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Top-Tier Universal IEM Comparison Chart, Frequency Response Charts, & Discussion - Page 6

post #76 of 785
mvw2 - I was specifically referring to the JH/13 rather than custom IEMs generally. There are some senior Head-Fier's who rate the JH/13 as equal to if not better than their high-end, full-sized rigs. It's unusual to see such a consensus of praise for a pair of headphones at Head-Fi, let alone IEMs.
post #77 of 785
Consensus is the only other way for true to reality accuracy. If 100 people tried the W3 and said the same things, then those things are believed to be true to reality. Otherwise it pretty much requires someone with a vast array of experiences to accurately define a product.
post #78 of 785
I don't think it's as simple as that. There are far too many variables to take into account. However, I do think it's interesting to see so many people agreeing about the virtues of an IEM, but in the end that counts for nought if I don't like the sound of it. This pursuit is inherently subjective and very much about personal preferences. This forum thread alone is testament to that. There are no truths to be found here, just people's impressions and opinions.
post #79 of 785
I don't know, as much as I appreciate Joe's effort to compile a comparative overview of the best universal IEMs, this whole Top-Tier (or not) discussion is leading nowhere IMO. Assuming we agree on a given IEM as being "Top-Tier", even though we have different conceptions of what this means. So what? What valuable information does this term really provide?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2410 View Post
erm no, you may like the FX500 but in no way is it top tier or really any where close to it
Quote:
Originally Posted by midoo1990 View Post
Why not?give me some reasons.and why does the ck10 in this table,I have no idea.it is not a top tier iem,I think it high mid level but not top.
This is a good example of what I mean. I've heard a lot of IEMs in Joe's list and the FX500 have probably better natural timbre with acoustic instruments than all of them. Does this make them Top-Tier? On the other hand they have rather harsh highs, that I can't stand for prolonged listening. Is this a disqualifier for Top-Tier?

Now if that wasn't complicated enough, I'd like to throw in a tiny little foam mod. After that the highs are much better and I actually prefer the FX500 over the CK10 or SE530 now. But is a modded phone eligible for Top-Tier at all, even if the mod is very minor and anyone could do it in less than five minutes? And if not, why are others like the CK10, that you'd have to buy aftermarket tips for to make them sound best?

Lots of questions are coming to mind while sifting through this thread, and I've not even started to talk about EQing (I'll save that for another occasion).

BTW, back to topic, CK100's mids may be touchy as hell, but their highs deserve to be mentioned as they are the most refined I've heard to date.
post #80 of 785
Thread Starter 
First page updated and broken into 3 categories, top-tier, near-top-tier, and third tier. Thank you all for your input.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iponderous View Post
I foresee this thread containing every IEM under the sun.
Not on my watch, but I did add a few I personally would not have

Quote:
Originally Posted by midoo1990 View Post
Joe,add the fx500 and i am the first supporter for it and also supporter for ie8,but ck10 NO because of treble and bass.

Fx500 strenghts:superb bass detail,texture and punch and extends very deep.
Excellent clarity,transparency and top notch timbre and reverbation.

Weakness:treble on the border line of being harsh,sibilant at times.
Added, but in a tier three. If/when the consensus is that the FX500 competes with the near-top-tier, I will bump it up. While it does some things excellent, I personally don't believe it belongs because I hear some other things that are very poor (primarily fatiguing treble and distortion in electronic bass heavy songs)

Quote:
Originally Posted by javajive View Post
As do I. At first, I thought it seemed like a good idea for a thread. Now I am not so sure. Perhaps some criteria for requesting top tier status or having your support or dissent added should be required such as concurrently owning or having owned at least 3 of the IEMs on the current list.
I completely agree, perspective is very important here. I would rather have someone's opinion that has the JH13 and can put all of these into better perspective. I have 7 of those on the current list in my possession right now, and have heard all but 4, but have one of those 4 on the way to me (e-Q7). I wish I had the time to track what everyone has heard, but I don't, which is why I want a list of supporters/detractors so others can do more independent research.

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Originally Posted by Spyro View Post
That's what's tricky about a thread like this. I guess I would somewhat agree that W2 and W3 don't do any single thing "best" but that's just it, they do everything very very well and make them a great choice. One negative like a lack of bass on ER4P is a complete deal breaker for me.

When it comes to IEM's I think ergonomics are very important as they are so often used "on the go".

GR-8 has the best midrange and treble I have ever heard on all the IEM's I have owned. The transparency and naturalness is just phenommenal. They lack a little "weight" but the more I listen to them the more "correct" I am starting to think they really sound.
OK, with the W3 and W2...IMO the W3 sounds close to the IE8, but both do some things better than the other (except I feel the IE8 outclasses the W3 all the way around with tip extenders, which I am trying not to take into account), so if one is top-tier, so is the other. Now, the W2 on the other hand isn't top-tier because there are other IEMs that are balanced/natural that do it better (RE252?).

And while ergonomics is important, I have to draw the line somewhere, and I am trying to draw it at SQ. But fit is a weakness for many.

What IEMs have you compared the GR-8 with/had experience with?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iponderous View Post
"Do you think it is possible for the new crop of IEMs such as the e-Q7, Copper, and GR8 for example to be better than the previous "top-tier" IEMs? And what are your thoughts on the UM3X..."

I can't see why not but without trying them I really can't say. I've expressed my opinion about the UM3X so many times in different threads that I'm over myself. In summary: detailed with good instrument separation; highs slightly rolled-off and lacking crispness; balanced presentation overall; bass is present but lacks some definition; a warm sounding phone; constricted presentation due to small soundstage; and a lifeless sound signature.
So, does that mean the UM3X is top-tier in your opinion?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bcpk View Post
Hi joe. Thanks for the chart. Just a tip, though - you would be better off saving the image as a GIF or PNG. They deal with simple-colour images better than JPEG compression.
Thanks, done!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pi3guy View Post
as someone who hasn't heard any of these phones, the word "detail" doesn't help much to explain their sound. At this level, I'm expecting all of these phones to be "detailed". I think you should only reserve the "detail" description to the top 2 or 3 in detail, be more specific about detail (treble detail? bass detail, etc), or not use the term on any of the phones.

Follow up: I can see detail being a point of controversy as to which have the most, so I would rather just have more specific descriptions and toss out detail.
Detail IMO is not a point of controversy, either the detail is present or it is not. If I can hear instrument textures, micro-detail, and instrument space on one IEM that I can not on another, one IEM is more detailed than the other. Period. Now, sound signature plays into how easy it is to hear the detail, warm sound sigs tend to hide the details and upper mid/treble boosts tend to bring the details to the forefront (at least in the mids/treble). And I do agree that an IEM can have more detail in part of the spectrum compared to another part. As this evolves, depending on how much time I have, I may increase the detailed descriptions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeluiz22 View Post
If you mean best of the best, I'll throw my hat in for the MTP Copper, which I just chose over the IE8's (sold on the FS forum(.

RE the Copper, I disagree that they have a problem with transparency and am shocked that anyone would find the bass to be too much. They are really fluid, sweet but revealing phones. And the bass just sounds real. Not big, though.
OK, I re-evaluated the bass. With the large silicon tips and the super tips there was too much bass for me, but with the PFE tips the bass is just right! As far as transparency, I feel that many do it better for me and disappear in my ears. The Copper almost always seems to remind me I am listening to IEMs. IEMs I think are more transparent include the W3, IE8, CK10, CK90Pro, and RE252.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kunlun View Post
For the SE530, could mids also be listed under weaknesses and in the notes section?

Just look at the chart and imagine it.
wink_face:
Personally I think the mids are great, but strongly dislike the presentation. I suppose if left on an island with only the SE530, I may grow to enjoy them, but maybe not.
post #81 of 785
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post
To answer: Completely a matter of personal opinion? That's going a bit too far. This matter can be judged beyond simple personal preference. You can hate a product and still think it's a very good product...
Yes, I do think that it is a matter of personal opinion. Our posts are informed by our own perceptions and experiences, which are inherently subjective. We exchange our impressions and opinions here. I find it hard to believe that anyone who used a product and actually hated it, could possess the objectivity to acknowledge that it is a good product. I think it's more plausible to argue that you can hate a product and acknowledge that there are others who do not.

An example is the RE0. It's an earphone that is very unlike my ideal and I would have a slew of functionally worse earphones over it. I still see it as a largely good product that does very little wrong. For the price, it's one of the best functioning options available...but I still dislike it personally...
Yes, but this is your opinion. I might completely disagree with your assessment of the REO's performance based on my own experience.

ClieOS is an example of a person who's used/tested/reviewed a LOT of products. Joker's another who has used/tested/reviewed nearly 50 IEMs, although limited to low and mid level products. These are the kinds of levels of experience that give a person a broad spectrum view of the head-fi world and what it has to offer...
With respect to ClieOS and Joker, who are both enthusiastic Head-Fiers, this does not make their aural perceptions more correct than anyone else's. They approach their reviewing seriously and with impartiality, which is admirable but it is not objective and nor are the results. I have little doubt that they would be prepared to acknowledge this.

Most people can't accurately define a product. Our perception is based off our experience. It can be based off some logical conclusions too. We create this measuring stick and stick our experieces on it and define a scale. This stick can only measure what we know or can understand logically. We are effectively bound by our own individual takes on reality. My measuring stick is different then yours. My points of experience are in different places and scaled along my stick differently. My perceptions of bright, warm, crisp, muddy, fast, smooth, etc. will be different. What I define as high level and low level will be different. Sometimes you don't know better unless you've had better and realized what you were missing. To accurately measure a product and place aspects in a more true to reality manner, one must have a very well defined measuring device, one with a high resolution of points and spread over a wide spectrum that covers most of the actual realistic range. If you've used 50 or 100 earphones, you have a pretty well defined measuring tool. If you've used 4, it might be pretty crappy. This measuring device has more then one dimension too. It might have 10 or 20 dimensions defining things like level of detail, speed, transparency, impact, stage size, etc., and every single earphone only adds one point in some spot on this measuring stick for each dimension. It's simply that for someone's words to be realistically accurate, they have to have vast experience...
You are describing the subjective nature of our listening perceptions and experiences here, and showing just how difficult it is to devise an acceptable method of measuring them empirically.

99.9% of the people here simply do not...
This is an example of an opinion without any factual basis.

My definition of top tier didn't say weakness. It said flaw...
This is nothing more than semantics. A weakness is described as a fault. A flaw is also described as a fault and as a weakness.

I also want to clarify that flaw can not be a subjective value...
This does not make any sense to me.

Frequency response isn't subjective. It's objective, measurable, numerical. I can put a value to it...
Yes, frequency response is measurable, however, those measurements do not necessarily translate into what we actually hear when listening to a headphone. HeadRoom provide headphone frequency measurement graphs as a guide but again, if you read the forum threads, you will find debate over the accuracy of these graphs, particularly where earphones are concerned. You will also read impressions from people who cannot reconcile what they hear from listening to a headphone, with what's shown in the frequency graph. In the end, we're listening to music through headphones, not frequency graphs.

Subjective could be me saying the IE8 is too laid back, and I could by opinion call that a weakness. However, to someone else's own opinion it could be a strength and a desirable attribute. My perception of how laid back would also be scaled differently. I can't say the IE8 is flawed because it was geared a certain way. Even the midbass hump could have been specifically geared into the product. I can't exactly hold those things against it. I pick on the SE530 because it rolls off heavily in the lower frequencies, pretty much starting at 1kHz. I could say it was "geared" that way, and it sort of was by driver choice, but it's also a 3 driver earphone that completely lacks low end sensitivity. I actually does worse off then some single driver earphones. In my eyes, something like that is a fundamental flaw. There's absolutely no reason it should be that way or still be that way even after revisions.
What you are describing here is the subjective nature of our headphone/earphone listening experience. You are entitled to your opinion about the SE530 or any other IEM that you have heard. My point is that the SE530 has its strengths and weaknesses, but so do the other IEMs that are nominated as "top tier" universals in this thread. That doesn't mean that the SE530 is any less worthy of inclusion.
I'm prepared to debate this further with you if we must, but I suggest that we do it away from this forum thread.
post #82 of 785
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post
I don't know, as much as I appreciate Joe's effort to compile a comparative overview of the best universal IEMs, this whole Top-Tier (or not) discussion is leading nowhere IMO. Assuming we agree on a given IEM as being "Top-Tier", even though we have different conceptions of what this means. So what? What valuable information does this term really provide?
This is helping at least me work through this. I personally have bias, but am willing to throw it aside for different opinions and a consensus.

Quote:
This is a good example of what I mean. I've heard a lot of IEMs in Joe's list and the FX500 have probably better natural timbre with acoustic instruments than all of them. Does this make them Top-Tier? On the other hand they have rather harsh highs, that I can't stand for prolonged listening. Is this a disqualifier for Top-Tier?

Now if that wasn't complicated enough, I'd like to throw in a tiny little foam mod. After that the highs are much better and I actually prefer the FX500 over the CK10 or SE530 now. But is a modded phone eligible for Top-Tier at all, even if the mod is very minor and anyone could do it in less than five minutes? And if not, why are others like the CK10, that you'd have to buy aftermarket tips for to make them sound best?
Great points. Maybe I need to have three categories...Top-tier, near-top-tier, and modded for top-tier/near-top-tier. Another thing is the music one listens to...I don't think the FX500 is a good trance IEM, but if someone listens to classical or acoustic rock they may love the FX500. But then by that fact I would think the IEM would not be top-tier, as it is genre limited.

As far as tips, while the included tips should work, my ear canals present challenges for many IEMs, so does that take them all out of contention? In that case only customs would make the grade. I think it is widely accepted, at least on here, to try every tip you can until you get a good sound. But I see your point.

Quote:
Lots of questions are coming to mind while sifting through this thread, and I've not even started to talk about EQing (I'll save that for another occasion).
I don't EQ, so that is not in my scope of this thread, as limiting as that may seem to some. But maybe for the notes section.

Quote:
BTW, back to topic, CK100's mids may be touchy as hell, but their highs deserve to be mentioned as they are the most refined I've heard to date.
Thank you And how about the bass and soundstage, imaging, and detail.
post #83 of 785
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post
Now if that wasn't complicated enough, I'd like to throw in a tiny little foam mod. After that the highs are much better and I actually prefer the FX500 over the CK10 or SE530 now.
Sorry to go OT, but is that mod described anywhere?
post #84 of 785
I strongly disagree with the W3 having great mids. They might be good, but the fact that they are recessed kind of defeats that purpose...

and I still want to know what the W3 does better than anything else...

Don't get me wrong, I like the W3 more than the UM3X at this point(because the UM3X is so dull on anything but acoustic and techno despite its superior separation), but if you are going to discount the W2 because the RE252 does the balanced sound better. I really want to know where the W3 stand out.
post #85 of 785
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by playingwithfire View Post
I strongly disagree with the W3 having great mids. They might be good, but the fact that they are recessed kind of defeats that purpose...

and I still want to know what the W3 does better than anything else...

Don't get me wrong, I like the W3 more than the UM3X at this point(because the UM3X is so dull on anything but acoustic and techno despite its superior separation), but if you are going to discount the W2 because the RE252 does the balanced sound better. I really want to know where the W3 stand out.
I agree, but many want the W3 in the top-tier (which is now actually near-top-tier for the W3). I have no problem dropping it to tier three personally. But on the flip side it is one of three choices for a warm higher end IEM (W3, IE8, TF10, and to me the IE8 is the best of those 3). But I am waiting to see others opinions before moving it.
post #86 of 785
"So, does that mean the UM3X is top-tier in your opinion?"
Yes average_joe because my definition of a "top-tier" IEM is based entirely upon how much I paid for it. The UM3X was right up there.
post #87 of 785
@iponderous, I see that you are in the 'Oppose to Top-Tier' for CK10, so you finally got a pair of these?
post #88 of 785
There's too much choice in this world. I want to try all of these but justifying that to my girlfriend will require a phd in creative accounting.
post #89 of 785
Quote:
Originally Posted by KLS View Post
@iponderous, I see that you are in the 'Oppose to Top-Tier' for CK10, so you finally got a pair of these?
Am I? That's odd. I've been so busy arguing with other Head-Fiers that I haven't noticed. No, I don't have the CK10 and haven't posted about it in this thread. The only IEMs that I have commented upon here are the TF10, SE530 and the UM3X.
post #90 of 785
Quote:
Originally Posted by iponderous View Post
Am I? That's odd. I've been so busy arguing with other Head-Fiers that I haven't noticed. No, I don't have the CK10 and haven't posted about it in this thread. The only IEMs that I have commented upon here are the TF10, SE530 and the UM3X.
I was kind of surprised to this because I believe that you are not the kind of person to comment things without even trying them. Then it must have been average_joe putting you in the 'Oppose to Top-Tier' mistakenly.
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