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Earsonics Onyx Review

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Earsonics Onyx Review

Earsonics Onyx Review

Earsonics is a French audio company exclusively dedicated to producing in-ear monitors and earphones. Today , we're going over a mid-priced model from the company that was released earlier this year: the Earsonics Onyx. At $639, it falls into some very stiff competition with a lot of premium mid-tier IEM releases that have rolled out this year (ThieAudio Oracle MKII, iKKO Asgard OH5, Moondrop S8, the list goes on). Can Earsonics' Onyx join the pack? Let's go over what's in the box, what's in the IEM, and finally, what the Onyx sounds like.

In-ear monitor, headphone cable, 3.5mm, ear tips, carrying case, box

What's in the Box?

  • Earsonics Onyx In-Ear Monitors
  • 2 pin to 3.5mm headphone cable
  • (3) Pairs of Double Flanged Silicone Tips
  • (2) Pairs of Silicone Tips
  • (2) Pairs of Foam Tips
  • Semi Firm Carrying Case
  • Authenticity Card

Look and Feel

The Onyx will never let you forget its metallic build. This comes with benefits and drawbacks: on the one hand, it's undeniably a tank that seems like it can withstand traumatic conditions and come out unscathed. However, the weight of each bud was immediately apparent once I had it them my hand, and I think it's fair to say that it's one of the heaviest IEMs I've ever worn. For this reason, I went with the foam tips for this review. It's not that it was falling out of my ears with the silicone tips, but the foam added that extra grip that just left it feeling more comfortably secure in my ear.

 

Speaking of which, the foam tips were pretty premium. They had a putty-like texture that was softer, more form-fitting, and more isolating than the generic foam tips that comes with a lot of IEMs. As for the Onyx's fit, I was pleased to find that it was pretty comfortable despite its heft. Though a bit chunky, the Onyx strikes a nice balance between having a universal fit and specific contours that accommodate ridges on the outer ear. The back of the IEM curves in slightly towards the bottom, which was helpful for pressing the nozzles deep into my ears without irritating the bottom corners of my ears' cartilage.

 

Technical Design and Specs

Earsonics' Onyx is composed of 4 drivers: one dynamic and three balanced armatures. A crossover system delegates low end to the dynamic, mid range to two of the BA's, and higher frequencies to the remaining BA. An acrylic skeleton provides extra support for the drivers inside its black mat housing. This skeleton also serves to avoid resonances from the drivers occurring at their particular cut-off frequencies within the crossover system. TrueWave technology featured in the acoustic nozzle serves to correct potential sonic blemishes from high-frequency resonance and phase issues.

 

Drivers: 1 Dynamic, 3 BA

Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 20 kHz

Sensitivity: 122 dB

Impedance: 16.5 ohms

IEM

Sound Stage

To my ears, Earsonics' Onyx had a forward-facing image with exceptionally smooth left-right panning. Though depth remained fairly shallow, there was still plenty of angular qualities to various parts of mixes – panned guitars coming in from the side at a figurative 45-degree angle, hi-hats sliding over the top of my forehead, and vocals nestled between the bridge of my nose. The spatial separation of instruments was tasteful and not overdone, providing clarity while still allowing the summed, cohesive energy of a song to come through. A unique feature of the imaging that stuck out to me was its well-controlled bass and sub movement, which could result in a very heavy heady feeling on the right tracks (check out “Come Up And Get Me” by Death Grips for a good example). These imaging traits paired well with the Onyx's balance, which provided a low-end energy that pleasantly glued tracks together and provided a firm body.

 

Lows

Though I initially chose foam tips for the utility of the fit, they seemed to be the best choice for the Onyx's overall tuning. A boosted low-end EQ generously piles on subs, then gently rolls off until reaching a balanced level again in the center mids. Earsonics' tuning choices for the Onyx leave it with a low end that doesn't just rumble and slam, but distinctly drives. High bass and even low mids are present at levels that allow overtones and harmonics from bass notes to be heard and experienced – thus retaining their unique low-end character rather than getting dumbed down into fat, nondescript textures that sound more like sine waves than instruments. I'm normally pretty sensitive to balances that put a lot into their high bass as I often find them muddy, but I genuinely liked what the Onyx had to offer here as it managed to avoid bass bleed, and instead provided satisfying energy without sacrificing clarity.

 

Mids

Earsonics' Onyx is still cooling down from its wide low-end boost by the time it reaches its low mids. Along with emphasized high bass balances, I find heavy-low mid frequency profiles are a risky game to play, but the Onyx already has it figured out. Vocals have a slightly emphasized low hum present in their fundamental that doesn't sound unnaturally coated. Most impressively for me was the low mid boost on acoustic guitars, which once again avoided muddiness and unwanted thickening and instead lightly brought out a cozy warmth. Though the low-mid profile is most noticeable, the general center EQ is fairly balanced and left intact. I give points to the Onyx for choosing to not scoop its mids even in light of its intense low end, which results in a more creative and full-sounding balance.

 

Highs

Though the Onyx may not reach deep into its highs and seems to drop off fairly sharply at, say, 10 kHz, its preceding high frequencies are widely boosted and vibrant. It retains realism and transient details while smoothly avoiding sharp sibilants. The moderately steep treble roll-off that seems to occur around 10 kHz wasn't immediately apparent to me until I started listening with a particularly critical ear, as the high-mids/highs boost was pretty compelling with its crisp representation of hi-hats, clicky kick drum transients, and even ride cymbal decays. Arguably the only casualty of this high-frequency profile was vocal air, which admittedly didn't seem particularly present. Though my personal preferences lean towards brighter-sounding tunings that emphasize air and reverb tails, I really don't criticize Earsonics for Onyx's somewhat limited highs: this IEM is about booming, rumbling, and driving, not feather-weight high frequency detail.

 

Overall

Considering the price and quality balance, The Onyx impresses me more than any other Earsonics IEM that I've had the opportunity to try. With its surprisingly smart fit and diverse selection of high-quality ear tips, I was able to have it in my ears for a number of hours without experiencing discomfort. While big bass boosts are generally not what I'm looking for in an IEM, I really liked what the Onyx did with its heavy low end as it maintained unique character and details that sat fully with a warm-but-well- balanced mid-range and was vibrantly contrasted with well-pronounced low-highs. And with that, I can give a definitive “yes” to the question I posed at the beginning of the review: the Earsonics' Onyx joins the ranks of the other elite mid-tier IEMs that were released this year. I'll end with this: if you happen to have been eyeing the iKKO Asgard OH5 in-ear monitor, the Onyx, though a little pricier, is worthy of your consideration as well.

 

Earsonics Onyx is available for purchase here from Audio46. 

 

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