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Help: The best value IEM !?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

I am considering getting a new harddisk-based mp3 player and I want to get a pair of new canal-phones to replace the crappy ones that come with it.

The phones that I am considering are:-
Shure E3c (£70 / $140)
Shure E4c (£165 / $330)
Etymotic ER-4P (£170 / $340)
Ultimate Ears super.fi 5 Pro (£130 / $260)
Ultimate Ears super.fi 5 EB (£130 / $260)
Ultimate Ears super.fi 3 Studio (£75 / $150)
Westone UM1 (£95 / $190)
Westone UM2 (£235 / $470)

Ideally I wouldn't want to pay more than £100-£150 ($200-$300) for the headphones unless there is a marked step-up in quality that makes them worthwhile. Really, I am after the BEST VALUE headphones and not necessarily the best IEMs every made!

Currently I am using some Sony EX70s, which are very comfortable in the ear and have a warm, soft sound. I do feel though, that this masks the music - especially the mids and highs, with fast passages of music sometimes sounding muddled.

My preference for a new headphone would be good impactful bass (not necessarily overpowering), fast clear mids and highs (but not shrill). Think a mix between my Senns [bass] and Grados [mids, highs].

When voting it would be very useful if you could add some comments in reference to the points that I have raised here.

Many thanks!

[prices quoted are from various UK websites, converted to US dollars to aid comparison]
post #2 of 36
well first off some of your prices are insane , you should buy stuff online from the US , you can get for example the westone UM2 for 299$ with free worldwide shipping (and even less using best offers in ebay) , the etymotic and shure e4c are also grossly overpriced , the etyomtic is 150-160$ online in the US .
wouldn't know what's the best though myself . personally i'm waiting to decide whether to buy Shure E500 or the new Westone 3, they might not be "value" but they're probably the best non-custom IEMs you can get
post #3 of 36
Out of that list, UM1
But not at that price..
post #4 of 36
Those are some pretty obscene prices on the etymotics. I got my ER-4P's for $160 on amazon.com
post #5 of 36
altec lansing im716's. Hands down.
post #6 of 36
I believe you have missed the V-Moda Vibes from that list with a UK price of £69. According to reviews here they are very comfortable and punch above their price bracket in sound quality. That is why I am currently awaiting mine to be delivered to replace my EX51/71/HPM70's
post #7 of 36
Also, welcome to Rip-off Britain guys - we guys are used to it!

That is why my V-Moda's are coming from the US priced £46 incpostage. I recommend buying from the US if you aren't in a hurry.
post #8 of 36
I can't help you with your question very well, but aren't these prices quit high? I've seen the super.fi 3 studio for about 80 dollars and the super.fi 5 eb for about 160. So searching the web would save a lot of money i think..

Edit: i'm not the only one i see
post #9 of 36
I have the E3C's, and for that price, they are a great value. The list I got them at was $180, (though with my employee discount and a gift card, I paid 75.) and for the price you quoted, thats a great deal.

'course, I should tell you that they are only the second pair of IEM's I have owned. Maybe a few more experienced opinions are the ones to listen to.
post #10 of 36
A very good value IEM not on your list would be the Etymotics ER6i, online in the U.S. for under $90.

(Also, I think lukealexander is being very patient waiting for the Vibes, all things considered ... it's certainly taking a while, isn't it?)
post #11 of 36
The best value would depend on what you value in terms of sound, comfort, and isolation. I suspect that there is not a single person at Head-Fi who has heard all of the IEMs that you have listed, and thus (hey, no offense anyone) but ALL of the votes that have been cast are pretty much worthless, save the rare exception of someone who has heard the majority of those IEMs listed and is well informed (by reading a lot) about the 1 or 2 that he/she has not heard directly.

What I'm trying to say is that this type of poll tends (as in, almost always) to turn into a popularity contest. It's kind of like the polls that have HD650, DT880 and K701 types of choices, among several others. Very few people are in a position to make an honest call.

So, to my way of thinking, you're better off by trying to read as much as you can to discern the general patterns of thoughts surrounding the various products that you think you might have an interest in. Then try to ask some pointed questions that will help people to guide you specifically, based on your perceived needs (i.e., in what situations will you be listening to them, what kinds of music do you like, how important is isolation, comfort, and the like).

Without providing this kind of information, it's really hard to get the kind of guidance that you're looking for.

I didn't vote. The only one I'm familiar with are the Ety ER-4S. They have lots of strengths (isolation is as good as it gets, they're extremely detailed and they provide a lot of upper register energy); they also have a couple of weaknesses (comfort is thumbs down for most people, and bass impact is quite lacking). Overall, I think they represent a good value, but not at the price you've listed. Seems to me that you can find them in the used market for $200-ish.

The problem is, I really don't have any basis to compare the Ety's to the others you've listed so it would be fool hardy for me to vote. I suspect that most other observers are in this same boat, although I'm sure a handful of people could point you in the right direction if you narrowed it down a bit in terms of what your decision criteria are.
post #12 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanks for replies so far - all are welcome.

I'm sure that most people vote for the headphones they own, so comments are definately also welcome.

To lay out the criteria that I am using to select the right phone, I really want (in order):
-details mids/highs
-impactful bass / good bass response

Currently my EX70s offer comfort and reasonable isolation (they do not make a perfect seal). What they lack is impactful bass (it has a lot of bass, but overpowering and slow) and the mids are lost because of this.

The more comments from people the better!

I have just seen this thread regarding the E3c's. I wonder if this is common.

P.S. I will definately look at ordering from the US! Thanks!
post #13 of 36
Micro Anvika are selling the Shure E4C for £117 inc delivery

I picked my UM2s 2nd hand from a forum member on avforums.com for £120. As long as you use new tips, its as good as new if the original owner took care of the IEM. But you can't always buy 2nd hand or on Ebay, so the best price is £150 from earphonesolutions.com

PJBox are selling the Ety ER4P for £135 not inc del.

Even if you didn't know the E4C price above, the most expensive is £150 from play.com for the black ones. Use pricerunner or froogle UK to search for prices. Really, I don't see why people quote the mrsp

Thank me later

P.S. The microanvika and pjbox prices are sale prices. Be quick before they go!
post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the sale prices LFC_SL

I'd just like to say, I was just doing quick searches to get an idea of prices. Once I decide on the one I want I will do a more indepth search for sure....

Does anyone who owns the ER-4P find that they stick out a bit far compared to the other headphones? I will be using these IEMs when communting a lot and wouldn't want them to look too odd! (In fact, I am even fussy enough not to want to buy white earphones/cords because I don't want to look like an ipodder!)

It's so hard to choose between the E4c, ER-4P, sf-5 and UM2! Choosing my Senns was easier!
post #15 of 36
I am a little Bias but everything you listed, is in the ER4P. Probably best Isolater, vey comfortable (those both have to do with tips though), detail is the best of any IEM for that price. And the bass impact is very nice.
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