I recommend you to pair up the EM6 with open & bright sources to compensate its dark character, or for just staying in the safe zone in terms of presentation. You can have a great time when you pair it with A&K DAPs such as the SP1000SS, SE100 and even the old AK240. These DAPs play with big staging performance and transparency.
My WM1A also pairs well with the EM6 with its neutral presentation and tonality. The Paw Gold is also very good with it’s relatively bright treble but its aggressive midbass (at times) and narrower stage can cause problems. The ZX2 gave me a great performance with the EM6, despite my opposite expectations because its warm sound and good subbass. It turned out to be great companion with the EM6, probably because of its great sound stage and slightly recessed midbass. That played out really well.
Here are some selected comparisons with the EM6:
vs. InEarz Nirvana: The first comparison that came to my mind was the Nirvana, since it also has a dark approach to the music. The Nirvana also has a strong bass with great definition, but it has recessed mids compared to EM6, or the EM6 has lifted mids, whatever you want to interpret it. They have a similar sound stage and technical capabilities. But the Nirvana has a more transparent treble. Overall it’s a tie for me, but if you like mid-centric IEMs, then the EM6 is your best bet here.
vs. PEARS SH-3: The SH-3 has won the best CIEM award from me in 2018, and for good reason. Its technical abilities and reference type of tonality with a flat response are not easy to find everywhere. The EM6 is a completely different CIEM in that perspective with the colored and dark approach. From the technical standpoint, the SH-3 is the clear winner. But you can find the SH-3 boring if you like warm and colored signature and good bass.
vs. Earsonics S-EM9: The S-EM9 share a similar bass quality but the EM6 has fuller and denser mids. The 9 driver brother has a better resolution but it doesn’t have the organic response of the EM6. S-EM9 also plays more open and it’s the brighter IEM. Technically the EM6 is behind in terms of separation and sheer transparency, but it holds its ground with that unique tone.
vs. Earsonics ES5: The 5 driver offering of the brand again has that bass which belongs to the Earsonics’ house sound. It plays brighter mids with more air, and it also has very articulated and definitive treble. The EM6 is more controlled and it’s not a detail monster, and if you like the EM6 so much then the ES-5 can come to you as “digital” at times.
vs. Earsonics S-EM6 v2: Like I’ve touched upon in the previous pages, the v2 is completely a different IEM. The only similarity they have is the driver count and that’s it. The S-EM6 v2 has a much flatter and brighter response. If you’re gonna analyze a song or you simply enjoy that kind of a reference tune, then the v2 is going to be your choice. The original however would make you very happy if you don’t care about that, and just want a romantic sound based on pure joy.
As I said, this IEM is one of those things that introduced me to high end portable audio, so reviewing it was a pleasure. The EM6 is a wonderful CIEM for the lovers of warm and full sound with lushness and smoothness. It even goes to that risky area like the legendary HD650 headphone. The darkness, the not-so-desired but beautiful veil over the sound, and that glamorous signature; all of those are risky in today’s market.
Is it worth the asking price in 2019? That’s an impossible question to answer confidently. The EM6’s sound reproduction is not something you can actually discuss and share opinions about, at least not like other monitors. You either will love it or hate it.
Today it’s all about incredible transparency, razor sharp imaging and vast staging. The EM6 isn’t any of that. Because we have to chase it. Because it’s not our generic IEM. It’s a silent guardian of romantic sound, and a joyful performer. A dark knight.