- Sound sensation similar to that offered by some IEMs.
- Balanced, warm and full profile.
- Accessories: Few foams and non-rigid bag.
- Cable can be improved
Link to the Store
Smabat is a new brand of headphones, but the truth is that the design of the ST-10 is practically the same as the models of Svara. On its website there are only two models: the present ST-10 and some IEMs, the XT-10.
Nowadays it is practically impossible to find any of the two Svara models and personally I always had them on my wish list… But I never got to buy them. There was a time when I gave up this type of headphones, because I couldn’t find a full sound in the whole frequency range. I did a lot of shopping looking for the right earbud, both in form and sound. It is also true that I never spent too much money on a single model, but seeing that most of the more expensive models used capsules I already knew (MX500 or PK), whose ergonomics were not the most suitable for my anatomy, I did not go forward either. Other more original models, exceeded what I was willing to spend for a headset that who knows if I would be able to extract its full potential.
But recently I got back into the earbuds wheel and luckily I found a better way to enjoy them. It’s about turning the earbuds into the ear canal, instead of sticking it against the shell. It’s not an easy task with all models, but the change is very big. So it’s worth spending a little time on it. The only negative point is that, depending on some models, the fitting is not very firm and only serves me to be at home.
Now I feel like analyzing this type of headphones again. And within this new round, the ST-10 will be the third to review.
- Drivers: Dynamic 15.4mm Three-layer Diaphragm (PEEK, PU, PEEK Titanium Diaphragm)
- Frequency response: 10-22000Hz
- Sensitivity: 115dB/mW
- Impedance: 45Ω
- Distortion Ratio: <0.1% @1kHz
- Jack connector: 3.5mm
- Capsule connection type: MMCX
- Cable size: 1.2m
The Smabat ST-10 comes in a 161x102x39mm box. It is practically black and its surface has a roughy texture formed by dots. It’s wrapped in cellophane. In the center, in gold color, is the logo and the brand. On the back, on a sticker attached at the bottom, are written the specifications and data of the brand.
After opening the box, you can see the capsules embedded in a black foam mold, which protects them and a simile leather bag, with the logo inscribed in its center. After removing the bag and a foam plate, silicone tips, foam tips and cable appear. Once the cable is removed, there is an instruction booklet.
In short, it contains:
- 1 pair of plastic tips
- 2 pairs of foam tips
- 1 Cable
- Leather simile bag
The packaging is somewhat different from the classic earbuds, the typical is a semi-rigid box with zipper and a bag with foams. However, I prefer this case to the leather bag that comes with the Smabat, basically because it is more practical, as the level of protection is higher. On the other hand, it is strange that there are some silicone tips, the use of which is quite unhelpful.
Construction and Design
It could be said that the design of the ST-10 is unique, but it is not, the old Svara models were almost the same. The earbuds are formed by two capsules joined by a relatively thick central axis. In the back capsule is the acoustic cavity. In the front capsule is the driver. Smabat points out that they use a titanium diaphragm, a patented labyrinth-shaped aluminium acoustic cavity and an advanced acoustic and ergonomic design. This labyrinth makes the lower zone higher quality and the mids and treble are more comfortable. In this external part, there is a large bass port, protected by a grille. If it covers you, the bass almost disappears. In the capsule there are some holes that help to make the scene more natural and enrich the details. In addition, the ST-10 use MMCX connection. Thus, it seems that the revolution of removable cables has reached the earbuds to stay, as more and more models are using this type of connection.
Practically all the capsules are made of aluminium and the only visible part of plastic is the outer crown that joins the metal grid through which the sound comes out, with the capsule.
The rear capsule is covered by a green aluminium plate, folded in a U-shape. On the outside is inscribed «smabat» with white letters and on the back, «ST-10» and a white circle with the letter of each side inside.
The removable MMXC cable is covered with braided textile up to the divider. It is then covered with thin, flexible black plastic. The connector is a green cylinder with «smabat» inscribed in white. The divider is another cylinder with «ST-10» inscribed in the same way. There is a silver ring for the adjustment under the chin, but its inner hole is very large, so that the cables slide too easily into it. In this way, the pin does not perform its function properly. The cable, in its area close to the MMCX connectors, has a rigid plastic coating that shapes it for use over the ear.
The construction and the design are remarkable. Every piece itself has a unique but very functional shape. The quality of the finishes and materials used is of the same level. The cable is somewhat simpler, the construction is straightforward, but the use of the MMCX connection allows the use of better cables than the original, so it is very susceptible to being quickly replaced by a superior one.
On the negative side, there have been cases where the MMCX connector of some capsules has caused problems, since after the disconnection of the cables, the small internal parts that it connects with the central pin, have suffered damage. In my case, to make this review I used the original cable, so once put the cable I did not disconnect it again. But it seems that they were only initial units, which the brand itself has been replacing, creating a good feeling in its after-sales service.
The driver used is 15.4mm, the impedance is 45Ω and the sensitivity is 115dB. On paper, the impedance is medium, but their high sensitivity makes them move moderately well.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
The design is ingenious enough for the ST-10 to be used with removable MMCX cable and over the ear, in addition to preserving great comfort, ease of adjustment, support and ergonomics. In this sense, the whole set becomes one of the best earbuds I have ever tried. Nothing more to add in this section.
The Smabat ST-10 offer a balanced profile, have enough depth, warmth in the voices/mids and a spark point above.
The main virtue of the lower zone is the depth above the presence. Thus, the sub-bass, is perceived more easily, but maintaining the balance with respect to the rest of the low zone and also with the rest of the spectrum, where it does not excel in intensity. The bass hit is quite full and overall, clean and moderately fast, does not muddy the midranges. Its texture is quite flat and smooth, no outstanding humps are appreciated. The result is a very musical, deep, pleasant, unforced, well-executed low zone, with a good dose of precision and a balanced but clearly identifiable overall quantity. But don’t expect the ST-10 bass to be prominent, I insist, good extension, good depth, linear and no loss, but balanced in gain.
Depending on the source, the ST-10 can offer a midrange with a certain degree of warmth, without clouding the sound more than necessary. The voices are maintained with a good presence, without showing nasal or muddy, but soft and pleasantly modulated towards the sweet side. However, there is a bright spark point in them, as well as in the rest of the mids. An ambivalent look that provides vivacity and depth, detail and amplitude, a flash at half light. The mids don’t reproduce completely clean, despite the good level of definition and that’s quite common in earbuds. However, the tonality is quite natural, both in voices and in instruments, even with a slight hiss that does not become sibilance.
The treble starts climbing towards a peak, that spark typical in many earbuds, which then its particular shape ends up moulding or exalting. In this case, this light flash shakes quite freely. Beyond, everything returns to its course, but even giving a slight upturn in the audible limit for some. The direct translation is clear, these first highs are lively, marked and even vibrant, sharper than soft. Their incidence in the midrange translates, as I said before, into a hissing, rather than a wheezing. But it can be filed using some combination of complete foams. In this case, I’d rather «suffer» the consequences of donut-type foams than lose that point of air and definition that the trebles bring to the whole.
The ST-10 give off a pleasant feeling of depth, providing an oval scene, somewhat smaller in width, but with a good dose of height. The sensation of three-dimensionality is reinforced with the greater range of the subwoofer backed by its design. The instrumental recreation is detailed, has good separation, but there is a moss patina that coheres the sound, which also gives sufficient elasticity for it to flow without dispersing, guided to the melody, without outbursts, soft but lively in the near extremes. This sensation causes these earbuds to be able to provide a sound with a fullness close to the level provided by the IEMs.
The Ti7s are as unique in design as the ST-10s and have in common that both have twin brothers in shape. In sound they may have some similarity in the presentation of the same, because both bet on balance, showing more neutral Ti7. Meanwhile, the ST-10 are more compensated and extend more at the ends, offering greater presence of bass and, above all, sub-bass. In treble they also provide more brightness, sparkle and brio, the Ti7 being more restrained. But the Ti7 are unbeatable in the central zone, there is nothing that can obscure them: they have greater clarity, a more detailed sound even, gaining also in micro detail and definition, showing a more analytical profile, in front of the warmth and depth of the ST-10. The scene is wider on the Ti7 but flatter, while the ST-10 show off their greater depth to recreate an oval and diverse scene.
Ty hi-z HP-150s MKII
The Ty are classic earbuds of MX500 capsule and 150Ω impedance. Of course, they require more energy to be moved. The classic capsule offers more punch in bass and in the case of the HP-150s, it destroys in the presence of the ST-10, even in depth and sub bass. However, Smabat offers a bass response with better texture, color and definition, sounding more dynamic in front of the more bloated and slower sound of their lower Ty zone. In mids, the hi-z are a roller coaster, as can be seen in their graphics, they feel the same way: close sounds alternate with more distant ones, presenting hollows, unequal and sometimes incoherent mids. However, with the ST-10 the opposite happens, the mids continue to be guided by that invisible thread that unifies them with the rest of the frequencies, showing their good tonal balance, without losing that warm face. The high zone of the ST-10 is more shameless and sparkling than in the Ty, offering more brightness, light and air. The HP-150s have trebles that feel limited and smoothed almost in a forced way, contributing to denaturalize the sound even more.
The scene in the Ty goes accordingly to its sound, some depth thanks to its low area and mid width, but with a reduced stage, narrower and frontal, with a sense of distance in some musical passages, which contribute negatively to build a realistic stage. In the ST-10 none of this happens, being able to enter between the scene and to cross it in depth and in width, distinguishing details and different points of view.
The Smabat ST-10, at last! They’re earbuds with an IEM soul. I’m sure that’s a very personal statement, perhaps inexperienced, because I don’t own high-end earbuds. But this gives even more value to the quality/price ratio of the ST-10. These greens have achieved a quite full and immersive musical sensation, conjugating a contained, deep, but very descriptive low zone, a sweet and warm, present and coherent mids, and a sparkling and vivid treble. But the ST-10 are not just a sum of frequency bands, but have a design that, although already seen, reveals a true differential potential with the rest of plastic capsules, which are so abundant in earbuds. And, once again, this boldness in its forms translates into a qualitative leap that contributes to generating a sound full of nuances, shapes and three-dimensionality, which flows like liquid in a realistic and passable scene.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Burson Audio Playmate
- F.Audio S1
- QNGEE X2
- Zishan Z2-Z3