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Current most neutral/accurate IEM?

post #1 of 110
Thread Starter 
A year ago I asked for recommendations for the most neutral and accurate IEM and most people said the Westone 3, and from the post I made after I got it, it's no secret that I'm not happy with it, since it's anything but neutral/accurate--it's one of those with coloring for "fun" listening.

So here I am again, trying to see what are the most neutral/accurate IEM's on the market currently. To give you an idea of what I think is accurate/neutral, let me give my impression of the headphones I have heard as points of reference. (And currently, the most neutral/accurate reference for any sound reproduction device I have ever heard are my Klein+Hummel O300D's. They're simply amazing).

Sennheiser HD650 - Overall very good, but bass is still slightly lacking that solid punchy impact that excellent speakers have. This is not the same as bass bloat--it's about punchiness. Nice soundstage--not too wide, not too clinical--lush enough to be enjoyable.

HD600 - A bit less bass than HD650 but otherwise very similar.

HD555 - Rolled off treble but otherwise remarkably similar to HD600.

HD280 Pro - Boxy sound, anemic bass, nowhere near neutral/accurate.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50 - Excellent neutrality/accuracy, and with very nice punchy bass (the only headphones I've heard thus far that can approach excellent speakers). Soundstage is more clinical and small. (DISCLAIMER: Headphones that are often thought of as bass-heavy like the HD650 or M50 actually aren't at all. When I compare them to my K+H O300D's, the bass is just about right. Neutral bass actually is more punchy and prominent than most people think it is.)

Westone 3 - Treble is rolled off (to prevent ear fatigue I guess), and the bass is bloated and muddy with no definition. Some people love this kind of "fun" sound but I don't. (Now, THIS is what hyped bass is like. Bloated and muddy.)

Shure E4C - Anemic bass. Treble is slightly more than I like for IEM listening. (EDIT: Actually, I'm kind of torn. I don't think the E4C is too bright, but for IEM listening, I do prefer the treble to be a little bit rolled off so listening fatigue won't kick in so quickly. With that said, I'm perfectly fine with very neutral treble and I don't mind EQ'ing it just a little bit for prolonged listening.)

Equation RP-21 - Overall pretty good, but has slight spike in lower high's that can be a bit sharp on some material.

Beyerdynamic DT770/880 - Also has spike in lower high's that can be fatiguing.

Sony MDR-7509 / MDR-V600 – Absolutely can't stand the typical Sony headphones. Talk about shrillness, bleeding ears and listening fatigue!

So to sum up, I want a pair of IEM's that I don't need to EQ to get the most neutral/accurate sound that has no hype or dip in any frequency range. Some people mistakenly think that neutral = bass shy. That is not the case. Neutral means the bass is still quite substantial, but not hyped or bloated. Many people also mistakenly believe that neutral = unnaturally detailed treble. That's also not the case. Jacked up high frequencies for artificial detail is not neutral, as is that spike in the lower high's region that many seem to feel gives more detail. That is not neutral--it's coloration.

I'd like to trade my Westone 3 for another pair--maybe with a head-fi member. I rarely use mine and I might as well let others who prefer the "fun" sound have them, and if someone who owns a pair of neutral IEM's and prefers the "fun" sound, we might be able to make a trade (if your IEM is in the same price range and in excellent condition).
post #2 of 110
well as for recommedations you'll probably be looking at Ety HF5/ER4x or RE0 but who told you the W3's are neutral? when I demo'd them I found them anything but neutral
post #3 of 110
I second the RE0. They're known best for their neutrality and excellent treble detail and extension.
post #4 of 110
Maybe a pair of Etymotic ER-4P apuresound recabled or any Stax product ??
post #5 of 110
I would say check out westone um3x, etymotic er-4, or REO's would all be in that category for the most part.
post #6 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Get_Zwole View Post
I would say check out westone um3x, etymotic er-4, or REO's would all be in that category for the most part.
not quite sure I'd use the term neutral to describe the UM3X..mids were forward, not as much as the 530's but forward, slightly treble recessed again not as much as the 530's but enough
post #7 of 110
I'm yet to hear a neutral universal IEM. What's your budget? The JH13 PRO is favourably compared to the HD800, which is described as a neutral, transparent headphone. Maybe you need to aim higher in order to satisfy your quest.
post #8 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by timmyGCSE View Post
not quite sure I'd use the term neutral to describe the UM3X..mids were forward, not as much as the 530's but forward, slightly treble recessed again not as much as the 530's but enough
Yeah i would say the mids are a bit forward, i dont think they are treble recessed that much just the mids are a little more forward. I only got to use them for a short period but when i EQ'ed the upper treble a little they sounded great. Hard to find a perfectly neutral universal.
post #9 of 110
I would agree with everyone who has mentioned the RE0. I'm an HD600 user, myself, and I don't really feel that I'm lacking too much when I switch to my portable rig... especially not in terms of neutrality.

I know that some consider them to be the current FOTM, but I'd wager that they haven't spent much time with them if they have simply written them off as such. The RE0 isn't perfect, but it does a lot of things very well (especially for the price), and one of things at the top of that list is a balanced frequency spectrum.
post #10 of 110
If you think e4c is too bright, you're not looking for a completely neutral/accurate iem, you want one with rolled-off treble. I suspect both REO and er-4 would have too much treble for you (the er-4 has a noticeable treble emphasis.)
post #11 of 110
Well, I don't know about the adjective "neutral", because I've seen it used as an opposite to "warm" for phones that are by no means accurate IMO. The way I judge accuracy is by picking voices and instruments that I'm reasonable sure of how they sound live and comparing them to a live recording.

By that standard the Ortofon e-Q7 are without a doubt the most accurate IEMs I've heard to date, despite the fact that their highs are slightly rolled off. I have not heard the RE0 though.
post #12 of 110
people told you the W3? are you sure the didnt say the UM3x?

anyway id sugest the RE-252, RE-0 and ER4. in that order too. i think the 252 is the closest to what your looking for but you do seem to have an inclination towards more bassy stuff, more bassy that asking for neutral would at first suggest so my bassyer sugestions would be um3x then the se530 then the IE7
post #13 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post
Well, I don't know about the adjective "neutral", because I've seen it used as an opposite to "warm" for phones that are by no means accurate IMO. The way I judge accuracy is by picking voices and instruments that I'm reasonable sure of how they sound live and comparing them to a live recording.
Neutral=flat frequency response with good extension. Without treble extension, most acoustic instruments can't be reproduced accurately. I agree, though, that many think that bright=neutral.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2410 View Post
people told you the W3? are you sure the didnt say the UM3x?

anyway id sugest the RE-252, RE-0 and ER4. in that order too. i think the 252 is the closest to what your looking for but you do seem to have an inclination towards more bassy stuff, more bassy that asking for neutral would at first suggest so my bassyer sugestions would be um3x then the se530 then the IE7
I'll second the u3x recommendation. I wouldn't call the se530 neutral, though.
post #14 of 110
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Antony6555 View Post
If you think e4c is too bright, you're not looking for a completely neutral/accurate iem, you want one with rolled-off treble. I suspect both REO and er-4 would have too much treble for you (the er-4 has a noticeable treble emphasis.)
Actually, I'm kind of torn. I don't think the E4C is too bright, but for IEM listening, I do prefer the treble to be a little bit rolled off so listening fatigue won't kick in so quickly. With that said, I'm perfectly fine with very neutral treble and I don't mind EQ'ing it just a little bit for prolonged listening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2410
but you do seem to have an inclination towards more bassy stuff
Actually, the ones that most think of as bassy are not at all. The HD650 and M50 are actually quite neutral if you compared them to reference quality speakers that can move air down to 30Hz or so and very neutral. There is actually more bass in a neutral sound than most people think--just that many consumer grade stuff has hyped bass and that is not neutral. HD650 and M50 are not hyped--they're just right.
post #15 of 110
Another vote for the RE0. "Accurate" is hard to judge, but we all know when we are hearing colored phones. (I love my MS-1i, but it IS colored to be very dynamic and fun). IMO, the RE0 does an excellent job at non-fatiguing treble extension -- it is very smooth. And with a little bit of amp, the RE0 bass is IMO accurately full.
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