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Multi-IEM Review - 352 IEMs compared (Pump Audio Earphones added 04/03/16 p. 1106) - Page 68

post #1006 of 16802
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

We should start a 'How does Joker think' thread, lol.

 

No need - ethan pretty much nailed it. Although if you did want to venture there, I must warn you that it's a dark and dangerous place filled with numbers and diagrams. My mindset is of the mathematical sort.


 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ethan961 View Post

I'm going to take a stab and add that it may be that there are simply too many 10/10s and the original point of the 10/10 was to show the best that he had heard up to that point. Of course, only |joker| knows.


Indeed. The inherent problem with a rating like 10/10 is that it implies perfection. In the absence of perfection I have to make a decision on what is valued most in an earphone and that's extremely subjective. The problem with the CK10, CK100, DBA-02, etc is that it is not difficult to imagine a listener who will absolutely hate each one of them, for different reasons of course. The DBA-02 seems to be slightly less polarizing thus far, perhaps because people are finally doing research before jumping on the bandwagon or perhaps because only those who are convinced that it's the one to buy are patient enough with all of the shortages and delays. Regardless, the CK10 is a perfect example - I think the split is around 60/40 in favor of 'hate' vs. 'love' for the CK10 and I, of all people, can easily see why. For all of the things the CK10 (CK100, DBA-02,, UM3X, IE8, TF10 etc) does better than any other earphone, it takes one or two risks with its sound. With the CK10 that would be the 'hot' treble and lack of fleshiness to its sound but it varies from earphone to earphone. 

 

With the SM3 it's different - I can see someone finding another earphone preferable to the SM3 but I can't see anyone absolutely hating it. In the case of the SM3, the lack of weaknesses is its greatest strength. In that sense, I can't see any earphone that I've heard aside from the SM3 earning a 10/10 - and especially not the current trio, each flawed in its own way. It really doesn't matter what I think about it in the context of my personal (analytical) listening preferences. 


Edited by ljokerl - 10/20/10 at 11:46pm
post #1007 of 16802

Perhaps give it a 10/10 (*) --- Just like Exams has two grades of Ace - A and an A+ Distinction, Which the SM3 Falls into xD

 

 

post #1008 of 16802

I figured as much Joker.  You set up your scoring criteria to compensate for signature preferences which was the right way to go for sure.  I can easily see the SM3 getting 10/10.  Is it an 11/10?  Not IMO.  The SM3 is like the 530 in a way to my ears.  They are both phones that check the boxes.  Call them benchmark phones if you will.  They do nothing terribly wrong, yet for me neither was particularly engaging for various reasons.  It's easy to say these do such and such very well.  The question is whether the absence of evil equates to the presence of good.  Is it enough.  Up to you, it's your test.    Hope that makes sense.  It's late.  

post #1009 of 16802

I partly blame joker for me buying SE535s. If he had reviewed them and said that they weren't that great... My curiosity got the best of me.

post #1010 of 16802
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post

The inherent problem with a rating like 10/10 is that it implies perfection.

 

Yes, but this thread goes to eleven!

 

post #1011 of 16802

I agree with Joker's approach.  You have to realize it gets very hard to quantify these high level earphones.  Low quality products are easy.  They're largely flawed, largely limited, and just plain do things wrong.  It's easy to pick out the problems.  Once you get up to these very good products, they just don't have those flaws or limitations.  A lot of the ranking instead can go down a dangerous road, subjectivity, something we don't want when we're trying to be as unbiased as possible.  In the end, all we have are flaws, and they get pretty minuscule by the time we get to these high end products. 

 

Perfection, at least as close as we can get to it, comes down to finding the products that do the least wrong.  These typically are not amazing products.  They don't have the wow factor or special gearing.  Why is the RE0 so popular?  Because it does so little wrong.  It's not a great earphone.  It's not an "oh my god this is the most amazing thing I've ever heard" kind of product.  It simply doesn't do anything terribly wrong.  Back when I owned a pair, I hated it.  I so wanted it to be better than it was, but it simply wasn't.  It was far from my preference and fell short in some areas like sound stage and dynamics.  However, it didn't do that much wrong, and it is such a well liked product because of that.  Despite my preference, I see great value in the RE0 because it doesn't do a lot of wrong. 

 

I've read reviews on the SM3.  I know the sound signature without EQing isn't what I'm looking for.  However its popularity is there because it doesn't do much wrong.  It's not an earphone like the IE8 or SE530 where you have this wow effect.  You don't have this monstrous bass and huge sound stage like the IE8 that just blows you away when you first listen to it.  You don't have the butter smooth mids of the SE530 that have you saying these are the best mids I've ever heard.  You don't see people saying specifics about the SM3 like that.  At the same time you also don't hear people complaining about a bunch of flaws.  I think the worst I've read relates to the frequency response being bassy, dark.  Ok, well that's gearing.  If the earphone can play the frequencies competently, you can't count it as a flaw.  Another comment was level of detail versus the UM3X, an obvious rival.  Ok, is it a flaw or just a gearing?  Is it missing information or is it simply presenting the details more subtlety?  This is the difference between gearing and flaw.  It's a small difference but a big deal.  In the end if the earphone simply doesn't do anything wrong, you just can't score against it.  It may not be your ideal, maybe not even close, but if it's not flawed, it's not flawed.

 

Like Joker said, a lot of these other earphones have absolute flaws in some way.  The CK10 has from what I got from pink noise testing a 9dB narrow spike at 10kHz that is a pretty significant issue that shows through with many songs.  Foam tips help, but EQing is the only way you really deal with it well.  Plus you can add that little bit on the bottom end to counter the role off below 50Hz (what my ears hear).  It had gotten a 10/10 because frankly it does so much right.  Speed, texture, dynamics, tonality, everything is so "correct" in how it's presented.  Maybe the treble peak was intended.  If so, it's not flawed.  However, it's an odd addition because of how significant it is.

 

The CK100, I don't know.  I like this earphone a lot.  It's hard for me to really say it's flawed.  It's not as articulate as the CK10, but it's not bad at all for a BA based earphone.  I mean nothing else is like the CK10, and the CK100 is better than most other BA earphones in presenting a well balanced note.  There is again some treble emphasis and again a weak bottom end, but information is presented well.  Could it have a heartier bass line?  Sure, but notes are well bodied and defined even if they are a little quiet.

 

The DBA-02.  I don't get this one being a 10/10.  I'd barely give it an 8/10 I thought the earphone was relatively flawed in several ways.   Dynamics were significantly compressed.  The notes had a very short decay which created very minimal body and texturing which in turn made for a very lean low end.  I for one thought the drivers weren't of as high a quality as better offerings.  I actually want to say there was a noticeable amount of distortion or what I'll call a slight sense of scratchiness or harshness to the notes.  This is something I associate with lower level products, not junk but not as refined.  The frequency response wasn't bad at all, but the thin notes created a lot of limitations on the low end.  I thought the sound stage was significantly lacking, mainly from the lack of texture/articulation and compressed dynamics.  The speed of this earphone was neat.  It's definitely a "wow" type earphone, sort of doing what the SE530 does for mids but with highs and speed like the CK10 (but without the texture).  At the end of the day I would gladly suggest to anyone the RE-ZERO or Custom 3 as better choices at a cheaper price point.  I really do hate to nitpick this earphone, but like the RE0, I kind of feel people are liking it more than it's worth.  I guess someone has to not like it, and that's me, lol.  I do try and not like it from a personal preference standpoint.  I don't like it because I think it does a number of critical things wrong. 

 

For me the UM3X is a 10/10 product.  It's one of those earphones I can use and can't really say it does anything wrong.  The frequency response is geared a certain way, but it just presents the notes well.  It's very clean, highly dynamic, highly textured.  It just doesn't do much wrong.  The worst thing it does is roll off some on the top end.  It's not exactly the 16kHz king.  It's like the CK100 but opposite.  It would be nice to see more top end sparkle and edge, but I think most of it comes down to the filter and any x-over implementation used than an actual limitation of the driver.  The Custom 3's driver is limited.  It lacks the speed to cleanly present notes above 10kHz well and is noticeably sluggish.  The IE8 is like this too, just a little sluggish and smoothed in details.  These are raw, noticeable inabilities of the drivers used.  The UM3X, I don't see a raw inability.  It's just gearing.  I really do get the sense that both the CK100 and UM3X use the exact same drivers, but they're just implemented differently.

 

 

I like when earphones are just plain wrong.  It makes things easy.  When they aren't wrong, then things just become subjective.  You're either picking out extremely minute limitations, or you are throwing in personal preference or at least scaling to a common or social preference(what most people will like or prefer). 

post #1012 of 16802
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post

With the SM3 it's different - I can see someone finding another earphone preferable to the SM3 but I can't see anyone absolutely hating it. In the case of the SM3, the lack of weaknesses is its greatest strength. In that sense, I can't see any earphone that I've heard aside from the SM3 earning a 10/10 - and especially not the current trio, each flawed in its own way. It really doesn't matter what I think about it in the context of my personal (analytical) listening preferences. 

I don't know about hating it, but music bird and James444 are examples of people who found serious weaknesses with the SM3's sound.

 

It's great that you are taking greater account of your personal listening preferences and moderating against them so as to give reviews that will more accurately match the experience of the greatest number of readers/listeners possible. I know there are different ideas about how one should write a review, but I like the one you are moving towards. Cheers.



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post

Like Joker said, a lot of these other earphones have absolute flaws in some way.  The CK10 has from what I got from pink noise testing a 9dB narrow spike at 10kHz that is a pretty significant issue that shows through with many songs.  Foam tips help, but EQing is the only way you really deal with it well.  Plus you can add that little bit on the bottom end to counter the role off below 50Hz (what my ears hear).  It had gotten a 10/10 because frankly it does so much right.  Speed, texture, dynamics, tonality, everything is so "correct" in how it's presented.  Maybe the treble peak was intended.  If so, it's not flawed.  However, it's an odd addition because of how significant it is.

I liked the ck10 from my short listening session with it, but it clearly did have a sonic flaw in the way bass was presented. When an earphone does not reproduce a given frequency as it was intended in the recording, then that is a flaw. A basshead may enjoy an earphone that gives a greater quantity of bass than is present in the recording, but it is still a flaw, just one that matches the particular taste of the listener. For the ck10, the bass quantity is less than the recording and the aforementioned treble peak is more. These are flaws and, while the ck10 does a lot right, a flawed earphone should hardly be considered perfect without serious caveats to warn the reader.

post #1013 of 16802
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post

I agree with Joker's approach.  You have to realize it gets very hard to quantify these high level earphones.  Low quality products are easy.  They're largely flawed, largely limited, and just plain do things wrong.  It's easy to pick out the problems.  Once you get up to these very good products, they just don't have those flaws or limitations.  A lot of the ranking instead can go down a dangerous road, subjectivity, something we don't want when we're trying to be as unbiased as possible.  In the end, all we have are flaws, and they get pretty minuscule by the time we get to these high end products. 

 

Perfection, at least as close as we can get to it, comes down to finding the products that do the least wrong.  These typically are not amazing products.  They don't have the wow factor or special gearing.  Why is the RE0 so popular?  Because it does so little wrong.  It's not a great earphone.  It's not an "oh my god this is the most amazing thing I've ever heard" kind of product.  It simply doesn't do anything terribly wrong.  Back when I owned a pair, I hated it.  I so wanted it to be better than it was, but it simply wasn't.  It was far from my preference and fell short in some areas like sound stage and dynamics.  However, it didn't do that much wrong, and it is such a well liked product because of that.  Despite my preference, I see great value in the RE0 because it doesn't do a lot of wrong. 

 

I've read reviews on the SM3.  I know the sound signature without EQing isn't what I'm looking for.  However its popularity is there because it doesn't do much wrong.  It's not an earphone like the IE8 or SE530 where you have this wow effect.  You don't have this monstrous bass and huge sound stage like the IE8 that just blows you away when you first listen to it.  You don't have the butter smooth mids of the SE530 that have you saying these are the best mids I've ever heard.  You don't see people saying specifics about the SM3 like that.  At the same time you also don't hear people complaining about a bunch of flaws.  I think the worst I've read relates to the frequency response being bassy, dark.  Ok, well that's gearing.  If the earphone can play the frequencies competently, you can't count it as a flaw.  Another comment was level of detail versus the UM3X, an obvious rival.  Ok, is it a flaw or just a gearing?  Is it missing information or is it simply presenting the details more subtlety?  This is the difference between gearing and flaw.  It's a small difference but a big deal.  In the end if the earphone simply doesn't do anything wrong, you just can't score against it.  It may not be your ideal, maybe not even close, but if it's not flawed, it's not flawed.

 

Like Joker said, a lot of these other earphones have absolute flaws in some way.  The CK10 has from what I got from pink noise testing a 9dB narrow spike at 10kHz that is a pretty significant issue that shows through with many songs.  Foam tips help, but EQing is the only way you really deal with it well.  Plus you can add that little bit on the bottom end to counter the role off below 50Hz (what my ears hear).  It had gotten a 10/10 because frankly it does so much right.  Speed, texture, dynamics, tonality, everything is so "correct" in how it's presented.  Maybe the treble peak was intended.  If so, it's not flawed.  However, it's an odd addition because of how significant it is.

 

The CK100, I don't know.  I like this earphone a lot.  It's hard for me to really say it's flawed.  It's not as articulate as the CK10, but it's not bad at all for a BA based earphone.  I mean nothing else is like the CK10, and the CK100 is better than most other BA earphones in presenting a well balanced note.  There is again some treble emphasis and again a weak bottom end, but information is presented well.  Could it have a heartier bass line?  Sure, but notes are well bodied and defined even if they are a little quiet.

 

The DBA-02.  I don't get this one being a 10/10.  I'd barely give it an 8/10 I thought the earphone was relatively flawed in several ways.   Dynamics were significantly compressed.  The notes had a very short decay which created very minimal body and texturing which in turn made for a very lean low end.  I for one thought the drivers weren't of as high a quality as better offerings.  I actually want to say there was a noticeable amount of distortion or what I'll call a slight sense of scratchiness or harshness to the notes.  This is something I associate with lower level products, not junk but not as refined.  The frequency response wasn't bad at all, but the thin notes created a lot of limitations on the low end.  I thought the sound stage was significantly lacking, mainly from the lack of texture/articulation and compressed dynamics.  The speed of this earphone was neat.  It's definitely a "wow" type earphone, sort of doing what the SE530 does for mids but with highs and speed like the CK10 (but without the texture).  At the end of the day I would gladly suggest to anyone the RE-ZERO or Custom 3 as better choices at a cheaper price point.  I really do hate to nitpick this earphone, but like the RE0, I kind of feel people are liking it more than it's worth.  I guess someone has to not like it, and that's me, lol.  I do try and not like it from a personal preference standpoint.  I don't like it because I think it does a number of critical things wrong. 

 

For me the UM3X is a 10/10 product.  It's one of those earphones I can use and can't really say it does anything wrong.  The frequency response is geared a certain way, but it just presents the notes well.  It's very clean, highly dynamic, highly textured.  It just doesn't do much wrong.  The worst thing it does is roll off some on the top end.  It's not exactly the 16kHz king.  It's like the CK100 but opposite.  It would be nice to see more top end sparkle and edge, but I think most of it comes down to the filter and any x-over implementation used than an actual limitation of the driver.  The Custom 3's driver is limited.  It lacks the speed to cleanly present notes above 10kHz well and is noticeably sluggish.  The IE8 is like this too, just a little sluggish and smoothed in details.  These are raw, noticeable inabilities of the drivers used.  The UM3X, I don't see a raw inability.  It's just gearing.  I really do get the sense that both the CK100 and UM3X use the exact same drivers, but they're just implemented differently.

 

 

I like when earphones are just plain wrong.  It makes things easy.  When they aren't wrong, then things just become subjective.  You're either picking out extremely minute limitations, or you are throwing in personal preference or at least scaling to a common or social preference(what most people will like or prefer). 


Mostly agree w/ you except in regards to the DBA-02.  Your impressions to me are similar to those of one w/ poor fit or ears that simply don't go well w/ the phone.  You criticisms like low bass, thinness and lack of body are not there for people like myself that like them.  I know Shane wouldn't have kept them either if he heard them like you do.  So to my ears they are 10/10.  Obviously if I heard them as you do I would rate them like I have most BAs I have heard along your lines of description.  As much as you like the CK10 over the DBA I heard the opposite.  Less bass and body than the DBA, shriller highs and migraine inducing treble spikes.  My scores for the CK10 and DBA would be the inverse of yours.  So I think you need to consider how you hear these phones rather than stating your impressions as empirical fact.  For the most part you are right but it is obvious that the DBA is a phone that you either hear in its sweet spot or you just won't ever get it.  I've had my Etys (P and the S), CK10, heard the RE0.  To me the DBA is not a treble centered phone.  Of course, certain tips with a certain fit can make them sound as such.  It has awesome clarity, full natural sound balanced throughout and fantastic detail.  A snare drum has a round, full pop, not a slap, I can get a nice render of the entire drum kit.  Hip-hop bass can go boom.  The bass is about 92-95% of where it needs to be (CK10 is like 85%) and the rest basically spot on.  Of the afore-mentioned the transparency is the best I've heard as well.  It also has more texture than the 530 as I heard it, though everything does practically.  Other than the congestion issue you raise, I see no major flaws to my ears.  In the end, that's the point.  I can only speak to my ears and all impressions should be viewed in that light.  Synergy matters too.  


Edited by Anaxilus - 10/21/10 at 6:03pm
post #1014 of 16802

I've decided to go for the HJE900 after reading reviews including yours, however I noticed you didn't like the stock tips.

 

Quote:
stock tips are underwhelming

 

Which ones would you recommend?


Edited by Klaasje - 10/21/10 at 4:11pm
post #1015 of 16802

Funny how we hear things so differently. I think sound wise I do like the DBA-02 although the bass extension is not quite as good as the CK10. Sound wise I'll take the DBA-02 but as the whole package I'll take the CK10 any day. I definitely found the CK10 bass better but that's not the case for everyone who heard both apparently.

 

I would say that the DBA-02 is the "safer" earphone to get than the CK10 since the CK10 does have that spike that makes people either hate it or love it.

post #1016 of 16802

yep dba02 should not get a 10/10. more like 7.5-8/10

the sound lacks a bit of body and although treble is good, its as if its trying too hard making it sibilant

post #1017 of 16802
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by SpecialJ View Post

I partly blame joker for me buying SE535s. If he had reviewed them and said that they weren't that great... My curiosity got the best of me.

 

What, so now I have to worry about what I don't review, too ?


Quote:

Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post

I agree with Joker's approach.  You have to realize it gets very hard to quantify these high level earphones.  Low quality products are easy.  They're largely flawed, largely limited, and just plain do things wrong.  It's easy to pick out the problems.  Once you get up to these very good products, they just don't have those flaws or limitations.  A lot of the ranking instead can go down a dangerous road, subjectivity, something we don't want when we're trying to be as unbiased as possible.  In the end, all we have are flaws, and they get pretty minuscule by the time we get to these high end products. 


Thanks, Matt. I have to say that among all the wall-of-text posts I encounter around here yours are the only ones I read more than once.  

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

Mostly agree w/ you except in regards to the DBA-02.  Your impressions to me are similar to those of one w/ poor fit or ears that simply don't go well w/ the phone.  You criticisms like low bass, thinness and lack of body are not there for people like myself that like them.  I know Shane wouldn't have kept them either if he heard them like you do.  So to my ears they are 10/10.  Obviously if I heard them as you do I would rate them like I have most BAs I have heard along your lines of description.  As much as you like the CK10 over the DBA I heard the opposite.  Less bass and body than the DBA, shriller highs and migraine inducing treble spikes.  My scores for the CK10 and DBA would be the inverse of yours.  So I think you need to consider how you hear these phones rather than stating your impressions as empirical fact.  For the most part you are right but it is obvious that the DBA is a phone that you either hear in its sweet spot or you just won't ever get it.  I've had my Etys (P and the S), CK10, heard the RE0.  To me the DBA is not a treble centered phone.  Of course, certain tips with a certain fit can make them sound as such.  It has awesome clarity, full natural sound balanced throughout and fantastic detail.  A snare drum has a round, full pop, not a slap, I can get a nice render of the entire drum kit.  Hip-hop bass can go boom.  The bass is about 92-95% of where it needs to be (CK10 is like 85%) and the rest basically spot on.  Of the afore-mentioned the transparency is the best I've heard as well.  It also has more texture than the 530 as I heard it, though everything does practically.  Other than the congestion issue you raise, I see no major flaws to my ears.  In the end, that's the point.  I can only speak to my ears and all impressions should be viewed in that light.  Synergy matters too.  

 

Conversely, the CK10 can also be a bit fidgety in terms of fit and its little indiscretions really are accentuated with a shallow insertion. I'm lucky to be able to fit the housings themselves partway into my ear canal with smaller tips - otherwise I have to use modded Monster trips. 
 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Klaasje View Post

I've decided to go for the HJE900 after reading reviews including yours, however I noticed you didn't like the stock tips.

 

 

Which ones would you recommend?


UE single flanges. There's a link on the last page of this thread. That said, I'd recommend listening to the stock tips first and only shelling out more cash if you're not satisfied but not completely appalled. Tips can only do so much for most earphones.



Quote:

Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

I would say that the DBA-02 is the "safer" earphone to get than the CK10 since the CK10 does have that spike that makes people either hate it or love it.


I don't think it's the spike that makes people love the CK10. The spike is at best tolerable - it's the other quantities that make up for it.

post #1018 of 16802

hi bro joker...

dont you plan on journeying to custom iems?

hehhee...

 

someday...you will, i know!

and on that day...you will be reviewing more on driver's count and numbers of bores, crossovers...etc.and the mold, the color...etc... hahaha.

 

i am happy with your work joker.

you bring joy to my ears!

post #1019 of 16802
Yeah joker everyone loves ya. Keep its up and i have high expectations of your future endeavours. ^.^
post #1020 of 16802

I give the RE252 a score of 86/10 for sound and all the other iems in the universe 10 or less.

 

Joker - do you have a day job? Or do you lie in a padded room writhing under a straight-jacket of iem cables?

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