The mature one
<< The bass of the EST12 is really great. I'm talking about the neutral setting (000), as well as the bass-emphasized combinations (010, 011 etc.). You can squeeze up to 6 dB more out of the bass and still it doesn't tend to overdrive. The bass has a satisfactory depth, even if it doesn't reach the pressure found with a SHURE SE846, but is in no way inferior in quality. Fast, dry, detailed and textured. And it can also turn up the heat when it's needed, especially when you pull the lever. It's a pity, however, that there is no confioguration where only the sub-bass is emphasized, but instead the whole bass range gets a proper boost. Nevertheless, I evaluate the bass tuning of the basic setting and here it presents itself well balanced, to the point and naturally, as one is used to from reference earphones, without excessive testosterone. Nothing for bassheads, but for the lovers of fine bass nuances.
The mids are extremely detailed, but also a bit tricky. In and of itself they are of the warmer type, sound mostly natural, but sometimes a bit tough and somehow slightly tonal off track. The impression is rather subjective, as the mids, with their smooth nature, don't emphasize a few things as separated and sharply as one is used to from the VG4, for example. Concerned are for example electric guitars, which lack a bit of power and freshness. Voices step out of the mix and are presented with a natural timbre. Rarely, however, male voices can sound a bit more distanced and not quite so lively. Women have a slight advantage here. With the mids you can play properly and depending on the switch setting, the signature can be shaped from warm/neutral, to classic V, light W, up to the bass-dominant L-signature. Of course, this has a strong effect on the midrange presentation. Nevertheless, I notice that the mids have a lot of quality, but for my taste they still deliver the "weakest" performance in the trio, but still on a very high level. No matter which setting you choose, you can't rob the mids of their warmth and softness, which is why rock music, for example, sometimes doesn't sound crisp enough for me, so that some elements are felt to be swallowed, even if they are present when listening closer. The mellowness of the mids takes some getting used to, but in the end they know how to convince me. But I can also understand if someone can't do anything with them and if the mids are too dull and/or lifeless.
Like the mids, the highs are very experimental and adaptable. On the one hand, the high frequencies can be influenced with the 1st and 3rd switch, although actually all settings are indirectly influenced by changing the weighting. However, this is most noticeable with the 3rd switch. Out-Of-The-Box the trebles sound wonderfully transparent and also bring an airiness that not only opens the stage horizontally but also opens up a wide space in width. Compared to the VG4, the trebles are a bit more secure and relaxed, although they have more presence in the lower high frequencies of the EST12, but roll off a bit earlier. This makes the VG4 sound slightly more defined, but the EST12, despite its lightness, brings more content across without kneading. Easiness, or relaxation is also the keyword here, because without using the 3rd switch, I have almost no problems with sibilants, or unpleasant stinging etc., which also improves the audibility. Sometimes the ES12 is too well-behaved in the high frequencies and I have to be a bit more careful not to miss anything. <<
Full review: https://en.chi-fiear.com/premium/BGVP/EST12