Let's see, can I quote all the posts...maybe :)
Hi Joe! I've enjoyed your reviews and voiced my appreciation for this thread a few times now.
However, I think you should be careful about annointing a single iem as "the top", as that's very subjective, different people are looking for different sounds and one person's idea of the best can be quite different than another's.
Of course, you could rename the thread "Average_Joe's totally subjective chart made by one person and not representative of others' listening tastes iem chart", but I'm not sure that was your intention.
As for people hearing or not hearing the SM3, I think your comments on that particular iem can be critiqued effectively as enjoyable but as subjective and as reliable as any other person's by looking at your take on other iems.
In particular, you've liked to describe your favorite iem of the moment as sounding like "live music" while all other iems sound like "recordings" of music. That's a pretty spectacular piece of hyperbole and since you're really leading with your chin when you write something like that (and then repeat it several times and for different iems) I hope you won't mind too much if someone who thinks well of you takes you to task for it. While I haven't heard the SM3, you've made the same huge (mis)statement about the ortofon e-q7, which I have. While everyone's ears are different, I am so confident that you are wrong about the e-q7 sounding like "live music" while ALL OTHER IEMS sound like listening to a recording (you see how crazy this statement is?), that I am going to say that you simply have misunderstood what your ears were telling you. They called me to complain, you see. The e-q7 has good transparency and that's what your ears heard. But they also heard the way the e-q7 has been tuned for a mid-centered sort of sound, the relaxed highs and the sort of bass that doesn't move the air in a way similar to a BA-driven earphones' bass. Your ears are smart. They know that tuning and those quirks and they know that's not quite the way live music sounds. Particularly since most live music we hear is amplified using dynamically-driven speakers. Even non-amplified music in a good acoustic chamber doesn't sound like that. Not to mention the fact that no universal iem is really going to compete with a high-end headphone in terms of things like soundstage, not to mention a home-theatre setup. It's all an approximation and one for which we all have our preferences in pretending we hear "live sound". We don't really hear live sound and a review that claims that whichever favorite iem is The One Top Iem for Everyone seems quite over the top.
Besides, KLS' review of the SM3 boiled down to "I wasn't impressed out of the box, but I got used to them and now I like them a lot"--which is pretty similar to a lot of people's impressions of whatever $500 earphone they've bought. I'm sure they're great, and again, I enjoy the reviews and the enthusiasm, too. The live sound thing and the idea that you're naming The Top IEM for Everyone is a bit much for me, though.
Funny cat! Always causing mischief, then getting bored and taking a nap on top of the fridge.
What is the chart now? It is as good a consensus as I could create based off head-fiers thoughts. That is what I am doing with the SM3...looking for a consensus, which can only come from SM3 owners :) I do appreciate your input and pointing out that one person's thoughts are not a consensus. My thoughts are in the SM3 thread, the SM3 in the chart on the first page is not just my thoughts, but that of the few other owners as well.
And to clear up what I actually said about some IEMs:
- CK10 had the best imaging of any IEM I had heard at the time. I stand by my assessment of the CK10, that it has great imaging, and yet the bass was fine for me with the rest of the sound signature. What has changed IMO is the treble, which in comparison to the SM3 sounded as middo1990 stated it sounded. Still, a great, enjoyable IEM.
- e-Q7 had the best transparency, with the GR8 not far behind. Both seamlessly integrate the entire spectrum together making for a cohesive, realistic presentation that made me forget I had IEMs in at times. Still, a great, enjoyable IEM.
I said I thought the e-Q7 was the best of the bunch of IEMs, besting the FX700 and GR8 IMO, among the many others. Of course, people will have their preference, which is why the many manufacturers all stay in business, and there are appreciation threads for many different sounding IEMs.
I have already stated my SM3 experience and don't need to regurgitate it here. But I have to question a person that tells me what I am hearing is not possible when I indeed am hearing it, and they have not heard the equipment that is reproducing it.
But hey, we move on.
Well... we'll see how this goes as I'm sure a lot of people are very curious about average joe's opinion on the SM3 and will end up getting one and comparing back to the other current IEMs. That said, the SM3s are more expensive than the other IEMs in this list by a sizeable margin 100-150 more - so I could probably live with a bit less quality to save that much money :).
Looking forward to seeing how this goes though - people were swearing over the E-Q7s just a week ago so I won't be surprised if the SM3 tide passes by just as quickly (I share the same view that BAs - unless they're like JH 16 Pro haha) probably wont product the bass I'm looking for... but if an all in one solution does truly exist(i'm also very skeptical - joe seems TOO positive about this for it to be true! :D)
However, if this is true - the next step will be comparing these or the custom version of the SM3 to some JH13/16s haha - would save me a great deal of money since I plan on upgrading soon :)
Again, the e-Q7 is great. If I have to rank them, I would put the e-Q7 in 2nd after the SM3. It is nice. And people that are interested in the SM3 may benefit from reading this:
I would love to hear SM3 but I do not have an upgradeitis bug enough to take that kind of plunge.
Yes, interesting how 2-3 weeks ago the e-Q7 was the "be all end all". I have not heard it but have owned GR8 which is almost identical. Actually the bass is identical according to the freq response graphs and the same driver is used in both IEM's. Great sounding IEM but I don't think it can touch W3 mainly due to lack of visiceral bass impact. It has many great traits but the "polite" bass is a deal breaker for me, plain and simple. Body AND weight are required to create the realism of the presentation IMHO.
Great points Kunlun. So if the objective or goal of a great IEM is to make it sound like a great headphone, would not soundstage and bass impact (within reason and clean) and a general great clarity be the leading criterias? Me thinks this would put IE8 very high on the list. Just a thought....
The SM3 is not lacking in bass impact; it has both body and weight with visceral impact. Not as much now as when I first had them, but some songs surprise me. Is it the FX700? No, but in comparison, the FX700 sounds uncontrolled, which makes the Copper and MDs sound worse! Call it personal preference. However, my other IEMs didn't make me think this.
Yes, it is a good IEM, no doubt :)
Yes, please read more from others that will soon be posting their thoughts. And while everyone may not agree 100% with me, I know some that already do. Source does play a role in the potential realized. The SM3 is the most resolving IEM I have heard, which is bad if you have a poor source/poor mastered/low bitrate songs.
Yes, there are few SM3 owners and time will bring more opinion to light. I am confident that my thoughts will not change much with time and many others will share my thoughts, as I share the thoughts of some of the other SM3 and other EarSonics owners. It's the EarSonics special sauce that makes them oh so good ;)
Agreed. And though this is just a guess, I'd wager that dfkt won't be nearly so enamored with the sm3 as joe has been. He also likes natural, visceral bass as opposed to the polite type.
P.S. I really miss BBCode. It is annoying to constantly have to go through steps just for a smiley icon.
Probably not, as the FX700 is tuned to be a bassier IEM. And dfkt likes his loudness curves :)
If you read more precisely, it took me a good 3 weeks to like them
To be honest, although I love my SM3, I neutral @average_joe's passion on them by saying negative things on them. Those negative comments is true to me and I hear it with my own ears (using the stock foam tips). My intention is to make sure people understand though SM3 is a good IEM, it doesn't mean they are perfect for everyone. (My vocabulary is very limited, can't think of other words other than 'neutral' and 'passion'). I don't mean any offense to @average_joe, I appreciate his great work on this top-tier thread and he shares his thoughts with me on the choices of tips to use with SM3. I believe his ears, he has a whole bunch of top-tier IEMs, and been doing comparison of IEMs here and there in this forum.
However, I was taken aback when @average_joe recommends people SM3 without asking their music taste or sound signature preference. Yes I like the accuracy of SM3, so as @average_joe, but not everyone in Head-Fi is going to share the same preference. @average_joe's intention is good, he just want to share something he likes very much with this community. Recently, I realised that some newcomers stumbled up in this forum will eventually ask about SM3. To me, SM3 is a pair great phones, but it doesn't mean that they are the only great IEMs available. I am not surprised if somebody got them and regretting buying them. (By the way, just want to say that SM3 is very tips dependent.) @average_joe did ask me is SM3 a step up compared to others IEMs I have, if you are interested in what I (= 'a premature audiophile, or never have the qualification to be an audiophile') answred, go through the SM3 thread :P
I am waiting for @dfkt and @james thoughts on them, as well as @shigzeo who is going to make a review on them I think. As we all know, they are great people with great experience, so is @avergae_joe, and hope that their comments or review are going to clear things up.
Thanks for being the yin to my yang. However, I don't recall recommending the SM3 to people without a regard for their tastes. I told mayweather via PM the Copper may be a better choice for him. Some on here that may like extra bass will probably be better off with the FX700. But for those that like the UM3X, RE0, CK10, IE8, and various others, the SM3 combines the strengths of those IEMs. I am not forcing people to buy, but bringing my experience forward that the SM3 offers more than any other IEM I have heard.
Valid points all the way around, but I don't begrudge Joe for loving the SM3. I think he has said several times for his ears they are the best, and I believe them. Base on what he and others have typed, I would like to hear them, but I haven't felt like I want to plop down $400 on them. As for people swearing about the e-Q7 just months ago, some of you guys must not be reading the e-Q7 thread anymore. It seems like the same people loving the e-Q7 (me being one of them) are still raving about them. But we all know that the e-Q7 isn't for everyone. I love the FX700 and the Miles Davis, but haven't stopped loving the e-Q7 (although the FX700 is becoming my favorite out of the three). Nothing I've said about the e-Q7 has changed. I think some head-fiers want others to make up their minds for them. It's great to get advice, but that's all it should be take as. Many of you must not be lazy and really read when experienced head-fiers describe sound signatures in detail. First you must decide if that sound signature is for you, but I also think you should try to listen to as many as possible if it won't break your bank. Like I've tried the TF10 and realized it wasn't for me. I liked the ES530 okay, but I grew out of it. The FX700 is what I thought the IE8 should sound like, but the IE8 is still a very good IEM. Do your homework people, and don't get mad at people for their opinions either way. Ultimately it's up to you to find what's right for you. Happy listening.
Thank you Eric, excellent post. And see, not everyone is blindly buying the SM3 based on what I have to say.
The hard thing for me to quantify is the presentation of the SM3. It mimics what is in the recording. It can be mid-forward, laid back, warm, cold, etc. It is not what I am typically used to, which is an IEM fitting the music to it's sound signature, it is, for the most part, the IEM fitting the sound signature of the music. Of course, it is not perfect, it is still a pair of in-ears reproducing music, but to my ears, it is much closer to live music than the rest of the IEMs I have heard!
Well I think it is just that joe has found the perfect iem for him. While it may not be for everyone it sounds like it is just right for him. I have that with the CK10 and pretty happy with it.
Regarding the e-Q7 I feel it is a very good pair of earphones but not for everyone. If the signature it has suits you then I would imagine you would like it a lot.
Yes, this is the first IEM that has truly satisfied me and stopped me from looking for more, at least in the universal realm. I have sold 3 of my 4 top-tier IEMs I had for sale, and haven't had the time/motivation to stick the CK90Pro, Copper, or RE252 in my ears long enough to compare them. I am sure when I do, I will have some more IEMs for sale.
To me, this is what I came to head-fi for...to find my nirvana. I have with the SM3, and the valuable pages here have told me that it is the EarSonics house sound that is the reason...