Written by ngoshawk
Published 12 minutes ago
Pros– Good fit-n-finish.
Very good sound, nothing, which doesn’t please the ear.
Enough bass to keep me interested.
Cons– Would prefer a bit more bass.
Almost too mellow of a sound for some.
Nothing of note, really.
Simgot EM5-A natural progression, just like a fine Sports Car
Simgot Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/simgotaudio/
Can be purchased at Musicteck: https://shop.musicteck.com/collections/simgot/products/simgot-em5-ixdd-4xba-hybrid-flagship-iemand Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/SIMGOT-hybri…D=31k7%2BcIMX5L&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch
The Simgot EM5 was provided to me in return for an open and honest review. As such, I would have it no other way. I thank Simgot for the opportunity to review their flagship model.
A little over two years ago, I purchased what I considered at the time to be my end-all, be-all IEM, and I was happy. It was very, very good and I loved the fact that it came from a small manufacturer in this country. I repeated the endeavor a short time later after a review of a similarly priced critter. It was then, in my mind I declared, “it’s all good, no reason to go further up the chain.” Well…as reviews and tours and other items given have shown, I entered that deep dark well of the abyss…the abyss known as upgradeitis. And it didn’t feel good. Turning my back on an old friend, I fell deep and hard until I actually did find what I thought would be my pinnacle. Or at least the one I could live with for a very long, satisfied time.
Harkening back to that time when the small manufacturer provided me my TOTL so to speak, I thought of their demise. A shame really, as they tried very hard to re-identify themselves with something “more affordable.” Well, to be honest what they provided me (I did purchase it) was just at that time near the “summit” of what would be considered the low-end expensive of the high-end, if that makes sense. That didn’t work, so they closed up shop. I still have the critter and will compare it to the EM5, later. Suffice to say I still use it, but it isn’t quite in my dedicated loop of rotation. I have to make a concerted effort to fit it in…Sad, really. Now all one need do is Google “Flagship IEM,” and you are presented with nie on an impossible list to decide upon, but headlined by Nick’s excellent comparison on Head-Fi (http://theheadphonelist.com/ranking-the-stars-flinkenicks-2017-iem-flagship-shootout/), and a couple of indifferent videos.
At the request of Andrew from Musicteck, Simgot contacted me to arrange a review model. To my surprise, they sent the flagship EM5. Quickly perusing the reviews, I found a dearth of any, save Twister’s excellent review of the EM pair. During the wait, I read what I could, watched what I could, but not too much as I was A) busy, B) didn’t want to taint anything, and C) traveling a lot (i.e. busy).
As luck would have it, the EM5 arrived in time for one of my travels with our daughter-unit to a college soccer ID camp. Speedily packing the EM5’s into my go gear, I was able to garner a short (one evenings worth) listen before the travels. As other reviews took precedence in the queue, I added the EM5 to my trusty Shanling M5 and M1s for “burn in” time. Regardless of what you believe, I do this with all review gear, when possible, even tour models. Occasionally giving a quick listen to gander any “changes,” I quickly realized that this would be a good critter in which to have and review. I was quite pleased with the timing and professionalism involved all around.
10mm Dynamic Driver
2x Knowles TWFK-30017 BA’s for the mids and treble
2x Knowles SWFK-31736 BA’ BA’s for the extreme treble frequencies
Frequency response: 15Hz-40khz
THD: <1% @ 101dB
Vibro Labs Aria
Campfire Audio Jupiter
thebit Opus #2
MacBook Pro/coupled with Burson Play or iFi xDSD
Too bloody many to list all, but you want songs, so there you go:
Coldplay-All I Can think About Is You
Dona Onete-Sonos de Adolescente
Los Lonely Boys- Heaven (en Espanol)
twenty one pilots-Trees
twenty one pilots-Car Radio
twenty one pilots-Heathens
Damian Marley-Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
Damian Marley-So A Child May Follow
Damian Marley-The Struggle Discontinues
Ziggy Marely-See Dem Fake Leaders
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana-Corazon Espinado
The Simgot, which means “simple and elegant” arrived quickly. Opening the box to make sure all was well and good, I was impressed by the packing and the package.
A rather tasteful black box, with wonderful tactility was highlighted by an engraved “gold” plaque, which carried the serial number, mounted dead center, bottom. Pulling out like a drawer, one is presented with a fantastic leather case (with magnetic closing, and good overlap of the top “half”) on the bottom with the IEM highlighted on the top (mine in Smoke). Almost gaping-mouth like, but politely I was impressed yet again, especially with the Salute to Art and Science message embossed on the back. Nicely done, Simgot.
Removing the top cardboard-covered foam protector, you are presented with the “Accessories” box, which contains the cable and tips. Included tips are thoughtfully labeled for two purposes: Eartip 1, which provide Powerful mids, and crystal-clear sound, and Eartip 2, which enhances the bass giving a more neutral-bass oriented sound.A nice touch defining both sets, which come in the ubiquitous S/M/L size. Also included is the Velcro cable cinch, which mostly stays in the box for me, a leather cable holder with magnet to clamp together…and two instruction cards. One the dedicated manual, and the other thicker paperboard, which has a QR code to be used as warranty registration. By doing so, the owner can extend the existing 1-year warranty by 3 months. Another nice addition by Simgot. I’m beginning to understand the company a bit more, and the fervent following some of their other productions warrant. Nice indeed.
With a fairly unique clamshell shape, one might except either ridges or a flat smooth surface. One would be wrong, though. There is a certain geometric symmetry to the perfect shape here, which exudes 50’s Cadillac style, what with the hubcap inside the curvy fender shell. I must say the shape is quite refreshing from the “almost” bland stylings of some flagships…ranging from blobs, to be speckled messes, with inlays and all. A tie to nature, and a tie to an iconic time in US history (albeit probable not even thought of in the design…).
Tactility is very good, smooth where needed, and “grabbable” where needed. A good mix of shape again aids that tactile feeling. With hints of gold, or salmon color, the EM5 is quite tasteful in design. Add in the excellent colored band where cable meets IEM, and there is an understated elegance to which I approve. This is that good looking ride, which doesn’t shout at you, but know it means business simply due to the looks. There is no faking here. A gold-plated nozzle with a two-shelf design afford the use of many tips, included or the ones on which I rely most; Comply or Unique Melody foam tips. I did try the included silicon tips (both varieties) and could tell a difference between them, but I prefer foam, so the vast majority is with the UM foams.
As for that cable, it attaches easily to the protruding 0.78 mm two-pin IEM and nestles snugly when mounted. A good fit, and easy to take care of…no worry about bending pins as they are protected (and actually I never do worry about it…). A seamless look is the result, again like a well-crafted 50’s Cadillac. With a bend greater than 90 degrees, the cable lends itself to already working behind the ear. The cable itself is of a very nice 6-core hybrid design with single crystal copper and silver-plated copper OCC wires. Of a higher purity than the EM3 wire, the transparent sleeve allows the user to see the quality of not only the cable, but the higher quality sleeve itself. Again, a very nice touch. An interesting addition is a semi-transparent sleeve over the 3.5 mm gold plated connector. Sturdy with a good tactile feel. The Y-splitter is of the same construction, gold under semi-transparent sleeve, and a metal chin slider finish the deal. Usually, one can pinch the cable together and see the separate cables wound together (inside their individual housing of course), but here the wind is of a tight small nature, which prevents the user from doing so. I consider this a good thing, and the cable has a supple feel but has a bit of stiction to it. Anything wound less tightly might grab onto the nearest protruding item.
Earhooks adorn the business end of the cable, with no memory wire. Think old over ear glasses, which Scientists used, and you get the idea. Winding such that they do overlap the IEM when off, they are a bit of a bundle to get on properly. But once on, no fuss, no problem. Fit of the IEM itself is very good for my average-sized ear. Fitting near-flush, the EM5 is very comfortable and I had no problem wearing the critters for extended listening sessions.
The IEM itself:
The EM5 (five-driver…) consists of the same 10mm dynamic driver as the EM3 (and the EN700 Pro) for mids and bass. Utilizing the excellent Knowles TWFK-30017 BA’s for the mids and treble, and Knowles SWFK-31736 BA’s for the extreme treble frequencies rounds out the 5-driver hybrid. All fit into the relatively small shell as well. Again, I had no problem with the fit or wearing the EM5 for extended periods. A continued well done.
I am glad that the smoke color was shipped, as I do feel a clear look can add to a bit of distraction. I prefer to have a hidden, or in this case semi-hidden critter. That is just the way I like it. It is a pleasing shape, and the fit does match the look. Sometimes that is not the case. This isn’t one of those times.
Knowing that the Simgot EN700 and Pro version were well received, I was eager to try the EM5, anticipating an upgrade from the aforementioned. Based upon those who have heard all, the EM5 is an upgrade, but should be thought of as a separate entity from the others. Think of it this way: the EN700 Pro would be the basic Honda Civic. The EM3, the Civic Si, and the EM5 the Civic Type R. All three cars are very good of their own accord (haha…) but are considered by different purchasers. All three IEM’s will most definitely get the job done here, too.
As Alex stated so well, he saw the benefit of the EM5 in the high end only, separating itself from the EM3 this way. Not having heard the EM3, I cannot vouch either way. But, I do know that the EM5 is quite good of its own merits. The longer I listen, the more I like them. This is an IEM, which has taken me some time to warm up to. I did like them initially, but they did not wow me. Part of that could be I was coming off the UM Mason/Mentor V3 pair, but I still hold it has taken me some time. This is not a bad thing.
So, after a good proper burn in (I do it regardless, listening along the way), there are no excuses for the Simgot sound-wise. And, I can report that there aren’t. If I had to “categorize” the EM5, it would be unobtrusive. There isn’t really any tonality, which bargains for space over the others. No fighting for screen time, so to speak. To me, this is a definite positive, and something of a laid-back sound. There is that push up top (which @Twister6 defined as the added extension from the EM3), but it does not bother my sensitive ears. Use silicons, and it is most definitely present, but with good sparkle. Using the foams of which I am fond (either Comply or Unique Melody’s), and the sound just settle nicely into my avenue.
If one likes a mid-forward (but not too much in my mind) sound then the EM5 is very, very good. Solid vocals, accompany the keyboard in Jah Skaka’s Alpha and Omega, while the bass guitar lays down a solid beat, made more so by the UM foams. Mind you, bass is good without the addition of foam, but for me the bass really starts to shine when foam is added. Others like silicon, I like foam.
With good air and layering, I find this adds to a good wide soundstage. A bit wider than tall or deep; the soundstage is like a good panoramic. You get everything you need in that frame, and do not miss a whole heckuva lot. And to me, what sounds analytical with silicon sounds closer to natural with foam. While that analytical silicon sound is still good, for me I prefer the more natural tendencies. Heathensfrom twenty one pilots sounds simply sumptuous through the Opus #2 and EM5. With enough up top, somewhat sparkly, to keep one interested you bounce to Van Morrison’s excellent Take It Easy Babyas if you were in a good juke joint.
On songs such as Los Lonely Boys Everything About You, I can sense a bit of analytical cymbal crash, but the rest of the song, with the guitar support is quite sumptuous. This is a sound, which mine ears doth like. Male vocals sing along with the song as they are supposed to…support when needed, front and center for the verse. Good stuff, indeed. I would appreciate a bit more bass thump in the sub bass region. The foam tips can only do so much. But that is in comparison to my 64Audio U8, which are near-legendary for bass quality and quantity in an IEM. See The Light follows, and all is but forgotten, and I lose myself in the listen. Henry Garza’s voice is the tie, and the hook, line and sinker of the deal as JoJo and Ringo compliment perfectly. I do believe that the group has not met the acclaim it should. A fantastic sound, and one of my top five all-time bands. Their music is of the “if I were lost on a desert island” variety, and the Simgot does its best to complement their tunes. Other than that slight artificiality of mids, they are spot on.
It’s Just My Heart Talkin’typifies how the pair work together. Toe-tapping, this would be an excellent work out IEM, if’n it didn’t cost half a G. Reserved for cold winter nights this sound would warm the heart with your favorite tunes. Good stuff, indeed. Switching back to the included cable, I still get that sense of airiness. This is a fun sounding IEM, complete with the support of a solid foundation. Good bass (almost enough for me), mid-forward mids (with that slight artificiality), and a good reach of treble (aids that airiness) provide the sound, which would work well in a commuter setting. Again, more bass and I would be quite smitten. Please don’t let that dissuade you from this though, it shouldn’t.
Listening to Trees, I forget all about the fallacies of the Simgot, and just listen. Using the OEM cable gives the EM5 that airy sound, which many seem to like. While I do not mind that, it is the fun-nature of that sound, which I like. One of my current favorite songs, Treesprovides the variety needed to fully understand the roots of an IEM, or headphone for that matter. A solid bass line, treble and very busy mid-section provide the listener with enough to fully understand the strength’s AND weaknesses of an IEM. And here is where I part with the accolades.
If I had to pick, and I will, for I would be remiss if I didn’t, the EM5 is a bit bright on some songs for me. A tendency to “overpromote” the treble sound, my tender, treble-sensitive ears cannot take loud volumes for long if the song has a cacophony of high end sound. If one likes that bright-ish sound, then by all means the Simgot is worthy of a good long look. If you harbor sensitivity, then take what I have written as asmall caution. That said, Nobody Elsecomes on from Los Lonely Boys, and I tend to forget what I just wrote. I sit back and enjoy. The duet vocals sound quite splendid through the Opus #2 and EM5.
Running the Simgot through my preferred set up of thebit Opus #2, the sound is of excellent quality. As my reference, the Opus tends to pull out the best and worst of anything thrown their way. And as listed above, the Simgot was all but equal to the task. Albeit a bit thin of bass (except with the aforementioned Han Sound Venom cable), the Opus gives the details, and the IEM must follow suit, or it falls short. And here the EM5 does not fall short. Quick decay of that bass, along with a slightly forward mid, and a bit of sparkle (good energy) up top make for an enjoyable pairing.
Another excellent pairing (and probably my favorite) is the Simgot with the Shanling M3s. Upon first listen, I immediately felt the energy and synergistic relationship the pair had. Better bass reach than the #2, but a little less up top, the sound was music to my ears. Again, female vocals were quite good. Male vocals falling a bit behind, but still worthy of a listen. This would be a very good commuting pair.
A late arrival of the Questyle QP2R, allowed me to experience something on par with the Opus #2. And I quickly realized what a splendid piece the QP2R is. With more than enough power to drive the Simgot, it was easier to attain loud listening levels than with the Opus. Not that the #2 was bad, mind you but the QP2R simply had more power. It also became evident that I may need to start saving my pennies for one. Anyway, the sound emanating from the pair was simply sublime. No background noise allowed the sound to ring true. Good reach of bass (better control than the Shanling, with as much), and splendid vocals (both male and female), as well as highs, which represented the artists desires quite well.
The first thing of note when comparing the Simgot EM5 to the Campfire Audio Jupiter, is the velvety smooth midrange of the Jupiter, and how easy they are to drive, when compared. This is darn near nirvanic of quality. And as the “original” CA flagship, I can see why so many fell in love with the Jupiter. Separation on the level of gas stations in the western U.S., the Jupiter cannot hide anything. Laid bare are any failings of sound or artist. This can of course be good and bad. On Diana Krall’s Besame Muchoher sumptuous voice sounds ethereal. That separation allows the air between notes to be clearly heard. While better than the EM5, the Simgot is no slouch by any means. On the follow up song, Dire Straits Heavy Fuel, I prefer the sound provided by the EM5. Almost like being in a hole, the Jupiter falls behind here. But still not that bad. Both are very good. Both are of a different tone and can be complimentary if they reside within your abode. Thus, I will not be drawn into which is better.
As for an old friend the Vibro Labs Aria(R.I.P.), there is still that intimate sound emanating from them. With decent sub bass reach (slightly behind the EM5), but better upper bass punch, it is a tradeoff. Harder to drive, one much crank the volume to be able to hear what the Simgot can at lower volumes. With slightly less air between notes, one can surmise this accounts for a good part of that intimacy. And you would not be wrong. For what the Aria gave at the time, it was quite good. But, in only 3 years has been surpassed by many, many offerings. That said, there is a certain almost-holographic nature to its overall qualities, which can be quite intoxicating in which to imbibe. But, time has passed, and the EM5 is better in almost every way. This should not prevent one from auditioning a used Aria, if one has the chance. Fit and finish are superb, and the walnut face is beautiful. This is still one of the best fitting IEM’s I own, and one in which I do still cherish.
Le Grande Finale:
So. Call it a time crunch, call it bad timing, call it superb luck, call it what you will; but during the same time span I have had the honor of auditioning another fine IEM (not to be named). Having the obligation of splitting time between the two is not ideal (but oh well, I’ll deal with it…), but does allow a comparison, even though it may not be fair. What I can say is that each has their respective positives, and respective markets. To me this clearly shows how close the mid-fi range has become. Watching the Tour de France, this would be like that breakaway where if you make it, good. If not, too bad. And within that breakaway you have varying abilities and styles. That would certainly be the case here. Each of the two has a differing sound signature, but not by that much. And both I would consider good.
Well. What might this mean? It means that you have many, many choices from which to decide. And that is not a bad thing. As such, manufacturers are in constant need to provide some “trick” or something “new” to their products in order to sell. And here is where I disagree. One does NOTneed a new trick in order to compete. One need only fine tune or “update” a current model. Think of how long the Porsche 911 has been around. Think of all of the models represented since its inception in 1963. One does not tend to alter too much a classic of such nature. And in those 55 years the 911 has become the iconic sportscar, with many, many varieties to pique one’s interest. And this is what separates it. Others modify or change (save the Corvette, possibly), Porsche solidified with differing models of the same base. And here is where I could see Simgot going with the EM5. Going back to what Alex said (yes, I know I have quoted him a good bit, but it is from that which I draw a comparison), the main difference between the EM3 & EM5 is the upper end. A tweakof driver count and upper end ability. They didn’t redo the whole thing. They added to an existing base. Yes, the EN700 Pro is of the same heritage, but think of that as the base model, the EM3 the Sport, and the EM5 the all-out 911 Turbo.
This is a very good company accomplishment and a very good IEM.
I want to again thank Simgot and Musicteck for the honor of reviewing the EM5. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it and am happy it has become part of my listening queue. It is worth it.