-excellent technical performance
-excellent attack speed and timing
-very extended and crisp treble
-vividly dynamic DF neutral tuning
-good transparency and layering
-richly textured timbre
-over the top packaging-accessories
-niche tonality that will be too clinical for some
-important pina gain that can create fatigue
-slight timbral imbalance that scoop or boost texture part
-sub bass roll off
-imprevisible bass performance
-lean thin mids (apart lower and upper mids)
-can be fatiguing at medium high volume
-not the most cohesive or natural tonality
-treble can be distracting with micro details
-metal mirror finish=finger print magnet and easy to scratch
-i would have prefer more ear tips choice than a lunch box
SOUND VALUE: 8.5/10
Sonic Memory is a rather mysterious chinese audio company, perhaps connected loosely to NFaudio since they include a carrying case made from them. It’s hard to tell but one thing certain, they are connected to Widing audio engineer, specialize in electroacoustic. The founder of Widing designed acoustic cavity as well as dynamic driver of the SM2, the IEM I will review today.
Priced 240$, the SM2 is a single 10mm dynamic driver with pristine construction and acoustic design, but will it deliver superior performance than cheaper single DD IEM? Let see in this review if sound benefit is consequent.
Cavity Material: 7000 series aluminum alloy
Faceplate Material: 316 stainless steel
Weight: ≈18g (cable excluded)
Driver: 10mm Dynamic Driver
Driver Model: WDCN-100GS
Frequency Response: 10Hz-30KHz
Active Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
Impedence: 16Ω at 1KHz
THD: <0.1 at 1KHz
Rated Power: 20mW
Max Input Power: 50mW
Connector Type: sunken-type 0.78mm
Cable Material: 5+6N OCC
The construction is excellent and a statement of craftmanship effort both in elegance, durability and acoustic seriousness.
It’s made of high quality alluminium alloy with 316 stainless steel back plate. In hand, it have weight to it and seem very sturdy, yet, the mirror finish is unfortunately a finger magnet as well as prompt to easy mini scratching. If the whole body was made from 7000 serie alluminium alloy use for cavity, it would have been way less easy to scratch it.
Nonetheless, quality of construction material is top notch, and it can be seen in detail like recessed 2.pin connector that promise solid and secure connectivity and durability. Or the top of nozzle that can be unscrew to change filters and perhaps even play with moding possibilities.
In the other hand, the cable while not exactly bad, have a very tigh curved ear hook that is problematic for me. Its made of kevlar, very light OCC cable.
But thats just one accessories among an invasion, since the Sonic Memory packaging is like no other in chifi world and beyond!
It come in a big black square box and this is what you get inside:
Let say it was surprising, especially when the first thing opening first box is:
And then you wonder…..did I order IEM or something else? You begin to panic a little and open everything to get this:
In fact, there even a music CD included. It’s that much over the top. Yes, you have 2 lunch box as well as a strap (not showed here) to hold them togheter and bring your sishimi or wtv you eat with baguette. In fact, i find this very quite and rewarding for an unboxing experience. As seen, it’s not a joke but very serious. It even include extra nozzle filters and a nice NFaudio magnetic protective case. The presentation is elegant, yet with all these ”gifts” i would have expect more than 6 pairs of silicone eartips.
All in all, Sonic Memory really put it all in packaging and it was a rather unique and fun experience!
The SM2 offer a bright neutral signature with a vivid treble emphasis and technical sound presentation. We can say it’s a DF neutral tuning, to put in same bucket than Moondrop SSR or Etymotic ER4. It’s serious tuning with just enough punch in mid bass to keep things thumpy enough. This is the type of sound that magnify sens of clarity, speed in attact and have energic lower treble. Pina gain of vocal can go quite high too, for those sensible to that high pitch instrument or female vocal energy this might feel too loud some time.
Sens of dynamic amplitude is lively W shape, bass thump can hit hard enough even if not super bodied, mids presence can jump at you, even if not very thick in timbre, treble is both vivid and brilliant yet a bit softed in edge so it’s more abrasive in texture than sharply snappy.
These are the kind of IEM that can extract micro details from the dust, and deliver them in ultra high resolution. They tend to boost texture of instrument over body too, like cello or violin tending to be greatly resolved in texture details.
The bass is very surprising, even imprevisible in its pressure loudness making some bassy track lacking slam and rumble and other very hefty in kick drum. It seem to have a sudden sub bass roll off that either add resonance to kick or tom hit, amplify a part of acoustic bass into a boom or make less loud bass line very distant, dry and lean, even hard to perceive in middle of a jazz trio if piano and percussions are more fowards. Overall bass is barely boosted, about as bassy as HZsound Mirror that have 5db boost I think, so it’s not completely lean but sure a bit lacking in weight and impact. This doesn’t work with electronic and trap rap, nor with dub, drum and bass etc, rock with textured electric bass will work, classical, folk and jazz too yet while quality is there, the SM2 are far from being master of bass flexibility and natural extension to my ears. Their a peculiar mix of resonance and dryness between mid bass and sub extension. Yet, quality is there, especially in attack speed,which can go extremely fast with complex drum hit, keeping a clear definition it’s their no overly energic toms. Texture can be magnificent, very rich and hyper realist, so you got good electric bass line grip and presence. Let say you see the bass more than you feel it physicaly.
Mid range is hit or miss depending of what you seek in sound scape. It very clear, crisp and detailed, yet timbre is a bit thin and between bright and dry. As well, their important upper mids boost, a well rounded one that tend to blunt sibilance but boost loudness of femae vocal to near fatiguing level for me. This make female vocal jump at you, but not all type of vocal, in fact, their timbral balance issue here since Arianna Savall is a soprano that deliver very high pitch vocal and it’s half cook here, with harmonic unbalance that make here feel distant in presence yet louder in higher harmonic, so it seem breathy female vocal are better rounded which include male vocal. Perhaps these are less in your face, but its good because Arianna Savall go trebly and i’m unable to use SM2 to enjoy her magnificent music. This mean we have good amount of lower treble too, this benefit some drum instrument as well as male vocal to the cost of blunted edge of toms too. Saxophone and piano suffer from lean mid range part. Again, resolution of mid range is great, separation too, tone is realist and well textured and transparency is admirable, but it lack a sens of fullness and cohesion, it’s a bit clinical with lean dynamic and light note weight until upper mid lift, where everything wake up, for the better and the worst.
The treble is star of the show here, making me call the SM2 treble centric some time since most of the time it’s really what hook your attention and feel most energic part of the sound. This is superior treble that can extract very high amount of sound info, even pass 15khz it will boost micro details that perhaps wasn’t even plan to be that much present. This make the highs very captivating and rewarding in critical listening session, it add sens of brilliance and sparkle too, as well as extra layer of nuance in texture for high pitch instrument or percussions. Percussions can sure create wow effect too, delivering speedy timing with crisp separation, making you not missing any part of it. The highs add air too, but doesn’t feel very full or crunchy, while timbre have good texture, their a slight metallic sheen in upper highs to it too due to magnify brilliance that add treble sizzle. Still, most problematic part will be lower treble boost that boost loudness too much. But SM2 is a technical champion and could only compare with IEM above 200$ in term of effortless resolution, full extension above 15khz and crazy attack speed and control. In fact, pass 8khz, it feel like SM2 use a electrostatic driver since snap and brilliance and micro definition is at the same time sharp and delicate, showing their no struggle with the dynamic driver to extract micro details whole delivering other part of treble sound info. It’s very clean too, and will be transparent to audio source you use. This mean the SM2 scale up with DAC-AMP or DAP you use, more detailed it is, more refined will be the result, but a bad recording with noisy background will be truely restitute too. For this review i use my reference DAP, the Tempotec V6, and SMSL SU9+SH9 reference stack, both very clean sounding and very detailed, with something like Xduoo Link2 Bal, attack edge feel more blunted or distorted, and this isn’t coming from SM2 but the dongle itself.
Soundstage wise, it isn’t widest or tallest spatiality and more about deep circular presentation surrounding your head. Nothing very impressive here.
In the other hand, imaging is very impressive. We have good layering due to timbre transparency and transient speed, separation is well define but not very spacious. As well, highs pitch instrument seem more precise and accurate in separation, cleaner, less tamed in dynamic amplitude than mids instrument.
VS AUNE JASPER
These 2 have similar but DF neutral tonality, but the Jasper is smoother and more cohesive as a whole, it sound more open and airy and less sharp in treble. More organic and natural in timbre, so not timbral imbalance occur like SM2. Bass is a bit more U shape, it deliver more rumble and have again more natural tone for bass line or cello. Mids is where the Jasper musicality is more appealing, it’s smoother and fuller, piano note weight are heavier and more dynamic, simply put, it’s better rounded and hint warmer, so less boosted in texture and bite too, which mean a bit less bright.
Treble is less edgy and analytical with the Jasper even if it can dig as much sound info, you don’t feel their bonus texture details or micro details that are out of place. Jasper is more natural in sparkle resonance too, less crisp with dry end.
All in all, Jasper is marginaly superior in technical performance, but tonal balance is notably superior, more natural and less fatiguing.
VS NFAUDIO NM2+
The NM2+ is warmer and more V shape, whith notably inferior resolution and technical performance.
NM2+ have more boosted mid bass, pack bigger punch with inferior definition and separation. It have more slam and rumble and is overall better rounded even if more grainy-fuzzy in texture and less good in sub bass and mid bass separation. Mids are thicker, less lean and cold, warmer in resolution but more natural in timbre. Their no wonky timbral imbalance like with SM2, it have more note weight and upper mids are less shouty. Treble is more crunchy and bodied, yet way less sparkly, snappy and extended, its notably less clean and airy too and level of micro details are very underwhelming compared to SM2. Its bright highs vs crisp high here, with inferior attack edge and control compared to more technical SM2. Imaging is sub par compared to SM2, while soundstage is wider but notably less deep and clean.
All in all, tone and timbre is more euphonic and full sounding with NM2+, but technical performance is comparable to sub-100$ average IEM, while SM2 beat them all in this range.
I’m extremely impress by the high level of technical performance as well as mature tuning coming from first IEM of this ”new” audio company.
The Sonic Memory SM2 isn’t an average sounding single dynamic IEM among other and sure stand apart in term of resolution, transparency and attacks speed.
The fact it choose to go with a DF neutral tonality and add extra sens of air and crispness to it make this both niche and unique sounding, with an highly fascinating musicality that magnify sens of clarity to its paroxysm.
Sure, basshead or audio enthusiast favorising warm or thick musicality will not like the SM2 vividly resolved tonality, nor mid centric lover seeking for natural and lush vocal, but this doesn’t mean it innacessible cold neutral neither.
Simply put, the Sonic Memory SM2 is among best single DD IEM ive ever test in term of plain technical performance, should it be about low harmonic distortion and THD, clean high fidelity resolution, attack speed that keep its crisp pace in ultra busy and demanding tracks, it would perhaps represent the logical upgrade for fans of HZsound Mirror, yes its that good. But tonality wise, it’s severe and bordeline clinical, so this is where it affect its versatility of use and sens of appeal for those prefering musical balance over technical prowess.
PS: I wanna thanks Pickup Audio Store for sending me this review sample. I’m not affiliated nor receive any money compensation for this honest review. As always, it’s unbiased and independant minded.
You can order the Sonic Memory SM2 for 240$ here: https://www.aliexpress.com/store/1102153019?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.49ff5a9eKLcD79