Strauss and Wagner’s EM8C earbuds are up to be the next addition to their “audiophile but affordable” line of headphones. After their EM205 wired earbuds, which ran for only $39.99, gained positive reception for both their sound and value, they’ve taken to kickstarter to ask for donors to help them produce a USB-C, Android compatible version of the EM205, the EM8C. Let’s see what could be in store for Android users in the near future from Strauss and Wagner.
What’s in the Box
- EM8C earphones
- Carrying pouch
- Three sets of silicon ear tips
Look and Feel
The EM8C have a sleek, nondescript build. Their black casing is nicely polished and I appreciated that their flat, low profile made them comfortable to keep in my ears even while laying on my side in bed. These also come with three sizes of silicone ear tips and sport a 43” cable.
The EM8C are nearly identical to the EM205, but the key difference is their USB-C cable of course. This means the EM8C are not compatible with Apple products, and are aimed at Android and other USB-C device users, offering them the ability to have these headphones as a simple, plug-and-play experience. These use a 9mm driver and have an impedance of 32Ohms, and they’re plenty loud. If you’re a volume maximizer (please take care of your hearing!) you won’t be disappointed. They feature a microphone along with controls for volume, play/pause, next/previous track, and accept/end/ignore calls.
These have an impressive soundstage for their price point. The EM8C do a great job of creating a considerably large sense of space and communicating the full width of a mix. Music has a good sense of engulfment and they never seemed challenged by more expansive compositions. Listening to Pink Floyd’s “Hey You,” the plucked strings and keyboards on the sides of the stereo field didn’t over-blend with the poignant vocals in the center. As tom fills cascaded across the soundscape, the sense of dimension was further developed. Later on, with cymbals and layers of guitars being brought in, there was still no hindrance of the EM8C’s sense of balance and organization.
The EM8C have an organic, smoothed out high end. Their detail is conveyed more so by snap and definition than overt boosting. They keeps their high end controlled and clean, not giving major amplification to any large areas and instead letting their intricate, precise retrieval speak for itself. Listening to Sylvan Esso’s “Ferris Wheel,” the EM8C gave a subtle breathiness to the vocals without a noticeable shine. It was easy to pick out the plucking sounds on the bass, the pleasing crack of claps, and all the unique textures from shakers to synths. The new-aged, poppy song was translated with a relaxing, natural timbre to it that kept my ears fully engaged without bugging them with every last piece of high end.
The mid range on the EM8C is easy on the ears but very punchy. The low-mids have a satisfying pop, giving snares and other percussive elements added presence and definition. The high-mids are more subdued, eliminating every ounce of harshness. Listening to SZA’s “Drew Barrymore,” the EM8C gave a warm, velvety presentation of the song. Drums punched heavily beneath the mix, giving it a very structured foundation full of thundering tom rolls. The lead vocal’s resonance was toned down with its smoothest qualities pushed forward to ensure it retained its presence, but with a cleaner character.
The low end on the EM8C goes for intensity and depth. You’ll find the entire low-end spectrum is well represented, with sub frequencies never overlooked and a consistently strong, but smooth, leveling. These are noticeably bassy earbuds, providing a more cinematic atmosphere paired with a fast attack. The bass doesn’t feel overwhelming or over-stated, but distinctly prominent and defined, with extended baselines and percussion. Those who want stronger low end or just a very full-bodied sound will find the EM8C does not skimp in this area whatsoever.
If you’ve got picky ears but are stuck on a lower budget, these won’t make you feel like you’re missing out on a well-tailored listening experience. I would go as far as to say the EM8C meet their bold claim of being the best USB-C earbuds under $100. I might even suggest that those with a slightly higher budget opt for these and save some money while still getting a high-quality listening experience.
- Good Value
- High fidelity sound
- Not Bluetooth
- Not IPX water-resistant
- Only come in one color