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Need opinions: Alien Ears C3 or FR-C3? Or UE 4 Pro?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone,

 

First post...great forum. Thank you.

 

I've had a set of LiveWire Originals (2 driver model, from California) for a year now and I'm just not happy with them. From my point of view (professional sound engineer and keyboard/synth player) they sound quite smooth, but seem to roll off everything from 8K and up, and therefore...no sparkle. John at Livewires says he's never heard that before and really has no answer.

 

As a basis of comparison, when I play keys and monitor through an Aviom system, I end up punching up the high boost quite a bit with the Livewires, but NOT when I use UE SuperFi 5's or Etymotic ER-6i's. On those I usually add a tiny bit of bass (which is not surprising considering they're not custom and sealed). This is consistent with my iPod use as well.

 

So, I'm thinking about getting a new set of either:

- Alien Ears C3

- Alien Ears FR-C3

- Ultimate Ears 4 Pro

 

As you might be able to tell, I'm trying to keep the outlay under $400 as much as possible.

 

I've seen a lot of comments about the AE C3's, but almost nothing about the FRC-3's. I'm ***guessing*** that the FRC-3's sound less thumpy and more even and flat. AE's website describes the difference as:

 

Quote:

- Triple w 2 low end - (C3 & AE3) a P.A. with Two 18” Bass cabinets and a mid high box (15” & Horn) and a two way crossover 

 

- Triple Driver Full Range (FRC3 & FRAE3) a P.A. with one 18” bass cabinet, one 12” mid range cabinet and a 2” horn (with three way crossover) 

 

I'd love to know if anyone out there has any first hand experience with both.

 

And to REALLY complicate matters further, thanks to this forum, I read a great review of the Ultimate Ears 4 Pros which seem to sound like what I'm looking for: mostly flat but with a little low end warmth so their not too sterile. But of course, no customization. Waahh...

 

Now I'm really torn.

 

Please...help...

 

Thanks!


Edited by pizzafilms - 7/12/10 at 2:39pm
post #2 of 15
Thread Starter 

Anyone?

post #3 of 15

I had a similar question, but I think the FR-C3 model is fairly new and haven't found much on them yet.  I've pretty much considered either those or the UE4 Pros.  I think I am going to get the FR-C3s since they have a 10-day trial period.  The restocking fee is minimal, so if I don't like them, I can always return them and get UE4 Pros.  And since AE returns the ear impressions, I will always have them if I decide to do that.

 

Best of luck with your decision!

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply.

 

Since I wrote that original post, I read a zillion other posts and it seems to me that the one to beat is yet another contender in the $400 range...the JH Audio JH5 Pros. 

 

It turns out that Jerry Harvey, the guy that founded Ultimate Ears is the JH in JH Audio. I sent them an email and got replies back right away. It's a small family owned company that has the years of experience needed in something this specialized.

 

After another email or two, I found out that Jerry was headed to LA today and would meet me with some demo units. Very cool.

 

I just got back from a good hour or so meeting with Jerry where I tried the 5's ($399), 7's ($699), and 13's ($1099) and I have to say I was blown away by all of them. They each had a slightly different signature that was completely musical and natural. In all honestly, I actually liked the 5's the best...and I'm positive that I was not talking myself into it because of the price. I was especially glad to see that after hearing the 13's and then going back to the 5's that there wasn't a Mercedes to Chevy kind of difference...at least to me.

 

So there you go -- I immediately placed an order for some 5's and I'm now in the counting the days phase.

 

One other thing: For anyone who has any doubts, let me tell you, Jerry Harvey is the real deal. Besides being gracious and friendly, he absolutely knows what he's talking about. He sounded like the perfect balance of engineer/craftsman/musician/designer. HE SIMPLY GETS IT. And to make it even sweeter, you're basically getting the experience and quality of Ultimate Ears, but without the compromises of a massive corporation (Logitech) and with the added refinement that Jerry has brought to his new line. 

 

I'm a huge fan.

 

post #5 of 15

Hey pizzafilms, just out of curiosity, how old are you? If you're young, the livewires might have bothered you more because of better hearing in the highs.

 

And to think I was going to try out the livewires trips. I was on the fence mainly because of the highs problem. I think I may very well get the JH5s now. Thanks!

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

I'm 50 (damn that hurts to type it out loud)...

 

I've had my hearing checked and it's still pretty dead on.

 

In my opinion, I just don't think that the Livewires were tuned very well. Besides that, that Livewire connector just couldn't be any uglier.

 

If you're anywhere near anyplace that has some demo JH units, DEFINITELY check em out. 

post #7 of 15

I've owned the LiveWires dual driver model, and I've got the UE4pro and the Alien Ears C3, so I'm in a bit of a unique position to answer this question.

 

First off, my LiveWires did not have that problem at all; I'm wondering if it is some type of fit issue. I've heard of situations where the tips end up sitting somewhat flush against the inner ear canal thus muffling highs a bit. This happened in spite of the fact that the fit felt perfect to the person wearing it. How is the angle of the tips on yours? If that is not the problem, then you either have defective drivers or possibly a major earwax clog. Many people around here have owned the original LiveWires, and they are generally well regarded, especially as compared to midrange universals like the UE SF5.

 

I'm not saying any of this to imply you did anything wrong; on the contrary - I think we should find the source of the problem rather than spend money on a replacement. Have they always sounded this way?

 

In my experience, the UE4pro is very similar sounding to what you already have. They are both very balanced, with the UE4 having slightly more bass and treble extension with slightly less control on both ends. I'd call the UE4 more exciting and the LiveWires more smooth and natural. But the differences are pretty small.

 

The C3 is less balanced than the other 2, and in my opinion a bit less refined. It has sort of a U shaped frequency response and is pretty fun to listen to, but not great for monitoring. I've heard many complaints about Alien Ears' customer service, to the point where I wouldn't feel comfortable dealing with them. I can say the same thing for LiveWires at this point.

 

Another good option is the JH Audio JH5pro. I've not heard it but by all accounts it should compete well with the UE4pro, and is the same price.

 

 

 

 

 

post #8 of 15

I probably would have went with Livewires if it wasn't for their century long wait..well like 3-4 months minimum it seems. I snatched a pair of the Livewire Trips off another head-fi member in the FS forums and I'm expecting nothing but good things after asking the opinion of some people who have them. I'm hoping it sounds as good as yours does project86 :)

post #9 of 15

Oops, I see while I was typing you made an update.... sounds like JH did you right. Hope you enjoy them; I'm sure you will.

 

I still wonder what the deal is with your LiveWires though.

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

Well for one thing, I know the fit wasn't right. Close, but not right.

 

When I had the impressions made, I had them made with my mouth closed. Livewires told me nothing different and considering that I'm not a singer, it seemed like the right thing to do. When I got them back, the left one just plain hurt and they were impossible to get out. Livewires told to take some sandpaper to it until it didn't hurt. I did that...very judiciously...

 

I really don't think the high end port is blocked in any way. It doesn't sound muffled. It just sounds like the high end doesn't extend like it should. Exactly like someone rolled off 8K and up. It's there, but very weak.

 

I can tell you the JH-5's I tried today sounded amazing all the way up...and that was just with a foam tip fit.

 

I don't know how Livewires or anyone else tunes their products, but I can tell you that after talking to Jerry today, he knows what he's doing and they're not just some drivers jammed into a shell. They are tuned on a case by case, ear by ear basis.

post #11 of 15



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pizzafilms View Post

Well for one thing, I know the fit wasn't right. Close, but not right.

 

When I had the impressions made, I had them made with my mouth closed. Livewires told me nothing different and considering that I'm not a singer, it seemed like the right thing to do. When I got them back, the left one just plain hurt and they were impossible to get out. Livewires told to take some sandpaper to it until it didn't hurt. I did that...very judiciously...

 

I really don't think the high end port is blocked in any way. It doesn't sound muffled. It just sounds like the high end doesn't extend like it should. Exactly like someone rolled off 8K and up. It's there, but very weak.

 

I can tell you the JH-5's I tried today sounded amazing all the way up...and that was just with a foam tip fit.

 

I don't know how Livewires or anyone else tunes their products, but I can tell you that after talking to Jerry today, he knows what he's doing and they're not just some drivers jammed into a shell. They are tuned on a case by case, ear by ear basis.



Telling someone to take sandpaper to a custom product..... not great customer service! I'm glad your experience with JH was better thus far. That extra special care is something that used to exist with John Diles at LiveWires too. Too bad it doesn't these days.

 

What are you going to do with your LiveWires? There is a company called Fisher Audio that can have them remolded into a new shell for only $90 plus shipping. Might be something to think about since you will have your impressions back from JH anyway.

post #12 of 15

Having heard the UE-4, I think you'd find it to have a lot more clarity than the SF-5 and Livewires, but the low-end is slightly more anemic.  It's there, and it's got punch and depth, don't get me wrong -- but the headroom on the low end is fairly restricted, compared to the UE-10/11/18 and JH-16. 

 

I do think the above recommendation of the JH-5Pro would be the superior choice to the other customs you mentioned.

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
post #14 of 15

Hey guys I just wanted to jump in here because there is no place other that I may right a review on the Alien Ears monitors.  

 

First off I am a drummer / audio engineer with 15 years on drumming and 5 years on engineering.   Im somewhat of an audiophile I would guess.

I recently tested my hearing and I can hear test tones at 21K I know a little more than natural for a drummer.

 

Ok Customer Service at Alien ears I can tell they don't have a large phone / staff.  They did answer most 4 out of 5 times I called, and they called me back.  Was easy to deal with and pleasant.

 

I paid for the rush shipping and got them within 10 days after they got my impressions.  I did use the impression kit they sent me.

 

Alien ears triple driver 2 low end model

After using them for practice everyday and several live shows now, I don't think I could have done much better concerning price and sound. 

 

The fit is nice like I expect, comfortable for hours as I don't even notice that Im wearing them after a while.  Plenty of noise reduction

 

The sound:

 

Plenty of head room if want to crank,  I dont because Its not necessary.  But its there if you want it    Where these really shine is hearing the bass guitar plenty of response in bottom. 

 

They seem to be kind of a natural even sound as I run my own mix / eq / room sounds /  when monitoring with the band.    Most as do these don't go past I think 12 to 15k range which is likely a good thing when dealing with a wireless system. 

 

Overall  I am really pleased with the service and the monitors from alien ears.  For me I give them a 10 out of 10    for the money and sound Im really digging what I got.  

 

By the way what prompted me to get these was is that I went through about 10 different pairs of earbuds looking for the right sound and isolation.   Finally after wasting my money I said get the customs and Alien ears looked like the best move and Im glad I did.

 

post #15 of 15

So, would you recommend the JH5 Pro over the 1964-T or Q?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

I've owned the LiveWires dual driver model, and I've got the UE4pro and the Alien Ears C3, so I'm in a bit of a unique position to answer this question.

 

First off, my LiveWires did not have that problem at all; I'm wondering if it is some type of fit issue. I've heard of situations where the tips end up sitting somewhat flush against the inner ear canal thus muffling highs a bit. This happened in spite of the fact that the fit felt perfect to the person wearing it. How is the angle of the tips on yours? If that is not the problem, then you either have defective drivers or possibly a major earwax clog. Many people around here have owned the original LiveWires, and they are generally well regarded, especially as compared to midrange universals like the UE SF5.

 

I'm not saying any of this to imply you did anything wrong; on the contrary - I think we should find the source of the problem rather than spend money on a replacement. Have they always sounded this way?

 

In my experience, the UE4pro is very similar sounding to what you already have. They are both very balanced, with the UE4 having slightly more bass and treble extension with slightly less control on both ends. I'd call the UE4 more exciting and the LiveWires more smooth and natural. But the differences are pretty small.

 

The C3 is less balanced than the other 2, and in my opinion a bit less refined. It has sort of a U shaped frequency response and is pretty fun to listen to, but not great for monitoring. I've heard many complaints about Alien Ears' customer service, to the point where I wouldn't feel comfortable dealing with them. I can say the same thing for LiveWires at this point.

 

Another good option is the JH Audio JH5pro. I've not heard it but by all accounts it should compete well with the UE4pro, and is the same price.

 

 

 

 

 



 

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