A good number of my monitors fall into the same category as the Grace. Either by configuration, price or signature. The below list of comparisons is aiming to give you, the reader, a better picture of how the Grace sounds and how it fares up against other models. I have used silicone tips and the stock cables for the comparisons.
The mentioned prices are for their universal offerings. The Katana for instance has a higher price when ordered as custom IEM.
Empire Ears – Phantom (5BA, 1799$)
The Phantom is an IEM that has gotten a lot of praise from almost everyone it seems. People really fell in love with its ‘timbre first’ signature, and I agree, certain things the Phantom does best, but not everything.
Phantom reaches remarkably deep, quite a bit deeper than Grace. It has a more visceral and vibrant low end with excellent weight, texture and layering. The bass on the Phantom is probably the best thing about it. The Grace in comparison is lighter, especially with silicone tips.
The Empire IEM has a much thicker presentation, with a warmer tonality, which is similar to the Grace’s with the Comply’s. The Grace has a more open staging, with greater dimensions in width. They both create a small concert hall like feeling, rather than open arena.
When it comes to imaging I have to give the Phantom the nod, as it seems to place the instruments better. The Grace certainly comes out on top when you want a sound that is more holographic and emotional. The Phantom wins with its dense male vocals.
Where Phantom again falls short is the reproduction of female vocals and brighter instruments. Both are more realistic portrayed on the Grace. The Phantom has a strange nasal sound in the upper mids segment, where Grace just shines with richness.
Phantom has a more neutral treble section with good extension, it also reaches higher than Grace. Phantom’s high notes are airier and sparklier, whereas the Grace is richer and more energetic.
Noble Audio – Katana (9BA, 1850$)
Noble’s Katana is also surprisingly small for a nine-driver IEM. The Katana is Noble’s co-flagship and sports a neutral signature.
Grace has a warmer tonality and more emphasis on the lower midrange, where Katana doesn’t particularly favour any frequency area. Katana reaches deeper with more body and impact. Grace has a softer and airier bass reproduction. Overall the Noble seems dryer when comparing to the EarSonics IEM.
Grace has a decent warmth and a darker signature, compared to the neutral-focussed Katana. The French sports a richer midrange with gorgeous upper mids. Katana’s treble seems slightly warmer to me, where Grace is brighter and a notch laid back.
When we look at technicalities I have to give the Noble the crown for its higher resolution, bigger sound stage and better imaging. All coupled with wonderful layering makes the Katana a very difficult to beat monitor in that regard.
64 Audio – A12t (12BA, 1999$)
The 64 Audio A12t is also a balanced sounding IEM with smooth mids and a powerful low end. The A12t reaches far deeper with higher impact, thunder and better control. The Grace is smoother and airier in contrast, but the A12t’s sub-bass can be felt in your spine. The upper bass of the 64 doesn’t colour the lower mids as much as the Grace’s, so there is not as much warmth in the sound as in the EarSonics.
Grace has a thicker and denser vocal presence, where the A12t aims for air and resolution. The sound stage of the American IEM is wider and deeper and creates a bigger venue overall. It’s not that the Grace sounds closed in, but the A12t just reaches wider out of your head. The resolution of the A12t is higher and the notes are reproduced more precise with higher accuracy in separation of instruments.
Grace’s midrange and especially upper mids are richer. The tia treble of the A12t goes wider and has more energy and sparkle in them. There is more air in the 64’s highs and they tickle out finer details in the sound.
Overall, the Grace has a smoother and warmer sound which transports more emotions and ensures a higher enjoyment factor. The A12t aims for technical excellence.
When it comes to EarSonics products I have had a tabula rasa. I have not heard any of their products prior to listening to the Grace. Of course, I have read about some of their other products here on Headfonia, but I couldn’t form my own opinion on it. Luckily that changed, as they have proven as a real marvel of EU manufacture.
It is great to see that EarSonics has not followed the trend of pushing the price insanely high, just because the Grace is their new flagship.
I can only recommend you to remove the Plastics One cable and give the Grace a higher quality connection to your source. A better entry-level Copper cable like the Ares II already reveals what the Grace has up its sleeves and improves the sound noticeably.
My only wish is that EarSonics would rethink the supplied ear-tip selection, as less in this case truly is less. A few more tips wouldn’t hurt and their customers would gain a good bit of choices.
The Grace is a solid universal IEM that holds its head up high when it goes in the ring against competing products. The upper midrange is particularly gorgeous and the mildly warmer sound has given me a high listening pleasure over the last few weeks. It matches well with a good array of different sources and rewards the listener with high quality sound.
Despite its weaker bass and lighter presentation, the Grace has won me over for its rich tuning and versatility. Grace is definitely a recommendation if you’re looking for a new monitor in the 2000€ price range.