Earsonics Corsa: Built like a tank, and with sound to match.
Pros: Built like a tank
Engaging sound (see below), but not harsh
Bass is of good quality
Build quality not what it should be
Sound is quite tip dependent
Might be too laid back for some
Earsonics Corsa ($450): Built like a tank, and with sound to match.
Intro: Thibault, from Earsonics contacted me to see if I was interested in a review of the Corsa. Having just read B9Scrambler’s review of the unit I was intrigued. I said yes, and 2½ short weeks later I had a Corsa in hand. I reread The Contraptionist’s review to get a better handle on the company and the unit. It is understood that the unit is mine to keep but may be asked back for at any time. As such, the unit is not to be sold for profit, as that yet remains cheap, lowdown and uncool. What follows is an honest impression of the Corsa and how it sounds to me, and me only. Used across many platforms and compared to comparable wares, I do think this is a very valid review and comparison.
Earsonics is a French company founded by Franck Lopez in 2005. Catering to both professional and enthusiast IEM markets, they currently offer a variety of universal and custom-fit earphones, which feature both hybrid and pure armature setups (courtesy of The Contraptionist’s introduction).
Sensibility: 119 dB/mW
Fréquence response: 10 Hz -20 kHz
DCR: 31 ohms
Drivers: 3 BA drivers with 3-way impédance corrector crossover
IN THE BOX:
CORSA with 4C HI-RES cable
4 Comply tips (various sizes)
8 silicon tips (various sizes)
Dunu SA6 ($499)
Fearless S6 Rui ($479)
Noble Savant II ($499)
Shanling M6 Pro
Cayin N6ii E01
Eagles-Hotel Cali Live 1999
Joey Alexander-Warna album and others
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado
twenty one pilots Christmas
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Big Head Todd & The Monsters-Beautiful World
Mark Knopfler-Down The Road Wherever
Elton John-yep, still good, still cool
Coming in a plain black box, expectations were that the inside would be a bit more exciting on one hand but thinking simplicity rocks on the other hand. Opening the lid on the front, the top opens like a hood. Inside you find a printed note from company founder and CEO Franck Lopez, written in French. Popping that up, you get the small zippered case with the cable tucked neatly inside, except for the bit, which connects to the IEM’s.
Those metal-shelled IEM’s are tucked into individual round cutouts, with the cable running in their own groove around the top. Not uncommon, but nonetheless still a nice-looking feature. Taking the right ¼ of the box is the accessories box, complete with three different types (shapes) of tips (single flange common silicon, double flange silicon & foam; all in two sizes and packed in three bags). You also get a white cleaning brush, which is a nice departure from the typical black (that can fall and quickly become lost).
Under the medium foam protection and ¼ cardboard case you find the “handcrafted by” (Carine Cot) and the warranty card again in French.
Simple, subtle and all right in my book.
Add in that the Corsa comes with a plethora of tips ranging from two foam sizes to two set of single flange and two sets of double flange tips, and you have a well apportioned kit. The double flange even has a long center shaft for positive connection with the nozzle. This is indeed the longest shaft I have seen on a set of tips, and it does hold onto the nozzle well.
Made with three proprietary BA’s, the Corsa holds true to the “made in France” mantra, with the 3D-acrylic compartment or “heart” structure made in well, France. A metal jacket rounds out the unit looking every bit a clamshell pattern on the inside, and a melted candle seal reminiscent of days of yore on the faceplate. A nice change from the “inlaid” or acrylic painted patterns to me. Mind you I really like stabilized, inlays and patterns; but this just seems right with the “ES” logo embossed in that “melted wax.” While not all of the above is about the technical aspect it does tie the whole together showing Earsonic’s commitment to the overall unit when it comes to technology.
A metal three-piece shell gives the Corsa a higher-end look, and the burnished bronze color adds to the “luxury” segment look. A long pressed in nozzle is of good diameter and tips take a good amount of force to mount. Not a bad thing in my mind. The inner shell has curves much like you would see on a clamshell and is screwed (with a glued lip) to the faceplate. The nozzle has a filter covering it to keep unwanted items out as well.
That faceplate varies of different thicknesses depending upon where it is in relation to the ear placement. Something I have not seen much of before. I do like the look. At the back of the faceplate (thicker end) there are two “slots,” which act as vents for the unit. If you look inside, you can see the mechanicals, much like you would on a furnace cover. There is also a slight detent on the main shell, to accommodate the insertion of the 0.78mm 2-pin cable, which is inset into the thicker portion of the faceplate. This is a fairly complicated design to a shell, amongst the most I have seen, but not without thought, care and design engineering for proper functioning of the unit.
There is even what would be akin to a melted wax “seal” bearing the “es” logo on the faceplate, much like letters of old. The 2-pin cable is a bit hard to insert for my tastes, and care is warranted when inserting the cable. Grip and feel across the board is very good, and not slippery as you might expect with the burnished color treatment.
The cable is a 4C 4-wire wrap in silver. Reminiscent of a good, solid Litz cable, it plays very well in use. A longer than normal over ear guide is soft and pliable, making this one of the best fitments I have witnessed of late. It lays excellently around my ear. A well protected right angle 3.5mm jack of lightweight aluminum is followed by the same aluminum Y-splitter and 2-pin ends. Light in feel, use and touch. Quality while being usable and softer of character. With protection where needed the cable works well, as does the fit of the unit in-ear.
While the unit is cold due to the metal, fit in my average-sized ear is good, with a modicum showing outside my ear. This does not stick out nearly as much as some, but it is not flush either. Good to excellent fit, without bother and the angle of the nozzle helps with a proper listening environment as well as fit. Nothing to worry about here.
The only downside here is the case. While it is of good quality, it is a bit too small for something of this price. Small size is good for in-pocket, but bad for not smashing the tips of choice. I also have to wind the cable tighter than I prefer for the Corsa to fit inside. Another ¼” thickness and ½” in diameter would have made a world of difference.
The Corsa presents itself as a highly detailed triple balanced armature IEM, with good spatial representation and emphasis on the mids to higher range rather than the low end. This does not mean the lows are missing or unsatisfactory for when I listened to the Corsa, my focus indeed went towards the very good detail retrieval, and a cohesiveness with the mids; which makes for a crisper sound than not. Bass while not as deep as I might like is certainly present to keep things under control. The acoustic bass on David Grisman’s Chili Dawg comes across as the foundational aspect it is. Supporting but setting the tone, without encumbering the whole signature with an overexuberance of bass. A thoroughly satisfying sound emanates from the Corsa, with energy aplomb.
Tip choice play a big part in how the sound will be represented with the Corsa. And yes, of course this happens with many, but to me it is more pronounced here than many of what I have had of late.
My preferred were the smaller (which was odd for me…) foam tips as this allowed a slightly “less neutral” sound to come through with a bit deeper reach of bass. This is my preferred choice, and I would keep it that way save I switched to the double flange for a listen. As stated above, this is the first time I have actually liked double flange tips in use. I am not sure what the synergy here is in order to accommodate my tastes, but whatever it worked. The bass was brought back to a support mechanism, but details flourished with the double flange. If you are going for detail and that crispier sound, then this might be your best bet.
Anyway, back to the foams and bass. A certain richness pervaded my senses with the foam tips and the low end, but not like an SA6 or Legend X mind you. No, this is a fruitful sound that still represents the sounds below the beltline well. On Grisman’s O’banion’s Wake, that bass guitar holds the show together as you might find in a fine Irish Pub on a Saturday night after a funeral. Drinks flow, talk and song permeate the air, and it is a right jolly good time as memories flow. This representation is accurate and realistic to me, which lends to the tuning being spot on.
Carrying this song into the mandolin and mids, Grisman reaches high with the strumming as violin plays the lower end of the mids with authority, but not authoritarian. This is such a fine song for judging the qualities that I ran the song over three times to make sure I caught all of the nuances. Coming through the XDuoo XA-10, the sound comes clean and slightly dry, but the tuning of the Corsa negates that quite nicely bringing the listener into the fold as Natalie Merchant’s hauntingly vivacious vocals engulf my ears on The Peppery Man, but not before Dawg Daze finishes. This is a raucous song, with much to disseminate and like. Piercing highs from the guitar work allow you to see the upper folds of the treble notes reach and it is very, very good. Piercing only in reach, quality with excess for sure.
Merchant’s voice to me is very underappreciated, and almost forgotten from the 10,000 Maniac days. That was such a fine group, that we tended to take her voice for granted. It is good to hear her music again. Natalie’s voice here reaches that upper end with succinct S’s, again piercing the top end, but not wincingly. More like an emotive sound. The song digs deep with the help of her accompanying male entourage and you get the feeling of sitting on a front porch in northern Mississippi on a hot steamy evening, drinking anything cool to take your mind off of the oppressing heat. The Corsa allows the song to come through with that near visceral experience and so far, all are working together presentably.
Kenichi Tsunoda’s Big Band version of the seminal Take Five allows me to experience a nice 3D aspect to the sound. Big band can come across as wide and overpowering in many situations, but that is the nature of the sound. Here though, the spatial representation is still broad, but deep as well with a good height presence. I get the feeling of a nicely filled out medium sized venue and that is right for the purposes. Layering as a result is good with instrumentation quite nice as well. While the detail retrieval will not break any new grounds, the sound comes across as firm, and with solidity, I would not call it thick as in too much density even though that is there. That solidity of which I speak makes that detailed sound, which is there come across all the better; but not analytically clean like some of the class leading ones in this price. Crisp, but not as crisp as the class leading IEM’s. But this bodes well for the overall tonality, which exudes that emotive sound of which I mentioned above. Calling it a mature sound would not be unfair.
Earsonics Corsa ($450) v Dunu SA6 ($499):
Since the SA6 came out, I have rated it as either at my top or near the top of recommendations for this price. Completely enthralled with tuning, including the fine-tuning switches, the SA6 comes loaded as is so there is no need for another cable. Using that unique jack switching connections allows you to run balanced or single end at the change of a jack. Pretty cool, but how is the sound comparatively?
The SA6 runs deeper with better reach, but not overly bass heavy. Mids to me are a bit forward and cleaner as well. Where the Corsa promotes that emotive response to me, the SA6 comes across as a raucous good time. That semi-boosted mid-section might not be for everyone with the SA6, but you can tailor the signature somewhat with the switch. If you prefer a more mature sound, then the Corsa might suit your bill. If you prefer deeper reach with a more mainstream tuning, which boosts those mids a bit as well then, the SA6 might fit the bill. I close by going back and forth on The Eagles live MTV version of Hotel California, just one of the absolute greatest songs ever, especially in person.
Earsonics Corsa ($450) v Fearless S6 Rui ($479):
When I first reviewed the S6, it was the then flagship of the new Fearless line. Since then, they have blown completely up in price and scale. This is a line with which to be reckoned. The S6 has the most bass quantity of any listed here, with some definite reverb as well. On Hotel California, it hits hard and wide. The mids seem to be spread out more than the others as well. I liken this to a quite wide soundstage. Clarity is as good as the SA6, but I still get a feeling of a somewhat “smashed” signature. More like intimate, or hourglass shape. Don Henley’s voice is dead center, and close in. The instruments seem to stretch for miles, either side; giving a somewhat odd signature to the listener. I do still like it but acclimating to it takes a song or two.
To me it is obvious that Fearless wanted to focus on the vocal presentation and as such is the best of the lot here. If you want to get over that (to me) hourglass signature, this is still a very good bet. Prefer a smoother signature? Then there are worse choices than the Corsa.
Earsonics Corsa ($450) v Noble Savant II ($499):
The Savant II comes across as the more neutral tuned Noble, with a bit more emphasis down low. I do not regret this purchase, but it does not get enough listening time from me. Running a bit deeper than the Corsa, the Savant comes across as detailed and well thought out and is probably the closest to the Corsa of any here. I find the near neutral maturity of the Corsa signature to suit my current tastes more. The Savant does not bother me in any way whatsoever, but it lacks that reach out and grab you of some listed here. That could be its biggest strength and biggest panacea all rolled together. It does all quite well but does not do any one thing extraordinarily; hence it may be looked past for a more vibrant signature or something, which could be construed as “more fun.” If I had to choose, the newer Corsa would be my choice here, but that is not the fault of the Savant.
When first approached, it was a nice surprise to hear from Earsonics. I had not expected the contact, so other than reading a singular review I had no expectations let alone prior experience with the marque. After researching a bit, I came away impressed that a company could continue to have the staying power they do. This is a trying time for pretty much any company, let alone a company, which portends to a hobby such as ours. So, to continue the way they have is a testament to their commitment.
The Corsa comes across as a mature, solid tuning for a mid-priced IEM. One, which can hold its own in this crowded priced market not for its merits, but for what it doesn’t do: swim in the mainstream of boosted bass, boosted mids and a sparkly tune up top, which seems to fit some far off “curve.” Going a slightly different route, while still providing a solid tune is its trick. That to me is a very laudable approach and just may pull some of the consumers from that mainstream curve tuning, which really isn’t for all. Well done, Earsonics.
I again thank Thibault and Earsonics for the review sample and wish the company well on its future endeavors. From what I hear, the Grace is a worthy addition into the top tier market as well and might be worthy of a look at that price. Good options to have all around.