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Multi-IEM Review - 352 IEMs compared (Pump Audio Earphones added 04/03/16 p. 1106) - Page 477

post #7141 of 16803

joker suggested jvc fxt90 which is $ 135 .

post #7142 of 16803

There are a ton of FXT90's available in the FS forum for <$100 right now.

post #7143 of 16803

|joker| > Thanks for your honest opinion. So it would even be better to go for the Ety er4pt as an uppgrade. Sadly the Vsonic doesnt fit my ears good, keeps falling out.

Regards

post #7144 of 16803
Thread Starter 

Added Spiral Ear SE 3-way Reference. Isolation score at 5.5/5 for now, until I figure out if/how I want to rescale the entire category. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post

(1A4) Spiral Ear SE 3-way Reference

Spiral Ear SE 3-way Reference 400x300.jpg
Reviewed June 2012

Details: Silicone-shelled custom from Poland-based Spiral Ear
Current Price: €575 (est $715) fixed cable, €645 (est $800) detachable cable from spiralear.com
Specs: Driver: Triple BA | Imp: N/A | Sens: N/A | Freq: N/A | Cable: 4.2' L-plug
Nozzle Size: N/A | Preferred tips: N/A
Wear Style: Over-the-ear

Accessories (4/5) – Cleaning tool and hard-shelled custom-printed carrying case w/detachable lanyard
Build Quality (5/5) – The Spiral Ears IEMs use silicone shells that – unlike those of most Acrylic monitors – are completely filled-in. Shell transparency isn’t as good as it can be with Acrylic monitors but the structure is solid, with a relatively small amount of give. The fixed-cable version utilizes conventional Westone-style cables with the connectors encased within the silicone shell. Detachable cables (optional) boast internally-anchored, recessed connectors with conventional Westone ES-style plugs.
Isolation (5.5/5) – The isolation of the deep-fit silicone shells puts every other earphone in my collection to shame, outperforming even my custom-tipped Etymotic Research earphones
Microphonics (5/5) - Pretty much nonexistent
Comfort (5/5) – The silicone shells of the SE 3-way take slightly longer to insert and remove compared to a more rigid and slippery Acrylic shell but once fitted the silicone-shelled 3-way is just as comfortable as my UM Miracle and seems to maintain seal a tiny bit better with changes to the ear canal shape, such as while chewing or talking. Being a custom monitor, the comfort of the 3-way is highly dependent on the quality of the initial impressions and final mold so if the earphones remain uncomfortable after an initial break-in period a re-fit is probably a good idea.

Sound (9.7/10) – While a number of promises are made on the 3-way Reference product page, extended listening to the earphones causes none to ring as true as that of “rich and organic” sound. The 3-way is a listening experience unlike anything I’ve come across before it, providing a neutral, highly polished signature but also causing all of the other BA-based monitors I’ve heard sound thin and underpowered in comparison.

The sound of the 3-way takes some getting used to – it isn’t designed to immediately wow with detail and clarity, sparkly treble, or a wide, out-of-the head presentation. Instead, it impresses in the long term – around the time 4 hours and 3 full albums have passed and yet none of the review has been written. Most impressive is the bass – there is a clear disconnect between the neutral tone of the 3-way Reference and the bass, which is voluminous enough to warrant a much warmer signature. The bass has great body and good punch. On bass-heavy tracks the 3-way is capable of effortlessly producing more impact than any other armature-based earphone I’ve heard, beating out the Earsonics SM3 and the bass-heavy filters of the Phonak PFE 232 and competing with the dynamic-driver bass of the AKG K3003. The bass response scales back quite well when it is not called for – dynamics are some of the best among armature-based IEMs, slightly better than with the SM3 and far superior to anything built around a full-range TWFK driver. As a result, the earphones can still sound rather balanced on the whole but are also capable of really belting out the low notes on cue.

While most of the power comes in higher, the low end of the 3-way is rather well-extended – better, for example, than that of the Alclair Reference. Note weight is on the heavy side and some of the fine detail in the attack and decay of a note is not as audible as it can be with a thinner-sounding earphone such as a UM Miracle or Alclair Reference, but the 3-way sounds very natural and detailed in its own way. It is not one for analytical listeners but the excellent note thickness and dynamics make for a uniquely tactile and powerful bass presentation – one that is smooth, yet easily felt. The Earsonics SM3 – which is also rather thick-sounding - has a similar overall feel to its bass but can’t quite match the depth, resolution, and control of the 3-way Reference, sounding a little loose and bleeding up into the midrange more.

The midrange of the 3-way Reference is smooth and rich without sounding excessively warm. Indeed, for the amount of bass the Spiral Ear can produce, the mids are surprisingly free of bass bleed and the overall balance is quite good. There’s no sense of the mids being pushed forward artificially as there can be with the AKG K3003 but also not as much distance placed between the listener and the performers as with the ClearTune CTM-200 or the popular VSonic GR07.

On the whole, the 3-way doesn’t adhere to a typical high-end BA sound - it does not push for the greatest possible clarity and detail, instead focusing on a thicker, more natural note presentation and overall coherency across the spectrum. In this way it is highly reminiscent of the Earsonics SM3, though the 3-way is – among other improvements - more transparent. Combined with the lack of bright, emphasized treble, this means that the overall clarity is not immediately impressive as it is with the UM Miracle or CTM-200. The detailing is also not at all aggressive – the 3-way does not push fine nuances forward as many analytical earphones do. The detail is mostly there, but it takes some listening for. Overall, it sounds very natural and pleasant, again much like the Earsonics SM3 or a good dynamic-driver earphone.

The top end of the 3-way Reference is among the smoothest and most non-fatiguing I’ve heard from an IEM. Comparing it to the AKG K3003, Alclair Reference, and Phonak PFE 232 reveals peaks in their treble presentations that just aren’t there with the Spiral Ear. The top end is clean and detailed but – much like the Earsonics SM3 – lacks some sparkle and energy next to other high-end earphones. Most likely it was tuned this way to prevent listening fatigue over long listening sessions but as a result the 3-way has a darker tone and can sound a bit boring at low volumes compared to brighter earphones. Treble quality is good but again the top end of the UM Miracle is not only more prominent, but also has better detail and extension, resulting in a more airy sound and a boost in perceived clarity.

The presentation of the 3-way is very well-rounded – similar in size to that of the Phonak PFE 232 but with better layering for a more ambient and 3-dimensional feel. The 3-way gives a good sense of space but provides a less open, more intimate sound compared to the UM Miracle and Alclair Reference. Separation is very good, as are the dynamics, resulting in good imaging and allowing the 3-way to recreate very fine nuances, especially in live recordings. Listening to a Phonak PFE 232 with the green +bass filters (which result in the most similar, albeit still more v-shaped, balance) makes very apparent just how much more detailed the 3-way is.


In addition to the mentions above, I thought I’d add more concise comparisons against my two other higher-end custom monitors – the Unique Melody Miracle and Alclair Reference.

The Alclair Reference pursues a slightly warm sound signature with a drier presentation and some treble emphasis. Compared to the Spiral Ear 3-way it has a more laid-back soundstage with a thinner, more analytical note. The tone is brighter overall and it can sound slightly ‘hot’ with some tracks due to emphasis in the lower treble region. Due to the treble emphasis the perceived clarity is a bit better than with the 3-way but natural clarity is similar between the two. The 3-way, on the other hand, has much smoother treble for a less fatiguing sound and darker tone. It provides a better sense of 3-D space and better on-center feel. It also sounds more effortless at the bottom end, with better bass weight, power, and impact compared to the Alclair.

The UM Miracle is a spacious, highly detailed monitor with a very slightly u-shaped response. Like the Alclair Reference, the Miracle sounds brighter and clearer compared to the 3-way. Despite being more laid-back in the midrange, the Miracle still provides better detail and texture in addition to being more airy and spacious. However, while the Miracle’s bass depth and subbass power are similar to those of the 3-way, its mid- and upper-bass response is far leaner. The 3-way has much more bass body and sounds thicker, with more bass weight and impact but also a bit of boominess and slight lack of detail next to the Miracle. The 3-way also has better dynamics.

Value (9/10) - The Spiral Ear 3-way Reference is a versatile and well-rounded custom monitor that eschews the usual analytical tendencies of high-end BA-based earphones for a holistic approach to sound more akin to that of Earsonics monitors. It is not for fans of an overly crisp and thin note presentation, leaning instead towards the lush end of the spectrum, and its smooth, powerful, and full-bodied response is something that simply needs to be experienced by those who claim dynamic drivers always sound more natural than armatures. The filled silicone shells offer similar comfort to acrylic shells (provided both are well-fitted) but easily best acrylic monitors – and every other earphone I’ve tried – when it comes to isolation. With the option to add detachable cables at additional cost, the only downsides are that the Spiral Ear is a little more time-consuming to insert and remove and limited in customization options compared to most of its acrylic counterparts. At $700+, the 3-way doesn’t come cheap, but it offers a unique sound in a unique package. In addition, with its effortless low end and excellent dynamics, I feel that this is one custom monitor potentially suitable for bassheads as it is incredibly adept at making sure that whatever bass is on a track can be felt as well as heard.

Pros: Immense isolation; incredibly dynamic, powerful, and full-bodied sound
Cons: Inserting and removing silicone shells takes some getting used to


A full review of the SE 3-way with additional photos can be found here

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kingpage View Post

M4 is only USD$28 shipped from mp4nation, in case you didn't know (or change your mind).

 

I love reading your reviews. They are always comprehensive, well-written and fun to read. Including nozzle sizes is a nice touch.Thank you!

 

Thanks!

 

I am just trying to avoid stockpiling more IEMs for the moment since I'm having trouble keeping up with the reviews.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by budha View Post

|joker| > Thanks for your honest opinion. So it would even be better to go for the Ety er4pt as an uppgrade. Sadly the Vsonic doesnt fit my ears good, keeps falling out.

Regards

 

I've never heard the ER4PT but I don't think any of the other Ety monitors pump out significantly more bass than the MC5. 

post #7145 of 16803
Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post

 

Isolation (5.5/5) – The isolation of the deep-fit silicone shells puts every other earphone in my collection to shame.  So effective your wife won't even bother trying to yell at you when you're wearing them.


Edited by FlySweep - 6/4/12 at 1:25am
post #7146 of 16803
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post
 

LOL.

I do think it's not a good idea to make a scale to 5 and then credit a 5.5.

You have scaled down the SQ in the past, I think it's better to do the same for the isolation.

Really liked the review, again.

post #7147 of 16803

Perhaps, scaling all the sub-scores up to have 10 as maximum instead of 5, in accordance with the scores for SQ and value.


Edited by kingpage - 6/4/12 at 1:45am
post #7148 of 16803
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by s0lar View Post

LOL.

I do think it's not a good idea to make a scale to 5 and then credit a 5.5.

You have scaled down the SQ in the past, I think it's better to do the same for the isolation.

Really liked the review, again.

 

It's a temporary solution. Re-scaling the whole thread took forever when it was "just" 100 IEMs, I will probably need to dedicate an entire day to fixing it this time around. I have also toyed with the idea of making everything /10 instead of /5 for simplicity but to be honest I've always liked differentiating SQ and value from the other categories.

post #7149 of 16803
I think it's fine as it is.
Changing it will take an incredible amount of time, and I don't really think it makes it that much better.
post #7150 of 16803
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post

 

It's a temporary solution. Re-scaling the whole thread took forever when it was "just" 100 IEMs, I will probably need to dedicate an entire day to fixing it this time around. I have also toyed with the idea of making everything /10 instead of /5 for simplicity but to be honest I've always liked differentiating SQ and value from the other categories.

Well, you could make SQ and value 100 instead of 10, and other categories 10.


Edited by kingpage - 6/4/12 at 2:21am
post #7151 of 16803

I completely understand.

Just keep on bringing in those great reviews!

 

There is something I was wondering for a long time. You used to review only universals and when you started out reviewing customs I thought it was a one time thing. There were a few excpetions but now the thread contains a lot. Ever thought of making a separate thread for those?

Like you have for the on-ears.

 

Last one: I am stuck between IEMs. I like the mids of the RE262, but don't like to carry around an amp. I like the sound a lot.

I like the treble of the Brainwavz B2 but they don't stay in my ears. Fit and isolation is OK but on the move it's not.

GR07 is excellent but is nothing stands out, I prefer RE262. I have others but neither one is perfect, perhaps a suggestion?

post #7152 of 16803

I wouldn't want the customs in a separate thread. Those reviews of custom IEMs put the universal IEMs in perspective.

post #7153 of 16803

I don't think making everything /10 is a good idea, let say a pair of earphones scored 4/5 on comfort, if it is changed to 8/10 the difference between the comfort that the earphones and the perfect earphones provide seems larger. Also I don't think it is worth such long period of time just to get a minor issue fixed.

I suggest to just leave it alone or perhaps make it into a 5+.

post #7154 of 16803
I totally agree with no change or a change that's easy for you to work with. We can and will adapt to whatever you have for us.
post #7155 of 16803

Would you say the Atrio m5 with mg7 drivers are the bargain of the century for 100$ or is their something much better for the same price ( Bassy IEM ) ?
Also how would the CKS77's compare with the m5 ?


Edited by Mysterious - 6/4/12 at 4:51am
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