Binaural microphones have been around for perhaps decades. However, most of them require the use of a dummy head and some extra accessories, which make them bulky, expensive and not really accessible to the public. That is, until recently, when audio companies started to introduce a minimalistic (and dare I say, fashionable)binaural microphone at a surprisingly reasonable price. One of them is Roland, who releases CS-10EM, a microphone that performs well over its price tag.
(this review is written with excessive care to avoid any errors, however, there might still be some appearing due to human error)
This is a binaural microphone which is meant to be used in a dummy head or with user’s own ears. As it is shaped like any normal earphones, it is worn like one. The CS-10EM has two connectors, red and black, at the end which is to be plugged into the mic and headphone port respectively.
Let’s start off with the contents, shall we, as Roland has provided us with some basic accessories. They include a pouch bag and two different earbuds for different fits. These are pretty barebones but with its current price, they are pretty good. Otherwise, there’s nothing much to be said here, other than you got what you pay for. With that said, the box does look decent and attractive from the outside.
Ahhh yes, this is probably where Roland starts to impress me. Right out of the box, the silver-plated earphones shine in the light. From its design, it looks like an earphone from a different price range, beating others that are 100 bucks more. When I touch it, it feels premium and durable, truly a fine work from a reputable audio company such as Roland. The same goes for the cable and the connectors, they are pretty decent and does not seem to break easily(unless it’s forcefully pulled).
Wearing it is actually pretty comfortable provided you installed the right fit, which applies to all earphones.Also, it is quite light and subtle that you may sometimes forget it’s there while recording, though it’s by no means the lightest or the subtlest. However, the first time I tried to wear it, I needed to push them a bit harder to get a good fit several times. It was only after a few tries that I got it right. (let’s hope it’s just because I’m clumsy or unlucky :p)
After the impressive build quality, we are brought to the most important part: Sound Quality. But in this case, the recording quality has to be equally evaluated as it acts as an earphone too. Let’s start off with the Sound.
And…WOW! The sound quality is actually pretty good. The way it works is you can hear what is being recorded in REAL-TIME. Some may say that it will affect the microphone which is placed right outside the silver painted back, but when I played back the recording, it actually does very minimal disturbance. You hear what you record, short and simple function, but works well to semi-monitor your recording session. However, take note that this means your ears may be harmed by sudden loud sound in the surrounding, as the earphone just plays back recorded sound AS IS.
The Recording Quality is……..GOOD! Especially when it’s paired with the right recording devices. It has a low wind-noise with minimal distortion and can be used for semi-professional production. Compared to other higher priced product, it lacks the depth and amplitude, but for its price range, they are Fantastic! This also means that the effect of binaural audio is surprisingly convincing. And they can be done without much editing in post-production, as they are pretty good in the original recording themselves.
Below is the official specs from Roland Website.
Check out some of my own recordings below to test it out (wear headphone or earphone)
Best Product to pair with
I have only tried it with the Roland R-05, which pairs very well with ES-10EM. Perhaps because it was made by the same company that they work together perfectly. If any other users have tried it out with other recording devices, do post your thoughts and mini-review in the comment section :D.
Take note that this earphone requires some external power from the 3.5mm plug that is usually found in some recording devices. From my memory, not all of them possess this feature such as Zoom H1. So, before buying it, do check out whether your recording devices provide such power.