Verdict - An invaluable tool for professionals and a must-hear option for fans of a neutral sound at a very competitive price point. Their place amongst the best in-ear headphones is well deserved.
Pro's - Earsonics has seemingly found a way to make an earphone with a presentation that whilst being very accurate and full of detail, offers enough pleasantness so that consumers can enjoy its sound as much as the professional craving for an honest reproduction.
Cons - Despite not being the most aggressive sounding option on the universal IEM market, the level of forwardness, especially when it comes to the midrange might not be well received by those who seem to appreciate a more laid-back presentation. Bass-heads may also need to look elsewhere.
Introduction - Earsonics is a professional audio company from France that specialises in universal and custom in-ear monitors. They have been relevant players on the French market for quite a while now as it can be seen on their website. The SM3 v2 is their universal flagship model that aims to compete with the likes of the Westone UM3X and the Shure SE535.
Description - The SM3 v2's feature three tiny balanced armature drivers per ear. They are only available in black despite the fact that the first release was in clear. However, compared to the v1, these now have an ergonomic shell which definitely helps in finding the optimal fit with its roundness. Their detachable cable with a gold plated 3.5mm jack plug is braided, feels very durable and is not only tangle-free but also eliminates microphonics - this cable is one of the - if not the - best on the universal IEM scene at the moment.
Included peripherals - After opening the subtle, not too flashy packaging, we'll find a very practical soft travel case along with a cleaning tool and clothing wipe. They also come with four different types of eartips - two pairs of Comply memory foams (a standard and a P-version for improved isolation) and two pairs of differently sized double-flange silicone tips.
Describe the sound - It is hard to find any flaws in the sound of the SM3's - it is very coherent and balanced. The bottom end is quick, textured and extends deep really well. Although they lack a bit in impact compared to the high-end dynamic driver earphones, they should satisfy all but the true bassheads. The midrange is definitely the cream of the sound - they are forward but not too "in-your-face" to the extent that some IEM's are known for. The highs are quite smooth despite having great extension; Earsonics have found great balance here as the treble is detailed and crisp enough but has a nice, laid-back feel to it which accounts for an unfatiguing sound. The presentation is lovely with a good sized soundstage and fantastic instrument separation. Detail retrieval is also above average. These earphones really deserve a good enough source so it is just best to honor them with lossless files for the optimal sonic experience - 128 kbps mp3's will not suddenly sound good with these!Comparisons - As mentioned earlier, the SM3's go up against the Shure SE535's and the Westone UM3X's on the market. Fans of a more forward sounding midrange may enjoy the 535's a bit more whilst the UM3x's are a good option for those who aim at a bit more clinical sound. Bassheads can find joy in Sennheiser's lovely IE80 model. And for those who appreciate the accuracy of SM3's but still crave for a bit more musicality and warmth, go ahead and try the Phonak Audeo PFE 232's.