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Mini Review: EarSonics SM3 in-ear headphones, high-end buds for the audiophile in you

October 22nd, 2010 at 5:11 PM

Let’s just go ahead and just throw this out there: EarSonics’ SM3 in-ear headphones are not a “stocking stuffer” item. Furthermore, they are — in all likelihood — not going to interest the majority of you. So what are they? They are $379.00 worth of skull-thumping, head-bobbing, eardrum-titillating, in-ear bliss. If you’re an audiophile, and take sound very seriously, you should definitely take a look at the SM3s.

Designed by French audio firm EarSonics — a company that specifically caters to musicians, sound engineers, and audiophiles — the SM3s are a serious piece of technology. Built with three drivers — 1 low, 1 mid, and 1 high, all with three-way passive crossover — the buds can respond to frequencies between 20Hz and 18kHz. The SM3s also have a sensitivity rating of 122dB/mW (if that doesn’t get your head bobbing, nothing will).

In all seriousness, the sound emanating from the SM3s is so crisp it is hard to explain. They make our new Bose in-ear headphones feel like they were purchased at Family Dollar. We could only crank the volume on our computer and iPod up to about 75% before the sound got so loud, and so clear, we couldn’t stand it.

The cords running from the 3.5mm jack to the buds of the SM3s are twisted, making the cord extremely hard to tangle and get into knots — even if you manage to get a snag, a quick pull on one end will usually take care of it. The 3.5mm jack is “L” shaped which we like; we find that headphones that have a vertical 3.5mm jack, like the stock iPod earbuds, often bend when put in a pocket or bag (eventually leading to wire breaks). Our two criticisms of the SM3s were:

  • Jamming three drivers into in-ear buds requires space, for that reason there is a little extra hardware that is hanging out of your ear. In our opinion, for the sound quality you get, it’s well worth it, but you will have to get used to it.
  • At times, we wish the “low” driver was pumping out just a tad more bass; you really notice it when listening to hip hop but don’t miss it when listening to classical music.

The buds come with a carrying case and four sets of foam/rubber buds to make sure you get the fit you want. Hit the read link to read more.


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