What is it with the French wanting us to see the insides of things? The Pompidou Centre is all very well, but anyone wanting to fix the air conditioning needs a good head for heights. The Eiffel Tower, although a good effort, could do with a spot of rendering. Some nice Spanish arches and stone cladding would look a treat. And that glass pyramid – no self-respecting Pharaoh would be seen dead in it, I’m sure.
However, if I’d managed to squeeze 6 speakers into a package which fits into the bowl of my ear, maybe I would want to show it off too. Lauri Cular took these transparent treats home for a weekend, but do they sound as good as they look?
The Earsonics S-EM6 comes in a neat little briefcase-type box, but don’t be tempted to assume that these are for the conservative bowler-hatted commuter. These are a little more rock ‘n roll than that!
When I put the E-SM6s in, I was struck by the size compared to what I’m used to – usually 2 BAs are enough, and the housing for this half-dozen did seem relatively bulky. However once in place, they were as unobtrusive as any in-ear, apart of course from the isolation they offered. I live with a very noisy pet, and enjoyed the isolation aspect to the full. With audio coming through it’s very easy to ignore everything else.
One thing I will say is that these are not for the bass-shy. I popped them on and listened through my E12 which is relatively cool-sounding. My first thought was ‘now let’s try it with the bass boost off’ – but it was already off. Most of the time this wasn’t such a problem; the bass doesn’t get in the way of anything else in particular, and only a few tracks offered a problem when it came to bass.
I decided to capitalise on this and tried some rap and dance music. The S-EM6s gave some excellent sub-bass and seemed to suit these genres well. Separation and space is amazing. I’m sitting in the office dancing in my chair as I try to type. The midrange reminds me of the Final Audio Pianoforte X I tried a few months ago; amazingly real and engaging, with a very real sense of the space in which the presentation is contained. Detail is superb, and placement is as good as anything I’ve heard from an in-ear.
Classical music is very involving as well as more jazzy soundtracks. As I type, I’m enjoying the slowly building tension in Lalo Schifrin’s ‘Shifting Gears’ from the Bullitt soundtrack. The bass is of a very low frequency in this track (an alternative version, track 25 on the CD) – but quite voluminous. It threatens to detract from the other instruments but doesn’t quite. Bass boost is not an option here either.
I have found that tracks like this are in the minority however, most well produced music will not offer a problem. But if you hate too much bass, avoid the S-EM6!
There is a bit of a top-end roll off as well, but this is a problem for all of 10 seconds. The mids and high mids are so real-sounding, any desire to have the higher frequencies boosted just gets forgotten. I’m now listening to ‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson – just before Van Halen’s guitar solo there’s a knocking sound. I knew it was there, but it scared the life out of me!
All in all, the S-EM6 is a very well built and solid model from Earsonics, but I would prefer to see some sort of porting option to ease the bass down a little.