I am stuck.
My Minerva Mi-1 customs (absolutely fantastic in every day) have packed in and the repair cost for a single driver unit is just far too rich for my bank account and financial position for the foreseeable future so after over 2 1/2 years, I am on the hunt for a pair of quality universal IEM's.
And beyond this thread I have absolutely no idea where it is best to turn...
My last universals were the HeadDirect RE-ZERO's. Not much on the bass end, reasonable speed for a dynamic but highs and mids that could soothe even the most angry beast on the right tracks. I loved them but they weren't in the same league as my Mi-1's for sound. Recently I've been using my Dad's pair of sub-$50 Meelec universals and they weren't too bad but they took some effort to EQ out and make them fun.
Ideally I'd love something like the RE-ZERO but of a higher grade/quality, analytic with fantastic mids and highs and controlled bass but I know that's not an easy task. I'm not a huge fan of Dynamic drivers as I find they can fatigue me easily (health issue which makes them fatigue my ears a bit faster than most) but I don't mind them, especially if the bass quality is reasonable and it's not thumping hard (Monster Turbines).
Personally I've been looking at the old stable Fischer Audio DBA-02's and the Mk II (£120) versions, as well as the Brainwavz B2 (£64) or R3's (£80, dual dynamics, I know).
Could anyone give me a hand? Yes, I'm picky. With my health condition I can have sore ears/quickly fatigued ears with too much impact behind the bass for which I found the Monster Turbines to be awful for, even if it was enjoyable until that certain point.
I really do appreciate any advice given. As the Mi-1's would cost me over £200 to replace, the Brainwavz offerings sound fantastic and ideally I'd like to spend no more than £100 (about $160 in US currency, give or take $10). Alternatives are very much appreciated as the references and ideas I have posted above are just for reference/curiousity sake.
The DBA-02/mkII/B2 are all brighter than the RE-ZERO so they might be fatiguing for you (although I'm honestly not sure how the Mi-1 sounds). The R3 is smoother/less bright but the fit is not nearly as easy-going as the similarly-priced HiFiMan RE-400 and the sound is not better. The RE-400 is honestly the better option of the two.
The VSonic GR07 and Philips Fidelio S2 are good options in your price range but again both have more treble energy and can be more harsh than the RE-ZERO and RE-400. The Etymotic HF5 is another very solid earphone - again a little more treble presence than the RE-ZERO/RE-400 but still a little more forgiving than the DBA-02/B2.
TL;DR - The HiFiMan RE-400 is the safe option, the HF5 is the neutral option with more treble presence, the GR07/Fidelio S2 have more bass impact but still not too much (definitely not at Turbine level). The DBA-02/B2 can be fatiguing if you aren't used to energetic treble but have very fast and level bass.
Wow! They are little over my budget, but I like the design (otherwise is also long as the MEE SP51).
BTW what about the Sunrise? You gave the v1 really high rating, and what I read, the version IE is only little warmer and with little more bass. That also looks promising...
The V1 doesn't have enough bass for you and I can't really recommend the Xcape IE because of the build quality. You have to be very gentle with it.