The Simgot EA500 is a slightly warm in-ear-monitor with an rhythmic low-end, a holographic sound, and an Achilles heal that incapable reviewers likely won’t pick up on… will you? Let’s get inToit!
The build is here is pretty nifty. It’s a high density metal shell with a shiny mirror-plated finish. Inside is a dual-cavity and 10mm, dual-magnetic-circuit, 4th generation, DLC composite, dynamic driver. There’s a slight heft to the shell, but I’d say it weighs less than the Moondrop Kato in the ear. It’s also a fair bit thinner than the Kato, and has a rather sharply angled nozzle, that took some getting used too, but was easy to adjust to from a comfort perspective. The nozzle itself is also detachable and the EA500 comes with two different versions, a red version who’s frequency response is tuned to the 2016 Harmon Target, and a black version that emphasizes elevated mids in comparison. These nozzles will be of further consideration when we get to the sound, but I’m glad they included two in the package here as one was much more acceptable to my ear than the other.
The package included a black pod case, one set of clear silicone ear tips, and a clear silver-plated 2-pin OFC cable terminated in a rubberized, angled, 3.5mm, unbalanced jack. The pod case was a bit thick for my liking and reminds me of a large pill, which is an aesthetic I don’t prefer. The silicone ear tips also came packed separately in a large box inside the packaging, which seemed like a waste of space and it felt like additional tips were errantly left out from the package when I unboxed this thing. It’s also my opinion that Simgot should have included additional tips in this box, as the included ones did not do this IEM any favors from a sound perspective—producing a dull and somewhat odd tone which we’ll get into more later. I did really like the cable; however. It flows, wraps, and unwraps easily; has a nice feel to it, and has a black rubberized y-split that matches the termination jack, and has a integrated chin sinch made from the same material. In some ways it reminds me of the S.S.R. cable. I’ve always felt that Moondrop should adopt a similar design for their S.S.R. style cables and use an integrated chin slider in the shape of a crescent moon that would interlock or separate from the “full-moon-shaped” y-split. The EA500 cable is woven below its y-split and run as straight wires to its preformed ear hooks.
But let’s jump into the sound, which we’ll approach nozzle by nozzle. The red, Harmon-tuned nozzle came affixed right out of the box. While I did enjoy this tonal balance of this tuning best, it ultimately came with some undesirable audible side effects that ruined the sound and were unforgiveable. Generally speaking, this nozzle sounded compressed and there were some notable oddities with the timbre. Specifically, snares, hi-hats, plucks related to string instruments just sounded off and unnatural. Instead of sounding like their instruments of origin, these sonics sounded like white noise or crumpled wax paper. Some others have pointed out that vocals also sound rather artificial, and while they do come across somewhat raspy, they were not as offensive as the other aforementioned issues to my ears. What I think is going on here is that transients basically falling off a cliff after their initial sound. So rather than having an iota of sustain or natural decay many sounds come across as mushed, dulled, flattened, or underdeveloped. As this was particularly apparent with the stock tips, a tips change is emphatically recommended. Out of the tips I tested with the EA500, the best outcomes came from either SpinFit Cp100’s or CP145’s.
The black, or the SIMGOT- Classic target-tuned nozzle has additional presence emphasis, and as such provides additional clarity and definition to the sound. And while I still won’t recommend stock tips with this filter, with either CP100 or CP145 SpinFit Ear Tips, this filter was much more timbre accurate across instrumentation. But with that said, as I started with the red nozzle, the genie was unfortunately out of the bottle to my ears and I could still pick up some artificiality to the EA500’s sound with the instruments I mentioned prior. Nevertheless, with this configuration, others might be more willing to forgive the EA500 timbre issues, that is, or less able to detect such faults. Ultimately, I was willing to sacrifice the tonal balance of the red filter, which I preferred, for the black filters, which showed greater dexterity in the timbre department.
But, no matter the nozzle, the SIMGOT EA500 also does a lot of things right. In an era where the bass in many IEMs under $100 dollars is generally rather unresolving and lacking in texture, the EA500 has great bass texture and a decent amount of resolve in the low-end and otherwise. It also has decent separation and images well. I mean, sort of… they image much better with the black filter than with the red filter, and with the red filter, I definitely understand what Zeos was referring to when he referred to these as IEMs as being for horror films or horror gaming, as sounds seem to leap out of nowhere to the listener in unexpected ways and with odd placement at times. The soundstage is rather average, but there is good depth to the sound overall, and it displays peripheral details well. So it mostly really is a disappointment and a shame that the EA500’s timbre issues are notable and really do hold me back from being able to recommend this set outright to everybody. Instead, I’m only going to recommend it to people that primarily listen to electronic music or genres that focus on synthesized sounds; or perhaps, for people that are less sensitive to timbre tomfoolery than I am.
In summary the EA500 is a well-built IEM that comes with an unhelpful set of stock ear tips, and a bulbous carrying case, but a nice cable. Swapping to the black filter and a set of SpinFIt Ear Tips was a necessary step to take, but sacrificed some tonal balance for greater timbre accuracy. Nevertheless, timbre focused listeners might want to take a pass on the EA500 unless they are willing to choose to tolerate its deficiencies involving the compression of particular instruments, or are selectively listening primarily to electronic focused music where some artificiality in the sound reproduction would be less of an issue. Incapable listeners might disagree, but true audiophiles are likely to be just as annoyed by the EA500 as I was, as what it does well heightens the disappointment with what it doesn’t. With the EA500, I’m left with thoughts of what could have been. It does most things very well for its price, but has an Achilles heel that leaves me a bit disappointed and wanting more, in the end.
Still, if it weren’t for its oddities, it might have got a recommendation from me as one of the best IEM under $100 dollars, but sadly, it won’t receive this distinction as it currently stands. But who knows, maybe an update by Simgot or replacement filters can correct the aforementioned issues? Some listeners might also be less picky me, and could be willing to give this IEM a pass (which others certainly have done). In any case, if you venture to test out the EA500 for yourself, don’t say I didn’t warm you...