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Multi-IEM Review - 352 IEMs compared (Pump Audio Earphones added 04/03/16 p. 1106) - Page 270

post #4036 of 16802

Hey |joker|, I got my CK100's today my dear friend, and re-read your full review, to which I couldn't personally find any room for disagreement. They certainly make a clear-cut distinction between mid-centric and mid-forward. As you mentioned, any and all personal gripes I had with the CK10's treble is nonexistent with the Ck100's. I must admit however, my sole intention in purchasing the CK100 was with one thing in mind; the added Zo effect. I'm no longer hearing the CK100's however; thanks to the Zo, I'd dub them the CK101, and the added 1 is no small feat. They're beginning to sound much more on the warm and sweet side, with the impeccable midrange taking priority above all else. Initially, I was worried that coupled with my FiiO E7 + Zo combination, I wouldn't do them justice. Even still, I can't say that I have, to be quite honest, but owing to the fact that I'm not hearing much different from what you've described, I'm content. Now, once I've allowed myself a few days time to become accustomed to their sound, I'll see where the CK100 stands in comparison to the K2 SP and EX1000. smile.gif

 

P.S. As was the case with my SM3's, low volume listening has never been easier. biggrin.gif

post #4037 of 16802
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiteki View Post

The RE0 is not neutral, because it has warmth, the RE0 is not balanced, because it doesn't have enough bass.

 

If it really was a perfect IEM, and better than everything you've ever owned or heard, I don't think Hifiman wouldn't have received hundreds of returned RE0's and then made the RE-Zero to allieviate that.

 

 

RE0 is generally neutral with a hint of warmth. The bass quantity on RE0 is similar to that on RE252/262/272 to my ears. I think the mids on RE0 are better placed between the highs and bass than on the RE252 and RE262. I find RE0 better balanced between bass and mids than the RE272, with the latter being a little too forward in the mids compared to the rather low amount of bass that it has.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kiteki View Post

 

If it really was a perfect IEM, and better than everything you've ever owned or heard, I don't think Hifiman wouldn't have received hundreds of returned RE0's and then made the RE-Zero to allieviate that.

 

 

But I didn't return hundreds of RE0s and the RE-ZERO wasn't made for me.

 

post #4038 of 16802

Hi Joker, thanks for the fabulous reviews. You may remember my query from your full-sized thread.

 

I was looking at full-sized cans, but couldn't find one that impressed me in the price range I was aiming for (150SGD - 275 SGD), from 120 USD to ~230 USD). However, I found the signature I was looking for - that of a HD800 with a very slightly warm amp - neutral, smooth mids, but detailed, and a slightly elevated treble (not too much, I found the treble of the SRH440s to be dry and the M50s to be metallic, but that is like comparing apples to oranges), with tight, textured bass that extends low, but not too much in quantity. The 2010 M50s were sufficient to give me a headache as it was.

 

My shortlist was:

Ultimate Ears UE700 (as I gather, it is an early Knowles TWFK that was a direct competitor of the Q-Jays - price has dropped over here for it)

Ety HF5 (seems like an ER4P/S for portable use, less microphonics, and the same driver matched less stringently)

MDR-EX600 (slightly out of my price range, as I was planning to leave a balance to buy a decent source like the Clip+)

ATH-CKM99 (not sure if I can find it here)

 

Brainwavz B2/DBA-02

VSONIC GR07 (both the B2 and GR07 can be found relatively easily over here, as LendMeUrEars.com is based here in Singapore) - cheaper than all the above IEMs, save for the UE700 too)

 

Would you care to enlighten me, which has the the best separation and overall soundstage width and depth of those? I am kind of a soundstage junkie here. They all seem to share a similar signature due to the inherent properties of BAs, so I am less worried about that, save for the EX600s, GR07 and CKM99.

 

EDIT: Silly me. I forgot to list the genres I listen to. Currently, mostly Jazz and Classical, with the occasional guilty pleasure of J-Pop.


Edited by Dissonant - 8/30/11 at 6:52pm
post #4039 of 16802

     Quote:

Originally Posted by musedesign View Post

Joker, Thank you for being such a great resource!  

 

I just bought a pair of UM3X, and I am thinking about returning them.  For me the bass seems to be over boosted, they are great with Jazz and Classical, but with rock, they become unlistenable. For me there is too much bass and it seems to get in the way of the music.  I have tried all of the ear tips, some are better than others, but still too much bass for me.

 

Interested in suggestions, return them?  What other IEM should I try in the $300 range?

 

Thanks!

 

Well... After already ordering the RE262 and the EX600, I wasn't ready to give up on the UM3X, so tried Audio Hijack, a Mac recording / equailizer http://www.rogueamoeba.com/audiohijack/, playing Macbook Pro >Pandora>Audiohighjack>iBasso D4>UM3X = Happy listener !

 

Anyone else have experience with Audiohighjack?  Seems very cool
 

 

post #4040 of 16802

Alright, so I just got done A/B-ing the RE252 and CK100, and I'm quite shaken by the results. The two share an extremely uncanny resemblance. It almost feels as though I'm listening to one and the same earphones, I kid you not. I know it may be hard to appreciate, but if and when A/B'ed side by side, the two sound so similar, it's hard to tell one apart form the other. I did have to boost the volume on my FiiO E7 from 12 to 15, when going from the CK100 to the RE252, respectively. From the highs down to the lows, they are very similar sounding; as though one was tuned with the other in mind. Now I realize why the CK100's grew on me rather quickly, because as of late, I've wanted nothing more than to listen to the 252's on end! The ONLY appreciable difference between the two was the midrange, which was just a tad more intimate/fuller sounding on the CK100's, as compared to the 252's, and even then it's was a very subtle difference. Comparisons between the two were made using my FLAC vocal trance tracks, at which they both sounded exceptional. Nevertheless, this has confirmed my appreciation for the RE252, and to anyone given the opportunity, I urge you to A/B the two, and hear the resemblance. Off of memory, one may not believe it to be true; but if I'm to stay true to my ears, the CK100 and RE252 share a very, very similar sound.


Edited by i2ehan - 8/30/11 at 9:51pm
post #4041 of 16802
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post

 



MEElec earphones generally don't have very high sensitivity. Shouldn't be a problem unless you plan on damaging your hearing. I don't think they changed the M11 one bit cosmetically when the M11+ rolled out so it makes sense that the slider still reads 'M11'.

 


what u mean?

 

post #4042 of 16802
Thread Starter 

 

Originally Posted by i2ehan View Post

Hey |joker|, I got my CK100's today my dear friend, and re-read your full review, to which I couldn't personally find any room for disagreement. They certainly make a clear-cut distinction between mid-centric and mid-forward. As you mentioned, any and all personal gripes I had with the CK10's treble is nonexistent with the Ck100's. I must admit however, my sole intention in purchasing the CK100 was with one thing in mind; the added Zo effect. I'm no longer hearing the CK100's however; thanks to the Zo, I'd dub them the CK101, and the added 1 is no small feat. They're beginning to sound much more on the warm and sweet side, with the impeccable midrange taking priority above all else. Initially, I was worried that coupled with my FiiO E7 + Zo combination, I wouldn't do them justice. Even still, I can't say that I have, to be quite honest, but owing to the fact that I'm not hearing much different from what you've described, I'm content. Now, once I've allowed myself a few days time to become accustomed to their sound, I'll see where the CK100 stands in comparison to the K2 SP and EX1000. smile.gif

 

P.S. As was the case with my SM3's, low volume listening has never been easier. biggrin.gif


The CK100 is really the one triple-driver IEM I would love to own. We got along well and it makes a great CK10 compliment. It could certainly use some sub-bass boost as it rolls off noticeably compared to the CK10 so your magic bass box should be putting it a step ahead of how I heard it wink.gif.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Dissonant View Post

Hi Joker, thanks for the fabulous reviews. You may remember my query from your full-sized thread.

 

I was looking at full-sized cans, but couldn't find one that impressed me in the price range I was aiming for (150SGD - 275 SGD), from 120 USD to ~230 USD). However, I found the signature I was looking for - that of a HD800 with a very slightly warm amp - neutral, smooth mids, but detailed, and a slightly elevated treble (not too much, I found the treble of the SRH440s to be dry and the M50s to be metallic, but that is like comparing apples to oranges), with tight, textured bass that extends low, but not too much in quantity. The 2010 M50s were sufficient to give me a headache as it was.

 

My shortlist was:

Ultimate Ears UE700 (as I gather, it is an early Knowles TWFK that was a direct competitor of the Q-Jays - price has dropped over here for it)

Ety HF5 (seems like an ER4P/S for portable use, less microphonics, and the same driver matched less stringently)

MDR-EX600 (slightly out of my price range, as I was planning to leave a balance to buy a decent source like the Clip+)

ATH-CKM99 (not sure if I can find it here)

 

Brainwavz B2/DBA-02

VSONIC GR07 (both the B2 and GR07 can be found relatively easily over here, as LendMeUrEars.com is based here in Singapore) - cheaper than all the above IEMs, save for the UE700 too)

 

Would you care to enlighten me, which has the the best separation and overall soundstage width and depth of those? I am kind of a soundstage junkie here. They all seem to share a similar signature due to the inherent properties of BAs, so I am less worried about that, save for the EX600s, GR07 and CKM99.

 

EDIT: Silly me. I forgot to list the genres I listen to. Currently, mostly Jazz and Classical, with the occasional guilty pleasure of J-Pop.


Personally I would skip the HF5 and the CKM99. The CKM99 is likely too v-shaped for you and the HF5 doesn't quite perform as well as the others on the soundstage front if we look at width, depth, and imaging altogether. If you want open and airy, the EX600 will do it but at the cost of isolation. The GR07 would be my second choice for what you want and the DBA-02 - third. Bit of a tradeoff there between soundstage size and separation there as the DBA-02 will perform a bit better on that front than both dynamics, but not by much. If the GR07 is reasonably-priced and soundstage takes priority, I'd go for that. 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by musedesign View Post

     Quote:

 

Macbook Pro >Pandora>Audiohighjack>iBasso D4>UM3X = Happy listener !


I guess that makes it a pending 3-way comparison rolleyes.gif

 




Quote:
Originally Posted by kanuka View Post

what u mean?

 


Meaning I don't see why the sensitivity of the M11+ should be a problem unless you're not getting enough volume with your source maxed out.

 

post #4043 of 16802

as expected and as you reviewed, the m11+ are really heavy-bass. (and i thought the pk1 had a big impact...)

no complain on that. fit is great and isolation is a bit of upgrade from the pl50

but what i dont like it's the sooo far/laid-back vocals, even in higher volumes. really, there're some tracks without the singers

any suggestions?

i can consider an exchange for another model. or even a refund as a last resort

i use it on a clip+

thanks

post #4044 of 16802

hello

has anyone tried the AKG K312/314 earbuds? i've been using them for a long time and liked them a LOT and now i want an IEM similar to those. budget $50 or lower ($40 or even $30, is better)

thanks in advance biggrin.gif

 

post #4045 of 16802
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kanuka View Post

as expected and as you reviewed, the m11+ are really heavy-bass. (and i thought the pk1 had a big impact...)

no complain on that. fit is great and isolation is a bit of upgrade from the pl50

but what i dont like it's the sooo far/laid-back vocals, even in higher volumes. really, there're some tracks without the singers

any suggestions?

 

 

The midrange should not be sucked out enough to lose musical elements entirely. The M11+ isn't even that recessed (though next to the PL50 it might seem that way). It's just very bass-heavy but again that shouldn't be enough to lose vocals.

 

post #4046 of 16802
Anyone knows what the (if there is any)difference is between the Ultimate Ears 400 and Ultimate Ears 500? The UE 500 is not on the European site while the UE 400 is not on the North America site, are the IEM just the same headset only with a different name? Because they also look exactly the same.
Also thanks for this incredible thread, the last couple years I have been spoiled by the 595 so I'm searching now for a higher end iem. I'm now doubting between the DTX 71(€66), UE 400vi(€64) and DTX 101(€82) any advice? Another question is it so the higher end IEM use better cables, because I bicycle with the IEM I keep breaking them within a year at the plug(eg no sound in of the ears) even though I am careful with it I already broke several Sennheiser CX's
Edited by SpaceCake - 8/31/11 at 2:43pm
post #4047 of 16802
Thread Starter 

Thought I would repost my impressions of the demo UM Miracle and Merlin from the audition thread here.

 

 

One of the limitations of custom monitors in consumer applications has always been the fact that there really is no good way to ‘try before you buy’ – a fact especially concerning considering the relative difficulty and expense of going the custom route. In an attempt to convince potential customers that higher-end customs really are worth the asking price, manufacturers started building ‘demo’ versions of custom monitors – customs molded to fit most ears complete with nozzles that work with conventional eartips. I’ve recently had a go at two such demos – one of the Unique Melody Miracle and the other of the newly-released Merlin. Both units were supplied by UM Australia as part of the Head-Fi loaner program. Big thanks to them for the opportunity to sample these units and to Anaxilus for handling everything stateside.

 

General Notes


The Miracle uses 6 balances armatures and two passive crossovers. The Merlin is a hybrid IEM, using 4 BA transducers and a single dynamic driver. Both use a dual-bore design and the Merlin is also vented. It’s difficult to say how the vent impacts the isolation, however - the noise blocking abilities of the two demo units are very similar and both yield to the full custom Miracle. The long-term comfort of the demo units is also not very good for me despite the shells having been molded as compactly as possible.

For the purposes of this testing, I used my standard listening setup – Cowon J3 with and without a 5x mini3 and an iBasso D10. Tracks used for critical listening were selected from my lossless library, mostly in wma format.

 

Sound Quality


Demo Miracle vs Custom Miracle

 

UM Miracle Demo 1.jpg

UM Miracle demo

 

UM Miracle Demo 2.jpg

UM Miracle demo


As some may know, I own a fully custom UM Miracle – a (spectacular) gift from the Head-Fi community that has been my sound quality benchmark for the past six months. My full review of the custom Miracle can be found towards the bottom of the first page of this thread. Looking at the custom Miracle and demo Miracle side by side, it is pretty clear that there should be sonic differences between them – the size and shape of the shells varies significantly between the two. All of the Miracle’s armatures are of the self-contained, non-vented variety but there is still a disparity in driver placement and sound tube lengths between two units, not to mention the inevitable differences in fit. This may explain why, try as I might, I simply couldn’t get the demo Miracle to sound like the real thing - originally designed as a full-shell custom monitor, the Miracle sounds significantly poorer to me as a universal.

With the best fit I was able to achieve with the demo Miracle, the biggest balance difference was at the low end. My custom Miracle has deep, plentiful bass that is both powerful and very controlled. The demo lacks some of the sub-bass presence of the real Miracle, offering instead slightly greater mid-bass presence and gentle roll-off at the very bottom. It sounds warmer than the real thing as a result and offers less crispness and articulation. Clarity is a bit poorer across the range and the overall performance isn’t quite as impressive as that of the custom Miracle. The mids of the demo are less detailed, clean, and engaging – not hugely so but enough to make me pick the real thing over the demo every time. The demo even requires a bit more volume to be enjoyable. The top end is more prominent on the custom Miracle, with better definition and cleaner presentation of cymbal crashes. The demo Miracle ends up being slightly darker in tone as well, though it is still brighter than the Merlin unit.

It is the differences in presentation, however, that kill the demo Miracle for me - here the test unit is not even in the same league as the custom-shelled IEM. Whereas the ‘real’ Miracle is easily the most engrossing and dimensional earphone I’ve heard, the presentation of the demo is very reminiscent of a number of high-end universals. The soundstage is not as large as that of the full-shell custom and lacks the fantastic on-center feel. I find the presentation of my Miracle to be incredibly enveloping without overstepping any bounds but the demo doesn’t offer anything above high-end universals such as the Westone 4 in imaging, separation, or positioning. It doesn’t necessarily seem small or confined but ends up sounding much ‘flatter’ and less convincing. Truth be told, the slightly laid-back - especially in the midrange - sound of the Miracle simply doesn’t work without the coherent imaging of the full custom, and the whole experience suffers greatly as a result.

 

Demo Merlin

 

UM Merlin Demo 1.jpg

UM Merlin demo

 

UM Merlin Demo 2.jpg

UM Merlin demo

 

My disappointment in the Miracle demo makes evaluating impressions of the demo Merlin quite difficult. To rule out the double variables of custom fit and different driver configuration, I mostly compared the Merlin to the demo Miracle and not the full custom. It is entirely possible that the demo Merlin is closer to the real thing than is the Miracle; the opposite can be true as well.

For one, the Merlin seems to require more power than the Miracle. The difference is not huge but it is noticeable – even the demo Miracle is easier to listen to at low volumes with a player such as my Sansa Clip. The bass roll-off is accentuated with the clip and less noticeable with the Cowon J3 or when a mini3 is added into the mix. Flat sub-bass or not, it’s difficult to call the Merlin anything but bassy – it would really make a great earphone for those whose musical enjoyment hinges on feeling the bass. The Miracle is by no means bass-light for my taste but the Merlin is on a different level. The significantly greater mid-bass quantity carries with it greater sub-bass presence as well. The Merlin is not quite as linear as the full-custom Miracle – quite possibly a limitation of the demo – but there is still more than enough deep, thumping low-end grunt to go around. In addition to greater bass quantity, the Merlin boasts all of the usual dynamic-driver characteristics – it is softer of note, fuller, and more liquid-sounding than the Miracle. There is a reverberant character to the bass, likely the fault of longer attack/decay times, and even a bit of boominess on occasion – not at all surprising considering the overall weight of the low end. The detail requires a few extra notches of volume to bring out and even then the Miracle remains a touch more crisp in typical armature fashion. All in all the Merlin really showcases bass designed to please those who find balanced armatures to sound unnatural at the low end, not beat the Miracle in texture and detail.

The midrange of the Merlin is perhaps even more laid-back than that of the Miracle. Due to the heavier bass presence it sounds a touch recessed and a bit thinner than that of the demo Miracle. The Miracle is also a bit brighter, or, rather, more neutral due to differences in overall balance and tends to beat the Merlin in overall crispness by a small margin. Not a large difference overall and one that becomes even smaller into the treble. Aside from the balance of the Merlin being skewed in favor of the low end, I really can’t tell the top ends of two demos apart – a plus, assuming it will translate into full custom form. Presentation-wise, the demo Merlin may even get ahead of the demo Miracle at times - the soundstage is a bit more wide and airy and differentiates itself better from reasonably spacious universals such as the Sennheiser IE7. It’s still not as enveloping and immersive as the full custom Miracle but is more tolerable than the demo Miracle. Then again, if a more separated and spread-out left-right soundstage is desirable in place of the singular, coherent sonic image of a full custom, I just don’t see the Merlin beating an open universal such as the MDR-EX1000.
 

Conclusion

 

UM Miracle and Merlin.jpg

Left->Right: UM Miracle, UM Miracle demo, UM Merlin Demo

 

My experiences with the UM’s Miracle and Merlin demo units are a mixed bag. There are many variables but the one thing I am certain of is that with the fit I was able to get, the Miracle demo is not doing the real thing justice. It provides a reasonable approximation of the custom’s sound signature, which is not all that surprising since response is easiest to test for, but the absolute quality and refinement of the full-shell Miracle just isn’t there. By far the largest difference is in the presentation, which is much more ‘universal’ on the demo. It is akin to comparing an Etymotic HF5, which tends to sound wide and well-separated but a tad flat and not very involving, to a universal with good 3-D imaging, such as the CK10 or W4.
 

Other things learned in the process:


-Quite a few of the top universals I’ve heard are competitive with these demo units in many ways, which may be the reason why most customs manufacturers do not sell universal versions of their earphones – those would simply have to be priced much lower to be compete in sound quality with existing universals.
-Cramming five or six drivers into a shell is absolutely not indicative of overall sound quality and that there is more to a high-end custom than number and type of drivers.

Despite my tangential takeaway, the whole purpose of this audition was to audition the new UM Merlin – a hybrid custom with a single dynamic bass driver and 2+2 armatures used for the mids and highs. Assuming the relationship between the sound of the demo Merlin and the custom one is similar to that between the two Miracle units, I would expect the full-shell Merlin to deliver exactly what it promises – tons of deep and powerful dynamic-driver bass laid over the sound signature of an armature-based custom. Though there is still an emphasis difference between the midrange and low end of the Merlin, the crossover is clearly less flawed than that of UE’s old hybrid - the hideous SF5EB - and the powerful low end integrates reasonably well into the overall sound.

A final disclaimer - demo units could potentially fit some people better than others and may or may not be a better approximation of how the custom IEM will sound than they were for me. It is therefore doubly important for reviewers to state that they’ve only tried a demo or someone else’s mold when commenting on customs as the gap in performance is there and can be a relatively wide one. In addition, while the well-known adage of ‘try it for yourself’ still holds, the value of reviews might be higher for custom monitors than I expected since demo units can leave key elements out of the equation. I can honestly say that if I had heard only the demo, I’d probably have walked away from the Miracle content with my stable of universals.

 

 

 

 

Bonus photo for those who remember how this thread got started:

 

Throwback.jpg

 

 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceCake View Post

Anyone knows what the (if there is any)difference is between the Ultimate Ears 400 and Ultimate Ears 500? The UE 500 is not on the European site while the UE 400 is not on the North America site, are the IEM just the same headset only with a different name? Because they also look exactly the same.
Also thanks for this incredible thread, the last couple years I have been spoiled by the 595 so I'm searching now for a higher end iem. I'm now doubting between the DTX 71(€66), UE 400vi(€64) and DTX 101(€82) any advice? Another question is it so the higher end IEM use better cables, because I bicycle with the IEM I keep breaking them within a year at the plug(eg no sound in of the ears) even though I am careful with it I already broke several Sennheiser CX's


I would guess the UE400 and UE500 are the same. Those are some very high quoted prices. The UE500/UE400 (presumably the same thing) sounds very different from the Beyer sets - not as warm or bassy but brighter, thinner, and more distant. They are good earphones but the signature is not for everyone. As for cables, some do and some don't. How the cable are attached matters just as much as the strength of the actual cables. I would put more stock in Beyer's build quality than UE's, personally. The DTX101 may not look it but it is a very solid product.

post #4048 of 16802

Just a curious question - how much would the Demo Miracle and Demo Merlin score in the SQ department? Would give a rough idea of the difference between demo and custom versions.

 

 

post #4049 of 16802

So looks like the demos are a relatively long shot compared to the full fledged customs. 

post #4050 of 16802
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by esanthosh View Post

Just a curious question - how much would the Demo Miracle and Demo Merlin score in the SQ department? Would give a rough idea of the difference between demo and custom versions.

 

 


I didn't think they clearly beat the SM3 to be honest, so in the 9.3-9.4 range. 9.5 tops.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Inks View Post

So looks like the demos are a relatively long shot compared to the full fledged customs. 


Indeed. For signature approximation purposes they work (sort of) but you have to wonder if customs companies are doing themselves more harm than good with people like myself, who don't get significantly better sound out of them than some universals.

 

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