EarSonics EM10



EarSonics S-EM9 (€1490)
The universal S-EM9 shares some similarities with its co-flagship, but in their core, the two are ultimately quite different. The priority of the EM10’s tuning lies in its tone, where the S-EM9 takes a more technical approach. Both share a fairly similar, deeply enjoyable bass. It’s north of neutral with a nice bit of impact, and lengthier decay. It’s from the midrange on where the two truly depart; the EM10’s midrange has greater body, with a more forward and denser vocal presentation. However, due to the S-EM9’s laid-back vocal position and leaner instruments, its stage is cleaner. As their stage dimensions are fairly similar, this results in a more effortless separation of the S-EM9. In addition, its midrange resolution is a bit higher.

However, the EM10’s midrange not only has greater body, it is more beautiful in tone. The S-EM9 is tuned with an upper midrange dip, followed by a lift in its lower treble. It’s a tuning that provides a detailed, articulated sound, with a fairly neutral tone. As a result of the EM10’s lower treble dip however, its treble is smoother, and warmer in tone. It’s a tuning that not only provides a more pleasing treble timbre, but contributes to a more natural signature, and coherent sound as a whole. The S-EM9 might be the more precise; the EM10 has the smoother and more inviting signature to listen to.

Spiral Ears 5-Way Ultimate (1699)
Similar to the EM10, the 5-Way is tuned with a focus on tone. But even so, it’s a classic audiophile tuning. The 5-Way sounds warmer, darker, but most of all, more serious. The EM10 sounds joyous by comparison, a more playful sound. There’s more clarity in its sound, although both share a general smoothness throughout the signature. I can see many people finding the EM10 the more appealing iem listen to depending on music preference; the 5-Way’s warmer tuning leads you to smooth, easy listening type music. The EM10 on the other hand invites you to choose something more stimulating. Arguably, it has the more engaging signature. Even so, the 5-Way has its advantages over it. For starters, its stage is larger and more 3D, and accordingly, its separation is better. In addition, its resolution is higher.

But the two really are more different than similar. The difference starts from the bass, where the 5-Way has the better low-end extension, as well as higher resolved mid-bass. It’s a more precise bass from a technical perspective. Even so, the EM10’s bass isn’t far behind in performance, while it in turn adds a touch more mid-bass impact. In both cases, the midrange is warm, with slightly forward and bodied vocals. The main difference lies in the upper mid and treble tuning. While both have smooth, attenuated treble, the EM10’s upper mids have greater clarity, and a more engaging tone. The 5-Way’s general treble region is more laidback, resulting in a darker tuning. However, it has the more accurate timbre, while its top-end extension is greater.

Jomo Samba ($1725)
Samba again goes in a completely different direction, as a technical hardliner – its priorities strictly reside with performance. Compared to the EM10, it constructs a significantly cleaner image, resulting from its stable black background, and high resolution. By creating leaner midrange notes and somewhat laidback vocals, it excels in separation – a presentation reminiscent of EarSonics’ own S-EM9. The EM10 counters with a warmer, smoother, and more melodious signature. It might not sound as clean as the brighter Samba, there’s more body to its sound.

Samba’s bass is tight and punchy, but also a good deal drier than the EM10’s due to a dip in its upper bass. It provides a more stereotypical BA bass response, where the EM10 opts for a fuller and warmer bass. Similarly, the richer bass provides a warmer tone throughout the signature, although as a result, its stage isn’t as clean as Samba’s. But both its instruments and vocals have more body, while their tone is more appealing. The Samba might sound cleaner, its technical approach results in a drier midrange. Its treble in turn is brighter, with greater top-end extension. The more prominent treble results in a more articulated sound, although it isn’t as smooth. The EM10 on the other hand sounds clear without sounding bright, and opts for a smoother treble tuning. But more than anything, this is the hallmark difference between tone and performance – and each has its appeal.

Concluding remarks 

When you get to listen to more and more earphones from the same manufacturer, you start to know the designer in a certain way, their own tastes and preferences. EarSonics used to be known for their warm and emotional signatures, with iems like the EM3, and especially the first version of the S-EM6. But starting with the EM32, Franck Lopez went in a different direction, experimenting with a new type of sound focusing on excitement, resulting from a more prominent treble tuning. The Velvet was the offspring of that philosophy, resembling pure fun and excitement, though a little bit raw around the edges perhaps. With the S-EM9, Franck sought out more balance and finesse, while maintaining a similar musical element.

But it’s with the EM10 that his search and experimentation seems to have fully blossomed. It goes in yet a different direction, while maintaining typical elements of the EarSonics house sound. The EM10 eludes that same feel of joy and excitement, but sounds more beautiful than before. Despite having experienced a wide range of iems, the EM10 seems to fill a void I didn’t know existed, with a tuning that seems to make so much sense. I’ve become too lazy to come up with catchy titles; but if I’d use one for the EM10, it would be something with ‘euphoria’. With its dreamy upper mids, engaging vocals, and extremely smooth sound, the EM10 pulls you away into a hazy state of being, drifting away on the pleasantness of music. Franck has finally created his ‘end-game’ ciem, and I’m thankful he’s letting us, the dreamers, join the ride. Like every iem, the EM10 isn’t perfect; but what an excellent addition to an already crowded market.


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About Author

Nic is currently in pursuit of a PhD degree in social neuropsychology, while trying not to get too distracted by this hobby. In pursuit of theoretical knowledge by day, and audiophile excellence at night. Luckily for him, both activities are not mutually exclusive which helps to lighten the workload. Always on the go, Nic's enthusiasm for hi-fi is focused on all chains of the portable system: iems, cables and daps.


  1. Hello Nick,

    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 !

    • Hi buddy,

      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.

  2. Hi Nic,
    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?

    • Hi Vel,

      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.

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