i was lucky enough to grow up with friends that enjoy playing with hifi equipment that would fall into hifi category. i like listening to music that is natural sounding, dynamic and not coloured. In my mind, when you pair up a source, amp and speakers and you get that combination right, you just keep it exactly as it is and enjoy for as long as you can.
I first noticed the UE custom IEM line whilst doing some web research around 1yr and half ago and this started my quest to see what all the fuss was about IEMs. The UE customs just looked sick and given they were custom, you couldn't test them without buying them and really only had to rely on the reviews of owners.
At the time the IEMs that i was using was a USD25 pair that i picked up in airport cause my others had broken, and to be honest they were not a bad pair of pones with even they were more dynamic and basey than the apple branded IEMs that i purchased soon after getting a 3Gs ipone. Basically i hated the Apple IEMs and went searching for something better that would not break the budget. My initial purchase was a UE 5 fi which based on my recollections made a good seal and created a very neutral clean sound. Not that i like heavy base, but the 5fi's wasn't the sound i was looking for and i moved up a to a pair of seinheiser Ie7s. Although they were better in many ways to the 5fis, i found it difficult to get the seal around the ear that got from the UEs. The sound from the ie7s were more accurate and better sounding, but because it would appear that were not designed to seal properly in the ear canal like the UEs i found that the bass was not as clean as i would have liked.
i guess after a year of reading reviews and procrastinating over whether to go the custom route i finally decided to go and get some ear molds done and proceeded to order a pair of JH13 pros. My decision to go JH instead of UE, is because I like Jerry's story and figured that anything that has gone to logitec was more about making profit and answering to shareholders rather than the focus of creating pieces of art. i wend for the 13s because as much as i like listening to heavy bass, like when i am at the club or hanging out in my mates car with quad 20 inch sub woofers built into the back seat, i do enjoy a punchy tight base which is direct but not exaggerated. it was a hard decision but i knew myself, if i went the 5pros or 7pros, i would eventually end up buying the 13s to see what all the fuss is all about!
anyway upon ordering the JH13pros, i thought i would go all the way and ordered an RSA Protector and the twag balanced pone cables. I am basically broke now and need to eat cut lunch for the next 6 mths to fill the hole i have put in my savings. everything was ordered within days of each other. I nearly cried when i saw the 13s on special offer at USD899 2 weeks after i had placed my order!
i got the RSA Protector first:
using my ipone as source and hooking up my ie7s, there was a definite clarity to the sound and i noticed more detail in the music i played. I could feel myself encroaching the sound you would expect to from a good audio hifi components.
next in the post came the JH13 pros:
i was quietly impressed, even with them hooked up to my ipone, the sound was accurate and very transparent ie. if your music was badly recorded, it is clearly evident. Like others that had commented on these pones, i found that the 13s lacked bass, and sounded quite flat at times.
I also found the set up quite sharp and was putting this down to new components that need to be burned in.
apart from my criticisms the pones do sound good straight out of the box and if you don't want to spend more money or carry around a portable amp and possibly a dedicated source, then my suggestion is to still go custom, but go lower down the product line.
RSA paired with JHs on normal pone jack:
There is definitely fidelity in the sound now. When i first listened to them, i got excited and i started reminiscing of that true hifi sound i had grown accustomed to. I was still a little disappointed as it was still lacking that finesse and times was a little flat. I wanted something magical to fill my realm when i pressed play. Instead all i found was that the music coming out of the setup was good but not super fresh.
Maybe it was the source that was letting me down, i know that everyone puts the ipone down, and it probably wasnt made to compete with true hifi sources.
out of curiosity I hooked up my meridian transport and dac to the RSA and instantly an extra level of clarity was present, there was an extended spectrum of sound pushing via the source, and compared to the ipone the sound was more lively detailed and enthusiastic. i sat there and listened, listening to the same song over and over - diana krawl 'walk on by', switching between sources and comparing. My conclusion was yes the cd source and dac performed better than the ipone and this was expected. i also came to the realisation that you would have to sit down relax and focus on the music notes to really appreciate the difference - something that i could not do whilst commuting to work, listening to music whilst focusing on my getting my work done in the office, or snowboarding. I am sure those who are pro Hifiman hm801, will argue that once you become accustomed to the sound, you will be able to differentiate between the 2. Quite frankly i just like the user interface and practicability the ipone has to offer and i cant imagine walking around with a dedicated source, portable amp, and ipone.
Even with a good sound source connected up, the music created is still lacking. Lacking that true live performance sound and still lacking a good clean resonance and tight bass. Why would i listen to the iems at home when i could listen to my home hifi, which immediately has the benefit of a better sound stage.
the Twag balanced cables arrived in post yesterday:
Slightly apprehensive as to whether i have hooked them up properly. If any members can tell me how to know the polarity of the male connectors when connecting up to the earpones and which wire for right pone and left pone i would be grateful.
my first impressions...wow! i have to say that i am finally happy with the sound. There is a real sense of harmony with respect to the way these components pair up. The balanced wires have added dimension, there is more clarity and fidelity to the sound. I suppose like electrostatic speakers, the JH 13pros need lots of clean watts and amps to push those 6 drivers housed in each earpone, something that the RSA seems to do well.
With the twag balanced wires the music really opens up and there is a resonance which fills your head that is fluid, detailed enthusiastic, and lifelike. Most importantly the bass has now opened up is sounding clean punchy tight and natural. I suspect that the JH 16 pros may be on the product line for those who dont want to lug around a portable amp to push those drivers.
Maybe it's too early to make a final conclusion since i only got the wires last night, and i still have that back thought in my mind asking myself whether i spent too much money! but after listening to the ensemble last night, i will hopefully soon forget about the monies spent.
Edited by amo973 - 5/29/10 at 9:57pm