Build Quality and Ergonomics:
Again, I received a pre-production sample. So please keep that in mind when reading the following lines.
The Grace is, as mentioned, built using 3D printed shells, these are hand-assembled by their technicians afterwards. They are surprisingly small, especially when you know that there are ten balanced armature drivers in each ear piece.
When looking at their build quality, I was a bit surprised, as there is noticeable residue of glue on and around the 2-pin sockets. The corners of the face plates are also not finished precisely, as they aren’t very smooth when you move your finger over them. Still, keep in mind that my sample was hand-built in a rush to get them out to me in time.
I was ensured by EarSonics, that the build quality flaws were ironed out with their mass production samples. Paying customers will get to enjoy a perfect product. I have seen their production units, and their build quality looks a lot better.
Grace comes in full black housing, with a yellow/goldish engraved “Grace” on each side’s face plate. The wording itself is readable, but I would not have guessed it says Grace if I would not have known. On the bottom, you will find differentiating printings. The right side is marked with an R, while the left side has ES printed on it.
The Grace has a detachable 2-pin connection, which allows for cable rolling. Please know, that EarSonics uses inverted polarity with their monitors. This should not be a problem though, as I was told that, as long as you insert the cables the same way, it should still match.
The supplied Plastics One cable has memory wires on each side. Many people, me included, aren’t the biggest fans of that, but at the same time, this gives you the option to bend the cable to your preference, and it will stay put.
The overall size of them is pretty small, as noted before. EarSonics also went with a really short nozzle to complete the unit. This gives their customers a rather shallow insertion depth. That results in a very comfortable, but not overly secure, sit. Maybe it’s just me, because I am used to custom monitors these days, but I find the sit to be a little flimsy, though very comfortable.
Most universal monitors have a tendency to shift their sound signature with different ear-tips. The Grace is no exception there, and I found noticeable variances between foam and silicone tips. I started using them with the supplied foam tips, as I prefer them for their good seal and isolation values.
With the Comply tips attached I found them to be sporting the typical EarSonics house-sound. A warm and darker signature with a thicker presentation overall.
Bass goes deep, but could be extended further. There is good body in the lows, with nice texture and resolution. The presentation is soft and smooth to me, and could use a portion more sub-bass rumble and thunder for my taste. Bass is airy and dynamic and stands a little more in the foreground of the picture. Acoustic bass has a natural sound and great flow in it, while bass-heavy music might be too soft for some.
The transition from bass to mids is seamless, and they seem very well connected to me. Lower midrange has a more forward presentation, with excellent body and an almost vibrant sound. This makes deep male vocals sound very good, though female singers aren’t overlooked either. Upper mids are rich and very beautiful.
Midrange has a decent transparency and sports good amounts of air in them. Instruments and vocals have an organic body and can come across emotional. Where I find the Grace could be a little improved is weight, as the presentation to me seems pretty light. This however gives it highly competent technicalities.
The sound stage is definitely above average and stretches well in all dimensions. Especially width seems well achieved to me. Don’t think of this as an arena like stage though, that is not the case. Think of it as a bigger concert hall. The Grace sports good layering and imaging, where all instruments enjoy their exact position in the field.
Treble is a bit laid-back with the foam tips. They seem behind a shadow of the more present bass to me. The extension again is good. Highs miss in sparkle and energy for my taste, there is good richness lying in them though.
Grace is a very versatile monitor, that is also forgiving of poorer recordings. The more forward bass and smooth sound might be best suited for engaging music with quality bass lines, but I see it also fitting for Genres like Classic Rock or others with energetic guitars and crashing drums.
When we move away from the Comply tips and exchange them for a pair of silicone’s, one thing is very apparent then. The bass has lost some body, weight and pronunciation. It seems thinner and lighter than before. On a positive note, the midrange changed to a more holographic sound, where vocals stand out clearly in front of you.
Upper midrange is incredibly rich and enjoys an intense golden glow. Treble got the shimmer which seemed covered up before. Highs sparkle more, have more energy and bring more air into the picture. Personally, I prefer the sound with silicone tips, though more bass body would definitely be nice.
What I find very important with silicone tips especially, is a good fit and seal. You won’t get to enjoy this monitor unless you have a perfect seal. There won’t be enough bass or body anywhere. You’ll just end up with a sound that seems sucked out and extremely light. It should go without saying, but make sure to go through all available ear-tips and search for the one that fits you best.
The review continues on page three.