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looking to buy IEM's between $300-$1100 within the next 1-3 months

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

hello!

 

i have hidden certain parts of this post to avoid tl;dr :)

 

first, if u would like to suggest Westone 3 or Shure SE535, please read the backstory (#1). if not, feel free to skip it.

 

the reason for the wide budget is because i've also been looking at the full-size Hifiman HE-5LE/EF5 combo and it costs $1100.

 

the question is - are there any IEM's with a street (or ebay) price of $1100 or under (not requiring an amp) that are in the same league as the Hifiman combo?

 

if yes, then please read #2.

 

if not, then please give any feedback or suggestions about the HE-5LE/EF5 combo and it's competition (same price range including headphones and amp).

 

in case it matters, my music likes, source, and listening preferences are in #3.

 

thank you!

 

 

 

Appendix:

 

#1: "backstory"

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

my gf wanted to get some new headphones and since i've been wanting an upgrade, i decided to give her my Shure E4c instead of her buying a $100 pair of lower-quality Shures. now i don't really know what to get.

 

my friend let me borrow his Westone 3 and i like them, however there's a problem. the right earphone is louder than the left, which is especially noticeable for highs. i find this very annoying. i've had this problem with my E4c and i luckily i got them exchanged under warranty (without a bill, just with the date number on the jack). i just read that the westone 3 only have a 1-year warranty and i can't see any numbers on the earphones themselves, so my friend might be sol unless he bought them not too long ago. i don't want to tell him about this problem since if he hasn't noticed it, good for him. i listened to them for 2-3 days before i noticed the problem.

 

anyway, to be brief, although i find the sound from the Westone 3 satisfactory, i'm a bit scared of buying them since they come with only 1 year of warranty and from personal experience problems with hi-end headphones seem to be pretty common. i like the fact that the Shure SE535 are new and come with 2 years of warranty, however the lowest price i've seen is $430 on ebay. the westone 3 are $360 and i doubt that the shures sound better, since the SE530 cost less than the westones (correct me if i'm wrong). i also don't like the cord/jack on the Shures (i don't know if it's been fixed on the new ones, but yes i did have this problem on my E4c.

#2: "if yes"

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

i would prefer to get IEM's, since they (in descending order of importance):

- don't require an amp

- don't take a lot of space

- are portable

- block outside sound

- are inaudible to others

- are light

- i find them comfortable and have no trouble getting a good seal

 

please suggest IEM's that have 3 drivers or more. i don't care if they are universal or custom earpieces.

#3: "about me"

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

1) i only listen to different kinds of trance and house.

 

2) i will either use my laptop with a PCMCIA Creative Audigy 2ZS soundcard or my Sandisk Sansa Fuze portable MP3 player. i'm planning on eventually getting a ~$500 USB DAC.

 

3) the headphones/earphones must have the following sound-related qualities:

- groovy, generous, but very tight and fast bass

- pognant and pleasant mids

- clear, precise, but composed highs


Edited by fomoz - 8/5/10 at 11:34pm
post #2 of 16

Check out the Westone ES5, Earsonics EM3Pro, JH13/16, ACS T1, Unique Melody Mage/Miracle.  Havent heard the HE5 so cant help you there.

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

Check out the Westone ES5, Earsonics EM3Pro, JH13/16, ACS T1, Unique Melody Mage/Miracle.  Havent heard the HE5 so cant help you there.


thank you for your reply! can you please also list the street and/or authorized dealer prices (if you know them offhand)?

post #4 of 16

All of them are more or less around the $1000 range not including impressions and shipping except for the Mage which is around $600 I believe not including impressions, shipping and cable.

post #5 of 16

No, there's no IEM unamped that can compete with the HE-5LE's with anything approaching proper amplification. But IEM and Full Size Ortho's are Apples and Watermelons, not appropriate comparisons.

 

That being said, your asking now for 3 months from now.

 

A friend was a salesman at a nice high end store. A supposed customer came in and said to the salesman "I'm starting the Great Speaker Search!" My friend looked at him and said "Well when you're ready to finish the search come back and see me." and he turned around and walked away. Truly a priceless moment.

 

The point is it's late and I'm tired, so.... If you want something portable, buy IEM. If you want something better that's going to be tied to a listening location buy a full size. You need to figure out what you want before anyone can give you valid advice.

 

I just read your Spoilers - You are an IEM user that's what you want, why are you even bringing up the Full Size cans. Your wasting peoples time

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yikes View Post

I just read your Spoilers - You are an IEM user that's what you want, why are you even bringing up the Full Size cans. Your wasting peoples time

maybe i'm just really dumb, but i fail to see why you have branded me as an IEM user. i also don't understand why you say that they are different fruit. for the sake of this thread and the question at hand, they share one crucial characteristic: they both produce high quality sound for individual listening. i thought that from my post it was clear that i'm considering both. to further clarify, i would like the one with the highest sound quality, while staying within the stated budget. although i would also like to have portability, i must emphasize that it is a secondary factor. i apologize if i haven't put enough weight on this point in the original post.

 

i would also like to make another remark. if i need an amp, i might as well get the full-size cans. unlike what you may have assumed, i don't have a fetish for IEM's. due to my personal preferences (the secondary factor), i find that it would be unreasonable to get IEM's that require an external amp, because, for me, it would strip the IEM's of their main advantage.

 

in conclusion, i have assumed, perhaps naively, that all IEM's have low impedance. i guess that i'm wrong about that and i am sorry for my incompetence and lack of knowledge. i wouldn't make this thread if i knew everything i needed to know about this topic.

post #7 of 16

the click-to-show doohickys were neat.

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by fomoz View Post

maybe i'm just really dumb, but i fail to see why you have branded me as an IEM user. i also don't understand why you say that they are different fruit. for the sake of this thread and the question at hand, they share one crucial characteristic: they both produce high quality sound for individual listening. i thought that from my post it was clear that i'm considering both. to further clarify, i would like the one with the highest sound quality, while staying within the stated budget. although i would also like to have portability, i must emphasize that it is a secondary factor. i apologize if i haven't put enough weight on this point in the original post.

 

i would also like to make another remark. if i need an amp, i might as well get the full-size cans. unlike what you may have assumed, i don't have a fetish for IEM's. due to my personal preferences (the secondary factor), i find that it would be unreasonable to get IEM's that require an external amp, because, for me, it would strip the IEM's of their main advantage.

 

in conclusion, i have assumed, perhaps naively, that all IEM's have low impedance. i guess that i'm wrong about that and i am sorry for my incompetence and lack of knowledge. i wouldn't make this thread if i knew everything i needed to know about this topic.


No worries.  Dollar for dollar the general rule is Headphones rule.  Remember, the larger the canvas the easier it is to paint a pretty picture.  Ooh...science as art!  Maybe you should consider floor standing speakers as well.  

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post




No worries.  Dollar for dollar the general rule is Headphones rule.  Remember, the larger the canvas the easier it is to paint a pretty picture.  Ooh...science as art!  Maybe you should consider floor standing speakers as well.  

i wish, but not in this apartment :/
 

post #10 of 16

There won't be a whole lot of people who have heard the HE-5LE.  It's certainly a headphone I have interest in, but I would shell out that kind of cash unless I had a pile of money burning a hole in my pocket.

 

Because you seem geared to techno, I will point you towards the Triple.Fi 10.  Its a great earphone itself, but it's also especially good at the techno genre with its solid bass line, sweet highs, and strongly directional sound stage.  The only downsides for you would be possible fitment issues, crap warranty, and the seemingly abundant breakages of the cable and housing (although I never experienced anything with mine).  Given a rather short warranty given by Logitech for the UE brand, people tend to shy away from the product some.  Frankly, if you don't man-handle the things, you'll never break them, but not everyone is nice and caring to their products.  With the hardware you run, I know you're not rolling in cash, and I'm not quite certain why you're willing to toss down $1k on something so readily.  Bang for the buck should be the name of the game.  I will say a few things.  First the Audigy card is decent, but with some of these very good headphones you will start to see the limits of the sound quality of the card.  You may want to think about investing in an amp sooner.  Something like Practical Devices XM5 is a really great package with high sound quality and extras at a good price.  The goal here is to get a good built in DAC to replace the Audigy.  It'll run through the USB and act as your sound card.  The audio quality is very good and without noise.  You also need an amp that is robust enough to work with a wide variety of products, i.e. powerful enough.  The XM5 is good on this front too and does even have a buffer option to aid high output situations with larger cans.  In terms of IEMs, the Triple.Fi 10 was cheap over winter but getting back to old pricing now.  It can still be found for around $150 which is a great deal for them and what they offer.  Order some Comply T-500 tips (a small/medium/large pack available), and it will make fitment a whole lot easier.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post

There won't be a whole lot of people who have heard the HE-5LE.  It's certainly a headphone I have interest in, but I would shell out that kind of cash unless I had a pile of money burning a hole in my pocket.

 

Because you seem geared to techno, I will point you towards the Triple.Fi 10.  Its a great earphone itself, but it's also especially good at the techno genre with its solid bass line, sweet highs, and strongly directional sound stage.  The only downsides for you would be possible fitment issues, crap warranty, and the seemingly abundant breakages of the cable and housing (although I never experienced anything with mine).  Given a rather short warranty given by Logitech for the UE brand, people tend to shy away from the product some.  Frankly, if you don't man-handle the things, you'll never break them, but not everyone is nice and caring to their products.  With the hardware you run, I know you're not rolling in cash, and I'm not quite certain why you're willing to toss down $1k on something so readily.  Bang for the buck should be the name of the game.  I will say a few things.  First the Audigy card is decent, but with some of these very good headphones you will start to see the limits of the sound quality of the card.  You may want to think about investing in an amp sooner.  Something like Practical Devices XM5 is a really great package with high sound quality and extras at a good price.  The goal here is to get a good built in DAC to replace the Audigy.  It'll run through the USB and act as your sound card.  The audio quality is very good and without noise.  You also need an amp that is robust enough to work with a wide variety of products, i.e. powerful enough.  The XM5 is good on this front too and does even have a buffer option to aid high output situations with larger cans.  In terms of IEMs, the Triple.Fi 10 was cheap over winter but getting back to old pricing now.  It can still be found for around $150 which is a great deal for them and what they offer.  Order some Comply T-500 tips (a small/medium/large pack available), and it will make fitment a whole lot easier.

this is interesting, i'll have too look into the triple.fi 10. one year warranty is a bit unimpressive tho, since i've had problems with several iem's so far...
 

post #12 of 16

In general, I agree that headphones are better than IEMs. But IEMs can't be beat in their detailed presentation. I had the Triple.Fi 10 at one point, and I think the Earsonics SM3 is a clear upgrade over it. You can find it for about $300 shipped (from soundearphones.com).

 

Note: I would not go with Comply Tips as they suck out the highs of any IEM (I have tried).

 

Again, if you are truly willing to smack down a grand, look into top-tier customs. Like Anaxilus said, look into Westone ES5, Ultimate Ears UE18, JHA JH-13/16, Earsonics EM3, etc. If I were you (and you can't make it to a meet), I would buy a top-tier universal from a place that has a 30-Day money back deal. Then if you like the SQ, you can keep it. If you don't, try a different IEM. Once you find a sound signature you like (but are not fully pleased with) go with that companies customs. So if you like the Earsonics SM3, go for the EM3. Like the Westone 3? Go for the ES5. The only problem is if you want JHA or Unique Melody Customs. You can ask to try out JHA Customs in a universal shell, but it won't be the same.

post #13 of 16

Be careful on the concept of upgrade.  Many times an "upgrade" is more a side step than a real improvement.  Each person will find different products upgrades from other products, and this is purely based on what sound characteristics and fit, comfort, isolation, build, etc. they seek from their products.  The best option is what fits you best.  I can list off a dozen products I've used from $200 to $400 that operate on the same level as each other holistically but offer vastly different sound characteristics.  It's all about trade-offs.

 

Yes on the Comply tips.  One would use them specifically to suck out an excess of highs.  Since the Triple.Fi 10 has high end emphasis, it would be a beneficial route.  Similar can be said for something like the CK10 and purposing using a Comply tip to tame the high end.  On a well balanced earphone, I would step to a different tip, most likely a decored/recored Shure Olive tip.

post #14 of 16

You should maybe take a look at starkey sa 43, it is abit unique compare to other Custom iems and SQ is really nice.(that is what i read atleast, but i have tried SA-22 and SA-12 really nice^^)

Here`s a link for review worth looking at http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/494930/review-starkey-sa-43-jh-13-pro-jh-16-pro

TUNZ in usa is the same company as starkey i think, im going to get a confirm on that soon. link: www.trytunz.com/.

 

post #15 of 16

time's up, what did you get?

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