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CK100, UM3X, SE535, SM3, IE8 – A Journey - Page 3

post #31 of 90
Thread Starter 

^^ Of course, if you already know these IEMs, you'd know which is which. I was thinking of a blind test were those people trying these IEMs would not know beforehand which IEM is which. There are other variables to take into account, of course, but my thoughts were more along the lines of "If we could possibly do a blind test,..."

post #32 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

^^ 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.


Very good points. 

You stated you found the 535s clearer (better?) than the SM3s? Care to elaborate on that a bit? I mean if you want, that part especially caught my attention :)

 

But concerning your statement, I felt the same way back when I had my UM3Xs. Right when I got those I started getting a LOT of violin concertos along with cello pieces as well and I LOVED it with those IEMs. They would stay in my ears for at least 5 hours a day playing classical 90 percent of the time. Since I sold them I havne't listened to classical music since. Although that might change once I get my library straightened out :)

post #33 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.


I do agree.  The UM3X is one of my favorites and mainly for the reasons you describe.  I value the ability to be true to the original source.   My point is more along the lines of something actually sounding real.  Accurate reproduction is simply accurate.  I had a very hard time letting go of my UM3X the first time.  I can very well justify it more accurately portrays the source information than anything else I used.  I was very tempted to sell everything else I had and solely keep the UM3X.  Then I asked myself what was really important in reproducing sound.  What do I value more than anything else.  For me, that's realism, to have a sound that is so life-like and believable that it can actually fool you.  So, so few earphones out there can do this.  The problem I ran into with the UM3X is that it simply wasn't real.  It didn't sound real, at all.  It came across in a very artificial manner.  It portrayed real things with great accuracy but the sound itself didn't sound "real."  This is a big issue I have with a lot of earphones because I do place high value on this aspect.  I tried a second UM3X pair a while ago and some time after I sold my first pair.  I was toying with a whole new slew of earphones at the time and simply wanted to own another pair.  I missed it.  I owned the second pair for 2 weeks.  For as much as I like the earphone, I sold it again for the same reason.  The sound presented by it doesn't sound real, not even close.  Me calling it not real isn't bad really.  It's just that the sound presented is very artificial.  A musician plays a trumpet.  The UM3X portrays that trumpet sound in great detail.  It has texture, energy, dynamics, and variation.  You hear everything.  The UM3X presents that information really well.  But, that trumpet doesn't sound real at all.  It's not a life-like rendering.  It is a rendering of the information that's very good, but it's a rendering that's not do towards reality. 

 

A description of this might be like this.  You have real life.  You take a photograph.  A realistic sounding earphone is like that photograph of the real thing.  What you see looks very life-like, believable if you weren't aware that you were looking at a picture.  If it's good enough, it can trick you and at the very least you can see the details, shaping of dark to bright, and believe the illusion of depth and space.  Some lesser earphones (good or not) will skew that picture, enough so where you are aware of the fact that you're looking at a picture.  You know the picture is of a real thing, but you are well aware that it is a picture of that real thing.  The Triple.Fi 10 is a good example of this.  The UM3X is a different thing.  The UM3X is like a painting of that scene.  However, the goal of the painting is to make you very aware of everything that exists in the real thing.  It is done in a way that shows you all the details, shadows, depth, everything, but it's an artificial interpretation.  It's the kind of thing where if you took a photograph of a city street.  A realistic sounding earphone would be a photo of that real street and look just like that real street.  The UM3X is like telling a very, very good artist to draw that city street and include every little detail and nuance that exists in reality.  It isn't a photo of the real thing.  It is an artists recreation to represent it.  Everything is brought forward and into plain view.  You see everything, and at the same time it's very accurate in detail and still shows breadth of dark to bright, distancing, etc.  However, it isn't a real thing.  You can see what the street sign says even though it's 3 blocks away.  It isn't believable.  It's artificial.  It is a very good artificial and very accurately portrays the real source, but it's just not trying to recreate reality.  It's just trying to show you everything that's there.  This is why I call it a tool.  The UM3X doesn't try too fool you into thinking what it's creating is the real thing.  I've sold it twice specifically for this reason.  For me, I need an earphone that tries to fool me.  I need an earphone that has the sole goal of making the music sound real.

post #34 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Young Spade View Post

You stated you found the 535s clearer (better?) than the SM3s? Care to elaborate on that a bit? I mean if you want, that part especially caught my attention :)

 


The SE535 sounded somewhat thin and bright. I found it had more treble than my ears can take, specially when playing at louder volumes (never really loud, though) for longer periods. My biggest problem, though, was the bass. Whereas the treble was just a little much for me, the bass had a more pronounced dip, which made the SE535, overall, sound rather thin. Also, at times I felt the sound was a little grainy, almost as if I was using lower bit files. Decided to sell them the next day after just a few hrs' of listening time + 10 hrs' burn-in.

The SM3 had the right amount of bass, but it sounded muddy, and treble was VERY recessed. I would've sold them after 2 minutes, but I waited a few days as some people had reported very significant changes after a few days/ weeks. I noticed no change whatsoever as the days went by and they were sold after a few days.

EQ'ing would solve the treble & bass problems on the SE535s. With the SM3s EQ'ing had to be much more drastic in order to get close to what I regard as good sound reproduction. I try to avoid EQ'ing whenever possible and so I very rarely use EQ with my ES3X, CK100 or UM3X - probably 1% of the time, but that's more to do with the original recording & mastering than the actual IEMs doing something wrong.


Edited by music_4321 - 9/12/10 at 2:12am
post #35 of 90

Replacing the filter on the SM3 with a foam filter drastically changes the sound. Clarity makes a big jump and bass remains unchanged. I think that the modded SM3 should sound more like a SE535, but with better bass and treble extension (?).

post #36 of 90
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post


The problem I ran into with the UM3X is that it simply wasn't real.  It didn't sound real, at all.  It came across in a very artificial manner... The sound presented by it doesn't sound real, not even close.  Me calling it not real isn't bad really.  It's just that the sound presented is very artificial...

 

...The UM3X is like a painting of that scene.  However, the goal of the painting is to make you very aware of everything that exists in the real thing.  It is done in a way that shows you all the details, shadows, depth, everything, but it's an artificial interpretation.  It's the kind of thing where if you took a photograph of a city street.  A realistic sounding earphone would be a photo of that real street and look just like that real street.  The UM3X is like telling a very, very good artist to draw that city street and include every little detail and nuance that exists in reality.  It isn't a photo of the real thing.  It is an artists recreation to represent it.  Everything is brought forward and into plain view.  You see everything, and at the same time it's very accurate in detail and still shows breadth of dark to bright, distancing, etc.  However, it isn't a real thing.  You can see what the street sign says even though it's 3 blocks away.  It isn't believable.  It's artificial.  It is a very good artificial and very accurately portrays the real source, but it's just not trying to recreate reality...

 


Taking your painting vs photograph analogy all I can say at this stage is that, to me, the UM3X is not like a very good painting with plenty of detail as you seem to perceive them. I see them more as a very good photograph, and the ES3X being an even better (higher resolution) photograph. Your analogy of a 'good' painting vs a good photograph is perhaps how I perceive other phones, or perhaps I perceive them more as photographs with wrong exposure, shutter speed, etc. (IE8, SE535, CK10, W3) or at times even a little blurry (SM3, SE530). Yet some of these photos may still be very nice, using Photoshop (IE8, W3).

I definitely don't 'see' just a good painting using the UM3X specially when listening to some excellent Jazz & Classical recordings I own.


Edited by music_4321 - 9/12/10 at 5:04am
post #37 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post




I do agree.  The UM3X is one of my favorites and mainly for the reasons you describe.  I value the ability to be true to the original source.   My point is more along the lines of something actually sounding real.  Accurate reproduction is simply accurate.  I had a very hard time letting go of my UM3X the first time.  I can very well justify it more accurately portrays the source information than anything else I used.  I was very tempted to sell everything else I had and solely keep the UM3X.  Then I asked myself what was really important in reproducing sound.  What do I value more than anything else.  For me, that's realism, to have a sound that is so life-like and believable that it can actually fool you.  So, so few earphones out there can do this.  The problem I ran into with the UM3X is that it simply wasn't real.  It didn't sound real, at all.  It came across in a very artificial manner.  It portrayed real things with great accuracy but the sound itself didn't sound "real."  This is a big issue I have with a lot of earphones because I do place high value on this aspect.  I tried a second UM3X pair a while ago and some time after I sold my first pair.  I was toying with a whole new slew of earphones at the time and simply wanted to own another pair.  I missed it.  I owned the second pair for 2 weeks.  For as much as I like the earphone, I sold it again for the same reason.  The sound presented by it doesn't sound real, not even close.  Me calling it not real isn't bad really.  It's just that the sound presented is very artificial.  A musician plays a trumpet.  The UM3X portrays that trumpet sound in great detail.  It has texture, energy, dynamics, and variation.  You hear everything.  The UM3X presents that information really well.  But, that trumpet doesn't sound real at all.  It's not a life-like rendering.  It is a rendering of the information that's very good, but it's a rendering that's not do towards reality. 

 

A description of this might be like this.  You have real life.  You take a photograph.  A realistic sounding earphone is like that photograph of the real thing.  What you see looks very life-like, believable if you weren't aware that you were looking at a picture.  If it's good enough, it can trick you and at the very least you can see the details, shaping of dark to bright, and believe the illusion of depth and space.  Some lesser earphones (good or not) will skew that picture, enough so where you are aware of the fact that you're looking at a picture.  You know the picture is of a real thing, but you are well aware that it is a picture of that real thing.  The Triple.Fi 10 is a good example of this.  The UM3X is a different thing.  The UM3X is like a painting of that scene.  However, the goal of the painting is to make you very aware of everything that exists in the real thing.  It is done in a way that shows you all the details, shadows, depth, everything, but it's an artificial interpretation.  It's the kind of thing where if you took a photograph of a city street.  A realistic sounding earphone would be a photo of that real street and look just like that real street.  The UM3X is like telling a very, very good artist to draw that city street and include every little detail and nuance that exists in reality.  It isn't a photo of the real thing.  It is an artists recreation to represent it.  Everything is brought forward and into plain view.  You see everything, and at the same time it's very accurate in detail and still shows breadth of dark to bright, distancing, etc.  However, it isn't a real thing.  You can see what the street sign says even though it's 3 blocks away.  It isn't believable.  It's artificial.  It is a very good artificial and very accurately portrays the real source, but it's just not trying to recreate reality.  It's just trying to show you everything that's there.  This is why I call it a tool.  The UM3X doesn't try too fool you into thinking what it's creating is the real thing.  I've sold it twice specifically for this reason.  For me, I need an earphone that tries to fool me.  I need an earphone that has the sole goal of making the music sound real.


Very accurate and detailed description of the phones. Thank you for taking the time to post that. 

post #38 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post




The SE535 sounded somewhat thin and bright. I found it had more treble than my ears can take, specially when playing at louder volumes (never really loud, though) for longer periods. My biggest problem, though, was the bass. Whereas the treble was just a little much for me, the bass had a more pronounced dip, which made the SE535, overall, sound rather thin. Also, at times I felt the sound was a little grainy, almost as if I was using lower bit files. Decided to sell them the next day after just a few hrs' of listening time + 10 hrs' burn-in.

The SM3 had the right amount of bass, but it sounded muddy, and treble was VERY recessed. I would've sold them after 2 minutes, but I waited a few days as some people had reported very significant changes after a few days/ weeks. I noticed no change whatsoever as the days went by and they were sold after a few days.

EQ'ing would solve the treble & bass problems on the SE535s. With the SM3s EQ'ing had to be much more drastic in order to get close to what I regard as good sound reproduction. I try to avoid EQ'ing whenever possible and so I very rarely use EQ with my ES3X, CK100 or UM3X - probably 1% of the time, but that's more to do with the original recording & mastering than the actual IEMs doing something wrong.


Ah ok thank's for the writeup. 

Coming from the K702s, it's taking me some time to get used to the sound signature (and increased pronunciation in the mids I might add) so I have been doing a little EQing, although a lot less than when I first got them :)

 

I gave it a tad extra in the treble and bass regions, not too much but just enough. I'm using my Samsung Captivate now, it sounds... just about as good as the sflo2; I love it. But concerning your thoughts on people saying the SM3s changed over time, I too think that's not really the case.

 

I could say the same now about these if I didn't really think about it; it's more of my mind getting accustomed to the sound signature rather than initial changes in the sound itself. I do love these phones though and I'm glad I got them. 

post #39 of 90
Thread Starter 

I did say on the SE535 & SM3 threads that one can easily get used to a particular phone and even think it's quite good. Our memory of events and perceptions can indeed be very deceiving. There are other variables which I will not go into here (mentioned elsewhere) that sometimes make us think one phone is better than another.

I was 'fortunate' to be able to do a direct comparison between my ES3X, UM3X, SE535 & SM3. Now I can only do a direct comparison between the ES3X, UM3X & CK100. My UM3X were sent back to Westone on Wednesday evening and for the last 6 days I've almost exclusively been listening to the CK100s.

This evening I went back to my ES3X and again I noticed a bigger difference in SQ - very similar to the very first day - between the ES3X & CK100 than the second time I compared them a couple of days ago. God, I just love the sound of my customs, the more I try any universal IEM the more impressed I am with the ES3X and my 'love' and respect for them is quickly renewed.

I can't wait to get the UM3Xs (replacements) back again to finally decide which one will I'll be keeping. After listening to my ES3X for just over an hour I cannot say right now I prefer the CK100s over the UM3Xs. Why? Because every single time in the last 15 months I've A/B'd the UM3X against the ES3X the results were very similar, ie the SQ distance between the two has always remained pretty much the same. This evening I have noticed a bigger SQ difference between the CK100s & ES3X, which makes me wonder whether I will indeed be keeping them. Right now I think it would be the UM3X - we'll see. I did say I they were very close and I needed more time to be 100% sure.

After 30 mins or so I tried to go back to the CK100s, but just couldn't, not that they were unbearable, no, absolutely not, but I needed that fuller, enveloping sound and extra extension my customs provide which have spoiled me for the last 15 months. This never happened with my UM3X to this extent, I could deal with the downgrade more easily. Not right now. Perhaps it's this recording of Beethoven's Piano Concertos (3rd & 4th) I'm listening to right now, but I just can't go back to my CK100s just now.

post #40 of 90

Question: Why keep getting IEMs then? I mean aren't customs better all around? And since you have the ES3Xs..... I don't see why you would go back to something else?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

I can't wait to get the UM3Xs (replacements) back again to finally decide which one will I'll be keeping. After listening to my ES3X for just over an hour I cannot say right now I prefer the CK100s over the UM3Xs. Why? Because every single time in the last 15 months I've A/B'd the UM3X against the ES3X the results were very similar, ie the SQ distance between the two has always remained pretty much the same. This evening I have noticed a bigger SQ difference between the CK100s & ES3X, which makes me wonder whether I will indeed be keeping them. Right now I think it would be the UM3X - we'll see. I did say I they were very close and I needed more time to be 100% sure.

post #41 of 90

Why not? It's better to have backups and such.

 

I have a pair of customs..well currently getting refit but there are times when I did have them there were situations when I would rather use earphones. One such is when I would rather have less isolation than more or when I'm in a place where I might get interrupted so would rather have something that is easier to take out.

post #42 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

Why not? It's better to have backups and such.

 

I have a pair of customs..well currently getting refit but there are times when I did have them there were situations when I would rather use earphones. One such is when I would rather have less isolation than more or when I'm in a place where I might get interrupted so would rather have something that is easier to take out.


Ah, ok good point; how hard is it to take out a custom? Granted I could see if I wanted something with a different sound signature or something, but that's cool. 

post #43 of 90

It's not difficult once you get past the learning curve. I watched a video on youtube showing you how as when I first saw them my reaction was... It's pretty in and out but not as fast as say my Eterna or RE-Zero. When I get them back hopefully soon I'll be lowering my universals but I do have times such as at home when universals are preferred.

post #44 of 90
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Young Spade View Post

Question: Why keep getting IEMs then? I mean aren't customs better all around? And since you have the ES3Xs..... I don't see why you would go back to something else?
 

 

I want a backup for those times when I don't want to take my customs out and about but still have great portable sound.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Young Spade View Post


Ah, ok good point; how hard is it to take out a custom? Granted I could see if I wanted something with a different sound signature or something, but that's cool. 

 

It takes me longer to insert the UM3X & CK100 than my customs, believe it or not - only one hand with my customs, 2 hands with the universals. Removing my customs takes me probably one second longer than both universals (basically trying to get a good grip of the earpieces, and all three are removed with one hand. This was not the case the first 2/3 weeks when I wasn't used to my customs and at the time it took longer than the UM3X, always using both hands. With the CK100s it takes me just a little longer than the UM3X to insert as I have to get the right seal, but it's only 1 or 2 seconds longer
 


Edited by music_4321 - 9/13/10 at 11:54am
post #45 of 90

I know I am not contributing here, but thank you for this thread. 

 

More than just the standard review statements and trying to explain where you are coming and really communicate concept.  

 

I will be shopping for a BA iem for a long time, so this is great.

 

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