Like many of the other TOTL monitors, the EM10 is an excellent performer but where other monitors go for a bigger clarity, neutrality or a flat neutral sound, the EM10 always goes for musicality and warmth. And that makes the EM10 an easy to love, reference CIEM.
The EM10 is also pretty forgiving set of monitors, but I still recommend using top quality files as they will show you the real capability of this addictive monitor. I love using it with all types of music and the EM10 is a great all-rounder. The EM10 also isn’t that different going from balanced to single ended and back, it’s an easy one to use.
Bass – Mids – Treble
The bass section only sports two Balanced Armatures compared to the two times four drivers for the mids and treble section, but don’t be mislead by this. Bass has a good amount of body and it connects perfectly to that of the mids.
Bass impact is very good and bigger than neutral body-wise, but this of course isn’t a neutrally tuned CIEM either. Bass is foot-tappingly good though at the same time it’s not the very fastest or tightest bass. It’s so musical, fun and enjoyable though and that combined with the good detail, depth and layering make it a high quality, musical and easy to like bass section. The EM10 doesn’t have the deepest or most extended bass, but it doesn’t need to it sound engaging and full aka musical.
The richness of the mids is very good and like the bass it comes with good layering. The presentation is smooth and also warmer but it has good separation and spaciousness, again making it a musical section. Vocals are excellent and they sound natural and realistic. Body wise, the mids – like the bass part – sounds full and has good impact. The absolute best part is the upper mids part but the mids in general just are so incredibly enjoyable. The four drivers are doing a great task.
The treble section is also full bodied and warmer sounding. The smoothness that we find in the mids and bass is present here as well and it makes the treble section easy to listen to and musical. It’s a softly presented treble yet at he same time it’s lively and clear enough to perfectly balance the bass. It’s not the most precise and extended treble but it’s not needed here for the typical tuning Earsonics has in mind. Linearity and balance from bass to treble, with a coherent, musical sound.
All comparisons were done with the SP1000 as source and the Effect Audio Horus cable in balanced config, except for the Mason V3 and UE 18+ PRO as they have proprietary connectors.
Jomo Audio is completely renewing their product line-up but as the 11-driver Flamenco is one of my fav monitors, I really want to include it in this comparison. The Flamenco has the bass and treble switches and with both of them activated you get a more V-shaped sound curve than the linear EM10. Because of this the bass seems bigger than the EM10’s, but this isn’t really the case. With the Flamenco you do get more forward upper mids and treble making this part a lot more forward. Apart from the bass, the Flamenco isn’t as warm and clear sounding, but it does have a wider sound stage. I do prefer the depth and layering of the EM10 though. With the treble turned down, both monitors come closer together in presentation style, but he EM10’s mids are still thicker and overall warmer.
Noble’s Kaiser Encore has 10 drivers and the bass part again is comparable to that of the EM10, but it stops there. The EM10 is warmer, slower and smoother where the KE is more forward and brighter sounding in mids and treble. Body wise the mids and treble are lighter in the Noble and vocals are much more upfront. The Encore does have a better clarity, a wider sound stage and improved feel of spaciousness. Treble is more extended and the sound stage is wider, especially on the top end.
The 8-driver Westone ES80 has a more neutral tuning from top to button and it doesn’t have the body the EM10 does. It’s neutrality vs Musicality and enjoyment. Both monitors have good level of detail but the ES80 sounds cleaner and more precise with better separation. The EM10 has bigger bass, mids and treble and a warmer and smoother presentation. The ES80’s bas doesn’t go as deep as the EM10’s and the Westone’s upper mids and treble are cleaner and more precise. Treble is more energetic and extended than on the EM10 where treble is warmer, softer and easy enjoyable.
The CustomArt Harmony 8.2 is also smoother sounding in its own way but it’s still more neutral than the EM10 and it has less body everywhere. It’s a more reference tuned monitor with more forward vocals but the CA is cleaner, more spacious, has better separation and better extension on top of a wider sound stage. These monitors are really different, but both great. To me the CustomArt Harmony 8.2 is still an underrated monitor, Piotr has done really well with this one.
The Ultimate Ears 18+PRO with the new True Tone driver and cable system only sports 6 drivers. IT’s tuning is cleaner, more precise and it has a much more clean presentation. The EM10’s warmth and smoothness is nowhere to be found here. It’s precision and clarity vs body and emotion. The UE is a monitor I absolutely adore and of all the audiophile/reference tuned CIEMs in my collection, it’s one of the very best. Its review will be online soon, but yeah, it’s the opposite of what the EM10 stands for and both are great in their own way.
The Vision Ears VE8 is also one of my favorite all-round monitors as it sits right in the middle between musical & warm and neutral & clear. The EM10 is bigger bodied, warmer and smoother but it’s not as extended and spacious as the more neutral VE8 is. Both monitors have a good level of detail but it’s just more audible with the flatter and more clear sounding VE. Voices on the VE8 are more upfront, treble is more extended and energetic while bass on the EM10 goes deeper. The VE8 sounds more precise, resolving, layered and clean, where the EM10 sounds thicker, smoother and warmer. Both great in their own way, depending on what you prefer.
The 16 driver Unique Melody Mason V3 has more configuration options than the EM10 as it offers a choice of cable as well as adjustable bass. To me the V3 is the even better version of the VE8, that means the Mason V3 is like the perfect CIEM where a reference tuning is combined with a musical presentation. The Mason V3 and the EM10 are very different. The EM10 loves warmth and smoothness with big body, where the V3 is more clear, cleaner, faster and more precise. The V3’s bass is lighter in body but has great detail. The mids are also thicker in the EM10 and the voices are softer. The treble section is more dynamic, clear, extended and energetic in the V3, where it is very soft and easy-going in the EM10.
Of all my 8 driver CIEMs and up, there’s not a single one with the same sound signature than the EM10. Earsonics specifically chose for this warmer and musical tuning, with a full bodied, linear sound and soft, natural treble. Musicality and engagement with a good level of richness.
On the last page of the review you’ll find how the EM10 plays with a selection of DAPS and other sources. CLICK HERE