We have had a long and storied history of reviewing Earsonics universal line-up, in particular, the ES range with the E-S2, ES-3, and ES-5. Each one is relatively unique to the other with perhaps the ES3, to my mind, bringing the best value for money sound performance.
The launch of the €2000 Grace, however, is a big jump from these three monitors. Not only have they ditched the colder number names of the Music Line-up and gone with a cozy gendered embrace but they have also upped the driver count and crossover complexity significantly.
This is a flagship 10 BA driver with a passive 3-way crossover and their most ambitious universal creation to date.
People always refer to the Earsonics house sound when referring to their monitors and for reference, this has always been a warm or rich sound with a very smooth sibilant-free performance.
The Grace does little to alter that perception with much of its DNA drawn from their popular EM10 in the Audiophile range. I have not heard the EM10 but after a month or so with the Grace, I can see why it may gain a lot of fans.
The Grace is the new flagship universal monitor of their fast-expanding Music range. The Music Range is one of three specific product line-ups under their universal category. The other category being their custom line-up though I do believe there is a lot of crossover between the two line-ups in terms of tuning emphasis.
Out of the three categories in the universal line-up, it seems the Music range is the most active in terms of development with no less than 6 products from the ES-2 right up to the Grace itself.
Perfecting The House Sound
With the Grace specifically, Earsonics are going straight for the theme of excellence in terms of musicality over technicality. Yes, they do pitch this as their most complex creation to date technically but Earsonics believe they have a flagship that exactly matches the pinnacle of that warm and smooth house sound. If you want to know what Earsonics is all about sonically then this is supposed to be it.
Everything is being touted as 100% Made in France. I passed comment on this pitch before with the ES-3 and ES-5. It does raise the costs a little but it also gives Earsonics a much greater measure of control on the design and manufacturing process.
The Grace is an all BA 10 driver universal monitor. All the drivers are custom tuned specifically for Earsonics by Knowles using an HQ 3-way passive crossover with an impedance corrector.
The configuration for the Grace is two full range vented drivers for the low-end, four smaller midrange BA drivers for the mids and four BA drivers for the highs.
Form & Finish
Unlike the other ES monitors, the Grace is the first to get the 3D treatment from Earsonics. This is also a move away from the opaque finish of the ES-5 shell finish and back to the solid blacks of the ES-2 and ES-3.
However, the more rigid plastic designs of the lower ES range have been replaced with a more refined acrylic material. The familiar ES branding has also been replaced with a small signature name of the Grace on the faceplate in orange though I find it a touch rough and hard to make out personally.
Surprisingly, Grace is a little bit smaller than the likes of the ES-5 which is impressive given the much larger driver count. It does retain that relatively short nozzle which is a characteristic of the ES models so tips will be a factor in its performance.
As a result of the new 3D approach, the visual aesthetic on the Grace also looks a bit more streamlined than the lower-tier siblings. There is also a bit more contouring and shaping to its shell in line with the industry’s more focused “custom universal” approach to shell builds.
Being a custom monitor manufacturer Earsonics deals with ear impressions every day so it is no surprise they have started implementing their collective understanding of “perfect fit” custom designs into their 3D universal build of the Grace.
Cables & Connectors
The Grace is terminated with a flush 2-pin socket designed for ‘over the ear’ wearing. It is also packed with a fairly standard Plastics One type intertwined black 1m cable with a right-angle gold-plated 3.5mm stereo jack as you will find on the ES-5.
Strain relief on the cable is excellent on the Y-junction, which is fairly hefty in comparison to the rest of the cable, as well as similar strengthening on the jack. The memory hooks are fairly stiff but manageable for hooking around the ear.
The cable itself I have come across in plenty of guises down through the years with CIEM manufacturers which means its soft, pliant, easy to work with and fairly low on microphonics. The chin strap is a basic plastic tube, it is functional but nothing special.
I am presuming from the thickness and dual wire design it is a 4-core copper variant. For a flagship IEM, I would have liked to have seen maybe a little more risk or expense in the stock cable because more often than not this type of cable is a dynamic range bottleneck. It does assist in keeping things warm and smooth no doubt but any decent SPC or silver infused cable is going to give the presentation a huge lift.
For the Grace, we recommend cable such as the imaging king EA Leonidas 2 or on a budget option the meaty 8-wire Orpheus MK5 from OC Studio. Both will really open up the Grace and bring out the micro-detail much better than the stock cable. The rest is just down to preferences and budget.
Comfort & Fit
The Grace is very lightweight in your ear, almost Westone W800 light which is a good thing. The shaping is also much better in terms of fitting comfort than the ES-5 or ES-3 and they are not quite as far out of your ear as before.
You will find nothing in the way of worrying pressure on your ear canal though the short nozzle will mean tips do play a role in how much isolation you can achieve as well as how securely it sits in your ear.
The tip selection seems to be more or less the same as the ES-5 with a set of S/M/L foam tips, S/M/L single-bore silicone and S/M dual-flange options.
Interestingly, the passive noise isolation gap between the foam tips and the provided single bore silicone tips was not that big. The medium foam tips are actually quite narrow also meaning the larger foam tips provided the best seal for me. The medium single bore silicone tips blocked out noise just a bit better than the medium foams.
The best compromise between comfort and seal actually where the dual flange tips. They have quite a long stem so they penetrate just that bit better than either the foam or single bore silicone tips. They also provided the best levels of comfort and possess the most secure fit of the 3 tip options.
Accessories & Packaging
The retail packaging is stylish, well laid out but also the same in terms of included accessories as the ES-5. I have a mixed opinion on that. Whilst I find the layout attractive and the packaging materials well executed you cannot help but feel a 2000 Euro package should have something a bit more than a 950 Euro package when it comes to things like tips and cases.
Inside, you get unique compartments for the tips, gold-plated quarter jack adapter, cleaning brush, the Grace monitors, and a semi-stiffened rectangular rubber finished carrying case. The carrying case is a bit bigger than the original ES-3 semi-circular case and has a bit more space to it.
This is essentially the same carry case as the ES-5 with one additional feature which I am glad they picked up from our ES-5 review and that is the addition of a top lid netting to carry your accessories around safely.
The case is roomy enough to fit the tips, cleaning brush 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.
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