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Best neutral IEM for under $150

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

Hello, I'm looking for the best neutral IEM I can find for a friend of mine.  I believe he does have a decent ear for audio as he has worked as a sound tech. for the past few years and has undoubtedly heard some decent equipment.  The problem is that he doesn't own any equipment that I would even consider owning.  Right now he is using some cheap Philips IEMs that are pretty bad, and since I can't afford good speakers, I think this is were I need to help him.  He owns a Cowon D2 and listens to a lot of music off of his new gaming laptop that I picked out for him.  I don't know what kind of sound card is in the laptop, but I'm sure its pretty decent as it is part of the new mobile i5/i7 chipset.  He is also big into tweaking EQ settings, something I am not a fan of but that's just me.  Because of this, I have decided that getting him some nice neutral sounding IEMs that he can tweak to his liking is the best route.  So here is what I'm looking at:

 

Head-Direct RE0:

 

I've heard amazing statements about these over the last couple of years.  I've heard people tell me that they compare favorably to the top tier of IEMs.  I'm a bit skeptical about that, but I am pretty sure that they are a great value.  From what I've read, these are extremely neutral, clear, and accurate IEMs which seems like a good option.  Then again I might be biased towards these because I'm personally dying to try them.

 

Sleek Audio SA6:

 

Digital EQ is nice and all, but these things allow you to tweak them with different filters and such.  I've always felt this was a dumb gimmick, but I also feel similar toward EQ so I guess I'm biased.  The problem is that I'm not exactly convinced that these will out class the RE0s and they cost almost twice as much.

 

Etymotic HF5:

 

Basically I've heard that these are very good and can come close to the ER4s overall.  Since they are Etymotic, I know that they will be very neutral, accurate, and have great clarity.  How this compares to the much cheaper RE0s, I have no idea, and since the RE0 was plagued by the FOTM status, its hard to find reliable information.

 

So what do you guys think?

post #2 of 36

Fischer Audio DBA-02:

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/478568/multi-iem-review-91-iems-compared-fischer-dba-02-ath-ck90pro-phaiton-ps200-q-jays-added-07-26

post #3 of 36
Thread Starter 

The review of those sounds very promising, despite them being on the upper limit of my price range.  My main problem is that their build quality absolutely looks like shit, which is scaring me away a bit.  I will do some research into these yet.

post #4 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Blood_Raven View Post

The review of those sounds very promising, despite them being on the upper limit of my price range.  My main problem is that their build quality absolutely looks like shit, which is scaring me away a bit.  I will do some research into these yet.

Build quality look decent on these; I'm looking forward to purchasing these sometime.

 

They're on sale for $145 until August 5 so I suggest to be wary of that:

http://www.bugdenaudio.com/store/fischer-audio-dba-02.html

 

Edit: By the way the RE-0 are definitely amazing IEM's there's no doubt about it.. I was a bit shocked when I listened to them; in fact I'm a little skeptical if purchasing the DBA-02 would be worth it.
 


Edited by bisayaboi - 7/29/10 at 1:55pm
post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bisayaboi View Post



Build quality look decent on these; I'm looking forward to purchasing these sometime.

 

They're on sale for $145 until August 5 so I suggest to be wary of that:

http://www.bugdenaudio.com/store/fischer-audio-dba-02.html

 

Edit: By the way the RE-0 are definitely amazing IEM's there's no doubt about it.. I was a bit shocked when I listened to them; in fact I'm a little skeptical if purchasing the DBA-02 would be worth it.
 


Yeah I'm having a hard time seeing the extra $70 with those.  I think the cable quality is excellent on the Fischers, but the actual plastic casing on the buds looks, and from the review sounds, pretty poor.  I'm not sure since I don't have them in front of me, but I can't guarantee my friend will be all that careful with them.  That said, the Fischers do look good.  Basically RE0 sound quality with a larger soundstage, from what I can gather.

 

As always, making a decision here on Head-Fi is extremely difficult.

post #6 of 36

In general, I think your choice should be between the RE0 and the DBA-02.

The RE0 is excellent straight out of a DAP, but to reach it's full potential (for which it is often praised) it needs a lot of juice.

 

The DBA-02 was designed to be used straight out of a DAP.

 

If you are planning on (ever) getting an amp, I would go for the RE0. If not, I would probably go for the DBA-02. But the best judge is your ears, try to get your hands on a pair of both. If you have heard the RE0 and liked it, just stick with it.

post #7 of 36

I also would recommend the DBA2, from the people I have talked with they are extremely good sound wise and I have not heard any big issues with build quality. The RE0 are bass light from what I have read something which you can't easily fix with an EQ.

post #8 of 36
Quote:

Originally Posted by The_Blood_Raven View Post

 

Etymotic HF5:

 

Basically I've heard that these are very good and can come close to the ER4s overall.  Since they are Etymotic, I know that they will be very neutral, accurate, and have great clarity.  How this compares to the much cheaper RE0s, I have no idea, and since the RE0 was plagued by the FOTM status, its hard to find reliable information.

 

So what do you guys think?



FOTM status of RE0's doesnt necessarily mean they are bad....All those amazing statements about RE0s are true.To answer your question the chances that your friend will like them are less.my two cents

post #9 of 36

I recently tried the monster foam supertips with the RE0 and I heard a big increase in bass response. All of the other tips that I have tried made the bass sound anemic. For me, they bring out the fun factor along with excellent clarity.


Edited by Rip N' Burn - 7/29/10 at 2:36pm
post #10 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by asrphani View Post





FOTM status of RE0's doesnt necessarily mean they are bad....All those amazing statements about RE0s are true.To answer your question the chances that your friend will like them are less.my two cents


What I meant was that I have to be a little more skeptical about the early RE0 reviews and such, I still suspect them the be great.  You don't think my friend will like the RE0s?  Do you believe I'm looking for the wrong qualities?

post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 

I should also note, that he mostly listens to rock and hard rock, so I don't really think he will be too worried about bass as those are not bass heavy genres.

post #12 of 36

You do realize that the RE0 has been out for around 2 years which means it has passed the test of time to see if it is just popular for that one month or a quality product. I think it's longevity speaks for itself.

post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rip N' Burn View Post

I recently tried the monster foam supertips with the RE0 and I heard a big increase in bass response. All of the other tips that I have tried made the bass sound anemic. For me, they bring out the fun factor along with excellent clarity.


Thats an idea.  RE0 w/ Monster tips.  You aren't missing anything in the upper registers w/ the smaller canal hole?

post #14 of 36

At $99, you might also consider the RE-Zero. They're basically an RE0 in a prettier colour with a better balanced sound signature (slightly more bass, toned down treble, more pronounced mids). They're driven nicely straight out of a DAP too, unlike their brother. Only real annoyance is the balanced TRRS connector and adaptor you have to use, but you'll have to ask your friend how he feels about that.

FYI I haven't heard them yet, but I've got a pair slowly making their way towards me from China, and from the reviews and comments I've read they sound great for your situation.

post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post




Thats an idea.  RE0 w/ Monster tips.  You aren't missing anything in the upper registers w/ the smaller canal hole?


I really didn't detect any major changes with the highs. The only thing that really caught my attention was the bass. Even with these tips, the RE0 is still nowhere near a bass heavy iem.

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