A Little Technical Stuff:
- Sensitivity: 122dB/mW
- Frequency Response: 10Hz – 20kHz
- DCR: 17 ohms
- Drivers: 2 balanced armature drivers and one dynamic driver / Impedance-corrected HQ 3-way filter
-MRSP: Universal fit 399,00€
EarSonics is a company that I am most certainly familiar with. I have written about the company in past reviews, and you can read that here.
Ah, with each review, it is a trip down memory lane. EarSonics has provided me with countless hours of enjoyment, and my history with them is longstanding. One of the most enjoyable parts of being part of this hobby is watching the industry progress. More specifically, observing a brand that you have followed for years progressing.
This review is about EarSonics’ latest offering, the Elements. A little backstory to Elements: I was provided an Ocean prototype and asked to give feedback on the sound signature. I offered several suggestions, but the tuning was super good on the first listen.
I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, as shown by the following accolades. Diapason d’Or is a French magazine published monthly focusing on classical music, especially classical recordings and Hi-fi. In the July 2023 edition, EarSonics Elements was recognized and awarded by this prestigious publication. I wish to congratulate EarSonics on being awarded the prestigious DIAPASON D’OR HI-FI award for the Elements IEM.
After more than 18 years in the industry, EarSonics has transitioned into what they are today—recognized by performers, audiophiles, and consumers for their hi-fi sound and ear protection.
I have been a fan since my introduction to the EarSonics SM64. That was the first IEM that wow’ed me, and after hearing it, I love this hobby. I was dipping my toes in the water before the SM64, with some Westone offerings like the UM3X, but the SM64 was my revelation. I can’t even remember what year it was, but I know it was at least ten years ago and maybe longer.
EarSonics has been super patient with me in the writing of this review. Thank you!
A Little Marketing Hype:
The ELEMENTS is made for music lovers. Both at home or on the go, it combines the three essential characteristics with regard to EarSonics’ experience in the design of headphones. A rigorous sound quality with a musical and balanced rendering, a design worked for neat ergonomics, and an exceptional price for a headset in this category.
Acquired over the years through active research and development, our experience in the design of high-end headphones has led us to return to the essential solutions to design an exceptional audiophile product. Spearheading the use of 100% 3D molded acrylic with a hand finish.
Listening has never been so enjoyable.
Comfort, ergonomics and lightness were the starting points for designing the new shells of the ELEMENTS. The latter is therefore pleasant to wear with very good sound insulation allowing long listening sessions.
The hull of the ELEMENTS is entirely made of acrylic with a unique finish made by hand with its shades: “OCEAN” (blue), “FIRE” (red), “FOREST” (green).
Power, balance, Airy
The ELEMENTS is powered with 2 balanced armature drivers per side previously reserved for our professional custom models. The addition of a dynamic driver to handle the low end provides an exceptionally airy feel and rise time similar to conventional over-the-ear headphones. We have also kept the 3D acrylic engine used on our metal models, bringing rigor to the frequency response and the management of the phase curve.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
- Elements Professional IEM
- 2 Pairs of Memory Foam Tips,
- 2 Pairs of Silicone Mono-flange Tips
- 2 Pairs of Silicone Bi-Flange Tips
- 1 Cleaning Tool
- 1 Transport Case
- User Manual
Unboxing and Accessories
Unboxing an EarSonics offering is not an event etched in your mind as one of the most memorable. They always deliver what you need in relatively simple, non-descript packaging.
An EarSonics IEM in this price range is okay with a minimalist unboxing, but it is generally the same for their higher-priced offerings. Some folks want the unboxing experience to be a WOW; with EarSonics, your money goes towards the monitors.
I remember Traillii as an underwhelming unboxing experience, especially for the price. But you cannot deny Traillii’s stellar sound and their respect in the Top Tier IEM market. No, I am not comparing the Elements to the $6000 Traillii. I am merely saying that if you were looking for a stellar unboxing experience, that wasn’t the IEM to purchase.
There is no need to describe how the box and contents look when you see them in the photos.
I want to share a brief word on the included cable. I do not do much cable rolling, especially for a review. The Elements is packaged with a cable that the IEM was tuned with, and I think you should know what to expect sound and ergonomics-wise with stock inclusion. The cable design itself is below, and I will say I have no reason to switch cables based on sound or ergonomics. It is lightweight and comfortable. If I had a wish, it would be that it was balanced 4.4mm, but outside of enthusiasts, 3.5mm is the most common;
4C Hi-Res Cable
Silver 4-wire cable with separate ground.
Four twisted cores with 300D oxygen-free Kevlar core
Anodized aluminum connectors
90° angled aluminum plug 3.5mm.
Two pin 0.78 mm.
Build Quality and Fit:
The build quality of the Elements is excellent. The acrylic used in the shell is quality, with no apparent seams. The choice of colors and the sparkly flair are fantastic for my tastes. The Ocean is a mix of blue and purple, which can be seen in the light, and I am not sure the camera does it justice. The Elements also come in Red and Green, thus creating a Fire, Forest, and Ocean theme.
The fit of the Elements is super comfortable to my ears. The IEM has only three drivers, so it will naturally be smaller than some mega-driver IEMs. The size is not the only thing that makes them comfortable; it is the shape and contour of the shell. There is almost a custom feel to me as far as comfort.
The nozzle has a single bore and is medium-length. While I don’t have a problem with that, I have an issue with the fact that there is no lip or flare at the tip to hold an ear tip on. Every reviewer has their pet peeves, and if you are familiar with any of my reviews, you will know I have called out many manufacturers for this design, including EarSonics, in prior reviews. I have never been able to use the EarSonics eartips and struggle to find non-stock eartips that stay on the nozzle when I remove them. That said, if your experience is the same as mine, I can tell you from sound quality, comfort, and the ability to stay on the nozzles the Spinfit CP 360 is fantastic.
The review was written utilizing multiple sources, Samsung S23 Ultra &Pixel 7 & 8 Pro with a Questyle M15 dongle, and the Astell & Kern SP3000 also occasionally throwing the Mass Kobo 475 amp (although it isn’t necessary to drive the Elements). My sample music consisted of 320kb, FLAC, and 24bit, as well as streaming Tidal Masters, Amazon Music HD, and Qobuz.
Moving on to the sound section….
If I were to characterize the Elements in a few words, they would be dynamic, balanced, and spacious. Since EarSonics started their movement towards hybrid, it has most certainly morphed. The ONYX is a metal-housed 4-driver hybrid, with a couple of other hybrids prior. Before ONYX, most were bass lover IEM’s. The sound became more balanced, starting with ONYX and ending with the Elements. Any of the EarSonics will offer stellar quality bass; the quantity may differ, but the quality will always be there. As I have stated many times, Franck Lopez, the owner, plays bass, thus the attention to that detail.
The bass of the Elements is satisfying in all of its technical glory. I cannot define this IEM as a bass head IEM based on quantity, but it is close when called upon in the music. The bass is adept and offers a clean, non-muddy bass throughout the range. It is a bass lovers’ vs. bass head’s bass in quantity and quality. When listening to these, I have never wanted more bass; to my ears, it is the perfect blend. There is not much in the way of added coloration to the bass. It is natural, like the Elements the name represents.
Dynamic driver bass has always been my favorite; even though I have heard well-done BA bass, there is something special about the snap and dynamism of the Dynamic Driver bass. The level of decay is almost perfect to my ears, and there is a slight linger on the heavy bass notes, but it never interferes with the mids. You will find a touch more sub-bass than mid-bass, thus the linger to the decay and it not being close enough to sway into the mid-range.
The mids are almost perfectly balanced, with the lower register mid-range and the center of that range extending further than the upper mids. The upper mids in many IEMs are forward to create detail, which often causes harshness. Fortunately, that is not the case with the Elements; there is detail without the harshness. I would say these are the upper middle of the pack in all of the IEMs I have heard regarding detail retrieval, but I don’t miss any details here.
While discussing the mids, I must discuss the star of the Elements show. While the bass is stellar, the real star, to my ears, is the staging and the spaciousness of its staging. That was the first thing that grabbed my attention. It is awe-inspiring if you are into an airy yet precise and spacious stage. These strike up there with the best. At this price point, I would not hesitate to say they perform well above their price, especially in that regard. All of this is subjective, and your opinion may differ.
In much of the instrumental music I listen to, for example, Hiromi and Snarky Puppy, you choose your favorite releases from them; the care that went into the overall tuning is evident. I can’t get enough of the staging. The Elements shines with instrumental music, particularly Jazz.
As you can imagine, I have quite a bit of gear lying around, and I reach for the Elements more frequently than I thought I would, considering I have been guilty of the more driver and higher price bias. Elements have neither a high price nor a high driver count but are super musical and emotive.
The treble extends well. It is non-fatiguing but is very evident in the signature. It is not a smooth treble to the likes of a Vision Ears IEM and is also not in your face. In the overall signature, I would say there is more treble to the fringe than sub-bass, but the treble has a pleasing tuning. It is a long listen IEM because it is non-fatiguing. That is because the upper mids don’t overpower the signature. Elements is a nice departure from many of today’s upper-mid-focused offerings. I prefer listening to female vocals with the Elements instead of male vocals, but that is due to female vocals extending further up the range.
Regarding comparisons, I do not have many IEMs in this price range to compare to. I don’t think comparing a 2K IEM to a $400 dollar one is a fair fight. My apologies for that, but I refuse to write based on memory alone, which is always flawed. I mentioned ONYX, but I have several other reviews you could use for comparison.
You might want to own this IEM if you:
+ Want an incredible bass, with the quality surpassing the quantity, but a sub-bass presence
+ Prefer a smooth, balanced, non-offensive signature
+ Like a sound that is musical, non-offensive, and excels at long listening sessions
+ Are sensitive to upper mid peaks and sibilance as these sparkles but aren’t harsh
+ Like the immense spaciousness of the stage
The Elements is a winner and much deserved to be awarded the DIAPASON D’OR HI-FI award.
Their unboxing is mediocre but includes everything you need: no glitz or glamour. The build quality and fit are top-notch, and the comfort reminds me of a custom IEM. If I have a wish, it would be for a flared nozzle, so finding ear tips that fit and stay on the tip is easier. I like the three colors the Elements come in and think the design is excellent.
The bass is a joy to my ears and strikes a great harmony between quantity and quality. There is a sub-bass rumble when present in a track, and the linger and decay is well done and doesn’t disturb the mid-range.
The mids are present but not the star of the show on the FR graph. That honor would go to the sub-bass and treble. The true star of the show is the stage. The tagging is top-notch and spacious. It is an attention grabber on the first listen. There is no upper-mid fatigue, which allows for long sessions with the Elements in your ears.
Treble sparkles to the fringe; while it is clear and sparkly, it is never fatiguing.
In closing, it was a great experience to be part of the Elements in the prototype phase. With the price point relative to the sound signature’s overall quality, it is a no-brainer purchase, and EarSonics has a winner in the Elements.