesting question there – the Velvet is significantly more colored than the RE272. The bass is certainly more enhanced regardless of which tuning is used, and the treble is not quite as relaxed. I guess the overall sound is less midrange-focused. The impressive part is that the mids of the Velvet are hard to call “recessed” in the two less bassy sound tunings, but that’s a different matter. Layering and soundstage depth are better on the Velvet as well.

      It’s true that you don’t really get the variety of something like FLC Tech FLC8 or even the Phonak 232 or AKG K3003 with the Velvet’s tunings, but I don’t think that’s a weakness. It’s essentially like the Sennheiser IE8 – a consistent sound signature with one aspect that can be adjusted. The tunings might as well have just been a knob you can turn to (mostly) adjust the bass.

      No badge.. still not sure what will become the first $400+ product to get one from me.

      • getclikinagas on

        Thank you ljokerl. That puts it into better perspective for me.

        Oh yeah. Nothing north of 400$ has received the badge. Perhaps the upcoming RE1000 could be worthy 🙂

  20. Abhishek on

    Hi !joker|,

    I was about to buy Velvet but seems like it ain’t a significant upgrade over SM64. Which IEM to go for a significant upgrade to SM64, don’t need recessed mids.

    • ljokerl on

      Depends on what aspect of the SM64 you were looking to improve on. If it’s bass quality or overall smoothness, the Velvet isn’t going to do it. But if you want to improve on the upper midrange dip of the SM64 and get clearer, more accurate, and more prominent mids, the Velvet is still a viable step up.

      The SM64 is a top-tier earphone so you’re really not going to get a significant upgrade. The only universal IEM better than the Velvet but with a similarly warm and smooth sound may be the FItEar TG334… but that’s $1300 and a bit less forward in the midrange than the Velvet (but still not recessed).

    • average_joe on

      I wanted to chime in on this one…for me, it really depends on the source used. If you are going to spend on an expensive source, the Velvet has a higher ceiling, but with midrange sources the differences are smaller. I do believe the Velvet offers enough difference that it would be worth the upgrade for many.

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • Abhishek on

        Hi Joe,

        Don’t know what to say but I don’t want to be disappointed. My source is DX100.

        • average_joe on

          Mike and I pretty much agree on sound signature and most of the time agree on performance. This may be a case where we hear a larger difference than typical, but then the Velvet is very source dependent. My SM64/Velvet comparison was with the DX100, but then my ears are trained to listen for differences, which were apparent with well recorded/mastered music. Audio is a personal decision. Are you disappointed with the DX100? There is one left that is fulfilled by amazon at $650, which means you can return the item easily if you decide it isn’t for you.

          Take a read of both reviews, as questions that arise, and go with your gut. The goal is to enjoy the hobby and the music, so hopefully if you get the Velvet, it lives up to what you want. If you don’t, be OK with your decision, as it is the right one for you!

          Cheers,

          Joe

  21. Anthont Kimball on

    Have you had a chance to listen to the Cypher Labs IEM as of yet? From the descriptions I’ve heard, they would be a natural comparison to the Velvet.

    Thanks!!

    • ljokerl on

      No, I haven’t. Out of the 50+ IEMs I have but still haven’t reviewed, nothing is particularly reminiscent of the Velvet (surprisingly, because it’s a pretty wide variety of stuff).

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