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Are (High-end) Custom IEMs Overrated? - Page 6  

post #76 of 467

YES, CUSTOMS ARE VERY OVER RATED!!!
 
There is a big diminishing returns beyond $400 IEM's especially with no major tweaks/upgrades in gear.  I understand the extra drivers and intricacy to make a JH16 but from an upgrade SQ standpoint it is not worth more than $550-$600.
 
In addition, it is my opinion that as you put more and more drivers into a housing there is a much larger margin of error for 100% repeatibility in the sweetspot for the sound sig.  There is some marketing hype on JH website about why customs deliver the purest sound due to the perfect fit but that is only true if you get the perfect fit which is very difficult to do with regular consistency.

 

Conversely, universals will always provide a more repeatable better fit just due to the better tip options.  A comply tip or a tri-flange will forgive all differences in ear anatomy from one ear to the other.  A hard acrylic custom tip either gets it perfect or doesn't.  There is zero margin for error.  JH matching frequecies for drivers on each side is meaningless unless a perfect fit is achieved.  Ety matches drivers and the triflanges will assure you get that perfect insertion/depth fit.  A custom acrylic can never guarantee that.
 
 

 

 

post #77 of 467

Thanks for that. Sounds like isolation was about the same (pun not intended)? I'm surprised obtrusion was more on the custom sleeves, since I would think that the JH5 would protrude less from the side of your head.

 

But yes, back to the previously scheduled discussion, I'm also interested in it.

post #78 of 467

I love my customs and I love my custom-sleeves-on-an-excellent-universal, but sign me up as a believer in the law of diminishing returns. I have trouble with universal tips after having tried many, many of them and spending a lot of time working to get them right, custom tips are just a lot easier (although they have their own issues with re-fits and working with audiologists, etc. and the need to adjust a custom-fit in one's ear for the best fit is almost never mentioned here, but they are like universals in that they can get suction or be slightly out of place, etc.). Still, custom-fit works much better for me so it's worth it--but I would be clear what the trade offs and costs are in recommending them to everyone.

 

In terms of sound quality,it really is true that you pay a lot for that last 10-15% improvement and there is a lot of hype (jh particularly) which people should be aware of.

 

Kudos to Music_4321 for this thread.

post #79 of 467

I don't think I've posted here before but I shall now :)

 

I personally don't find customs overrated and find that both my customs are well worth the money. After having owned customs I don't see myself going back to universals and right now I don't have the interest to do so. They are comfortable (when they fit properly although getting refits is a pita), have good isolation and sound great to me. The fact that they have made me not want to buy new universals makes them well worth the money. I got tired of the buy and sell game with universals and the W4 was probably the last one I'll be doing that for.

 

As for value I do find them worth it and they do scale up better than the universals that I have compared them to. However it is well known that at this level of technical ability (or at least it should be) that there are diminishing gains. However my 3 driver 1964-T is better than any universals I've heard. I can't deny that. I also can't deny that my 6 driver UM custom is better than any earphone I've heard either so in that sense I find both of them worth it. There are diminishing gains but I find them worth the cost. It may not be the same for everyone but it definitely is for me.

post #80 of 467



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

. There are diminishing gains but I find them worth the cost. It may not be the same for everyone but it definitely is for me.

That's pretty much a perfect way to say it.

 

 

 

post #81 of 467
Thread Starter 

 

This thread is mostly about high-end customs and I've changed the thread title to "Are (High-end) Custom IEMs Overrated?". At the time I created this thread two years ago most customs were $850+. These days one can get customs that are a lot cheaper. How good are they? I've no idea. Most reports of the JH5, for instance, say they are very good. But, you still face the prospect of low re-sale value, possible re-fits, a visit to an audiologist (or two as in my case), extra shipping costs, and living outside the US can make things a lot more expensive not just because of much higher shipping costs but often added (high) import duty & taxes.
 
The best universal IEM I've heard, the Sony MDR-EX1000, cost me $500+, but in the US they can now be had for $400. It's not uncommon that prices of universal IEMs drop within a few months after a new IEM is released. The same can't be said of customs, ie prices generally remain unchanged. 
 
Here's a review of the EX1000 by someone who cannot be accused of shilling or marketing. The reviewer happens to compare the EX1000 to the JH16 and he never says the JH16 blows the EX1000 out of the water. He doesn't even say the JH16 is necessarily a better IEM. I've been told before "You only know your ES3X and haven't heard the JH13 or JH16". Both JH customs may turn out to be better sounding than my ES3X or just have a different flavour. I've no idea and have no intention to get either the JH13 / JH16 / ES5 / UE18, etc.
 
When I made enquiries lat year about the possibility of 'upgrading' to the Westone ES5, I was told by a Variphone (Westone's distributor in Europe) technician that the 'upgrade', in his view, was not worth it and that he personally preferred the ES3X. He said that a triple-driver IEM already covered the whole frequency range very effectively and also that there were fewer chances of (future) issues due to the more complex design involving the use of more drivers in the ES5. He also said he recommended the ES3X to most musicians.
post #82 of 467

I wanted to wait a bit before making my own mind up on this issue...

 

Everyone will have to weigh and consider the different factors involved + gamble a little at the whole fitting process.

 

For me, it makes sense to at least have "one great pair" of customs at all times:

  • Love the Balanced Armature characteristics (speed, detail, clarity)
  • Would always wonder about the experience
  • First audiologist impressions were $100 and I knew they didn't look well done but...
  • Second set were free and were by UE-chosen audiologist at a meet (easy!)
  • Had been through all the PK earbuds & RE-0/IE8/TF10
  • Didn't have "treble insecurity" since I already had RE-0
  • Didn't have "bass insecurity" since I already did IE8
  • Liked TF10 but had "neutral insecurity" and a desire to learn about and have a "reference" or "flat" sound
  • Guessed that I would like "extended" FR in both directions without specific emphasis 
  • Know that I always carry at least my iPhone (and wallet and keys)
  • Need isolation at work
  • Love isolation while doing domestic duties (can listen well while doing dishes/vacuuming, etc.)
  • Understand that there is a lot of hassle/labor/organization behind dealing with impressions/hand polishing/assembling/gluing/tuning/mailing customs
  • Was prepared for a different "feel" and the possibility of needing refits

 

So I think each person's experience, needs/wants, and expectations will play big roles in their EXPERIENCE of getting customs and the value they perceive after having them.

 

Better to think of iems (universal or customs) as an overall EXPERIENCE, IMHO.

 

Price gap is narrowing a bit now to be able to try...

 

 

KEY:  I do think you should also have "an idea" of the "sound" you will "probably like" before you get customs- so you have a better chance of being happy if you have a good fit and get used to them.

 

 

(My experience happens to have been amazing except for the first $100 I spent on impressions where I could see gaps and the string.)

 

If I didn't have customs?  Yes, I could still have great sound.

 

But the <positive fit> without the "fiddling" (so easy to get them in now) + the "effortless" clarity/quality + the sound signature I chose...help me rate my experience very well indeed.

post #83 of 467

Hmm.. I'm not sure which technician you did talk to. I did an upgrade from ES3X to ES5 and the difference is noticeable. I'm a musician and I still have both ES3X and ES5 until now (Variphone made).

The ES5 is more neutral than the ES3X. The ES3X has more forward mid than the ES5 and a lot of musician (except bassist maybe? Any bassist can confirm this?) tend to like the ES3X for monitoring purpose because of its properties. But for final mixing the ES5 is better in terms of neutrality.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

When I made enquiries lat year about the possibility of 'upgrading' to the Westone ES5, I was told by a Variphone (Westone's distributor in Europe) technician that the 'upgrade', in his view, was not worth it and that he personally preferred the ES3X. He said that a triple-driver IEM already covered the whole frequency range very effectively and also that there were fewer chances of (future) issues due to the more complex design involving the use of more drivers in the ES5. He also said he recommended the ES3X to most musicians.


 

 

post #84 of 467

Hi guys,

 

I got a JH16 half a year ago and honestly .... what a total waste of money!!! (oh god i am gonna be flamed)

Seriously it's good but i don't hear the angels

and the hassle is insane. i have to send it back, they are slow, the thing is a horrible fit at first

then when i send it back they just use the old molds, when it comes back it's so much better (it looks totally remolded not just shaved)

so it's simply just bad quality control! For a USD1k earphones i expected a lot more!

 

Just a note that i am simply an amateur music lover and i just want to enjoy music. When i got SE530 as my first bud i was blown away!

It's freaking amazing coming from apple stocks. And i read here that se530 is just meh compared to JH16

So i saved up, sold my se530...and i get this..>quarter a year of sending the thing to and fro...and even with the fit being better...it's just good.

It put me off so much that i ended up not even using it much...

 

So to answer you...500usd earbuds will bring you to that 90-95%...if you insist on that 99% which is isn't even guaranteed, then by all means

And i am not talking about video game world of warcraft/diablo last 4% which changes everything but an evenly distributed, heart-wrenching 4%

 

Last words, caveat emptor, and if i can go back i would rather spend the money on 2-3 very good universal earbuds for the imperfect (to earphone connoisseur) adventure

 

edit : to add on, isolations are NOT that amazing, even after refit (i emphasize that it fit snugly). even the manual says -26decibels. The triflanges(cut to biflanges for comfort) is a lot better.Although... i heard about rubbery soft ACS customs...no, i must not be tempted!

 


Edited by bledig - 6/2/11 at 3:10am
post #85 of 467

Another thought from me regarding custom..

 

People tend to forgot why custom IEM are made. Its for musicians! It provide awesome isolations while on stage so they can listen to what they play without destroying their ear.

Only recently the trend shifted.. I don't know who started the trend but for me paying 1000$+ doesn't make any sense unless you make something out of it (e.g. get paid playing your music, etc).

I do love my custom, I use it everyday, it is an investment for me and my ear so I don't lose my hearing when I'm 40+. 

 

So, if you don't need the isolation, the comfort of "in your ear", and the neutrality.. 500$ universal will serve you well.


Edited by Jazzyfi - 6/2/11 at 2:55am
post #86 of 467

Jazzify,

 

strangely i got a different feedback from the audiologist that i chatted up with while making my ear mold

 

Musicians actually WANTS no isolation. That's why even when they make customs they make "holes" so they can hear sounds coming from outside onstage.

And i do see the option of "poking" holes in customs in JH

 

but maybe they use it for recording? i dunnno...

 

 

post #87 of 467
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazzyfi View Post

 

Only recently the trend shifted.. I don't know who started the trend but for me paying 1000$+ doesn't make any sense unless you make something out of it (e.g. get paid playing your music, etc).


 

Here's where things started, in my view. It all started 2 years ago. If you read the first 50 pages or so, you may get an idea. If you read on, you'll understand even more. That thread, in fact, was what prompted me to start this thread and eventually quit HF for about 6 months - at the time I posted in that thread a few times and some of the responses I got were pretty unpleasant.

 

A lot of the hyping, exaggeration & misinformation was done by some very young members, who, in my view, were now 'playing the audiophile game' ("I'm old enough to know what I'm talking about. I can be around 'HF's Big Boys'. And, just who do you think you are telling me not to spend a fortune on portable gear (ie, high-end customs, expensive portable amps & aftermarket cables?". I think quite a few of them simply fell prey to all the marketing and unknowingly contributed to what is now known as "the drivers wars", and they themselves just made things worse. They certainly enjoyed - and some of them still enjoy - using and abusing audio jargon/termonology.


Edited by music_4321 - 6/2/11 at 3:44am
post #88 of 467

That is true, some musician need to get used to the IEM so what they do is they make a hole so they can listen to the surrounding but eventually it will be closed. Live Wire has that option I think.

The first time I used it on stage it was confusing as well. Communication can be difficult sometimes so we really need to get used to it and really communicate with our eyes.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bledig View Post

Jazzify,

 

strangely i got a different feedback from the audiologist that i chatted up with while making my ear mold

 

Musicians actually WANTS no isolation. That's why even when they make customs they make "holes" so they can hear sounds coming from outside onstage.

And i do see the option of "poking" holes in customs in JH

 

but maybe they use it for recording? i dunnno...

 

 



 

post #89 of 467
Quote:
Originally Posted by bledig View Post

Jazzify,

 

strangely i got a different feedback from the audiologist that i chatted up with while making my ear mold

 

Musicians actually WANTS no isolation. That's why even when they make customs they make "holes" so they can hear sounds coming from outside onstage.

And i do see the option of "poking" holes in customs in JH

 

but maybe they use it for recording? i dunnno...

 

 



a a pair of well fitted customs better allow a person to hippity hopitty all over the place

post #90 of 467

Yes, it is quite surprising to me that nowadays a lot of youngsters has the money to buy custom. I put my ES3X in the for sale forum and I got a lot of reaction from students as young as 16 years old. How the hell do they get their money? When I was 16, I was freaking happy if I can buy a cassette tape with my allowance.

And what makes it worst is that they don't realize that their ear is still growing, custom will be a waste of money. They need to refit every year.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

 

A lot of the hyping, exaggeration & misinformation was done by some very young members, who, in my view, were now 'playing the audiophile game' ("I'm old enough to know what I'm talking about. I can be around 'HF's Big Boys'. And, just who do you think you are telling me not to spend a fortune on portable gear (ie, high-end customs, expensive portable amps & aftermarket cables?". I think quite a few of them simply fell prey to all the marketing and unknowingly contributed to what is now known as "the drivers wars", and they themselves just made things worse. They certainly enjoyed - and some of them still enjoy - using and abusing audio jargon/termonology.



 


Edited by Jazzyfi - 6/2/11 at 6:35am
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