The EM5813 earpiece housings are machined from solid brass, polished, and then treated to a gleaming copperplate finish. The earpieces sport tiny rear-firing vents and feature very thick sidewalls, meaning they provide an unusually rigid and stable mounting platform for the drivers within. The drivers are 11.45mm dynamic units that feature extremely powerful neodymium magnets and diaphragms made of a distinctive, PEN (polyethylene napthalate) thin-film material.
Even the smallest of internal design details came in for close scrutiny as Cardas carefully chose specific metal alloys for use in the driver’s yoke frame and for a washer-like spacer used inside the driver motor to better control internal magnetic fields. Finally, Cardas specified special thin-walled, dual-flange ear tips for the EM5813—offering these ear tips in both vented and non-vented forms. My point is that every aspect of the Ear Speaker’s design was weighed and chosen with care—always with an eye toward maximizing technical performance and perceived sound quality.
The EM5813 comes with a minimalist set of accessories: two pairs of identically-sized, color-coded ear tips (one set vented and the other non-vented); a set of permanently attached Cardas Clear Light Headphone Cables fitted with a garment clip and serial number tag, a cleaning tool, and a leather clasp-type carrying pouch.
What’s up with the idea of providing just one size of ear tips? Cardas worked very hard to create what it intended as virtual “one-size-fits-all” ear tips, but offering those tips in vented and non-vented formats to give listeners some ability to adjust perceived earphone voicing to suit personal preferences. Now that several batches of Ear Speakers have shipped and owner feedback has been gathered, Cardas says its dual-flange ear tips work well for about 90% of prospective buyers, though they have seen some demand for both larger and smaller sets of the tips.
(Late-breaking news: As this review was being finished, we learned Cardas had finalized arrangements to produce its ear tips in three sizes (S, M, and L)—a decision we applaud. This change may already have take effect by the time you read this, but if not Cardas’ Andy Regan says that, if current Ear Speaker owners will register their earphones at www.cardas.com, the firm will happily send those customers updated accessories kits.)
Having taken a brief look at the Ear Speaker’s basic configuration and construction, let’s now direct our attention to the question that surely matters most: How does the Cardas Ear Speaker sound? To be perfectly candid, I found the Ear Speaker difficult to characterize, partly because it does not sound like many of the other earphones I have heard and reviewed (it is for the most part different in a good way), but partly because its sound is intensely dependent upon fit (more so than is the case with some competing earphones).