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Earbuds <= $250, details inside

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hello,

 

I have been reading many threads here over the last few days in my search for a new set of earbuds. I have gotten a lot of my questions answered by searching here but I have come to a point where I need some opinions from those here on a few matters.

 

Right now I have a set of Shure e3c earbuds, which have lasted me 4 years until now both ears have developed a short near the bend around the ear and the cost to repair them is better spent in my opinion on a new set. The right ear has trouble with high frequencies as of about a year ago too but I have lived with it for too long.

 

That said, I am looking at something comparable to that set as far as the sound. I realize the quality isn't amazing on those, it's good, but not great. I do like the bass response though. I have narrowed it down to a few choices based on reading threads here but I am hoping someone can steer me in the right direction. The one that grabs my attention the most is the Westone 2 based on reading reviews here. Unfortunately, a lot of people complain about bass response on them, even with a proper seal. Is it comparable to the e3cs? I am not a bass head or anything and I do prefer well balanced sound... but I listen to a lot of heavy/progressive metal and rock in addition to basically everything else, but that in particular seems to be an issue as far as clarity and bass response. Think lots of double bass drum work and intricate cymbal work. I want to be able to enjoy a full spectrum of sound and the e3c was the first set I had that was nicer and had decent bass response. I would say it needs to be as good or better.

 

The last part of the equation is that I am sick and tired of having cables go bad on earbuds (long list before my current pair had same problem) so I was thinking about getting a custom remold done on whatever set I buy, so that must be a factor. I am planning on going the Fisher remold route for two reasons. One being what I have already mentioned, the ability to replace the cables myself at any time should they short out. Two, I want a better fit in my ear. I use the foam/rubber deals now and they work great for a few weeks then eventually lose their elasticity.

 

In addition to my portable music player, I am also a guitarist that plays live/records. My primary concern is playback quality on portable music devices but if they can double as a good IEM that is even better.

 

So all of that said, can anyone make a recommendation with my price range, sound quality requirements and remolding preferences?

 

Thank you for your time and for this site, it is a wealth of information.

post #2 of 23

Wear and tear on a product is directly related to handling of said product.  A number of us have never had a cable go bad on anything we've owned (raises hand).  Typically care alone will keep your hardware alive for 10+ years just fine.  There are outside factors though like UV from the sun, extreme heat and cold, and so on that do affect plastics and can rapidly speed up degradation.  Depending on where and when you use them, some of this might be unavoidable.

 

As far as suggestions, I have my own list of what I really like.  I've never used the e3c, so I can't really relate anything back to that to suggest something close to them.  An immediate suggestion is the Triple.Fi 10, just a great earphone.  It's very refined in sound but also with bass and treble emphasis.  It's fun and engaging.  The build quality may not be to your liking given most people being remotely rough with them seem to break something.  The price is good though for some of the packages available on eBay for them.  A second option might be the Klipsch Custom 3.  The sound is very well balanced, textured, and a really good sound stage.  Since you're looking at remolds, you can buy a pair and sacrifice it to get it turned into custom molds.  The sound quality is outstanding, and for the low price these can be purchased, you can buy a pair and convert it to customs and still be within your budget.  My third suggestion would be the Ortofon e-Q7.  A used pair should be within your price range.  You may also look at a new e-Q5 and end up around the same price point.  The sound is balanced, clean, fast, and visceral.  These use a different moving armature design that sort of gains the texture and visceral sense of a dynamic but also the speed and detail of a balanced armature.

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply, but I do not want to buy off of ebay because the 'bulk' packaged versions you are mentioning that are in my price range are hard to tell if they're fake or not. Is this an unfounded fear?

 

As far as wear/tear.. I am very careful with my gear but these things still always happen. I live in Chicago so the weather is always interesting and I play live on stage with them so there is unavoidable wear/tear involved.

 

I should mention that I am already factoring in the cost of the remolds, the 250 limit is just for the set itself.

post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 

Any other thoughts?

post #5 of 23

ATH-CK10, DBA-02, Sleek Audio SA6(removeable cable and can be use with SA cordless system), MTP Copper(comes with one time replacement warranty), Westone 2, Custom 3, IE7, Iamge X5, MC5, RE0, RE-ZERO and HJE900(removeable cable).


Edited by ZARIM - 11/8/10 at 7:56am
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZARIM View Post

ATH-CK10, DBA-02, Sleek Audio SA6(removeable cable and can be use with SA cordless system), MTP Copper(comes with one time replacement warranty), Westone 2, Custom 3, IE7, Iamge X5, MC5, RE0, RE-ZERO and HJE900(removeable cable).



Wow that's a lot more choices.. ok. Have you heard the e3c and can you compare any of those against them?

post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by utkanos View Post





Wow that's a lot more choices.. ok. Have you heard the e3c and can you compare any of those against them?


E3C sounds quite bad by today's standards. Pretty much any of the recommendations in this thread will beat the E3C by a significant margin. $250 or less, I would recommend a used e-Q7 if you can find one, SE530 if you can find one, RE252, or the new RE262 if you can wait a little for it to come out.

post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post




E3C sounds quite bad by today's standards. Pretty much any of the recommendations in this thread will beat the E3C by a significant margin. $250 or less, I would recommend a used e-Q7 if you can find one, SE530 if you can find one, RE252, or the new RE262 if you can wait a little for it to come out.


Thank you for the reply. So the 252 looks quite interesting after doing a bit of reading. Are these able to be easily remolded if need be? I am quite worried about shorts in the cables over time.

post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by utkanos View Post




Thank you for the reply. So the 252 looks quite interesting after doing a bit of reading. Are these able to be easily remolded if need be? I am quite worried about shorts in the cables over time.


No, RE252 cannot be remolded easily because it uses a dynamic driver. Not even sure if that's possible at all. Only balanced armature drivers can be easily remolded. I heard great things about Fischer Audio DBA-02s, so those may be what you need. The best IEM I've heard so far is Shure SE535 - it has detachable cables and superb sound quality, but is very expensive indeed at $400+. You may be able to find a used Westone UM3X with detachable cable for $250-$300, which also sounds really good, although not as musical as SE535.

post #10 of 23

My understanding is that dynamic IEMs, RE252 is dynamic, can't be remoulded. I'll be happy to be proven wrong though.

post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

bummer frown.gif

 

there doesn't seem to be a set available with my requirements short of getting lucky in finding something used.

post #12 of 23

Ignore this post.


Edited by Sil3nce - 11/8/10 at 1:47pm
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by utkanos View Post

bummer frown.gif

 

there doesn't seem to be a set available with my requirements short of getting lucky in finding something used.



I think the new Westone UM2 also have replaceable cables. You may want to check those out. They also sound very good.

post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post





I think the new Westone UM2 also have replaceable cables. You may want to check those out. They also sound very good.


Those do look good actually, but after reading a bit it seems people don't seem to think they're worth the price, what are people's thoughts on that?

post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by utkanos View Post




Those do look good actually, but after reading a bit it seems people don't seem to think they're worth the price, what are people's thoughts on that?


It depends on what you are looking for in an IEM. If build quality and replaceable cables are your top priority, and you also think of maybe reshelling them later, then they are worth the price IMO. If what you care most about is sound quality, then they are not really worth it. Like I wrote in my PM to you, Hifiman RE252 is the one to get if you want best price/performance in sound quality. That doesn't mean UM2 sounds bad, it's just that there are cheaper IEMs out there that sound better. UM2 still has a nice, pleasant, warm sound with good bass and mids - you should like it.

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