The Balance of the Mid-Range
- Overall sound quality, quite balanced.
- Complete and harmonious profile.
- Great value for money.
- Some kind of rigid wire.
- Very few accessories.
Link to the Store
On this occasion, the VS Audio Store had the courtesy to send me the Smabat M1 in exchange for my humble opinion.
The M1 are the second earbuds that this brand has brought to the market, after the successful ST-10. This new model also has an original shape, it also uses MMCX cable and its ergonomics and construction are remarkable. Let’s see what other surprises Smabat prepares in this new product.
- Type of Drivers: Dynamic 14.2mm
- Frequency Response: 10-22000Hz
- Sensitivity: 110dB/mW
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Cable length: 1.2m ± 5cm
- Jack connector: 3.5mm gold plated
- Capsule Connection Type: MMCX
The Smabat M1 comes in a small square white box, sealed in transparent plastic. Their dimensions are 100x100x36m. Although it does not seem so, on the upper face of the box, the silhouette of the M1 is drawn. On the back, only the name of the model and the minimum specifications. Once the lid is open, you can see the earbuds, fitted in a white mould, with the cable on and some anti-scratch protections, made of translucent blue plastic. The foam and silicone pads are also fitted on both sides of the cables. After removing the upper mould, you access the manual and a bag with 3 pairs of rubber fins. In short, the content is:
- The earbuds capsules.
- The MMCX cable has a silver-plated core.
- 4 complete foams.
- 2 silicone pads.
- 3 pairs of silicone fins, sizes SxMxL.
The packaging is solid and compact, of good standard. But, in my opinion, rubber accessories are not necessary. In addition, 2 pairs of foams is a very small quantity, I miss donut foams and a carrying bag/box.
Construction and Design
The design has improved compared to its brother ST-10: it has a smaller and more compact body. It just looks like several assembled cylinders of different diameters. They are almost entirely made of metallic material, including the grilles. The outer part of the capsule is a cylinder with an edge. On its outer face, the mark is inscribed on the inside of a polished metal ring. On the underside is the MMCX connection, next to the edge. While, on the other side of the edge, there is a white dot, with a letter inside, which indicates the channel of each capsule. On the upper side of the capsule, there are two slots. All this external part is separated by a metal ring, from the emitting body, which contains the driver. The edge of the emitting disc has an approximate thickness of 5mm. Its diameter is decreasing, being of 16mm, in its inner part, arriving almost to 15mm, in its outer edge, next to the microperforated grids.
The cable of the M1 is quite simple: formed by silver-plated strands, totally sheathed with a transparent plastic protector, which has some rigidity. Both the pin and the divider are polished metal cylinders. The cable that comes out of them is protected by a transparent plastic cover. The 3.5mm Jack connector is gold-plated. After splitting, there is a very effective semi-rigid plastic pin, the inside of which has an eight-shaped through hole. In this way, the adjustment and sliding of the two cables, by its interior, is very suitable. The MMCX connector has a polished metal cylinder, with the letter of each channel inscribed on it. Next, there is a conical piece of translucent plastic. A 12mm semi-rigid plastic sheath comes out of it to protect the cable of each channel.
The construction of the set is special, of enough quality, giving an idea of product very well finished, of clear vocation premium.
The design is very original and, on this occasion, has been thought to maximize comfort, fit and ergonomics. Apart, of course, to maximize the acoustic qualities of the dynamic driver.
On the negative side, it could only be said that the quality of the cable is questionable, due to its rigidity.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
With the new design, the Smabat M1 has improved ergonomics compared to its previous model, offering a simpler, faster adjustment and a very firm fit. They can be used with the cable down or over the ear. Although, in my case, I prefer the traditional, downward fit. In this way, I get the best adaptation and sound, obtaining better listening sensations and a fuller lower zone.
The Smabat M1 has a light U-profile, but also balanced and gently warm. The gentle emphasis on the deepest zone, coupled with a certain distance in the initial midrange and that excitement point in the highs, suggest that particular and harmonious profile.
The lower part of the M1 is very interesting, basically for its depth, realism, timbre, texture, speed and control. They are not anemic or light bass, their presence is felt from the first moment, as they enjoy good energy, but not at the bass-head level. The range is very enjoyable, for all the characteristics I have mentioned. Its good control and great depth, provide a very realistic area, nothing colored, where each note feels in its place, with a great articulation and precise execution. The degree of detail and resolution provide a very descriptive texture, easy to follow, compact, tight and remarkable recovery. Another good virtue of the low zone is its slight accent in the sub-bass zone, which provides a mid initial zone, quite liberated and does not dirty the high zones either. That is why warmth is present, but is soft and sweet, without obscuring the profile.
But the great virtue of the low zone of the M1, is that Smabat has obtained a sonority and execution very similar to the one produced by some IEMs: that is a great news and an enormous work, which implies that the technology «3D Maze Acoustic Structure», really works.
I also want to point out that the M1 are grateful for a source with a certain power, since the low range expands remarkably, when the energy provided is greater.
The mid-range is slightly warm, the initial zone of the range is perceived somewhat further away. But as the mid-zone progresses, there is an emphasis that gives a good degree of definition, especially to female voices. In the same way, this particularity helps to raise the level of clarity of the whole central part. The range runs smoothly, naturally, relaxed, away from any analytical nuances. Once again, the timbre, colour and texture, especially of the voices, should be highlighted, as they sound very realistic, sweet, well defined, quite precise and with a clear and present projection.
But, it is also true that this range is not expressed frontally, but offers a feeling of a certain distance, a presence halfway, a more relaxed nuance than other earbuds. This sensation is not a negative quality, only a particular sensation that provides a quasi-pleasant sonority, more fluffy and comfortable, far from the requirement of an imposing foreground. This does not mean that there is a lack of clarity, or that the sound is dark or not very detailed; it is just a different presentation, which sometimes invites you to turn up the volume to obtain a fuller sensation. And you can’t get it!
The treble continues with the warm, soft and relaxed look of the M1. That’s why the whole sound is certainly balanced, where each band is expressed with good representation, but without excess. The highs are no less and so are shown initially. A little higher, is when that certain U character begins, since the upper zone extends presentially, but without losing control, nor overlapping other ranges. The highs in this area enjoy a crisper hue, a bright point, nothing disturbing, which provides that slightly sparkling sensation, characteristic of the sound of the M1.
M1’s offer good separation, no congestion, no lack of resolution. But their sound, more liquid and creamy, does not appear spatially open, nor with a very wide scene. There is good depth, a concave stage feeling, not too high, not too enveloping, but moderately ethereal and volatile.
The overall feeling is of a remarkably compensated sound, very sincere, where most aspects are under control and well balanced. There is clarity, definition, good level of detail and nuance, a moderate scene and chord separation.
As it could not be otherwise, the comparison was clear with his older brother. The first differences are obvious: the ST-10 have a larger diameter and a somewhat more forced fit, at least in my case. The M1 are more straightforward and quicker to adjust.
At the sound level, the ST-10s move more easily. In addition, they have a more prominent, large, wide, lower zone of greater impact and extension, but comparatively, somewhat darker, slower and slightly less controlled. M1 bass is tighter, more contained, with better resolution, where the emphasis is on the deepest and sub-bass. In this way, the mids feels more liberated, cleaner and clearer, more defined. The ST-10 have a middle zone more influenced by the presence of the bass, dragging that certain darkness, greater warmth and a more turbid sensation, in the initial part of the zone. Even so, the voices have more body and a closer presence. In the M1, they are perceived somewhat more backward and relaxed, but with more air, resolution and detail. Something similar happens with the rest of the instrumentation, more closeness, presence and emphasis in the ST-10, more clarity and definition, but also more distance in the M1.
The more relaxed and balanced character of the M1, makes its upper area perceived more complete, extensive and with greater impact on the sound. The ST-10 have an initial spark, but also an earlier cut. In the M1, the trebles are wider, with a longer travel and range, generating their characteristic cleanliness and greater amount of micro details. On the contrary, the ST-10 have a more direct, compact, present and dense sound, where the details are softer and are not revealed as much as in the M1.
At scene level, both describe it with a similar shape, although in the ST-10 its perception is greater, perhaps due to the size of its sound. Also its proximity and depth seems to improve this aspect. While in the M1, the medium distance does not seem to widen the sound to the same level, although the differences are small.
The separation is perceived to be greater in the M1, due to the greater clarity, as opposed to the denser sound of the ST-10.
By way of conclusion, the ST-10 have a more direct profile, with more dynamics, dense and more frontal, with more presence in the lower zone, more warmth and more body in the middle. While the M1, have a profile more in U, of greater cleanliness, clarity, with a central zone that is perceived more distanced, but with greater definition, resolution, detail and extension of trebles.
The Smabat M1 has the peculiarity of not lowering the remarkable almost in any aspect. They have a great design, they are very comfortable, of a size, weight, diameter and thickness that produce a firm and lasting adjustment, improving the sonorous experience and the immersion. Its construction is excellent and the sound has no fissures, but seeks balance in all its facets. And the great thing is that they get it. No one aspect of sound is placed above another, but everything is coherent and enjoyable, both as a whole and individually.
Smabat has created tremendously competitive earbuds, very complete, all terrain, both in sound and construction, highly enjoyable and very pleasant. All this at an extremely competitive price. The M1 is a clear exponent of great quality within the mid-class.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Burson Audio Playmate
- Tempotec Serenade iDSD
- ACMEE MF-01