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Multi-IEM Review - 352 IEMs compared (Pump Audio Earphones added 04/03/16 p. 1106) - Page 360

post #5386 of 16803
Double post redface.gif
Edited by Joe Bloggs - 1/2/12 at 4:54pm
post #5387 of 16803

Sigh, if only $15 phones WERE the same as $1500 phones. I'd own at least a hundred of those $15 phones by now.   rolleyes.gif

post #5388 of 16803
Thread Starter 

Added PureSound ClarityOne and Phonak 012

 

 

Quote:
(2B12) PureSound ClarityOne

PureSound Clarity One 400x300.jpg
Reviewed Jan 2012

Details: First release from Canada-based ClarityOne Audio, said to provide the perfect sound experience
Current Price: $129.99 from clarityoneaudio.com (MSRP: $129.99)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: | Sens: 110 dB | Freq: 15-20k Hz | Cable: 4' I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: trimmed MEElec tri-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (3.5/5) - Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes) and hard clamshell carrying case with carabiner
Build Quality (3.5/5) – Straight-barrel metal shells feel very solid and the smooth clear-coated cable is similar to those used by MEElectronics and Fischer Audio. The housings lack proper strain relief as well as nozzle filters
Isolation (4/5) – Above average, especially with aftermarket eartips
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Very low with cable-down wear; nonexistent when worn over-the-ear
Comfort (3.5/5) – Straight-barrel metal housings are average in weight and fit. Earphones sound best with deeper insertion or longer aftermarket eartips

Sound (8.2/10) – In contrast to the marketing efforts of most mainstream brands, the ClarityOne website concentrates largely on sound quality. The earphones are promised to deliver, among other things, “the clearest, truest, best sound on the market today” and “the ultimate in 3-dimentional (sic) listening experience”. A company that promises “perfect sound quality” and focuses on audio rather than cosmetics and endorsements certainly gets my attention, but separating expectations from reality can be rather difficult.

There are some potential pitfalls, including the low impedance of the earphones. Claimed to increase battery life despite the higher current draw, the 8-ohm impedance of the C1 can be problematic when coupled with sources that have high output impedance - the earphones will exhibit varying amounts of bass roll-off, though the effects will likely be mild with most portable players. Hiss is a bigger problem – when using a source with moderate background noise levels, hiss is very evident and background electrical noises can be audible as well.

Source matching issues aside, the bass is probably the best aspect of the C1’s sound. Bass response is punchy and well-measured, with good depth and power – visceral, but not overblown. There is a mid-bass hump but nothing that affects resolution or causes the low end to sound bloated – the bass may not be as quick as that of the average armature-based earphone but it performs very well among similarly-priced dynamic IEMs. The C1 offers up both more impact and better control than the MEElectronics CC51 and HiSoundAudio Crystal, for example, though its aggressive bass is not quite as tight as with the higher-priced VSonic GR07 and JVC FXT90.

The midrange of the C1 is clean and detailed. Despite the mid-bass lift, bleed is nearly nonexistent and the mids are only slightly warm. The bass and treble stand out in relative emphasis but the slightly recessed mids are still plenty aggressive. Peaks in the upper midrange and treble regions tend to exaggerate the clarity – an effect akin to using a treble-boosting equalizer. Natural clarity is good for a mid-tier dynamic – on-par with Sennheiser’s IE6 and IE7 - but certainly not revolutionary as the name may imply. It trails armature-based sets such as Fischer’s SBA-03 and Etymotic HF5, as well as pricier dynamics such as the VSonic GR07 and Sony MDR-EX600. The abovementioned earphones are also a touch more detailed than the C1, though none place nearly as much emphasis on the bass.

The top end unevenness does more than affect the clarity of the C1 – the upper midrange has a tendency to sound a touch shrill. Vocals also seem a tad ‘nasal’ at times and timbre doesn’t particularly impress, especially with stringed instruments. ‘Colored’ is clearly a term applicable to the C1’s sound. Cymbals are very prominent, even dominant at times. The treble is shimmery, aggressive, and energetic, but also fatiguing on occasion. With the wrong tips, the C1 can be sibilant and even with a good aftermarket set, such as Comply T400s or a deep-fitting tri-flange, sibilance-prone recordings can be problematic. It doesn’t help that the note thickness of the C1 is on the low side compared to sets like the JVC HA-FXT90.

The presentation of the C1 is far less enigmatic than the sound signature. It gives a good sense of space – better than the MEElec CC51 or HiSound Crystal – but stops short of the ambient, 3-dimensional soundstages offered by some higher-end models. Instrument separation is good and the positioning is adequate but compared to sets such as the Sony EX600 and VSonic GR07 it all sounds quite in-the-head. Imaging lags slightly behind the JVC HA-FXT90 but dynamics are well above-average despite the sound of the C1 being rather aggressive. Again, it puts on the best show at lower volumes, though due to the high sensitivity of the earphones certain players are too loud even at minimum output.

Value (8/10) – The ClarityOne is a competent mid-range dynamic-driver earphone in a conventional form factor. Minor omissions such as nozzle filters, molded strain reliefs, and alternate types of eartips are mostly made up for by the noise-free cable, sturdy shells, and mic/remote unit. PureSound’s marketing sets expectations for the earphone’s sound a bit high, however – the C1 is neither revolutionary in audio quality nor aimed at absolute fidelity with its sound signature. Instead, it is a fun-sounding IEM with few claims to accuracy or neutrality, but one that will be instantly impressive to fans of crisp, punchy, aggressive sound as well as anyone coming from stock earbuds or entry-level headphones.

Pros: Low cable noise; punchy, aggressive sound
Cons: No nozzle filters; aftermarket tips required for best sound; peaky treble leads to issues with timbre and tone

 

 

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(2C44) Audéo Phonak Perfect Bass 012

Phonak PFE 400x300.jpg
Reviewed Dec 2011

Details: Audéo's follow-up to the PFE model, promising a more consumer-friendly sound at a lower price point
Current Price: $99 from amazon.com (MSRP: $99); $119 for 022 with microphone
Specs: Driver: BA | Imp: 32Ω | Sens: 107 dB | Freq: 5-17k Hz | Cable: 3.8' I-plug
Nozzle Size: 3.5mm | Preferred tips: Jays single-flanges
Wear Style: Over-the-ear

Accessories (1/5) - Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes)
Build Quality (4/5) - The plastic housings are just as lightweight as with the old model but the cable has reportedly been improved to prevent the cracking issues common in the first-gen PFE. The build is well thought-out and the cord is smooth and tangle-free
Isolation (3/5) - Isolation is a bit above average with the silicone tips
Microphonics (4.5/5) - Very low, partly because they must be worn over-the-ear
Comfort (4.5/5) - The housings are ergonomically-designed and light as a feather. Though neither foam tips nor cable guides are included with the PB, the earphones still simply disappear when worn. As with the old model, the design may prevent the single-flange tips from forming a deep enough seal for some users

Sound (8/10) - The only physical difference between the Perfect Bass and the older PFE model is in the nozzle-mounted acoustic filter - the 012 uses a new green-colored filter while the old PFE shipped with gray filters, which provided a more trebly sound, and black filters, which fleshed out the midrange a bit at the expense of some top-end sparkle and detail. The green filters offer a significantly different take on the Phonak sound signature - the bass, as promised, is markedly accentuated and the entire sound signature undergoes a subtle but noticeable shift. At the low end, the green filters offer sizeable impact - stereotypically light on rumble but well-extended and slightly soft of note for a single-BA setup. Out of the similarly-priced armature-based sets I've heard, only the Dunu Ares and Crius come to mind as bassier options.

The midrange is smooth and quite a bit warmer than that of the gray-filter PFEs. It tends to sound a bit veiled in comparison and the slight analytical edge that made the smoothness of the old PFEs so special is gone. Similarly, while the green-filtered Phonaks are still quite detailed, they are not at all aggressive in presenting the detail. The difference between them and the Etymotic HF5 is striking, with the Etys sounding much sharper, crisper, and more forward. The Phonaks, on the other hand, are very smooth and extremely non-fatiguing. Towards the top of the spectrum, the sparkle of the gray-filtered Phonaks is gone and so is some of the detail. The overall sound is a touch dark for me despite reasonably good treble extension. Similarly, while the new Phonaks are quite accurate, they just don't sound lively or energetic enough on the whole.

The presentation afforded by the green filter is similarly refined but not particularly impressive. The soundstage size is average or maybe even a bit below average - the gray filters sound more spacious to me. Separation is still good and imaging is sufficient, suffering slightly from the poorer resolution of the green filters. The biggest issue, however, is the sensitivity of the earphones which appears to be even lower with the green filters than it is with the gray ones. It just doesn't pick up detail as easily as some of the better earphones in the price range and isn't well-suited for those who prefer low listening volumes. With proper amplification it sounds a bit quicker and cleaner but, seeing as it clearly was meant to be used without an amp, I still feel that the low sensitivity will be an issue for some.

Value (8/10) - Phonak's first attempt at a sub-$100 earphone, the Perfect Bass, presents itself as a stripped-down, consumer-friendly version of the PFE at an attractive price point. The new green filters are surprisingly potent in changing the sound but much of the magic of the original PFEs is lost in the pursuit of bass and smoothness. With the improved cable, excellent long-term comfort, and low microphonics, the Perfect Bass is still worth the asking price but they don't quite preserve enough of the armature resolution and clarity of the PFEs to pull clear of dynamic-driver competitors such as the Sunrise Xcape IE. That said, they are pretty much unbeatable value as far as tunable IEMs go when purchased together with a set of the gray filters from the old PFE.

Pros: Comfortable; low microphonics; 2-year warranty
Cons: No accessories; gives up much of the wow factor of the PFE; lacks sensitivity

 

 

 


 
.Quote:
Originally Posted by aleex View Post

Just a general question...how impractical is it to wear IEMs over-the-ear? Especially thinking about Fischer Eterna and SoundMagic PL50. I will be using mine on-the-go, and I really need something that's easy to insert/remove etcetera. Some of my "fav picks" have been compulsory over-the-ear, so I'm not sure. 

Also, regarding sound signature, has anyone had experience going from very bassy IEMs to more neutral ones? I'm considering something like the RE0, but at the same time, a much safer bet would be something like Eterna. 
 



With a bit of practice, over-the-ear wear (without cable guides or memory wire) shouldn't be time-consuming at all. Just give yourself time to get used to it. Same goes for sound signature - audio memory is fleeting so after a couple of days/weeks you should be able to judge a different signature on its own merits rather than as a contrast to your previous earphones. Whether you will like what you end up hearing is a different story  



Quote:
Originally Posted by lukeskymac View Post

As to Joker, there simply isn't enough that can be said. Your guide has proven to be invaluable, and I'd have probably bought Monster Turbines (or god forbid, Beats!) instead of GR07 if it were not for head-fiers like you.


Glad it's helped. Hopefully you are still having more fun obsessing over the GR07 than you would from just listening to Beats or Turbines rolleyes.gif

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Xinn3r View Post

Joker, I'm just read this thread

http://www.head-fi.org/t/586909/the-thermaltake-isurus-rebranded-audio-technica-and-the-philips-she3580-substantial-finds

and was interested in your opinion on the Philips SHE3580, from what Donutz said, it's really THAT good


I've never heard them. 

 

post #5389 of 16803
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xinn3r View Post

Joker, I'm just read this thread

http://www.head-fi.org/t/586909/the-thermaltake-isurus-rebranded-audio-technica-and-the-philips-she3580-substantial-finds

and was interested in your opinion on the Philips SHE3580, from what Donutz said, it's really THAT good


If I may throw in my 2c, strictly speaking of sound quality, these are really surprisingly good value imo. But build quality isn't anything special, plus you need to factor in the price of third party tips for them to sound best, since the stock tips are of poor quality. Overall they're certainly a bargain buy, but maybe not the giant killers that some would like them to be:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

That said, I've been doing a bit of A/B listening with the SHE3580, and the Yamaha EPH-100 are where they reach their ceiling. The latter have a similar sound signature, but are simply more refined in every aspect. Not bad for a $10 phone, since the Yamahas cost $150.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post

Added PureSound ClarityOne...

 

Spot-on review, thanks. smile_phones.gif


Edited by james444 - 1/3/12 at 12:58am
post #5390 of 16803

Quote:

Originally Posted by james444 View Post

Spot-on review, thanks. smile_phones.gif


Ditto. smily_headphones1.gif

post #5391 of 16803
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post


If I may throw in my 2c, strictly speaking of sound quality, these are really surprisingly good value imo. But build quality isn't anything special, plus you need to factor in the price of third party tips for them to sound best, since the stock tips are of poor quality. Overall they're certainly a bargain buy, but maybe not the giant killers that some would like them to be

 

That said, I've been doing a bit of A/B listening with the SHE3580, and the Yamaha EPH-100 are where they reach their ceiling. The latter have a similar sound signature, but are simply more refined in every aspect. Not bad for a $10 phone, since the Yamahas cost $150.



Thanks, this is what I needed to hear!!!

Many either bash them as cheap Flavor of the Month earphones, and some worship them, this is perfect, balancing the Goods and the Bads

What brands third party tips are best? I never buy third party tips before, but I want to get the best out of my earphones, so what do you recommend?

 

post #5392 of 16803
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xinn3r View Post

What brands third party tips are best? I never buy third party tips before, but I want to get the best out of my earphones, so what do you recommend?


Well, the stock tips are too flimsy and lack support for a secure seal, but any better quality tips will do. I use Ultimate Ears (TF10) silicon tips.

post #5393 of 16803
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post


Well, the stock tips are too flimsy and lack support for a secure seal, but any better quality tips will do. I use Ultimate Ears (TF10) silicon tips.



Well, what if I don't have the UE's? Can I get buy ONLY the tips and not the IEM's?

post #5394 of 16803

Quote:

Originally Posted by Xinn3r View Post

Well, what if I don't have the UE's? Can I get buy ONLY the tips and not the IEM's?


Indeed.

post #5395 of 16803

To be honest, as the guy who first introduced these SHE3580 to the community, I'm surprised they got such a universally positive reception based on their stock sound alone after Dsnuts publicized them.  I'd heard high head-fi before (etys, Senn HD580--owned, Sony R10--auditioned) but all my high head-fi broke down 2 years ago.  I got the SHE3580 looking for something cheap and cheerful to tide me over.  They sounded pretty good out of the box but with no preconception of their quality at the time, I reached for the EQ pretty quickly.  I got them to sound pretty good with a 10 band EQ, but I was really floored only after going through PiccoloNamek's tutorial on equalizing with a parametric EQ.  I now had total control over the frequency spectrum, and with increasing experience I knew exactly what to change.  When I was done, these SHE3580 sounded phenomenal--they left the Etys, one of the most highly regarded IEMs at ~$200, in the dust.  They were more detailed AND less sibilant, and everything sounded more "real", for lack of a better description.

 

Eventually I also EQed the etys to sound pretty damn good.  The amount of equalization required was less and the result at least started sounding better than on the SHE3580 on some tracks, but not others.  It was a might close race.  Then the etys broke again. confused_face%281%29.gif

 

Taking a car analogy, I think good cheap-fi is like riceburners like the WRX and Evolution, whereas good high head-fi is like supercars like Ferrari and Lamborghini--they'll smoke the riceburners no problem.  But PiccoloNamek's EQ tutorial (done correctly--which isn't easy, there were some things in his methodology I had to modify for it to really work) is like fully ricing out the WRX for race day with a 1000hp engine, race tires and full suspension overhaul.  The WRX will now smoke pretty much any supercar in stock form and only lose in turn to supercars in race trim, and even then it will be a much closer race than before.

 

Putting the analogy aside, what I mean is that the main difference we hear between cheap headphones and expensive headphones, and even among different expensive headphones, is the "sound signature", ie the frequency response.  Especially offensive is, literally, "peaky treble"--treble FR characterised by sharp peaks, caused by standing waves caused by closing the ear with the IEMs / headphones themselves, much like standing waves in room acoustics but in a much smaller room (hence shorter wavelengths, hence higher frequencies, ie treble).  Now I don't know what voodoo expensive headphones do, but e.g. I only hear one peak on the Etys, versus 4 in the SHE3580.  Perhaps some of the peaks on the SHE3580 are inherent to the drivers themselves, perhaps Etymotic did extensive research with hundreds of subjects and tuned the drivers to tune out those peaks for the majority of users.  But whatever this voodoo is on high-end headphones, it can be done just as well in software by EQ.

 

Anyway, to put a long story short, once FR differences are nullified in software, it'll be much harder to tell cheap-fi from high-fi: you'd have to put your finger on things like enclosure resonance, harmonic distortion, etc. and these things are surprisingly well-controlled even on budget stuff these days.  Especially IEMs, since there just isn't much of an enclosure to rattle. (or maybe just because tiny-driver technology has just advanced THAT far).

 

Speaking of which, it'd be great if headphone reviews could separate the FR ("sound signature") aspect from the actual performance aspect of the headphones.  What someone like Joker could do, with his massive collection, is create a reference standard frequency response based on the pair of IEMs with his favourite sound signature (after tuning out any standing wave resonances), then EQ any other headphones to have the same FR before starting the review.  (I have a methodology based on playing test tones in real time through two passes of parametric equalization that can allow this matching to be done easily by ear)  Then he can comment on two things separately: how far the stock FR deviates from the "ideal" signature (and how hard it is to adjust), and more importantly,

 

how the headphones actually sound like, when any sound signature preference influence has been accounted for.

 

As a bonus, the stock sound signature can also be characterized in an easy-to-read, detailed graph, like this:

 

Originally Posted by Joe Bloggs View Post

I've analyzed them on my parametric equalizer.  Here, take a look at how they sound to me:

SHE3580.jpg

Firstly here's how the SHE3580 sounds like to me.  (I took my parametric EQ settings and inverted them, it becomes a frequency response graph of sorts.)  ie a bass hump extending all the way down to the audible extreme, with peaky treble (which as I mentioned is to some extent unavoidable in earphones due to ear canal resonance)

 

SHE9620.jpg

Here's how the SHE9620 sounds like to me.  Bass is pretty much the same as the SHE3580 (with perhaps a tad less strong subbass below 40Hz; not shown on the graph), but treble is literally smoother, with only two peaks instead of four.  The number of treble peaks could be used as an objective measure of out-of-the-box unEQed treble quality; I profiled the Etymotic ER-4P and they had just one treble peak.  There's also less treble in quantity compared to the SHE3580.

------

Imagine if we had one of these graphs for each headphone Joker reviewed.  It'd almost be as good as the HeadRoom set of frequency response graphs.  Better, in some respects, because they'd reflect the preferences of an actual person and show resonant peaks (those spikes on the right) that are actually heard at the eardrum, rather than what's picked up by a microphone (that we'd have to guess whether all those spikes in the graph would actually be heard in real life or actually cancels out).

 

(whew!)


Edited by Joe Bloggs - 1/3/12 at 8:12am
post #5396 of 16803

Just read carefully. "  $15 or $1500 phones ,  it's all the same - just feel all right and be happy!!" Concentrate on the second part of the sentence, ..wink.gif

Start-up wiht your nick and avatar, I saw The Boss before some 30 years, The River Tour here in Europe..., and I have ticket for his Prague concert this summer!

Long live R'n'R!

Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

Sigh, if only $15 phones WERE the same as $1500 phones. I'd own at least a hundred of those $15 phones by now.   rolleyes.gif



 

post #5397 of 16803

I demand a FXT90 review! dt880smile.png Seriously, joker, when are you going to post it?

post #5398 of 16803

joker, how does Sony 7550 compare to ex600/1000 in terms of how they bright they are, bass quantity/extension, and mids. 

post #5399 of 16803

Tyll has some graphs of all three if you want a quick and dirty comparison.

 

7550, EX600, EX1000

post #5400 of 16803
Quote:
Originally Posted by maverickronin View Post

Tyll has some graphs of all three if you want a quick and dirty comparison.

 

7550, EX600, EX1000


Thanks

 

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