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What full-scale hi-fi do you listen to?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I was only wondering as it's important to know that anybody commenting on "wide, precise soundstage", "fast, accurate bass", "silky mid-range" etc. has heard this over a full scale system as well.
I have Martin Logan electrostatics, a Chord SPM1200B power amp and a Meridian transport/Pink Triangle d-a and when I read reviews, that's really where my reference point starts at.

Just wondering how many of you have a similar set-up and how you think £200-300 IEMs compare?
post #2 of 18
Exemplar modded Denon 2900>SinglePower Extreme Platinum>First Watt F1>Cain & Cain Abbys/Cain & Cain Bailey sub.

I don't have experience with iems in that price range (either much lower or much higher), but IEMs, in general, compare poorly to a quality speaker rig, but have other admirable attributes, and some are capable of reproducing music superbly. You need to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Absolutely, which is why I guess so many people ask for opinions and comparisons. Tedious for some, I know for very necessary.
It's a very difficult area in which to invest several hundred pounds on something "joe public" can't audition
post #4 of 18
My £200 IEM's don't even come close to my Hi-Fi which is far lower in quality than OP's
post #5 of 18
Even the best of IEM will compare poorly (soundstage wise) to most big can, and most big cans will compare poorly to speaker - at least that is my experience.

Recently I met some people who are searching for the best headphone for soundstage in an audio shop, and after a few auditioning they were all disappointed with the soundstage of AKG K701 and most of the Audio Technica (which were the best in the store for soundstage at that time) because they all expect out of the head (further away and not head-surrounding), speaker-like presentation. Needless to say, they are all long time speaker user. I think the point is, understanding the validity of the point of reference is the key of finding the right sound for a person. If a great speaker- or big cans-like soundstage is what you desire, perhaps IEM is not the most correct choice.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
I think that's it exactly, for me as a beginner in the IEM arena, if I had a reasonable idea of the point of reference it would make it easier for me to "imagine" the results.
I certainly don't expect IEMs to deliver the full-scale sound but I'm quite happy to live with that if they meed other requirements.
If I could strap my Martin Logans to my head I would, but I think the other passengers on the train may object
post #7 of 18
Of course you can.

post #8 of 18
My full system is an Onkyo CS325 receiver, with a pair of M-Audio BXa5 studio monitors and a Pinnacle sub.

I would never compare IEMs to this setup, though; I haven't heard a pair of phones that hold up the low bass (<100Hz) as well as even a mediocre subwoofer. So typically, I compare phones to each other.

On the other hand, note that good phones will defeat ambient sounds far better than hi-fi (good for neighbors with d*ckhead dogs), and you can walk around with them.
post #9 of 18
I've got a Music Hall A25.2 driving GR Research Neo2Xs. While by no means an expensive rig, I've never heard headphones get close.

But I have heard subtle details on my HD650s that I wouldn't catch as easily on speakers.
post #10 of 18
I think the real trick is just to bite the bullet, and go ahead and move as far up the chain for iems as you did for speakers, and get JH13s. You don't get quite the space or presence that you get with great speakers, but in some ways, what you get is better.
post #11 of 18
No headphone can compare to a good speaker set up. Boomana is right. You can't really compare the two. My speaker set up leaves me in bliss and amazement every time in a way that headphones can't - for my personal taste anyway. And top to bottom they do everything well AND sound musical - something I've yet to find in any headphone. You seem to either get accurate and analytical, missing top or bottom end, or musical but colored.

It seems that the JH13 is the only headphon/IEM to get it right across the board. I won't know till I get a pair.

But headphones and even budget IEMs (haven't heard the top customs) can really be engaging, involving and practical.

Here's my speaker set up if you want to take a look at how cumbersome speakers can be compared to an IEM - not to mention the necessary space, accurate placement, neighbor issues, and having to sit in the "sweet spot".
post #12 of 18
There's little comparison between IEMs and a quality speaker setup. My IEMs usually sit in the travel bag for when I take a plane flight - every other time I'll run the speakers or full-sized headphones at home. If I'm in a hotel or away from home, I'll take Grados or a Sony MDR-7509HD for listening. The IEMs only go in when I need to block a lot of external noise; I don't use them unless I need them.

My current speaker setup is Marantz SA8001 or Michell Orbe/SME IV/Fi Yph (and sometimes a H.H. Scott 350B) into an Eddie Current Zana Deux (as pre) fed to a Conrad-Johnson MV52 powering Quad ESL-63s.
post #13 of 18
I think the OP's point was not so much to compare iems to a speaker system, rather it was to ask at what quality/performance level an iem reviewer's system was, so they could interpret the reviewer's comments. A frame of reference for the reviewer's listening experience is a helpful thing to have.
post #14 of 18
My full size system is made up of Event ASP powered studio monitors with balanced cabling. I've got 2x ASP8's in front, 2x PS5's in back, an ASP6 in the center and a PS110B subwoofer, all connected to a standalone Dolby Digital Decoder. That is connected to a DVD player and an XBox 360 over Toslink optical. I also have a Frontier Tango D/A converter that goes to a computer over optical.

As far as how IEM's compare: The imaging and soundstage is smaller and not any more precise. But from a mental perspective it's easier to locate things in space with IEM's because they are moving around your head instead of around the room. The bass on IEM's is tighter than speakers, but with less physical impact. My particular IEM's (X10's) roll off at about 15K, so the treble isn't as good as my speakers, which are solid to 20K. They are about equal on midrange, both making it easy to understand vocals and having a lush character to them. Orthodynamic or electrostatic headphones have more character to the mids than any IEM or the majority of speakers though, IMO.

That may all be obvious. But hopefully it answers the question.

EDIT: BTW, how do you like your Martin Logans? Did you have to do acoustic treatment to get them to sound good (because of being bi-directional)?
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by barleyguy View Post
EDIT: BTW, how do you like your Martin Logans? Did you have to do acoustic treatment to get them to sound good (because of being bi-directional)?
I used to have a 14' x 16' living room and they worked very well a couple of feet from a hard wall. No treatment necessary as they rely on the reflections for their "scale".
I loved them and I now miss them as my current house doesn't have a big enough space to put them in.
I won't sell them though because I look forward to setting them up somewhere larger in the future.
I tested several full-size speakers at once, in my home, thanks to the guys at Acoustic Arts and left the MLs 'til last...no contest.
It was the easiest choice I've ever made with hi-fi.
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