Yep, I said finished! You heard right. Everything's done. In case you looked back a ways, pretty much everything's new since a week ago. What was up previously was revised or reworked, so it's mostly new content.
Read, take a break, read, nap, read some more, and comment when you're done. I'd like to hear some feedback on it in it's completed state. Like the format? Not working for ya? Let me know.
I'm always looking for better or more helpful ways to do things. I'm hoping this gives a little more insight into the products. The attempt is to always be comprehensive but hopefully concise. At some point you can sort of write a book and still not fully describe things. Hopefully you find this to be helpful.
First off, this is probably one of the bigger undertakings I've done. There are a number of earphones I've already reviewed but have again purchased to help review and compare some of the newcomers as well as reaffirming which ones I might keep (new or old). I have 10 earphones I am reviewing at one time. I am not separating this by price point at all. There are simply a number of earphones I have personally been interested in and most of which are popular to various people. The point of this review isn't so much a comparison. Rather I simply want to list my listening impressions and leave you to decide.
I am taking a partially new approach to this review. In the past I simply listened to a wide range of audio and jotted down sound characteristic notes relating to dynamics, bass, mids, treble, sound stage, etc. As I listened to more audio tracks, I revised the notes by adding, subtracting, or revising info until I felt it accurately reflected what I hear. With this past method, you have no reference to what I hear. Many of you find specific audio track comparisons popular, so I figured I'd give it a shot although with a slight twist. For this review I am purposely selecting Youtube videos, specifically HD videos, that you can watch and listen to with your own hardware and compare. Everything I am using is 1080p or 720p video and I am selecting a number of specific test mediums to measure the earphones to portray various abilities and shortcomings. The visual reference should help create a visual expectation of the sound you hear that should in theory help scale the audible representation to the visual expectation. In a sense, your eyes should help you gauge right and wrong in the audio.
The test group:
Oh no! Haha.
UM3X - e-Q7 - RE262 - Triple.Fi 10
RE252 - CK100 - RE-Zero - Custom 3
OK1 - HJE900
For this list I intend to do one thing only: list listening impressions. These impressions are a representation of what I hear from the earphone for that video. They are responses to the key questions I'm asking of the video. The goal is to simply jot down what I hear and is simply what stands out that is good, bad, odd, or special, what the earphone excels at or is lacking in relation to what I expect from watching the video. I want to create something where you can view the video on your own and compare what you hear with your own products and compare against what I've jotted down. Hopefully you will be able to scale your own earphones to what I've listed hear and have a basic idea of how they compare.
Trombone solo. I played this instrument in high school and am well familiar with the sound it produces. This video is a good example of the range and variations of sound of this instrument. It is a simple recording, and it's easy shows the subtleties of the instrument and should show the abilities and faults of the earphones relatively well.
Xenakis:Keren for solo trombone(1986)-Ryoma Takaoka
I've always liked this drum solo. It was actually pulled from Youtube a while ago but has managed to pop back up for now. I am familiar with the sound from band and I've always had roommates that have played drums. Recording and mixing methods vary a ton, so much of what I'm looking for from this video is testing frequency range, dynamics, impact, decay, etc.
Neil Peart Drum Solo - Rush 30th Anniversary - HD
I've sort of fallen in love with the cello. It's vibrant and robust and there's a great natural sense to the instrument with the twang of the strings and resonance of the wood body. This is a fun example I've run across that attempts to portray a good variety of presentation of the instrument. This should highlight the level of detail, texturing, and decay of the earphones, how well they can present the presence and reverberation of the instrument.
Sulic Hauser- Smooth Criminal
I've used Linkin Park for a while to test earphones in their ability to deal with less than stellar audio quality and noisy information. I find many products have a hard time with separation and retaining good individuality of everything that's going on. Linkin Park's older tracks were gritty and colored and can sometimes be hard for an earphone to present well. This should highly the earphone's ability to cope with less than great audio quality, gritty information, and the earphone's ability to separate and individualize a noisy mix of sounds.
Linkin Park - Crawling
Who doesn't like Stevie Wonder. This is a live recording of Superstition with a wide range of percussion instruments, brass, and singers. Part of the challenge of earphones is to present a balanced experience, not emphasizing any one thing and offering a clean, detailed, and well separated presentation.
Stevie Wonder - Superstition @ live
The review will be like my other reviews. I will break each earphone down into its parts:
This will reiterate what was already listed in the listening sessions but in a more coherent manner that's easier to follow. I will follow up with a short impression of the earphone stating in short what it does well, what it may lack, and what type of person the earphone might fight, just sort of a final thoughts section to highlight some key points.
Frequency response graphs:
I will upload frequency response graphs of all of the earphones. The graphs are not absolute. They are just how I personally hear the frequency response. It is more a useful tool for gauging relative differences between the earphones rather than an absolute response. It will also help differentiate some aspects of sound. For example, an earphone may have the frequency response sensitivity that runs to 50Hz but has a thin note or the earphone may have a well defined note but rolls off on the low end. Along with the listening impressions, this helps show how the earphone operates and offers some indication of why it may sound the way it does (presence, emphasis, coloration, etc.).
I will briefly comment on each earphone and list a few unique things about each, basically what makes each special or unique or what surprised me most about them. These are just little personal comments including some info that I may not have included or hinted to in any of the impressions or review.
Edited by mvw2 - 3/21/11 at 1:05am