Originally Posted by Sid-Fi
Very impressive review Larry. It's amazing how much you have done for the community. I remember reading this review a few months ago when I joined and it was totally over my head. Going back and reading it again after having a little more point of reference, I could really appreciate the level of detail and subtlety at which you reviewed these custom IEMs.
I have a [few] questions if you don't mind.(1)
I did a few advanced searches within this thread and didn't see it come up so please forgive me if you addressed this already. I noticed in other threads that you mentioned the current D10 topkit brought about a vast improvement in your UE11 Pros. Does that improvement bring them closer to JH13 or ES3X overall?(2)
Also, I was surprised to read that these IEMs had good synergy with your Woo Audio WA6. I assumed that level of a desktop amp would be too powerful for sensitive IEMs - great to know. Lastly, how big of an improvement do you feel WA6 brings over current topkit D10 (only point of reference so far) using these customs?
I always assumed my next headphone upgrade after IE8 would be full-size cans, but your review really makes me think I would be happier with one of these. It seems like you can get excellent and comparable sound with a much cheaper amp compared to the gear your high end full-size cans require (like ur Stax or HD800s). ES3X and JH13 really intrigue me. It sounds like JH13 are the best regarded IEM overall, but your description of ES3X soundstage placing you in the middle of the stage being surrounded by music in a virtual space sounds pretty epic
Thanks again for another awesome review and contribution and for seemingly always being willing to answer questions to help others!
1. The D10 topkit with TLE2141-CA/EL8201 doesn't really bring the UE11Pro to sounding like the others, but it does make the D10 work much better with the UE11Pro than it did before. The D10 with the new topkit is now better with the UE11Pro than the 3MOVE was (although 3MOVE is certainly an option). The UE11Pro mids with the D10 are still not as rich and vivid as with the ES3X or even the JH13Pro, but I can't complain about the bass which still hits hard but with better control and speed. The UE11Pro with the 3MOVE has a little better mids, but less bass control and definition.
2. The improvement with the Apogee mini-DAC > Woo WA6 with any of these three custom IEM is not just a little. bit The sound with the WA6 is simply more refined, realistic, transparent, powerful and totally under control. This combo DOES bring the three customs closer together in performance, and to a level that is sometimes astonishing.
I upgraded to a EC ZDT and was supposed to sell the WA6 when the new amp arrived. I wanted money to buy an upgraded electrostatic amp and had a buyer for the WA6 lined up. But I chickened out because the WA6 sounds so good when combined with these custom IEM that I couldn't bear the thought of parting with the it. The WA6 can drive loads down to 8 ohm or up to 600 ohm (impedance switch on back) and it has a dead silent black background. My WA6 is maxed with pseudo dual power supply upgrade and Sophia Princess 274b rectifier/RCA 6DE7 tubes.
The pseudo dual PSU and Sophia 274b make the biggest difference in refinement, control and soundstage/separation, so I think Woo is not going to be doing the maxed upgrade for WA6 anymore when people could just get the basic WA6SE instead. I don't know how the WA6SE would do with the custom IEM as it has a lot more power - it might have too much gain for the custom IEM. The WA22 is similarly more powerful and I don't know if it is good choice either - it's a balanced amp and it does have a noticeably wider deeper soundstage than the WA6 when compared side by side, even with the single ended 1/4" jack headphone out (same timbre/tone/refinement).