Review: Earsonics ES2 and ES3 – Jumeaux!

THE ES-2

When I first tried the ES-2 out of the box I was flabbergasted. Earsonics is not known for creating this kind of dark sounding IEM’s. This is a radical choice by Earsonics because it somewhat sounds like the legendary HD650 and I think this is a risky move because this moves the IEM to “love or hate” zone; which can result either good or bad but it’s always a gamble, you can never know. Of course you can make risky choices at around this price range; it won’t crash you out and there’s a good chance for you to create a favorite product (like what HD650 eventually became). In the meantime there’s the ES-3 if you don’t prefer that kind of darkness, but let’s stay with the ES-2 right now and look upon the frequency response.

This little guy, priced only 100 Euros below his bigger brother has a very, very smooth sound overall. It feels like everything in the music is toned down. Nothing is fatiguing, nothing gets in front and cries to you eardrums, nothing is elevated, nothing gets you uncomfortable. Very nice. But there is a though balance between being just dark and smooth, and being too undetailed. And ES-2 pays the price here. You can’t save this kind of a dark sound with just 2BA drivers I suppose. For example, JH Angie is somewhat at the warm and dark side (although not like this much), it’s still has a great detail retrieval and separation with 8BA drivers. But here, ES-2 obviously does not have that level of technical advantage, so it sticks at the veiled side and can’t go further.

This doesn’t necessarily make ES-2 a bad IEM of course and synergy plays an important role in these kind of unique situations. If you can find a bright and detailed source, with it’s lush and warm sound the ES-2 will give you some sweet times. So as usual, it all comes down to personal preference. But that’s a whole different story and I don’t like to talk about preferences excessively, as I believe I have to reflect the sound objectively and let the readers decide with their own choices.

So this is a courageous IEM in my opinion. As I liked it on my own, I think some people will not like this IEM for being too dark, too veiled, too laid back etc… But I like this approach from Earsonics. They always try to go different routes. It’s all about personal enjoyment here. ES-2 is a joy to listen to, especially when you lie down in your sofa and try to relax, with an adequate volume level. So beautiful and so soft, especially with some smooth jazz songs.

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The bass is coming more from the mid side. It’s not too powerful because it can’t go very deep but more power would be too much for this dark IEM. In the meantime I think ES-2 has a better and truer bass response than ES-3, even it’s not too tight. By the way, on certain songs it can sound really nice and honest with the recording. I liked the bass department more on the ES-2 because it has more of a linear, flatter and reference bass character than ES-3.

Mids sit nicely in the presentation and they don’t have any kind of sharpness or dominance. They’re just a tad forward and they have a good harmony with the bass department. On the other hand the lack of separation with midbass is noticeable with certain scenarios (not much) so the ES-3 gets the advantage here. Still, the ES-2 is the conformist one as the mids on it sound soft and enjoyable. In addition, tonality is dark and thick on mids and I liked it. Actually it reminds me the HD650, which is a great thing isn’t it?

As you’ve already guessed, high frequencies are laid back and sound distant. I usually find this enjoyable but some people won’t like this. I myself think that maybe they could’ve put a little more emphasis here. With a little more extension and resolution, this could’ve been the best IEM for $300 but unfortunately you can’t have everything at once. Resolution wise it gets a hit from this treble response but otherwise it’s not too bad at all. Mids and treble could’ve had more detail though.

The sound stage is very good for the price. It’s one thing that surprised me and made me really happy when I was listening to it. The width is especially good and the depth is pretty fair. Finding a good sound stage around this price is not common in today’s market. As for separation it falls behind the ES-3 because of the dark sonic presentation. It’s not bad but the midbass bleeding is noticable with some sophisticated songs. The ES-3 keeps up better with those. Tonal balance on the contrary is really good and it’s a coherent IEM in it’s own way, and actually I found the tonality of ES-2 better and truer than ES-3.

In terms of driveability it’s easy to drive, every kind of source will be enough.

THE ES-3

Now there’s the triple-driver sibling. This one is technically the better IEM of the two, but still it has some weak points compared to ES-2. As I shifted to ES-3 after the initial listening of ES-2, I expected a similar sound with some upgrades here and there. But no, this is a different IEM in terms of presentation and to be honest this is the IEM which is much closer to Earsonics house sound that we know of. It reminds me the SM64, which was a very good IEM at the time. So when I compare it with ES-2, I can say ES-3 moves toward to fun sound. It has a Velvet-like touch as well although not totally the same.

The bass on ES-3 has good body and rumble, as well as good level of control and separation from the rest of the frequency range. The bass is tidier and it has more subbass than ES-2’s. It hits like a dynamic driver IEM and recovers really well and quick. It can also can get much deeper than ES2’s flatter bass. But this time, like what we’ve seen with the Velvet, midbass is trimmed down. Earsonics likes to do this, because with that route you have a fast and airy IEM with a good soundstage. On the other hand, depending on the genre this lack of midbass causes some unrealistic reproductions of recordings. So you gain some and lose some. Fortunately, the midbass here is not extremely lowered like Velvet, which is the relieving factor. That makes the ES-3 a more coherent IEM than the Velvet (sorry guys).

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More impressions from the ES-3, and comparisons of both on page three

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A keen audiophile and hobby photographer, Berkhan is after absolute perfection. Whether it is a full frame camera or a custom in-ear, his standpoint persists the same. He tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level with audio. Sometimes photography wins, sometimes his love for music takes him over and he puts that camera aside. Simplistic expressions of sound in his reviews is the way to go for him. He enjoys a fine single malt along with his favourite Jazz recordings.

15 Comments

  • Reply November 24, 2016

    David

    When you compared it to the Velvet, which of the three dial setting was it on?

  • Reply December 4, 2016

    TYG

    Will definitely get the ES3 in case the iSine 10 turns out to isolate as poor as I’m expecting it to do.
    I was one of the first few people who ordered the SM64 and I’ve used and loved them ever since.
    Too bad Earsonics doesn’t send out loaner/demo units.

    • Reply December 4, 2016

      Berkhan

      Thanks for the comment. You won’t be disappointed if you get the ES3.

  • Reply December 29, 2016

    John C Hospod

    Have you heard any of the offerings of Empire Ears in comparison?

  • Reply October 8, 2017

    JHL

    As someone who is new to the mid/high end IEM market, and tends to listen to electronic dance music most of the time, which of the two would you recommend?

  • Reply November 21, 2018

    Amir Shaikh

    Would ES3 be any good for heavy metal, i have Sony WMIA DAP with huge digital collection.

  • Reply February 4, 2019

    Pierre

    It’s hard to tell from pictures here and online… but would anyone be able to tell me whether those use narrow bore canals? I.e. like on Westone IEMs, or on the Massdrop/NuForce EDC series?

    I’m seriously considering them as backup to the Customs I have coming in, but I just can NEVER get good fits out of IEMs with larger-bore canals (e.g. my own CA Lyra II, my Massdrop Plus and Noble X, my iBasso IT01s…).

    Thanks so much for any tip here!

    • Reply February 4, 2019

      Berkhan

      Hi,

      They’re not narrow. Earsonics use wider canals.

      • Reply February 4, 2019

        Pierre

        Thanks Berkhan 🙂

  • Reply June 14, 2019

    victor

    I just have my ES-3 since 2 weeks ago, and i agree with you that ES-3 is an upgrade (a massive one) from SM64. Imo, every earsonics fanboy (like me) will love ES-3 for sure 😀

    now, i’m curious to try ES-5, too bad no demo available in my country.. sigh..

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