I would like to thank Max from EarSonics for providing me with the EM10 in return for my honest opinion.
For many audiophiles that have come in touch with EarSonics at some point along their journey, the France-based manufacturer has become synonymous for a very special type of ‘musical’ sound; one that seeks to combine an emotional signature with excellent technical performance. I’ve personally reviewed more EarSonics models than for any other company, and there’s only one reason: when it comes to preference, Franck Lopez seems to understand my deepest desires – often before I understand my own. In fact, iems like the Velvet and S-EM9 have played an important role in shaping my preference over the years.
Even so, EarSonics has been moving in different directions. While earlier models as the S-EM6, EM3, and SM64 provided a warm, smooth, and midcentric tuning, their latest line of models, starting with the EM32 and later the S-EM9, went for a more exciting, stimulating sound, by means of a U-shaped signature. The EM10 is their latest creation, taking over the EM32’s position as flagship custom monitor. And this time it’s tuned for audiophiles rather than musicians, despite their heavy roots in the professional musician industry – something that quickly becomes evident from its tuning. For with the EM10, EarSonics is diverging yet again from their path, with a new type of sound – one that’s especially easy to listen to, and has a very special type of tone.
-Drivers: 10 BA drivers (2 low, 4 mid, 4 high)
-Design: 3-way crossover, 3 sound bores
-Impedance: 26,6 Ohm
-Sensitivity: 119 dB
EarSonics iems traditionally come in a matte black box. While some people found their iems could be included with a larger selection of accessories, the box itself eludes an elegant sense of understatement. I was expecting the classic EarSonics box I’ve opened regularly over the last years, but was pleasantly surprised to see they’ve spent renewed attention to their packaging, as it has a high quality feel to it. The top of the case flips open to reveal the nested earphones, after which you need to slide the case out. Admittedly, it took a moment to figure it out, but all in all, it’s a packaging that matches the expectations that come with a top tier product. Being a custom earphone however, the accessories are pretty slim; a 6.3 mm adapter, cleaning tool, and the classy matte black ES carrying case, which of all the cases remains my favorite to use. But nothing out of the ordinary here, as a custom earphone really doesn’t need any more. The cable is the trusty Plastics One that comes stock with all of the EarSonics earphones.
Build and design
The EM10’s design options follow Henry Ford’s classic quote: “You can have any color, as long as it’s black”. The EM10 is only available in a glossy piano black finish, combined with a golden letter/number combination on the shells. The S-EM9’s design had more prominent logo’s filling the sides, but the flamboyant design didn’t appeal to everyone. Since then, EarSonics decided to tone it down a bit, resulting in a more subtle and ‘timeless’ design for the EM10 with smaller logos, reminiscent of the S-EM6v2. The build quality itself is impeccable, feeling completely smooth to the touch without any imperfections. The nozzles contain one large and two smaller bores, similar to the S-EM9.
Thanks, now I have to break my wallet 🙂
I think something like Ares II or HanSound Zen would be nice options at $150. But if you decide to get the EM10 I would just check with the no 5 first, and then check back with me 😉
Do you think my PW no.5 cable is suitable for EM10? Which cable, not super expensive :), do you recommend?
In short, I absolutely think EM10 would suit your preferences. In fact, of all iems I would probably recommend this one. Tonality was also a bit hard for me to nail in the review, but in brief the EM10 is as follows: A deep-reaching, punchy, ‘musical’bass with nice impact, combined with natural and bodied vocals. The upper mids are slightly forward and colored very nicely, giving them a melodious sound. It’s a beautiful tone, that works very well with pop, rock, and soul. The treble itself is quite smooth.
The Prelude is actually quite different. It’s more of a smooth, audiophile, warmer tuning. Its focus is on timbre and naturalness, where the EM10 is a bit more playful and melodic. I know these descriptions might be a bit vague, but generally speaking you could say the EM10 works better for melody-driven music like pop, while the Prelude has a more jazzy, soul-based sound if that makes any sense.
I’m currently the owner of Earsonics S-EM6 v2 + PW Audio no.5 cable and I really like them, they are very refined and the vocals are just a bit forward and superb.
As in our game we always want « more » I was questioning myself about EM10, your review about them, as always, is very precise and exciting: that’s why I’m particulary interesting about EM10.
To tell more about myself, I listen primarily to vocals / pop / rock / soul. What I miss from the S-EM6 is a bit more musicality, I’d like sometime more bass and maybe smoothness. In fact what I « imagine » as an ideal IEM would be something like an S-EM9 (great bass and refined trebble) but with superb midrange and vocals.
Do you think EM10 would apply perfectly with my listening genre? Do you see an IEM that would fit my ideal IEM that I described previously?
Also about EM10 tonality, where its magic happens, I have some difficulty to represent it. I can clearly imagine the bass of Vega, the resolution of EM9, the vocals of Zeus, but the tonality is a concept that I feel I don’t understand very well: can you please describe it a bit?
Also from your reviews, it seems that EM10 and Warbler Prelude have a lot in common, am I wrong? Is EM10 « better » than Prelude?
Thanks for all !
Thank you for the clear response!
You are right, EM10 and A18 seem to share a similar euphoric sound, but at the same time are quite different. The similarity lies in the presentation of the upper mids, that seems to convey a ‘warm brightness’; a clear sound with a warm glow, that works very nicely for melodies and guitars for instance. But the difference between them is that the EM10 is significantly smoother, more organic, with more full-bodied vocals. The treble in turn is quite laid-back and smooth, despite the enhanced upper mids. The A18 in turn has both enhanced upper mids as well as treble. The result is a faster, brighter, and more detailed sound, that trades some of its vocal body in return. Plus, its resolution is greater and its stage is wider. Still, I prefer the EM10 for a more relaxing listen and for vocal-based pop music for instance, while the A18’s more stimulating sound is more engaging for EDM, as well as classical for instance.
Can you post a comparison between EM10 and 1964 A18 considering the fact that both seem to have an euphoric artistic signature with a slightly colored tonality?