Review by: Mhark Jhoshua Q. Torres
“Earsonics was founded in 2005 by Franck Lopez, a musician and sound engineer, who, unhappy with the quality of in-ear monitors available at the time decided to create his own. In 2006, he begins to offer his creation for sale and enjoys immediate success, even equipping the biggest French music tour at the time. Earsonics was born ! In 2012, Earsonics launches the first universal 6 driver earphone in the world, the S-EM6. Entirely made by hand, its musical qualities garner universal praise in numerous tests. For Earsonics, the most important criteria about listening to sound is absolute precision – just like the original recording, no effects or modifications – just reality.”
Earsonics don’t need any introduction but I still decided to get some information from their site, Earsonics has been one of the most renowned brand in the earphone industry. their house sound are known to be warm and thick with an overall smooth presentation.
The Earsonics ES3
The ES3 adapts the trademark look of earsonics, it comes with a black opaque shells with the “ES” printed on the one side and the “3” printed on the other one. The shell is made out of plastic but it feels premium and well built, the nozzle doesn’t have metal filter but instead it has 3 holes that is desired to separate highs, lows and highs. The ES3 was released years ago and it falls under the mid tier department, it has 3 BA drivers one for bass, one for mids and one for treble. Other technical specifications are as follow:
- Sensibility: 116 dB/mW
- Frequency response: 10 Hz -20 kHz
- Impedance: 31.5 ohm
- Driver: 3 drivers, 3-way crossover with impedance corrector.
- Connector: 2 pin (0.78)
It comes with medium sized gray box, it is sleeve type and underneath the gray facade is a black box. Inside it are the IEM itself with medium black silicone tips and braided cable pre-installed, foam tips, a carrying case with several tips inside (includes double flange tips), cleaning tool, and 2 cards that are mostly written in French. The packaging feels premium and all but for me, adding a better cable, more tips and a hard carrying case would be better but that’s fine it is already a complete package in my opinion.
Fit and comfort
The nozzle is a bit short making the insertion to the ear a bit shallow, the isolation is average even after tip rolling, the diameter of the nozzle is a bit smaller too that is why it is a bit hard to use other tips. Nonetheless the comfort is good, the shell itself is light and wearing it is very comfortable and easy, but the ear guide is too stiff and sometimes it is hard to find the optimum position.
I love IEMs with midcentric to flat sound signature as I really love listening to vocals rather than instruments. My genre ranges from heavy rock, alternative rock, pop rock, acoustic, pop, jazz and folk. Majority of my test tracks are in 16 bit – 44 khz and 24 bit – 48 khz FLAC file and here is the list of my commom test tracks.
- Reese Lansangan – For the Fickle (background, female vocals and upper mids)
- Foo Fighters – Bridge Burning (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
- LANY – Thick And Thin (Mid Bass, Mids)
- Ed Sheeran – Dive (Mid bass, Lower Mids)
- Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why (Upper Mids and Instruments)
- Paramore – Hard Times (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
- Radiohead – Life in a Glasshouse (Imaging Layering, Bass, Instruments, Lower mids, Treble)
- Passenger – Coins in a Fountain (Mid bass, Layering, Imaging, Instruments, Lower mids, Treble)
- Tori Kelly – Hollow (Background, Upper mids)
- Ariana Grande – Raindrops (Background, Upper mids)
Sub bass has average extension and has really great quality, the ES3 adapts the house sound of Earsonics which is leaning to warm and thick. The rumbles and guitar riffs sounds really good, the texture is just top notch for pure BA IEM. The mid bass is slightly boosted, slams are very much enjoyable as it packs good punch in it, it is not that weighty but the impact, texture, and decay speed is perfectly balanced for me, the bass is just slightly forward compared to the mids and treble but the good thing is that it doesn’t overshadow them at all. Despite having good punch, it never sounded loose and slow, ES3 has really nice bass considering the 3 BA inside it.
Lower mids is approached in a lush manner, it has good amount of body to give male vocals justice. It never sounded muddy, nasal, or veiled, the clarity is still great. The lower mids is not recessed nor forward, it is placed at the middle ground. For the upper mids, there are some audible dips but it is not a deal breaker for me, in the track raindrops, at the beginning, the vocals are placed a bit forward and at around 12 seconds there is a sudden recession. Talking about the quality, it is on the smooth side, the good thing here is that texture of vocals is still presented nicely. It never sounded nasal or sibilant, it sounds very balanced as it has really good amount of thickness but doesn’t make the upper mids sounds nasal.
Treble is not emphasized here; it has good resolution and extends nicely. The overall presentation is far from being neither aggressive nor sharp, in fact it is airy and a bit relaxed. The treble of the ES3 gives a nice sense of height and depth, it is placed just a bit behind the lower mids, and it has still the sparkle to deliver cymbals nicely. The treble is made for long listening, it is not laid back but it will never pop out on your face, it has nice texture and quality but it may lack quantity, forwardness and sparkle from treble heads out there, but for me who’s opposite of it, the highs of ES3 is just perfect.
Sound Stage and Resolution
The ES3 excels in this department, it sounds really cohesive. The sense of depth, width and height is very strong here in the ES3, the stage is amazingly huge for a pure BA IEM, there’s an airy feeling here even there’s no DD present. Layering and imaging is also one of the best that I’ve tried, as I close. My eyes listening alone in my room I can easily pin point the positions of the sound present in a track, from drum roll to second voices. The decay speed of the ES3 also helped a lot; it can easily cope up to pacey rock and metal songs. The ES3 has an above average resolution especially on the bass and lower mids, the upper mids and highs are still resolved nicely but not as good as the lower frequencies.
Synergy and Sound Signature
ES3 is a warm and smooth IEM, it has the lower end to lower mids warmth and the body is being shed to the upper mids making it fatigue and sibilant free, the treble is also well extended, resolving without being aggressive. I would love pairing this with neutral to bright sources as it would retain the punch and add some coldness in it.
M1s is a thick sounding neutral dap with nice black background on a budget. This guy increases the lushness of ES3 not to the extent of being muddy. Subs are well extended with a bit smooth texture, mid bass remains punchy. Lower mids is a bit too thick but is still enjoyable, upper mids remains the same with nice timbre. Treble became a bit more receseed, but retains the extension and resolution. The background is amazingly silent, staging is very good as the M1s unleashes the cohesiveness of the ES3. Average pairing for me, I want the body of ES3 to be lessened but the M1s increased it further nonetheless the technical prowess of this pair is nice.
Hidizs Sonata HD v2
The sonata DAC is leaning to warm, the mid bass bump increased while still retaining the nice texture, the sub bass remains the same except that it is a bit more forward. Lower mids was slightly emphasized and gained more thickness; the upper mids is still the same, the treble sounded a bit rolled off and smooth. The staging is just fine, not as wide as with the M1s or n5iis, background is fairly dark as well.
Cayin N5iis is a neutral-slightly bright and transparent sounding DAP, mids sounds lean, bass is flat and does not have any coloration, and treble is a bit more prominent than the bass. I simply love the synergy of this pair, the sub bass is still well extended with nicer details retrieval and texture, the emphasis on mid bass became less and the texture also better. Lower mids became a bit leaner and was able to have better transparency same goes to upper mids, it also became a bit more forward. The treble is well extended, better resolution and slightly more forward still, without sounding shrill. This pair has one of the blackest background that I’ve tried on SE, sound stage is huge with better layering and imaging.
Smart Phone (Huawei Mate 10)
The Huawei Mate 10 is has a sound signature of neutral-bright, sound quality is not on par with the N5iis or M1s, noise floor is a bit high. The bass became a bit rolled off and less textured; the mid bass became smoother and less impactful. The lower mids is not that affected with still having that thick presentation, upper mids became a bit leaner. The treble was not extended further but was placed a bit more forward and the quantity slightly improved while still being relaxed. Sound stage is not that huge but it still sounded pretty cohesive. This two is a nice pairing, as the mate 10 slightly boosts the upper mids to treble of the ES3.
Earsonics ES3 vs Empire Ears Bravado
Both of this IEMs are leaning to warm, the ES3 extends a bit deeper, the sub bass of ES3 packs a bit more texture than the bravado. The mid bass of these IEMs almost have the same amount of texture; the bass of ES3 is more forward and packs more punch in comparison to Bravado’s tighter and faster mid bass. The lower mids of these two IEMs still share the same characteristics; both are neither recessed nor forward and have velvet like lushness. The texture of the lower mids now goes to the Bravado, but the delivery of ES3 is a bit cleaner. The upper mids of bravado is leaner and packs more sweetness than the ES3, the upper mids of ES3 is presented in a smooth manner and is less fatiguing than the Bravado’s. For the treble, both are not emphasized, the treble of bravado is more linear and a bit more forward on the other hand, ES3’s is more extended, better details and has faster decay. The ES3 is better has better sound stage in terms of height, it is also better in imaging.
Earsonics ES3 vs Acoustune HS1551 CU
ES3 sounded lean when compared to the HS1551 CU. The bass of these two IEMs are equally well extended but the sub bass of HS1551 has more texture and quantity. The mid bass is a bit smoother on the HS1551 as the ES3 delivers more texture and is also tighter, the quantity and impact goes to HS1551. The lower mids of ES3 is more transparent, forward and textured as the HS1551 is meatier and a bit more recessed. The same thing can be observed on the upper mids, the ES3 is leaner and packs more clarity as the HS1551 still have the warmth up to the upper mids. The HS1551’s treble is a bit rolled off in comparison to the well extended and controlled treble of ES3, the sparkle and resolution also goes to ES3 while the smoothness goes to HS1551. The stage of HS1551 is fairly wide but the ES3 is simply wider, has more sense of height and depth, imaging is also slightly better in the ES3.
Earsonics ES3 vs Noble Sage
The sage sounds leaner in comparison to thick sounding ES3. The bass of ES3 is extended a bit deeper as compared to the Sage, it is also more textured as the Sage presents the sub bass in a smooth manner. The mid bass of Sage sounded linient when compared side to side with ES3, it is also smoother but in return it is more tight and fast than the ES3’s. The lower mids is cleaner in Sage, it is a more forward to but it lacks the body that ES3 making it dry sounding at times. The upper mids sounds sweeter and more transparent in the Sage, it is more upfront too. The Sage is a bit bright compared to the relaxed and airy treble of the ES3, the ES3 has more controlled and is a bit recessed while the Sage wins with crispness and resolution. The stage of ES3 is still bigger for me, but this time it is closer it is just that the sense of depth is better in the ES3, on the other hand layering and imaging goes to the Sage.
Earsonics ES3 was released years ago, but hey it can still go toe to toe against newer competitors in its price tier. I love the bass as it has moderate impact yet there’s a good amount of texture and resolution, it can go deep too. Lower mids is full sounding and it sounds fantastic when playing heavy rock and metal songs, upper mids has moderate transparency without sounding shrill or sibilant. Treble is airy especially for a pure BA, it is placed just enough to have presence and not be fatiguing, it extends very well and it is controlled with nice resolution and decay speed. The ES3 is very cohesive, it is open sounding with great sense of height, width and depth, layering and imaging is realistic as well. I would say that ES3 is one of the best warm and smooth sounding pair that I’ve ever tried; I can say that under 30,000 PHP the ES3 is a beast in cohesiveness!