Today we have the review of the new Hybrid IEM from Earsonics, the Earsonics Stark which costs €1.390.
Disclaimer: The Earsonics Stark was provided to me from Earsonics. The review reflects my unbiased opinions as always.
First Hybrid from France
Earsonics decided to make their first hybrid internal design and they recently launched two new hybrid models; Stark and Blade. Considering the Earsonics’ track record and their house sound, I’m surprised that it took this much time for them to unveil a hybrid IEM. Earsonics has always been a company that prioritized fun and enjoyable sound rather than reference. That’s why they have a distinctive fan base after all.
So when these models came out, I wasn’t susprised. However, I was quite curious about the sound they would offer us. After some time with the Stark, I’m in a position to fully review the flagship Stark model and see how it performs.
The French IEM manufacturer is a well-recognized brand with a good reputation among audiophiles. It was established in 2005 by Franck Lopez and the priority back in the day was to provide good monitoring solutions for the artists on stage.
Then it evolved to be a very popular IEM manufacturer for audiophiles, especially for those who seek out something “different”. We have reviewed lots of Earsonics gear over the years. The S-EM9, ES2 & 3, EM10, S-EM6 v2, ES5, Grace, and the list goes on and on including the older ones like the S-EM6, EM32, and the EM6 (Custom Version). Our last Earsonics review was the EM64 stage monitor by Lieven. My last one, however, was the Purple model, which is still in our Best Universal IEMs list.
As I mentioned, Earsonics has released 2 hybrid IEMs called Stark and Blade. The Blade is the lower-priced version with 3 drivers (1+2) and the Stark has 5 (1+4). The Stark has an 8 mm. dynamic driver together with 2 BAs for mids and 2 BAs for treble. The design consists of a 3-way crossover.
Aside from the internal design, the external has been drastically changed. The acrylic or plastic shells are gone. Now we have anodized zinc and magnesium alloy for the shells. Also, the internal electronics are secured in a 3D acrylic housing inside for perfect positioning and also for acoustic reasons.
Build Quality & Design
So yes, the new Stark boasts quality. I mean, it’s incredible. I’m one of those people who criticized Earsonics’ plastic shells, which honestly didn’t live up to their price brackets in the past. With their new hybrid series, Earsonics have managed to pull off a huge jump in terms of build quality.
The new Stark has a fantastic build quality. There’s no other way to put it. When I opened the box and inspected the earpieces in my hand, I merely said “wow, finally”. This is a great new era for Earsonics in my opinion, and I hope they will keep up the same high level with new models. This is a big leap forward. The users of these new models now can smoothly say that they get what they paid for.
The design topic is always subjective of course, but I can say that the Stark looks much better in real life than in the photos. Maybe the shells could’ve been a bit shinier, but they’re still good as they are. The silver face plate parts reflect the light nicely with different angles. I wished the inner shells would be also silver-colored but who am I?
As much as I liked the aesthetics and build of the Stark, I didn’t really like the new cable. It’s good that they don’t supply the stock Plastics One cable anymore, but I think that the new “Hi-Res” cable doesn’t look premium enough to complement this new design. I think a more premium looking cable would’ve been perfect.
The new chassis structure means extra weight and the Stark is a heavy monitor when compared to many IEMs. So not every tip is good for the best fitting experience, at least that has been the case for me. Fortunately, Earsonics provide lots of ear tips in the package. Gone are the days when Earsonics would ship only a few tips, you have many choices now. Standard silicone ones, black double flanges, white double flanges (shorter) and foams. So you have lots here. I’m sure one would find the best possible fit for their needs.
In my case the classic Earsonics double flange tips work the best. They provide me a snug fit and they balance out the weight nicely. They also go very deep into my ear canals. That way the isolation also becomes satisfying, although not being on the same level as foams. The shells stick out pretty much especially with double flange ones since the chassis is not too compact or small. There is certain heft and mass so don’t expect to have a quick nap with these.
The review continues on PAGE 2 with sound performance.