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a new budget IEM: Maximo iM-390

post #1 of 150
Thread Starter 
iM-390 iMetal Earphones

Until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of Maximo products or their range of earphones. Then we started putting the Oregon HeadFi meet together and AndrewH offered to sponsor our get together. I have used IEM's/buds intermittently but mostly preferred using the KSC75s amped. To cut a potentially long personal saga short, AndrewH brought a series of IEMs to the meet and set up a fun AB comparison with several maximo products and a few commercial brands which list @ 2.5 x the cost of the iM-390s. The stock iM-390s performed best of the lot IMO and based on the overall scoring, most people thought so too. I was so impressed that I enquired about how to go about ordering a pair and AndrewH kindly offered to send me a review sample. I have had them for a week or so and have listened to them for at least 3 hours a day and I can happily say that I am converted.

LOOK: Before you even get to the earphones, the case they come with is gorgeous. It is a round black clam shell which zips open to reveal an internal cup. The cable wraps around the outside and the phones are protected within the cup - very cool. The phones themselves have a good solid feel. They have a high polished metal body with a satin finish on the front to add contrast. The chamber is ported. The earpiece itself is soft rubber/black silicon? similar to ultimate ears etc. The cable is relatively short but comes with an extension should you need a longer cable. It also comes with an airplane adapter and 2.5mm adapter.

FEEL: I had expected the substantial feel of them in my hand to translate into a heavy earphone but they were hardly noticeable when positioned in my ears. The tips are soft and easy to insert. I used the medium tips but they come with 3 sizes should those not be comfortable. I do hear a "crinkling" when I insert them and I think it is the driver diaphragm moving against the air pressure of insertion. Only once did I feel pressure on my own eardrum while putting them and that was the result of me being a little congested an not being able to equilibrate easily. My overall feeling is that they are comfortable - far more than any foamies or shure type "ring" insert. I use them to commute to and from work which is on average 70+ minutes each way. I don't notice their physical presence at all which to me means they are comfortable.

Isolation: They are reasonably good. They cut out the drone of people talking easily but you can still hear loud traffic noise or someone screeching like a banshee into their mobile phones.

How do they sound - simply put, very good or else I would not be taking the effort of writing to let you all know.

I did this in a few sessions to get an overall feel for how they sound.
First just as a commuter earphone driven directly from an iRiver DAP. Here it performs admirably, music presentation is involving, so much so that I often found myself tearing away from what ever article I was reading to actually stop and listen to the music. I never had the urge to change tracks because the music didn't sound right, I may have thought the track sucked and moved on but not because it was presented badly.
Second was a direct comparison of a few phones driven directly from the DAP / CDP. I naturally compared it to the KSC75, but also threw my AKG501's into the mix as well as an old pair of Koss plugs that were abandoned a long time ago. The Koss just sounded bad in comparison, very boomy bass and peaky in the top and was dropped soon into the review session. The AKGs happen to be one of my favorite headphones but they lose a lot of their soundstage and depth when not amped. They still sounded better than the others and I would have been highly disappointed had this not been the case but it had to be done. The characteristics of the KSC75s that I have always found appealing was their detail across the spectrum. They have the ability to articulate bass very well and have a slightly forward vocal/midrange presentation and still get the highs without any harshness. The trouble with them is that they need an amp to open up and sound great. Yeah, I am finally getting to how the iM-390s sound. Bass: wow! not DT770 bass head but deep, clear and fast. I was listening to a drum solo off one of my Chesky discs. It wasn't muddied at all and I was truly impressed by how deep it sounded. ( I may as well get distracted here - I ran a series of test tones and could easily define the tone down to 25Hz, I lost the KSC75s at 35Hz ). Orchestral pieces have a good presence to them and a solo cello piece I love had the natural timbre I expected. Midrange: at first I thought they were a little recessed compared to the KSC75s but after much listening to various types of music (vocal and instrumental) I came to the conclusion that they sounded flatter across these frqeuencies because they were and that the KSCs had a midrage bump similar to the Grados. It is only obvious when going from one to the other and not something I feel while I listen to them on the move. The AKGs are also flat across the mids but they have such an enourmous soundstage that that the mids just seem to float in the air. The iM-390s do jazz vocal superbly and acoustic guitar sounds very realistic, the soundstage is more focused than the AKGs but I wouldn't call it limited. The high frequency response is fairly even all the way up to 20kHz, cymbals add the right amount of atmosphere to jazz, Itzak Perlman's solo violin from his Bach concerto's sounded glorious, never becoming screechy or rolled off. (this review process seems to be never ending)
Finally I amped the beasties - don't do it, it's not necessary and you may end up blowing your ears away as I did!

I seem to have been at this forever now and hope you have a gist of what i was tying to relay. Overall the iM-390s present music very well, they are comfortable, cost a fraction of what their rivals do and look great too. I would strongly recommend these to anyone considering IEMs. The carrying case could sell these alone.

Thanks to AndrewH for the opportunity to share this with you all..dB
post #2 of 150
pics
post #3 of 150
Sound nice but i'm not too sure I want IEMS.
post #4 of 150
do forgive me i clicked the link,i must say they certainly look the part for that price,if looks dominated in the iem market then they would be well up there
post #5 of 150
I did some some quick research and then I grabbed a pair. Hey, ~$30 off ebay is a nice deal. Good for a cheapie, workout phone. They are supposed to come with a code for 50 free Emusic songs too. I could use some more since I used up the other free offers I had. I figure the OP compared them nicely to the Koss and on Amazon someone compared them well to an ER6i. They might a sweet deal. Nice bunch of accessories for the price too!

A bit OT-->Drivers crinkling! The manufacturers' need to work on this. We have X3, Goldrings, these, all have the crinkling drivers; some with quite a bit of driver failures. I hope these don't have a side crap out on me. They are cheap though. Futuresonics seem to have solved the sealed, dynamic driver issues though. I would have recommended the Goldrings for some near triple driver level SQ but one side crapped out on me. One side had no pressure relief(could hear slightest airflow noise in one side<good> but not the other<bad sign>) and that side failed. I don't trust them enough to buy again especially since they are a UK company and I'm "sorry out of luck" in the US. I didn't get to finish burning them in.

These have a lifetime warranty which is good. If they don't give you the run around that is and are more like Koss.
post #6 of 150
Ooops, emailed and cancelled the ebay purchase before I paid them. These can be had for 32.99 at buy.com and there is free shipping and also a $10 rebate. If you can still use the google checkout they are $12.99 shipped after the rebate! Not bad at all!
post #7 of 150
Subscribing to this thread...

jant71, I'm sure it goes without saying, but please post impressions when you have them.
post #8 of 150
I echo dBs views. I was sent a sample pair too by Andrew. I have been listening to them exclusively for the past 3 days and am listening to them as i type this out. I will post my impressions soon.
And dB, can't believe you tried to amp them.. . Just as a comparison, the AL iM716s demanded my archos to be set to 60+ on a volume scale upto 100. While, these guys were happily plodding along at 35.
post #9 of 150
Thread Starter 
2 quick things

1. my phone output does not do these earphones justice

2. there are 2 versions of these earphones out there and the latest sounds decidedly better than the first. I hope Andrew H chips in and clarifies the difference.

looking forward to others impressions too..dB
post #10 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by dBel84 View Post
2. there are 2 versions of these earphones out there and the latest sounds decidedly better than the first. I hope Andrew H chips in and clarifies the difference.
Hm...that puts a wrinkle in things...Let's hope there's a clear way to distinguish before purchasing...
post #11 of 150
There is a higher version as well: IM-490S for about $40.
post #12 of 150
As I have earned enough Buy.com credit card points to pay for these outright (from buy.com of course), I'd be a fool not to pick up a set to see how they compare to my MylarOne X3s (which I greatly enjoy). With the rebate, I'll actually be making $10!

Ironically, my X3's plastic housing broke on me today (Jaben is sending me a free replacement set) so this is as good a time as any to explore another bang-for-buck IEM contender. Metal driver housings are sounding like a really good idea at the moment.

Obviously I'll post my impressions, but I want to give the iM-390s a good listen (several days worth) before I do. Stay tuned.

To the OP: does it seem like the iM-390s will take other types of tips? I am currently in love with Shure E2 foamies on my X3s, but it is not a deal breaker if they don't fit.
post #13 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by dBel84 View Post
2 quick things

1. my phone output does not do these earphones justice
Seems to me that my DAP powers them very easily. Which phone output you talking about dB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dBel84 View Post
2. there are 2 versions of these earphones out there and the latest sounds decidedly better than the first. I hope Andrew H chips in and clarifies the difference.
looking forward to others impressions too..dB
Totally agree on this one. The one that you and I have are the the ones currently in production and it sounds better than the other 'older'version.

EDIT: Seems like the 'older' ones were in production so watch out for those from resellers.
post #14 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by epithetless View Post
Hm...that puts a wrinkle in things...Let's hope there's a clear way to distinguish before purchasing...
Ditto that! Good thing I have to wait a couple of days before placing my order.
post #15 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by sachu View Post
Totally agree on this one. The one that you and I have are the the ones currently in production and available from amazon, buy.com.... And it sounds better than the other 'older' version.
Excellent news. I wonder if the various ebay vendors are selling the newest version?
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