Earsonics S-EM6: The Liaison

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.

The Marque

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.

The Cable

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.

The Chassis

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.

Read more on the next page!

Earsonics S-EM6: The Liaison
3.6 (72.94%) 17 vote[s]

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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.

16 Comments

  • Reply June 5, 2014

    TRANCYSE .

    Nathan thank you for this great review.
    I listen almost exclusively IDM 90s (Techno, Trance, Ambient)
    What are for you the best IEM’s for this kind of music?

    • Reply June 6, 2014

      ohm image

      Trancyse: thank you for the comment. Trance is a tricky genre, one that requires the highest clarity in any frequency response. Generally, trance heads (myself included) prefer earphones that have a huge sense of space in the upper mids and clean, yet strong bass. Any softening of the sound softens the ‘trance’. In the custom earphone world the FitEar Private 333 remains my favourite. In the universal world, the Earsonics SM64 is great, the Ultrasone IQ is very good but not great, the Audio Technica CK10 is considered a benchmark by me and many others. The FitEar 111 is another great trance earphone, though not an earphone I like to wear; it is not easy to keep in the ears.

      But some people like meaty mids and prefer something like the Earsonics SM3. I find that stifles the trance effect. Flat, tight, wide. I’ve written a little about it here:

      http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/11/15/fitear-togo-111-this-is-trance/

  • Reply June 6, 2014

    TRANCYSE .

    Hi ohm 🙂
    i looking for the best custom IEM 😉 Comfort and insulation are very important to me.
    I intend to mix and use it for home movies and video games, exclusively for use with the sedentary Fostex HP-A8C.
    I hesitated between E32, Shure SE846 and Spiral Ears SE5 …???

    • Reply June 6, 2014

      ohm image

      Are you looking for universal earphones as well? I have no experience with Spiral Ears. Lieven may be able to help with that. But games and movies sound better with big low ends.

  • Reply June 6, 2014

    TRANCYSE .

    I live in France, for your information.
    Shure SE846 with Sensaphonics tips? Or SE5 Ref? Or neither?

    • Reply June 6, 2014

      ohm image

      Trancyse: what sound signature are you looking for? The S-EM6 is warmer (with the right tips as both earphones can sound stuffy with the wrong tips) than the SE846 and treble presence isn’t as strong. Vocals have more body, however.

      If you are really really into vocal, the S-EM6. If you are into a big more balance, the SE846. Build quality definitely the SE846.

  • Reply June 6, 2014

    SallyMaeSusan

    ONLY six drivers? Pah!
    I want a dozen at least…in each ear. Fail.

  • Reply June 6, 2014

    Otaku Faisal

    the vocal was so beautiful is still remember it even thought it already past 2 month

    • Reply June 6, 2014

      ohm image

      Indeed, that is true. Did you get yours from Musica Acoustics?

      • Reply June 7, 2014

        Otaku Faisal

        i borrow it from my friend >,,<

        • Reply June 20, 2014

          ohm image

          Friends are great to have. I have a mate, AnakChan, from Headfi/Cymbacavum, who is my personal angel. Get my fingers on lots of great gear because he owns everything out there.

  • Reply November 22, 2015

    TCD1975

    regarding the cable, this review says that “Many market players have moved on, and up, to other options.” In my experience, many top end manufacturers have moved towards MMCX connections, but they are proving to have MANY build quality issues so the older two pin cables seem far more resilient.

  • Reply December 3, 2015

    Rekupax

    hi!
    how are they compared with UE triple.fi? would it be great upgrade?

  • […] out Nathan’s review of the S-EM6 from 2014 here. Back then that was Earsonics’ flagship […]

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