A Little Warm, A Big Peak
Knowing the usual limitations of using a single armature for a full frequency range I was surprised to find that there was a full bass on offer with the EN-1 and still found it possessed a certain quantity of energy in the upper registers, appearing to justify TSST’s claims of a wide band receiver. I would say it embodies a warm and sweet sound signature, something becoming common to a single balanced armature and I am uprightly surprised with the overall tone at the cost. It packs a full bass, pleasant mids and while the treble is the most flawed, it still is around to play which is more than can be said for some of the trash under £100.
We will get the biggest issues out the way and the treble has some untimely peaks. The first starts within the upper midrange, between 2 and 3kHz and is severely overdone. It sometimes causes female vocals to be presented rather shrill and it also has quite the decay, leaving notes ringing way past their expiration date. There comes another peak at 7kHz, another place that our hearing is sensitive too and one that perhaps is also overdone, albeit not as considerably as the first one. I think I even detect a final smaller peak at 10kHz, which is probably bearable on its own, just contributing to a small sparkle but paired with what comes before it the treble is a roller coaster of ups and downs and is a tizzy and sloppy. It is not a case of breaking the product, but it is an area that if calmed and controlled would have me shouting from the roof tops and buying shares in this company. Instead, it almost grounds itself to its asking price.
Before we get into the positives I will bring up one other negative I have found and that is how this responds better to some more volume. At low listening volumes, it sounds a bit too constrained and restricted, prompting me to sometimes turn the music up just a bit louder to open everything up.
I mean if you fancy dissecting the bass a bit you will find some good things. When balanced armature bass blooms to be a bit warmer it never hits the hardest and this is certainly mellow and soft but its plumpness comes from the fact it actually extends competently, down to the registers that when sealed correctly will give you a rumble not often mentioned along side any number of balanced armatures, let alone a full range one. While I talk about the bass having some roundness to it, it still is far from being boosted or bassy, it only becomes warm by having a lingering note portrayal and loose punches. It has nowhere near as swamping a quantity to the Final E3000.
The midrange is composed and a little numb to start with. We know that it gets a very elevated quickly, probably raising over 15dB from 1 to 3kHz, so it comes as no surprise that male vocals have lost a little edge and almost sound smothered at times. That being said the midrange quickly opens up. I find the balanced armature is as always a nimble machine and it is snappier and more capable than the dynamic drivers in both Final’s E models, swapping some speed for a neater and more refined treble while also adding a little more bass (E3000 is bassier than E2000 but more on those later). In true armature fashion it is thin and that may take some adjusting.
Earnine OK… TSST Succeed at Armatures
This product has taught me two things….
The first is that Earnine’s EN-1 has put together an okay little earphone when all is considered. It is a pleasant, warm sound that may not have the most refined upper mids and treble. I found myself still tolerating the sound and enjoying its pros, Josh found it all too much to bare. While the packaging may be bland the earphones themselves are stylish enough and super ergonomic. The design is equally as good for sport, on stage monitoring or commuting meaning that if you want a pair of earphones without breaking the bank for whatever use these could end up being a handy pick.
The second is that TSST knows a thing or two about making balanced armatures. The spoutless little drivers actually have achieved a full sound from top to bottom and while there were some flaws along the way. Should other companies give them a chance and spend some time tinkering they could make some awesome sounds. It at the very least will hopefully add another option to Knowles and Sonion who have owned this market for so long.