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IEM's - ER4's -v- Shure E2C's? Sound isolation and freq response?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,


Posting a few posts here about my search for a new pair of headphones/earphones!  I've got another question on the headphone board regarding active noise reduction -v- IEM's (feel free to weigh in here if you want).


But, here goes the questions... I currently have the following:

1) Shure E2C's plagued with the damn plastic copper corrosion problem - love the sound on these, and the sound isolation is decent.

2) Apple IEM's dual drivers - they're decent - good sound reproduction from what I can tell, but the Shures beat them hands down on sound-isolation.  Honestly, I need more time back and forth to determine if I think the Apples have more punch at lows/highs - jury is still out.  [And could be influenced by bad sound isolation. - My guess is they didn't want the litigation of kids getting run over by cars walking the road- so they made them totally pass sound.]


What I need is a good pair of IEM's that will sound-isolate quite a bit (noisy office and lab).  I also want them to have great sound reproduction if possible.  That being said, the E2C's are great- if I can better those, I'll be pretty happy (without the cable problem if at all possible.


I've heard the ER4's have a bit of a loss of bass and may be a bit tinny or sharp- what's your opinion of them?  Any of you have had the e2c's and the ER4's?  Can you comment on sound isolation between the two and freq response?


Any and all comments greatly appreciated!



ps- was going to go with a used pair of PXC-450's- but am thinking the $170s or so is the dollar amount to spend- is the jury still out WRT dual and triple drivers?


(Thanks for the help!!)

post #2 of 3

IEM is better than active noise reduction because it doesn't introduce more sounds into your music. The other advantage of IEM is that they can handle sharp sounds (impacts, explosions etc.) better than a pair of active noise canceling headphones. This means that you could use IEM while shooting (if you shoot firearms). There is a small caveat however, that IEM do not handle low frequency isolation particularly well. Now back to your question, I'll assess dual vs. triple armature now. Generally speaking, if you have three IEM, single, dual, and triple armature, and each driver is crafted with equal quality, and exhibits similar traits (speed, clarity, etc.) more drivers will be ideal, however, there are many IEM developers who use multiple drivers as a gimmick, I feel that to some degree, custom IEMs will have a slight trade off in driver quality, the drivers are still better than a typical universal driver, but the companies start throwing numbers around. The reason for the improved sound quality though, is that three armatures means that each armature can handle a specific frequency range, if the armature is too tight, it will tend to sound brighter, or higher in general. Manufacturers use this to their advantage to give you a tweeter and two subwoofers (typically) that allows the bass to extend lower because the armature doesn't need to be balanced to hit both ends of the spectrum, this also allows treble to extend higher, and all areas to be louder and clearer. My gripe with typical triple drivers though, is that triple driver means two subs with a tweeter, which, IMO, makes them little better than the better double armature sets, I haven't had any experience with triple armature, so take that with a teaspoon of salt. What you look for with triple drivers is "three way" design, which has a sub, a mid range armature, and a tweeter, allowing maximum bass extension and treble extension, as well as the best possible balance and clarity. As for your E2Cs, trust me, there are IEM that you will like much more. The E2C has a good deal of bass with a veiled treble and heavily colored mids in addition to sibilance issues and a grainy quality (personal experience). You may enjoy the bass level, which I would say is a bit lower than the klipsch image s4, the image, by the way, are considerably brighter, with mids colored towards the high end of the spectrum. There is no grainy texture to the S4, but the treble can be a bit harsh, and they have a tendency to distort at high volume. The bass will seem to lack some texture, and is a bit quick. Sonically, the s4 are better, I just prefer my E2c. As for a serious pair of IEM, I've been looking at the Fischer Audio DBA-02, or the Etys, or even the Earsonics SM3 (three way design). You were correct however, in saying there will be a bit of a bass reduction, these high end IEMs are designed as audiophile earphones, meaning they will have no more bass then treble or mids. If you would kindly hit the "treble boost" in itunes or wherever you play music from, you will experience a sound much closer to "flat" The treble will have less of a veil, but this is how I get my sibilance, mainly at "active listening" volumes between 40% and 60%. 

post #3 of 3

The easy question first - isolation on many IEMs is usually considered to be superior to active noise cancellation, with the added benefit that it doesn't mess with the sound at all. Among IEMs, the Etys are, I think, the undisputed kings of isolation. If this is your criteria, you won't find anything better.


Even though I no longer own a pair, my memories of the ER4P are still some of the fondest I have of any headphones, full-size or IEM. They are one of the most transparent pieces of equipment I have ever heard, and I found them to be incredibly exhilarating to listen to. That said, you may or may not appreciate their frequency response. I have always been fond of headphones on the brighter end of the spectrum, and the Etys are certainly that. They have bass extension that is quite good, but impact is less than most IEMs. If the idea of an extremely forward IEM that focuses on transparency, speed, clarity, and frequency extension at the expense of warmth, smoothness, bass impact, and laid-back-ness appeals to you, run, do not walk, to the Etys. If the opposite is true, you may want to stay away (although nothing else will isolate the way they do).

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