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Mini Comparison - Vibe (1st gen), C700, PK2, RE0, NE-7M, PFE, ER4S, OK1, TF10, UM3X, SE530, IE8

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Thread Starter 
Model Name V-Moda Vibe (1st gen)

Variation: 1st gen
Transducer: 9mm dynamic driver
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 92 dB SPL | 12Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: ┃ (strong metal, no relief (newer style 45 degree with relief))
Eartips Used: small single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★☆ (standard retail, good protection, a pain to get open)
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆ (a range of single flange tips and a useful carrying pouch)
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★ (1st gen has treated me well, zero problems, strong metal design, just cable coloration)
┣ Isolation: ★★★ (decent enough for a semi-open design, also low bleed out of sound)
┣ Microphonics: ★★★☆ (pretty good, still pick up but less intense/annoying)
┣ Comfort: ★★★★ (no complaints personally other then the cord having memory and holding a twist)
┗ Quick Sum: Retail quality packaging offering good durability but difficulty to open. The Vibe comes with the needed accessories but not an extravagant assortment of parts. I know these get ripped on for build quality, but being an early 1st gen, it's held up well with only the cord blackening as its only mar. They have been comfortable enough for me with no real gripes. The cord does pick up but is resistant to transmit over distance and what does come in is not as heavy as some other earphones.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★☆ (a little laid back/smoothed over but open and present, heavy roll off above 10kHz is its only major fault)
┣ Mid: ★★★☆ (a little laid back/smoothed over but again open, a little midbass emphasis that gives a warmer/fuller presence)
┣ Bass: ★★★☆ (some midbass emphasis but good response to 40Hz before dropping off, slightly muddy and lacking definition without amp)
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: Low (helps clean up and articulate bass response some)
┣ Overall SQ: [3.5 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: It's a good, warm/smooth geared IEM type earphone. It has some enduring qualities like a big can sound and presence in a small package, a warm, full, and enveloping sound, and maintains good separation of note for being a smooth and warmly geared earphone. Frequency resposne is actually pretty good but with a slightly midbass bump and early roll off on both ends above 10kHz and below 40Hz that limit the breadth of response.
Overall Value: [4.5 / 5]
Final Remark: For the $50-$70 street price, it's a very good warm geared earphone. The semi-closed design does lack total isolation but does offer some as well as a personal listening experience, even at volume. You also get less of the annoyances of complete isolation. The Vibe doesn't fault terribly anywhere but does falter at a few places. Despite, it's a very enjoyable earphone and with a little EQing, one of a great tonality as well.

Model Name Denon C700

Variation: C700 (newer C751 comes with more accessories, but is same phone)
Transducer: 11mm dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) |104 dB SPL | 12Hz ~ 24kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: ┃ (though metal construction with small relief)
Eartips Used: medium bi-flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★☆ (standard retail type packaging)
┣ Accessories: ★★ (comes with the earphone and the one tip already on the phone, and that's it, C751 version comes with a lot more)
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★ (solid, simple construction, metal phone, metal jack, plain but low microphonic cord)
┣ Isolation: ★★☆ (mediocre, much less then one would expect from an IEM)
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★ (quite good, low transmission through cord, what does come is muffled)
┣ Comfort: ★★★☆ (no complaints personally, but they are physically large which may concern some folks)
┗ Quick Sum: It's a well engineered earphone, tough, and well built. It's not as fancy/flashy as some. The lack of isolation is surprising for this type of phone but the microphonics are outstanding. Comfort is good for me but they definitely are not small in size. The biggest fault of Denon's is the complete lack of accessories, but they did fix a lot of that in their current C751 version which comes with a lot more.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★ (great definition, detail, open, and dynamic, rolls off on the top end)
┣ Mid: ★★★★★ (perfect, real, dynamic)
┣ Bass: ★★★☆ (great definition, detail, presence, significantly over emphasized/bloated on the bottom end, ★★★★ if taping over the port, evens out the low end response cutting out the bloating but brings a little loss on the very bottom end, much more even response)
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: Low
┣ Overall SQ: [4 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: It's a great earphone with one major fault. This is one of the most realistic sounding and most dynamic and revealing earphones I've listened to at the price point. However, frequency response is a bit overbearing on the bottom end and needs EQing or taping of the port to flatten out. I would have no problem giving it a 4.5 if EQed or the port taped over. I will say that with the port, the low frequency presence and extension is very good and is well pronounced and digs down very low. It's just quite overbearing and really needs to be tamed in one way or another. It seems geared for very quiet listening levels when bass boost is required for human perception of an even response. Very quiet = flat. Any louder and it's overbearing on the bottom. This is a quiet room geared earphone with the frequency response and unusually low isolation. The high sensitivity and no amp need makes it great on any source. The sound quality is amazingly good. The driver used is very good. One could really rock out to this IEM, but it is instead seemingly geared for critical listening. The stage size is medium and is dependent on the tip used. You are right in the middle of things, but there's good separation and space otherwise. I find this IEM very sensitive to the tip used. I previously tested this IEM only with the small single flange tip but have since tried it with a medium double flanged tip and found the response and stage width to improve quite considerably. I had previous thought this IEM had issues with driver distorting at higher output levels, but I've since changed my mind on that too. I've come to the conclusion that it's the port and the heavy bloating of the bottom end. They driver is very easy to drive and dynamic. Amping does improve dynamics some, but amping is of little need.
Overall Value: [4.5 / 5]
Final Remark: Well built, real sounding, but the bass response really needs to be fixed. Tip choice is very important with this IEM and has a big impact on response and presentation more so then most of the other IEMs I've used. It's a very good choice for critical listening, but I wouldn't take it on a plane due to very low isolation. If you want realism and dynamics, the C700 is an awesome buy. A little EQing or covering the port is a quick way to fix the earphone's only major flaw. The C751 can be had as cheap as $105 and is a darn good buy at that price.


Model Name Yuin PK2

Variation: NA
Transducer: unknown
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 108 dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Ч -cord, m.
Mini Jack Style: ┃ (compact plastic, half relief)
Eartips Used: bud type, foam covering
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆ (Yuin labeled box, foam filled, and earbuds in a tube)
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆ (comes with a couple other types of coverings and a 1/4" phone jack adapter, and the carrying tube)
┣ Build Quality: ★★★ (cheap looking, all plastic parts)
┣ Isolation: ☆ (it's an ear bud...)
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★ (great)
┣ Comfort: ★★★★ (comfy bud, structurally light, kind of prefer a Y cable for even loading)
┗ Quick Sum: Decent packaging for what looks like a cheap earbud. The few accessories it comes with is acceptable for a bud. The carrying tube is much like a film tube, thicker and durable though. Plain Jane much describes the aesthetic of the earbud. But oh can looks be deceiving...
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★☆ (great, only rolls off slightly on the top end, but still open and sparkly regardless)
┣ Mid: ★★★★ (slightly warm presence and slightly more recessed then the treble and bass response)
┣ Bass: ★★★☆ (full and robust and with good articulation, slightly overbearing midbass, slightly early roll off on the bottom end)
┣ Soundstage: ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ - Small / Acceptable
┣ ABF: Low
┣ Overall SQ: [4 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: This is a great earbud in plain clothes. The frequency response and presentation is well balanced and with great authority and enveloping. It's slightly in your face but not aggressively so. This makes for stage that has less breadth, but you don't get quite a all-in-my-head experience. Stage width is as wide as the earbuds. The level of detail is high with good crispness but is not razor sharp or annoying. I wouldn't mind seeing a little more extension on the bottom end just to bring out those really low notes. This earbud does very little wrong and so much right. Amping doesn't help a whole lot, but it does improve dynamics a little and clean up the bass a touch.
Overall Value: [4.5 / 5]
Final Remark: Great, great earbud. It does so much well and so little wrong. It's decently affordable at $80, doesn't need an amp, and is robust and authoritative and with good detail and even response. What's not to like? Well, it looks plain. Well, it's not an IEM and doesn't isolate. Well, ok. But, it does get pretty darn loud. So what's the problem? I don't know. Why don't you own one yet?


Model Name Head Direct RE0
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Variation: NA
Transducer: 9mm dynamic
Spec: 64Ω (@1kHz) | 100dB SPL | 15Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: ┃ (compact, plastic, half is relief)
Eartips Used: medium-small single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★☆ (there isn't really much per say, just the carrying case itself but acceptable from non-commercial)
┣ Accessories: ★★★★★ (lots, many tips, elegant carrying case, extension cord, everything you'd want)
┣ Build Quality: ★★★☆ (pretty good with sturdy metal phones, lots of relief on the plastic plug, slightly delicate feel)
┣ Isolation: ★★★★ (good isolation, always have to pull a side to hear someone talk)
┣ Microphonics: ★★★☆ (present but muffled some)
┣ Comfort: ★★★★ (no real complaints here, a little heft to the earphone)
┗ Quick Sum: For a small company, they're building a good IEM and a good accessories package along with it. It simply lacks commercial packaging for protection in shipping and the carrying case takes that job. Isolation is good and microphonics decent. Head Direct also offers a 30 day return and 1 year warranty with their product, honorable from a small manufacturer to stand behind their product.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★ (excellent frequency response extension that's revealing but lacking some articulation in note/messily presented, straining to accurately present the top end)
┣ Mid: ★★★★ (good frequency response, natural sounding but slightly dark in presence)
┣ Bass: ★★★★ (excellent frequency response extention digging deep, bass note light and lacking authority, making a smallish sound, a little constrained without amping)
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: Mid
┣ Overall SQ: [4 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The range of frequency response is impressive with this earphone reaching very high and very low in the frequency spectrum. It's almost trying to do more then it can pull off well though. The frequency response is relatively flat and balanced. The highs are slightly muddy in presentation, there but lacking definition, almost as much noise as it is note on the top end. Midrange is good, but slightly dark in presence that makes it not quite realistic although close because of the great tonality. Low end is broad like the high end, digging nice and deep in note, but it simply lacks the weight and authority to pull off good bottom end presence and makes the presentation sound a little weak and small. Amping helps some to clean up the sound, and EQing can fill out the bottom end, but it never seems to sound big and full. The stage presence is open, well separated, and not so in your head, but it's no wider then the earphones themselves.
Overall Value: [3.5 / 5]
Final Remark: It's a well balanced earphone with a lot of breadth in frequency response. Tonality is pretty good with a pretty even frequency response. Amping is suggested but it's terribly needed. The packaging is elegant and accessories many. It's a good job for a small company. There's just a few faults that kind of make the earphone less then great: the lack of authority and weight down low, the slightly dark presentation, and a top end that lacks clarity and definition. At $170, it's a well balanced earphone that has rather good tonality, but at that price point, it becomes tough to be competitive with it's few faults. I have tried pulling the foam to improve mid/high range, and I advise against it without having EQing handy. It is simply a better experience in stock form and more universally usable without EQing.

Model Name NuForce NE-7M

Variation: NA
Transducer: 9mm dynamic driver
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 100dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: ┏━ (sturdy plastic casing with a very stiff relief)
Eartips Used: stock foams (most even bass response + a little wider stage presence)
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★ (standard commertial package)
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆ (s/m/l signle flange + 1 foam, carrying pouch)
┣ Build Quality: ★★★ (cheap but sturdy look and feel)
┣ Isolation: ★★☆ (medium-light isolation)
┣ Microphonics: ★★★ (relatively pronounced, foam tip helps a bit)
┣ Comfort: ★★★★ (good for me, very light earphone makes the cord feels hefty)
┗ Quick Sum: It's a retail product with a couple presents. Packaging is normal. It's good to see a variety of tips plus the foam tips being a nice bonus, but I'd like to see some bi-flanges too. It's not really expected though, especially at this price point. Build quality seems sturdy/durable but has a cheap look and feel. It won't break on you, but you've probably seen better. Isolation is medium-low, curious if a good multi-flange would work better. Microphonics are relatively normal. Comfort is not a problem for me. The earphone is very light in weight, mainly plastic. This makes the dominate heft appear as the cord, making it feel oddly heavy.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★☆ (non-flat response without EQing with heavy 6dB peak around 5k making a very "one note wonder" treble presentation and overbearing relative to the rest of the frequency range, a little top end roll off, clean but softened details)
┣ Mid: ★★★☆ (decent tonality sounding pretty natural, a warm feel with some roll off towards 2kHz, good separation and detail, it's a shame the treble peak really overshadows it without EQing)
┣ Bass: ★★★ (good midbass, a little sluggish bottom end, lacking some definition/articulation/extention/authority on the bottom end, just can't match the midbass)
┣ Soundstage: ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ - Small / Acceptable
┣ ABF: Low
┣ Overall SQ: [3.5/5]
┗ Quick Sum: The frequency response needs a little work and will improve balance considerably. The sound stage is relatively in-your-head. I've come to pull the tips slightly out of the ear on the single flange tips, i.e. loose fit. This lightens up the midbass and improves stage presence, making it more open and spacious. The foam tip works best and provides a pretty flat bottom end. I kind of wanted to stick to the small rubber single flange tips for comparison, but since the earphones came with the foams, I find it acceptable to use since it is much more ideal. The rubber tips need a lot of bass work to get decent. I'm curious if some multi-flange tips may work well too. Tips and fitment seem to make or break the bass response of this earphone. Transparency is excellent, about as good as the Denon. Vocals are pretty natural once EQed a little bit. The top end really does need EQ. The treble is good when balanced out and consider it "fixable." In stock form, it's just annoying to me, not really livable. Notes are presented well with good definition but lacks some accuracy, clarity, dynamics. The best way I can explain it is like listening to a poly coned woofer.
Overall Value: [4/5]
Final Remark: For $50? Yeah, it's a nice earphone. It's really hard to complain at this price point, and the NE-7M does do many things very well. It does takes a little extra work to get it to a good sounding state. For simple plug and play, it does lack some, so even at $50, I give it a 4 instead of a 4.5. Consider it a 4.5 if you've got EQing. I really enjoy the transparency. I do consider EQing as somewhat needed to really enjoy this headphone though. It's a little too heavily colored not doing so. The sound presented comes across with good cleanliness and articulation, but it lacks some dynamics and bottom end fidelity. The sensitivity of this earphone is amazing. It takes absolutely nothing to power these things. They'll run on absolutely anything effortlessly. I do find these headphones fun to listen to. I have no real desire to stop listening to them when I'm using them which is notable but I personally must use EQing to make them "livable." I don't mean to scare, but the 5kHz peak is pronounced and overshadowning. The earphone is a good deal better EQed. A 6dB cut at 5-6kHz will make a world of difference. The foam tip makes a big difference. The folks who have used this earphone heavily suggest the Shure E2c black silicone tips and Complys T400 foam tips.


Model Name Phonak Audio PFE

Variation: gray filter
Transducer: Balanced armature
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 107dB SPL | 5Hz ~ 17kHz
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: ┃ (compact plastic with short relief)
Eartips Used: small, gray rubber
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★ (standard retail packaging)
┣ Accessories: ★★★★ (carrying pouch, variety of tips, cleaning tool, filter changing tool, could use a storage case for all the accessories)
┣ Build Quality: ★★★☆ (all plastic parts, cleanly designed, no reliefs, possible long term cord failure)
┣ Isolation: ★★★★ (good, tip dependent)
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★ (default over the ear design, great)
┣ Comfort: ★★★★ (over ear design with silicon wire covers plus light cording makes for a very comfy earphone but still a mass draped over the ear, large structure and shape may not work for some ears, don't know, mine great)
┗ Quick Sum: It's a well designed, "budget" earphone designed by Phonak. Packaging and accessories are good. The earphone design is elegant but with some cost cutting measures like all plastic parts and no reliefs. The over the ear design is really nice. The earphone structure sits nice in my ear and is flush enough to even lay on in bed.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★ (clean, light, somewhat rough response that is noticeable, making certain frequencies over pronounced, slightly early roll off but not enough to really miss, EQing can improve the balance)
┣ Mid: ★★★★☆ (clean, well balanced, very transparent, a little light on body)
┣ Bass: ★★★★☆ (well extended bottom end, good energy/impact, slightly bumped response without EQing but still natural)
┣ Soundstage: ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ - Small / Acceptable
┣ ABF: Low
┣ Overall SQ: [4.5/5]
┗ Quick Sum: These earphones have an energetic, light sound. The dynamics are effortless. You get a sound that is direct and engaging. Attack is strong, but decay is pretty short, making for a light, crisp sound that comes across very transparent but lacking a little depth/texture. The PFE could use a little EQing to balance out and make pretty exceptional, but it's not bad without and remains enjoyable to listen to. The treble has a strong 10dB peak at 10kHz and a 5dB peak around 13kHz that is noticeable and makes certain highs a little overbearing. The bass range has a 3dB bump too that makes it fun and isn't enough to really get overbearing, but it does make for a slightly warmer tone. The dynamics of this earphone is pretty amazing, just how effortless the sound is presented is rare to find in many reproduction hardware. I feel the lack of body from the short decay, although clean sounding, does diminish the ability to present good stage depth and separation. The sound is pretty direct and in-head, and stage width is as wide as the earphones. Amping gives a little more kick on the low end and improves overall dynamics and impact some at louder volumes.
Overall Value: [5/5]
Final Remark: It's a great buy, offering a lot of performance and clean and fun sound. Phonak has made a pretty darn good IEM. The phone design works well and over ear makes things pretty comfy and aids greatly with microphonics. This is a really good earphone for the person looking for a clean and energetic sound. For a first stint into head-fi, Phonak has took their hearing aid expertise and made something really good. I think they still have a couple things to learn, but that comes with time. I'd like to see some stress reliefs on the cabling. There's a short relief on the plug, but that's it. I am uncertain what the long term will show because of this.

Model Name Etymotic ER4S

Variation: NA
Transducer: Balanced armature
Spec: 100Ω (@1kHz) | 108dB SPL | 50Hz ~ 10kHz (+/-2dB), 20Hz ~ 16kHz (+/-4dB)
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: ┏━ (sturdy plastic casing with relief)
Eartips Used: small, gray rubber
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★★ (quality plastic case)
┣ Accessories: ★★★★★ (plastic case, carrying pouch, TONS of tips, cleaning tool)
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★ (heavy duty design but all plastic, full reliefs at every solid connection)
┣ Isolation: ★★★★ (good isolation)
┣ Microphonics: ★★★☆ (with clip, good, without pronounced, also depends upon tip used)
┣ Comfort: ★★★☆ (light earphones, but heavy wire, clip becomes required for both weight and isolation)
┗ Quick Sum: You gets a great, professionally constructed carrying case, nice looking carrying pouch, lots of tips, cleaning tool, etc. Build quality is good but metal parts are becoming more standard these days. The wire is nice and durable but it's quite heavy. It becomes unfortunate that the shirt clip pretty much comes required to use these earphones. A recabling could make this a much more pleasant setup.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★☆ (clean, spacious, rolls off a little early on the very top, almost unnoticable)
┣ Mid: ★★★★★ (not much to complain about here, good body on the lower mids)
┣ Bass: ★★★★☆ (good midbass and high bass, just rolls off a bit early, around 60Hz or so)
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: Medium
┣ Overall SQ: [5/5]
┗ Quick Sum: Frankly, there isn't much to complain about. Frequency response is very good. Sound has good development (attack and decay) that gives gives great body and space to music. The stage depth is really good, but the stage width does end at the ears. They have a sound I can only really describe as that I would hear from a full sized speaker set. The top end could reach out a hair farther and the bottom end could use another 20-30Hz extension to really dig deep. With some boost, the earphone happily plays down to around 40Hz fine, eventually bottoms out though when attempting to force lower notes. The only sound complaints I have is that the sound isn't quite as direct as some headphones and the dynamics aren't as effortless as some. You never quite get the sense that you're listening to the source but rather a speaker reproduction of the source. The dynamics come across slightly limited. You get great body from full attack and decay, but you don't get the sense that the sound is ever effortless and transient. Amping isn't really all that necessary. It helps a little bit on the bottom end to retain authority and presence but doesn't really make a whole lot of difference.
Overall Value: [5/5]
Final Remark: The classic is still one of the best. What can I say... The packaging and accessories is top notch. It's a good value, especially on the used market. I'm not fond of the cabling as it could stand to be a heck of a lot lighter, but the design is well thought out. The sound quality is excellent, clean, great body. The attack and decay (body) is the best I've heard so far, only comparable to full-sized speakers. I'd like a more effortless and dynamic presentation but that's nitpicking. The stage depth and separate is great. A little more bottom end extension would make this a killer IEM.

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Update 11-11-09

Model Name Yuin OK1

Variation: NA
Transducer: Dynamic driver
Spec: 150Ω (@1kHz) | 109dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 24kHz
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: ┃ (compact plastic with short relief)
Eartips Used: rubber surround (bud)
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★ (stiff, colorful cardboard case, simple, compact)
┣ Accessories: ★★★★ (multiple iem converters, a variety of tips, a couple styles of bud covers(rubber), a 1/4" phone jack, no separate carrying case other then the packaging itself)
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★ (light, rubberized cord, buds are sturdy but plastic construction, cleanly designed but not particularly built for abuse lacking reliefs at buds and at split)
┣ Isolation: ☆ (it's an ear bud...)
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★ (great of course being a bud)
┣ Comfort: ★★★★ (comfy bud, not a lot of heft, would have been nice to see a wider variety of coverings including foam, no problems with rubber though, diameter is larger then other Yuin buds)
┗ Quick Sum: Packaging is compact and functional. I would have liked to see a separate carrying case at this price point as well as a couple more tip options. Yuin went out of their way to make the IEM design work offering a variety of screw on converter lengths and tip types. Closed and open hole foam bud covers would have been nice to see included. Build quality is solid but in Yuin tradition, simple. The cord is very nice, light, flexible, doesn't hold a tangle, and a nice rubberized feel. Isolation and microphonics are what one would expect from a bud. One interesting note is that the sound emitted isn't bled out so strongly. Even at moderate volumes, you don't get a lot of sound output towards everyone else around you. Comfort is good. Some have mentioned that the diameter of the bud is larger then the PK series. This may be noticeable to some.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★☆ (metal tweeter sound, clean, crisp, excellent speed, significant focus around 7kHz with roll off above that, not fatiguing but dominant and harsh with some recordings, responds very well to EQing)
┣ Mid: ★★★★☆ (prominant upper midrange focus rising from 2khz up, open, sharp, edgy, still retains a sense of warmth in vocals, again EQing can balance it out)
┣ Bass: ★★★★☆ (light on presence, excellent impact and energy, fast and clean, lacks raw output and some body/fullness but makes up for it largely with raw energy and impact, perceived as a good amount and depth and comes across very well, EQing can help some but is limited in SPL on the bottom end)
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: Moderate
┣ Overall SQ: [4.5/5]
┗ Quick Sum: The frequency response is smooth but tilted and brightly geared, brighter unamped. I will stress to get an even tone and a good bottom end, you really do need to run this with an amp, a powerful amp is better. The sound is very detailed and crisp, reminds me a lot of metal coned drivers. Despite the bright tonality, once your ears get used to it the OK1 does sound natural. EQing gets you to the desired spot much more readily and really does balance out the earphone. The sound stage is in your head but not walled in. It's well rounded and seemingly extends to infinity. Locational cues are a little fuzzy, but it's consistent, well placed and linear. The overall presentation is energetic, edgy, and upbeat with a focus towards impact and dynamics. Transparency and realism is top notch. I haven't heard another earphone sound so life-like, and it does it well enough to where it can fool you at times.
Overall Value: [4.5/5]
Final Remark: The OK1 is a very high quality bud from Yuin. It does require an amp and does scale well with power. 150 ohms means the amp needs to be a little bit of a powerhouse. This is a brightly geared earphone with a significant bump around 7kHz and roll off below 100Hz. EQing can fix this if you've got it. The level of realism is unparalleled with any other earphone I've tried. The sound is so true to life, and the transparency, excellent dynamic range and energy really does make the sound believable. If I were to pick faults, it would really only be the frequency response and the almost need for an amp.

Model Name Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10 Pro

Variation: NA
Transducer: 2-way, 3 balanced armature drivers
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 117dB SPL | 10Hz ~ 17kHz
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: ┃ (compact plastic with short relief)
Eartips Used: Shure foam (Olive), stretched (time consuming), Comply T-500
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★★ (standard consumer level packaging, nice looking, well packaged)
┣ Accessories: ★★★★ (comes with an elegant carrying case, extension cord, and airplane cord(high ohm adapter), and a variety of single flange silicon tips plus one very mediocre foam tip, some bi and triple flange tips and a better foam tip would have been nice)
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★ (quality, but plastic, glued together construction(prone to age breaking), replaceable cord, decently light construction, good use of cord reliefs)
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆ (Isolation is decent but dependent on tip. It doesn't isolate as great as one may expect from an IEM, even when using a good foam tip with a good seal)
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★ (excellent, over the ear or not. The cord transmits very minimal sound as the cord casing is well damped, soft material. The earphone is sizable and doesn't directly transmit much noise into the ear)
┣ Comfort: ★★★☆ (These are bulky units. They are light though, and they are actually well shaped for the most part. Comfort heavily depends upon the tip used. With a good foam, these are as comfortable as any other IEM, over the ear or not. use the right tip, and you're golden. Use the wrong one, and you'll have problems. Because of the size, the fitment will be decent or not for some. They work fine for me, but I know some folks will ahve issues. These can not be inserted deeply, so they rely on larger diameter and easy to seal tips. Longer tips would work too and make things easier.)
┗ Quick Sum: Packaging is standard for a commercial product. Protection is normal. Accessories are numerous and the carrying case is pretty sexy. My only complaint is that these are hard earphones to fit well for most people, so the tip selection should have been much greater. UE really should provide a wider variety of tip choices for this earphone. Microphonics are outstanding for an IEM. Isolation is ok. Even with a good seal you can pick up external noises. It just seems a bit of outside information leaks through despite UE's claim of 26dB right on the box. When I can readily hear a person talking to me, it's not that great. It's not terrible mind you, but it's not ER4S good.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★★ (clean, sparkly with the best top end I've heard, not harsh, very refined sound, open sound, good energy and edge, top notch)
┣ Mid: ★★★★★ (well balanced, natural sound, good realism, well refined, open, excellent energy)
┣ Bass: ★★★★☆ (good energy, impact, speed, cleanliness, lacks just a little bit on the bottom end, present but recessed, well balanced and blends very well with the midrange)
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: Low
┣ Overall SQ: [5/5]
┗ Quick Sum: These are very, very well refined earphones. The balance and blending throughout the frequency spectrum is amazing. The sound stage is good with a well sized, open sound. There's excellent placement and layering. Dynamics and presentation of note are robust with good energy and articulation of note. It is both very clean and well bodied, two things that many times don't go hand in hand. Everything just comes across very well refined, balanced, appropriate. There is excellent transparency, articulation, and body of note, and this IEM doesn't trip up anywhere and is very balanced and refined across the spectrum. It is engaging and energetic but non-fatiguing nor harsh or fatiguing. The only complaint is that the overall presentation is passive. It's very much akin to watching TV. What you see is real. Colors, voices, the room, everything is real, but you know you're watching it on TV, although it's a big screen HD TV. You know you're not actually there. This is what the Triple.Fi does when presenting sound.
Overall Value: [4.5/5]
Final Remark: In one word: refined. The TF10 is an excellent representation of a top level IEM. It is a triple driver design, albeit 2-way (dual low, single high), that covers the entire frequency spectrum very well. Fitment is a concern for some, and this will heavily depend on tip choice and tip used. You may want to invest in some Comply T-500 tips or look into other options. A note on the Comply, it will soak up high frequencies noticeably, so weigh the trade off of using an open-cell foam type tip. I spent a solid day stretching out a set of Shure Olive tips, and I was quite content with them after the initial pre-use en devour to get them on. It can be well worth the effort though as the Olives are some of the best tips available in my opinion, comfy and doesn't soak up highs. You will have to cut the Olives off though going this route. Decoring is another route if you trust yourself not to destroy them in the process. I mark value at 4.5 simply because durability has historically been questionable. Consider it a half point for risk.

Model Name Westone UM3X
Variation: NA
Transducer: 3-way, 3 balanced armature drivers
Spec: 64Ω (@1kHz) | 124dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 18kHz
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: ┏━ (sturdy plastic casing with relief)
Eartips Used: Shure foam (Olive)
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★★ (standard consumer level packaging, nice looking, well packaged)
┣ Accessories: ★★☆ (comes with firm clamshell carrying case, normal and long Comply tips, and a wax cleaning tool, basic for a high dollar item, but it is geared for professionals rather then consumers)
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★ (quality, but plastic, glued together, durable feel, light construction, cord reliefs everywhere, neat open cord design but potential catch hazzard)
┣ Isolation: ★★★★★ (excellent isolation, on par with most other IEMs)
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★ (excellent, over the ear design)
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆ (overall lightweight design, light cord, enclosure is medium sized but light, slight discomfort from the enclosure along the back edge pressing against my ear, some other designs are a little more compact)
┗ Quick Sum: For something not specifically targeted for the average consumer, it's hard to complain about the lack of accessories. It was nice to include widely popular Comply tips, although they do soak up some of the highs and the short one does add an odd midbass thump. Packaging is standard. I've got no complaints with isolation or microphonics. The size/shape of the enclosure may or may not fit into a person's ear really well. They were just a tiny, tiny bit too long for me, and it sits against the back side of my ear.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★☆ (slight emphasis, somewhat prominent most of the time, good top end, clean, dry, good energy, dynamic range )
┣ Mid: ★★★★★ (well balanced, good energy, dynamic range, even, good clarity with light upper frequency focus, somewhat overshadowed by treble and bass reverburation)
┣ Bass: ★★★★☆ (good impact, energy, dynamics, and speed, well balanced, retains thickness/body of note, articulate, some odd reverberation (shakes enclosure, enclosure resonance?) that can come across slightly boomy at times)
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: Low
┣ Overall SQ: [5/5]
┗ Quick Sum: There is light treble emphasis that makes for slight perpetual dominance in most music, but only lightly so. The sound is somewhat dry and unrefined. I think this has a lot to do with how revealing the earphone is. It will point out any flaws but can be outstanding on really good recordings. The dynamic breadth is outstanding and is equally capable if presenting subtlety and high energy equally well. This makes for outstanding locational cues. Stage space is very forward, intimate, but there is great location and exact, measurable depth. There is excellent layering and separation. The odd bass reverberation is the only off putting aspect. It's at certain frequencies, not strong but out of place. The enclosure actually shakes in your ear when this occurs and may just be an unavoidable resonance from the driver.
Overall Value: [5/5]
Final Remark: This earphone does a couple things better then most. The dyanmic range is outstanding, and this earphone is capable of differentiating between subtle and loud information. A lot of earphones have a hard time doing this or simply lack the dynamic range to both be quiet and very loud when needed. This also makes for an incredibly revealing experience, and you tend to hear new sounds in music that you never hear in other earphones. Stage space is exceptional with excellent presentation of depth, exact depth that you could mentally take a tape measure to. The stage presentation is intimate though, close is very close but from there on out, distancing is excellent and not walled in. Despite the couple quirks, it just does so much so well.

Model Name Shure SE530
Variation: NA
Transducer: 2-way, 3 balanced armature drivers
Spec: 36Ω (@1kHz) | 119dB SPL | 18Hz ~ 19kHz
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: ┃ (sturdy plastic with short, stiff relief)
Eartips Used: Shure foam (Olive)
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★★ (black painted, brushed aluminum case, very unique, compact)
┣ Accessories: ★★★★★ (stiff clamshell carrying case with inset Shure naming, PTH device, tons of cabling, excellent array of tips stock)
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆ (slightly industrial wiring and connections, earphone is glued plastic but feels sturdy, short, firm reliefs everywhere)
┣ Isolation: ★★★★★ (Excellent as expected, on par with most IEMs)
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★ (excellent, over the ear design)
┣ Comfort: ★★★★ (The IEMs themselves are comfortable, light weight, well shaped. The cabling and connectors have some weight and the PTH device does add bulk although it does have a clip on the back)
┗ Quick Sum: The fit and finish and array of accessories does indicate this was geared towards a more discerning buying. All parts feel of quality and are well thought out. The metal box is interesting but serves no additional purpose. The carrying case is very well made, maybe a little big (to carry PTH I assume). This earphone comes with a LOT of accessories which isn't terribly common. It's nice to see. The cabling scheme is a little weird with its multi-piece setup, but it does allow for flexibility in length and configuration. There's a little excess bulk from it.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★ (good lower frequency presence but top end rolls off making for a slightly recessed/dark top end, clean, light, good energy, does extend high but is quiet and overshadowed by the midrange, non-fatiguing)
┣ Mid: ★★★★★ (natural, open, light, clean, well balanced, dynamic)
┣ Bass: ★★★☆ (good energy, some fullness but stops short in depth, body, and fullness on songs with low frequency information, high bass is well defined, good reverbueration on long notes, a little light on quick notes)
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: Low
┣ Overall SQ: [4/5]
┗ Quick Sum: The SE530 does certain things really well. The midrange response is even and flat with natural tonality. The presentation is light, very clean, and dynamic. Transparency is excellent. Stage presence is neither intimate or far away. Locational cues are excellent in placing a sound in an exact point in space. Subsequently there is good direction and distancing. However, the stage presence falls apart in appropriately placing information. In a live concert, you might get the screaming audience being presented up on stage and closer then the drummer. The placement gets weird sometimes. It has a relatively intimate and close presentation. Everything sort of falls over each other and makes for a goofy stage space sometimes. The size doesn't sound confined, but far stuff is close and close stuff is close. The roll off on the top end isn't bad, and you do eventually get used to it. It helps with fatigue. It's light, clean, and open. The low end suffers, and it's always slightly lacking on the low frequency information. It does certain things really well but faulters in several places. Dynamics are good, and it can present energetic information strongly. It is a little light on body/weight/thickness of note. It's more light and delicate in sound.
Overall Value: [3.5/5]
Final Remark: It's an excellent earphone if you want what it has to offer. The midrange is excellent. The transparency and cleanliness is top notch. You just have to live with the faults. I will note that I really liked these when I first listened to them, and they do certain aspects better then most other earphones. These aren't the greatest of value. You do get a lot of product for the cost, but you don't get a lot of sound for the cost. It rolls off some on the top end and moderately on the bottom end. Effectively, it's not offering more then a good and much cheaper single BA earphone. A multi-driver earphone specifically lets you cover the entire frequency spectrum well. Otherwise there isn't much point to stepping past a single BA design. It kind of misses on its intended goal, and that's a shame because for what it does cover well, it covers really well. If you like midrange, you'll like this earphone. It just doesn't offer more extension then a single BA setup.

Model Name Sennheiser IE8
Variation: NA
Transducer: 9mm dynamic driver
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 125dB SPL | 10Hz ~ 20kHz
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: ┏━ (compact plastic with relief)
Eartips Used: Small bi-flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★★ (the retangular case is expensive an engineering feat in itself with a multitude of security features, abundant foam padding, and multiple layers. The packing it comes in is crazy good, but it screams "we're wasting your money")
┣ Accessories: ★★★★★ (comes with a good array of tips, although I'd like to see foam options, over ear guides, cleaning tool, shirt clip, and a very high tech carrying case)
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★★ (Top notch, money extravagantly spent with embossed logoing, inset product logo on cabling, plastic but feels durable, see through smoked plastic is kinda cool, overall excellent fit and finish)
┣ Isolation: ★★★★★ (Excellent isolation, on par with most IEMs)
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★ (excellent, over the ear design)
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆ (earphone is light, cabling is light, fits well into ear, the only gripe is that the earphone hanges out a ways and can wiggle around, not quite as secure as some options)
┗ Quick Sum: Money well? spent. Overall product quality, fit, and finish is top notch. Everything from the consumer packaging to the earphones themselves are excellent. There's plenty of accessories, and the carrying case is really cool. I'm kind of more impressed by the engineering of the packaging then I am of the earphone, haha. Comfort is great, but it simply isn't the most secure and locked down fit out there)
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★★ (balanced, very extended, great precision in lower frequencies, top end lacks a little edge/crispness/sparkle, not harsh/fatiguing, but retains a strong presence all the way up, slightly laid back overall)
┣ Mid: ★★★★☆ (well balanced, clean, natural sound, good realism, well refined, just overwhelmed by the bottom end that gives a slightly off sounding, warm tone, slightly laid back)
┣ Bass: ★★★★★ (visceral, beleivable energy and presence, bottomless, slightly overbearing compared to mids, add some fun to the presentation, slightly loose presentation not as crisp/edgy as some earphones but definitely not sloppy, good speed and fullness, lacks a little hit/whack, slightly laid back)
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: Low
┣ Overall SQ: [5/5]
┗ Quick Sum: Despite the slight bass emphasis, this is a very well balanced and well refined earphone. It shows what a good dynamic driver can really do offering a great overall presentation from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. It doesn't really faulter anywhere. The bass knob is sort of useless. The problem is the bass comes in high, up in the lower midrange. The bass knob only cuts out lower bass. You either get strong midbass with an anemic bottom end or a strong midbass with a strong and balanced bottom end. You sort of turn it full and leave it alone. It just doesn't really fix the issue and causes a bigger problem if you just set it low. The overall tone is decently natural with just a little bit of warmth from the low frequency emphasis. There's excellent energy and body in note. The overall sound is slightly laid back, softened, but pleasant and not overly rounded off. The laid back nature does end up with a little lighter kick/impact then some earphones. There is very good articulation and speed of note, and the IE8 isn't sluggish up top or sloppy down low. The sound stage is BIG and spacious. It does lack some intimacy because of this. There is a strong left/right emphasis but less forward/rearward imaging. The overall presentation sounded walled in, a big sound theater kind of walled in. Locational cues are good but there isn't much depth information. Everything is just away from you, great for big sound, less great for layering.
Overall Value: [5/5]
Final Remark: Everything about this earphone is well engineered and refined. The sound is excellent without any major faults. The overall presentation is big and spacious and slightly laid back. Other then a slight bass emphasis and the bass knob not being terribly useful to actually cut in and out all of the emphasized range, there isn't much to complain about. It's just a great product. I would like to see a little better sense of depth/layering and a more 3D space rather then just big, but that's nitpicking, and that's all I can really do because it doesn't do a whole lot wrong. It is pricey, but there isn't really a whole lot else other there that gives you the same kind of sound.
post #2 of 142
Thread Starter 
Update, added initial impressions of Head Direct's RE0 headphone. I'll be revising comments over the next couple days as I break them in more and keep listening to them with fresh ears.
post #3 of 142
Thread Starter 
Ok. I think I'll leave the review as is. I may work through the review once more when I test the C700 and PK2 with an amp and see if my impressions change.
post #4 of 142
Thread Starter 
I'll be getting my hands on a pair of ER4S IEMs soon, should be curious...
post #5 of 142
Thread Starter 
Total rework of the review system to a a more forum standardized set. I'm also approaching this review in a manner the excludes EQing and amping, although, I mention benefits of doing so for the ones that can benefit. I'm taking this more as a "I bought these headphones to listen on my portable mp3 player, and here's how they sound." Just be aware that EQing can improve tonality faults and amping can improve clarity and dynamics, especially at volume and in the lower end response.

I should be getting the ER4S sometime later in the week. It is a used set, so I'll be able to listen and review them immediately without burn in.
post #6 of 142
The Vibes are terrible, I have a pair and they are just barely better than a low end Sony EX. For the same or less money there are VASTLY better phones out there.
post #7 of 142
Thread Starter 
Depends in what ways. As well, I do not know how much the Vibe has changed through the versions. I only have the 1st gen and have not listened to any newer gen ones. It is entirely possible they are now of a lower grade. I can not say.

As far as being bad, that's subjective. In what ways? All of these phones I have listened back to back on a number of occasions on a wide variety of music, on several sources, and both amped and unamped. I am also not new to audio despite being a relative greenhorn of head-fi. I have heard some of the best home and car hardware out there. I heavily understand the subjectivity of audio. Everyone has their own preferences, needs, and wants in audio. I too have my own bias towards what I prefer.

I agree the Vibes are not great. They aren't particularly astounding in any way. However, they really don't do much bad. The frequency response is decent enough. The output is strong and with big presence. There's actually decent enough detail to indicate the beginning and end of notes despite being of a warmer, smoother tone. This type of sound commonly comes with a lack of detail, but there remains definition and separate of notes. I would rate it much worse if this was not there. If it was just muddy junk and blah, was dark and veiled, and just crap, yeah, I would rate it much poorer, but frankly it isn't. The sound is open and not veiled. It's just not that bad really. I've heard a lot worse. Yes, I've heard a lot better, but I value products that don't have gross errors. Some potentially great hardware has major faults that almost make it unusable. The Denon is kind of this way. It has very low output comparatively. It's like running a midwoofer with 3mm xmax in a field of midwoofers where 6mm is common. It simply tops out so early. This in my eyes is a critical fault and severely limits the device. The Vibe doesn't have any major fault. One can blame that it's muddy and lacks detail. Well, ok, it does. But it's gearing sort of necessitates that. If you want a warm, smooth sound, you get something that lacks some level of detail and crispness. It is expected. You can't judge against what should be.

Feel free to discuss anything in great detail. I will make my points as needed. To simply say something is terrible is a vague statement. I can't carry much of a conversation from that. I am forced to respond in a broad and unspecific sense as I have. Why don't you like it? What are you preferences in sound? What other options have you listened to and why do you prefer them? Discuss in more detail. I understand that you have your own preference. The Vibe is not great but terrible is subjective to preference. If you want something ultra crisp and detailed, yes, they are a horrible fit, but for their intended gearing, they fair well. One can not simply blame the bad fit because of an incorrect purchase decision. You will always be unhappy if the product does not fit you. That is guaranteed. Understand the range of products available and understand your bias/preference in music. Match hardware and preference, but don't blame the hardware if it does well for its gearing. It's more human error then hardware error. Too many people are so willing to blame hardware when the hardware itself is never really at fault.
post #8 of 142
I have a first gen Vibe as well, try a Nuforce NE-7M for $55 and compare them back to back. From classical to alternative to rap, you'll notice you won't even hear large chunks of the frequency range in some of the music.
post #9 of 142
Thread Starter 
I'm quite tuned to frequency response. It's a byproduct of years of tuning a wide array of systems. Yes, the frequency response is not flat on the Vibe. I personally EQ mine to improve what is lacking. To say some information is completely missing is a bit much. The only parts that heavily lack is information above 10kHz and below 40Hz. The output rolls off heavily beyond these points. The rest of the range can be EQed and brought even. Still, not EQing isn't a terrible thing. I've used several headphones that require more EQing then the Vibes. You really have to clarify what you mean by missing. For example, to some 5dB down around 1kHz is "missing." The information is still there but recessed in output and overshadowed by the surrounding information. There is a slight void. However, a little EQing fixes it. Because it's a single dynamic driver, it is incapable of "missing" something. It can be high or low in output, but the only thing that can happen is the upper and lower limit of response when sensitivity heavily drops off. That's 40Hz and 10kHz. I'll agree on that, but in between, no.

Run a pink noise test (Realm of Excursion -> Downloads). Go through your EQ and match output intensity in all bands so no one frequency range overshadows another nor any one frequency void in output. Do this for both the Vibe and the NE-7M and see how you end up. I'll say if you haven't really adjusted EQ a whole lot and never have made use of pink noise, it will take at least a good half hour to hour to get used to the sound and begin to differentiate the different frequency bands. At some point, you should be able to "see" all the bands separately and together so that you can "look" at one versus another to compare and adjust. Pink noise is a noise that is equal in intensity throughout the entire frequency spectrum. It's an unbiased tool unlike music which favors certain frequencies and is not even from one artist to another. I'll suggest you attempt this more then once. It may take a number of tries to become more consistent and quicker in tuning.
post #10 of 142
If the phones were close in sound quality like say a 335i vs. a S4, I'd go through the trouble of comparing. Unfortunately, the Vibe is so pathetic it's like comparing a 1998 Chrysler Sebring to a 335i.

The Vibe is more on the level of Koss Plugs (not bad for $20), Senn CX-400 and Sony EX-51s.
post #11 of 142
Thread Starter 
Again, depends in what areas. Depending on your tastes and needs, that Chrystler Sebring is a better fit then the 335i or S4. It still comes down to preference and fit. I'll say for this specific comparison, the Chrystler is unfortunately a mid level product and subsequently filled with cheap parts, but it will of course fit certain people better then even the 335i and S4. Price is an obvious "fit." What if we look at both the Sebring and 335i convertable. Let's say the top on the Sebring is easier and quicker to operate. How does that make the 335i better? What if we're looking for a soft, compliant ride. The Sebring is again better then the 335i. It really all depends. Now if the Sebring's engine blows up every 50k miles, that's a major fault. If it gets 15mpg in the city, that's a major fault. I gotta pick on VW...I mean Audi for a bit. Their S4 hasn't escaped the "fire" incidents where cars set themselves on fire going down the highway. I can't say I've heard of a Sebring doing this. These are things that are obviously bad, things to actually judge against. The Vibe's only fault is build quality in newer versions. Few people seem to make it over a few months before something breaks. I've had mine for quite a while and with zero fault, but mine was relatively early in production when it was still being hyped and looked at with critical eyes. My timing may have helped me out a bit.

Because this is all a matter of personal preference, what is your preference in audio?

Because the price is good, I may grab the NE-7M and see how it fairs. There's definitely a lot of positive reviews/comments about them. Are they right for me? I don't know. The one I could be happiest with with no aids is the PK2. The Vibe comes in second as it is an enjoyable earphone for me. Denon would be first with aids but really needs EQing to work well. For example, HeadphoneAddict's reviews the C700 along with the NE-7M, the NE-7M very well liked, the C700 faulted. He hits the faults square on the head but doesn't see the fixes that can make the Denon rather remarkable. Some EQing, and the high end is just as good as the midrange, and the low end can be tamed quite a bit too and makes for a much more impressive experience(hint to HeadphoneAddict). A lot of the troubles too are how loud people listen to them. The Denon simply can't be played that loud. Anything above medium levels causes distortion, and the sound quality is screwed from there on out. An amp? Haha, does nothing for it(no offense HeadphoneAddict). The sensitivity is so high and the capability so limited that it bottoms out just the same. The most that can be hoped for is some coloration to boost mid or tame high end or bass frequencies. He and his son hold the NE-7M in high regard though. I really should try it.

The head-fi world is such a strange place. It's so eccentric and seemingly in lack of science. I mean where are the frequency response plots, THD plots, T/S parameters, and all that fun stuff so readily available in the home audio world? I doubt there's a BL or CMS curve in public existence of a headphone driver. There isn't a hint anywhere of motor linearity, diaphragm stiffness, or anything. There isn't even really any marketing on the sound of the headphones being sold. Every single purchase is completely blind. The only reason we know anything is because of sites like this and the sharing of information. A few of us have the chance to personally demo a small selection of the market at the few stores and get-togethers that happen. Other then that, nada, and everyone's buying blind. I mean go to a store, pick up a packaged headpone and look at it. Then tell me how that headpone will sound. It's pretty much a big joke. People should desire more, demand more from the companies. It's late, I'm rambling...
post #12 of 142
I just reviewed Head-direct RE0 canalphone and I like it very much. Review is here:
Head-direct RE0 competes with ER-4S and beats E500 I rate it much higher than you did. I had both Vibe 1st gen and PK2. Both can not compete with RE0.

What is your source?
post #13 of 142
I got PK2s and had RE0s and have to agree that RE0s just tramples over PK2s...
post #14 of 142
Thread Starter 
Several sources, both amped and unamped.

A lot of "like" comes down to personal interests. I have my own tastes, and that will favor certain aspects.

You're right, the RE0 does stomp the likes of the Vibe and PK2...in certain areas. However, in other areas it lacks. The Vibe and PK2 offer a bigger sound, the Vibe a wider sound stage. Both the Vibe and PK2 have a decent enough frequency response compared with the RE0. Both the Vibe and PK2 don't need an amp, RE0 a little more so in need. The RE0 spanks both in breadth of frequency response and naturalism/realism in tone. The only one that beats the RE0 in realism is the Denon.

Parts come down to personal preference. The RE0 does lack "big" sound. They simply don't have the weight and authority needed and instead have a small speaker kind of presence. The sound signature is slightly warm and slightly dark. The warmth can be fixed with a little EQing, but they always sound dark and slightly veiled, no matter what you do. I feel it lacks some transient qualities and misses on some level of crispness and articulation. I prefer a more robust sound, more authority and power behind my notes. I like definition of note and crispness of note. I prefer something that is more natural and open sounding. I like transparency. I like high dynamic range. I don't mind warmth but am about equal between warm and neutral.

Now granted, this is an IEM. One may decide to only expect a certain amount from such a design. As well, certain characteristics are more dominant in the like/dislike equation. Frequency response is one of them. I'm a big fan of a broad and flat frequency response, because if it isn't, I'm forced to EQ it, and hopefully I'm listening to a source that has that capability.

In the end, you have to decide what you deem important and what you don't really care so much about. I have my own grading scale I use and certain aspects become a must and some other aspects I couldn't care less about. For an earphone, neutral to slightly warm tonality is important, a broad and relatively (ear) flat (within a few dB) frequency response is important, transparency and openness is important, articulation of note is important. I'm willing to accept some smoothness of response as long as it doesn't muddy the sound and make information meaningless. I will accept some loss of frequency response on both ends that aren't heavily needed where above 10kHz and below 40Hz isn't quite as important to me. This is why something like the Vibes are acceptable to me. I don't need to hear a 20Hz synthesized tone or air/sparkle from some 15kHz as long as the driver maintains good definition and accuracy in the remainder.

An example of personal preference and admirable traits would be comparing the Vibe to the RE0 in robustness and openness. Well, the Vibe beats the RE0 on both. The Vibe has a bigger, more authoritative sound and notes with more weight and breadth. It lacks some clarity and crispness for a smoother, warmer, sometimes slighlty muddy sound, but it also is decently open in presence and unveiled. There is more discernible articulation of note with the Vibe because it attacks with good authority and carries a lot of weight as it slowly decays. You get body and shape to the note. The RE0 has great attack, but it lacks body, decaying fast and lacking filling information. The RE0 is not as smoothed over and has better crispness and clarity on the leading edge of the information. But what about the rest of the note? The Vibe has more space and openness to the sound because of this.

In the end, what is better? That's personal preference. What aspects do you prefer over another. Which aspects would you trade off for another if you couldn't have both? In the end, one option simply fits you better. Now what fits me better will probably not be what fits you better. It's just personal taste.

My only goal here is to provide a source of data, hopefully meaningful. From there, it is up to each individual to compare that data towards their own personal preferences. Only certain options will fit particular people best. You wouldn't exactly buy the Vibe if you disliked a warm, smoothed off sound. Something like the RE0 would be more favorable to that taste.

One can't really argue against each other's personal preferences. It's like getting 50 people together to debate the best pizza. There are so many brands and toppings out there, that there will never be one universal best. It's simply "best fit," and that's very specific to the individual and their intended goals and limitations.

I really don't want this to be an arguement of which is the best because frankly there is no best. There is no single headphone on this planet that fits everyone perfectly. You know what my favorite headphone is of the above group so far? The PK2. Why? Because it fits my tastes the best. It doesn't do anything terrible and has a lot of qualities I like. Do I think it's universally the best? No. I do feel the RE0 is the best package overall of the current group. Still, it doesn't do everything well and will not be ideal for a lot of people. That's just how it is. Once I listen to the ER4S, NE-7M, OK1, and Phonik PFE, I'm sure my favorites may shift around a little.
post #15 of 142
Thread Starter 
I bumped up the RE0 a half star in treble and bass. It does some things exceptionally well and is wrong on very few aspects, but I feel it still lacks some necessary qualities to actually be ideal. I do feel it's on a similar level as the Yuin but a different flavor and tailored to a different set of properties. It's basically me gearing the review less towards my personal bias.

I think I'm done with the NE-7M review. I've come to the conclusion that the right tip is a must to make it work well, plus I strongly feel EQing is needed to really get a good end result. Other then that, it's a mighty nice headphone at just $50.
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