Alclair’s new ESM Electrostatic IEMs feature an incredible thirteen drivers and cost an eye-watering $2500! Can a pair of in-ear monitors really be worth that much money – and why would you need thirteen drivers in your ears?
Alclair ESM Electrostatic IEMs
You may be asking yourself, “What the heck are Electrostatic IEMs?” Electrostatic drivers are nothing new and have been loved by Audiophiles since the 1950s. However, it’s only recently that you might have seen electrostatic technology used in headphones. So what’s electrostatic technology all about, and why should you care? Well, here comes the science!
Most speakers, headphones or IEMs use a moving coil type driver which has the advantage of durability and cost. It should be noted though that the mass and weight of a moving coil driver has some downsides! Any moving part carries inertia and that can have an impact on transient response and the overall transparency of sound.
Alternatively, Electrostatic drivers work on the principle of a charged film between two perforated metal plates. The film is so light and thin it can respond very quickly to transients. If you’re thinking to yourself “that sounds like a condenser microphone”, well you’d be right. It’s effectively the same principle in reverse and brings with it the same benefits and disadvantages!
The Electrostatic Revolution?
If you’re a regular reader of Gearnews (and we hope you are!) you might remember last year we predicted a new wave of Electrostatic IEMs hitting the market. Shure had begun marketing its KSE 1500 Electrostatic Earphone System towards live users. Now Alclair is targeting the same, high-end live users with the Alclair ESM Electrostatic IEMs.
Differing from Shure’s single driver system, however, the Alclair ESM Electrostatic IEMs uses thirteen drivers and a hybrid of technologies. Balanced armature drivers cover the low and mid-range frequencies with a single armature driver for HF. The Alclair design reserves the four electrostatic drivers purely to emphasise HF detail and clarity.
Undoubtedly it’s one of the most complex and indulgent IEM designs we’ve ever seen, hear at Gearnews. Importantly though, if they sound as good as they claim, there will be those for whom the $2500 price tag is justifiable.