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I need a bit of help on deciding what IEM to get

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm new to this forum and I was wondering about some phones I was hearing about. I'm going to be purchasing a Cowon S9 soon and since this will be my first mp3, I decided to get myself a good IEM to go along with it.
I was looking:
Ultimate ears super.fi 5 (v2)- I used one that belonged to a friend and they were very comfortable and sounded very good.
Monster Turbines- From what I hear they have excellent bass.
Phonak Audeo PFE- I heard many good things about these. Also one of my friends recommends it.
The Klipsch s4- A reccomendation from someone, he said they were relatively cheap and sound good for their price

Also, since my old cans were stolen I decided to look around for a replacement and was wondering about the Audio Technica M50’s. I read a few topics about it and it seems pretty good from what I hear about it.

Out of all these choices I'm looking for comfort, sound clarity and quality. Good bass wouldn't hurt either. There are probably better choices but these seem to be the best choices for me within my price range ($150-). If you offer any help I'm very grateful for this since this would be my first set of IEMs.
post #2 of 21
I would suggest, from my rather small experience, the etymotic hf5. It matches all requirements, except for the bass. It is anything but plentiful, but what it does have is of a very good quality. Very defined and impactful (but not in the quantitive way).

-nkk
post #3 of 21
Sennheiser CX550 or UE Super.fi5... Comfort, clarity, bass...
post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cephei View Post
Hi, I'm new to this forum and I was wondering about some phones I was hearing about. I'm going to be purchasing a Cowon S9 soon and since this will be my first mp3, I decided to get myself a good IEM to go along with it.
I was looking:
Ultimate ears super.fi 5 (v2)- I used one that belonged to a friend and they were very comfortable and sounded very good.
Monster Turbines- From what I hear they have excellent bass.
Phonak Audeo PFE- I heard many good things about these. Also one of my friends recommends it.
The Klipsch s4- A reccomendation from someone, he said they were relatively cheap and sound good for their price

Also, since my old cans were stolen I decided to look around for a replacement and was wondering about the Audio Technica M50’s. I read a few topics about it and it seems pretty good from what I hear about it.

Out of all these choices I'm looking for comfort, sound clarity and quality. Good bass wouldn't hurt either. There are probably better choices but these seem to be the best choices for me within my price range ($150-). If you offer any help I'm very grateful for this since this would be my first set of IEMs.
I've owned the Turbines and the SF v2, and returned one and sold the other. To me, unless you are going to go to the next level, there are some very good deals right now on Amazon.com, especially the one for the Altec-Lansing UHP336, which is basically a rebranded UE Super.Fi 3 Studio, which still retail for $100 or so. To me, why spend up to $150 when $35 (for the AL) will get you a nice, balanced phone? Invest $9 in some Sony hybrid tips on Amazon (or a little more for some Comply T400 foamies) and you will be set.

I own $399 Westone 3s, which are my main IEMs, but to me, the ALs are pretty much in the same SQ league with the phones you mentioned. I also am a big fan of the PFEs (sold them because the W3s were getting all my listen time), but to me, they really need amping to be their best. And also, if you do go the PFE route, Phonak may be releasing a newer model (new cable, better driver housing) by the end of the month. The PFEs are excellent phones, but have had some cracking issues. Phonak will fix it, but I'd wait for the next generation of PFE.

I am interested in hearing the Klipsch S4s too, but not going to buy them. I already own the X10s, the Klipsch flagship IEMs, and those are also excellent IEMs, especiall in terms of comfort.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
I liked the comfort on the SF5's when I borrowed them that my friend gave me some of his extra tips (and some comply ones). I have yet to find a use for them though since I haven't decided on an IEM yet.
So far the list goes:
Etymotic hf5- I might get these
Ultimate ears super.fi 5 (v2)-I liked the comfort on these (I already have some tips so that might do as well)
Monster Turbines-
Phonak Audeo PFE- I might wait for the next gen then and hold off on buying. I really liked the SQ on these and the filters too.
The Klipsch s4
Altec-Lansing UHP336-maybe by saving on the IEMs I can get some better cans.

I might just get the ALs and get them to hold off until the next phonak comes out. By the way, tstarn how are the W3's and what do you mean by "taking it to the next level?"
Thanks for the help so far and if there are any other suggestions, please feel free to say so. Anything helps.
post #6 of 21
I own five IEMS:

Shure SE530PTH
Westone 3
Westone UM3X
UE Triple Fi 10
Etymotic Er4p

My favorite is the UM3X. I really like the ergonomics (They fit like a hearing aid) and the presentation (very neutral, balanced, ample bass with treple that's never harsh). They're very detailed. The Westone 3s are similar but with a midbass thump.

My second favorites are the Triple Fi 10s, the universal equivalent of the $900 UE 10s. They really look cool in the shiny cobalt-blue shells and with the right tips, the bass is actually great. I'm not talking about bombastic boom; I'm talking about deep, controlled, bass that goes quite low. Paired with the sparkling treble, you've got a super presentation. Alas, they're not as ergonomic as the UM3X. Greater care must be taken to keep them from coming loose or falling out.
post #7 of 21
I mean phones like the TF10, UM3X, W3, IE8, etc. I don't have the time to go through my W3 journey, but it took me 2-3 months to hit the right tips (modded tri-flanges). They are so much smoother, detailed, SQ-rich than my other IEMs, it's sublime to hear them. But the phones I mentioned are excellent for the money, and not at all bad or unlistenable (like iBuds or other cheap phones). I just think the mid-priced IEMs, and I have owned a ton of them, are not $100-$200 better than the lower cost phones. I paid $260 for the W3s, which I feel is worth it. Best strategy is to save up some extra cash for top-tier IEMs on sale (or used from a reliable seller), or buy low for pretty good IEMs and get other stuff with the savings (decent amp, full-size phones, etc.). I found out the hard way (lots of buying and selling).

Today, I hooked the 336s up to my Sony A818, used a little EQ tweak (a little more clear bass, treble) and they sounded fantastic (also used the T500 Comply foamies). To me, for $35, they sounded like $150 phones (and their UE MSRP is $129, after all).
post #8 of 21
I don't believe anyone would use the word equivalent comparing the Triples to the UE10. Just my hunch. But those are all nice phones, of course. I really don't hear that mid-bass hump with the W3s.

Most W3 owners who tried the UM3X switched, but some report favoring the W3s, and sold off their UM3X. I would like to hear the latter, but for now, I'm good with the W3. I had the IE8, ER4P, and still have the Image X10, another $300+ IEM. But I sold off the IE8 and 4P, just didn't use them any more, and I'd rather have the $500.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilavideo View Post
I own five IEMS:

Shure SE530PTH
Westone 3
Westone UM3X
UE Triple Fi 10
Etymotic Er4p

My favorite is the UM3X. I really like the ergonomics (They fit like a hearing aid) and the presentation (very neutral, balanced, ample bass with treple that's never harsh). They're very detailed. The Westone 3s are similar but with a midbass thump.

My second favorites are the Triple Fi 10s, the universal equivalent of the $900 UE 10s. They really look cool in the shiny cobalt-blue shells and with the right tips, the bass is actually great. I'm not talking about bombastic boom; I'm talking about deep, controlled, bass that goes quite low. Paired with the sparkling treble, you've got a super presentation. Alas, they're not as ergonomic as the UM3X. Greater care must be taken to keep them from coming loose or falling out.
post #9 of 21
As another example, I owned the UM3X and the PFE at the same time and decided to sell the UM3X. I liked both, but preferred the the sound signature of the PFE (when amped that is). I also liked the price tag of the PFE compared to the Westone.
post #10 of 21
A case where a mid-priced phone outdueled a top tier phone. In this case, I can understand, because I liked the PFEs a lot too, but the amping issue was the great equalizer. Just out of curiosity, the UM3X didn't benefit from amping? Curious.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckhirnigs113 View Post
As another example, I owned the UM3X and the PFE at the same time and decided to sell the UM3X. I liked both, but preferred the the sound signature of the PFE (when amped that is). I also liked the price tag of the PFE compared to the Westone.
Can't wait PFE upgraded version coming out. That would be time to finally buy one
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'll get the 336s for now and wait for the new Phonaks. You guys mentioned getting an amp. I wouldn't know much about amps but I dug around anyways and found something on this forum:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f5/hea...action-261529/
They seem to be good based on reviews but does anyone have any other suggestions? I'm not inside EU so it seems to be difficult to get. Also, I factored in the fact that I'm ordering from Amazon and it'd make sense if the amp was bought at Amazon.
How did you get your w3's at $260? That's a pretty sweet deal.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by tstarn06 View Post
I don't believe anyone would use the word equivalent comparing the Triples to the UE10. Just my hunch.
I didn't say the Triple Fi 10 was "equivalent" to the UE10. I said the $400 Triple Fi's were the "universal" equivalent to the UE10, which is UE's classic $900 custom IEM. There's no question that a custom-fit IEM, build from a mold, taken from an audiologist, is superior to a universal IEM, using off-the-shelf tips that have to be roughly matched to the ear of the consumer. But if you're looking for the best match for the UE10, short of going "custom," the Triple Fi 10 is it.

You know who might agree? Ultimate Ears. On their website. UE created four series of IEMs: MetroFi, Super-Fi, Triple-Fi and Custom. The first three series are universal; the last is custom. Of the Triple Fi, this is what UE says: "The closest sonic experience to custom personal monitors." Within the Triple Fi series, there are only two lines: Triple Fi 10 Pro and Triple Fi 10 Vi, the only difference between them being that the latter has an in-line microphone button and control button.

Cross-reference the description of the Triple Fi 10 with the UE 10 (sans the obvious difference that one is custom-fit while the other is universal) and see what you get:

UE 10:
Housed within the custom shell are 3 individual speakers and an integrated passive crossover circuit board that directs the low-end frequencies to a dedicated speaker for bass, the mid-range frequencies to a speaker for the vocals and the high frequencies to a speaker dedicated for treble.

Triple Fi 10
The sonic equivalent of sitting in the world's best recording studio. How much clearer can we get?
- Three drivers: Low, mid and high frequencies are directed to their designated speaker to give you a sonically rich experience.
Shape of things.
- Audio filters: Shaping the sound for the closest experience to custom personal monitors available.


I'm not making this stuff up. Why do you think the number schemes match between the Custom series and the second and third series of the universals? Is it a coincidence that the UE4 Pro is a single-driver design like the SuperFi 4? Is it a coincidence that the UE 5 Pro matches the SuperFi Pro? Look at what UE says about the SuperFi Pro on its website: "The SuperFi 5pro has the same sonic signature as our custom personal monitors." Is any of this starting to gel yet?

Call me crazy but when UE says it's UE7 Pro "is based on a 2-way crossover design with a single high driver and dual low drivers," maybe that's an enhanced version of the Ultimate Ears 700, the top model in the SuperFi series, which uses "a custom-tuned dual-armature layout that separates the broad frequency response – 10 Hz to 16.5 kHz – into two high-fidelity channels per ear." Should it be a coincidence, then, that the next step up, among the universals, is the (dare I say it?) "equivalent" step up within the custom series? And what is that next step? What's the next number after two? Can you say "three?" Or as UE puts it, in describing the specifications of the UE 10 Pro: "3 proprietary precision balanced armatures with an integrated passive crossover circuit board." In basic English, the UE 10 Pro has a three-way design: a woofer, a midrange and a tweeter. What does the Triple Fi 10 have? "Three drivers: Low, mid and high frequencies are directed to their designated speaker to give you a sonically rich experience."

I never said the $400 Triple Fi 10 was as good as the UE 10 Pro. What I said was that it was the "equivalent" among the universals. That said, what is the major difference between the two? It's the customization. One uses a custom-fit molding, designed from specs taken from an audiologist. The other uses off-the-shelf tips. If you look at the price differences between the other match-ups, there's a $370 difference between the UE 4 Pro and the SuperFi 4. There's a $350 difference between the UE 5 Pro and the SuperFi 5 Pro. There is a more than $600 difference between UE 7 Pro and the UE 700, but that's the weakest of the match-ups. The price difference between the UE 10 Pro and the SuperFi 10 Pro is $500 - which is greater than the difference between the lower match-ups but less than the difference between the UE 5 Pro and the SuperFi 5 Pro.

If you look at the pattern, inexact as it may be, what do you suppose makes up this difference in price between the models in the Custom Series and their corresponding matches among the SuperFi and TripleFi lines? Isn't it obvious? You're paying for a custom earpiece. It's a relatively expensive difference but, for the world of hi-fi, a relatively small one. The actual drivers are essentially "equivalent." Maybe that's why, when UE introduces the Triple Fi 10, it doesn't say, "This is only half as good as our $900 UE 10." It matches the product copy for the UE 10 Pro - "the most accurate personal monitor available. The sound is studio reference quality" - with the following language: "The sonic equivalent of sitting in the world's best recording studio. How much clearer can we get?"

If you want the equivalent of a UE 10 Pro, while remaining in the price range of the universals, Triple Fi 10 Pro is the right model. I didn't exaggerate my point.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by tstarn06 View Post
A case where a mid-priced phone outdueled a top tier phone. In this case, I can understand, because I liked the PFEs a lot too, but the amping issue was the great equalizer. Just out of curiosity, the UM3X didn't benefit from amping? Curious.
To compare an amped anything to an unamped anything is, by definition, an unequal comparison. The UM3X definitely sounds better with amping. With my M^3, the bass drives lower than it does straight off the iPod.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by tstarn06 View Post
Most W3 owners who tried the UM3X switched, but some report favoring the W3s, and sold off their UM3X. I would like to hear the latter, but for now, I'm good with the W3. I had the IE8, ER4P, and still have the Image X10, another $300+ IEM. But I sold off the IE8 and 4P, just didn't use them any more, and I'd rather have the $500.
I hear you. I'll soon be selling off my excess IEMs (one is enough). I have both a W3 and a UM3X and both sound great, though I prefer the UM3X. If you like the W3, there's no reason to run out and buy the UM3X. They have a similar house sound. The W3 is thumpier, with that pronounced midbass. The UM3X backs off a bit on the bass to push for a more balanced presentation, but it's not exactly dry or flat. Westone's house sound is warm and intimate. Compare it to something like the Shure SE530, and the latter comes off a tad cold and flat. If you're getting everything you want out of the W3, there's no reason to fix what ain't broke.
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