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Are classic brands (Shure, Sennheiser, AKG) losing their strength?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I'm relatively new here. Since early this year I've been following discussions on this forum.

 

With a past background in consumer audio retail and manufacturing (DUSON and Driade from the Netherlands) and wholesale (distributor of STAX in the Netherlands) I'm wondering what has happened to the classic brands. In particular when it comes to earphones and IEM.

 

80% of what I read on this forum is about Chinese brands or brands that have no background in electro-acoustics and are just 'labeling' Chinese designs. And what's even more remarkable, most of the raving reviews are about stuff from brands that I've never heard of.

 

So, I wonder, are the followers now becoming the leaders? Are the students improving on their teachers, or even more, outclassing them? Is the same happening to portable audio equipment as happened to car manufacturing in the seventies/eighties? Who will be the 'Toyota' of earphones then?

post #2 of 14

Well, the thing is, that most of the stuff by the 'classic' brands is already being made in China by OEM's that are now beginning to want a piece of the pie as well. So what we are getting is really experienced manufacturers selling top-tier products at much cheaper prices.

 

If you walk into any average Hi-fi retail store I am sure that the classic brands still dominate - after all before you arrived at these forums you never heard of these brands, and neither has the average consumer or audiophile.

 

The wonderful thing about the internet though is that information is democratized, and if there is something good out there then it will generally find its way here based on merit rather than sheer amounts of marketing or pedigree.

 

What we're also seeing is the emergence of smaller specialty brands that seem to be doing pretty successfully as well - Jays in Sweden for instance.

 

As for the Toyota of IEMs, I really can't think of any brand that has that kind of consistency of reliability hehe...

post #3 of 14

Senn is going strong. The IE 6/7/8 are good and should continue strong now that there are cheap refurbs of all the models. That also might signal that the new models won't be too far off(fall 2011 maybe). Senn is just fine.

 

Shure has the new detachable cable models. Not that exciting but still good and relevant. Once the prices of them drop they will spike a bit as far as popularity. Still a leader as always if not so flashy.

 

Westone is just fine and going pretty well. No issues there.

 

Ety has the MC5 which I have found can perform quite differently with tips/and fit. It shows in the variation of opinions as to how good they are. But they are good and put Ety back into the spotlight recently.

 

AKG has never been a real player in the IEM world and might never be.

 

UE is the one that has fallen a bit but maybe they just needed time after change of ownership. The line and prices have been restructured and all they need is a new flagship.

 

The gang is still all here and none the worse for wear really. Just a bunch more competition which will be a good thing. So the leaders are still the leaders but with the earphone boom but a bunch of now interested brands have joined the party. Not like Toyota in automotive. The leaders are still the leaders. They are being matched and have some others nipping at there heels. There better bargains and values also. Not like the leaders are being outclassed in build/reliability or performance just yet.

post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jant71 View Post

Senn is going strong. The IE 6/7/8 are good and should continue strong now that there are cheap refurbs of all the models. That also might signal that the new models won't be too far off(fall 2011 maybe). Senn is just fine.


I second that. However, I don't think Sennheiser needs to make better headphones than the IE series because they are at the peak of In-Ear technology. The big money is now on Full-Sized open back headphones, such as the Sennheiser HD 800's.
 

post #5 of 14

IE series at the peak of In-Ear technology? Hardly. They are decent IEM, but technology wise they are nothing new, just old stuff being tweak around. The real peak(s) of In-Ear technology are things like Sleek Audio (VQ system), Radius (dual diaphragms matrix), Etymotic (MC5's side port), Ortofon (moving armature), etc.

post #6 of 14

And don't forget the tri-amped JH3A

post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidExtreme12 View Post

The big money is now on Full-Sized open back headphones, such as the Sennheiser HD 800's.
 


Big prices, maybe, but not big money.

post #8 of 14

I must say Monster has certainly stepped into the mainstream; There are tons of people that have been introduced to hi-fi audio due to seeing a Beats commercial, but when is the last time you've seen a Westone commercial?

post #9 of 14

...and on the topic of 'classic' brands, as least in the universal IEM scene, only Etymotic, Shure, Westone, UE, and FutureSonics can be counted. Sennheiser never really pays serious attention to IEM till about 3 years ago. Senn's dominant is in the earbuds market, against other big brand like Philips and mainly the Japanese earbuds makers (used to be a few, but down to mainly Sony now).

post #10 of 14

It might just be that the market is so much more crowded than a couple years ago where there were not as many choices so those brands (UE, Westone, Etymotic, Shure) do not cover as much as they used to. A lot of smaller companies have came in to fill the gap and provides good quality products at very reasonable prices :)

 

Also I agree with everything jant71 wrote in his post

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

Perhaps its just me getting old.

I meant to refer to those companies that have for many decades been involved in electro-accoustic research and development. Microphones, headphones they all use the same principles that involve membrane weight, low level resonace, frequency response of particular mechanical shapes etc. 

I haven't seen a recent paper in the journal of the AES from Monster or Creative lately......

 

And I do agree about the fact that what I refer to as classic brands still provide heaps of quality (owning several Shure IEM, and considering to buy a Sennheiser IE8).

post #12 of 14

I somewhat agree, but disagree strongly. Moving armatures, as CLIEos said, are exciting and the DDM earphones featuring two dynamic drivers per ear unit, really put stress on price/performance/sound quality of single driver units. The thing is that most of these moving coil earphones are built in plastic containers. If you listen to fast, bassy music, you'll hear (if your ear is good) poor, uncontrolled echos. I hated the IE8 becasue of that. I could put uup with low isolation, but not poor echo. If Senn re built their iems with hard wood or aluminium or steel, they'd achieve a much less 'dark' sound and gain the advantage of clean bass and upper bass. I'd have stayed with IE8 if that were the case as I love the visceral acoustics of dynamic drivers.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidExtreme12 View Post


I second that. However, I don't think Sennheiser needs to make better headphones than the IE series because they are at the peak of In-Ear technology. The big money is now on Full-Sized open back headphones, such as the Sennheiser HD 800's.
 

post #13 of 14

I gotta agree with shigzeo, plastic housing should really be ditched in high-end dynamic iems I don't find it acceptable considering the price you pay but it's unfortunately that it's mostly not the case at the moment. Aluminium/hard wood/steel and even zirconium should be used at the high end point thought the cost may be a bit more there are sonic advantages in timbre and acoustics.

 

Let's not forget the wooden diaphragm JVC is using which sure is revolutionary and now i hear the Headdirect is going to use a titanium diaphragm on the re262s so there's also potential there using different material

 

edit: what's up with mc5s side port clieos?


Edited by Inks - 9/19/10 at 9:50pm
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inks View Post

Let's not forget the wooden diaphragm JVC is using which sure is revolutionary and now i hear the Headdirect is going to use a titanium diaphragm on the re262s so there's also potential there using different material

 

edit: what's up with mc5s side port clieos?

I really wonder if JVC wooden diaphragm can actually be counted as 'wooden'. So far all the picture of the transducer I have seen suggest that it is only the dust cap that is wooden, not the diaphragm itself.

 

Here is what the MC5 looks like on the inside:

AccuChamber_large.jpg

You can read more about it in this thread.

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