I don’t even know how I come to own these or how I stumbled upon this company. Schmitt are Hong Kong IEM company, much lesser known to the western world but seem to certainly have a presence in their own region, even being available on some domestic airplanes. I have only seen these services offer some awful crud. Maybe what drew me to these was the design, which seems like something straight out of Shure’s factory, maybe I wanted to check they weren’t a complete knock off. Especially when their range looks suspiciously close with a range including a single dynamic (S05 or SE215), single balanced armature (S10 or SE315), dual BA (SE425 or S20) and finally a triple BA (SE535 or the S30). they are only missing a quad and electrostatic IEM. I have the S30, the thee driver flagship which boasts the use of Knowles armatures, likely the standard combo of a TWFK for mids/highs and CI for bass, it certainly looks like what are inside and would put it right in line with its brethren the SE535 and Westone UM30 Pro/W30. Browsing some international prices they seem to be positioned at £230 with the closest to the UK you can grab them being Poland. Now with that being only a small margin cheaper than offerings from Shure and Westone, right from the off I don’t know why you would risk this. I would just feel more confident buying from an IEM giant if you are after this sort of style monitor.
There is no mistaking it, this has obviously been influenced by Shure and Westone’s earphones. The braided cable looks like what comes with Westone products and like both the above companies, it uses MMCX for its removable cables. Obviously the biggest tell is that concha style ear piece that seem to be the way to go for good reasons in IEM design but this looks the least unique of the bunch. Its not a case of any company completed reinventing this type of design but most other companies have their own flavour or flare to it. This seems to be pretty much out of Shures factory. Ok I do quite like the cloudy white with gold accents of the S20 but the S30 (I keep nearly putting W30) and its red finish just reminds me of the Japanese edition SE535. Not that it looks bad, I like how you can see in at the drivers.
Now the obvious positive to that is how comfortable they are. They come with a nice range of single/triple flange silicone and foam tips and this is of course a tried and tested design when it comes to comfort. While other companies maybe trying their own variations of this over the ear universal fit design, I do feel like they have been getting bigger and heavier and this is very sleek and also being made of plastic very light. The cable has no memory wire and fits correctly over your ear and the angles of the earphone seem perfect for a long and comfortable listen. Isolation is of course crazy good should you need it with the triple flanges, or even the foam tips for that matter.
The build quality is however something I do have to concern about, mainly because when I received my first pair of these the shell was cracked on one channel at the point of the MMCX connector. This is why I hate MMCX connectors and this exact thing has happened to me before, albeit not out of the box, but I do prefer two pin for this reason. My new pair seem fine anyhow but it does have that cheap plastic feeling. Worth noting is that these use a very thin Shure/Etymotic like bore with just one acoustic filter. You don’t need to remind me how many SE530s had broken bore issues.
These rather nicely come with two cables, a standard triple braid audio only cable, that I like to stick with and a non braided single button remote and mic cable, that will work with your smartphone should you be inclined to use one with your earphone. Personally I like a dedicated device, right now that is the iBasso DX80. The cable quality seems to be much better with a nice right angle jack, solid y-split/cable cinch and a tight strong braid.
The accessory package seems pretty fair as well, with an airplane adapter, cleaning tool, 1/4 inch jack and carbine clip for the little zip pouch case that is included. The case is nice being very pocketable, protective and comes equipped with an accessory pocket inside and straps for the earphones. I must say the packaging is quite nice but has that DUNU-esqe feel of being made in Asia for the western market. Inside it looks cool with a window into see them monitors. What kills it though is the “America Cutting Edge Technology” on the front, like seriously?
Its Own Sound
It does seem like it is at least its own earphone and certainly sounds different to the very vocal centric SE535. I have always been amazed by how different you can make the standard combo of TWFK and CI sound, especially with how far it can be pushed like with the Lime Ears. Now if I did have to liken it to one of the triples I have heard it would be the UM30 Pro (UM3X) that it seems most similar to through having a warm rounded sound, with a spongey rather that heavy bass, rich mids and more recessed treble. The frequency curve though can only be described as a small gradient ski slope with it decreasing on a steady hill from the bass down.
Even with my most neutral and thin sources, this is a thick earphone that lacks distinction and tightness. It is a bit smeared and decay lingers. At £230 I start thinking about the clarity and revealing nature of Dunu’s DN-2000J, which comes piled with pinpoint imaging and is crystal clear from top to bottom. This is not as sharp in the treble but does a lack of fatigue and sibilance justify a bit of a flurry sound that does not do a great deal to out detail a sub £100 earphone. Well I guess there will be two camps of people who can swing either way. The vague thing these having going is something you have to be sure of though because these won’t blow you away with technical ability, the much cheaper Trinity Delta I am currently reviewing do a better job there. The soundstage is OK but lacks accuracy in all dimensions.
The bass is certainly boosted but is not even hard hitting, feeling soft and bloomy. It seems a bit firmer in the deeper regions where it seems to have less decay and feel but for the most part it is a bouncy and warm mid bass that colours the midrange with heat and sweetness. While the bass is clearly the most boosted area of this earphone it just doesn’t do justice for those who want extreme bass, it is more boosted than something like Campfire Audio’s Lyra but has nowhere near as visceral on impact. This leaves this being more a warm and sweet IEM than a bassy earphone.
The midrange, more specifically the lower midrange, is warm and forward, with a very vocal isolated and orientated sound. They have that airy and forward vocal sound with them feeling very much at the forefront of the sounds scape. That being said they may sound very pleasant but they don’t have the most acquired of tones or reveal the smaller nuances. Instead the vocals and midrange as a whole is very glossed over, smooth and bodied but not bringing out the nitty gritty of a recording. Instead these are very forgiving and naturally very easy to listen to. Moving on through the upper mids and to the treble, things take a step back as I have already mentioned. The treble is without big presence and any peaks of excitement and really does stay away from the sound. It is not majorly recessed or borderlinlining dark, it just doesn’t sparkle or splash. It does stay bodied and with long decay though so it coheres with the rest of the earphone.
Overall the sound is full and thick and stays smooth and laid back from top to bottom. It is a pleasant earphone but far from outstanding when you look at the ability you can get at this price and cheaper now days. For the sound signature it does decent but I don’t see a huge appeal for this type of sound. It feels in need of excitement and distinction!
On the Box Measurements
I am enjoying coming across more and more companies who are providing measurements along with IEMs now and inside the box of these they give a frequency response of the earphones. Sadly it does tell us how the measurements were made and there seems to be some adjustments as if measured with different tips but no explanation if that is the case.
For a start this differs from my measurements as it has 5dB increments on the vertical axis in opposed to my 10dB steps so it will be more dramatic. That being said while this does show a big drop off from 5 to 10kHz, it shows quite a prominent upper midrange with both a 2 and 5kHz peak. I did not hear or measure this. Other than that the graph is very similar to mine with the peaks being the most noticeble differences. This doesn’t seem to show as dominant bass either.
Now here is my measurements.
As you can see this show a lot of what I hear, big bass, and a slow roll of from 1kHz down. The bass does have good depth and increases all the way to 100Hz and holds its own down to 20! The peaks we see above can be seen on my results but much smaller, just small 1dB bumps in my case in opposed to 5dB ones. This actually has really impressive extension and does have a peak byond 10kHz. Also if this is using a TWFK they have done a stunning job of keeping the treble so linear, making me wonder if it uses a different driver set up. Channel matching seems good enough to me, only varying past 10kHz were it should not make much impact at all on sound.
The form factor and design of these earphones certainly seems to be the highlight of these and it packs a sound that is effortless and no strain on the ears. That being said it does nothing to separate itself from the pack and has some iffy build quality from experience. The rest of the package is good and two cables is always cool but that doesn’t go far if one if the point of connection breaks. I think the biggest concern is that the price needs to be better from a smaller company still building a reputation. Westone and Shure are major global players and when something is so similar it may be tempting at 50% or so of the price but whats to sway you to an unknown to save such a small margin, I just don’t see the appeal if I am honest. Schmitt seem to have a desire to build a positive image to me but I would like them to find there own footing and designs to establish themselves in the market instead of trying to recreate something that is already successful.