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Are (High-end) Custom IEMs Overrated? - Page 9  

post #121 of 467
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffroyroycole View Post

If you owned one expensive custom and felt ripped off (i.e., the product was overrated in your view), even if you didn't go public about it and denied it to others, doubtful you would buy 2-4 more pair.

 
 
I did not say own, I said afford. I said: "I think that even if one could afford one or 5 sets of very expensive customs, that has nothing to do with them still being considered overrated or not".
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffroyroycole View Post

My only point was that if you know what the risks are, and you buy with your eyes wide open, then your expectations are not out of line with the risk.

 
 
That's been said before and it's a pretty obvious statement. My point is that often people don't "know what the risks are, and don't "buy with their eyes wide open". Most customs threads are so long, some running into hundreds of pages, that it's not that easy to get truly balanced views. There are countless useless posts and plenty of fanboyism; some of this fanboyism is not always so evident as often some posters do seem knowledgeable, they've spent a bit of time on HF, learned some of the fancy language and have begun to 'play the audiophile game'. Some of these posters have a high post count, which to unsuspecting members translates as "Oh, he really knows his stuff".
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffroyroycole View Post

The debate is all over the map because the question you pose is much too general. I know you have many times explained what you mean, but anyone reading the title would be confused because it basically is a question that has a yes or no answer. Right

 
 
I think my opening post is pretty clear, and the question is not that general. I should imagine that anyone who reads the thread title would at least read the very first post in the thread before simply posting their thoughts on the matter. I know when I post in a thread, I tend to at least read the opening post.

 


Edited by music_4321 - 6/5/11 at 2:54am
post #122 of 467

My only experience with custom IEMs are the UE 18 Pros. In terms of looks and built, I don't think they can be faulted and mine fit my ears perfectly first time round. However, sonically, I really don't think they deserve the $1,350 price tag, I'd rate my Westone 4, UM3x or Turbine Copper higher. There seem to be a big bump somewhere in the high frequencies, and for the last year or so I've been wondering if maybe they were faulty or there's something wrong with my ears that made them sound that way. Then recently I found some frequency graphs of the UE 18 which confirmed my doubts.

 

0,1425,i=233163&sz=1,00.jpg0,1425,i=223243&sz=1,00.jpg

 

If these graphs are right, there is a big bump around 7-8 k which takes out all the sparks in music and gives a very dull sound in general, kind of like the opposite of the HD 800. I've often wondered if that was done deliberately to minimize ear fatigue for stage performers which they were primary designed for, and if that's true, maybe they should warn potential customers about that before they made the purchase.

 

Although I've not heard the JH 16, just from looking at the graph above, seems to me they have that similar 6-7 k spike like the HD800, do they sound bright and sibilant?

 

After my experience with UE 18, think I'd give custom IEMs a miss from now on unless I start doing live performances. Right now I'm quite happy with my Westone 4 and UM3x, especially the W4, which to me is nearly as good as my LCD-2.

 

 

post #123 of 467
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danz03 View Post

My only experience with custom IEMs are the UE 18 Pros. In terms of looks and built, I don't think they can be faulted and mine fit my ears perfectly first time round. However, sonically, I really don't think they deserve the $1,350 price tag, I'd rate my Westone 4, UM3x or Turbine Copper higher. There seem to be a big bump somewhere in the high frequencies, and for the last year or so I've been wondering if maybe they were faulty or there's something wrong with my ears that made them sound that way. Then recently I found some frequency graphs of the UE 18 which confirmed my doubts.

 

If these graphs are right, there is a big bump around 7-8 k which takes out all the sparks in music and gives a very dull sound in general, kind of like the opposite of the HD 800. I've often wondered if that was done deliberately to minimize ear fatigue for stage performers which they were primary designed for, and if that's true, maybe they should warn potential customers about that before they made the purchase.

 

Although I've not heard the JH 16, just from looking at the graph above, seems to me they have that similar 6-7 k spike like the HD800, do they sound bright and sibilant?

 

After my experience with UE 18, think I'd give custom IEMs a miss from now on unless I start doing live performances. Right now I'm quite happy with my Westone 4 and UM3x, especially the W4, which to me is nearly as good as my LCD-2.


I heard the UE18 demo and was not very impressed.  It had a clean refined BA sound but lacked that realistic 3D imaging for me.  Sounded like an expensive BA, just not that expensive.  If you like the W4 that much, well, there are options.

 

post #124 of 467

I made a thread on "JHA custom re shell worth it?"  And included the question below.  I think my question below is relevant to what is being discussed here.

 

BA transducers are pretty much supplied by the same source for most labs right?  So JHA transducer is not better than1964 transducer.  If so, why is there so much gap in the price difference?  Branding?  Also JHA has been selling customs around 1K price point for such a long time.  Should the price have been that high?


Edited by High_Q - 6/5/11 at 8:54am
post #125 of 467
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post


I heard the UE18 demo and was not very impressed.  It had a clean refined BA sound but lacked that realistic 3D imaging for me.  Sounded like an expensive BA, just not that expensive.  If you like the W4 that much, well, there are options.

 


Oh, I get it now! You're suggesting he should consider getting the EX1000s, right?  ;)

 

post #126 of 467
Quote:
Originally Posted by High_Q View Post

I made a thread on "JHA custom re shell worth it?"  And included the question below.  I think my question below is relevant to what is being discussed here.

 

BA transducers are pretty much supplied by the same source for most labs right?  So JHA transducer is not better than1964 transducer.  If so, why is there so much gap in the price difference?  Branding?  Also JHA has been selling customs around 1K price point for such a long time.  Should the price have been that high?


Knowles and Sonion are the main sources for almost every company selling BA-transducer based earphones, both custom and universal fit.
 

 

post #127 of 467
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

Oh, I get it now! You're suggesting he should consider getting the EX1000s, right?  ;)


Of course!  Always nice to make stops along the way.  tongue.gifetysmile.gif

 

Btw, to music's point.  It should be appreciated that he's just trying to save some people time and money and reinforce they should make careful and educated decisions.  Now back to the 'most overrated headphones' thread.  rolleyes.gif  Nah, nvm....

 

post #128 of 467

Well, its their money. So if they have it they can spend it. As easy as that. biggrin.gif
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffroyroycole View Post

He may be in line for the HF Humanitarian Award 2011. I get his point, but that would have been a much more effective way of saying it. He does mean well and could help out some HFers, that much I will certainly concede. But, he could also dissuade someone from trying out a custom based on fear of failure, though many have enjoyed success.



 

post #129 of 467
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffroyroycole View Post

He may be in line for the HF Humanitarian Award 2011. I get his point, but that would have been a much more effective way of saying it. He does mean well and could help out some HFers, that much I will certainly concede. But, he could also dissuade someone from trying out a custom based on fear of failure, though many have enjoyed success.



 

The amount of people I / this thread can dissuade is tiny compared to the countless customs threads and endless customs talk in non-customs related threads all over HF. And, don't you worry, pretty soon this thread will once again fade away.
 
"HF Humanitarian Award 2011"? I do have a sense of humour but I fail to see the humour in you remark. Perhaps you'd like to start your own thread and remind HFers and visitors alike (once more) just how great customs are, how much they really are worth it and remind them that even if they regret their purchase, at least they did have the experience. 
post #130 of 467

The Westone 4 is my favorite Universal Fit in-ear monitor--the best I've personally tried (for my tastes and preferences).

 

Not surprisingly, my custom Westone ES5 is, by a wide margin, the better headphone (to my ears).  However, even moving much lower down the custom IEM price continuum, I still prefer even my entry-level Ultimate Ears UE4 Pro to the Westone 4.  A custom in-ear monitor done right is a tough thing to top, in my experience, in terms of both sound and comfort.  (I currently only own customs by Ultimate Ears, JH Audio and Westone.  I have not tried the other custom IEM brands mentioned in this thread.)

 

In terms of comfort, customs have the advantage of not requiring much (if any) outward pressure on the ear canal walls to get the required seal and isolation, whereas universal-fits do.  (When done right, customs achieve seal and isolation by perfectly filling the ears.)  So I do personally find customs far easier to wear long-term than any of my universal-fit in-ear monitors (save for the Klipsch Image X10, which, for whatever reason, I find almost as comfortable as my customs).

 

Obviously, music_4321 and I have very different experiences and opinions on this topic, and I'm not trying to invalidate them, as I'm sure he's shared his opinions and experiences no less accurately than I have in sharing mine.

post #131 of 467

I can agree with the quality of custom, comfort, etc2. What I feel sorry for is that a lot of young head-fier spend thousand of (probably) their parents money after reading the (sometimes) exaggerated custom threads.

 

I think you should make a warning thread somewhere for those kids to warn them that their ear are still growing. They really should understand the point of making custom.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jude View Post

The Westone 4 is my favorite Universal Fit in-ear monitor--the best I've personally tried (for my tastes and preferences).

 

Not surprisingly, my custom Westone ES5 is, by a wide margin, the better headphone (to my ears).  However, even moving much lower down the custom IEM price continuum, I still prefer even my entry-level Ultimate Ears UE4 Pro to the Westone 4.  A custom in-ear monitor done right is a tough thing to top, in my experience, in terms of both sound and comfort.  (I currently only own customs by Ultimate Ears, JH Audio and Westone.  I have not tried the other custom IEM brands mentioned in this thread.)

 

In terms of comfort, customs have the advantage of not requiring much (if any) outward pressure on the ear canal walls to get the required seal and isolation, whereas universal-fits do.  (When done right, customs achieve seal and isolation by perfectly filling the ears.)  So I do personally find customs far easier to wear long-term than any of my universal-fit in-ear monitors (save for the Klipsch Image X10, which, for whatever reason, I find almost as comfortable as my customs).

 

Obviously, music_4321 and I have very different experiences and opinions on this topic, and I'm not trying to invalidate them, as I'm sure he's shared his opinions and experiences no less accurately than I have in sharing mine.



 


Edited by Jazzyfi - 6/6/11 at 3:38pm
post #132 of 467

I have been on the IEM learning curve, seduced by the hype until I have drawer full. I don't have a lot of will power to ignore stellar reviews or maybe I'm just too curious. So while I don't own examples costing a mortgage payment I've got some damned good ones. That being said, I am more convinced at this stage that it is more important to have a good source and a good player than the "best" IEMs. A $10 Timex keeps the same time as a Rolex. Of course it's all about marketing to a large extent and exclusivity. I enjoy playing musical IEMs (pardon the pun) Each has it's own personality and the game is fun to play. My J3 can make an empty dog food can on a string sound acceptable! Sure there are differences and personal opinion is just that. I listen to music for the pleasure I derive from it. The buds are just the messenger. 

post #133 of 467

I'm not sure about how do they get their money and its not for me to judge. But what I know for sure is that they exist. I put my ES3X on sale in the forum and I got 3 serious reactions, all of them from teenager as young as 16 to 19. Once I knew they are 16-19 I decided not to sell it to them. ES3X is an awesome custom but they run too much risk in making a custom is such a young age. I'm not against custom, I have 2 of them, what I'm against is exaggeration that leads people to exaggerated promises.

 

If those kids are in a band, I encourage them to make one because that is what custom are for. Custom really help me improving my volume control when I'm playing live, being more sync with the band. If they do have one, chance is that their band is solid already and probably they make money out of playing music. I know some kids are really talented. Protest The Hero was 17 when they started and they are insanely good.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffroyroycole View Post

Are there that many kids getting $900+ from their parents to buy headphones? Are they stealing the money? I can tell you, the vast majority of parents are not willingly giving their kids the cash to buy custom headphones, unless they are very rich and money means nothing, or maybe if they are in a band or something, as a gift. If a kid works and saves his or her money and wants customs, my guess is they are pretty sharp and would do their homework before spending that type of scratch.

 

I really believe teenagers buying customs without knowing what they are doing is a very very small percentage of HF members who are moved, rightly or wrongly (depending on your POV about customs being overrated or not) to buy customs. For those who do that (about to make a bad buying decision), there are places on HF for them to learn about buying customs and all it entails. This thread is now one of them. But that seems to me to be a very narrow aspect of the overall thread theme. Again, adults need to make adult decisions, do their research, etc.
 



 



 

post #134 of 467
Thread Starter 

 

While we could say it's more 'worrying' that there are quite a few teenagers getting customs, it would rather simplistic to focus solely on the fact that perhaps only they shouldn't be getting this type of IEMs. There are people in their 20s & 30s (and older) who are also purchasing customs. I insist - it's true and a valid argument that it's ultimately their money and they're free to do whatever they see fit with it. But to say it's 100% their mistake if they're not happy with the end product, for not properly doing their research, isn't entirely true/fair.
 
Even these adults can be (easily) misled. Researching into the subject of customs isn't as easy as it seems. A lot of - if not most - online reviews unanimously praise customs. In many cases these reviewers got free samples (in exchange for free marketing). It's not always easy to find true unbiased reviews. I'm not necessarily suggesting that unbiased reviews would ultimately agree with my own particular views on the subject, but those reviewers are often given special treatment by the manufacturers. Manufacturers try and make sure those review samples are in perfect condition both cosmetically & in perfect working condition, ie excellent QC for that particular review set. These reviewers will also get their customs quickly and any possible issues with refits will be sorted out in a timely fashion. These great reviews will also likely guarantee than any future models are given away to the same reviewer/publication, which in turn means more marketing for the manufacturer in question. 
 
Then there's the subject of shilling, which we have seen on HF on several occasions, it is sometimes pretty easy to spot but quite a few times, unfortunately, it isn't. True, shilling is not exclusive to the world of customs, but unlike so many other consumer goods, where, for instance, you can get plenty of reviews on Amazon or elsewhere by real consumers, it's very unlikely we will ever see customs reviews on Amazon. Yes, I know there's also shilling on Amazon and elsewhere, but when a product is quite popular, chances are we, the consumer, can more easily 'separate the wheat from the chaff'.
 
In addition, some of the people who have had less than stellar experiences with their customs are not always willing to express their real views and come forward, perhaps out of sheer frustration or the feeling of being unable to articulate and convey their disappointment, or possibly feeling intimidated by those who seem to know more than they do - some will simply try and sell their used sets (at a huge loss) and possibly just try and forget about their bad experience and stay away.
 
It's also not uncommon that when a poster expresses their negative views they'll be met with a bunch of replies by some of the fanboys of a particular custom IEM, or they'll be told they have a wrong fit, wrong ear impressions, or that maybe the sound signature is not for them, or to give themselves more time to adjust to their customs' sound signature & fit, or that they need to change sources, get an amp, use lossless files and so on. These fanboys at times behave like 'gangs' and they'll make a point that the unsatisfied HFer is just an isolated case.
 
Some of the people who genuinely hear a significant difference in SQ from their top-tier universals to their customs - ie, people not easily influenced by hype - often had a poor/wrong fit with their universals as was suggested by some people in a couple of posts at the beginning of this thread. There are cases, too, of people had a good fit with their top-tier universals (my case) but some of those universals just weren't good enough and therefore they do hear a significant difference in SQ. That was my case with the SM3, SE535 & SE530, where my custom ES3X sounded much better. But, unlike the case with customs, where if you don't like the sound signature, selling them will represent a huge loss. I sold all those universals I didn't like quite quickly and didn't lose that much in the process.
 
In my particular case the UM3X, TF10 & CK100 delivered between 80-90% of my ES3X's SQ, the W4 about 95%, and the EX1000 deliver 100%. The W4 & CK100, BTW, do not come with detachable cables.

Edited by music_4321 - 6/7/11 at 4:21am
post #135 of 467

Lots of psychology there. I know that all those things do and can happen but I suspect more often than not, a cigar is just a cigar.bigsmile_face.gif I very much agree that there are plenty that jump the gun here and could have done better for themselves with more personal research and patience.

 

 Don't buy an expensive custom unless you've at least had a chance to hear a universal sample or know for certain that you have the same perspective on things as the fellow who's recommendation got you there.

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