The FX850 the way james444 described it (below) . Otherwise, not sure. Maybe the Dunu DN-1000 if you don't mind moving slightly in a more v-shaped, less smooth direction, or the Sony XBA-H3 for a smoother and more refined (but arguably less clear compared to the Dunu) sound.
Another vote for the FX850. Unless you're sensitive to forward treble, that is, since the JVCs treble is significantly less laid-back than the H3's. As for the FX750, they're very similar, but the FX850 have slightly better mids presence. Granted, they're still v-shaped, but like vwinter said, it fits in with the imaging and somehow works.
There's also an easy mod to attenuate the JVC's bass if desired (don't worry, still plenty of it left ;-) and give their mids even more room to shine.
Good stuff, FX850 sounds like a winner.
Curious which one that'll be.
Hello everyone and specialy to the great "ljokerl". I need your kind assistance.
I have been a happy user of the RE-400 and the Ety ER4P for a while and I am ready to upgrade, the question is what to get. I share with you the areas I would like to improve over these excellent IEMs and I am appreciative for your guidance of an IEM for a budget of up to $1,000 (not customs for the moment, just universals) that matches the following criteria as much as possible.
In regards with overall "tonality" both the RE-400 and the Etys are perfect for my taste so the overall tonality of the newIEM shall be similar.
For guidance on what I like I also have the non-IEMs like Beyer T70p (love the clarity but too sibilant with many recordings), the AKG 550 (love this headphone overall, but lacks some magic) and the grado PS500e (love this one but it is peculiar as it doesn't sound great with all music, maybe too edgy sometimes) and the Beoplay H6 (I love this HP, fantastic all-terrain headphone that plays well all kinds of music, nice balance of clarity and musicality). One HP I hated is the new Sony Z7 that I found muddy, super slow, super bassy and overall extremely unbalanced, dark, and boring. I returned it after a week of trying it.
I listen to many types of music, the only thing I don't listen too much is HipHop and country. For the rest I listen to all other genres but mainly Indie, alternative. electronica, americana, punk, rock and then jazz and classical.
Treble: I love the treble of the Ety ER4P, so I like the new IEM to match it. Importantly the Ety ER4P is extended but smooth, and will never bother with sibilance. I hate sibilance but I love extended highs and smooth detailed airy high frequencies.
Bass: I like better bass presence than the Ety ER4P and the RE-400. I am not a bashed, so the bass has to be extended, with good sub bass but never ever affecting clarity of mids and the overall tonality of the sound. I hate dark thick headphones, I love clarity. I hate slow headphones I love fast headphones with good PRaT. I love fast and "solid" bass, with good extension and never affecting the mids. I hate muddy bass. I love sub-bass but only when the music calls for it.
Mids: natural sounding, not too aggressive but not retracted, balanced with the other frequencies ranges. I love the mids of the Ety ER4P, so the new IEM has to at least be as good as the Etys. I love that the vocals are present and natural, not hidden behind the instruments.
Soundstage: both the RE-400 and Ethys are limited in soundstage. I like a bit more out of the head soundstage, but natural sounding with enough presence to not feel distant, but neither has to be on your face in between the ears. A good balanace of feeling that the music is around you but still connected with you. I don't like sound that appears to be too distant, not like watching a concert from the 50th row, more like watching from the 5th row.
Imaging: I like good imaging and good instrument separation, but shall respect the musicality even of bad recordings. I don't like an IEM that is so technically advanced that reveals all the bad things of recordings so that only great recordings play well. It has to play fine with most music.
Clarity: I love the clarity of the Etys and I don't want to give up clarity while maintaining and even enhancing the "musicality". I don't like sterile analytical, I like musical sound but very clear.
Cohesivity: the sound has to be natural cohesive. Unfortunately I find many HP where even when the parts (frequency ranges) are fine they don't integrate well overall and sound artificial. It as to sound as music, like a good HiFi speaker.
I considered to purchase the InEar StageDiver 2 as it seems that ljokerl has mentioned that it will be a good upgrade over the RE-400, but it seems that it is not in stock at ALO audio, unfortunately. Other IEMs that I am considering are the B&W C5 Series 2, the Weston W60 or W40, the Senheiser IE800, the Shure SE840 or the NuForce Primo8 or some of the new universals from Noble audio. The problem is that I cannot demo these IEMs before purchase so I will have to make a call based on your guidance. Of course I don't need to be limited to these IEMs if you have a different advise or recommendation I will be appreciative.
Thank you in advance.
Interesting requirements. Not sure I have the solution for you but as a fellow HiFiMan/Etymotic fan I can help you narrow the field.
First off, while I haven't tried all of the models you are considering, I haven't found anything to be a full-on upgrade to the ER4 without compromises (especially in the bass qty vs clarity tradeoff). There are more options in customs than universals that do a good job with this, but still not all of them.
Now to thin the field a bit...
The W40 definitely isn't it - it just doesn't have the same sort of sonic balance. Too much mid-bass and not enough upper mid presence compared to an RE-400 or Ety. The IE800 probably isn't it - it's a rather bassy thing and ends up sounding somewhat v-shaped. It's not really mid-recessed in a bad way, but compared to what you're used to there's a fair chance you'll find it both overwhelmingly bassy and a little unforgiving. The C5 is definitely not it but I can't speak for the Series 2. Maybe it's a 50%+ improvement on the old one.
The SD-2 MIGHT work but its signature is definitely more RE-400 than ER4, meaning it's more on the smooth and warm-ish side than strictly neutral and analytical. It doesn't have any coherence or cohesiveness issues and it's just a nice-sounding earphone with noticeable improvements on the RE-400 here and there, but not a 100% match for what you want. The TDK BA200 is a viable budget/mainstream alternative to the SD-2, with similar caveats.
A couple of others come to mind but all with their own reservations:
The DUNU DN-2000 may be the closest I've heard to a good "analytical" IEM with a sizable bass lift. But again, you do give up some clarity in parts of the spectrum compared to a strictly flat earphone and the very top end is tuned a little brighter.
The Audiofly AF180 seems very promising so far and is a little clearer than even the SD-2, but it has a clarity-adding peak somewhere in the treble just like the DN-2000 which might cause issues coming from an ultra-smooth RE-400. Need to spend more time with this one to form a more conclusive opinion.
ZapX629 provided the link. I do need to re-write all of my innerfidelity reviews and re-post them here; just haven't found time to do it.
Edited by ljokerl - 11/24/14 at 7:36pm