disclaimer: The Sabbat E12 Ultra was provided by Linsoul Audio for purposes of review. I have no financial interest in Linsoul or in Sabbat and received no further incentives or direction as regards this review.
Unboxing / Packaging:
The E12 comes in a slipcover box with the name and graphic of the headphone on the front and the specs shown on the reverse along with a picture of the case with earpieces seated in it. Once the slipcover is removed, the kit is mostly visible sitting in foam cutouts in the tray. Earpieces, the case, and the tips are all immediately visible with the other items hiding under the tips. In total, the package includes a carrying bag, charging case, USB-c cable, the earpieces, 6 sets of tips, and the warranty card. Its a fairly complete package for an in-ear at this price point.
The E12 Ultra is a 2 part shell with the outer shell having a chrome finish while the inner is black. The button on the outer shell complements the inner and carries the Sabbat logo which appears to be a stylized antelope. There is a small LED at the rear edge of the outer shell at just slightly below the mid point (look at the button and then look to 4 oclock position from button center). The inner shell has a large flat portion and then a stepped central portion that contains the nozzle. It probably is not coincidence that the stepped portion is round with a diameter roughly the same as the driver, so my suspicion is the battery and bluetooth equipment hide in the flat and the driver in the stepped portion. from the stepped portion, nozzles exit the front, and have a distinct forward and slightly downward rake to them. Nozzles have a ring cutout behind the lead edge to form a lip to hold tips, and screens are slightly recessed in the nozzles. A single vent exists near the center of the raised section immediately behind the nozzles. Charging connectors sit in the flat area above the driver about 1 cm apart.
The E12 Ultra is a single 10 mm dynamic driver model with a listed impedance of 32Ω and a sensitivity of 120dB/mW. Since the E12 is a bluetooth only model, the only comments that can be made are that it has adequate power to be driven to levels one should not use to prevent hearing damage. (it has no lack of potency). On the connectivity side, the E12 sports a Qualcomm Bluetooth 5.0 chipset, but does not list Apt X, or LDAC support. Bluetooth is listed as supporting: HSP1.2/HFP1.7/A2DP1.3/AVRCP 1.6 SPP1.2/PBAP. My understanding is that most of improvements between 4.2 and 5.0 are not applicable to Audio playback as they are changes in the low powered mode and as such this models connectivity may be very similar to the previous 4.2 version.
The E12U has bluetooth 5.0 and supports aptX, as well as SBC but does not have LDAC or aptX-HD support. I found pairing to be straight forward and after the initial setup, the earpieces would auto-connect upon removal from the case. The only issue I found was when within range of my vehicle, my phone would disconnect from the earpieces and preferentially connect to the car. When exiting the vehicle, the earpieces would not automatically reconnect. Turning them off and back on would re-connect them at that point.
Distance in open space is limited to roughly 25 feet between source and earpieces and walls (even interior) fairly easily defeated the connectivity. Latency of controls is acceptable, but not great and the system for volume control makes me want to use the software control on the phone instead as it requires 3 fast clicks on the right to turn volume up or left to turn volume down. Problem is, too slow and you just turned the headphone off.
Battery life on the E12U was quite good with an average of a little over 5 hours per charge when listened to at standard volume. Once dischargged, placing the earpieces back in the case initiates charging and the buds will completely recharge 40 minutes to an hour depending on depth of discharge. The case is listed as being able to charge the earpieces fully 4 times which may be a bit optimistic as my tests found 3 full charges and a partial 4th. Overall, not bad for a small case. The case has a USB-C connector on the back with 4 leds to indicate the charge state of the case immediately above the connector. The Case itself is also one of the smallest in the group I have recently reviewed and is more easily dropped in a pocket and forgotten like some others in the group. One other added benefit, the case does support wireless charging so those who wish can take advantage of that instead of using the USB connector.
I found call quality to be good with the E12U but it does suffer some from picking up environmental noise on the microphone of the wearer so use in a quiet areas is recommended. Controls worked well to answer calls and latency was minimal between click and call initiation.
I found the E12u to be highly tip dependent and it is definitely worth your time and effort to find tips that work best for you. The FR plot and all notes assume use of the provided tips which I do not recommend as significant improvement can be made. (Try the Spin-fit or Auvio wide bore)
In a word, the E12U bass is overstated. Sub-Bass is definitely the star of the show here and it is quite bold. Mid-bass starts to fall off a bit from the sub-bass peak around 100Hz, and stays in free fall until well past the transition to the mids. I found the E12U did not respond particularly well to EQ so while I could dial back the bass some, I could not remove all the added thump or bloom and some muddiness was inherent regardless of adjustments made to tuning. There is pronounced mid-bass bleed and boom that obscures an already fairly thin mid-range. Bass texture and detail is only average for the class.
Mid-bass bleed colors the mids significantly and gives the E12U an overall warm thick feel. Low register vocals sound thicker than higher registers as a result and at times sound a bit artificial. On top of this, unlike most tunings where the mids begin climbing forward almost at the transition point with the bass, the E12U continues to drop as we move up the mids. Vocals are recessed and can sound as if they are behind the guitars at times as a result. Female vocals in particular can be a bit lacking in energy and at times are not as lifelike as I would prefer. Overall, the combination of warm, thick, and recessed would not be my first choice in mids presentation.
The treble finally climbs forward, but does so in such a way that it adds more energy than needed in some places, a not enough in others. The lower treble has good detail but is pushed substantially forward and can get a bit ‘in your face’ at times. Above that (starting at about 4kHz, treble falls off at a tremendous pace and realistically, the E12U has nothing above about 6kHz that contributes audibly. There is a very minor peak higher up that keeps this from being the true roll-off point, but for all practical purposes it is. This limits air and sparkle considerably and makes the E12 feel somewhat closed in. The good news, it is fatigue free, the bad news its not very well extended.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Thoughts / Conclusion:
I’m not a big fan of the tuning of the Sabbat E12 Ultra. It has entirely too much bass and not enough of anything else for my tastes. Having said that, it does have some redeeming features and can be made considerably better with EQ and tip-rolling. Build quality is good, the case is nice, and the earpieces themselves are fairly comfortable. This one is just a case of wrong fit for me, and others that prefer a big bass may really enjoy the E12 Ultra.
- Bass - 6/106/10
- Mids - 4.5/104.5/10
- Treble - 5/105/10
- Soundstage - 5/105/10
- Imaging - 6/106/10
Pros: easy fit, QI support for quick charging,
Cons: Big bass, recessed mids, veiled vocals.