Earsonics Velvet – Tunably Addictive

Disclaimer: Earsonics provided this Velvet sample free of charge for the purposes of this review. Velvet goes for 699$. You can find more about it here.

Here are its specifications

Sensibility: 116 dB/mW
Frequency response: 10 Hz -20 kHz
DCR: 31,5 à 41,5 ohms (depend on switch position)
Driver: 3 ways with HQ tunable crossover

Since 2012 kicked Earsonics’s ass into high gear, earphone lovers have netted a bounty of awesome solder and acrylic. There’s been the awesome SM64, the somewhat ill-fitting S-EM6, the bass-kicking EM32, and now, Velvet. Velvet started off pretty rough. Both channels of my first turned into post-fall Humpty Dumpty, and only after a month of being subjected to their carrying case and my ears.

Naturally, those early units were recalled and Earsonics replaced all defective units.

This new pair appears to be solid. And it’s mostly a breeze to use. The hurdles created with the S-EM6 are no more. Velvet fits well- which is very well and good as it sort of got hit with the ugly stick.

The Marque

Velvet’s black-on-black is orthodox Earsonics. It’s not a sexy earphone. Earsonics aren’t a sexy company. They are practical. That is, at least until releasing the S-EM6, which fit like an orange wedge, they were. No, it was more like a government-issue teeter totter on bespoke fulcrums: expensive, but made for a kid twice your size and with an extra limb. Velvet fits as good as any quality multi-armature earphone.

But then it springs one on the entire Earsonics line in being way, way, way better thought out. here’s the skinny on what’s been waaaaay upgraded:

1. it’s package
2. it’s accessory kit
3. it’s product literature
4. it’s snob appeal

It’s almost as if Velvet were designed by a completely different company. Computer, and Max, say no: Velvet is 100% home brewed. And, it fits like that crazy part-road, part-city, part field Carcassonne piece: the one that never comes up when it should. It’s awesome, but it sort of eclipses your plans. In a number of ways Velvet eclipses its forebears. It’s evidence that Earsonics that realised there are audiophiles out there, too.

It represents an Earsonics that are now totally, completely, and utterly, on my brain.

The Cable

Let me make this easy: the custom-fit EM32 share the same cable as Velvet. Here’s what I said about them:

Somewhere between my EM3Pro, and 2013, the accessory kit changed at bit. The biggest, and most welcome change is the cable. There’s a new stiffness, tighter torsion, and greater tensile strength now than there was before. And, the new cable is grey.

Grey.

The plug, still L-shaped, sits higher in the jack, which makes it more susceptible to bumps. The old, squat number’s Carlton stature ensured it snagged less on your trousers. And maybe it even was better able to withstand bumps. But you could forget using it with cased smartphones, and other devices. Both the new and old have the same type of stress reliefs.

And glasses wearers, be forewarned, the new granny-coloured cable still sports the same old memory wire. Ouch.

Of course, now the cable is black. Whoohoo!

The Chassis

It can’t be said enough: Velvet looks like a black S-EM6. It’s a point that, at first, freaked me out. S-EM6’s mid centric, smooth sound floated my slow boat, but it was such a bother to wear, that I was happy when I dotted the last i of my review of it. So when I inched the Velvet out of its sexy box, I groaned.

Not again. Dear God, please!

Nope.

Not again.

Thank you, God.

Velvet shares similar design aesthetic. But its lower shoulders, and feet, are different.

Firstly, its lower shoulder keeps a stronger angle against the ear, ensuring it stays in place. It’s not as secure as a custom earphone, nor does it lay as flat as the SM64, or even an Ultrasone IQ. But it fits well, is pretty comfortable, and it hangs most of bulk outside of the concha in a vertically-built chassis. That allows it to fit into medium-small ears, which is great help. The proof? My wife told me that she could go with Velvet for the entire ride from Tsukuba to Nagareyama Central Park, which takes about thirty minutes. She lasted for about fifteen minutes with Dita Audio’s The Answer.

Secondly, its sound bores are wider, and no longer take Shure Olives. Neither do they take the ortofon silicon pad s. Honestly, both are a shame. They take Earsonics pads, and whatever Comply may have in Velvet size. You can also whip up your own cauldron. My favorite is the stock from Earsonics’s mushroom pads, muffled about by a heat-activated heat-foamy. My favorite foamy is the black one that used to come only with Victor/JVC earphones, but now comes with every phone out of China. The combo are in one of the photos in this review.

The Accessories

Earsonics’s pads are ill-fitting affairs that cause my sensitive ears no end of pain. My ears don’t callous up fast enough. Yours might be different.

The shallow ones fit like a broken plumber’s friend. Why do Earsonics love dual flange tips so much? Do we really need four pair, three in grey (which will become green), plus one in black?

Obviously, I don’t use Earsonics’s ear pads. I whip up my own. I also make my own couscous. I suggest grinding a bit of red pepper into it. To fix up a pair of comfy pads, dissect the Earsonics mushroom pieces and add foams. Bon appétit!

There are a few other things in the box:

1 minus screw driver (for tuning Velvet)
1 wax loop/brush
1 3,5mm to 6,3mm plug adapter
the above-mentioned tips
a halfway-decent carrying case

Each is etched into high-density impact foam, in turn, which comes in hard-sided cardboard. It’s all black. I can’t even begin to tell you how black it all is. Crazy black. Maybe Earsonics should have called it Ebony. Either way, I think they’ll have some followers.

While I dig the layout and quality of literature, the impact foam comes with some notches here and there. It still is Earsonics. The carrying case is now easier to use, but its zipper gets stuck more often, and it picks up what looks like bat bites, very easily. I’m not going to say that the old one was better, but after a few months, or years, I expect the new carrying case to look like a vampyre’s plaything.

Sound impressions after the jump:

Earsonics Velvet – Tunably Addictive
4.6 (92.5%) 8 votes

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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.

22 Comments

  • Reply February 8, 2015

    ExpectationGap

    Have you seen these in clear/crystal? They’re brilliant!

    • Reply February 8, 2015

      ohm image

      I saw them, but not in person. The black sound great, but look tired. The clear ones, if in person they look like the render, should be hot.

    • Reply February 27, 2015

      Me hello

      What Company are those the same ear sonics as the review at the top of this page? They actually look like they could offer more then my SE 535’s
      by Shure

      • Reply February 28, 2015

        ExpectationGap

        They are Earsonics velvet in “crystal” color. Same as reviewed here.

        • Reply March 9, 2015

          Me hello

          Ok, sorry for the misunderstanding I have the Shure SE535’s in clear they sound at times otherworldly !

          • Reply March 23, 2015

            ohm image

            There are some similarities, but the Velvet has three unique sound signatures that really help you hone in on genre-specific music, or merely to match what you like with your ear.

            • Reply March 29, 2015

              Me hello

              Pretty much every genre has it’s proper sound on my Shure’s

    • Reply March 23, 2015

      ohm image

      By the way, I had my black units replaced by clear units, so I’ll chime in when the unboxing is done.

      • Reply March 25, 2015

        ExpectationGap

        Awesome, would love to know if the renders are true to form.

        • Reply March 25, 2015

          ohm image

          They have arrived back in Japan, but I’ve been so busy with a couple of commercial shoots that I’ve yet to unbox them. I will keep you updated, probably via Headfonia’s facebook page.

  • Reply February 8, 2015

    obsidyen

    I bought the Crystal version of Velvet. Earsonics said they should be shipped next week. I’ll post a pic when I get my hands on them. Loved the SM64, Velvet should only be better. I used to dislike IEMs and thought they couldn’t be better than on-ear headphones for portable use, but Earsonics SQ completely changed my mind.

    • Reply February 9, 2015

      ohm image

      I replied this morning, but somehow my message didn’t get through.

      Velvet is better than SM64 in that it can get close to the SM64 verve, and do the almost-EM32 thing, too. Versatility at its best. I hope you enjoy.

  • Reply February 11, 2015

    LoneShark

    How’s the bass of the warm mode, compared to the SE846?

    • Reply February 11, 2015

      ohm image

      I wish I could compare them directly. I do not have the SE846. It was loaned by Shure about a year ago. I can utter this blanket: Shure’s bass has more slam, while the Velvet has more warmth. The Velvet is (again, from memory), warmer sounding and slightly more natural in the bass, but the Shure is tighter all around.

  • Reply February 28, 2015

    dog ears

    Heya Nathan, this is tempting coming from an Earsonics ‘fan’ =) Straight from the DAP’s headphone out is what I like. Thanks for the review.

    • Reply March 9, 2015

      ohm image

      Even a dog could find something to love with these. Enjoy.

  • Reply March 22, 2015

    James

    Hi Nathan, Just wondering if you could give me more specific directions how you made those custom tips or where to get those black tips? cheers James

    • Reply March 23, 2015

      ohm image

      Just cut out the centre stalk of your least favourite thin-stalk ear pad, then put on the tip of your choice. The tips you see are from JVC/Victor earphones and are super comfy. If the stalk isn’t good enough by itself, cut another, larger stalk and put it on.

      If that isn’t a good explanation, I need to blog about it someday.

      • Reply April 2, 2015

        James

        That makes sense 🙂 Know where I can get the JVC/Victor earbuds?

  • Reply May 26, 2015

    Dhia Oshaish

    Hey Nathan!
    Thank u for the review. I dont know if you remember the Velvet’s sound well or no.
    Anyway, I bought these for a friend and gave them a quick listen. I was totally impressed. Usually I would be listening to the Fidelio X2, and everything else I managed to try would not be as good in comparison (no direct comparisons but I know it when I am underwhelmed). With the Velvets I was impressed (no direct comparison again). So I am here to make sure that what I heard was right. Do something like the Velvets sound better than the X2s?
    If you had both in a quiet place, which one would you pick to listen to music?

    Thank u!

    • Reply May 28, 2015

      Dhia Oshaish

      I am asking bcz I am encouraged to buy the velvets but I dont trust my initial impressions. And I cant listen to them again, so I am reaching out for your opinion.

    • Reply August 27, 2015

      ohm image

      Hey, I’m sorry this is so late. Personally, I don’t tend to compare anything but sound signature between headphones of non-compatible genres. And, personally, I prefer headphones to earphones at every juncture. But that’s me.

      So, you can get a nice warm sound signature similar to the X2 with the Velvet. But whether it will be better, or worse to you, really depends on you.

      I prefer something easy when I’m in a quiet venue. Ergo, headphones. Ergo, X2 over Velvet. But if that quiet venue requires me to be quiet, earphones are my choice.

      Velvet is more capable of adapting to various important signatures. If that’s important to you, go ahead. But in no way can I decide for you because to me, comparing headphones to earphones simply doesn’t make sense. They are too different.

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