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Help a Canadian pick out a ~$300-400 pair of IEMs based on the most precise criteria I can think of

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Edit: IEMs, canalphones, whatever. I don't know how precise different terms are as far as in-ear things go, so just... whatever goes in my ears. lol

I recently bought a pair of ViSang R03s to make my main portables since I was tired of my headphones breaking from being treated too roughly (after gluing my ESW9s back together three times I've decided to stop using them so heavily), and I absolutely LOVE them, but Christmas is around the corner and spoiled as I am, I am going to be asking for some nicer IEMs.

So here's all I can tell you about my situation:

I live in Canada. I like the idea of custom-fit IEMs like the UE4s but I'm not sure how it would work with me being all the way up here. : \

I find medium-sized tips fit me best. I have no idea whether this is important information, but who knows? Also, I don't get much earwax. My ears are fairly large, I don't know if that matters either, but again: who knows?

 

I listen to my music on pretty loud volumes. Right now I am listening to the Sonic Youth album Murray Street with my ViSangs on the Zune's '15', and that's pretty close to how I usually listen to music. My ears aren't long for this world, I know, but I find it's much more enjoyable that way.

I like instruments to sound large and full, which is one thing I like about the ViSangs. Punchy and present bass but not bloated is preferable, and I like highs to be either recessed a little or neutral. I don't know how to describe what I do and do not like in mids.

 

I generally listen to a lot of indie and IDM. This is my last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/Oggranak

Some of things I don't like about the ViSangs that I would like to remedy with an upgrade:

- The bass can sometimes intrude where it doesn't belong to a small degree, making certain drums and the like sound not quite right
- They don't have a very good shape for an over-the-ear fit
- They can sometimes sound pretty congested when things get too busy
- They can sometimes sound a little slow, I would like something that sounds a little quicker

Comfort isn't a huge issue. I'll get used to them if they're not that comfortable. However, more comfortable is preferable, heh.

 

I will be using these a lot. Probably 3-9 hours per day, depending on a bunch of factors.

 

I'm a bit of a sucker for nice presentation. If they feel solid and have a nice cable, that will probably grant a big placebo bonus to my enjoyment of the product.

This will be straight out of my Zune, no amp.

If you have any suggestions, it would be really helpful to put in a brief description of the sound so that I know whether it sounds right for me.

$300-400 is ideal but I'll go as high as $500/600 if necessary.


Edited by Oggranak - 10/21/10 at 9:54am

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 13

"My ears are fairly large, I don't know if that matters either, but again: who knows?

I'm a bit of a sucker for nice presentation. If they feel solid and have a nice cable, that will probably grant a big placebo bonus to my enjoyment of the product.

- The bass can sometimes intrude where it doesn't belong to a small degree, making certain drums and the like sound not quite right
- They don't have a very good shape for an over-the-ear fit
- They can sometimes sound pretty congested when things get too busy
- They can sometimes sound a little slow, I would like something that sounds a little quicker"

 

earsonics sm3 period.

 

 

 

 

post #3 of 13

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sil3nce View Post

 

earsonics sm3 period.

 


Are SM3 really that good? There are some who think its just a placebo/hype effect and were underwhelmed by its performance - a majority of whom which have come from testing/owning alot of the other high end IEM's

post #4 of 13

nope. i've listened to sm3's and was just blown away. they beat ie8 on bass and soundstage (quite amazing) shure se530 on clarity and detail, beat um3x's midrange, annihilate fischer dba-02 in reference value, etc.

they even beat akg k701 and hd650 in overall comfort and presentation

 

who are the sm3 haters? personally, i've only seen good reviews from respected long-term audiophiles

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

But you see, my good sir, I am not coming from high-end IEMs, and my experience will probably be more similar to that of one who is as much a beginner as I. And also: placebo does affect me quite nicely.

I already read a bit about them but I'll look into it a bit more.

Any word on any Westones? UE customs? JHA customs? Other stuff I haven't heard of?


Edited by Oggranak - 10/21/10 at 7:53pm
post #6 of 13

The SM3 seems like it will match your requirements, though I haven't heard it myself - given the descriptions of the sound I think they are close match.

 

I listen to a lot of indie and IDM (they would probably be my two favourite genres along with electro-clash/electro pop so we should swap recommendations smily_headphones1.gif ) and of the earphones I own, I think you can also really consider the Final Audio Design FI-BA-A1. The sound has been great with the stuff I have been throwing at it - Junior Boys, the XX (I like your avatar haha), Fischerspooner, Hot Chip, Steven Sufjans, The Knife etc. A really clean, wet sound which does electronic tones nicely, and the sound is detailed but not crisp or harsh. Timbre and transparency is good for acoustic guitars, and especially fantastic for violins, and both male and female vocals are great.

 

I know you've got quite a big budget, but if you do want to spend less then also consider the Radius DDM's. They are not quite as balanced as the A1's, and not so great for female vocals because of the recessed treble, but for indie they really are incredible. The timbre on acoustic guitars is emotive, the bass weight lends authority to IDM bass lines and drums without being bloated. Since you aren't terribly concerned about comfort, I think you could definitely give them a go for around $150. 

 

I'm a little concerned about your high volume listening habits though. Neither the A1 or the DDM are particularly isolating, and if you are going to turn up your volume high in the first place, well... it's your (ears) funeral haha.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

You know, I used to buy into the whole long-term-ear-health thing but recently I've learned that there's just such a huge difference when you turn up the volume. I don't know how music ever felt engaging before. I don't turn it up to painful volumes (unless I'm listening to one of a small selection of artists that I think need that ear-splitting volume to work, such as Titus Andronicus) generally, so it's not as bad as it might be, but I do turn them up such that I can

The thing I loved the most about my R03s really shone through most in the songs Randy Described Eternity by Built to Spill and White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes. Martsch's little voice singing about massive metal spheres while these giant guitar noises are just giving the song this crazy sense of scale, it's nothing short of magical. Same goes for WWH when everything kicks in around fifty seconds or so-- so grand and overwhelming, it blew me away. This is what I want to keep in a higher-end pair.

I know a lot of headphones are great at one volume and awful at another, so can you confirm that they sound good at higher volumes and still fit what I'm looking for?

post #8 of 13

I am in the Final Audio and Earsonics camp. Both are fantastic and yes, I've used pretty much every high end IEM I can think of including the JH13Pro. For the money, the SM3 is really a great sounding earphone. Where it loses marks (and based on your description, it may not fit your use) is build quality. Its case is known to sometimes fall apart (not often, but it can) and the whole plastic (thanks to Westone for leading this race) construction isn't good for a professional earphone. 

 

The A1 is great for electronic and has a fabulous bass that isn't cushy, but bites. That said, the treble can flare a bit, but for IDM and trance, it is great. For weird alternative music, it is just ... good. 

 

The suggestions in this thread are all very good, though I'll have to plead ignorance when it comes to Fischer Audio. 

 

Regarding customs - it WILL work, trust me. I started my custom run in Canada a couple of years ago. No problem at all.

post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oggranak View Post

You know, I used to buy into the whole long-term-ear-health thing but recently I've learned that there's just such a huge difference when you turn up the volume. I don't know how music ever felt engaging before. I don't turn it up to painful volumes (unless I'm listening to one of a small selection of artists that I think need that ear-splitting volume to work, such as Titus Andronicus) generally, so it's not as bad as it might be, but I do turn them up such that I can

The thing I loved the most about my R03s really shone through most in the songs Randy Described Eternity by Built to Spill and White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes. Martsch's little voice singing about massive metal spheres while these giant guitar noises are just giving the song this crazy sense of scale, it's nothing short of magical. Same goes for WWH when everything kicks in around fifty seconds or so-- so grand and overwhelming, it blew me away. This is what I want to keep in a higher-end pair.

I know a lot of headphones are great at one volume and awful at another, so can you confirm that they sound good at higher volumes and still fit what I'm looking for?



It sounds to me like you may want to look into getting an amplifier if it's making the music sound that much better. It could simply be that your source is a bit underpowered and you've discovered that cranking it brings out the best in your IEMs. Just a thought.

post #10 of 13

Haha I didn't notice you linked your last.fm in your first post Oggranak. (Or was that an edit?) It appears we have "SUPER" music compatibility! =D

 

As for turning up the volume, I've generally found that it improves the sound - the thing is though its generally a less balanced IEM tends to benefit from turning up the volume for me, because if something is very dry sounding to me I will turn it up to try and get that warmth in the bass/treble. If something has a lot of bass, I will conversely turn it up so I can hear more detail. But on something like the RE252 for instance, I found that I could leave the volume pretty low and enjoy it. The DDM is also one of those earphones I like to listen to relatively quietly (although maybe because I now mostly listen at home and don't have to turn up to overcome outside noise.)

 

As for the A1's treble, I think it can flare up at times but with the right tips - I use Sony hybrids - that's not really a problem. I'd overall be more concerned about the cable in the A1's. 

 

post #11 of 13

"As for the A1's treble, I think it can flare up at times but with the right tips - I use Sony hybrids - that's not really a problem. I'd overall be more concerned about the cable in the A1's. "

 

absolutely true i noticed it was very sparkly with other silicone tips.

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oggranak View Post

But you see, my good sir, I am not coming from high-end IEMs, and my experience will probably be more similar to that of one who is as much a beginner as I. And also: placebo does affect me quite nicely.

I already read a bit about them but I'll look into it a bit more.

Any word on any Westones? UE customs? JHA customs? Other stuff I haven't heard of?


Edited by Oggranak - 10/21/10 at 7:53pm



Thanks for your instruction! It's helpful to me.
post #13 of 13

Go to Bay Bloor Radio and test the SE535s you might like them. But do not buy from them lol it's quite pricey there, full MSRP. PM me or something I'm a Torontonian as well lol. Shure SE535/425/315 black cable is probably the best cable on IEM market imho as of this moment. It's ridiculous.

I only had 2 clear cables, but from other people's responses who have owned both types, the black cable is supposedly better?
I have had the opportunity to see acrylic re-shelled TF10s and the cables were pretty good but still doesn't compare to the snap-lock thing in the new Shures.

Just my 2cents biggrin.gif

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