Disclaimers: Earsonics graciously provided this sample for the purposes of this review. Associated costs to me were: import duties, ear impressions, and travel expenses.
And thanks in part to being really really busy with my day job, and appendicitis, this review has been postponed time and time again. Earsonics have been patient. But neither they, nor I, can wait any longer.
The truth is that no one should. Sporting a simple three-way, triple driver anatomy, the 943,14-€ Earsonics EM32 is worth the wait.
There are no substitutes for Earsonics’s rich and thunderous house sound. There is no substitute for a truly bass-level foundation, for sound concisely built from the ground up. No scratchy highs. No clangy mids. Smooth, flowing, evocative, lustrous; and down at the bottom, gobs and gobs of gory bass. Not boomy boom boom bass that pushes your eardrums in. Not duffy duff duff bass that makes you check your heart for a beat. Bass you can chew on. Bass you can feel. But bass that complements sumptuous, smooth, forget-the-freaking-80-hour-work-week beautiful mids.
With the exception of the sometimes-crotchety SM2, and the pleasantly V-shaped SM64, Earsonics’s lineup is populated by mature-sounding earphones. And EM32 is the maturest of them all.
That doesn’t stop me from using the word gory. Nothing obscene, though. Gore: as in visceral. Bass that gets passed your ears, and really into your head. If you’re in tune enough, you’ll feel your brains wiggle. And yet, most Earsonics earphones are mature. Mids come through with grace, sometimes sending chills down your spine. Naturally, deviations exist. My personal favourite Earsonics universal, the excellent SM64, is stringier than it is gory.
For better or worse, each Earsonics’s earphone comes with the usual Earsonics trappings: a small collection of cheap accessories, a tackle box, and an indifference to the small things.
I get the feeling that Earsonics are conservative, traditional; they are the Grado of the musician’s earphone world. You know they exist, and you may have even wanted one at one time. But it’s just as likely that you have forgotten they exist.
Which would be a shame.
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.
Earsonics is French for understated. No frills.
For years, Earsonics used the same SM2-style body. And then there was a MKII version, which is used along the entire universal-only line. Stolid, staid, conservative: each is addendum to Earsonics.
Today, Earsonics are experimenting a bit more than before with custom printing. And shell colours. The purple of the Earsonics EM32 is really pretty. Almost amethyst. And the quality of the direct printing is free of major blemishes.
That said, anyone with two mostly-working eyes will notice that the acrylic chassis courses with fine lines, and is clouded in places by trapped dust. Fingerprints and dust are mildly visible on the drivers.
If this were a stout, my praises would bubble.
But it’s not. And, as much as I love the Earsonics’s attention to detail when it comes to describing their vision in sound, I wish they paid the same attention to the little things. You know, wash the cup on both the inside and outside.
Worse examples exist. LEAR’s otherwise-excellent BD4,2 wears more blemishes, and its logos are printed on cell tape. The EM32 is a large step up.
And its dual wide-mouth sound bores are easier to wiggle the cleaning loop in and out of. And, it lays low, and light, in the ear. Outside of earphones made for motorcycle riders, there are few high end customs as compact. I can’t praise this point enough.
Welled pin plates so 2011. Earsonics, along with Noble, and LEAR, among others, now cap their female bits. The bad news is that the cable’s male bits and the earphone’s female bits couple with less sincerity. The good news is that a really bad bump is less likely to crack the earphone body when cable pins snap. And, years after owning my first Westone/UE style cable, I’ve yet to break anything.
The flush EM32 will snag neither your toque nor your ushanka. And it won’t reach too far into your ears. The cable juts out at just the right place, at just the right angle. With the singular exception of the memory wire, it is a damn comfortable earphone.
But since I wear glasses I both use and swear by Linum cables, as much as I swear at every earphone manufacturer that insists in installing that stiff, spec-propping, ear-poking tech that exists for…
Really, why does memory wire exist?
Despite my prejudices (and for the sake of pseudo science), I attached every cable I have; from stock, to Linum, to Lear, to PlusSound, to Wagnus, and more. The conclusion (is that what it’s called in science?) is that the EM32 rocks all the right angles. As long as your cables are comfortable, your EM32 plays nice. The only thing to note is that its light body practically floats when attached to kinky cables.
Sound impressions after the jump