Still three to go
(Finished!!!) Review Set: UM3X, e-Q7, RE262, Triple.Fi 10, RE252, CK100, RE-Zero, Custom 3, OK1,... - Page 4
Gear mentioned in this thread:
Still here. Things just tend to get set aside during the holiday season, in part because I was 90 miles away from most of my IEMs for a large portion of the time. I'm back and finishing this up. I just got a basic set of frequency response graphs made for all of them that I will post a little later. I still need to run through the descriptions for each as they do all vary quite a bit in different ways. Again this is covering a wide price range, so it's not exactly a product A can't compete with product D kind of thing, more so simply a comparison of what they kind of do with various things, what they offer. I do want to revise the first comparison with the trombone solo. That one's been bugging me since I didn't really relate my response specifically to how well or poorly the earphone can create the sounds of the trombone. I might zip through the others and decide if I want to revise them some. I kind of want to individualize each more in relation to how each product performs for that media. I'd rather say what it does good or bad in relation to recreating a brass instrument, string, concert piece, etc. rather than simply dynamics are good, frequency response is this, and so on. I will cover those things later, so it's been bugging me doing that in the current responses. I kind of want it more individualized to the media. I can then run through the generalized overview at the end to actually cover each in a general format describing bass, mid, treble, sound stage, clarity, etc. as a whole for each product.
Goodvibes, I am not trying to work off the absolute best technology here. The goal of this review was to be a little different tying video to the review which is a bit less common. I simply wanted to try something different here, and there will be unfortunate limitations from the method I've chosen. My goal it to create a little more of a shared experience in the sense where I describe how a product sounds reproducing a certain thing. You can then watch the same exact thing and listen to how your own hardware reproduces that thing. What's good? What's bad? How well does your current product fair? Do any of the products I'm covering intrigue you? Maybe product A sounds a lot like what you want to hear. Maybe product C does some things that aren't really what you're looking for. I'm hoping this format makes the decision making process a little easier for some by taking a slightly different approach to the whole review process. Is it better than another format? I'm not sure. For me it was simply a new approach I wanted to try.
hey MVW2 - I love reading your reviews, but have a quesiton about this one. In all the pics you've posted of the iems used, you seem to be using foam tips, a la Comply or equivalent. Is that the case? I'm particularly interested in which tips you're using with the RE262, as I never ever use foam tips, given they usually suck all the treble into a black hole.
Well I revised the trombone solo. It's a bit more information and geared more specifically to the instrument. I wanted to pick up on some key parts basically:
does it sound like a trombone?
frequency response, low, mids, highs, what's right or wrong?
the details of the instrument, mechanical noises, variations in the players breath/facial changes, harmonics of the instrument's resonances
how well the earphone relates the player to the instrument and the sound you hear.
These were the things I kind of wanted to hit up on.
I will look through the others and expand on them as I see fit. The initial intention was a shorter review and quick notes, but that bugs me. I want more information there. However that also takes time.
I'll toss up the frequency response and detailed descriptions of each after that.
As for the RE262, yeah, the foam was simply for ease. I am using the large single flange tips from the CK100 right now on them. For that earphone foam isn't an ideal, although the treble sensitivity is actually good. It simply isn't as aggressive as the RE252 or other earphones like the Triple.Fi 10.
It tends to vary. Many of them are very good but in different ways. This makes personal preference a big issue. For broad use, an earphone with a flatter response is more important. Less coloration means it will sound decently appropriate for most songs. More colored earphones will sound great with some music but sound off with other music. If a person was to tune an earphone to a specific song, they will always tune to a colored setting that accents that song in a desired way. The instant you step away from that song, now the earphone sounds funny. It's similar with genres. One earphone may sound great with rap music but terrible with folk. There are some inherent issues too. For example, BA earphones tend to have pretty clean notes with very short decay. This can at times cause problems with sounds that are more drawn out, like string instruments. One earphone may not be able to create the same level of presence for that instrument type versus another earphone. It's not just about frequency response. It's about dynamics, articulation, speed, and every other descriptor I can throw out describing ways in which the earphone can develop the notes. The earphones that do better are typically the ones that are more natural and capable in most of the areas. An earphone with a poor frequency response will suffer in certain ways. An earphone with poor dynamic range will suffer in certain ways. An earphone that is sluggish will suffer in certain ways. In the end, the best all-around earphone is the one that does the least wrong and/or least lacking.
As for me personally (including my own preference)? I do like several of them a lot, but I do often find myself using the CK100 more often. However, I also like the RE252, RE262, e-Q7, Triple.Fi 10, and UM3X (if EQed) a lot. They all offer their own things. I feel the CK100 is both really well balanced and broadly capable. I see the RE252 as one of the most "correct" earphones out there. The RE262 is insanely transparent and resolving and probably the single best dynamic driver on the market. I think the Triple.Fi 10 is one of the better refined and mindlessly fun earphones out there. The UM3X is a technical powerhouse. The e-Q7 is very well balanced, natural, and textured. They're all quite a bit different from each other, and they all still have certain capabilities and shortcomings. As an individual, you must weigh those things and decide what might fit you best, and that really is the hardest part. You sort of have to understand yourself very well to pick a product that fits you well. I have a good understanding of what I like, don't like, what I can live with and can not live with. I still find myself needing to actually try a number of products to get first hand experience to really measure each product though. User comments, reviews, and the bits and pieces of information we get on the forum really never fully describes the actual real-life sound. We only get a glimpse, a hint as to what a product is like, and that's pretty much it. I try to be wordy and descriptive to attempt to convey a reasonable amount of info, but I still can't fully describe what a product really sounds like. I can merely hint certain things. At best, these hits let us weed out some of the products that we very much know we won't like and highlight a few products that really suit our tastes. However, after that we still pretty much need to by everything we're interested in just to try it out and listen with our own two ears. Only then do we definitively know if the product suits or tastes and goals or not.
p.s. Sorry for the long wait on the review. There really isn't much stopping me other than the struggle between willingness and laziness. It takes a bit of effort to just sit down and actually critically listen to a pile of earphones for hours on end. It's mentally taxing and becomes not so fun to do. Oh well, baby steps. At some point I need to get it finished up so I can sell off most of them and then pick out some new things.
Edited by mvw2 - 3/2/11 at 6:00pm
I will get to that more when I do the comprehensive reviews at the end rather than the listening sessions. The sessions are more to point out variations, capabilities, shortcomings.
In a basic sense, a good sound stage has to do with having a good dynamic range and range of volume to convey subtlety to explosiveness, distance and proximity, good note texturing to convey all the little nuances of sound, the little details, and provide good tonality and balance so the mind understand where sounds are when scaled relative to real life. If an earphone does a lot of these things well, it can create a believable sound stage. Correct or note comes down to linearity and appropriateness of output. Separation of sounds in that space comes down to retaining good clarity and spacial hints from having good texture and decay. Everything sort of adds together to put sounds in perceived places. The ultimate test ends up being watching something like an action movie where the earphone must put sounds in the right place, not going too far right or left, not too close or distant. Your ears and eyes try to sync together, and an earphone with a correctly defined sound stage will put the sound exactly where you see the thing. An earphone that does it more poorly will make the thing sound closer or farther than it is on screen or too far left or right or in some cases so far to one side it sounds off the screen. For example, the UM3X has a really well developed sound stage but it's very broad in left-right transition, too much so. If you wants a movie with things shifting around from side to side, your ears will indicate the thing on the screen sounds off the screen instead of where it is. Earphones like the OK1, e-Q7, CK100, and RE262 are far more correct in position.
The only issue talking about sound stage is that we are listening to audio. The video aspect tends to not be a factor. As well, we have preferences that may favor distancing and an excess in size, the IE8 for example. The audio itself is vastly varied, processed. The sound stage is artificial and engineered where one instrument is simply panned left and has some added reverb, or the micing was done specifically to generate a certain sound. A guitar might have 3 separate mic inputs blended together to create a sound and presence of a desired manner. It's not like we're watching a concert live. The necessity of accuracy becomes lowered, and we may desire exaggeration rather than accuracy. Earphones like the UM3X and Custom 3 are exaggerated but desirable for it in many ways.