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Are (High-end) Custom IEMs Overrated? - Page 13  

post #181 of 467

The only reason, in this day and age, to have a custom model is to have a consistent trouble free fit every single time.  The universal stage monitors have really propelled themselves to such a high quality and reproduction level that the only advantage is the custom fit over just using a universal monitor. 

 

I am going the custom route because it's gonna cost me $156/year just for tips alone given the frequency with which i use my headphones. 

 

You cannot convince me that any one set of custom monitors are worth over roughly $500.  There's just no way.  And just to start a flame war because i haven't trolled much lately: there is no sound improvement gained when changing cables from OEM to say, Dragon cables.  None, at all, notta.

post #182 of 467

It's interesting that dfkt would put the SM3 in the same level of audio quality with the UE11 and JH13 Demo. I wouldn't put it in the same category with my higher end customs. Perception of audio quality is relative to the individual. One man's meat is another man's poison.

post #183 of 467

You forget another.  Isolation.  The best silicone and vinyl customs isolate better and fill the ear better than universals w/ or w/o custom sleeves.  Despite what Ety claims w/ their BS -45dB using foams.  I'm sure I could manufacture that number too.  A full silicone or vinyl hybrid w/ proper fit will always outshine any universal in isolation.  That also does more than isolate, it enhances micro detail and dynamics plus enables lower volume listening.  Ety's are superb at isolation, best in universals, but not the best.

 

As for what is worth what amount of money.  That's entirely subjective.

post #184 of 467
Thread Starter 

 

James -- It's interesting to see what dfkt says about the UE11 (full customs, not demos). I remember two years ago (before the JH13, JH16, ES5, ES3X and UM's Miracle & Mage) the UE11 was often (if not always) described as "blowing all universals out of the water" - even when the IE8 & W3 had joined the TF10 & SE530, which had been the only two top-tiers for a number of years.
 
In the JH13 thread I mentioned in my previous post, I spoke of my experience comparing the UM3X & ES3X and added that there are/have been people with  the JH13 (full customs, not demos) who were, in the end, not impressed by the SQ and who, like me, found no significant upgrade in SQ. However, my comments seem to have been largely ignored in favour of all manner of explanations re driver placement, a bump in certain frequencies here and there, and even a mention of "some complaints about the JH13-D and the JH16-D" as if that was indeed proof the demos, as grawk says, "fall well short of the final result".
 
I remember quite well when the JH13 was released how people raved about the demos they'd heard and how much better they were than any top-tier universals, and they immediately placed an order for the 'real thing'. perhaps the demos in 2011 are worse? I doubt it.
 
All this goes to show - at least to me - that just like with top-tier universals, it's often more a case of personal sound preferences rather than customs providing a significant improvement in SQ. I, for instance felt the UM3X & TF10 were a step up from the SE535 & specially the SM3. Then the W4 came and I heard an improvement there (though not significant/big) over the UM3X. And my last universal, the EX1000, being slightly better to these ears than the W4 even.
 
There are other reasons, apart from sound preferences, why I think so many people are getting customs. I've discussed some of these already and won't go into them again now as they are a little more controversial.
 
For the umpteenth time I'll repeat that as long as one gets a good fit with universals, I don't think customs offer that much better SQ, comfort and/or isolation.
 
James, you said you were not prepared to "shell out a grand". Let me remind you - though I'm sure you're aware of this already - that it's not $1000, but $1,100 for the JH13s. On top of that, and since you live in Europe, you'd have to send your ear impressions to the US. My experience sending items to the US from Western Europe is that it takes 2+ weeks for items to get there (possibly due to customs). My items usually reach the USA in 2-3 days and are held by customs and/or USPS for 10-14 days. 
 
For ear impressions 2+ weeks is bad news, so Europeans are advised to spend even more on express shipping so their ear impressions get there fast (that, obviously, apart from the actual audiologist's fees). JHA charge $75 on top of the $1,100 for shipping the finished product to Europe, hoping (or praying) they declare item as a gift with a low value to avoid import duty/tax. Any re-fits (and perhaps a second set of ear impressions) and you have to add even more shipping costs. So, in the end it can be well over $1000 USD. At least with universals one gets a pretty good idea how much one will pay. I think midoo1990 spent a fortune to finally get a proper fitting (and sounding?) JH13 set. Midoo's case is certainly not the norm, and perhaps he could afford the whole thing, but more than a few can easily spend close to $1,300 - $1,500 
 
----------------
 
b0ck3n -- I think you would have found the W4 probably even better than the UM3X. Apparently the W4 is somewhat based on the ES5's sound sig/tuning.
 
----------------
 
joshuamercer -- no flame war from this end as I'm very sceptical about cables myself and, like you, I think they don't make a difference whatsoever.
 
In my case I never had any fit issues with most universals I've bought. Never liked Comply/foam tips so, luckily there's never been a need to spend a fortune in those type of tips. In my particular case, silicone tips have always provided the best sound, comfort & isolation. If I was a touring musician on a budget, Id probably get the excellent UM2 (which isn't all that cheap, BTW)
 
I said this before, I think customs are better suited for professional musicians, which is what they've been intended for for a long time, mostly because they are built more strongly than most universals, it's only one earpiece per ear (so no chance of tips falling/slipping out/getting stuck in one's ears) and because of the increased isolation sometimes needed (though some universals are pretty good at this).
 

Edited by music_4321 - 6/23/11 at 11:42pm
post #185 of 467

music_4321: I've always wondered but don't know if you have the experience but what do you think about the budget customs such as the JH5 type of pricing which is basically the entry level into the world of customs such UE4, AC2, etc.

 

Anaxilus, this may just be me but even with my acrylic customs it has better isolation than the ER6i and MC5. I don't know the isolation level of the ER4P/S/B but I imagine the other 2 Etymotic's are pretty damn close. My 1964-T beats the isolation there. It's not by much but noticeable enough.

post #186 of 467

Saw this on the JH13 thread, "they probably have to change the crossover, maybe cannot even use the same driver as they would, so it becomes less like what it is supposed to be. "

 

So let me see if I understand everything:

Demos cannot and will not sound anything like the full custom

Demos may not even use the same driver or crossovers

It is impossible to know what a custom sounds like until you buy it and have it made

If you buy it and don't like it, you aren't getting the right fit; something is wrong with you

blink.gif

 

I'm sure I would absolutely love the ES5 or JH16 if I ever took the plunge and would assume the demo would give me about 85% of the custom sound but some of the comments in response to James' mild criticism are pretty funny.  And if they happen to be true, then demos are an absolute colossal waste of time and money to create.

 

 

post #187 of 467

^Well even if did say in my previous post that the full custom ES5 sounded different from the demo I'd definitely say it was 85 % accurate. 

 

music_4321 many things factor in when audio geeks and/or music lovers purchase gear, and quality of sound is probably less of a deciding factor than perhaps it should be. In my case I ended up auditioning the ES5 because Westone had better artwork implementation than JHA, I could've easily gone the other route if that wasn't part of my decision process.

 

Full customs have their selling points - ease of insertion, security of fit, comfort, isolation, I don't get half as much bone conduction as I do with universals so I can use these for walking/running without turning the volume up too loud, etc. I've used universals on stage, which is probably well and fine when you're a jazz musician and sit out the entire performance on a stool. When a vocalist/guitarrist in a speed metal band uses them you're likely to see those tips fly a couple of times each gig. SQ wise all I can really say is that that alone doesn't justify the pricetag over the UM3x, not even by a stretch.

post #188 of 467
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

 

James -- It's interesting to see what dfkt says about the JH11 (full customs, not demos).
 
.....
 
James, you said you were not prepared to "shell out a grand". Let me remind you - though I'm sure you're aware of this already - that it's not $1000, but $1,100 for the JH13s. On top of that...


For the record, it was the UE11, not JH11.

 

About that "grand", I was just generalizing. Thanks for providing the exact figures.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shotgunshane View Post

Saw this on the JH13 thread, "they probably have to change the crossover, maybe cannot even use the same driver as they would, so it becomes less like what it is supposed to be. "

 

So let me see if I understand everything:

Demos cannot and will not sound anything like the full custom

Demos may not even use the same driver or crossovers

It is impossible to know what a custom sounds like until you buy it and have it made

If you buy it and don't like it, you aren't getting the right fit; something is wrong with you

blink.gif

 

I'm sure I would absolutely love the ES5 or JH16 if I ever took the plunge and would assume the demo would give me about 85% of the custom sound but some of the comments in response to James' mild criticism are pretty funny.  And if they happen to be true, then demos are an absolute colossal waste of time and money to create.


I did not post my impressions in the JH13 thread to piss on their doorstep, but because I was asked to do so. Some of these comments surprised me too, but I don't want to clutter that thread with pointless arguing - and besides, I believe people are smart enough to draw their own conclusions. So thanks for your post, it confirms what I've been thinking.

post #189 of 467
Quote:
Originally Posted by b0ck3n View Post

I don't get half as much bone conduction as I do with universals so I can use these for walking/running without turning the volume up too loud, etc.


Wow, that's an interesting point! Any explanation why, since most of what I've read about customs would make me expect the opposite? The prospect of increased footfall (as compared to universals) has been worrying me ever since I started to think about going custom.

post #190 of 467

^ I'm pretty sure I was one who asked him to.  Even though I still prefer my particular customs over my universals I feel it's important for opposing viewpoints to be heard.  I tend to appreciate my ES5 supremely but I can see the argument James and music are making.  I really think one should focus on a particular IEM rather than a generalization though.  Comparing the DBA and IERM there is a huge case for the overrated argument depending on your needs.  Comparing the ES5 and W4 or let alone any other for my tastes, no way.  If I was offered $700 and a W4 to toss out my ES5 I wouldn't do it.  Except to sell them and buy another ES5 and make a profit.  On that note, I would still take the ES5 demo over any other universal as it does give me the sound I want the most even though it's not a 'custom'.  In the case of the JH13 or UE11 it could be said they also don't match James' sound preferences either.  A custom won't negate personal preferences.  

 

I do think there is a case for customs like the JH5 though.  From the people I've talked to and read from they seem to be a sweet spot for price performance amongst all IEMs.  If this were true I don't see them being overrated.  But, music's thread is about hype on expensive, overpriced luxury items so there is a core argument that exists beyond just sound and performance.   

post #191 of 467
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post


Wow, that's an interesting point! Any explanation why, since most of what I've read about customs would make me expect the opposite? The prospect of increased footfall (as compared to universals) has been worrying me ever since I started to think about going custom.


Full acrylic shells are worse than universals by far for that.

post #192 of 467
The ES5 uses soft and sticky vinyl tips, with a tight fit the earpieces just don't move.
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post


Wow, that's an interesting point! Any explanation why, since most of what I've read about customs would make me expect the opposite? The prospect of increased footfall (as compared to universals) has been worrying me ever since I started to think about going custom.

post #193 of 467
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post


For the record, it was the UE11, not JH11.

 

 


That was a typo - thanks for noticing, already edited my post.

 

Yeah, 2+ years ago the UE11 & UE10 were practically the only high-end customs (the ones, at least, that got all the attention) until the ES3X was released (Feb 2009), soon followed by the JH13 (and JH11, JH10X3 & JH10). The funny thing is I wonder if anybody has actually bought the JH11, in the last 2 years - can't remember seeing a review of them.

 

post #194 of 467
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

music_4321: I've always wondered but don't know if you have the experience but what do you think about the budget customs such as the JH5 type of pricing which is basically the entry level into the world of customs such UE4, AC2, etc.

 

Anaxilus, this may just be me but even with my acrylic customs it has better isolation than the ER6i and MC5. I don't know the isolation level of the ER4P/S/B but I imagine the other 2 Etymotic's are pretty damn close. My 1964-T beats the isolation there. It's not by much but noticeable enough.


I don't think entry-level customs are as overrated as high-end customs, but I still think a good universal is a better option (specially for non-US residents), here's why:

 

1) You still have to add price of ear impressions, shipping costs, face the prospect of re-fits (therefore adding to the overall cost) and possibly paying import duty/taxes for non-US residents.

 

2) Resale value is too low if you're not happy with the sound sig or simply decide to upgrade or 'try a new flavour'. The resale value is even worse than high-end customs (percentage-wise) as probably someone wanting an entry-level custom would prefer a brand new set over a second-hand pair.

 

Or you'd have to sell your pair for peanuts (less than half price) and only if the buyer chooses some cheap re-shelling service offered by companies which are not consistent in the quality of their work. Unique Melody, the only company I'd personally consider for reshelling, is located in China, so shipping costs, very long shipping times, the prospect of re-fits (even much longer waiting times) would be serious aspects to be taken into account and, ultimately, for me, a big turn-off.

 

 

 


Edited by music_4321 - 6/24/11 at 12:51am
post #195 of 467

You have good points right there... I have seen JH13's go for around $500-$600 in the FS forum. Many people jump in thinking they are getting something worth the price! But often turn around wondering wtf happened after a listen. This happens with Fullsize phones aswell. I have nearly jumped in both feet first countless times. The fact that i have had 2 sets of impressions fail definitely put me off. I didnt want to take the chance sending in crappy impressions only to send my IEMs back for a refit. Price is a "HUGE" concern with Customs. Also i still dont understand how a Demo can be 85% against a fully molded pair, whats the point..??

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post




I don't think entry-level customs are as overrated as high-end customs, but I still think a good universal is a better option (specially for non-US residents), here's why:

 

1) You still have to add price of ear impressions, shipping costs, face the prospect of re-fits (therefore adding to the overall cost) and possibly paying import duty/taxes for non-US residents.

 

2) Resale value is too low if you're not happy with the sound sig or simply decide to upgrade or 'try a new flavour'. The resale value is even worse than high-end customs (percentage-wise) as probably someone wanting an entry-level custom would prefer a brand new set over a second-hand pair.

 

Or you'd have to sell your pair for peanuts (less than half price) and only if the buyer chooses some cheap re-shelling service offered by companies which are not consistent in the quality of their work. Unique Melody, the only company I'd personally consider for reshelling, is located in China, so shipping costs, very long shipping times, the prospect of re-fits (even much longer waiting times) would be serious aspects to be taken into account and, ultimately, for me, a big turn-off.

 

 

 



 

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