Earsonics EM32: Weight

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.

The Marque

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.

The Cable

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.

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.

The Chassis

Earsonics is French for understated. No frills.

At all.

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 Fit

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…

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

Earsonics EM32: Weight
5 (100%) 1 vote

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Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

14 Comments

  • Reply October 4, 2014

    TokenGesture

    Great review. How do they compare to the S-EM6 (which I own and love)? And also, what full size headphone would you say (if any) achieves a similar ‘bottom up” sound signature with lush mids and controlled highs?

    • Reply October 5, 2014

      ohm image

      TokenGesture, thank you for the comment. I’m not sure why there is a dearth of them here.

      S-EM6 I had only for a few weeks and loved the sound. The sound was, in fact, similar to the EM32, but only if you could get on with the right tips. I wasn’t able to find a great fit, but even without a good fit, the same lushness was there. That said, EM32 has a lot more bass presence.

      It is a very worthy custom.

      As for full size headphones with the same sound: I’ve not heard one. Most that have such nice bass are mushy somewhere. The EM32 isn’t mushy at all- anywhere.

      • Reply October 5, 2014

        TokenGesture

        Cheers – I’m lucky with the fit on the S-EM6 (it took a bit of practise) but EM32 certainly has me intrigued, if I decide to go the custom route. I’m with you on full size – starting to think IEMs are where it’s at! Earsonics seem to be a bit of a cult brand – not that widely known outside the musicians community, maybe that explains the lack of comments.

        • Reply October 5, 2014

          ohm image

          Earsonics have a strong following, but you are right, among musicians. And, there was some fallout regarding SM3 and SM64. They totally ‘get’ the earphone thing and the reason a person would go portable.

          EM32 is almost as as easy to drive as SM3, which is a blessing. I didn’t expect such a bombastic/nuanced sound from them, but that is what I got.

          If you get the chance to try them, please do.

          S-EM6 didn’t fit securely in my ears. Are you able to get a secure fit (without the earphone shifting down against the concha)?

          • Reply October 5, 2014

            TokenGesture

            Yes – I went back to the stock tips, there is a kind of trick to sort of screwing them in place, they are now very comfortable and very stable, also great isolation. I use them on the London tube and am sealed off from the noise! Sound amazing with the Chord Hugo and DX90 as transport.

  • Reply October 11, 2014

    malifact

    Interesting review. How do these compare to the Noble Audio K10 which was recently reviewed? Do you have a preference out of the two?

    • Reply October 20, 2014

      ohm image

      I’m sorry this is so late.

      The question you ask is perfectly loaded. I don’t think that the customer for the K10 and the EM32 are that likely to cross paths. The K10 is a more mid-heavy custom while the EM32 is a more bass-low-mid heavy earphone.

      Micro details are the K10’s thing while nuance is the EM32’s thing.

      I have no preferences necessarily, but I find that the heavier EM32 sound is better suited to smaller, simpler ensembles. Neither one is a favourite for fast classical or electronic, but of the two, I’d put the K10 for the detail classical freak and the EM32 for the relaxing classical freak.

      Hip hop? EM32, hands down.

  • Reply October 24, 2014

    Chris

    How EM32 compare to CE6E?

    • Reply October 24, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      I have the Cosmic Ears and Nathan has the EM32, tough to compare in this case

      • Reply October 24, 2014

        Chris

        Thanks for the answer. I was hoping for the comparison since I’m interested in both of them (I owned BA4r).

  • Reply January 20, 2015

    Preet

    I’m considering this for my first serious headphones, I mostly listen to metal. Should I go ahead with this or is there a better option around this price range?

    • Reply February 19, 2015

      ohm image

      Sorry for being tardy. What is it you like in metal music? You need to decide what you really savour in your music. Then make decisions around that. Think first in spectra: lows, mids, highs, then think more esoterically: space, speed, power in the lows, extension in one or the other. Do you like bite? Do you dislike it? Come back with the answers to these and let’s discuss.

      • Reply March 2, 2015

        Preet

        There are two genres that I really like, Death Metal and Black Metal. I like the speed of the former and want something that allows me to pick out every single note in it. The instruments in this music are mostly on the low end. Black Metal on the other hand feature high-pitched tones but unlike Death Metal it focuses on atmosphere. One common thread I find in this is the layering of instruments. Yes I do like bite in my sound…Hope I did enough to explain myself.

        Thank you for replying

        • Reply March 2, 2015

          ohm image

          If atmospheric elements (as I understand them) are your thing, probably something like the Noble K10 would be better, as it pushes more contrast in that frequency. The EM32 is speedy, but, as per the title, it is about weight, not the small, fiddly atmospheric bits that hold up a sense of space and speed.

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