Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ortofon e-Q7 and EarSonics SM3 v2 Comparison

Shown above are the Ortofon e-Q7 (red one), EarSonics SM3 v2 and an 8gb Cowon J3. A simple, but definitely not lacking in power, portable system.

They quite share some interesting characteristics. Both have excellent midrange and treble response only differs in presentation.

The e-Q7 is the first IEM I've had and I must say that it change my view of how IEMs performs. Midrange is prominent but not as enveloping like the SM3. It's punchy and very detailed without sounding analytical (as opposed to the SM3) all nuances is presented cleanly and cohesively with a lot of musicality. Musicality and accuracy is how I describe e-Q7's mids. Treble on the other hand is as good as well. It's always sparkling and very snappy without exhibiting sibilance.

Other IEMs with a lot of treble like the TF10 or the CK10 might appear more detailed than the e-Q7 but most of the time, I got really tired of that treble energy pretty quick, (apart from them being a bit cold and unexciting). So to my ears, the e-Q7 treble is how it should be; precise, sparkly, yet very smooth and easy. Bass in on the leaner side though, but with the way they were tuned as a monitor type it's quite normal. Nevertheless it's never lacking in quality. It goes deep as possible without any bloat from the mid bass frequency and has excellent reverberation, decay that you usually hear from dynamic drivers. It's quite revolutionary so to speak.

Now comes the SM3. I've read a lot of mixed bag comments about them with most complaining about their treble response and the rather intrusive mids (as the comments suggest). So I took the plunge and got myself a pair. And after listening for about 15 hours or so, I've come to realize "those people bashing the SM3 might either have a bad source or bad ears" coz the SM3 are far from just a FOTM item.

It's a wondrous craft that you won't see quite often. With the right source (I'm NOT talking about high priced amps here) the SM3 performs exceptionally well. Mids are how people describe it; very prominent but like the e-Q7 is precise and highly detailed. Well detailed is a bit of understatement because how the SM3 presents the music is quite unconventional as oppose to the majority out there.

With some typical nuances that hit you outright, there are others that would hit you in some unexpected places. You might even hear other nuances you typically didn't in other phones. They can be musical at times but can be quite analytical in other inferior recordings as well. Treble on the other hand is also in par with the e-Q7 only a tad recessed, yet certainly not lacking in quality. They are quite close to the real thing to my ears. Unlike some cymbal crash that hits prominently and disappears the SM3 treble adds a little more decay onto it, that feels like a rippling water that I really like. It's unusually amazing to my ears.

Bass is typically the same for these phones to my ears, given their monitoring characteristics. the e-Q7 may have a tad bit of decay and extension, while the SM3 had more quantity, but overall it's basically the same.

To better describe the SM3, Ill tell you about my other in ears...

The GR07 has good bass impact but the midbass is a little forward. They extend pretty well up on top giving an airy and light (not bright) presentation. The soundstage is meh...typical of a stage monitor.

The BA200 has excellent mids, detail and incredible soundstage. But Somewhat lacking in impact and treble extension.

The SM3 combines all of the strengths of my two other favorites, but none of the weaknesses. It has good impact (but less than the GR07) and treble extension. Mids are better than both, in my opinion. The most noticeable feature would be the soundstage. It is even ahead of the BA200, which has excellent presentation already.

*credits to tallie0814

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