Disclaimers: I borrowed this earphone from Earsonics for a day longer than I was allowed. I hope I’ve not invited too much ire from the wine drinkers in Clapiers. C’est la vie.
For your information, I’ve been a longtime Earsonics fan. I love the SM64, the SM2, the SM3 and the EM3Pro. Out of those four, the SM64 is my favourite. I like brighter, mild V-shaped sound signatures better than smooth and dark. I make no apologies. The Earsonics S-EM6, six drivers, and 4-figure price tag (948.16EUR at Earsonics), is quite the northward tick.
And neither does the company, headed up by the strong, silent, Franck Lopez. They have a house sound, a house look, and a house appeal. It’s a branding you invest in for the long run, and most of its products are solid. The S-EM6 is the latest, and greatest of Earsonics’ now famous SM universal series. It sports six balanced armatures, a removable Westone/UE style cable, and the now-familiar Earsonics carrying case.
Outwardly, the S-EM6 shares more in common with Earsonics’ custom earphones than it does with its universal series. It fills up the outer ear just like a custom earphone. Maybe that’s where the ‘E’ designation came from; I don’t know. It also comes in the plastic clamshell which Earsonics provide to their custom earphone customers.
That’s design-wise; sound-wise, the same is true.
Earsonics still use the same dual-prong UE-style cable that’s been in every Earsonics earphone since their cables went detachable. The good news is that this cable is easily found, rather inexpensive, and has endless numbers of upgrade options available. The bad news is that it is technology from nearly a decade ago. Many market players have moved on, and up, to other options. One reason for this is that certain newer cables are are more robust.
But this legacy cable has a number of advantages: it is light, not prone to friction tangles, relatively strong, and sports a simple, elegant, y split and neck cinch. It is also one of the quietest cables around, hardly amplifying touch noise and other microphonic ejaculations.
For the user who isn’t keen on plugging and unplugging their cables, it is a classic, proven design. But it no longer is the best detachable cable out there. For that reason, I hope that Earsonics can move on.
Since 2011 Earsonics have utilised the same, understated chassis design in all of their universal earphones. Being a custom-cum universal, the S-EM6 is rather different. Its chassis is made from the same acrylic resin as Earsonics customs. The shape is also similar.
This design fills a large portion of the outer ear and anchors itself in a way that puts little stress on the cable. It sports the same narrow sound tube as its universal siblings. Switching ear pieces is easy. Again, this sound bore has been around for a very long time, and is practically an industry standard. It is easy to find small ear pieces that work comfortably in small ears. Let’s face it, Earsonics’ comfort always has been high. The S-EM6 changes nothing.
But there are two problems:
1. The lower portion of the earphone lacks a strong lower shoulder. As a consequence, the S-EM6 sits less stably in the ear than some other custom-cum universal earphones. And because the upper shoulder juts out so much farther than the lower one, getting a perfect seal is difficult.
2. The female portion isn’t sunk into the earphone body. Cables pins are bared, and subject to more stress than is necessary.
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