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[Review] Impressions of the Final Audio Design FI-BA-SS versus the SM3, FX700 and e-Q7 - Page 17

post #241 of 268
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

Haven't heard the UM3X, but the SM3s are quite different from the W4, most notably in mids density and spatial presentation. Vocals are more dense and forward than on the W4, yet the SM3's unique presentation still conveys a good sense of spaciousness, just not forward projected, but rather surrounding you. You may end up loving or hating it, but they're at least different enough to give them a try.



 

how would you best describe the vocals? i'm a bit concern because i use an ipod classic only as my main dap and it is a dark sounding dap so I thought maybe the sm3s would or would not have a good synergy with them and may result in a very thick mids? on the w4 it's already enough and doesn't take away everything.. on the um3x, still surprised very forward yet clear and detailed never sounding thick ..

 

does the sm3s also get your attention to its details like on the w4 that you said on your review on them?

 

as far as i remember way back august when I auditioned the sm3 (but did not pay much attention to it) i felt the mids are there like they're floating in front of me then the electric guitars are just there on the scene not as forward or focused like on the um3x and the highs, hmm.. it's there but never gets my attention only if i exert an effort..

post #242 of 268
Thread Starter 

Well, here's the short SM3 review that I posted back then, I doesn't seem right to add anything to that now, especially from memory.

post #243 of 268
james444, if you don't mind, could you also write about your thoughts about the sm3 like what u wrote on the ex1000 thread of yours.. thanx rolleyes.gif
post #244 of 268
Thread Starter 

Hmm, my thoughts now are pretty much redundant to what I've written back then when I had them (that said, I'd like to hear them again sometime). Anyway, here we go...

 

The SM3, from my perspective, are first and foremost stage monitors. That's were Earsonics are coming from and both tuning and presentation strike me as consistent with it. Listening to the SM3, you'll feel like standing on stage with a band or sitting amongst a group of fellow musicians. Vocals sounds close and tangible, because of their rich and forward mids, but there's also an excellent sense of depth and layering from their nice bass and good dynamics. Timbre on the SM3 is among the best I've heard from balanced armature based phones, so they achieve good realism in the way instruments are rendered - and despite their somewhat laid-back treble, there's still a decent amount of sheen and sparkle to give credibility to bright instruments like cymbals and flutes.

 

Soundstage-wise you don't feel like being placed among an audience and facing a stage in front of you, but sounds will rather originate from almost all directions, front, left, right, far out from both sides and at times even from behind your head. So you're sitting among your fellow players and jamming along to the beats, and the phones provide good detail, but the SM3 have slightly tuned down highs (to prevent fatigue) and you don't get that razor-sharp clarity that you'd probably get with highly analytical phones in ideal surroundings (e.g. a recording studio). Therefore the SM3 feel overall more like being a live venue, where the sounds blend a bit together, but instruments and vocals are positioned close enough that you can discern everything quite clearly.

 

This pretty much captures how I hear them, hope you'll find the description useful. smile_phones.gif

post #245 of 268
huge THANKS james!!

very informative and simple..
post #246 of 268
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

Hmm, my thoughts now are pretty much redundant to what I've written back then when I had them (that said, I'd like to hear them again sometime). Anyway, here we go...

 

The SM3, from my perspective, are first and foremost stage monitors. That's were Earsonics are coming from and both tuning and presentation strike me as consistent with it. Listening to the SM3, you'll feel like standing on stage with a band or sitting amongst a group of fellow musicians. Vocals sounds close and tangible, because of their rich and forward mids, but there's also an excellent sense of depth and layering from their nice bass and good dynamics. Timbre on the SM3 is among the best I've heard from balanced armature based phones, so they achieve good realism in the way instruments are rendered - and despite their somewhat laid-back treble, there's still a decent amount of sheen and sparkle to give credibility to bright instruments like cymbals and flutes.

 

Soundstage-wise you don't feel like being placed among an audience and facing a stage in front of you, but sounds will rather originate from almost all directions, front, left, right, far out from both sides and at times even from behind your head. So you're sitting among your fellow players and jamming along to the beats, and the phones provide good detail, but the SM3 have slightly tuned down highs (to prevent fatigue) and you don't get that razor-sharp clarity that you'd probably get with highly analytical phones in ideal surroundings (e.g. a recording studio). Therefore the SM3 feel overall more like being a live venue, where the sounds blend a bit together, but instruments and vocals are positioned close enough that you can discern everything quite clearly.

 

This pretty much captures how I hear them, hope you'll find the description useful. smile_phones.gif



is the imaging identical to the imaging of the ex1000 or ie8s?
post #247 of 268
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by soullinker20 View Post

is the imaging identical to the imaging of the ex1000 or ie8s?


Imaging is quite precise, maybe more so than on the Sonys and Senns, but due to their almost complete lack of forward projection, positioning in relation to the listener is widely different.

post #248 of 268
i have the sm3s for a few days now..

the imaging is quite funny, no matter what genre i play it always feels like you are standing with the band even on r&b/rap/hiphop sometimes i felt like the mids are too centered for such genre and losing the intimacy because of the centered mids..

they have very good mids and better than my w4..
the soundstage are so huge and i felt it was close to the ie80s on some songs.. they also have more micro details than my w4, it really makes to the music as a whole with its soundstage but in a different way where every element of a song enters in front of me just like passing by and decays at its very last sound which is quite impressive .. bass is more detailed and deeper than the w4, i also felt they were very close to the ex1000s

overall these are very impressive phones and i felt they are really like monitors with just lesser focus on instruments like on the um3x..
everything is in front of me where the imaging is very impressive when a song has a different setting the sm3 will show it and i was surprised the sound came from the farthest left and right.. just had a little bit of gripe on some of my pop and rnb songs because it felt that they were like a band performing whereas i think that it should really have the intimacy..
post #249 of 268
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your SM3 impressions, soullinker20  (you might wanna delete that "soon" from your sig ;-).

 

May I ask what tips you're using on the W4? Because your comments about inferiour detail make me think you're possibly not getting the best out of them. I'm using (reversed) Shure Olives and bass on my W4 is super-detailed. I know the W4 change a lot with tips and some smear detail, that's why I'm asking.

post #250 of 268
i'm not sure james, but i use the stock large comply tips to both iems.. i find the sm3 have a little more spark than the w4.. i tried the medium shure olive before about a month ago.. my right ear has bigger opening than my left so i had to hold my right ear to have a perfect seal.. i heard sibilance with the shure olives after that i gave the large comply tip a chance and to my surprise they are very detailed on the whole spectrum giving more details as in spades on the rich highs plus the extension.. it lessens the bass impact a bit but is still there to satisfy me..

the sm3s made me smile after burning them for 20hrs.. the mids opened up and paying attention to it really shows how sometimes the artist is exerting an effort to its vocals.. the w4 has this too but they are quite laid back so maybe it's like comparing a zoomed in and zoomed out vocals on both:D
i find the bass on the sm3s deeper than the w4 and sound more whole and rounded to me

i think i'm nitpicking to much and i think we're comparing coherence (w4) vs the sm3s scattered imaging (sorry for the term)
the huge soundstage of the sm3s really made me fall in love with them after having enough time to A/B them.
it is unique that sometimes it's too wide and deep depending on the song and now i've finally understand what
"surround soundstage" is and maybe the one i obviously preferred as of this moment..
i really find it that i'm listening to the whole music as a whole and there is no micro detail that passes by without being noticed
the sound start and decays up to its very last sound which really makes the soundstage really large compared to the w4.. but when it comes to focusing on details, the w4 has it over the sm3 and the electric guitars sound having more crunch and resolution a bit than the sm3s

it maybe sm3>>w4 for me on a line out on my ipod classic but earlier, i just met my friend to audition some stuffs and thing turned upside down after that..

the w4 with Headstage arrow bass 1 and treble 1. the soundstage became larger almost like on the sm3 and superior bass over the sm3s also paired with the arrow.. it has an excellent synergy with the arrow 4g and if i'm not mistaken the highs are unbelievable and i think is very close or on-par to the highs of the k3003 or the lively ex1000s
on the sm3s, there's not much improvement that i find..

i love both but i maybe preferring more the sm3s over the w4 because of its huge SS and very good imaging and intimate and detailed mids and it also felt like i'm listening to a Headphone on the sm3s

so there ya go = ]
Edited by soullinker20 - 5/1/12 at 4:59am
post #251 of 268

here are my final thoughts james after an intensive A/B between W4 and SM3:

 

 

it's a close call between the two. but if it's line out vs line out on my iPod 7g, then it's

SM3>W4 for me..

if both paired with the arrow 4g (damn ceph for this)

W4>>SM3 

the w4 becomes a demi God almost seem invulnerable for me except for the Gods (Customs)  ;D

I find myself yearning for the SM3s more when i listen to the w4 but coming from the SM3s to w4 just felt fine and nothing wrong.


W4 vs SM3

line out:

even with line out only for me, still the w4 bests the sm3 in almost everything (resolution) except for the imaging and soundstage
but I really prefer the SM3s for its more bass quantity and deeper, laid back highs sound more realistic to me, the imaging and lastly the huge surround soundstage which made my w4 sound obviously congested after being exposed to the SM3s.. the soundstage and imaging of the SM3s are unique, i felt that its soundstage could be very well utilized by the song. It's kinda overwhelming because it can also go toe-to-toe or very close with the ie80s gargantuan soundstage despite being a closed iem

MIDS are very liquid on the SM3s but for me this is where I find the W4 much better for my liking.. i already made an extensive side by side with the miss but i find the sm3's mids lacking a bit in clarity while on the w4 it sounds more fuller and real to my ears that I can hear the lips of the artist pouting on a song more convincingly than the SM3 (Domino by Jessie J @ bridge)
but i'm nitpicking too much here and if i'd wish that it also sound like on the w4s, then it's not earsonics signature anymore so it is very good on its own right.

HIGHS
i also favor the `sm3s having a very very good detail (on-par with w4) and quantity
it sounds more real on the sm3 than on the heavy highs of the w4

the soundstage is where the sm3s shine more than the w4
the SM3s make you listen to the music as a whole the details of the song is spaced out and utilizes the soundstage. it's also there on the w4 but it takes more effort from me to hear the micro details. 
the details and micro details are just the same with the W4 but again with the sm3s huge soundstage i can hear the sound from its starting point, til it reaches its whole sound down to its very last decay. this obviously sounds congested on the w4

it's like a bubble wrapped up to your head where the mids are surrounded by the details
it's like you are standing there with the band and you hear ever the guitar and other instruments like they are beside you having an ample distance but this kind of imaging is quite polarizing on the hiphop/RnB/Rap genre, it takes away the intimacy the vocals sound distant. the um3x beats this easily on this genre

it is a stage monitor and the way I see it, everything is just there in the picture. the um3x is best on focusing on instruments and doesn't sound muffled no matter how crowded the song gets to.


the w4 gets your attention to its details while the SM3s presents it in a natural way and may take some effort to the listener to hear the details because of the smaller soundstage


where the w4 bests SM3:

like i said earlier the w4 bests the sm3s when it comes to resolution. i also find the w4 an upgrade over the sm3s when it comes to refinement

the bass is tuned for quality over quantity. it also reaches deep enough having more resolution especially on the mid bass department than the sm3. it has enough punch to satisfy me giving way for the mid bass to shine. there are songs that the SM3s struggle and sound muffled on the electric guitars but the w4 handles it easily showing that obvious very good resolution making it more easy to understand but also being more analytical than the SM3

MIDS
it sounds more natural in tone and fuller than the sm3. like what is said on the review on the head-fi, it has that natural distance between the listener so it sounds convincing, intimate, exact, real and never recessed for me on every song while on the sm3s, sometimes it lacks the intimacy because of the setting of the song and its front and center vocal presentation. it never sounds recessed either but the vocal quality sometimes really left me reaching for the w4s.

HIGHS
having more quantity and at the same time very detailed and packs a lot of weight and extension

Instrument Separation
both are very good but the w4 is just that better on separation because of the obviously more resolution on the entire spectrum. the sm3s don't lag either but when it comes to a crowded song, the electric guitars sound a bit off and hard to understand because of the more bass quantity. the imaging is very much different, the sm3s don't have that forward projection and is a surround soundstage showing very good space on the instruments. on the w4 all is placed in front of you but next to the sm3s it still has enough space on the instruments and sounds more refined (bright) a bit


the SM3s for me are really true to the song , sometimes when a song calls for more highs, it delivers and surprises me in a way that it could also have a lot in quantity like the w4. i really prefer the highs than the w4, when paired on my laptop, the highs are excellent for me. the w4 shows the highs very sweet and a bit louder but on the sm3s, it is indeed very sweet and i can almost picture on my mind the CYMBAL crashing up and down which i didn't find on the w4. Also the sm3s for me have more spark than the w4


W4 & SM3 featuring Headstage Arrow4G

the SM3s don't benefit much from it only giving a bit more impact and a bass like that of the dynamic drivers


the W4 becomes a demi God from it and becoming the exact sound and everything that i was asking for
imagine the excellent resolution on the mid bass department then the arrow 4g adding depth to it making it perfect sub bass punch and very rounded like the SM3s rounded bass. the rumble sounds perfect never deficient. the bass becomes very dynamic and is able to go toe-to-toe with the DDs and could even beat it easily. the ex1000's bass is the best bass i've heard but vs the w4, it makes the sub bass of the w4 weak but the resolution of the w4 makes the ex1000s mid bass a bit muffled
for me

the MIDS become a bit warmer and fuller and still intimate


the HIGHS are extraordinary on this one. even if i can picture the cymbals crashing on the sm3s the arrow gives a lot of boost on the w4s highs giving more spark and very realistic sound. the best of i can think of is  the shutter speed of a high end camera, 
when a cymbal is smashed, the W4 puts them in spades like how the camera captures every movement

the presentation even becomes very more impressive. what makes it more impressive is how the Arrow 4g makes the w4s soundstage larger not too wide and not too deep that I find the best and perfect soundstaging where every detail and instrument is presented very nice and doesn't sound congested anymore.

it puts you in a perfect position. like a Conductor in the middle of the orchestra, you see and hear every sound that starts and rises till it fades. there is no detail that passes by that you won't notice it. 

final verdict:

I would prefer much the SM3s over W4 when listening to it line out only.. it is already very good without an amp whereas it also takes time to get accustomed to its unique imaging. after being exposed to it it makes my w4s sound underpowered and really need an amp like the arrow 4g to shine and get its full potential. the SM3s imho only need a good dac  like on my laptop (neutral) to maximize the soundstage. the w4 also sound good on it but made the bass really lacking but also giving more resolution to it especially on the highs.

for now it's SM3>=W4

post #252 of 268

It appears that FAD is making a revised version of this IEM tuned for AK100/AK120. Price is set to be around 1200 USD. 

Got to say after my experienced with FAD VI I am very interstd in what final audio design has to offer but at 1200 the price is truly placing them in some big boys territory. 

post #253 of 268
Thread Starter 

Yes, I've already inquired about them and will hopefully know soon what's new besides the removable cable.

 

I agree the price is steep, but the original FI-BA-SS are still among my very favorite IEMs and need not fear the big boys imo.

post #254 of 268

Hi all - I mostly read here, don't post often.  I recently purchased some FI-BA-SS phones and am totally blown away by them.  I had been looking for this kind of extreme detail and openness in top end CIEMs (JH 13s) and was surprised to be disappointed there.  The FADs do it, and I'm an instant convert.  I find them much better on classical and jazz.  For modern "experimental" music, they seem to be as good as it gets.

 

But on rock records, the top end sibilance on some recordings is just too much.  Or let me put it another way.  The volume needs to be at a certain level for the sound to have body, for the bass and mids to come alive.  But at that level, sibilance in vocals can be painful.  Not on all recordings, but on some of them.  On some 1980s music, the high frequencies coming off the snare are extreme.  Some other rock/pop records sound perfect on them, which is interesting, because those ones don't sound dull to me on other systems.

 

So do I just use different phones for that kind of music?  Is there a nice desktop or portable preamp that would help tame some of those frequencies, without making the overall sound less detailed?  I know very little about headphone amps for IEMs, and the FI-BA-SS seem to have their own set of variables altogether, which is why I'm asking in this thread instead of in an amp thread.

 

thanks!

post #255 of 268

Good news E-Q8 will be release in late Feb and early report they are detail monster (perhaps more than FI-BA-SS). 

 

From memory E-Q7 sounded sublime with MHd-Q7 which is designed for E-Q5 and E-Q8 but they also paired nicely with 627x which is very analog sounding (mid-range oriented). I consider MHd-Q7 poor mans 627x with better high end detailing. So perhaps either eq anything above 16 khz down a few dB or get yourself 627x, but I highly recommend MHd-Q7. 

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