Rapid Reaction: EarSonics SM64

Editor’s Note: Sorry about the poor picture quality — I only had my old Nexus One with me when I listened to it.

I got to take a quick listen to the new EarSonics SM64 (version 1, not 2) universal-fit in-ear monitor.

The new reference? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Some short thoughts…
I didn’t have enough tracks to listen with it (my DAP is broken), but using an Astell & Kern AK100, I found the new EarSonics SM64 to be quite nice with the following tracks:

  1. Rebecca Pidgeon — Spanish Harlem / The Raven
    [24-bit, 192 kHz, MQS Format]
  2. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky¬†— Valse des fleurs /The “Nutcracker
    [24-bit, 192 kHz, MQS Format]

First off, vocals sound great on the SM64, tall and wide, without sounding overly forward.

Gone is the veil of the SM3, replaced with a thinner, but more complete vocal presentation.

Soundstage sounds open; the SM3, like the Westone UM3X, always had a bit of a “closed in” presentation that has all but gone away with the SM64.

As one can expect with a more open presentation and taller vocals (stemming from more present vocal harmonics), the upper midrange and treble are more present in the SM64 over the SM3. There’s more sibilance detection over the SM3, but it’s not at all an issue.

Bass is a tad bit disappointing — a little texture-less, though I don’t expect any better from any other triple-driver, single bore, universal IEM — better than the SM3 and UM3X, at least.

I also actually like the 112 ohm impedance; while I suspect that its best results will still be had with an amplifier or DAP with the lowest output impedance possible, the relatively high impedance rating at least gives users some wiggle room with respect to source matching. Version 2 of the SM64 features 98 ohms of impedance and has slightly different tuning, including a more laid back treble and slightly thicker mids.

Last but not least, I actually really, really like the neoprene/styrofoam carrying case of the SM64. I’ve heard some grumbles about it, but I like the size and shape, as well as its extreme light weight. No, it won’t keep out the rain, and once it falls on the ground, it’ll open right up because its magnetic discs just don’t hold enough force, but I don’t really care. I like it, whether you do or not. Heh.

I didn’t get a long enough time with it, nor with a wide variety of music, but I can already say that for personal listening purposes, the SM64 is a huge upgrade over the SM3 — I can definitely understand why the SM64 is marketed specifically toward audiophiles rather than stage musicians. EarSonics has a done a very good job of retuning the SM3 to fit the audiophile sound. The price is a bit steep at $500, but the SM64 is actually a product that I’ll consider purchasing in the near future.

For more information on the EarSonics SM64, visit its official product page: http://www.earsonics.com/en/sm64/

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4 thoughts on “Rapid Reaction: EarSonics SM64

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