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Multi-IEM Review - 352 IEMs compared (Pump Audio Earphones added 04/03/16 p. 1106) - Page 32

post #466 of 16803

I hope an actual case comes with the DBA-02 in your next batch Ethan. The cleaning cloth I got was understandable since it's was a last minute thing but not everyone has multiple cases like I do and that thing is still in my desk drawer gathering dust. The leather case did look like it would protect well so I would assume a proper case will come with the next batch.

 

Also yes wrapping these earphones around your mp3 player probably wouldn't last very long. Too many things can go wrong that way. Get a good case (ebay is cheap) or use an altoids tin can and they would work great. I have many altoids tin cans that are now used as earphone cases.

 

Soon I get to hear mine again :) Ironically shortly after I sent the DBA02 off I got a package of tips to try on the DBA02 :P


Edited by rawrster - 7/26/10 at 8:40am
post #467 of 16803
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_recording View Post

I'm so glad that the CK90Pros finally got a shout joker - awesome writeup! I know you've had a fair amount of time with them. I was wondering really how they compared to the spectrum of IEM's at large, because I do feel after getting them that I was in possession of something a little underappreciated. 

 

Have you tried the foam mod (changing the amount of foam in the stem) by any chance? I'm wondering how much closer they get to the CK10 as a result of changing the amount of foam - would it become a holy grail of a CK10 with more bass? (Well, not a holy grail... bass decay times are still a big issue I feel...)

 

Your impressions line up with how I feel the DDM and the CK90Pro sound though. I have one question though - do the DBA-02's have a more natural bass decay feel to them than the CK90Pros? I'm pining for an IEM with DDM like bass decay, with BA armature treble speed and articulation...


Bass is an interesting front when it comes to IEMs and options between dynamic and balanced armature earphones.

 

On one side you have frequency response and the general ability to maintain sensitivity down into the lowest of notes.  There are a number of earphones out there are are entirely capable of getting to 30Hz with ease, both in dynamic and BA formats.  For many that don't naturally, a lot of the rest do actually respond well to EQing to get to the same end result.  Some of these depending on their design may be limited in output capability and cleanliness doing so.  For example, the SE530 can't produce a 30Hz tone, at all, even with a +20dB gain on the EQ.  They just roll off so early and so far that you might be putting in about 30dB of gain on the thing just to hit that note.  Even after that, the driver needs to produce that note cleanly.  For something like the SE530, the drivers used have a TON of throw and can probably do it with enough gain, but the gain is ridiculous.  For something like the RE252 which has outstanding mids and treble and still retails good bass extension, presence, and impact, it suffers a little in clarity of low note.  It is more evident when EQing when the earphone lacks responsiveness to adjustments and the general sound presented isn't quite coherent or as clean as another option.  What one would like to see is a very easily identifiable note and a readiness to adjust linearly with the EQ change.  For example, I should be able to take a 50Hz point and move the EQ up and down and very directly hear the change with the earphone with a very distinct and perceivable presence with the bump or cut put into the response.  Worse earphones will respond less readily and the change won't really stand out.  It effectively isn't producing a 50Hz tone well, sensitivity there or not.

 

Outside of the response and plain ability to even produce a low frequency sound wave cleanly and coherently, there's a LOT of play in how the note is presented.  Notes can be light and crisp or thick and fluid.  The notes may be very laid back and smooth or could be very energetic and edgy.  The note could have high impact or have a lot of texture and body.  There's a ton of variation.  This actually works the same up through the midrange and treble too, but your interest is bass like a lot of people.  In my eyes, an earphone that has a good bass response needs to first have the sensitivity, either natural or EQed in.  The notes need to be clean and coherent as in a 50Hz note is a 50Hz and not just rumbling or noise.  There should be some thickness and body because it allows for weight and raw presence of the note as well as the ability to articulate information during the attack and decay of that note.  A lot of information can get lost or I should say simply does not get presented if the notes are too short, too clean.  This again works the same way through the midrange and treble.  It's why something like the CK10's treble is so good, it is "thick" and has a lot of micro detail between the notes, i.e. articulation, that a ton of other earphones really don't present at all due to being to sluggish or in some cases too clean.  Bass is no different. 

 

Typically in a good earphone I look for two things, dynamic range, and articulation of note.  You will ALWAYS get a better end sound if you have both.  The dynamic range should be able to work between subtlety (so few earphones do this well) and explosive energy (again rather uncommon), and so few earphones can do both well.  Out of good 100 products you might have two that do this well to where a whisper or a light brush across a guitar string is presented with that realistic softness and quiet presence.  A lot of earphones either don't present it or presented it too loudly to where there isn't any separation between quiet events and events that are medium in loudness.  Articulation is the other.  This is the texture, the variation in between the note.  With enough, you can no only hear the singer sing, but you can almost see how he/she is moving their lips.  It's the difference between hearing a bass guitar note and recognizing which guitar he/she is using.  I'm a fan of cellos which has a nice, deep, and reverburation.  With good articulation you pick up all the variation in how the string is handled how the bow hits the string, variation in pressure on the bow, and let off.  It's not just a note being held.  There's a lot of little things going on during the action, and that texture and articulation is what gives that.  This is also an area where you pick up outside information like room echos, random noises, and so on that help create the sound stage in size, space, and location of everyone in that space.  Every single earphone I've used that has presented a very good sound stage are earphones that have good articulation of notes.  I know I'm not specifically talking about bass here, but this readily transitions to bass just the same.  This isn't so much a matter of a synthesized 30Hz tone which is simple, clean, and easier to reproduce accurately.  It's more a matter of recreating more complex bass lines from kick drums, from a bass guitar, cello, bass sax, timpani (kettledrum).  While most of this is well above 40Hz, it still requires a device that can very accurately present and articulate low frequency notes down into the double digits.  So few products out there are really capable of doing this so very well.  When you think of bass you don't think of subtlety or micro detail, but these things exist just as much at 60Hz as they do at 600Hz or 6000Hz.

 

As far as thickness and texture in notes, dynamic drivers have typically won.  BA setups many times are just too clean and short on note.  Dynamic range is typically better with BAs though and BAs tend to be capable of presenting in a more explosive, edgier note.  Dynamics often do subtlety a little better though.  Now these really aren't end all statements.  Frankly, I'd more prefer a BA for cleanliness and dynamic breadth, but to find one that does bass really well requires it to be quite thick in note.  Examples would be the ER4S, Custom 3, Triple.Fi 10, or UM3X.  These are a bit unlike the squeaky clean and short notes of a lot of BA earphones.  The thickness and flow is a little more akin to a dynamic driver but still with a BA kind of cleanliness to it.  If you are a bass head and want to stick to a BA setup, you will generally want to lean in this direction.  You try and find those earphones that are thicker and well bodied.  For dynamic earphones you sort of go in the other direction.  Too thick equals muddy and sloppy.  BAs tend to resist this problem despite being able to thicken up.  The Custom 3 and Triple.Fi 10 can at times be a bit blended and almost muddy in a sense relative to other BAs but from a large standpoint still really clean and detailed.  For dynamics, you can run into problems more readily.  You really try to look for control and look for a driver that can be quick and articulate..  I wish I could comment more on dynamics, but I just haven't listened to as big a variety as Joker.  I haven't used many dynamic bass kings like the Atrilo or Hippo.  I kind of went to BA and high end in general so I'm stuck at the IE8 only for a good high end bass dynamic.  I've used the MTPG which has great extension and control in the lower frequencies.   I've used cheaper earphones like the Eterna, and M9 (good when quiet, very small linear range of travel) that offer different varieties of good low frequency traits.  The Eterna has a car subwoofer kind of feel to it, the M9 is robust and filling as long as you keep the volume low.

 

Going back to the CK90Pro, they are more of a classic BA sound, clean, separated, lacking some in thickness and texture.  The low frequency quality and extension is great though with a 50Hz remaining clean and accurate and sensitivity running basically ruler flat all the way down.  If this thing had a little more thickness and texture, it would be outstanding.  It's a good example of getting some of the things spot on like frequency response, extension, and quality of sound, but it's also an example of falling short in thickness, texture, articulation that would really fill out the presence.

 

As to the foam mod, I too am curious about how the CK90Pro would sound without or less foam.  I will say that the CK90Pro is ruler flat in response.  To my ears and a pretty much infinitely adjustable on tap, there really isn't anything I can do with the CK90Pro across the entire spectrum within 1dB.  There are so few earphones out there that I can't touch unless I want to mess something up.  The CK10 has a similar flatness short the treble when it has, again to my ears/testing, a narrow 9dB spike at 12kHz.  The CK90Pro doesn't have that at all being flat through that area, and the CK90Pro doesn't roll off on the bottom end like the CK10 does at around 50-60Hz.  The CK90Pro is arguable better, but the CK10 does things like the CK90Pro doesn't, like have texture and articulation within the notes.  The micro detail is there.  It is "filled out" in the notes, and this transitions all the way up to the highest of trebles.  It is very unnatural relative to the norm for a BA to do this.  The CK90Pro is a more "classic" BA sound but presented really freaking well.  Without an EQ on hand, I would be hard-pressed to pick one over the other.  They are just different trade-offs.  With an EQ, the CK10 is the better option.  Heck, even without an EQ but an open cell foam tip, the CK10 is livable on the top end and still offers more texture and realism.  Due tot he flatness of response with the CK90Pro, I would be hesitant to change out the foam, although I do feel you can get a little more detail doing so.  It would have to be less foam + EQing though.  It was sort of the same case with the RE0.  You could pull the foam on that, but you had to add a bit more EQing into it to get you back to a reasonable place for frequency response.  For how flat the CK90Pro is, I would touch nothing.  Even with the RE0, I put the foam back in because it was a more workable solution.  The foam on the CK90Pro is also glued in, so it's not as easy of a thing as what the RE0 offered.  There would be a bit mroe hassle with the process and I think it's a bad trade off when the frequency response is already so good.  If it rolled off on the top end, I'd say go for it, but with things the way they are, you're just making things worse.

post #468 of 16803

ya dont listen to me, I dont make sense in the wee hours of the night. I plan on using my smallish leather case always to carry them as well as I always use chin straps to make them feel secure.

post #469 of 16803

Okay, back on topic, nice work on all the dual drivers Joker!

 

What I have noticed is the armature phones go through development phases and get better. The single drivers got better first, then the duals got better, and now the triples are starting to getting better. Right now the duals are ahead and a better value in many cases. The triples are improving from the Triple.fi 10 and SE530 days but maybe only the more recent SM3 are starting to reach a higher point of their potential.

 

I also agree that you can quit when you reach 100 or at least start Multi-IEM Review Part 2 !

post #470 of 16803

the iem market right now seems to be changing in front of my eyes and just O so exhilarating

post #471 of 16803

Great addition joker. The dba-02 review is especially interesting, since you ranked it higher than the lauded PFE.

post #472 of 16803


Me too. I need to talk to FA and see if they want to go into a bulk buy with me - I found a supplier but 1000 cases minimum is a bit much for just me to spend. I'm sure they would be alright with a few thousand FA stamped cases in similar fashion to the case you listed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

I hope an actual case comes with the DBA-02 in your next batch Ethan. The cleaning cloth I got was understandable since it's was a last minute thing but not everyone has multiple cases like I do and that thing is still in my desk drawer gathering dust. The leather case did look like it would protect well so I would assume a proper case will come with the next batch.

post #473 of 16803
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post


As to the foam mod, I too am curious about how the CK90Pro would sound without or less foam.  I will say that the CK90Pro is ruler flat in response.  To my ears and a pretty much infinitely adjustable on tap, there really isn't anything I can do with the CK90Pro across the entire spectrum within 1dB.  There are so few earphones out there that I can't touch unless I want to mess something up.  The CK10 has a similar flatness short the treble when it has, again to my ears/testing, a narrow 9dB spike at 12kHz.  The CK90Pro doesn't have that at all being flat through that area, and the CK90Pro doesn't roll off on the bottom end like the CK10 does at around 50-60Hz.  The CK90Pro is arguable better, but the CK10 does things like the CK90Pro doesn't, like have texture and articulation within the notes.  The micro detail is there.  It is "filled out" in the notes, and this transitions all the way up to the highest of trebles.  It is very unnatural relative to the norm for a BA to do this.  The CK90Pro is a more "classic" BA sound but presented really freaking well.  Without an EQ on hand, I would be hard-pressed to pick one over the other.  They are just different trade-offs.  With an EQ, the CK10 is the better option.  Heck, even without an EQ but an open cell foam tip, the CK10 is livable on the top end and still offers more texture and realism.  Due tot he flatness of response with the CK90Pro, I would be hesitant to change out the foam, although I do feel you can get a little more detail doing so.  It would have to be less foam + EQing though.  It was sort of the same case with the RE0.  You could pull the foam on that, but you had to add a bit more EQing into it to get you back to a reasonable place for frequency response.  For how flat the CK90Pro is, I would touch nothing.  Even with the RE0, I put the foam back in because it was a more workable solution.  The foam on the CK90Pro is also glued in, so it's not as easy of a thing as what the RE0 offered.  There would be a bit mroe hassle with the process and I think it's a bad trade off when the frequency response is already so good.  If it rolled off on the top end, I'd say go for it, but with things the way they are, you're just making things worse.


Nice explanation. I wish the CK90Pros had more texture too - in frequency sweeps they start at around 25hz, which means the bass is there. 

 

I think I might have been a bit unclear though - I actually *have* done the foam mod on the CK90Pro. What I did was pull out the existing yellow foam, and stick in about half the volume of gray foam from the earpads of my old Koss KSC75's. I think its a huge improvement for me, because it lifts the 90Pro's veiled, dark sound and makes them sound a bit more airy. I did have to experiment for quite a long time though, to leave just enough foam in before I began being irritated by the sibilance.

 

What I'm interested in, is whether the CK90Pro with the foam mod is comparable to the CK10, and also if the DBA-02 has better bass texture/decay than the CK90Pro... or in other words, would ljokerl give the CK90Pro a 10 for sound if he did the foam mod? :D

 

post #474 of 16803
Thread Starter 

Quote:

 

Originally Posted by 2rooi123 View Post

very informative joker! i agree on a 10/10 for dba-02 but i sold them because they really lack that bass rumble of dynamics (mtpg,hje900,etc). On the other hand the phiaton ps 200 are too bright for me and even has less bass than dba-02. Radius ddm is the winner imo

 

Thanks, and I agree - the PS200 has a lot of amazing qualities but its flaws keep it from ranking with the better $200+ IEMs. The treble energy and soundstage are lovely but the sibilance and lack of bass body bother me. 



Quote:

Originally Posted by a_recording View Post

I'm so glad that the CK90Pros finally got a shout joker - awesome writeup! I know you've had a fair amount of time with them. I was wondering really how they compared to the spectrum of IEM's at large, because I do feel after getting them that I was in possession of something a little underappreciated. 

 

Have you tried the foam mod (changing the amount of foam in the stem) by any chance? I'm wondering how much closer they get to the CK10 as a result of changing the amount of foam - would it become a holy grail of a CK10 with more bass? (Well, not a holy grail... bass decay times are still a big issue I feel...)

 

Your impressions line up with how I feel the DDM and the CK90Pro sound though. I have one question though - do the DBA-02's have a more natural bass decay feel to them than the CK90Pros? I'm pining for an IEM with DDM like bass decay, with BA armature treble speed and articulation...

 

Yeah, I've had the CK90Pros for six months or so. They're difficult earphones to peg down (for me at least) but very interesting and I'm glad I bought them. I ignored the foam mod as logic dictates that it would result in harsher treble and that's something the CK90Pro definitely does not need (plus it's not 100% reversible). I didn't like de-foamed RE0s, either. And yeah even the CK10 has more natural decay times than the CK90Pro does (and the DBA-02 fares even better than that). Some people would really be bothered by that aspect of the CK90s but I don't mind much. But I doubt the foam mod would fix that. And no, no BA-based in-ear that I've heard will give you the decay of the DDM. The UM3X is probably closest but its presentation bothers me hugely and I would never use it as my day-to-day earphone. 



Quote:

Originally Posted by Photofan1986 View Post

This thread is really becoming comprehensive!

An outstanding job has been done, and a big THANKS to Joker! :D

 

It is one of the most comprehensive and detailed, yet very enjoyable review here on HF. Kudos!


Thanks 

 

I plan for the thread to become more comprehensive still unless of course the consensus is that I should stop when I hit triple digits.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bennyboy71 View Post

Joker, thanks heaps for the new reviews.  I'm intrigued by the DBAs, but as I already have the SM3s, I need to figure out if thats just the autistic itch of the geeknerd in me rather than anything else.

 

By the way, can you please get hold of the SM3s, either through crime or honest means, cos I want to see how you rate them.  Me, I give them 9 tentacles up.

 

Thanks. The SM3 has me intrigued but not quite enough to go out and drop the lump sum that EarSonics is asking for so we'll see what happens.

Quote:

Originally Posted by slaters70 View Post

Of course, being a major DBA-02 fan, your review Mike was right on the money for me. Having owned the CK10 in the not-too-distant past, your assessment is perfect. I sold the CK10s mainly because I could not get a comfortable long-wear fit with the tips I preferred, but otherwise we share the same sensibilities when it comes to IEMs. My top two IEMS? The DBAs and the lowly (price-wise) Cyclone PR1 Pros. I have to thank LFF for his introduction to the DBAs, and you for unveiling the PR1s (boy, how I wish I had kept my backup pair of those now).

 

Anyway, I think the most interesting aspect of your DBA review is that as you say, some might prefer the IE8/DDM sound for bass presentation, and that's cool. But anyone who wants just enough tight, articulate bass (and a tad more than the CK10, which is good) and clean, clear detailed mids and highs owes it to themselves to try a pair of DBAs.

 

As you may know, they are on sale for $145 now, if that sale is still open, at Budgen,so an even better value.

 

Excellent work Mike. Of course, you are preaching to the converted.

 

Someday, I would like to read your review of the SM3, as Benny says. My guess is we'd hear them the same way as well - excellent, albeit very expensive, IEMs, but just a bit too warm (if that's the best term) for those who prefer the DBA/CK10 signature. But who knows?


Thanks. And yes, I'm aware of the sale but I'm assuming it's temporary so no point in editing the thread/table. Since that drops it into a lower price bracket the value would be 10/10.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by slaters70 View Post

Mike, just realized...91 IEMs reviewed! Wow, that is amazing. You can quit when you hit the century mark.


Hah, you're just afraid that I'll cause you to buy more universals 


Quote:

Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post

Bass is an interesting front when it comes to IEMs and options between dynamic and balanced armature earphones

On one side you have frequency response and the general ability to maintain sensitivity down into the lowest of notes.  There are a number of earphones out there are are entirely capable of getting to 30Hz with ease, both in dynamic and BA formats.  For many that don't naturally, a lot of the rest do actually respond well to EQing to get to the same end result.  Some of these depending on their design may be limited in output capability and cleanliness doing so.  For example, the SE530 can't produce a 30Hz tone, at all, even with a +20dB gain on the EQ.  They just roll off so early and so far that you might be putting in about 30dB of gain on the thing just to hit that note.  Even after that, the driver needs to produce that note cleanly.  For something like the SE530, the drivers used have a TON of throw and can probably do it with enough gain, but the gain is ridiculous.  For something like the RE252 which has outstanding mids and treble and still retails good bass extension, presence, and impact, it suffers a little in clarity of low note.  It is more evident when EQing when the earphone lacks responsiveness to adjustments and the general sound presented isn't quite coherent or as clean as another option.  What one would like to see is a very easily identifiable note and a readiness to adjust linearly with the EQ change.  For example, I should be able to take a 50Hz point and move the EQ up and down and very directly hear the change with the earphone with a very distinct and perceivable presence with the bump or cut put into the response.  Worse earphones will respond less readily and the change won't really stand out.  It effectively isn't producing a 50Hz tone well, sensitivity there or not.

 

Outside of the response and plain ability to even produce a low frequency sound wave cleanly and coherently, there's a LOT of play in how the note is presented.  Notes can be light and crisp or thick and fluid.  The notes may be very laid back and smooth or could be very energetic and edgy.  The note could have high impact or have a lot of texture and body.  There's a ton of variation.  This actually works the same up through the midrange and treble too, but your interest is bass like a lot of people.  In my eyes, an earphone that has a good bass response needs to first have the sensitivity, either natural or EQed in.  The notes need to be clean and coherent as in a 50Hz note is a 50Hz and not just rumbling or noise.  There should be some thickness and body because it allows for weight and raw presence of the note as well as the ability to articulate information during the attack and decay of that note.  A lot of information can get lost or I should say simply does not get presented if the notes are too short, too clean.  This again works the same way through the midrange and treble.  It's why something like the CK10's treble is so good, it is "thick" and has a lot of micro detail between the notes, i.e. articulation, that a ton of other earphones really don't present at all due to being to sluggish or in some cases too clean.  Bass is no different. 

 

Typically in a good earphone I look for two things, dynamic range, and articulation of note.  You will ALWAYS get a better end sound if you have both.  The dynamic range should be able to work between subtlety (so few earphones do this well) and explosive energy (again rather uncommon), and so few earphones can do both well.  Out of good 100 products you might have two that do this well to where a whisper or a light brush across a guitar string is presented with that realistic softness and quiet presence.  A lot of earphones either don't present it or presented it too loudly to where there isn't any separation between quiet events and events that are medium in loudness.  Articulation is the other.  This is the texture, the variation in between the note.  With enough, you can no only hear the singer sing, but you can almost see how he/she is moving their lips.  It's the difference between hearing a bass guitar note and recognizing which guitar he/she is using.  I'm a fan of cellos which has a nice, deep, and reverburation.  With good articulation you pick up all the variation in how the string is handled how the bow hits the string, variation in pressure on the bow, and let off.  It's not just a note being held.  There's a lot of little things going on during the action, and that texture and articulation is what gives that.  This is also an area where you pick up outside information like room echos, random noises, and so on that help create the sound stage in size, space, and location of everyone in that space.  Every single earphone I've used that has presented a very good sound stage are earphones that have good articulation of notes.  I know I'm not specifically talking about bass here, but this readily transitions to bass just the same.  This isn't so much a matter of a synthesized 30Hz tone which is simple, clean, and easier to reproduce accurately.  It's more a matter of recreating more complex bass lines from kick drums, from a bass guitar, cello, bass sax, timpani (kettledrum).  While most of this is well above 40Hz, it still requires a device that can very accurately present and articulate low frequency notes down into the double digits.  So few products out there are really capable of doing this so very well.  When you think of bass you don't think of subtlety or micro detail, but these things exist just as much at 60Hz as they do at 600Hz or 6000Hz.

 

As far as thickness and texture in notes, dynamic drivers have typically won.  BA setups many times are just too clean and short on note.  Dynamic range is typically better with BAs though and BAs tend to be capable of presenting in a more explosive, edgier note.  Dynamics often do subtlety a little better though.  Now these really aren't end all statements.  Frankly, I'd more prefer a BA for cleanliness and dynamic breadth, but to find one that does bass really well requires it to be quite thick in note.  Examples would be the ER4S, Custom 3, Triple.Fi 10, or UM3X.  These are a bit unlike the squeaky clean and short notes of a lot of BA earphones.  The thickness and flow is a little more akin to a dynamic driver but still with a BA kind of cleanliness to it.  If you are a bass head and want to stick to a BA setup, you will generally want to lean in this direction.  You try and find those earphones that are thicker and well bodied.  For dynamic earphones you sort of go in the other direction.  Too thick equals muddy and sloppy.  BAs tend to resist this problem despite being able to thicken up.  The Custom 3 and Triple.Fi 10 can at times be a bit blended and almost muddy in a sense relative to other BAs but from a large standpoint still really clean and detailed.  For dynamics, you can run into problems more readily.  You really try to look for control and look for a driver that can be quick and articulate..  I wish I could comment more on dynamics, but I just haven't listened to as big a variety as Joker.  I haven't used many dynamic bass kings like the Atrilo or Hippo.  I kind of went to BA and high end in general so I'm stuck at the IE8 only for a good high end bass dynamic.  I've used the MTPG which has great extension and control in the lower frequencies.   I've used cheaper earphones like the Eterna, and M9 (good when quiet, very small linear range of travel) that offer different varieties of good low frequency traits.  The Eterna has a car subwoofer kind of feel to it, the M9 is robust and filling as long as you keep the volume low.

 

Going back to the CK90Pro, they are more of a classic BA sound, clean, separated, lacking some in thickness and texture.  The low frequency quality and extension is great though with a 50Hz remaining clean and accurate and sensitivity running basically ruler flat all the way down.  If this thing had a little more thickness and texture, it would be outstanding.  It's a good example of getting some of the things spot on like frequency response, extension, and quality of sound, but it's also an example of falling short in thickness, texture, articulation that would really fill out the presence.

 

As to the foam mod, I too am curious about how the CK90Pro would sound without or less foam.  I will say that the CK90Pro is ruler flat in response.  To my ears and a pretty much infinitely adjustable on tap, there really isn't anything I can do with the CK90Pro across the entire spectrum within 1dB.  There are so few earphones out there that I can't touch unless I want to mess something up.  The CK10 has a similar flatness short the treble when it has, again to my ears/testing, a narrow 9dB spike at 12kHz.  The CK90Pro doesn't have that at all being flat through that area, and the CK90Pro doesn't roll off on the bottom end like the CK10 does at around 50-60Hz.  The CK90Pro is arguable better, but the CK10 does things like the CK90Pro doesn't, like have texture and articulation within the notes.  The micro detail is there.  It is "filled out" in the notes, and this transitions all the way up to the highest of trebles.  It is very unnatural relative to the norm for a BA to do this.  The CK90Pro is a more "classic" BA sound but presented really freaking well.  Without an EQ on hand, I would be hard-pressed to pick one over the other.  They are just different trade-offs.  With an EQ, the CK10 is the better option.  Heck, even without an EQ but an open cell foam tip, the CK10 is livable on the top end and still offers more texture and realism.  Due tot he flatness of response with the CK90Pro, I would be hesitant to change out the foam, although I do feel you can get a little more detail doing so.  It would have to be less foam + EQing though.  It was sort of the same case with the RE0.  You could pull the foam on that, but you had to add a bit more EQing into it to get you back to a reasonable place for frequency response.  For how flat the CK90Pro is, I would touch nothing.  Even with the RE0, I put the foam back in because it was a more workable solution.  The foam on the CK90Pro is also glued in, so it's not as easy of a thing as what the RE0 offered.  There would be a bit mroe hassle with the process and I think it's a bad trade off when the frequency response is already so good.  If it rolled off on the top end, I'd say go for it, but with things the way they are, you're just making things worse.


Thanks for that. Very informative, as usual. Had to wait until I got off work to read it attentively. And I agree, the foam mod on the RE0 was a no-no for me. I wouldn't call them ruler-flat to begin with and without the foam they became a bit piercing.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jant71 View Post

Okay, back on topic, nice work on all the dual drivers Joker!

 

What I have noticed is the armature phones go through development phases and get better. The single drivers got better first, then the duals got better, and now the triples are starting to getting better. Right now the duals are ahead and a better value in many cases. The triples are improving from the Triple.fi 10 and SE530 days but maybe only the more recent SM3 are starting to reach a higher point of their potential.

 

I also agree that you can quit when you reach 100 or at least start Multi-IEM Review Part 2 !


Well, the CK10 and Q-Jays have been around for years - since before a couple of the 'modern' triple-drivers were even announced. But in general I agree and this is sort of the problem I have with the SE535 - Shure seems to be convinced that aside from the physical issues their earphones were near perfect as-is - probably not the best position in a crowded and quickly-evolving market.

 

And... vote two for ending this thread. Has it really run its course? I am hesitant to split it up as I think a one-page resource is more or less convenient. There's really no good way to split it up that I can see - price is useless as some earphones hit way above theirs and people will always want to see newer earphones compared with older ones. 

Quote:

Originally Posted by JxK View Post

Great addition joker. The dba-02 review is especially interesting, since you ranked it higher than the lauded PFE.


Thanks, and yes - the PFE is not quite good enough to compete with the range of multiple armatures and thus has an inherent disadvantage. It's a good earphone still but I really want to see a dual-driver from Phonak  

post #475 of 16803

Didn't mean you should quit at 100. The century mark seems so regal is all. Keep on going,no problem from me.

post #476 of 16803

I think a one page resource is incredible. Its nice to just be able to keep everything on the same spectrum.

 

I'm one who also found the RE0 foam mod to make it piercing (I'm fairly sensitive to sibilance - for some bizarre reason, especially when I lie down.) But I don't know - whether it was the type of foam I replaced the stock foam with in the CK90 Pro (the Koss earbud foam I think is a little denser than the yellow spongey foam in the 90Pros) or whether changing the foam affects different frequencies of treble differently, I found that changing the foam out for me, with some experimentation did not increase sibilance in the region that I'm most sensitive to (8000hz.) while it improved the roll off above 15k which is what most bugged me about the 90Pros. I can hear up to 18.5k in tests, as I'm relatively still young heh...

 

And I keep looking at my DDM's and wonder if there is some way to mod them. They appear to be completely sealed though...

post #477 of 16803

I agree that you should keep reviewing here. The previous thread had to be updated to this one due to lack of space. I think you should continue until you run out of space and then move on to another thread then. This is definitely a good resource for the confused newcomer to earphones past ibuds.

post #478 of 16803
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_recording View Post




Nice explanation. I wish the CK90Pros had more texture too - in frequency sweeps they start at around 25hz, which means the bass is there. 

 

I think I might have been a bit unclear though - I actually *have* done the foam mod on the CK90Pro. What I did was pull out the existing yellow foam, and stick in about half the volume of gray foam from the earpads of my old Koss KSC75's. I think its a huge improvement for me, because it lifts the 90Pro's veiled, dark sound and makes them sound a bit more airy. I did have to experiment for quite a long time though, to leave just enough foam in before I began being irritated by the sibilance.

 

What I'm interested in, is whether the CK90Pro with the foam mod is comparable to the CK10, and also if the DBA-02 has better bass texture/decay than the CK90Pro... or in other words, would ljokerl give the CK90Pro a 10 for sound if he did the foam mod? :D

 

 

The CK90Pro uses different drivers than the CK10.  It is impossible to replicate what the CK10 does.  While you can do a little bit to the top end frequency response and reduce some diffusion of the sound and improve imaging with the removal of the filter, you can't really make the drivers sound different from what they are.  It means you're largely stuck with what's there.  The drivers are just a bit different.  There is some similarity in the goals of both earphones since the engineers are still choosing drivers that share a number of traits they're shooting for.  However, the CK10 carries a lot of micro detail and the CK90Pro does not.  The CK90Pro driver is better in dynamics though.  While the top end is a bit hot on the CK10, when it's balanced out via EQing, the earphone is relatively tame in energy of note.  The CK90Pro carries more raw energy in the note.  The CK90Pro has the benefits of a flatter frequency response and less sensitivity to poor recordings.  The CK90Pro is a very likable earphone.  The CK90Pro is kind of like the RE0 in that it doesn't really do anything wrong.  You may seek something different here or there in how audio is reproduced, but the earphone isn't really flawed.  I could call the CK10 more flawed due to the treble spike and some roll off on the bottom end.  The CK10 reproduces audio more accurately, but if you gave the CK90Pro and CK10 to 100 people and asked them what they liked better, I have a feeling there might be a majority towards the CK90Pro due to CK10's treble spike and the extended bottom end of the CK90Pro.  I still feel the CK10 is the better buy, but the CK90Pro is an earphone you can enjoy without having to put up with or get used to a hot top end (unless you have EQing).

 

I do question if modifying the CK90Pro is beneficial.  Typically the goal with any mod is to improve the end result.  Many times this may be a series of trade-offs, some you want, some you don't.  Hopefully in the end, the benefits out weigh the detriments.  Sometimes it doesn't.  For example with my OK1 buds which are bright, I've toyed with adding cotton batting to balance out the response.  I can approach a frequency response that is more balanced, but I introduce problems too, mainly a lack of detail and create a much more indirect sound due to diffusion of the sound waves through the material.  The end result is more balanced but lacking as direct and articulate sound.  I would much rather do nothing and EQ the earphone to the desired response.  For the CK90Pro it's the opposite where it starts with foam and you can do some improvements by removing it.  However, with a frequency response as flat as it is stock, I question the willingness to turn a perfectly good setup into one that may almost require an EQ to be livable.  You spent a good bit of time trying to get the correct end result or at least a result you can live with.  For me I see something like the CK90Pro sort of like the RE0.  Yes, you can remove the foam, but you may very well put it back in or a majority of it back in just to get back to a livable solution.

 

post #479 of 16803

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post
 
And I agree, the foam mod on the RE0 was a no-no for me. I wouldn't call them ruler-flat to begin with and without the foam they became a bit piercing.

 

Never said the RE0 was ruler flat, just the CK90Pro.  The RE0 requires a bit of EQing with or without foam and the amount required without foam is considerable.  Yes, the RE0 can be a bit piercing.  There is also a small amount of ringing that comes out which is a partial reason for the foam.   They are just better with foam.  I never really thought there was enough to gain with the removal even when EQing both options.


Edited by mvw2 - 7/27/10 at 12:54am
post #480 of 16803

The CK90Pro is definately not ruler flat - but it does come close... even listening to it to what I assume is an amp capable of properly powering their modest requirements, on 20-20,000hz frequency sweeps it does do the usual IEM trick of warbling up and down in response. They thin out significantly towards the top end. This is what I observed before I played with the foam a little, and its still what I observe to a lesser degree after changing the foam.

 

The RE0 and the RE252 actually are more ruler flat to me in frequency sweeps, but they are ruler flat - on a diagonal... they just climb inexorably louder as you leave the lower frequencies.

 

I guess as long as this forum exists we will never have something ruler flat and level - and thats not even beginning to talk about variations in everyone's hearing XD
 

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