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Best in-ear isolating headphones in my case between Shure SE535, Westone 3 and EarSonics SM3

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone,

 

I need to know your opinion in who is best in-ear isolating headphones, from this selection:

 

Shure SE535

Westone 3

Westone UM3X

EarSonics SM3

Audio-Technica ATH-CK100

 

For the audio I listen the most important things are (in order):

 

1) The best vocals with female voices (I really hate the hiss effect)

 

2) Very very good, and deeply immersive, low-bass (from 40Hz to 1Hz)

 

3) Very good isolation

 

4) The comfort of the in-ear headphones itself (I hate the earphones that need to be adjusted in the ear from time to time to listen the music at best)

 

5) The magic of the sound. I really like when you are transported in the world of the music your are listening...

 

Other useful information:

I'm using the Sansa Clip+ as MP3 Player, and the 24-bit FLAC as encoding, for my favorite musics.

 

My list is a suggestion for what I think can be better for me, it is not an impediment to suggest something you really think can be better in this case.

 

Thanks, in advance.


Edited by AudioHeadHZ - 9/20/10 at 5:16am
post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioHeadHZ View Post

Hello everyone,

 

I need to know your opinion in who is best in-ear isolating headphones, from this selection:

 

Shure SE535

Westone 3

EarSonics SM3

 

For the audio I listen the most important things are (in order):

 

1) The best vocals with female voices (I really hate the hiss effect)

 

2) Very very good, and deeply immersive, low-bass (from 40Hz to 1Hz)

 

3) Very good isolation

 

4) The comfort of the in-ear headphones itself (I hate the earphones that need to be adjusted in the ear from time to time to listen the music at best)

 

5) The magic of the sound. I really like when you are transported in the world of the music your are listening...

 

Other useful information:

I'm using the Sansa Clip+ as MP3 Player, and the 24-bit FLAC as encoding, for my favorite musics.

 

Thanks, in advance.


I think there are only a few Head-Fier's who have heard all three of them.  I'm not one of them.  I can only speak for the Westone 3.

 

1. I listen to a ton of female singers, including Christina Aquilera, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Melody Gardot, Beyonce, Katie Melua, Katy Perry, Natalie Merchant, Norah Jones, Evanescence and Paramore and I've never experienced sibilance with the W3's.

 

2. The W3's bass hits hard and still remains detailed. 

 

3. The isolation with the W3's is fantastic, second only to the Ety ER-4P's of all the IEM's I've owned.

 

4. I use the Shure Olives with my W3's and once they are in, they are in.  There's no need to ever adjust them. They are easily the most comfortable IEM I've owned.

 

5. My tagline referring to the W3's is: "They are the most fun I've ever had with something in my ear"

 

Again, I can only speak on the W3's, but they work for me.  They give me everything I'm looking for in an IEM and then some.  Your mileage may vary.  Good luck in your quest.  I really don't think you can go wrong with any of your choices.
 


Edited by JoeyRusso - 9/18/10 at 1:49pm
post #3 of 22

 

Quote:
2) Very very good, and deeply immersive, low-bass (from 40Hz to 1Hz)

For this particular point, I think you should forget about the Shure, as from what I read, they may sound a little dry and certainly aren't bass monsters.

I haven't heard the Westone 3 but they are said to have a lot of oomph. I have the SM3 and they have very good, deep bass, but it remains very controlled (way more than IE8 for example).

post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioHeadHZ View Post
Other useful information:
I'm using the Sansa Clip+ as MP3 Player, and the 24-bit FLAC as encoding, for my favorite musics.

 

Why are you using 24 bit FLAC on a Clip+ (I assume it's Rockboxed)? I hope you realize that Rockbox is only down-sampling the 24bit files to 16bit, so in effect you are wasting a lot of space.

 

Other than that, the only other thing I want to ask if why ask about the Westone 3 and not the UM3X? The UM3X seems to be the IEM to challenge the SM3/SE535, rather than the W3.

 

Also consider cost. That's one of the reasons I went with the SM3. Even if the SE535 might have been more to my sound signature, I couldn't afford it, and hence I settled for the SM3.


Edited by Hero Kid - 9/19/10 at 4:24am
post #5 of 22

I haven't heard the shure 535 or the earsonics sm3. 

However i can tell you that the westones 3 has great bass and the isolation is also good if you find the time to get the right fit.

for me, when i commute and plug in the westone 3, i just close my eyes and enjoy the music.

it really isn't analytical at all, its just real fun to listen to

oh and for me i don't find any sibilance issues with the westone 3

 

of course all of these are my opinions and the best way for you to choose would be to personally listen to all 3 of them and compare them for yourself. 

post #6 of 22
I can only speak on the SM3. They reproduce female singing very well have very good bass that is controlled (I agree with photofan's comments), and while insanely detailed I find them to be the most immersive headphones I have ever owned. Another thing I like about them is easy they are to modify if you want change their sound a bit and that they respond well to slight EQ adjustments.
post #7 of 22

If it must be from the list, I think you should go for either the 535 or the sm3 depending on which you value more, vocals or visceral bass. The 535 won't give you the bass you are looking for and in my experience with them they seem to have even less bass than the original 530s. The bass is good though I must say, very tight and controlled but there isn't much of it to satisfy basshead. But what you will get is beautiful, beautiful mids even better than my favorite Ortofons and their highs as they say aren't recessed anymore. The sm3 on the other hand does have big impactful bass that I think you will like. Their mids are incredibly and I do mean incredibly detailed and they are great with vocals though I think the 535 are a little better in this area. I even bought them at one point but I sold them due as my ears don't find them comfortable enough to enjoy the sound. They are fantastic. It all comes down to preference, if you absolutely love vocals more than anything else, get the 535. If you don't mind sacrificing that bit of buttery smoothness for extra bass oomph, in that case go for the sm3. Haven't heard the Westone 3 for quite a while so can't help you there.

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hero Kid View Post

 

Why are you using 24 bit FLAC on a Clip+ (I assume it's Rockboxed)? I hope you realize that Rockbox is only down-sampling the 24bit files to 16bit, so in effect you are wasting a lot of space.

 

Other than that, the only other thing I want to ask if why ask about the Westone 3 and not the UM3X? The UM3X seems to be the IEM to challenge the SM3/SE535, rather than the W3.

 

Also consider cost. That's one of the reasons I went with the SM3. Even if the SE535 might have been more to my sound signature, I couldn't afford it, and hence I settled for the SM3.

 

Yes it is Rockboxed... and Rockbox have an option to activate the dithering which is an a sort of HQ down-sampling which make the 24(16)-bit tracks a little better than the only 16-bit ones.

UM3X you say? Yeah... I heard (around here) that it are a very good IEM, and some cases even better than the W3... so, I officially add it to my list.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by helljudgement View Post

If it must be from the list, I think you should go for either the 535 or the sm3 depending on which you value more, vocals or visceral bass. The 535 won't give you the bass you are looking for and in my experience with them they seem to have even less bass than the original 530s. The bass is good though I must say, very tight and controlled but there isn't much of it to satisfy basshead. But what you will get is beautiful, beautiful mids even better than my favorite Ortofons and their highs as they say aren't recessed anymore. The sm3 on the other hand does have big impactful bass that I think you will like. Their mids are incredibly and I do mean incredibly detailed and they are great with vocals though I think the 535 are a little better in this area. I even bought them at one point but I sold them due as my ears don't find them comfortable enough to enjoy the sound. They are fantastic. It all comes down to preference, if you absolutely love vocals more than anything else, get the 535. If you don't mind sacrificing that bit of buttery smoothness for extra bass oomph, in that case go for the sm3. Haven't heard the Westone 3 for quite a while so can't help you there.


This is for you and for everyone that will post here in future:

My list is a suggestion for what I think can be better for me, it is not an impediment to suggest something you really think can be better in this case.

 

Homever based on yours suggestion my needle of the balance is orientating to EarSonics SM3... (I don't mind sacrificing that BIT of buttery smoothness for extra bass oomph)


 

post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

So... anyone with some more advices?

post #10 of 22

+1 for SM3 (out of hearing the SM3, SE535, W3, and UM3X; have not heard the CK100).

They meet all your requirements. The treble can be tweaked to your liking (stock is recessed; Sensorcom tips and foam mods can bring it forward). If you are planning on using the IEMs with a Sansa Clip+, do not get a CK100. The CK100 has some bad synergy with the Sansa players (FWIR). Also, you can get custom tips for any of these IEMs (AFAIK). If you are going for custom tips, you shouldn't need to worry about comfort and isolation; just look up the sound.

 

By the way, how are you playing 24 bit FLAC on your Sansa Clip+? Keep in mind, even if you rockbox the Clip+, the rockbox software simply downsamples the 24 bit audio into 16 bit. Or did you mean you are playing 24 bit FLAC on your computer?

post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by violinvirtuoso View Post

+1 for SM3 (out of hearing the SM3, SE535, W3, and UM3X; have not heard the CK100).

They meet all your requirements. The treble can be tweaked to your liking (stock is recessed; Sensorcom tips and foam mods can bring it forward). If you are planning on using the IEMs with a Sansa Clip+, do not get a CK100. The CK100 has some bad synergy with the Sansa players (FWIR). Also, you can get custom tips for any of these IEMs (AFAIK). If you are going for custom tips, you shouldn't need to worry about comfort and isolation; just look up the sound.

 

By the way, how are you playing 24 bit FLAC on your Sansa Clip+? Keep in mind, even if you rockbox the Clip+, the rockbox software simply downsamples the 24 bit audio into 16 bit. Or did you mean you are playing 24 bit FLAC on your computer?


One more point for the SM3 then...

 

Is possible to play the 24-bit FLAC tracks with Rockbox... the particular thing is the possibility to activate the dithering which should be, for what I know, an sort of optimized downsampling so that in someway the 24-bit tracks downsampled to 16-bit should be better then the only 16-bit ones... or I've misunderstand something?

 

Of course I play the 24-bit tracks even on my PC, but in this case their are not downsampled anymore, and are full 24-bit.


Edited by AudioHeadHZ - 9/21/10 at 3:32am
post #12 of 22

the w3 is a great IEM but for me the stem is too short so I have trouble with isolation with them....the um3x is far better for me in term of isolation....i find the 535 to be excellent for isolation as well.....especially like the new design....the best of all is the etymotic line but they have a far different sound signature.....i would say if isolation is paramount go for ety's....the 535 and um3x come damn close in terms of isolation and they have a much bigger sound but at a $ cost!

post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioHeadHZ View Post

One more point for the SM3 then...

 

Is possible to play the 24-bit FLAC tracks with Rockbox... the particular thing is the possibility to activate the dithering which should be, for what I know, an sort of optimized downsampling so that in someway the 24-bit tracks downsampled to 16-bit should be better then the only 16-bit ones... or I've misunderstand something?

 

Of course I play the 24-bit tracks even on my PC, but in this case their are not downsampled anymore, and are full 24-bit.


Perhaps it 24-bit (on the Clip+) is better (you will have to talk to someone more experienced with Rockbox), but I doubt I would be able to tell the difference on the go.

post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by violinvirtuoso View Post




Perhaps it 24-bit (on the Clip+) is better (you will have to talk to someone more experienced with Rockbox), but I doubt I would be able to tell the difference on the go.


Yes it's a little better, in my experience; but of course you will not able to tell difference at the first time (to perceive the difference I must do some confrontations with the 'only-16-bit track' vs the 'semi-24-bit track' with an high volume setting). Homever of course it doesn't worth the space required... but I only use this type of encoding with by REALLY best tracks, which are not that much.

 

P.S. Consider that is difficult to tell the difference even between the 16-bit tracks vs the full 24-bit ones...

post #15 of 22

So I've been reading through some of the posts... Basically what you are looking for is the "perfect" universal iem. In my opinion, doesn't exist.

 

With W3 you'll never get that clear female vocals.

 

With Shure Se535, you get rich mids but recessed highs and somewhat of a lacking bass (depending on your standards)

 

With Um3x... well I haven't had the luxury of owning these so I can't comment. Sames with the Sm3. From what I've read these two are "neutral" and I'm not sure that's what you are looking for.

 

 

in the end, you should probably prioritize what is important to you. Vocal clarity? Go find Audio Technica CK 10. Sexi bass? Ie 8 (personally too much for me) Something in between? Neutral earphones with a touch of EQ is what I've settled on for the time being. Please invest in a decent audio player. Samsung p3 works for me, Cowon s9 sounds fantastic as well. It's night and day the difference between one of these and an ipod etc... And of course, put these next to an Echo Indigo or an Apogee Duet and they sound stupid too.

 

 

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