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Multi-IEM Review - 318 IEMs compared (NarMoo R1M added 07/03/14 p. 936) - Page 107

post #1591 of 14059
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaxwellDemon View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by shane55 View Post

 

Anyway, my friend, I really don't have that big of an issue with your 10/10 rating for sound. It's an opinion like almost everything else around here. Being that this is a forum (and especially THIS fantastic compendium of a thread ! ) that folks come to in order to gain an understanding of things... I wanted those reading this thread to know that there is a a group of us who feel very differently. It's an odd IEM indeed that would provoke such diametrically opposed views, observations, opinions.

 

I'll chalk it up to QC issues and just go with the thought that I had very different SM3's than you.  wink_face.gif

I recommend hearing them before one buys.



The SM3 is actually on my next earphones to check out list. I am actually really surprised about the conflicting view about these earphones, especially since I am also convinced that joker and I probably have very similar taste/hearing (haven't read a review from him that I found myself disagreeing in any level). While this intrigues me by a mile, I am also worried that these might not be the next thing I should be looking forward to... and the UM3X comparison doesn't help either, since I blanched on those. Hmm... decisions, decisions, decisions.

 

I'm actually with you on hearing things similarly to Joker.  His SM3 review was mostly inline w/ my listening.  I think the point of controversy is in the weighting and scoring of them.  He qualified some of the drawbacks of the SM3 and did his usual bang up job IMO.  
 

post #1592 of 14059

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

If its QC then Shane and myself had the same batch.  We both compared notes for a long time to make sure we weren't imagining things.  The biggest decision I had to make on the SM3 was putting mine up in the FS thread before Shane.  wink_face.gif  For those who like the SM3 sound they are a great candidate for remolds.  Probably inevitable.  But for the money you have other custom options as well.  I did find my MDs and SM3 more similar than different in general signature but it was the differences (bass, soundstage, cost, build) that were too much for me to embrace the SM3.       
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

 

I'm actually with you on hearing things similarly to Joker.  His SM3 review was mostly inline w/ my listening.  I think the point of controversy is in the weighting and scoring of them.  He qualified some of the drawbacks of the SM3 and did his usual bang up job IMO.  
 



Then the SM3 is probably not for me as well. redface.gif

 

I think what I am most surprised about is joker's decision to make SM3 the new "bar" in his comparisons. So, you'd be right in saying that the controversy lies within the weighting and the scoring. By giving a 10/10 for the sound department, I felt like if it is said that despite of not being a "fan" of the SM3's sound signature, he still felt it was a stellar pair of earphones (which is exactly what he said in his review) and that from now on forth, every earphones are being compared to the SM3 to have their quality rated. It is this bit that intrigued me and is probably pushing the SM3 for Christmas.

 

In case what I said came out as a disagreement, I don't disagree with joker's methodology in one of Head-Fi's most awesome work ever. I agree with the idea that in order to measure an earphone, you got to make comparisons with something (real life sound, other earphones, etc.). Reviews are nice, but it is the comparisons that outline how certain earphones measure out.


Edited by MaxwellDemon - 12/22/10 at 1:28am
post #1593 of 14059
Quote:

Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post
 

...the SM3 seduces with its enveloping soundstage and thick, creamy midrange.

 

The SM3 annoys with its enveloping soundstage and thick, creamy midrange.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

 

His SM3 review was mostly inline w/ my listening.  I think the point of controversy is in the weighting and scoring of them.

 

x2. Couldn't have said it better.

 

Nevertheless very nice job as always @joker.

post #1594 of 14059
Quote:
Originally Posted by shane55 View Post

I'm shocked ! Shocked I tells ya !

 

|Joker|... What? How is it possible that you and I don't hear things exactly the same? Ha! wink_face.gif  rolleyes.gif

 

But seriously... The SM3's were one of the biggest disappointments I've had. Yes, some of that was the hype. They were one of the most hyped IEM's I've seen (and it's funny how some of those who pushed that hype have now moved on to other IEM's...). But most of my disappointment was not.

 

It was a frustrating experience for me. I tried all the different tips that everyone recommended, I tried them for months and burned them in and used different sources, amps, etc. Nope, no good.

They reminded me a lot of the HD600 in that the highs were rolled off early and hard.

Clarity: no

Speed: no

Brilliance: Ha ! Not even close.

I found them dull and muted and veiled and thick and everything that the DBA-02 is not.

Details I've heard for years in my recordings were just lost in the mud. "Hey... what happened to that triangle, those cymbals, the 'air'?

 

That said, man, did they have great bass !! Whoa, the lower mids on the SM3 really cook! Mids were OK, but they are no SE535's.

 

Controversy indeed. These seem to be very polarizing IEM's and I'm not sure if it's just taste, hearing, or if there is something else at work. Could the QC be so off that Earsonics is putting out SM3's with varying sound signatures? Just asking...

 

Many of us (if you go back into the original SM3 thread-s) heard it as I did. But many did not. When you read reviews and reactions to the HD800, T1, LCD-2... you find more similarities than differences. You don't find many (there will always be some) diametrically opposed views. They all are shades off... subtleties not black and white. With these IEM's you find polar opposite opinions (and after all... these are just opinions).

 

But really |Joker|... you do a great service here and are responsible for one of the best threads in the forum. Thanks for all you do. Truly. L3000.gif

 

Even if you are terribly wrong here... 10/10 ? Gimme a break. wink_face.gif  atsmile.gif

 



Shane55,

 

When I read your post, for a second I thought: did I write that? You've brilliantly managed to put into words pretty much all my thoughts on the SM3s.

 

I, too, was shocked to read Joker's take on the SM3s (and the comparisons to the UM3X). To this day the SM3 remains the biggest disappointment of any IEM I've ever heard. I was also shocked because, although I wouldn't say I hear things exactly as Joker does, I tend to agree with a lot of the things he says.

 

The hype surrounding this particular IEM was unprecedented - at least from the many threads I've read in my 2 years as a HF'ier. I waited 4 months to try them. Funnily enough that's around the time when some of us started to openly state our not so glowing views on the SM3s. Unfortunately, as is often the case, whenever anyone expressed their not so positive views on these, all manner of 'explanations' were given to us as to why we were not 'getting it'.

 

Coincidentally, around the same time that these negative views started to appear, other SM3 owners started to admit mostly that treble response was not adequate, to put it VERY mildly. All manner of tips had to be tried, EQ'ing started to become a hot new topic, and later the so-called "filter-mod" suddenly appeared. At the same time more people were getting rid of their SM3s, some of which never cared to post on all SM3 threads.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shane55 View Post

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post

Quote:


We do hear things similarly - you are just taking issue with the fact that they aren't as fast/clear/crisp/lean/sparkly as the DBA-02 while I'm welcoming it with open arms. I think I mentioned all of those things but I wouldn't take off points for them because objectively-speaking an IEM doesn't need to be any of those things to be enjoyable. The CK10 has all of those things too and yet it's not an IEM I recommend very often (if ever) because it just isn't an instantly likable sound. Yes, they were hyped. Yes, many bought them who probably shouldn't have; but that happens with every in-ear that becomes popular around here. I think the issue is more with the early impressions of the SM3, which made it seem like a better earphone than any other in every single way, and it isn't. 

 

 

 

While it's true that they aren't as fast/clear/crisp, etc. as the DBA's, I also had them long before the DBA's so I didn't have them to compare. I not only welcomed them with open arms, I did everything in my power to like them. You can revisit the threads and read all about it if you like. I gave them more than a fair shake and wanted them to be as good as many had said.

 

Yes, my tastes tend that way (clear, crisp, bright), but I also know when even those characteristics are wildly exaggerated (read DT880, DT770...). What I did have to compare is the sound of live instruments and many years of listening to music (recorded and live). I didn't find them 'realistic' or 'natural' by any stretch of the imagination. Things were missing in the recordings, sounds and presence were no longer part of the overall mix. They were just plain dead and muted and muffled... without any other cans to compare them to.

 

Of course many love the SM3's sound. I just don't think they do the music justice. I don't find them to be true to the recording. Information is lost. And that is not a matter of taste. I did not hear thing I knew to exist in the recordings. This actually may be a positive thing for some as those missing items are within the upper part of the spectrum, and some are very sensitive to that. So I can see how someone may 'like' them or prefer their presentation to other IEM's, but for me what was missing is critical to the instrument being there with me in the room. Critical to it's presence. Notes would float without any defined point in space. Individual instruments had no 'air'.

 

Of course IEM's don't need to be anything in particular, or need specific characteristics to be enjoyable... heck, the M50 is pretty far from neutral across the spectrum, but holy crap, they are completely enjoyable ! atsmile.gif

And that's where taste really comes into play.

 

Anyway, my friend, I really don't have that big of an issue with your 10/10 rating for sound. It's an opinion like almost everything else around here. Being that this is a forum (and especially THIS fantastic compendium of a thread ! ) that folks come to in order to gain an understanding of things... I wanted those reading this thread to know that there is a a group of us who feel very differently. It's an odd IEM indeed that would provoke such diametrically opposed views, observations, opinions.

 

I'll chalk it up to QC issues and just go with the thought that I had very different SM3's than you.  wink_face.gif

I recommend hearing them before one buys.

 

All the best.


I believe shane55 owned the Westone UM2 at the time, which is not considered a bright IEM, and he preferred the sound of it over the SM3.

 

I also have to agree with shane55 when he says that one thing is having different tastes - perfectly valid, of course - and quite another when key aspects of the music are missing in a particular IEM's performance and presentation.

 

I did think for a moment that I may have had a faulty set, but more reports started to come out from people who heard them similarly to the way I did; that and the endless attempts by those who liked the SM3 to change the original SQ convinced me that I didn't have a faulty set, and instead made me think the SM3 had some SQ design flaws.


 

post #1595 of 14059

SM3 is an awesome IEM, no doubt about it. To those who were disappointed with it: you guys just didn't get the right fit, that's all. And that's perfectly OK - getting the right fit with deep insertion IEMs that have such a thin nozzle is very, very hard from my experience. For example, I could only get great sound out of Shure SE530 only maybe 5 times out of hundreds and I only got a good fit once with the Westone 3. Many people will probably be more lucky than me, but still - getting a consistent perfect fit with such an IEM design is next to impossible in my opinion.

 

But anyway, I was also terribly disappointed with the SM3 most of the time since my fit was off. But when I did get a good fit, SM3 sounded absolutely fantastic - nearly perfectly balanced from top to bottom with flawless dynamics, imaging and superb detail resolution. That being said, I still prefer the sound of Shure SE530, but again only with the right fit. Who knows, maybe I never got the right fit with SM3, but when I listened to SE530 those few times out of hundreds when I did manage to get what I thought was a perfect fit, the sound was not only impressive, but it was totally mind blowing. Eargasm at its finest lol While I found SM3 to sound almost like you are there with the musicians, especially in the mids which often did sound I like I was there, SE530 provided a total immersion into the world of music like no other headphone or speaker I've ever heard. All I had to do was close my eyes and I was right THERE. :D Maybe SM3 can do that to if I can ever manage to get the same kind of great fit I got with SE530... And maybe e-Q7 can do that too... and maybe Q-jays... and what the heck - there must be a very good reason why Etymotic still hasn't released a multi driver IEM - their ER4 may be the pinnacle of IEM sound quality already, but most people just can't get that perfect fit to be able to hear it...

 

And  for those who don't agree with what I wrote above and think that it is all very silly, then how do you explain this: I am a healthy, young person - I don't have any mental conditions and I don't have any problems with my hearing (I go to the doctor regularly). When I owned Shure SE530, I could perceive its sound as mind blowing one time I put it in and then as absolutely awful the next time I put it in my ears with exact same tips, exact same source, and exact same recordings. Moreover, I was in a similar mood. In fact, I remember once wearing my SE530 on my morning commute to university and thinking "Oh - that awful sound again! How can Shure even dare to sell these bloody things for $400+? I can get better sound from my $40 Sennheiser HD202s!" Then, after my lecture at university, I hesitatingly put the Shures back in my ears, expecting to hear that terrible sound again, I was in a bad mood that day. The weather was very cold and I was also hungry. So I plugged the 'phones into the exact same player I used to listen to them on the morning commute, using the exact same tips and exact same music. And so I pressed play and.... blink.gif WOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!! WHAT THE.... Honestly, words can't describe how startled and blown away I was. The sound of my SE530s completely transformed, It was as though I was listening to a completely different headphone. The sound literally turned from that of a typical $20-$50 budget can to that of a $1k+ reference audio system. I just kept smiling when listening to them, while I walked to the library and people looked at me like I was crazy. I didn't take them off, knowing that if I did, the incredible sound would certainly be lost. But then I kept on listening to them with my mouth open in amazement, I noticed that the sound quality seemed to deteriorate over time... I think that might be due to me moving my jaws and altering the fit. The sound slowly turned from incredible to average again and I was left totally confused and seriously questioning my sanity. After this, I don't think I ever heard that kind of sound from my SE530 again. It kept on sounding bad to average and finally the cable also cracked and that's when I could no longer stand it. I got the Shures RMA'ed and sold them when I got the replacement pair with no regrets. I knew that even though it was the best sounding thing I've ever heard, I would never be able to get a consistently good fit to make it worth keeping. I was then tempted to get the Shures again with some custom tips, but after my bad experience with Westone ES3X customs, I decided not to bother. I found that even with a custom, like ES3X, the fit has to be just perfect in order for it to sound the way it was meant to sound. Most people on here seem to be luckier than me getting customs to fit well and that I think is the main reason why most think that customs sound superior to universals. the right fit with a custom is simply easier to obtain, even though the drivers are exactly the same in quality as in universals and maybe even inferior IMO.


Edited by Pianist - 12/22/10 at 11:07am
post #1596 of 14059

the focal point here is being able to 'see' through each person's different opinion/point of view

 

for every joker who gives sm3 a 10/10 there is a mythless who says re-262 > sm3 and so on.

 

personally , i would never pay 400-500$ for a controversial IEM like the SM3 , when some say it's great and some say it's not

 

On the other hand , i find it weird how there are still new unsold re-262  FS for 160$ , an IEM that (correct me if i am wrong here) has more than 95% positive opinions (i won't say 100% beacause i may sound one-sided)

 

It all comes down to people reading opinions and reviews here and thinking for themselves instead of just following numbers and opinions.Otherwise we shall see many 10/10 iems being returned shortly after being bought.

 

 

btw , i wanna see some more people here comparing sm3 with re-262 , as this may save people from giving >400$ for something that it may not be worth that much money ( heck , you can buy decent customs with that kind of money).....

post #1597 of 14059


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by proedros View Post

the focal point here is being able to 'see' through each person's different opinion/point of view

 

for every joker who gives sm3 a 10/10 there is a mythless who says re-262 > sm3 and so on.

 

personally , i would never pay 400-500$ for a controversial IEM like the SM3 , when some say it's great and some say it's not

 

On the other hand , i find it weird how there are still new unsold re-262  FS for 160$ , an IEM that (correct me if i am wrong here) has more than 95% positive opinions (i won't say 100% beacause i may sound one-sided)

 

It all comes down to people reading opinions and reviews here and thinking for themselves instead of just following numbers and opinions.Otherwise we shall see many 10/10 iems being returned shortly after being bought.

 

 

btw , i wanna see some more people here comparing sm3 with re-262 , as this may save people from giving >400$ for something that it may not be worth that much money ( heck , you can buy decent customs with that kind of money).....


No offense. Just my humble opinion, every IEM would go through love and hate cycle no matter how, it sounds like to me Re-262 still do not pass the initial phase - praise yet. Just like SM3, once it had absolute positive comment all over forumwink_face.gif

 

After all, people jut perceive thing differently. Guys, just give Joker a break


Edited by gameboy115 - 12/22/10 at 12:25pm
post #1598 of 14059

Music_4321.

Correct on all counts. I had the UM2 (and others) and it is not a 'bright' IEM, but vastly superior to the SM3 in being able to produce what has been recorded. It is a coloured IEM for sure, but far more revealing... and enjoyable.

 

@ Pianist.

User error... Really?

post #1599 of 14059
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

SM3 is an awesome IEM, no doubt about it. To those who were disappointed with it: you guys just didn't get the right fit, that's all. And that's perfectly OK - getting the right fit with deep insertion IEMs that have such a thin nozzle is very, very hard from my experience.


You must be joking.  I have a PhD in Etymotic, Klipsch Image, DBA insertion.  I doubt many people wear their DBA's as deep as mine.  I've never had a problem coaxing bass from the ER4S either.  I'm also an avid bi-flange wearer.  I think you go a bit too far w/ your claim IMO.  When people say the DBA is too bass light then I make the same claim you did.  However noone is complaining about the lack of bass on the SM3.  Extension is another matter though.  Most of us agree w/ jokers impressions just not the scoring so perhaps you misunderstand the nature of the disagreement.

 

I also never got your amazement w/ the 530 either.  I get its technical merits and smoothness but it is far from a real live experience IME.  Its way too glassy, sterile and textureless to sound anything like life IMO.  Its like having sex w/ a mannequin.  Not that I would know.  Kunlun told me.


Edited by Anaxilus - 12/22/10 at 12:39pm
post #1600 of 14059
Quote:
Originally Posted by shane55 View Post

Music_4321.

Correct on all counts. I had the UM2 (and others) and it is not a 'bright' IEM, but vastly superior to the SM3 in being able to produce what has been recorded. It is a coloured IEM for sure, but far more revealing... and enjoyable.

 

@ Pianist.

User error... Really?


What else could it be if I felt SE530 sounded better than HD800 at one time and worse than my HD202 at another time? I don't experience that with over the ear headphones. They can sound a bit different depending on my mood, but not night and day different with the same source, same recordings and same earpads! Unless I am crazy of course, which is a possibility, but then how do you define crazy? lol

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

SM3 is an awesome IEM, no doubt about it. To those who were disappointed with it: you guys just didn't get the right fit, that's all. And that's perfectly OK - getting the right fit with deep insertion IEMs that have such a thin nozzle is very, very hard from my experience.


You must be joking.  I have a PhD in Etymotic, Klipsch Image, DBA insertion.  I doubt many people wear their DBA's as deep as mine.  I've never had a problem coaxing bass from the ER4S either.  I'm also an avid bi-flange wearer.  I think you go a bit too far w/ your claim IMO.  When people say the DBA is too bass light then I make the same claim you did.  However noone is complaining about the lack of bass on the SM3.  Extension is another matter though.  Most of us agree w/ jokers impressions just not the scoring so perhaps you misunderstand the nature of the disagreement.


A basshead will. Yes, everybody will hear the bass on SM3, or more specifically the mid/upper bass because the treble sounds recessed to many people due to bad fit and so bass appears more prominent and not the other way around. Personally, I could hardly hear the sub bass on my SM3 due to bad fit. When I got a better fit, I was able to hear the lower bass. It's definitely there, but the mid/upper bass will overpower it with the wrong fit.


Edited by Pianist - 12/22/10 at 12:41pm
post #1601 of 14059
Quote:
Originally Posted by gameboy115 View Post

 

After all, people jut perceive thing differently. Guys, just give Joker a break


Yes, we do all hear things differently.

 

We are not slamming |Joker|. We greatly respect, admire and appreciate him and all he has done. Truly, and no disrespect toward him (or any member) should be tolerated.

We are simply expressing a different viewpoint and opinion, and last I checked, so long as we are not rude, insulting, abusive, etc., we are free to do so. He posted a particular rating for the sound of an IEM. Some of us disagree with that. It happens.

 

This is not personal... or certainly shouldn't be. I would hope that this thread, like several of the SM3 Appreciation threads, doesn't get closed because people become rude.

There is something strangely polarizing about these IEM's and too many get their ego's all in a bind over them. It's not worth it. It's just an IEM.
 

post #1602 of 14059

Fitting and tips will always be an complicated issue, since it's dealing with different people's experiences.  In a way, it reminds me about the RE0 when they were first released and when they came down to 99 and even 79 many people bought them because they were so "great" but complained about the "bass" even though many have stated the bass wasn't as full or deep sounding compared to newer released IEMs.

post #1603 of 14059
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by shane55 View Post

Music_4321.

Correct on all counts. I had the UM2 (and others) and it is not a 'bright' IEM, but vastly superior to the SM3 in being able to produce what has been recorded. It is a coloured IEM for sure, but far more revealing... and enjoyable.

 

@ Pianist.

User error... Really?


What else could it be if I felt SE530 sounded better than HD800 at one time and worse than my HD202 at another time? I don't experience that with over the ear headphones. They can sound a bit different depending on my mood, but not night and day different with the same source, same recordings and same earpads! Unless I am crazy of course, which is a possibility, but then how do you define crazy? lol


Synergy and environmental conditions.  The SM3 and 530 are very sensitive phones so they are more prone to variances of input.  Not to mention the complexity of dealing w/ the triple BAs and their Xover.  I'm still waiting to be impressed by a triple driver, hasn't happened yet.  Your ears are also susceptible to change, they are very adaptable.  This is largely the biggest cause of the differences.  They can hear different when you wake up in the morning and totally different before bed not to mention changes in weather.  I will agree that for me the Shure olive foam offers the most unreliable fit of any tip I've ever had.  I could never get a settled sound after more than 15-20 minutes as my ear canal settled and the foam warmed up and changed/shifted.  As good as you say the SM3 is these are the facts.  The highs do not extend fully and neither does the bass.  The soundstage is all over, on top and behind your head at times.  If this is your perfect IEM then that's your call and your ears, no biggie.  This is not directed at Joker btw, he has stated clearly that 10/10 does NOT mean perfect sound but many readers, especially newer members seem to.


Edited by Anaxilus - 12/22/10 at 12:51pm
post #1604 of 14059

Quote:

Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post


Synergy and environmental conditions.  The SM3 and 530 are very sensitive phones so they are more prone to variances of input.  Not to mention the complexity of dealing w/ the triple BAs and their Xover.  I'm still waiting to be impressed by a triple driver, hasn't happened yet.  Your ears are also susceptible to change, they are very adaptable.  This is largely the biggest cause of the differences.  They can hear different when you wake up in the morning and totally different before bed not to mention changes in weather.  I will agree that for me the Shure olive foam offers the most unreliable fit of any tip I've ever had.  I could never get a settled sound after more than 15-20 minutes as my ear canal settled and the foam warmed up and changed/shifted.  As good as you say the SM3 is these are the facts.  The highs do not extend fully and neither does the bass.  The soundstage is all over, on top and behind your head at times.  If this is your perfect IEM then that's your call and your ears, no biggie.  This is not directed at Joker btw, he has stated clearly that 10/10 does NOT mean perfect sound but many readers, especially newer members seem to.


You can drop synergy from the argument because like I said, I used the exact same source and recordings and SE530 sounded totally different each time I put them in my ears. And I know my ears are adaptable, but hell - not THAT adaptable! I mean I hear SE530 as a terrible, incoherent, plasticy sounding cheapish tin can and then I take them out, put them in again and I hear them as glorious, rich, dynamic, immersive, superbly balanced, incredibly detailed expensive monitors. Just how on earth is this possible with just ears adapting? Ears adapt slowly over time - they can't suddenly adapt in an hour or two and without actually listening to the 'phones. And why would we even need expensive audio equipment if we could buy something cheap that sounds horrible and then just allow our ears to adapt so that we could begin to perceive the sound as amazing?


Edited by Pianist - 12/22/10 at 1:02pm
post #1605 of 14059

 

By synergy and sensitivity I meant fluctuation.  A sensitive piece of equipment is more prone to fluctuations and changes in the input stream.  Though I agree that ears are the most likely culprit.  And ears do change rather quickly within say 5-10 minutes.  I can listen to a neutral or light sounding IEM then put in say my MDs and get rolled by the bass.  Spend a few minutes getting attuned to it then put back in the other IEM and feel the bass is missing.  Yes ears and brain don't adjust within milliseconds but w/i minutes I say yes.  Plus your ears can adapt to ambient even if you aren't listening to anything.


Edited by Anaxilus - 12/22/10 at 1:08pm
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