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Question on IEM Frequency Response

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hello. I'm just new to this forum and I happen to be considering buying my first audiophile IEM. I'm very particular to sound that have excellent high frequency (treble) detail and soundstage. Unfortunately, no local vendor here in our place offer a demo of the IEM's that they're selling (except for a couple Shure's old models) so, generally, I have no idea what the other brands/models actually sound like. I resort to the reviews around the web and the technicals specifications of various IEMs so I could get an idea (at least partly) how do they sound. I did notice something with regards to their frequency response: high end IEMs mostly have an upper limit of frequency response of less than 20kHz (e.g. UE Super.fi 5 Pro - 16kHz, Westone UM2 - 18kHz) while ordinary earbuds mostly have an upper limit of frequency response of 20kHz or more (e.g. Sennheiser MX 500 - 22kHZ, Sony MDR-E931LP - 23kHz). From my interpretation of these, these ordinary earbuds are able to reproduce sounds that the high end IEMs cannot reproduce. But isn't that contradicting, considering that IEMs high frequency detailing are superior than those of ordinary earbuds? I have been using many earbuds previously and I think some of them have decent treble at best.

I hope that I would understand these so that I could be certain if I would have to buy an IEM for myself. Thanks for the help.
post #2 of 9
Frequency range listed on the package is very unreliable. A more accurate measurement would be a frequency response chart, like those provided by HeadRoom.

IEMs are usually more detailed than most earbuds, but most have a significantly audible treble roll off.

You could buy the Etymotic ER-4P for around $130 here, since they do have above par treble response compared to many IEMs (including high end), but they will lack the soundstage (if any) compared to higher end triple driver IEMs like the E500.
post #3 of 9
Also take note that, although human hearing range are listed at 20 Hz to 20000 Hz, most people can't actually (or at least have difficulty) hear sound above 16kHz, especially once you pass your twenty. Don't worry about losing treble/detail over 16kHz, as human tend to interpret sound b/w 5kHz to 16kHz as 'high' and most detail are actually on the lower region.

A headphone that is capable of producing sound over 16kHz, 20kHz or even 30kHz doesn't help if you can't hear it, unless you are planning to share your 'phone with your dog. So why manufacturers like to highlight the frequency response of their 'phone when they know you can't hear it? Cause general consumer don't know the fact and often believe 'more is better' with out realizing it is just a marketing trick.
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post
Also take note that, although human hearing range are listed at 20 Hz to 20000 Hz, most people can't actually (or at least have difficulty) hear sound above 16kHz, especially once you pass your twenty. Don't worry about losing treble/detail over 16kHz, as human tend to interpret sound b/w 5kHz to 16kHz as 'high' and most detail are actually on the lower region.

A headphone that is capable of producing sound over 16kHz, 20kHz or even 30kHz doesn't help if you can't hear it, unless you are planning to share your 'phone with your dog. So why manufacturers like to highlight the frequency response of their 'phone when they know you can't hear it? Cause general consumer don't know the fact and often believe 'more is better' with out realizing it is just a marketing trick.
x2 hit the nail on the head
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for giving me some ideas about IEMs. But I saw some reviews that the etymotic er 4p lacks some bass presence. I dont like that in my music. My player is a Cowon U3. What IEMs would you recommend for this mp3 player given my musical taste?
post #6 of 9
Assuming you want something around $150, The best bass monster you can get your hand on is the Atrio M5/M8, I believe.
post #7 of 9
Around $150, get the SF5 Pro.
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post
Also take note that, although human hearing range are listed at 20 Hz to 20000 Hz, most people can't actually (or at least have difficulty) hear sound above 16kHz, especially once you pass your twenty. Don't worry about losing treble/detail over 16kHz, as human tend to interpret sound b/w 5kHz to 16kHz as 'high' and most detail are actually on the lower region.

A headphone that is capable of producing sound over 16kHz, 20kHz or even 30kHz doesn't help if you can't hear it, unless you are planning to share your 'phone with your dog. So why manufacturers like to highlight the frequency response of their 'phone when they know you can't hear it? Cause general consumer don't know the fact and often believe 'more is better' with out realizing it is just a marketing trick.
Well said.
post #9 of 9
If you are listening to compressed files (ie. MP3) then dont even worry about the frequency response. The detail in the highs are already missing anyway.
Just EQ the files and be happy with any IEM.
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