If you're looking for a smooth and engaging hybrid that feature powerful bass, a full bodied midrange and well extended exciting yet smooth treble then Earsonics Blade is a strong option in a crowded market. If you're a Earsonics fan then this one should be a no brainer if you want the house sound with extra power in the bass and a clear step up in build quality. If you're looking for a snappier, punchier hybrid from Earsonics then check out my Stark review.
- Powerful bass with good rumble and speed
- Full bodied engaging midrange
- Good lower treble energy and upper treble extension with smooth delivery
- Good resolution and imaging
- Black background makes up for great note contrast
- Remarkably low distorsion
- Superb build quality with great isolation and good stock cable
- Shallow fit might be an issue for some, tip selection is key to secure fit
Manufacturer’s website : http://www.earsonics.com/in-ear-monitors/en/blade/
Price : 549€
Fit, Build & Isolation
The new hybrid lineup is a new form factor altogether for Earsonics universal IEMs : the inner part of the shell is acrylic while the faceplate is metal. Both Blade an Stark feature the same build, metal color is the only difference between the two. This is a clear departure from the legacy line up, the build quality is flawless and the Blade looks as sturdy as it comes both the metal obviously but the acrylic as well. It’s much heavier IEM than previous generations.
Fit was somewhat complicated for me, as is the case for shallower fitting IEM given my quite large and deep ear canal. Even my usual Flare Earfoams only partially did the trick, especially on the go while moving. Obviously your mileage will vary on this front but a secure and comfortable fit was only achieved with the silicon custom tips Custom Art built for me. On the flip side the shell density certainly does wonder for isolation and the Blade isolates much more than average provided you have a seal it’s just as good as my customs.
From its very beginning, Earsonics has always been associated with products targeted at pros : musicians, sound engineers and singers. They quickly gained a big share of the French pro market for customs but Earsonics became also well known in he audiophile world for its universal IEMs since the SM3 bestseller.I know the SM3 v2 was the first Earsonics model I owned and then I went on with the Velvet, the S-EM6 and S-EM9. I also own both their pro flagship custom the EM64 and the EM10 in the audiophile range. I have auditioned but do not own the Purple and the Grace, both universal inheriting quite a bit from their custom counterparts.
For the new generation Earsonics elected not only to totally change the build with a combination of metal and acrylic, but also – a first for the brand – no less than two hybrids offering featuring its first (8mm) dynamic driver. Blade is the entry offering into the new hybrid lineup and I was curious about the tuning choices Frank Lopez had done and what the dynamic driver would bring to the table. Blade is described on Earsonics product page as providing a « high performance and level of detail while remaining musical and natural ».
How does Blade sounds and does it hold its promise?
The very first listen clearly painted a picture : unlike what its name might imply, Blade is a smooth IEM, with a relaxed but engaging signature. The bass is well extended with rich textures and remains quite fast for a dynamic, mids are full and smooth, treble is well extended with good energy. Blade soundstage is good with average width but very good height and good depth. Like its big brother Stark it features a remarkably black background and zero distorsion.
Blade bass is well extended with powerful sub bass and significant mid bass presence. Despite featuring the same 8mm driver than its bigger brother Stark, it doesn’t share its snappy attack, tightness and raw power. There is a bit less control than Stark as well but remains as fast. On the flipside bass is less prominent in the mix with more lower mids the continuity between bass and mids means Blade is more balanced.
This doesn’t mean Blade doesn’t feature powerful bass and a strong bass line, just less so than its bigger brother but still much more than the rest of the Earsonics lineup. There is no mistaking the dynamic driver bass and tracks like Lilly Wood and the Prick “Middle of the night” or Kat Frankie “Too Young” were quite the treat to my ears and inner closet bass-head from my Campfire Vega days.
Blade features a full bodied yet articulate midrange that remains smooth at all times. Where Stark took me by surprise as an Earsonics fan, with Blade I felt right at home in terms of midrange although the mids are closer to my memory of the original S-EM6 than the more recent Grace or EM10 that feature quite a bit more bite in the upper mids section.
Blade has significant lower mids presence and thus fuller bodied mids than the Stark. This provides male vocals a bit more power especially considering Blade mids are more forward as well than the Stark somewhat recessed vocal positioning. Tonally Blade is on the warmer side with a pleasing warmth to its mids that is not overdone either.
Upper mids are smooth with a bit more presence than Stark in the 4/5kHz range providing extra presence to instruments and for example saxophones have a bit more bite and overtones are richer than Stark. This is quite relative as Blade has rather safe upper mids for those who are sensitive to it no worries there. On the flipside those who appreciate a bit of bite and energy up there you might find yourself wanting. Blade is smooth first and foremost, with a touch of energy and bite but just a touch.
Blade treble section reveals a clear choice from Earsonics, it brings balance and air to a signature that would have been dark otherwise. Given its powerful bass and relatively warm and thick mids, Blade benefits from a welcome lower treble energy and upper treble extension.
The lower treble energy is spot on, and seems to be tuned to be level with the bass : enough to bring satisfying excitement, not so much that it would sound incoherent with the bass and mids tuning. This is masterfully done and I enjoyed tracks like The Whitest Boy Alive “Fireworks” or Spin Doctors “So Bad” very much with the Blade providing just the right amount of energy while remaining smooth at all times.
The upper treble section is equally well thought out, Blade is more extended than usual for this type of signature bringing welcome air to an IEM on the warmer and thicker side. It also helps imaging and resolution greatly and Blade is doing well there especially in its price range. This combined to a remarkable pitch black background combines to provide a very articulate albeit average sized stage.
As a long standing fan of Earsonics IEMs, I was really curious what to expect from the introduction of dynamic drivers as the Velvet and Purple, are more than able to hold their own in the bass department. The mid tier hybrid market is quite dense and it definitely is challenging to take on best sellers like Dunu DK3001 Pro or ISN H40 to name a few.
Earsonics definitely added his trademark to the hybrid segment with a remarkable build quality for the price and it’s no wonder since it’s simply the same build than the much higher priced Stark with a different color. The all metal and opaque acrylic is impressive and a welcome departure from plastic. I do believe this comes into play in terms of the very low distorsion and the pitch black background which are both simply remarkable. Earsonics also showcase its tuning mastery with the Blade, their unique combination of smooth and engaging is faithfully there with the added power to bass brought by the dynamic driver and a bit more lively treble section as well.
If you’re looking for a smooth and engaging hybrid that feature powerful bass, a full bodied midrange and well extended exciting yet smooth treble then Earsonics Blade is a strong option in a crowded market. If you’re a Earsonics fan then this one should be a no brainer if you want the house sound with extra power in the bass and a clear step up in build quality. If you’re looking for a snappier, punchier hybrid from Earsonics then check my Stark review.
I spent approximately 40hours with the Blade, listening on Lotoo PAW Gold Touch and AAW Capri using the stock cable.
Thanks to Max at Earsonics for providing a review unit of the Blade. As usual, this review is my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favorable review.
- BLADE with 4C HI-RES cable
- 4 Comply tips (various sizes)
- 8 silicon tips
- (various sizes)
- Cleaning tool
- Carrying box
- User manual
- Sensibility: 125 dB/mW
- frequency response: 10 Hz -20 kHz
- DCR: 18,5 ohms
- Drivers: 1 DDynamic, 2 BA drivers with 3 way crossover.