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Best IEM

post #1 of 90
Thread Starter 
You guys are probably going to flame me to death but believe it or not The best that I've heard to date are the Sony EX71 earphones.
Now before anyone flames me on this I'm not talking stock EX71's, mine are modified by yours truely & sound completely different from stock. The differences are:

1. Much improved midrange (much more open sounding, not muffled as they are stock).More body without losing datail.

2.Much improved treble (more body not tinny sounding as they were stock).

3. Improved bass (tighter yet still very full bodied, more detailed). Still a little overboard but not tubby sounding.

4. Not a fully trapped inside your head sound unlike most of your other IEM's, Some sounds sound like they are coming from beyond the confine of your head especially if not close miked but panned fairly hard to one side or the other but sometime even with centered sounds if not close miked & has a lot of ambiance. This is the real clincher for best IEM title as none that Ive heard would do this before & Ive had Ultimate Ear Super Fi 5pros & Super Fi 3studios ($250 & $100 respectively). Niether of these could thouch the EX 71's in modified form.

Compared to the Super Fi3 Studios these have a vastly fuller sound thoughout the range top to bottom. The 3 studios were actually very hard to listen to for more than 15 minutes, they were so thin sounding. They had very little bass.

Compared to the Super Fi 5pros these have a fuller sound top to bottom but not as pronounced as the 3's. It is very hard to beat the bass on the EX 71's without going way overboard & mucking up the midrange. The EX71's walk the line very well here in modified form.

For all the fullness you don't lose much in the way of detail, only in very rare situations. For the most part the resolution is actually as good or better than either of the Super Fi models discussed here. Ambiance retrieval is where these trounce both Super Fi models.
post #2 of 90
how did you mod them?

i would be interested to know
post #3 of 90
show us how you mod... i had a ex71, 2 ex51 lying there for me to mod
post #4 of 90
They still have those crappy cables,

I Destroyed 3 pairs in 6 months even though I took good care of them
post #5 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walie
how did you mod them?

i would be interested to know
Yeah, seriously. This thread is useless without instructions.
post #6 of 90
Thread Starter 
First Off I had some pairs from other earphones, namely some double flange plugs from the ultimate Ear headphones (these plugs fit the EX71's perfectly). I also had some inserts from the Koss The plug headphones. these are the inserts that fit inside the the foan plugs.

first I removed the heavy waxed paper cap on the end of the EX71's using a piece of thin wire that I formed into a hook & inserted into the small hole in the end cap & lifted until I could get a hold of it with my fingernails to finish the removal. I had to insert the wire several time each earpiece to get enough of it up to remove it. I then listened to to it at this stage & found the sound a little bright but no more thick muffled sound to the midrange.

Then I tried the Ultimate Ear Double flange plugs & there was a slight improvement So I reasonened that the increased length of the plug was helping the sound but not as much as needed. So figured that I needed to increase the volocity of the air in the tube by reducing its size thus providing some fluid inductance to air & that this would remove the excess brightness without loosing the top end so I hunted around the house for something siutable for that purpose & found that the Koss plug insert to thier foam plugs work perfectly (I had a couple pair laying around).

When I inserted these inserts in to the output tube of the EX71's it corrected virtually all the problems to the sound & gave them body thoughout the audio band. Make sure that when you insert these tubes they don't bottom out against the driver as this results in reduced output & slightly worse sound (won't hurt the driver as it is protected by a perferated metal dome). You will want to trim the inset lenth slightly so it doesn't protrude past the double flange plug. & that is it.

I actually prefer the sound of the modified EX71's to my MDR 7506's. thier sound is more rich at the top end than the MDR 7506's. The 7506's actually sound slightly thin up there not really capturing the body of the cymbals like the modded EX71's do.

Are they perfect? No ther is still a hot spot in the upper midrange-lower treble but it still has more body even there than most EIM's
post #7 of 90
Thread Starter 
Sorry double post Removed second post.
post #8 of 90
No worries, there's a lot of Head-Fier here that believes in modding a sub standard cans into something totally different (for worse or better)

Now that you have brought up this topic, I have a Frankenstein Canalphone of my own - severely modded if you will.

My 1st Gen Japanese Panasonic HJE50 was purchased at a bargain price of $20 - simply because with the introduction of better canalphones and IEM out of the box, most people would stay away from this cold sounding, sibilant highs and over sharp treble.

OK enuff on that, let's get to the main course:

The recipe looked like this:
1. Panasonic HJE50 Black 16Ω
2. Y Split cables from Creative EP480 32Ω Earbuds
3. Sony MDR-EX71 Medium sized tips
4. Neutrik NYS223 Plugs

Totally disassembled, first order of the day was to do a full porting of the canal tube stem on the inside, this to improve the concentric slope that proved to be quite edgy unmodded. Then, sealing the front section totally by covering the pinhole which I wasn't sure what it was for. Then at the back of the transducers, I packed some thich foam to fill all the whole enclosure. At this stage of course I already have removed the stock J-Neck cable and replaced them with 32Ω Creative EP480 cable. Then seal them up nicely back. To ensure there's perfect seal I use enlarged cable shrink tubes on both sides. The last bit will be the most difficult, difficult in the sense of getting the right balance of clarity and sibilance reduction using different types of foam filter in the the canal tubes. Of course first the stock paper filter will have to be removed and the entry point all cleaned up. Then use Kramer style to fill up the holes with different sizes of foam that suit you best. I settled with 1mm cubes of dense foam from my Fossill watch box.

* I choose Creative EP480 32Ω cables simply because I happen to own them which came together with my Neeon DAP. And if my assumption is correct, the higher impendance cable would pair very well with my CMOY 2134PA Headamp.

The result? suffice to say that the mod succeeded in demoting my highly modded PortaPro to 2nd choice and to this very day I was able to contain any addiction for new purchase on Audio Technica ATH-CK7 or Shure E4c - period.....

What I got now is a wholesome canalphone that delivers articulate sound with substantial amount of clarity and balance. I was pleasantly surprised by the quantity and quality of bass which was almost nonexistant before the mod - this is chiefly achieved by EX71 tips I guess. Bass is presented in a very tight punches and rumbles, the extension doesn't actually goes really deep but it is enough. And the best part is the overall warmth that still possess the unveiled clarity which the hallmark of HJE50 (if you can reduce the sibilance and treble spikes, details will emerge).

Prior to this mod, I was utterly hooked to my Kramer modded PortaPro, but after getting the hold of the feel offered by my modded HJE50, I realized that I have been losing the finer details on percussion dynamics and sterile timbre/tone - yes the HJE50 sounds fuller and clean at the same time. Well I still prefer my PortaPro for SynthPop & Electronica, but for the rest my HJE50 is my primary cans now - period.

I always listened to my DAP with CMOY amp, with 32Ω impendance, my HJE50 did sounded a bit "reserved" connected directly to my Neeon DAP. But with amping the sound widen up and very lively

For the record, I have also used Creative EP630/Senn CX300, Senn MX500, KOSS The Plug (modded) -of which I find them to be a bit too colorful for my taste.

Pic: (sorry I don't have the modding pic, just the end result)
post #9 of 90
germanium, do you have any idea if your mods will work with sony ex-81s?
post #10 of 90
Thread Starter 
Haven't seen them yet.
post #11 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EFN

For the record, I have also used Creative EP630/Senn CX300, Senn MX500, KOSS The Plug (modded) -of which I find them to be a bit too colorful for my taste.

Agreed that the Koss plugs ARE EXTREMELY COLORED even at best in modded form to me but the EX71's are much less so when modded. Only some emphasis in the bass & upper mids remain & that not extreme as to bury other sounds.
post #12 of 90

Modded EX51/71 rocks!

I've been using a pair of modded EX51s (which are essentially the same as the EX71, save for the slightly different cable configuration) as well, and their freakin awesome with my first gen iPod Shuffle. As yall know the Shuffle's headphone jack has a pretty good sound, thick and substantial, especially when compared to the larger iPods.

For the mod all I did was to remove the paper filters, and that just opened up all the closed up goodness these little demure cans have to offer. That muffled, muddy, bloomy bass has gone and a nice warm liquid mid-range has revealed itself. The highs are nice and clear now, with details overwhelming the senses [given the price point].

The phones still retain that beefy sound underneath, but now its layered with upfront mids and detailed highs. An awesome combination.

Initially I experiemented with pieces of foam – both high and low density – as well as cotton wool. But the details were gone and the highs were starting to sound a bit like the unmodded version.

Given the shuffle's slighltly bassy and dark sound I guess I don't have the problem with excessive brightness. And now paired with my iMac, I don't have a problem with the brightness as well. So I guess its a matter of taste.

Go ahead if you have these earphones, go right ahead and pop those filters out to reveal some truly surprising sonic goodness. And if you find the sound too bright you can always dampen it with foam inserted into the tube.
post #13 of 90
Thread Starter 
I've been doing a lot of listening to these modded EX71's & the more I do the more I like them, they seem to do everything right. Listening to well recorded pipe organ is a real treat with these as the bass extension & power is exceptional & no hint of glare here but lots of detail in the upper registers. You can even tell when they kick on the extra blowers to boost power or bring a new section of pipes on line. The organ that i speak of has about 600HP worth of electric blowers & over 60,000 pipes. It is a magnificent sound & these earphones capture it all the way down to the 16 Hz fundementals with astonishing power & smoothness yet retains amazing clarity & soundstage.

While these earphones could always go deep they were very volume limited stock. Not anymore, these can easily play as loud as you can tolereate without any sign of stress in the sound, 110-115 db is easily achieved without any sign of stress. Listening beyond these levels may be possable even but not without permanant damage to hearing & even this should not be done for more than a couple of minutes but just the same these earphone handle it beautifully when modded.

It is not just this music that sounds good on these. Just about everything does except for poorly recorded ones of coarse but most of my recording seem well recorded. I believe the upper midrange lift that I have been hearing on several recording is a result of the mikes used & not of the earphones but the earphones are very revealing of it. Not all recordings have that characteristic.

The soundstage is what seperates these from other IEM's that I have heard. Simply put the best I've heard from any headphone with or without artifical enhancement.
post #14 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by germanium
I've been doing a lot of listening to these modded EX71's & the more I do the more I like them, they seem to do everything right. Listening to well recorded pipe organ is a real treat with these as the bass extension & power is exceptional & no hint of glare here but lots of detail in the upper registers. You can even tell when they kick on the extra blowers to boost power or bring a new section of pipes on line. The organ that i speak of has about 600HP worth of electric blowers & over 60,000 pipes. It is a magnificent sound & these earphones capture it all the way down to the 16 Hz fundementals with astonishing power & smoothness yet retains amazing clarity & soundstage.

While these earphones could always go deep they were very volume limited stock. Not anymore, these can easily play as loud as you can tolereate without any sign of stress in the sound, 110-115 db is easily achieved without any sign of stress. Listening beyond these levels may be possable even but not without permanant damage to hearing & even this should not be done for more than a couple of minutes but just the same these earphone handle it beautifully when modded.

It is not just this music that sounds good on these. Just about everything does except for poorly recorded ones of coarse but most of my recording seem well recorded. I believe the upper midrange lift that I have been hearing on several recording is a result of the mikes used & not of the earphones but the earphones are very revealing of it. Not all recordings have that characteristic.

The soundstage is what seperates these from other IEM's that I have heard. Simply put the best I've heard from any headphone with or without artifical enhancement.
I wholeheatedly agree with you on this! for the love of GOD I am listening to my modded HJE50 more and more now (yes Pana and Sony are two different thing but they are similar in al lot of ways) - specially after they grew on the listener. And you are absolutely true about the soundstage - they are amazingly real.

All it takes is the gut to mod something until they work for you and if done right the reward is quite satisfying
post #15 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EFN
And you are absolutely true about the soundstage - they are amazingly real.

& they say IEM's don't have a soundstage. More like the ones that are available stock don't do soundstaging well.
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