Earsonics S-EM6: The Liaison

The Sound

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 Conclusion

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.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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 […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.