All listening was done with my AK70 from the SE out. Both the E4000 and E5000 seem like very power-hungry IEMs and a good source will make a big difference in how well they sound. When driven by a less powerful source they will sound a little thin and less impressive, but both IEMs come alive when given more power, especially the E5000.
The E4000 have a somewhat U-shaped signature that is tilted a little more towards the treble to give a somewhat brighter, more sparkly, tone in comparison to the E5000, which have a little more emphasis towards the sub-bass. Interestingly I find that the E4000 have a slightly more natural tonality compared to the E5000. Both have quite a nice and natural tone in general, but the E4000 have a slightly looser mid-bass that gives midrange instruments such as woodwinds a little more natural sound. Other instruments such as the cello too, feel just a little more naturally resonant. The E4000 have fun and energetic signature that is a little less impactful than the E5000, but has a little more sparkle. It is still an unapologetically fun signature with plenty of impact. Feed them classical music and it sounds “nice”… Feed them Walk the Moon’s ‘Headphones’ and suddenly the E4000 come alive and it all starts to make a lot more sense. As the lyrics state “you can learn a lot from a good pair of headphones” and in this case it is that a toe tapping and booty shaking sound does not have to cost a kidney.
Much like the E5000 the E4000 have a very wide and tall stage, lacking some depth, but not needing it either. Separation is excellent, as is clarity, although resolution is much less impressive. These are IEMs that offer a lot of fun for little money and the resolution is not really something that is missed because the signature is wonderfully balanced for its purpose and perfectly coherent. Vocals are a little further back and felt they lacked density when compared to the E5000, which I also felt were not the strongest vocals, but the clarity in both cases ensured that vocals still came through cleanly.
As said, the bass is a naturally resonant bass with a very enjoyable impact to it. It does not reach deep, but does give a fullness that works well with a track like Massive Attack’s ‘Angel’, where the bass is warm and thick. It does lack a little bit in sub-bass depth, especially compared to the E5000, but considering the price it is still good. Better than good, and crucial to the fun and exciting sound, is the impact of the bass within the signature as a whole. This is energetic and really sets the pace well, which is why the E4000 offer such great toe-tapping signature, well complimented by the sparkly treble.
The bass is a little loose, which provides warmth for the mid-range and helps instruments such as the cello sound more naturally resonant. While listening to Bach’s cello concertos I was really enjoying this. It is not the most detailed and I did not get the texture of the strings all that well, but that is probably mainly because I am so used to much more expensive IEMs. Again, at this price point I find it very hard to fault the E4000.
As indicated in the bass section, the mids have a little bit of added warmth to them that I personally consider to be very natural sounding. In my opinion (that not everyone might agree with) I feel this helps instruments such as woodwinds to sound fuller and more realistic. They become more easily discernable within the presentation of classical symphonies, further helped by the E4000’s excellent separation. This is also part of the reason why I feel the E4000 work well for acoustic music, better in fact than the E5000 in terms of relative strengths.
Vocals are very good. They are not the strongest vocals and occasionally can sound a little on the thin side for my taste, but there again that might have to do with the IEMs I am used to listening to on a daily basis. Vocals are certainly very clear and never get overwhelmed by accompanying instruments. I think that for anyone who is on a budget and a vocal music lover, the E4000 are definitely worth a demo. Combined with the excellent performance for acoustic music I can really enjoy Caro Emerald’s Acoustic Sessions where strings come through very well, a thick double bass in the background and clearly in front that lovely voice.
The treble of the E4000 can be summed up as nice and sparkly. There is a lift in the lower treble to help with the clarity and detail retrieval, but nowhere have I found issues with sibilance. It is just a very enjoyable sparkle that compliments the bass section really well to create the exciting and very well done U-shaped signature. Cymbals sit well within the image. They can be clearly heard, but never sound as if they are being unduly emphasised. The sparkle and add to the excitement, but remain polite and inoffensive background instruments.
The treble also helps with the strings, providing a lovely bit of bite for Paganini’s violin and when listening to an acoustic performance of the Foo Fighters guitars sound very nice. I do have to keep reminding myself that these are not the much more expensive IEMs I normally use, as everything sounds really pleasant and well balanced. It can be improved upon, but at this price point that will be a real challenge.
The E5000 have a somewhat U-shaped signature with a little more emphasis towards the sub-bass to give a warm and smooth signature with a surprising amount of impact. By comparison the U-shape of E4000 is tilted a little more towards the treble to give a somewhat brighter tone (by comparison, not bright as such). The E5000 have a well-balanced signature that is lively, very coherent and wonderfully smooth. The stage is wide, very wide at this price point, tall, but not very deep. Thanks to the width and height, separation is incredibly good. I like torturing IEMs I review with classical symphonies, as those are technically demanding because of all the instruments, the layering and the different tones of instruments. While the E5000 are not ideal for classical music, they do an incredibly good job of presenting the performance. The layering is really quite good thanks to the excellent separation and it is further improved by a still quite natural tonality, especially with mid-range instruments such as woodwinds. It is not a perfectly balanced image with some emphasis on the bass section thanks to a very energetic bass, and strings are a little accentuated, though as a lover of violins I can’t really complain about that.
The real strength of the E5000 is in presenting an energetic sound that feels balanced just right for more popular types of music. When I fed them Imagine Dragons’ ‘Yesterday’ as one of the first songs I listened to, the slam and energy really impressed me. These are fun IEMs to listen to. Not IEMs with a high resolution and tons of detail, they are not all that impressive in those aspects, but that is immediately forgotten because of the energy with which they present the music. While the resolution might not be all that impressive, I was actually quite impressed by their clarity. Vocals sit a little further back than I would like and are perhaps lacking a little in density (I am a “vocalholic”, so take it as such), but they are very clearly defined.
The E5000 have an amazing bass that can hit surprisingly hard. I mean, the first time I heard them I went “WTF?!” and yanked them out of my ears to re-confirm their diminutive size because they sounded flipping huge. Oh my, did Imagine Dragons’ “Yesterday” sound good! The bass hits so hard, can really rumble and has just the right amount of emphasis that the rest of the signature remains squeaky clean and clear. The tightness of the bass does mean less warmth is added to mid-range than I think is needed for it to sound entirely natural (in the same sense as the E4000), but that is soon forgotten once you start listening to pop music or metal or anything really with a sense of pace and energy.
While I do find that the bass is not quite natural and a cello sounds like it is lacking the resonance I like while listening to the E4000, the bass does have more air and detail in it. It is articulate and more so than with the E4000 dictates the rhythm and pace to really engage the listener. I never get tired of it and every time I return to the E5000 after listening to other (much more expensive) IEMs I still get that WTF-moment when the bass kicks in. Thoroughly engaging!
The mids are a little less far back than with the E4000, giving the E5000 a slightly more linear signature, although still U-shaped and far from flat. Thanks to the tighter bass mid-range clarity is excellent and it really impresses me how clear and detailed everything sounds without forcing the detail forward. It has a certain natural smoothness to it that means classical music is not among the E5000’s strong points, but that again is soon forgotten because it just sounds “right”. I can still happily listen to classical music and forget about trying to pick up every little detail and simply enjoy the flow of the music.
Vocals are a very good and feel a stronger than with the E4000. Vocals always come through very clearly and smoothly without a notable bias for male or female vocals. I love listening to vocal music with these and even though I think the E4000 do relatively better with acoustic music, I still end up preferring to listen to Caro Emerald’s Acoustic Sessions with the E5000 because of the quality of the vocals. It just sounds so lovely and smooth and clear and… am I really listing to IEMs costing £219?! It is not quite “budget”, but the E5000 sound gorgeous for the price.
The treble of the E5000 is more linear than with the E4000 and relatively speaking slightly attenuated, and that is a good thing. The E5000 don’t need much of a lift due to the tighter bass and the result is a very natural sounding and pleasantly sparkling treble. It is less articulate and blends in a bit better within the image to give a more natural feel to instruments such as cymbals. It means the overall signature is less focused on details and to my ears has better coherency, something that I find back in the presentation of metal music such as Disturbed’s ‘Mine’. It sounds raw and energetic without the cymbals sparking with the sharpness of the E4000 (not that the E4000 sound that sharp, just by comparison). Cymbals sound more complete, like they are given more time to resonate properly.
The treble is, as can be expected, very smooth and never offensive or sibilant in any way. I personally prefer my treble this way and it makes for a comfortable and fatigue free listening experience.