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CK100, UM3X, SE535, SM3, IE8 – A Journey - Page 2

post #16 of 90

I think the CK100 have a more accented voice than the e-Q7 and that is what makes them less appealing for certain musics. If you like the CK100's sound, you will really love it. I am a fan for sure, especially at the price (especially in Japan), the quality and sound are very good, but the sound is accented. It will be getting high honours from at TouchMyApps in a soon to be published round up.

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post #17 of 90
Thread Starter 

I haven't heard the e-Q7 so I wouldn't know if the CK100s have a "more accented voice" or if the sound is on the whole "accented".

I'm more of the opinion that many phones are coloured and sound more 'exciting' as a result of adding more bass & treble with a dip in the mid frequencies. This also helps create the illusion of a bigger sound/ head-stage

I find the CK100s a very neutral phone, and very natural sounding, and I know they would be considered somewhat boring by quite a few people. I find their frequency response along the whole spectrum superb and very exciting to these ears.

Also today, for a few minutes, I switched to my ES3X (customs) -- an IEM I find very neutral too, with exceptional mids -- and I didn't notice as 'big' a difference as I did the first time I A/B'd them soon after got the CK100s out of the box. That first time (2 days ago) the difference was clear but still acceptable for me to consider keeping the CK100s. Today the difference is there but less marked.

I'm not really a believer in burn-in and even less with BA phones, but perhaps there's been some sort of burn-in of the crossover and/ or whatever else as I've been finding the bass and treble having slightly better extension - been noticing this more since yesterday (my second day with the CK100s).

I'll say this again: the CK100s are NOT bass light, but they're definitely not for bass-heads or treble-heads.

Right now, and for the first time, I'm thinking of keeping the CK100s and selling the UM3X, but I'm not 100% sure yet. I want to wait a few more days still. This time, unlike when selling off the SE535s & SM3s -- where I knew straightaway, without a shadow of a doubt, they weren't good enough by a big margin--, I need more time to be absolutely, positively sure; the UM3X is a superb IEM too. But today, for the very first time, the CK100 seems to be heading to the # 1 position as far as universal IEMs is concerned. I honestly did not expect them to be just this good - this good to what my ears tell me is a good sounding phone, that is.
 

post #18 of 90

Thanks @music_4321 for your impressions! Though the CK100 did never make it among my very favourite phones, I still consider their highs probably the best I've ever heard.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by violinvirtuoso View Post

FWIR, the CK100 is very dependent on your source. So the bigger differences might have occurred because of a non-synergistic source. I am curious, what do people consider a good match (DAP-wise) for the CK100?


Out of all DAPs I've tried the Sony A845 had clearly the best synergy with the CK100. music_4321's Sony X is more or less the same DAP (plus touchscreen), so he's really lucky IMO.

post #19 of 90

It's funny how different the DAPs sound. I really like a couple of phones I'm clearly less fond of now due to the firmware I was using in a fuze. It's was very synergistic with these midcentric IEMs and Rockbox sounded forward and a bit glassy. I still think a Rockboxed fuze a bit tight but quite like it now with FLAC. These are all far from perfect so sometimes 2 not so terribly wrongs can make it seemingly more right. I also use an Ipod touch at times. It's clearly better than the fuze and other Ipods but the fuze is so wonderfully portable.


Edited by goodvibes - 9/8/10 at 2:18pm
post #20 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post


I'm not really a believer in burn-in and even less with BA phones, but perhaps there's been some sort of burn-in of the crossover and/ or whatever else as I've been finding the bass and treble having slightly better extension - been noticing this more since yesterday (my second day with the CK100s).


Right now, and for the first time, I'm thinking of keeping the CK100s and selling the UM3X, but I'm not 100% sure yet. I want to wait a few more days still. This time, unlike when selling off the SE535s & SM3s -- where I knew straightaway, without a shadow of a doubt, they weren't good enough by a big margin--, I need more time to be absolutely, positively sure; the UM3X is a superb IEM too. But today, for the very first time, the CK100 seems to be heading to the # 1 position as far as universal IEMs is concerned. I honestly did not expect them to be just this good - this good to what my ears tell me is a good sounding phone, that is.
 


1. Concerning the first paragraph, I don't put that much emphasis on the burn in process; some people have said that the crossovers do benefit from burn in but personally I just listen to the cans.

 

On the other hand if they are full sized headphones (I haven't had any dynamic driver IEMs yet) then burn in can play a big difference; how big though depends on the headphones.

 

PS: I'm not proving a point or anything, just commenting on what you were saying :)

 

2: The CK100s are that good? That's great to hear, I have had the UM3Xs before and you say they might be better? Care to post what you like over them? Back when I had them I loved the imaging, detail, and sense of fullness the UM3Xs brought. 

post #21 of 90
Thread Starter 

I haven't done any more A/B'ing with my UM3X since the day I got my CK100s; two reasons for this: a) Since I liked them so much out of the box, I wanted to get the full flavour of the CK100s and b) I sent my new UM3X back to Westone yesterday as there seems to be a 'rattling' problem with some sets from the first batch (?), so I decided to get a replacement to be absolutely sure I have a fully working pair - I didn't experience any problems myself but might have in the future, so better get a replacement now.

But yesterday, as mentioned on my previous post, I A/B'd my CK100s against my ES3X and noticed a slight better performance from the former as a possible result of burn-in.

So, what makes me think I might end up selling my UM3X right now? Hard to tell, really, and my intention was to do a final, more extensive, A/B'ing at the weekend, but right now I think the CK100s are ever so slightly more neutral. That's why I said I think more people may find them a little less exciting than the UM3X. But I find this slight flatter response just a little more appealing. Paradoxically the CK100s sounded closer to my ES3X yesterday (haven't A/B'd them today and don't intend to) than the 2 previous days; paradoxically because the UM3X always sounded very similar to my ES3X, but not that good obviously, and they are, after all, cousins/ brothers.

Funnily, now and again I catch myself trying to find something wrong with the CK100s, perhaps because of the fear of making the wrong decision if I sell my UM3Xs - this is just how close they are in my concept of good sounding phones. I'm also trying to avoid the pitfalls of the novelty factor, ie "Yeah, this is a different IEM, sounds great, not many people have it or can afford to have it, therefore I like it, it's the best" This turned out to be the last top-tier I happened to test but it really wasn't my intention to do so, and it really happened by chance after I saw that post (not about the CK100s) mentioning the CK100s in passing. In fact, the opposite is true as the first top-tier backup I tried recently was the IE8, a very popular IEM and not as expensive (at least in the UK) as the SE535, SM3 & CK100, and, in fact I did like the IE8s, but like I said before they weren't good enough to keep - the gap, in the end, in SQ between them and my ES3X was wider than the gap I remembered from my first set of UM3Xs.

Other aspects that have possibly also made the CK100 my #1 universal at the moment is the comfort, isolation, fantastic cable, and VERY importantly, just like my UM3X, absolutely no listening fatigue after long listening sessions. The UM3X is also excellent in all those areas! The CK100 has better build quality but the new UM3X has a detachable cable.

Mids and treble I still find a little puzzling how brilliant they're rendered, though less puzzling than before - how can they blend so well? The bass, I'm appreciating it a lot too. Basically, a great flat response along the whole freq range.

I wouldn't try to convince others to get the CK100s because I remain convinced many people will not value what I find valuable in the CK100s. But those who do 'get it' with these IEMs, they'll be hooked, I think.

I will be very fair and when my replacement UM3X gets here, I'll give them a very fair last try and then make my final decision. I know it sounds like I'll be keeping my CK100s, but I'm not 100% sure, not counting my chickens yet. Like I said already, the UM3X to me is truly a great IEM.

post #22 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

Like I said already, the UM3X to me is truly a great IEM.


You said that already? I must have missed it the first time.

post #23 of 90


Thank you music for your impressions.it was a nice read and wonderful pics.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post


And no, at this stage I cannot say I prefer the CK100 over my UM3X, but I'm very, very impressed still with the former. My guess is the UM3X may sound more engaging/ appealing to more people, but that's just my guess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

there is nothing engaging about um3x.not even their very intimate presentation..But then,you know how much i hate the um3x and i know how much you like it

 

i want to get the ck100 to be my daily iem for university and leave jh13 at home but i am a bit afraid of ear pressure.ck10 gave me ear pressure and blockage and it seems that the ck100 has the same fit and very deep insertion.

 

post #24 of 90
Thread Starter 

midoo, a couple of observations re: the CK100:

I had the CK10 (as can be seen in my sig) and found it had a more pronounced treble and noticeably less bass than the CK100, without making the latter a bass-head's phone. Both UM3X & IE8 have more bass quantity, though I find the UM3X's bass more refined and with better extension than the IE8's.

As for the fit, I personally had problems with the CK10s and find the ergonomics of the CK100s considerably better, comfort and isolation much more easily achieved. Also, although |joker| states the CK100s can be worn with the cable down, this really isn't the case. Yes, they can be worn with the cable down but the way the housing and strain relief have been designed does not allow for a good seal, isolation & SQ. Audio-Technica specifically indicate how the CK100 must be worn, over the ear.

Lastly, because of the great balance, in my view, of bass, mids, and treble, don't expect a 'wide' soundstage; I find the CK100s & UM3X similarly intimate, so be warned as you might find them more 'boring' than the UM3X - I know I don't. One of the strengths of the CK100s (and UM3X), to me, is precisely the mids, which I would NOT call forward, yet clearly present, very natural, lifelike. IEMs with this type of mids presentation will not give you the 'wider' soundstage commonly associated with phones that have a more V-shaped type of sound.

I insist the CK100 is not an IEM that many would find exciting. However, those striving to find a very neutral and natural sounding phone - which often translates as a rather boring kind of phone - will likely find it excellent and very exciting in its own particular way.


Edited by music_4321 - 9/10/10 at 2:53pm
post #25 of 90

Each product has a unique flavor.  Some you like.  Some you don't.  In the end, it is a matter of personal preference.

 

However, when I am attempting to review a product, I do try to remove as much bias as possible and look a the core functions of the earphones.  Basically I see what they do, not what I like or dislike about them. 

 

The UM3X is an odd duck.  It's a product I have come to view more as a tool than a musical device.  It is a product that is very true to the original source and scales directly with the quality of that source.   It is a product that can reveal many sounds within a song, more so than most other products out there.  Unfortunately the presentation is more artificial enhancement than musical reproduction and it simply lacks realism and a life-like sense of sound.  I've owned and sold two pairs for the same reason.  I both love it and can't see a reason to keep it.  One thing I have tried to do is find a product that accurately portrays realism, not only something that has a realistic sound but can also portray life-like enegy, dynamics, space, etc.  That's incredibly hard to find it turns out.  Earphones like the C751, SE530, CK10, OK1, and DBA-02 all have very realistic sound in the sense that they portray information in a way that sound very like the real thing.  All of them however fall a touch short in one way or another that just limits what they offer.  The UM3X on the other hand is sort of the perfect artificial sound.  It is sort of the anti-real, and it does it really well.  That may sound bad, but it really isn't.  It just makes the UM3X less a musical device and more a tool.  The only problem is most people on this forum aren't looking for tools, so the UM3X is an odd fit despite how very good it really is from a functional standpoint.

post #26 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post

Each product has a unique flavor.  Some you like.  Some you don't.  In the end, it is a matter of personal preference.

 

However, when I am attempting to review a product, I do try to remove as much bias as possible and look a the core functions of the earphones.  Basically I see what they do, not what I like or dislike about them. 

 

The UM3X is an odd duck.  It's a product I have come to view more as a tool than a musical device.  It is a product that is very true to the original source and scales directly with the quality of that source.   It is a product that can reveal many sounds within a song, more so than most other products out there.  Unfortunately the presentation is more artificial enhancement than musical reproduction and it simply lacks realism and a life-like sense of sound.  I've owned and sold two pairs for the same reason.  I both love it and can't see a reason to keep it.  One thing I have tried to do is find a product that accurately portrays realism, not only something that has a realistic sound but can also portray life-like enegy, dynamics, space, etc.  That's incredibly hard to find it turns out.  Earphones like the C751, SE530, CK10, OK1, and DBA-02 all have very realistic sound in the sense that they portray information in a way that sound very like the real thing.  All of them however fall a touch short in one way or another that just limits what they offer.  The UM3X on the other hand is sort of the perfect artificial sound.  It is sort of the anti-real, and it does it really well.  That may sound bad, but it really isn't.  It just makes the UM3X less a musical device and more a tool.  The only problem is most people on this forum aren't looking for tools, so the UM3X is an odd fit despite how very good it really is from a functional standpoint.

Absolutely. That's exactly how I felt when I had them. They enabled me to analyze the music but I couldn't quite get an emotional reaction out of it. 
 

post #27 of 90
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post

Each product has a unique flavor.  Some you like.  Some you don't.  In the end, it is a matter of personal preference.

 

However, when I am attempting to review a product, I do try to remove as much bias as possible and look a the core functions of the earphones.  Basically I see what they do, not what I like or dislike about them. 

 

The UM3X is an odd duck.  It's a product I have come to view more as a tool than a musical device.  It is a product that is very true to the original source and scales directly with the quality of that source.   It is a product that can reveal many sounds within a song, more so than most other products out there.  Unfortunately the presentation is more artificial enhancement than musical reproduction and it simply lacks realism and a life-like sense of sound.  I've owned and sold two pairs for the same reason.  I both love it and can't see a reason to keep it.  One thing I have tried to do is find a product that accurately portrays realism, not only something that has a realistic sound but can also portray life-like enegy, dynamics, space, etc.  That's incredibly hard to find it turns out.  Earphones like the C751, SE530, CK10, OK1, and DBA-02 all have very realistic sound in the sense that they portray information in a way that sound very like the real thing.  All of them however fall a touch short in one way or another that just limits what they offer.  The UM3X on the other hand is sort of the perfect artificial sound.  It is sort of the anti-real, and it does it really well.  That may sound bad, but it really isn't.  It just makes the UM3X less a musical device and more a tool.  The only problem is most people on this forum aren't looking for tools, so the UM3X is an odd fit despite how very good it really is from a functional standpoint.


You are, of course, entitled to your opinion but I disagree with your assessment that the UM3X is more like a tool. I've personally never thought of them that way and have always found them very exciting and musical.

There are a number of musicians' IEMs, meant for professional use, which are not regarded as "tools" by most head-fiers, eg ES3X, JH13, and so on. The fact these IEMs were originally intended to be musicians' monitors has nothing to do, in my view, with regarding them as "tools".

I find the UM3X a very enjoyable IEM and do not agree with your view that "the presentation is more artificial enhancement than musical reproduction and it simply lacks realism and a life-like sense of sound". I think, on the whole, more people would find the UM3X less of a "tool" than the CK100.

To me, the UM3X & the CK100 are the most faithful, ie closer to the real thing, and musical universals IEMs I've heard to date. Of course this is only my opinion and refers only to the phones I've owned.


Edited by music_4321 - 9/11/10 at 3:48pm
post #28 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post


 


You are, of course, entitled to your opinion but I disagree with your assessment that the UM3X is more like a tool. I've personally never thought of them that way and have always found them very exciting and musical.

There are a number of musicians' IEMs, meant for professional use, which are not regarded as "tools" by most head-fiers, eg ES3X, JH13, and so on. The fact these IEMs were originally intended to be musicians' monitors has nothing to do, in my view, with regarding them as "tools".

I find the UM3X a very enjoyable IEM and do not agree with your view that "the presentation is more artificial enhancement than musical reproduction and it simply lacks realism and a life-like sense of sound". I think, on the whole, more people would find the UM3X less of a "tool" than the CK100.

To me, the UM3X & the CK100 are the most faithful, ie closer to the real thing, and musical universals IEMs I've heard to date. Of course this is only my opinion and refers only to the phones I've owned.


Hmm.... I disagree with what you're saying... but personally I think... I think I know where he's coming from. To me, when I said that they are more like a tool (not here but in other threads).... the UM3Xs are so good at separating instruments, so good at imaging and soundstage, placement of the instruments.... good enough to where I can hear and "see" each string on a violin as it is being played...

 

And what I think people are saying (correct me if I'm wrong anyone) is that with detail and that sort of presentation, it is easy to focus on those explicit parts rather than the whole of the music. It's like putting huge shiny rims on a car. You see the car going down the street and all you remember is the rims and tires.... if asked what kind of car it was 20 minutes later you're more than likely not going to know because you only NOTICED the rims.... same with these IEMs. 

 

The detail and small nuances all stand out and instead of the music blending together.... it just doesn't sound natural. When you're in a concert hall you can't hear each individual string on a violin in that exact place, you hear THE VIOLIN. You see the string and the sound comes from the violin but you can't close your eyes and hear each string and "point" to that string....

 

(not saying you can't... but each minute thing is accentuated with these IEMs to where it isn't real). Basically... I feel like thse things might take away from the overall experience. Another example, when listening to a piano solo, do you listen for the footpedals or the piano? UM3Xs.... you are listening to the foot pedal, single keys, the person moving in the seat, people breathing or coughing... and don't get me wrong, I love hearing those small nuances in my music, it's just I don't want that to be up front, being most noticeable. I want to hear the MUSIC.

 

That's just how I feel. 

post #29 of 90
Thread Starter 

^^ I guess it all comes down to what one finds exciting or musical.

For example, I enjoyed the IE8, it was 'fun' and I prefer it over the SE535 & SM3, SE530 & CK10 and maybe W3 (been too long to remember exactly). But, at the time I had the IE8s I missed the clarity AND instrument separation the UM3X gave me. To me, such detail is part of the massive enjoyment of and connection with music. It's almost like preferring stereo over mono recordings, though I know there may be those who prefer the latter.

For me, the fact the UM3X could place & define instruments so well made it render music more faithfully, more lifelike. And this kind of excellent instrument separation and placement does not always cause me to be analysing each and every instrument in a given piece of music. At times I do, but out of sheer enjoyment or wonderment at the way a particular instrument is clearly defined when, for instance, hearing a good bass & drums combo or a string quartet. This sort of '3D' (for lack of a better term) type of presentation is tremendously exciting. I don't find myself being distracted by this, quite the contrary, it becomes very engaging, where I find myself often listening for longer periods than I really should.

With my ES3X this happens to a greater extent as the clarity, imaging & excitement are even bigger.

For me things become 'problematic', and in fact they have become 'problematic', when a certain frequency is very dominant or lacking, something I recently experienced with the SE535 & SM3, with the latter being quite veiled & muddy, and the former being a bit bright and bass light. To me the better the instrument separation & imaging the bigger an asset an IEM has and therefore the more enjoyment I get; if you then add balance & neutrality, well...that's what I get from the UM3X, CK100 & ES3X. The CK10, W3 & SE530 also had, to these ears, some kind of imbalance that made me get rid of them.

But again, there seem to be plenty of SE535 enthusiasts these days - though I attribute this more to the new design & aesthetics of the SE535, ie "This IEM looks and feels so, so good and is so expensive that I've got to like it somehow" plus the fact that it's one of the latest new & shiny toys out there. The SM3 is an IEM where quite a few people have tried to change its original sound sig either by trying all manner of tips, or tried modding or EQ'ing them, which makes me think quite a few of these people are really trying to convince themselves the SM3 really is a good IEM when it isn't.

(The above paragraph will no doubt provoke reactions)

Of course there will be genuine people who will prefer the SE535 & SM3's SQ over the UM3X's. My ears led me to believe that if a blind test was carried out, more people would actually prefer the UM3X. My ears also tell me that in a blind test more people would prefer the UM3X over the CK100, but today I still find the CK100 just a little closer to MY preference, and can't wait to A/B them again against my UM3X.

post #30 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post
 
...Of course there will be genuine people who will prefer the SE535 & SM3's SQ over the UM3X's. My ears led me to believe that if a blind test was carried out, more people would actually prefer the UM3X. My ears also tell me that in a blind test more people would prefer the UM3X over the CK100, but today I still find the CK100 just a little closer to MY preference, and can't wait to A/B them again against my UM3X


I personally liked the SM3 better than the UM3X (tried at Can Jam, not completely valid), but how would you conduct a true blind test with IEMs? They feel different in my ears, so I can easily tell which is which.

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