Disclaimer: The Earsonics Purple sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Earsonics for giving us this opportunity.
To read more about Earsonics products reviewed on Headfonics click here.
So, the Purple dropped into our office the other day and we thought we would take you for a brief overview of Earsonics’ latest universal monitor creation before we put it on the boiler for the main review.
Not to be confused with the ‘Artist with No Name’, because, in fact, there is not a lick of purple on these monitors save for the fetching outside retail package cover. No, the name Purple comes from a tasteful extension of the original Velvet concept that the Purple draws its heritage from, for example, Purple Velvet.
An in-house decision and possibly an extension of the one name punt that came with the Grace we reviewed late last year. Certainly, a memorable one and we hope a sound signature that matches or exceeds that legacy.
What is that legacy and how is it squeezed into the Purple? Well, the first is the tunable aspect to the Purple sound signature with no less than 3 sound signatures drawn from the Velvet 2’s rotating tuning plate on the top shell. That beds it in neatly with the Velvet 2 as part of their current Signature Series lineup.
However, the Purple uses a 5 balanced armature driver design as opposed to a 3 BA build inside the Velvet 2 though I believe both still use a 3-way crossover. That makes it the flagship of the Signature range and a little bit more expensive at €1190 compared to the Velvet 2’s €699 retail price.
There are some more clever innovations which we will go into more detail in the main review. This includes pulling from the debut launch of the EarSonics EVS® patented shell used inside the ES-5 initially as well as the FUSION® process embedded in the EVS® shell which allows them to stuff those drivers into a rather compact and small shell.
The final piece of tech inside the Purple is the use of their TRUEWAVE® system first developed for their Stage Series EM64 custom monitor. This little canula topped mono-brass bell sits right inside the nozzle of each driver featuring a dual output design that is intended to enhance phase accuracy of each driver before it hits your ear.
Here comes the Purple. Well, at least on the outside of the box and that’s all the purple you get because after slipping it off you get a very similar package to the flagship Grace. Not a bad idea since the accessory and layout is tastefully done.
Inside you get the following accessories, and again quite similar to the Grace as follows:
- 2 sets of Comply tips in medium, and large
- Single bore silicone tips in small, medium, and large
- Bi-Flange silicone tips in small, medium and large
- Cleaning tool
- Carrying case
- User manual (for adjusting the tuning)
The key difference, of course, is the inclusion of that small screwdriver which you use to adjust the tuning plate on the top of the driver acrylic shells.
This is essentially the same carry case as the Grace with the additional top lid netting to carry your accessories around safely.
The case is roomy enough to fit the tips, cleaning brush, screwdriver, and cable inside that nylon meshed top lid and the monitors on the cloth-finished base. There is a degree of flex to fit in a larger or second cable if you wish also. Overall, it is a fairly pocketable design and will not take up a huge amount of space.
If you are coming from the ES-5 there is a fair degree of cross over in the Purple acrylic shell design though personally, I think the Purple build is a shade more refined looking on initial impressions.
What I love about this build is the transparent acrylic materials used. Not because of how smooth or nice the finish is, which it is, but rather you can peer right inside and see what an outstanding job Earsonics have done on squeezing everything inside the shell in an orderly manner. This appeals to my OCD heart in a big way. Even more so when the right shell has a dash of red on the drivers and cannula insert to make it much easier to pick out left from right.
The top faceplate has a smoky finish to give it a distinct two-tone aesthetic with the lower transparent main body. In the center of each plate, you have the small screwable dial which allows you to change the signature.
The manual does help because the print on the shell is tiny and there is no way I would have known without consulting which way is which. My eyesight ain’t the best these days so even with the manual the tiny opening and groove is kind of hard to see to know if I am in the right spot for each signature.
Tight is to the far left, standard is middling or 12 noon and warm is around 3-4pm. You simply turn it one way or the other. Sadly, there is no way to know if you are exactly on standard except through a torch and your vision. I would have loved to have seen stronger markers or a small physical click for standard. For tight and warm (oops!) you just go to the far ends until you can turn it no more and that’s simple enough.
Cables & Connectors
The Purple used a standard 2-pin 0.78mm flush socket which is their norm for their universal range. So far the pin pressure seems good, not too tight or loose with the stock cable. As for the stock cable, it comes with a 1.2m 4-wire OFC build and wrapped in twisted heat shrunk silver or grey jacket.
You do get some fairly long memory wire on the connectors and some excellent strain relief on its right angle 3.5mm TRS jack as well as the Y-splitter. The chin cinch is just a basic plastic tube, nothing fancy.
I am ok with this as a stock cable out of the box option but I think you can get a better response with some aftermarket options. Certainly, in the main review, we will be trying out a few and we will let you know which is a reasonable upgrade. For now, this does the job in terms of low microphonics as well as being light and easy to work with.
In The Ear
The Purple is definitely small enough and light enough to deliver a fairly comfortable experience in the ear. So far, no complaints there though the memory wire does need some taming and shaping and I feel people who wear glasses might have issues with that.
The seal will 100% depend on the tips though. Interestingly my initial impression of all the tips is that one does not have a huge sealing advantage over the other. I was expecting the silicone to seal the least and the foams to seal the most with the flange somewhere in-between.
However, that did not turn out to be the case with the bi-flange the most successful in cutting out low Hz frequencies such as aircon hum. All three types of tips did equally well on higher frequency blockage. Now the seal is critical for me because if you do not get it perfect you are going to hear a huge loss of low-end power and richness in the Purple. For me, that means all large tips work and smaller ones are no good.
Initial Sound Impressions
Of course, there are 3 sound signatures to the Purple with the standard being the out of the box tuning. At its heart, though this seems to be a smooth and forgiving sound signature with an emphasis on a euphonic and natural delivery.
The tight tuning takes a little off the low-end driver weight but I wouldn’t call it neutral or analytical by any stretch of the imagination. There is a gentle but fairly linear sub-bass to mid-bass rise with a generally natural tone to the midrange timbre which I presume to have been a trait of the original velvet.
It is not a punchy sound mind you despite the full body approach but it has a nice smooth sounding balance to the signature. Vocals are not hugely forward but they have a very engaging harmonic balance with very little in the way of sharp overtones.
Treble is clean and clear with good detail but nothing exaggerated. In fact, the amount of body and wetness of the tight treble tuning is excellent with just the right amount of presence for percussion timbre to sound very natural indeed.
The standard tuning increases the bass presence and midrange timbral thickness just a touch more. Instrumental presence in the lower- mids is a little further forward, vocals have a bit more body also.
Treble presence seems unchanged in terms of forwardness but the body and wetness are enhanced. My initial impressions are of a slightly smoother percussion timbre than the tight tuning but not a huge difference.
The warm tuning simply amplifies that level of body and warmth in the low-end but also I get the impression vocals are slightly fuller soundings. They do seem to have a lot more presence in the presentation than the thin or even the standard tuning which I quite like.
Treble is a bit more relaxed and lacks a bit of bite compared to the tight tuning and perhaps even the standard at that. You still get some presence but it is a bit softer now and more euphonic than the first two tunings.
What I must clarify at this initial impression stage is that none of the tunings have a dramatic “kill switch” on the level of micro-detail and clarity. Each one delivers on that account. Rather these are timbral changes with a little more or less emphasis on the low-end body, midrange euphony, and treble forwardness.
At this stage, the tuning signature is more about nuanced changes to an otherwise steadfast smooth and musical Earsonics house signature. I have a feeling the biggest changes will come through PMEQ, tips changes, and possibly even cable swapping.
Combine that with the 3 tunings and you should have a fairly flexible monitor but a euphonic one nevertheless. It is a damn easy listen out of the box that’s for sure but one that is not lacking in detail. I am 100% sure the Purple will delight Earsonics fans to no end in the main review so stay tuned!
Earsonics Purple Specifications
- Sensitivity: 127 dB/mW
- Frequency response: 10 Hz – 20 kHz
- DCR: 25 to 45 ohms (depending on the switch position)
- Driver: 5 balanced armature drivers, HQ 3-way tunable crossover