Disclaimer: Earsonics provided this Velvet sample free of charge for the purposes of this review. Velvet goes for 699$. You can find more about it here.
Here are its specifications
Sensibility: 116 dB/mW
Frequency response: 10 Hz -20 kHz
DCR: 31,5 à 41,5 ohms (depend on switch position)
Driver: 3 ways with HQ tunable crossover
Since 2012 kicked Earsonics’s ass into high gear, earphone lovers have netted a bounty of awesome solder and acrylic. There’s been the awesome SM64, the somewhat ill-fitting S-EM6, the bass-kicking EM32, and now, Velvet. Velvet started off pretty rough. Both channels of my first turned into post-fall Humpty Dumpty, and only after a month of being subjected to their carrying case and my ears.
Naturally, those early units were recalled and Earsonics replaced all defective units.
This new pair appears to be solid. And it’s mostly a breeze to use. The hurdles created with the S-EM6 are no more. Velvet fits well- which is very well and good as it sort of got hit with the ugly stick.
Velvet’s black-on-black is orthodox Earsonics. It’s not a sexy earphone. Earsonics aren’t a sexy company. They are practical. That is, at least until releasing the S-EM6, which fit like an orange wedge, they were. No, it was more like a government-issue teeter totter on bespoke fulcrums: expensive, but made for a kid twice your size and with an extra limb. Velvet fits as good as any quality multi-armature earphone.
But then it springs one on the entire Earsonics line in being way, way, way better thought out. here’s the skinny on what’s been waaaaay upgraded:
1. it’s package
2. it’s accessory kit
3. it’s product literature
4. it’s snob appeal
It’s almost as if Velvet were designed by a completely different company. Computer, and Max, say no: Velvet is 100% home brewed. And, it fits like that crazy part-road, part-city, part field Carcassonne piece: the one that never comes up when it should. It’s awesome, but it sort of eclipses your plans. In a number of ways Velvet eclipses its forebears. It’s evidence that Earsonics that realised there are audiophiles out there, too.
It represents an Earsonics that are now totally, completely, and utterly, on my brain.
Let me make this easy: the custom-fit EM32 share the same cable as Velvet. Here’s what I said about them:
Somewhere between my EM3Pro, and 2013, the accessory kit changed at bit. The biggest, and most welcome change is the cable. There’s a new stiffness, tighter torsion, and greater tensile strength now than there was before. And, the new cable is grey.
The plug, still L-shaped, sits higher in the jack, which makes it more susceptible to bumps. The old, squat number’s Carlton stature ensured it snagged less on your trousers. And maybe it even was better able to withstand bumps. But you could forget using it with cased smartphones, and other devices. Both the new and old have the same type of stress reliefs.
And glasses wearers, be forewarned, the new granny-coloured cable still sports the same old memory wire. Ouch.
Of course, now the cable is black. Whoohoo!
It can’t be said enough: Velvet looks like a black S-EM6. It’s a point that, at first, freaked me out. S-EM6’s mid centric, smooth sound floated my slow boat, but it was such a bother to wear, that I was happy when I dotted the last i of my review of it. So when I inched the Velvet out of its sexy box, I groaned.
Not again. Dear God, please!
Thank you, God.
Velvet shares similar design aesthetic. But its lower shoulders, and feet, are different.
Firstly, its lower shoulder keeps a stronger angle against the ear, ensuring it stays in place. It’s not as secure as a custom earphone, nor does it lay as flat as the SM64, or even an Ultrasone IQ. But it fits well, is pretty comfortable, and it hangs most of bulk outside of the concha in a vertically-built chassis. That allows it to fit into medium-small ears, which is great help. The proof? My wife told me that she could go with Velvet for the entire ride from Tsukuba to Nagareyama Central Park, which takes about thirty minutes. She lasted for about fifteen minutes with Dita Audio’s The Answer.
Secondly, its sound bores are wider, and no longer take Shure Olives. Neither do they take the ortofon silicon pad s. Honestly, both are a shame. They take Earsonics pads, and whatever Comply may have in Velvet size. You can also whip up your own cauldron. My favorite is the stock from Earsonics’s mushroom pads, muffled about by a heat-activated heat-foamy. My favorite foamy is the black one that used to come only with Victor/JVC earphones, but now comes with every phone out of China. The combo are in one of the photos in this review.
Earsonics’s pads are ill-fitting affairs that cause my sensitive ears no end of pain. My ears don’t callous up fast enough. Yours might be different.
The shallow ones fit like a broken plumber’s friend. Why do Earsonics love dual flange tips so much? Do we really need four pair, three in grey (which will become green), plus one in black?
Obviously, I don’t use Earsonics’s ear pads. I whip up my own. I also make my own couscous. I suggest grinding a bit of red pepper into it. To fix up a pair of comfy pads, dissect the Earsonics mushroom pieces and add foams. Bon appétit!
There are a few other things in the box:
1 minus screw driver (for tuning Velvet)
1 wax loop/brush
1 3,5mm to 6,3mm plug adapter
the above-mentioned tips
a halfway-decent carrying case
Each is etched into high-density impact foam, in turn, which comes in hard-sided cardboard. It’s all black. I can’t even begin to tell you how black it all is. Crazy black. Maybe Earsonics should have called it Ebony. Either way, I think they’ll have some followers.
While I dig the layout and quality of literature, the impact foam comes with some notches here and there. It still is Earsonics. The carrying case is now easier to use, but its zipper gets stuck more often, and it picks up what looks like bat bites, very easily. I’m not going to say that the old one was better, but after a few months, or years, I expect the new carrying case to look like a vampyre’s plaything.
Sound impressions after the jump: