EarSonics Velvet earphone

EarSonics Velvet universal fit in-ear monitor review

COMPARISONS

EarSonics Velvet IEM & EarSonics EM32 CIEM

EarSonics S-EM6: The Velvet and S-EM6 share EarSonics house sound characteristics, but have different presentation perspectives and average note speed.  The bass adjustment knob of the Velvet can turn the bass up significantly higher than what the S-EM6 naturally produces, with about a quarter turn from minimum for an equivalent level.  Spatially, the Velvet has a slightly more laid-back presentation perspective and a more open sound but a slightly smaller overall space while the S-EM6 has better imaging for a more realistic and resolving soundstage.  Notes of the S-EM6 are a bit more analytical yet thicker, with a sharper attack and decay yet longer sustain leading to a good deal more detail and punch despite the thicker sound.  Coherence and transparency are similar while clarity is slightly superior with the Velvet.

Deep bass of the Velvet is more pronounced than the S-EM6 with all but the absolute lowest knob settings, which results in similar amounts.  When the sub-bass is adjusted to similar levels, the S-EM6 is warmer.  Bass quality is close, but the S-EM6 is a bit tighter with better laying.  While the S-EM6’s more forward presentation has better layering and presentation depth, the slightly more laid-back Velvet has a cleaner sound that is more open.  The upper midrange of the Velvet is slightly more prominent in relation to the midrange than the S-EM6, as is the treble.  Treble notes are smoother on the Velvet, but more revealing of issues with poor quality tracks.

The universal shell of the Velvet has a longer distance from the housing to the end of the nozzle resulting in a better fit.  Sensitivity is similar, but the soundstage presentation and note characterizes allow the Velvet to retain its clarity at louder volumes.

Two great products from EarSonics that bring similar but different qualities, with the Velvet bringing an open sound while being able to pump out the bass with good precision and retaining EarSonics sound.  The S-EM6 is a bit more forward, detailed, and analytical, yet has an additional thickness to it while providing a superior soundstage recreation with more laying and resolution.

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EarSonics SM64: Sharing the EarSonics sound signature, the SM64 has a more laid-back presentation but a smaller average soundstage and less capability to project sound in the distance.  Imaging, layering, and presentation depth are better from the Velvet, which offers a more clear and concise presentation.  Average note ADSR is similar, but the Velvet has a more natural decay resulting in a smoother and realistic sound.  Detail levels are significantly higher with the Velvet and resolution within the soundstage is also better.  Transparency and coherence are also better from the Velvet.

Bass of the Velvet is more prominent, especially deep bass, even at a quarter turn of the tuning knob, conveying much more power.  Warmth is similar, as is thickness.  The Velvet has a good deal more clarity within the midrange with a cleaner sound that conveys more detail and adds layers the SM64 doesn’t have resulting in a more involving experience.  The upper midrange of the SM64 is more laid-back, as is the treble, and the quality of the Velvet in both areas is superior.

These two different EarSonics products have different price points and while there are sonic differences, the more expensive Velvet significantly outperforms the SM64 technically.  The closer presentation perspective is more involving, has better layering, and more detail to go with more emotion to the low end and bass tuning.  If you want EarSonics sound at a lower price, the SM64 can give it to you, but spending extra on the Velvet will take you to another level.

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Lear LUF BD4.2: These two have quite different sound signatures, as the LUF BD4.2 is brighter and clearer compared to the darker, smoother Velvet.  Both have the ability to change the sound signature, with changes to the BD4.2 affecting the bass while the Velvet changes the entire presentation.  Spatially the Velvet has a bit more laid-back presentation perspective with a slightly larger presentation space, better imaging, and a slightly more accurate presentation perspective while the LUF has better focus within the soundstage and more resolution within the soundstage for a more revealing and cleaner sound.  Notes of the BD4.2 are quicker on average, but the Velvet notes have a more analytical feel to them despite the longer average sustain.  The LUF BD4.2 recreates more detail that is better articulated to go along with better transparency and similar coherence.

Bass on both can be adjusted, but the LUF bass is significantly more capable and reverberant on the maximum setting.  The Velvet bass is prominent and deep, but doesn’t have the punch or sustainment of the LUF nor the quantity, which results in a more similar tonal quality due to the additional mid-bass.  The LUF has better clarity into the midrange, with an overall cleaner sound that makes the Velvet sound a bit veiled, although the details and information is there if you listen.  One of the most prominent differences between the two comes from the upper midrange, as the LUF is much more prominent in this area while the Velvet is a bit laid-back.  The treble of the LUF is also more prominent, but not to the extent of the upper midrange.  Treble quality is similar, but track dependent as certain tracks sound better on one or the other, but in general the Velvet has a bit smoother treble region.

The Lear LUF BD4.2 and EarSonics Velvet are different in tone and clarity, with the Velvet offering a warmer, thicker, and more organic sound in comparison with the LUF BD4.2 that reveals more detail and has a cleaner soundstage and brighter overall sound.  Both can be adjusted, but the bass level of the BD4.2 can go from low to head-hurting levels while the Velvet’s changes are significant but more subtle in comparison.

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Sennheiser IE800: The default setting of the Velvet sounds quite similar to the IE800, but with some differences.  The IE800 is more V-shaped with more deep bass weight and treble presence while the Velvet midrange is richer and a bit more forward.  Adjusting the tuning of the Velvet brings the bass in-line with a closer sound signature.  Both have good spatial qualities, but the Velvet is a bit more forward overall yet with a wider presentation while the IE800 has a bit better depth of presentation.  Both are detailed with similar articulation but the Velvet is more detailed.  Clarity is slightly better from the Velvet, and transparency is superior.

With the Velvet in position 3 (V-shape), these two earphones aren’t too far off from each other, but the Velvet adds warmth and detail vs. the smoother, more relaxed IE800.

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EarSonics EM32: The comparison was made with the Velvet tuning in position 3, which is V-shaped and warm.  The EM32 presentation is a bit more up-front and more coherent while the Velvet has a bit more openness to it.  Performance is higher from the EM32 as one would expect, with superior clarity, detail levels, dynamics, and imaging as well as a bit of an edge in coherence.  The Velvet does beat the EM32 in treble smoothness and forgiveness without giving up much in detail while the EM32 does have more energy up top, but similar extension.  The bass region is a good deal different as the EM32 can pump out much more bass with better quality than the Velvet.  The midrange of the EM32 is also better overall with more presentation depth and better recreation of the nuances within the soundstage.  The Velvet with the tuning set to position 3 is a poor man’s EM32.

 

SOURCE MATCHING

Portable Sources, DAPs

Sandisk Sansa Clip+: This combination performs well considering the price of the source.  Not quite as detailed as the higher cost sources but the pairing offers good musicality.  While the Clip+ can feed presentation depth, unfortunately the overall size is much smaller than that of better sources.  Bass is acceptable, but not overly powerful. 4/10

Apple iPhone 5: The iPhone 5 strips away the detail and lacks the power to properly control the Velvet, resulting in a sound that is far below dedicated players. 1/10

Fiio X3: The X3 provides the Velvet with good spatial recreation qualities and ample bass, but detail levels aren’t up to the level of the DX50 or DX90. 6/10

iBasso DX90: Space and detail are present with this pairing, allowing the Velvet to shine and envelop the listener in the presentation.  While this combo is good, and certainly better than the X3, there is a large gap between the DX90 and DX100, which offers even better spatial recreation and a cleaner, more precise soundstage.  8/10

iBasso DX100: Providing the Velvet with everything it needs, the DX100 drives the Velvet well providing an exceptional recreation of the soundstage, smooth and extended treble, deep and reverberant bass, and an overall experience that captivated me for hours. Detail levels are high and the nuances within my tracks was easy to make out when I wanted to pay attention, but smooth enough to disappear into the background when necessary.  10/10

Source Summary: The Velvet benefits from a good DAC that can resolve detail and spatial qualities in good recordings, significantly improving the performance.  While amplification offers improvement, the level of improvement isn’t as large as from a DAC.  For the best results, get a good DAC/source and a decent or better amp will also add benefit.

EarSonics Velvet IEM

SUMMARY

The Headphone List Recommended EarphoneThe EarSonics Velvet in-ear monitors fall into a price range that has little competition and comes out smelling like roses when paired with a good DAC, but just average with average sources.  When paired with a source that has good capability, the Velvet is spacious, 3D, transparent, and detailed with the best EarSonics treble I have heard.  Add the ability to tune the sound from mid-forward to V-shaped and the Velvet provides different flavors of the traditional EarSonics sound.  The EarSonics Velvet is a versatile winner that easily earns a THL recommendation.

Pros

–       Excellent extension on both ends of the spectrum to go with high quality bass and treble.

–       Spacious, rich midrange EarSonics is known for.

Cons

–       The sound is highly dependent upon ear tips, with the stock one-size-fits-all bi-flange ear tips pairing best with my ears.

View the EarSonics Velvet In-Ear Monitors in the Custom In-Ear Monitor Review List

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ABOUT AUTHOR

average_joe

average_joe

Having a life-long love of high-quality audio and gadgets, average_joe got back in touch with his audiophile side after a hiatus caused by life. His focus became headphones and related gear as the size and price fit his life better than home audio. He believes the entire audio chain is important, and likes to continue to think past the headphone and on into the head, as he believes understanding the details of how we hear will lead to a better audio experience.

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22 Responses

  1. Hi, Joe

    Thank you so much for your reviews. They’ve helped me to choose this particular model as my replacement.

    Best regards.

    Alejandro

  2. Hi average_joe, really appreciate your reply! I’m looking forward to audition the Velvet and experiencing the different sound signature. Perhaps a New Year Present hehehe 🙂

    Cheers and advance Happy New Year!

  3. Hi Lim Jun Jie, sorry I missed this comment. They are different in many ways.

    First, the SM3v2 isn’t in the same league as far as sound quality, with a more up-close and personal experience, but also lacking the clarity and precision of the Velvet. The UERM has quite a different sound, going for a neutral reference sound and surprisingly not quite the bass capability. The Velvet is smoother, but doesn’t bring the detail to the forefront that the UERM does, but that isn’t to say the Velvet lacks detail. The Velvet is much more forgiving and I could listen to it day after day in any situation, focused or relaxing, while the UERM has clinical feel to it in comparison that brings everything into focus and begs me to pay attention.

    Cheers,

    Joe

  4. Hi ArrV, yes, the Velvet is an upgrade, but it also has a different sound signature as the Velvet has significantly more bass capability and a more exciting sound vs. the more “neutral” SD2.

    Cheers,

    Joe

  5. I borrowed ljokerl’s TG334, so I can’t at this time; however if you ask him I am sure he will at some point.

  6. Hi George, the 4/10 is good for a universal as the perspective is based on CIEMs, with a 5/10 being an average acrylic shelled CIEMs. The only universals that would get a 5/10 are ER4 and Phonak products (Phonak’s need foam ear tips).

  7. Unfortunately I don’t have those readily available for comparison, but in my experience they wouldn’t perform at the same level. Of course, there is the law of diminishing returns from an overall perspective. But maybe there should be a law of nuance returns, where as prices go up (not always, but much of the time), there are improvements to the little things, and my ears are now trained to hear those little things clearly.

    You may also want to ask ljokerl for his thoughts…

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

  9. …talking of comparisons, how would the Velvet compare to something roughly 1/3 the price like the Fidue a83, or the Audio Technica ATH IM03, highly rated in various places (including of course the headphone list, for the A83)?

    Thanks,

    George

  10. Hi there,

    Interesting reading, as always, plus, the quality of these reviews is steadily getting better, more informative and useful. Comparisons is the real essence here, at least for me. I wish they could be extended to cover more products at lower price ranges as well, as the average reader/buyer is most probably more familiar with them.
    One minor remark-question: is the isolation rating correct? (i.e. 4/10). seems this takes away from the average score in your list.

    Thanks, Cheers,

    George

  11. Hi Abhi,

    While I really like what the S-EM6 has to offer, the Velvet is better VFM. It really depends on what you want, and hopefully the comparison between the two helps. I could easily listen to the Velvet, and the sound tuning and treble quality are added benefits. I have heard the SE846 for a short period of time and thought that, while it is better than the 535, it isn’t an natural and realistic as EarSonics products.

    Cheers,

    Joe

  12. Hi Joe,

    I am unable to decide between velvet and S-EM6. Which one to go for or not. I am very confused. Which one is more VFM?

    Also have you heard Shure SE846?

    Thanks

  13. Thanks for reading. Yes, they deserve attention, but people that want an earphone for their phone may be disappointed because they won’t experience the true capability of the Velvet. It has the best ADSR of any EarSonics product I have heard, specifically in the treble region.

    Cheers,

    Joe

  14. Good to see these IEMs getting the attention they deserve – they really sound rich and full for a BA IEM – the drivers are larger than average, the three Earsonics use are larger in volume than the 5 I have in my UM Pro50. I have to agree that they like a clean source. I listen through my ALO Island at the computer and use the middle gain position, whereas the low gain is more often used with my IEM collection. A very nice review, Joe.

  15. Thanks for waiting, and reading! Hopefully you do get to experience the EarSonics lush mids in the near future.

    Cheers,

    Joe

  16. Sorry for the delayed response while working on site issues (that are still going on). It is an 8/10. I have added a bit more meat to the pairing.

  17. The three month wait for an average_joe review was worth it! Thanks for the awesome review.

    I hope I get to experience that EarSonics midrange someday.

  18. Hi Anthony, thanks pointing that out as it is a mistake and should actually be 4, not 3.5, which is pretty good for a universal IEM.

    Cheers,

    Joe

  19. Great review average_joe, thanks! I’m guessing there was a typo in the isolation:

    “The Velvet provides a good amount of passive sound isolation that is dependent upon the ear tips. For me, external noise is significantly muted without any music playing, and when the music starts, it is easily eliminates all but loud external sounds. 3.5/10”

    Unless I’m missing something, good isolation wouldn’t be a 3.5….

    Thanks again

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