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Extreme Detail (BEST IEM's For Studio Recording)

A Review On: Sony MDR EX1000

Sony MDR EX1000

Rated # 17 in Universal Fit
See all 10 reviews
Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Isolation
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $369.99
maxmays1
Posted · 13598 Views · 5 Comments

Pros: Extremely detailed, High pass emphasized, Flat but detailed Mids , controlled low end, comfortable(IMO), sleek design,dynamic drivers

Cons: power hungry, Lack of impact and power from bass, not as airy as one would expect(in comparison to over the ear cans), despises low quality recordings

 

I find this to be an extremely detailed pair of IEM, these being my first and only pro IEMs i find myself comparing these to my Beyerdynamics, Although it's hard to find similarities between the variants but i seem to notice the level of detail these offer are far more impressive, which is not always a good thing. In some cases almost to much detail because these let you notice the slightest mistakes in audio recordings, they scrutinize everything like a oscilloscope. To me this is only a problem because its ported directly into your ear without letting any sounds resonate away from the ear or diffuse like it would with over the ear Cans which makes them sound more atmospheric and hot,while these are neutral, only playing what the composer truly made, not what they attempted to make or tried to emphasize.
 
Treble - These seem to pronounce treble most, it can be extremely sharp sometime, but i find this mostly happens on poor quality songs, even medium quality songs have a hard time being smooth, the sound from anywhere from as low as 1khz and higher seems to produce more impact on the ear than the low end, even at low volumes it penetrates your ear drum. It always seems to peak in the sweet spot without going passed that and making you cringe, and if it does its probably because your volume is to high.But because of the following topics, there are reasons why your volume might be to high.
 
Mids- The mids are what i consider a proper flat resonance, this to me is a good thing. It is always at the forefront of the song. This feature gives you a good understanding of how sounds are recorded live or digitally because all sounds resonate from this neutral area(around 1khs-10khz).i feel that this function leads me to believe these to be perfect for examining all types of recordings. Say for example you are trying to get a feel of how a microphones sounds in any situation you usually try to pay attention of how well it resonates from the mids of a frequency pattern, on vocals you register how a persons voices sounds from the middle of the approach and where the sounds starts to peak, and with the characteristics of these you can get a good understanding of where the power really comes in because the sounds never falls off it just resonates on until the very last resonance point.
 
Bass- The bass can clearly be heard,but the power is not there to fill what is being emphasized,now i'm speaking from my situation and i say this lack of power comes from the heavy dampening within, and the lack of power i'm driving to it. I have only really used these on my Nuforce HDP or lower powered devices so i can say i'm not powering these to there potential, but either way i don't think these are the best choice for bass heavy songs, or songs that put emphasizes on low artificial bass. The best bass comes from live recorded bass and kick drum variants, digital bass like 808 line or heavy dub just doesn't have that much feel, instead it just teases you with the idea of what the bass should FEEL like, i should mention heavy bass should be felt not necessarily "heard". As i said before these are very detailed and the bass can absolutely be heard, the bass is always clean and that may be the problem, most of the time the heavy bass lines lead to distortion on drivers trying to heavily emphasize the bass,and sometimes the distortion isn't to noticeable but leads you to believe that the bass line really is that hard. Even when these are driven hard the bass never distorts or starts clipping, it just sounds really loud, extremely controlled and detailed, but never heavy and as impactful' as it teases to be.
 
Isolation/Dampening/Distortion>>concentration - 
Most IEMs are known for isolation , well these don't fit in that category. These work like most open back/vented headphones, they require a quiet setting for you to truly capture the details and feel comfortable while listening to it at correct volume level. I find myself turning up the volume way higher than it needs to be just to concentrate on the sounds i'm looking for. As i listen to very technical sounds and music i really have a hard time focusing on the recording as i get slightly distracted by sounds and vibrations around me fairly easy. But when I'm in a nice and quiet area, these things start to take you to the level it was meant to take you to. Only external source of noise i want to here(i should say feel) is the added rumble from my external subwoofers adding to the overall sound stage. 
 
As stated these come with 10 different sets of ear tips, 3 of which are labeled "noise isolation". I think this is a little misleading as some people might think this is meant to really stop noise from getting in,wrong. What i have come to realize is that these actually work as absorbing vibrations and movement of the actually drivers themselves. They keep them from shaking or moving around in your ears to much when you make fast movement or your cords shakes to much.Also another thing that might lead to the dampening of bass is the thick padding within the port(it is clearly visible). This probably serves as a dust filter as well as dampening of any harsh distortion. I BELIEVE if you were to pull out this padding you might get a greater bass punch, BUT I DO NOT RECOMMEND this as it serves as a dust and dirt filter, and you wont be able to put in back in easily if you find you don't like them out.One thing i should complain about is that the wrap that goes over the ear could have been a little more thicker, the wire dangles freely a little to much. But back to the Ear buds themselves.
I've noticed after testing almost all of them, that they all have the potential of staying in your ear, but the ones smaller than your ear canals tend to present the smoothest sounds, very relaxed and not much impact and somewhat muddy,this doesn't always make the recording sound good, but are less fatiguing over longer stents and high volumes. The ones that fit tighter in your ears, be it the right size or to big tend to have the most detail, tighter response and have more impact in both the lows and highs.The bigger and tighter ones tend to cause some pressure in and around the ears and can be more fatiguing for longer stents.  I Recommend trying each one for about 10 minutes and see which one feels the best for longest amount of time. To me the isolation variants tend to give me the longest endurance. I have also experimented using different sized on each ear(a green on the left/ a orange on the right,etc) since each ear canal aren't exactly the same size this is a good experiment to perform.
 
Conclusion>
So i came up with a solution that seems to work best for these drivers. like most of my setups,i split the high pass and low pass. headphones being on high pass and the low pass sent to a subwoofer or second driver set up.
With this set up the sound stage is amazing, it more than rivals full sized cans, It surpasses those that are meant to be technical(studio headphones), these are the most technical headphones I've heard to date. These drivers have so much clarity and control of the high end, and with the addition to the external bass to fill in the rest of the song its a great combination. This set up can surely be a end game solution for those wanting the ultimate experience. They are ideal for studio recording and movie editing,watching. With video games i have trouble using these for racing game simply because they scrutinize the digital sound. With shooting,action games i.e GTA, BTF3 these are killer. I may be imagining it but i seem way more focused while in multi-player or on missions, the sounds are alot more subjective(someone creeping on you or close call gunshots),the last BTF3 server i was in i was 50-18 K/D before i retired from such massacre. -_- yes that not my normal K/D with my Beyerdynamics.

5 Comments:

Great review! Honest and to the point. I own the EX600's and I'm thinking of upgrading. Have you heard EX600? Also what players are you using when you say they sound under powered?
It would be a reasonable upgrade if you use IEMs over full sized cans(or just prefer). These mimic full sized cans more than any other IEMs and you might agree owning the 600,but as i have not used those before i cant say how similar they are to the ex1000's. What i failed to mention was the price, I don't think the price is that reasonable if you only plan on using these on mobile media devices. These things do need power, even more power than my Beyerdynamics 32ohms(at 100mW Max/ 40mW nominal), these are rated at 200mw MAX and 120mw nominal!. I use these with the Nuforce HDP dac/amp, and to achieve a balanced amount of power throughout the high/mids/lows i'm driving them into the distortion area of the amp. I haven't tried using these on my Schiit Asgard, but i feel those would be more power than necessary and would only be able to use about 50% of its power, which is actually reasonable . But as i mentioned i have these sometimes matched with my subwoofers and ran on high-pass, and end this mode they sound absolutely perfect at medium gain on my HDP.
As for players, I use my computers, and sometimes my phone, and that's it. Don't own any other media devices.
EX600 share similarity's to EX1000 so I agree about the full size headphones resemblance. ljokerl describes them well in his EX600 review. they tend to have a slight treble roll off though balanced well from low to mid. I only use IEM's mostly while laying down at night and apart from using my Fiio E10 DAC/Amp they would paired with Cowon players so It does have me concerned about their power requirements, as I would want them at their full potential even at lower volumes. I can pair my E11 amp up with one of my Cowons and use a rig I guess. I'm possibly trailing a pair on loan soon, so that will help.

Cheers!
personally one of the things that struck me about the EX1000 was the bass presence and quality, I was just using my 5th gen ipod as a source and amplifier. I should probably qualify that my reference headphone these days is an HE-6 so maybe I am used to a treble tilt and laid back bass but personally I was quite impressed with the bass from the EX1000. I also was not listening for bass impact as such due to my musical preferences. Still I do not consider these to lack bass specifically as there are pleeenty of other headphones with less bass "XD.
Drez, i agree the bass is very good, if i made it seem as if the bass was bad then i should change it. I was pointing out some of the issues I've heard other people complain about with the "lack of bass". I am quiet happy with the bass,even more so now that i have tried it out on the Schiit Asgard. Just in comparison to other high priced headphones these do not over exaggerate the bass or have a very deep vibration. It definitely has presence but its not as boomy(a good thing) as many other headphones that have that type of bass expansion. The enclosure of the drivers simply don't allow for that type resonance, it was made to be precise in its movement, not out of control. These are truly professional grade, with professional sound.
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