Scosche IEM856m Earphones: This is a Different Beast, And it Roars Like a Lion [Review]



Let’s get two big facts out the way right now: Yes, these Scosche IEM856m canalphones ($250) look a little like several of the canalphones in Monster’s lineup (eg. the Beats Tour), mostly because of the flat, ribbon-like cable; no, they’re not anything like any of the Monster earphones they somewhat resemble. In fact, one big detail makes them very different from almost any other IEM on the market.

The Good:

Here’s what sets these earphones apart. Most earphones use dynamic moving-coil drivers to move air. Some companies, like Etymotic and Ultimate Ears, instead tend to favor balanced armatures (especially on their more expensive models), which generally provide a cleaner, more accurate sound — though they also often tend to have less bass oomph. It’s not that they lack bass, it’s just that the bass is usually mellowed out.

The IEM856 on the other hand, is a hybrid — it has one of each type of speaker in each ear: a (very large) moving coil for bass, and a balanced armature for clear mids and highs.

And it works. The sound from these guys is really very good. Bass is much more oomphy — though not quite as smooth — compared to almost any armature-equipped IEM I’ve ever tried (save for the $1000-plus JH Audio JH 16 Pros), but retains the clear, smooth mids and highs one would expect from a balanced armature. All of the good, none of the bad. It’s really a significantly different sound experience.

The ribbon cables are great. They resist tangling, and I get the impression they’re pretty solid — though it may or may not be ultimately true, they at least feel like they’ll last.

We were pretty impressed with the amount of consideration and smarts that went into designing the ergonomics and aesthetics of this set.

The control center is nicely finished and provides track, call and volume controls — though the big rubber buttons are too flush, and as a result a little difficult to operate.

The microphone is separate from the control center, and located some way up the right ribbon, at the perfect location for speaking into.

What’s up with all those accessories? We’re familiar with the concept of getting the most for your money, but sheesh, Scosche. The earphones come with no less than: a great, protective zippered hardcase; a stylish leather pouch; an attachment clip designed to mesh perfectly with the control center; a cable adapter so you can use the mic with older Macs that have separate input/output jacks; and a carabiner for attaching to the hardcase.

The Bad:

The nozzles (the bits that enter your ears) are huge compared with most other IEMs; though I didn’t experience any discomfort due to this, the size might make it a little uncomfortable for some.

The eartips also aren’t really on par with a set this price; Theyr’re not horrible, but they should have been better. I sometimes had to fight a little to find a good seal when inserting them. And because the nozzles are so large, they won’t work with Comply foam tips — which means you’re pretty much stuck with these.

Seriously, what’s up with all those accessories? This facet of the IEM856m package also gets slotted in The Bad section because we’d really rather the price were lowered on the set than be saddled with a whole bunch of value-added stuff we may or may not use, nice though the stuff may be.


A different approach to earphones with surprisingly good results; we wish more thought was placed on the eartips and less on puffing up the price.

[xrr rating=80%]

  • recyclops117

    No headphone are worth over

  • recyclops117

    In my opinion anything over 50 for headphones are waaaay over priced

  • prof_peabody

    They are not that bad looking either (which is unusual for any kind of earphones IMO), and at least they give you some spare eartips.  

    I use the Apple in-ear ones and every time I buy them (they last 6 months tops), I’m amazed that they not only don’t give you any replacement eartips, they don’t even *sell* them.  If the Apple ones pop off (and that happens fairly often), and you don’t see where they rolled/bounced, your screwed and on the hook for another hundred bucks for a new set.  

    These are ridiculously overpriced though.  

  • Brad Sevy

    The in-ears come with a 1 year warranty, assuming they’re malfunctioning due to normal usage. The Genius Bar has free “customer appeasement” ear tip replacements as well. Don’t buy them every 6 months.

  • mailorders

    I wish you had discussed the spare buds in more detail. I have one smaller ear canal and the ones in the photo look too large.

  • elimilchman

    Anything for our readers.

    As with 98 percent of the IEMs out there, there are several sizes to choose from. There are three sets of differently sized tips without flanges and three sets of differently sized flanged tips like the ones pictured above. The ones pictured were the largest size. 

    However, the nozzles are very large for an IEM and that may factor into how they fit.

  • elimilchman

    Well, the extra tips are really there for fit customization. If you lose a tip, fishing another one out from the bag (which is going to be a different size or shape) may not be the best course of action because it probably won’t fit (assuming you had a good fit int he first place). 

    However, the fact that the Apple canalbud tips are popping off is problematic — most IEMs don’t have that problem, and I don’t see that ever happening with this set. And of course, there are other advantages to this set, like much better sound quality and much better sealing properties. Although I agree, even so, they are indeed overpriced.

  • Bobby Carbn

    Thanks for the review! I went ahead and picked these up based on your review and they just arrived. OMFG they are awesome! Worth every penny! Now I don’t want to go grab sleep due to how much fun my ears are having. I listen to a little bit of everything and have tried progressive house, electro house and some good old fashioned rock-n-roll. Everything sounds wonderful.  I think this may be the set I go ahead and order custom molded ear attachments for.