As with other narrow sound tube earphones, both sound signature and audio performance vary wildly based on earpiece. Since I purchased the Etymotic ER4s back in the wilds of the early 2000s, I have been a fan of low-density sponge ear tips. Shure’s filtered yellow tips (the ones I favoured for use with the Shure SE846) provide the clearest audio signal for narrow and medium-sized ear canals. Also, they are comfortable. But they get ugly, quick. Another pair I swear by is the Shure Black Olives, but if you have sensitive ears, they can rub you the wrong way. And they bunch up in the ear canal. This affects sound. The good news is they last for years.
My ears are sensitive, so I did most listening through the Shures. It is a good match.
Mated to the proper ear tips, the S-EM6 kicks out fast, full bass. It’s a bass that more closely resembles the character, if not the power, of a good dynamic earphone. It underpins every frequency and every instrument.
Typically, Earsonics earphones sound lush and warm. Certain of their phones have been accused of being soppy. I get that. The S-EM6 isn’t soppy, but it fits the Earsonics’ house sound. And that is a relief, especially for jazz, folk, and even hip hop. But it fits genres outside of that trio very well.
Decidedly, this earphone sounds full, powerful, mature. Bass is powerful but not boomy. It eschews low end detail for low end presence and atmosphere. You won’t be able to pick out the lowest vibrations kicked out from electronic instruments like you will with the FitEar MH335DW. Likewise, you won’t experience the endlessly detailed bass of the Dita The Answer.
Its bass is moody, speedy enough, and full of verve. It’s Earsonics through and through. Unless you use high-density foams, it isn’t boomy. That said, it isn’t as sharply defined as the bass in the JHA Roxanne or the MH335DW.
The transition to mids is clean and nuanced. As stated earlier, bass underpins everything. Midrange clarity isn’t sacrificed; it is anchored by atmospheric lows. As a result, mids are powerful, sultry, and perfectly pitched for human vocals. They are the S-EM6’s fulcrum. Sound pressure in the vocal range is slightly higher than average, and both male and female vocals are clear and rich. Electric guitars are forward, edgy, and rockin’. The forward edge in slap bass is similarly edgy. Neither betrays rear reverb detail, nor ever clangs. It is a wonderful presentation that I have fallen for.
Similarly to its lower counterpart, mid details are eschewed for presence and atmosphere. Stereo image in the mids is wide. 3D placement of instruments is good, but neither is scalpel-precise. Its nearest comparison in the headphone world is the Sennheiser HD650 sans that headphone’s hot midrange. It is a great sound. Treble is never hot. Cymbals crash with speed and immediately clean right up. High-frequency reverb is minimal and speed and accuracy are high. Again, minutiae in either frequency is never thrust to the front.
So what music have I enjoyed most through the S-EM6? Well, that is a hard one. The mellow but powerful Earsonics sound isn’t one that impresses on first listen. Immediately I wanted to suggest that trance isn’t a good pairing. I wanted to put my opinion completely behind jazz, small ensembles, and live stage performances. But the more I listened, the more I realised that the Earsonics’ sound is a great match to many of my favorite genres. Not for trance, no, but trance and IDM isn’t everything. If your music has glow, or emotion, feel, or enthusiasm, this earphone will amplify its good points. The bad points it smooths out.
It’s not the stereotypical audiophile earphone dead set on detail and more detail. Rather, it is dead set on feel. The more I enjoyed, the more I ’got’ the S-EM6. I think I am maturing.
Like many Earsonics earphones, the S-EM6 doesn’t require a super high quality output or an amp to perform well. A good amp will help poor sources output the S-EM6’s most characteristic sound.
The S-EM6 is the first Earsonics earphone that I didn’t like from the kickoff. Until at last I mellowed out, I thought to compartmentalize it behind a wall of applicable music. Emotion over detail. As time went on, I really enjoyed what I heard. Detail in the mids and upper mids expanded, and bass filled out in a snug way. Finding the right tips made the clearest improvement in sound. If fit were perfect, the S-EM6 would be the easiest recommendation for listeners that love a smooth, solid listen.