First I had trouble with shallow fit using stock silicones. Shure olives and trimmed tri-flanges solved that, isolation and fit are good with both of these. Trouble is that I can’t bring myself to like the sound! And that even compared to lowly Shure E3 I used on temp basis after second pair of my beloved UE Super.fi 5Pros broke. Tried all three filter types (green, black and grey), EQing or not. Still no cigar – just bland, dump Marlboro Lights J. At the gym or while jogging I listen mostly to fast paced classic rock of all kinds and Phonaks simply don’t engage and excite me in a same way as 5Pros and even E3 do.
Yes, technically Phonaks are probably great for the price though, frankly, they still seem overhyped to me here on Head-fi floating near the top of IEM charts. Yes, in comparison E3 sound is much more veiled and almost lacking highs. And, yes, Phonaks deliver clarity, detail, bass quality and balance (especially with black filters) comparable to 5Pros except for bass quantity and soundstage. But there’s still something lifeless about the sound, some analytical soullessness that leaves me constantly irritated and unsatisfied. Maybe it’s condensed soundstage combined with noticeable slowness compared to 5Pros. I constantly feel I have to raise volume with them (and they are noticeably harder to drive especially when EQed) or, better, to amp the hell out of them to make them alive.
I totally don’t care if Phonaks are wonderfully “neutral”, “balanced”, “sparkling” and whatnot. I simply can’t enjoy what I hear as unenergetic, congested, lazy sound. And not that I’m a basshead or some dark coloration junkie. After all my main big headphones are tame AKG K-501 (driven via Creek OBH-11 amp) which I most of the time prefer over my Grado SR-225 even for rock.
Ok, rant off and sorry if it was long. Hopefully now you understand where I’m coming from and help me choose anti-Phonaks for $160 max. Something tells me to look for dynamic drivers or dual BAs with fast dynamic responses and decent soundstage, resolution and separation and which are easy to drive. I can skip on treble “spark” but that doesn’t mean I’m after boomy and un-detailed Skullcandy sound J. Here are the phones I’m considering (in no particular order):
· Fischer Audio DBA-02
· Monster Turbines
· Panasonic HJE900
· Jays q-Jays
· Klipsch S4
· Fischer Audio Silver Bullet
· Else under $160?
So would be your advice?