Earsonics is one of the most popular earphone brands from Europe, hailing from France, Earsonics are known for their array of products for audiophiles, enthusiasts, and artists. Their custom-made earphones for artists are highly recommended and their universal earphones are some of the best earphones in their own price range. Their SM series (last gen, now replaced with ES series) was one of the most popular BA based series with praises from everyone, let it be the SM2, SM3 or the last one from that lineup, SM64, all of them enjoyed fantastic reception and appreciation from anyone who has owned or auditioned them.
Earsonics recently came out with two new earphones, dual BA housing ES2 and the classic triple ES3.
The ES3 is not an exception, housing 3 Balanced armatures per side( just like SM3 or SM64), one for bass, one for mids and one for highs with a 3 way crossover, comes in only one color and is priced at around 500 dollars or 399 Euros, it faces stiff competition from Westone W40, 64audio U3 and UE 900s.
Let’s have a look at the specifications of the ES3:-
• Sensibility: 116 dB/mW
• Frequency Response: 10 Hz -20 kHz
• DCR: 31.5 ohms
• Driver: 3 drivers, 3 way crossover with impedance corrector
I will compare this with the 64audio U3, AF1120 and the Onkyo E900m. All are similarly equipped and priced.
ACCESSORIES & PACKAGING:-
Even though the price is on the higher side for a 3 BA earphone, this one doesn’t come with plenty of accessories, there is a pair of medium sized rubber tip on the earphone and two other pairs in small & large sizes. There are two pairs of foam tips (not comply), small and large, no medium and two pairs of double flange tips in small and medium sizes. Nothing fancy here. ( comply T-200 tips will fit fine with this)
There are small carry case and a 2pin .78mm cable. The cleaning tool and the instruction manual rounds up the package.
BUILD, FIT AND CABLES:-
Even though the shell is totally plastic, it looks nice with polka dot prints on the shells of both the earpieces, right side has ES on it and left side has 3, that way you can tell the channels apart with a single look at them. Now the build quality is sturdy and felt good until I removed the ear tip from the nozzle, the nozzle looks like it has thin walls which make me refrain from pushing the tips too hard on the nozzles. Now Earsonics won’t tell you but the ES3 has a dual bore design, look into the nozzle and you will see the bores, I think one is for bass and other for mids and highs.
ES3 cable comes with a 90 degree 3.5mm jack, a nicely stress relieved splitter and a none memory wired cable guides with aluminum wire inside. The good thing about this cable guide is its shorter than others hence one doesn’t need to fight with them every time.
This braided cable looks strong, feels supple and low on microphonics. There is no MIC & remote cable in the box but you can get an aftermarket cable if you want to use your ES3 with your mobile device.
I think I should point out that this Stock Earsonics cable sounds better than the stock 64audio cable. Earsonic cable has a better extension, better stage depth, and better treble spark too.
COMFORT AND SEAL:-
ES3 fits perfectly but at first one has to shape the cable guides according to its comfort, once the guides are shaped it’s easier to put it on next time.
Comfort can be an issue for those with smaller ears and will find triple flange tips more comfortable, sadly there are no such tips out of the box. Thankfully there are no sharp edges to worry about like the DUNU DK-3001 (which can be really uncomfortable at times, especially in longer listening sessions). Thanks to its shape, I find the ES3 even more comfortable and stable when compared to the 64audio U3.
Now It may be just me but I experienced some driver flex with single flange rubber tips. foam tips are more comfortable but I like the more forward nature of the rubber tips. I do think the fit is kind of shallow, but not a problem at all.
Isolation is fantastic with both the tips, I just can’t pick one here.
Now the best thing about ES3 is even though it is not a hybrid, it has a good amount of bass, especially when compared to other multi BA based earphones like EU 900s, 64audio U3 and Audiofly AF180.
Just like our friendly neighborhood spiderman keeps on saying.. “with great power comes great responsibility” I gotta say here that… ” With bigger bass come some V shaped sound”. Which is not bad at all, it just takes the seat on the back but is nicely active on its own.
Now the saddest thing is I don’t have a more V shaped earphone like FLC 8 or DUNU DN2000/J in this price range. All I own are these dangerously flat sounding ones like AF180, AF1120, ER-4p, and some with slightly better bass than these like Onkyo E900m, U3 and UE 900s.
I had auditioned a few good earphones a few months ago like the XBA-H3, SM64, talking from memory will be a crime here but yes they were more V shaped.
It’s easy to drive this earphone even out of your day to day mobile phone. It doesn’t need amping to sound good but it does sound better with a bit more power.
ES3 comes with 3 types of tips, I prefer the single flange tip over the foam tips because foam tips take some energy away from the instruments, if you done like your highs sparky then opt for foam tips.
Double flange tips sounds fantastic but the stock tips are not comfortable to me.
The best tip for the ES3 is sipnfit. It has the best balance between length of the stem and bore size for ES3.
I am using stock single flange large sized rubber tips for this review.
As I said earlier, unlike other BA based earphones I have, this one has the best balance of bass impact and quality. It has the body and impact which I had not experienced with any of my previous all BA earphones in this price range.
ES3 has a nicely rounded body with good amount of sub-bass, slightly more present mid bass and nicely tamed upper bass, making it one of the best BA based earphone for bass I have.
It has a nice slam and moves good amount of air too. Impact is on the softer side making it more enjoyable unlike the U3 which has a bigger mid bass impact and hits slightly harder. Decay is good but slower than U3. Its good because it gives you a fraction of a second more to enjoy the bass note as it doesn’t vanish into thin air as soon as it hits.
Oh, I forgot, ES3 has better sub-bass extension when compared to the U3. With its bigger deeper and fuller bass ( compared to UE 900s, AF180, AF1120) ES3 has plenty of details, it sounds more natural and closer to what the musician intended with its track. Nope.. it’s not for bass heads by any means, it is much more controlled and neutral with its presentation when compared to something like XBA-H3.
All in all this bass can be described as balanced, thicker, warmer, cohesive, natural and enjoyable.
Now the transition from upper bass to mid is not as good as the AF180, EU 900s or the more superior AF1120 which has flawless transitions. There is a small dip around the lower mid but hardly a problem.
As I said earlier mid range has taken the back seat in this setup but still has plenty going for it. It has one of the most spacious mid range and with a bit more power it shows its true quality. With this stage, layering and its top class separation with desired amount of air between instruments, ES3 delivers a fantastic Imaging.
Vocal on the ES3 doesn’t feel like being restricted like others, it has a good amount of poise and desired amount of finish to it. Let it be male or female, both sound equally engaging with exact amount of thickness to notes without being sibilant, which is admirable. Unlike AF180 which sounds more dry, less dynamic and slightly more prone to sibilance in comparison.
Upper mid range is slightly more energetic, every instrument maintains its clarity and has good instrumental attacks, It doesn’t sound strident or overexcited like the AF180 but it has plenty of bite in a controlled manner, in other words “without being sibilant at all”.
The best thing about the ES3’s mid range is its dynamism, its more dynamic than the ER-4p, AF180 or even the U3, its timber too is more natural compared to the others.
With its dynamic, spacious, natural and smoother presentation, ES3 sounds more juicy, cohesive and less straining.
I am personally a fan of top end spark, it keeps the musical factor for me and ES3 is satisfyingly energetic. I have experienced many earphones who can’t really control their top end and end up being too sparky or sibilant. Even though is ES3 has good amount of energy and has fantastic extension it doesn’t have any type of sibilance at all.
Another thing is it’s not as eager as the AF180, which has the bite and attack of a borderline sibilant earphone. ES3 has less forward and slightly smaller notes depth which makes it sound more engaging and balanced. There are no early roll off to worry about either.
Layering, instrument separation and transparency is up to the class and the bigger than average soundstage plays a part here too.
The overall presentation is smooth and easy on the ear while maintaining the level of clarity and details.
ES3 VS 64audio U3:-
Similarly equipped with 3 BAs U3 sounds more orthodox compared to the ES3. U3 lacks sub-bass rumble, more mid and upper bass dominated, decay is faster, body it slightly bigger but it doesn’t have the reach thus doesn’t move much air.
Mid-range on the U3 is more serious, not V-shaped and sounds drier where ES3 sounds more juicy and smoother. It has a similar amount of details but the stage is considerably smaller on the U3, it lacks height and width, depth is similar.
Now my complaint is with highs, even though It doesn’t lack extension it lacks energy may be due to an early roll off. Everything else is similar to layering and separation. But the lack of energy puts me off.
It’s a no-brainer unless you like rolled off highs, ES3 all the way.
ES3 VS Onkyo E900m:-
These two earphones have a slightly different approach. Where ES3 entertains, E900m is more accurate still being natural and musical at the same time.
One of the best sounding hybrid I have ever heard for under 500 usd, fantastic accuracy and timber, oh my my… Bass on the E900m has fantastic control, it has some body and better sub bass balance with mid-bass. The impact is smaller, moves half the air with a little bit of rumble, but has better details. Decay is what I exactly desire, faster than ES3 and closer to ER-4P. better balanced.
It has better clarity and transparency, all the instruments, vocals are so clear and vivid, I sometimes forget that I am listening to an earphone. Yes, it doesn’t have the mid-range stage size of the ES3 but still bigger than U3 and there is plenty of air between instruments. There is a small dip in the upper mid but that’s okay.
Highs are another area it does slightly better than the ES3, it has similar extension but keeps the energy under control at the same time being nicely relevant. Has slightly better clarity, layering and separation.
ES3 VS Audiofly AF1120:-
Totally contrasting approach, AF1120 is red dead serious about details and accuracy (with double the drivers, 6 that is), ES3 is more musical and entertaining.
Its bass is considerably smaller, little body, little air, there is little sub-bass rumble but smaller mid bass and upper bass emphasis. Has the typical BA level decay, details are better thanks to the faster decay.
Mid-range is where these two are really comparable. AF1120 has sharper drier and more energetic approach to it. The stage is similar but ES3 has better depth. AF1120 sounds more detailed thanks to its better energy around the upper mid region.
Highs are far more extended and have more energy, sounds drier, sharper and are more detailed, it has better air between the instruments too.
The outstanding thing about AF1120 is it has one of the best balance I have seen, there are no obvious crossover dips or lack of energy anywhere across the spectrum.
With their expertise in this area, Earsonics has done a fantastic job here. It takes a slightly different approach by being more entertaining and enjoyable than rest of the bunch. ES3 is mildly colored with slightly laidback mids, compensated with a bigger stage, air, details and smoother and lush presentation.
It’s a winner. With its quality of bass, entertaining mids and engaging highs it doesn’t fail to impress. I love the fitment too, its ear guides are of the right length.
The only question is
1. are you buying an earphone for critical listening?
2. you want to appreciate and enjoy the music, music which makes your foot tap in the meantime?
If you are More of the 2nd type, nothing beats the ES3 for around $500. It has the X factor.
Have a nice Time. Cheers, and enjoy the music!!
Audio gear reviewer at TechMinions.in