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Monster vs Sennies vs Westone

Poll Results: For those that like polls, which headphone should I buy based on my preferences included in this OP. Please take the time to explain why in the thread if you can.

Poll expired: Jan 15, 2011 This is a multiple choice poll
  • 27% of voters (10)
    Westone UM 3x
  • 16% of voters (6)
    Monster Turbine Coppers
  • 16% of voters (6)
    Miles Davis Tribute Monster Turbines
  • 30% of voters (11)
    Sennheiser IE-8
  • 8% of voters (3)
    Etymotic Research ER-4P
36 Total Votes  
post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hi!  I am new to these forums as a poster, but I have been a lurker for a while.  I tend to research a lot before dedicating to a particular purchase, and I have found that I make better decisions by doing just that.  However, I am stuck between five main sets of IEMS, and I really could use some audiophile guidance.

 

First off, I am NOT an audiophile.  I greatly appreciate quality and clarity, but I also like a slightly smaller sound-stage than some, a warmer sound than some who prefer completely neutral tones, and I like a fast, punchy, AND strong bass (as opposed to overwhelmingly Strong but not fast or fast but weak).

 

OK, now you know that I am not an audiophile and you have an idea of what I like to hear in my music.  One more note is that I really like quality (especially in regards to build), so I don't want an IEM that is going to fall apart within a year or two.  I know Shure really seems to have trouble making IEMs that last (the cable often becomes detached from the earpiece).  I also want cables that don't easily tangle as I travel a lot, and I hate constantly trying to untangle headphone cables (nevermind the extra wear and tear it causes).

 

Finally, the IEMs have to FIT well to provide great sound and have to be comfortable for long use (more on that in the Monster Turbine section).

 

Sorry for the length, but I wanted you to know a little background so that you can guide me in a) what I like and b) you know what I consider important.  Here are the five IEMs I am considering (and will purchase one of them soon):

 

1. Westone UM 3x - I know these are professional monitors, but I have read so many good things about them.  These are my #1 choice right now, so I will break down the pros and cons.  For the others, I will just give a brief description of my research and questions.

  • Pros:
  • Great fit that is comfortable for long-term use, and provides a good seal
  • Vocals sound great, but they are also more forward than most - pro and a con depending on how forward they really are.  I don't know if the vocals overwhelm the instruments
  • Base is fast and fairly powerful - not as much as the Monster Turbines or esp Senn IE8s
  • Cables are detachable (on the newer model that I am considering)
  • Has three armature drivers with a threeway crossover (as opposed to a twoway crossover)
  • Cons:
  • Slightly more expensive than the others
  • Is a monitor so the treble is slightly less than the others and they are not specifically designed for consumer use
  • Sound-stage may be too small, but it is tough for me to tell from what I read because of personal preference.  I cannot try these before I buy :(
  • Bottom Line: Reviews I have read (and they are lacking) are great, for example, the best review I read on Amazon says this in summary "Sum it all up, and the UM3x is the only, and first, high-end IEM that I will whole-heatedly recommend. No, it's not perfect, and the Stax SR-001 system is still better as a portable. Custom-molded canalphones like the JH Audio JH13 or Westone's own ES3x are better still. But the UM3x has finally crossed the border from problematic compromise - with potential - to a competent product that offers good sound quality for the money, and it is the FIRST earphone to actually do so."

 

2. Monster Turbine Coppers - These are my second choice, but I know that fit is an issue.  For a short time, I owned a pair of the golds, and I could not find a good fit, so I returned them.  However, when I went back to listening to my other headphones (Sony, V-Moda), they sounded like crap (and they are in the $80-$100 range).  I then realized how good the Golds sounded, and I have read that I could use other tips (such as the cheap Sony Hybrid tips) for a better fit.  I have also read that the coppers give better clarity and have close to the same bass, so I would buy those since they are only a few bucks more ($30-$40).

 

3. Miles Davis Tribute Monster Turbines - Ok, I have heard 2 things on these 1) they sound warm but are good with all types of music and have better clarity than the coppers and 2) they only sound good for Jazz music and are terrible for anything else.  These two statements are complete opposites, so I am having trouble making heads or tails of these.  Anyone with actual listening experience vs the coppers (or even just to the MDT (Miles Davis Tribute) Monster Turbines)?

 

4. Sennheiser IE-8: Ok, so I know they have a lot of bass, but that is not always a bad thing (I love bass as long as it is quality...not just overblown movement...if you know what I mean).  I hear people claim that these are the PERFECT set of IEMS and others say that they are "nothing special."  For $400, I expect something special from a consumer perspective.  What I can't get a handle on this these is a) do they sound good with all sorts of genres and b) is there too much bass?  I know it is a matter of taste, but since I am not an audiophile, I appreciate those with good ears and refined taste.  I am not deaf, but there are many of you out there that will hear more differences than I will and I am looking for your thoughts on these.  These weren't in my initial list, but I had to add them after seeing so many people recommend them and sing their praises.

 

5. Etymotic Research ER-4P (these are the portable version that require less power than the S version): These are last on my list because I have 4 concerns from my research: 1) not enough bass   2) not easy to get a good fit    3) they stick out of your ears and look poor/get in the way    4) the wires are cheaper than the others.  However, I have also read that they have the best clarity.  I am close to crossing these off, but I have to ask and get your opinions first.

 

Thank you SO MUCH for your help.  It is a great community like this that makes the Internet so great.  I love reading your opinions and hope you will take the time to help me out.  I know that I don't know a lot, but I love to learn, so feel free to add as much as you want to your responses.  I will also respond quickly to any questions or PMs if you want to dialog.

 

Thanks and have a great day!


Edited by RPB1975 - 11/30/10 at 10:05pm
post #2 of 21

Welcome to Head-Fi! And no worries, not everyone here is an audiophile. tongue.gif

 

It is interesting to see your first choice is the UM3X. From what I know, the UM3X is the most neutral out of the list, bar the ER4P. I'd personally have the Monster Turbine MD on my hit-list instead, if I am interpreting your taste correctly. It seems like you'd benefit more on those than the Westones. However, if the Turbine line is giving you fit issues... then maybe the UM3X is the best choice after all.

 

I'd scratch the ER-4P off the list too. They are really clinical and are really bright earphones. So, unless you like bright and clinical sound signatures, you'll find them very fatiguing.

 

The IE-8 is what I think as a basshead earphone. And from what I know, the most expensive basshead earphones you could get. Laidback, with loads of mid-bass and smooth is what they are. However, getting the fit right is absolutely essential with these earphones too. It should be noted that these don't have it great for the mids though.

 

All and all, I guess it'd be a battle between UM3X, MTMD, and IE8. Their bassy-level, in my opinion, goes: (most to least) IE8 > MTMD > UM3X.

 

They are all very good earphones of their range though. I don't really think you could go wrong with either of them unless you are expecting them to sound like platinum gold. tongue.gif


Edited by MaxwellDemon - 11/30/10 at 10:39pm
post #3 of 21

RPB1975, welcome to Head-Fi! And sorry about your wallet--none of those choices are cheap...

 

I'm a great fan of Westone's build quality--my first "serious" IEMs were the UM1. I can vouch for their comfort, especially with the use of the 'olive' Shure foam tips, and their cable is great at not tangling and being quiet. The Y-split in the cable occurs high up, close to the IEMs themselves though; this makes it fairly difficult to wear the Y down the front of the neck. The UM3X uses the same cable, and its build quality is up to the same high standards

 

My current pair is the IE8. It's also very comfy (using the stock foam tips) and the cable is quite good, but not as good as Westone's. It sometimes tangles a little when I'm removing the earphones from my case. I don't find the vocals recessed on them, and in fact chose them over the UM3X and W3 back in May '10. 

 

I've had the good fortune to audition demo units of the UM3X and W3 a few times since purchasing my IE8 in May. Perhaps I have grown too used to the IE8's sound, but both Westones now sound very lifeless and unnatural to me. It's weird--I used to absolutely love the W3. The IE8's definitely have a wide soundstage though, and it seems that may be the very antithesis of what you're looking for.

post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your great replies MaxwellDemon and Eric_C.  You both gave some great insights.

 

Based on both of your responses, I think I may be leaning more towards the MTMD IEMs.  The main concerns I have are a) since these are designed for Jazz, do they work well with other generas or are they too warm?  and b) how are the vocals on these IEMS.  Clear and crisp vocals is a must for me.  HOWEVER, the vocals should never drown out the guitars/drums etc (it's all about balance for me).

 

Also, how is the detail in these vs the MT Coppers?  I know the coppers are reported to have really good detail and great seperation.

 

Thanks again!

post #5 of 21

Despite the advertisements for MTMD, II think they worked rather well across the genre. Of course, their sound signature is more mids-forward due to the wanted emphasis on the vocals... so, you'll most definitely get your crisp and nice vocal from these IEMs. I also personally don't think it drowns out the back instruments either. I was still able to pick out the background quite well in all the genres I have tested the MTMD in.

 

In my personal experience (I only auditioned these earphones, I don't have them unfortunately to make a proper comparison), I found the MTPC warmer and slightly bassier than the MTMD. That's the only difference I picked out though. I found them both equally great. One of them is just more mid forward and balanced, while the other is warmer and slightly bassier.

post #6 of 21

Your DAP also plays a major roll in the sound stage/quality some earphones handle EQ'ing much better than others.

post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 

Ok, so 4 out of 8 people has voted for the UM3X, but no one has written any kind of recommendation for that pair.  Why is that?

 

Also, and this question has been bothering me: which of these headphones will really need a portable headphone amp to reach their potential (or get close).  I read that the UM3X and the Miles Davis Tribute require a lot of power.  I currently use an ipod touch (I know, I know redface.gif sound quality already suffers).  I am thinking of picking up a Headstage Arrow 12HE portable headphone amp as I really, really like what I see in that (I love the bass bost, custom impedance and gain settings, two headphone outputs, replacable lithium ion battery, etc).  However, I don't want to spend another $275-$300 on something that won't give me a lot of 'bang for the buck'

 

I am a complete noob when it comes to portable amps.  I didn't use to listen to a lot on the road, but due to increased travel for work, I am finding the need for quality sound on the road.  At home I have had my trusty Infinity Kappas and SVS sub, so I never bother with headphones (why would I, right)!  The portable amp idea is appealing because I could even use it to improve the sound when I watch movies and such on my laptop (using the DAC cable with the amp).

 

Thanks for the help guys!

post #8 of 21

As a rule of thumb:

Headphones > Source > Amp

 

That is to say in decreasing order of how much difference each component makes to the sound of your setup, your headphones matter most. Then your source (some say the player matters--I suppose so--but what definitely matters is how well it was recorded and mastered, and what bit rate you ripped it at). And lastly, it's your amp. If you're into tweaks such as cables, then that comes after the amp.

 

So! Consider an amp only if you feel your headphones are lacking without one, or you're just itching to upgrade.

 

If you can bring your portable sources down to a store to test the earphones, that would be ideal. Alternatively, maybe you could order from somewhere with a good return policy, and try out one pair first?

 

**Btw, I wouldn't pay too much attention to the poll results. It only measures popularity, and those votes are anonymous and unqualified--who knows why one IEM got cast a vote over another?

post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

That is a very good point.  I reripped a lot of my music a while back to lossless.  When I originally ripped my CD collection, I ripped it to lower bitrates due to limitations on size...well, we no longer have those limitations.  However, do you guys think an iPod Touch with a high-quality song will sound good on the Miles Davis Tribute headphones without a portable amp?  I really don't know.

 

Mostly what I know is about speakers, and there is a pretty big diminishing return there.  For example, I had a lesser receiver powering my Infinity Kappas (I think it was sending 60 watts per channel bi-amped - 120 watts total), then I upgraded to a much nicer amp that is sending either 90 or 100 watts per channel (not to mention the better components).  I notice a pretty good difference with that, but my wife doesn't.  That is the main reasaon that I don't plan on ever moving to seperates.  The ROI becomes so small at that point that 90% of people listening to the setup won't even hear the difference.

 

With a portable amp, the only person that matters is me (because I am the only person that will be listening).  So I only care if I will notice a difference.  On that note, if the iPod touch is not a good source for music and cannot drive these headphones well....is there a better source (I know some will say iPod classic)?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric_C View Post

As a rule of thumb:

Headphones > Source > Amp

 

That is to say in decreasing order of how much difference each component makes to the sound of your setup, your headphones matter most. Then your source (some say the player matters--I suppose so--but what definitely matters is how well it was recorded and mastered, and what bit rate you ripped it at). And lastly, it's your amp. If you're into tweaks such as cables, then that comes after the amp.

 

So! Consider an amp only if you feel your headphones are lacking without one, or you're just itching to upgrade.

 

If you can bring your portable sources down to a store to test the earphones, that would be ideal. Alternatively, maybe you could order from somewhere with a good return policy, and try out one pair first?

 

**Btw, I wouldn't pay too much attention to the poll results. It only measures popularity, and those votes are anonymous and unqualified--who knows why one IEM got cast a vote over another?


Edited by RPB1975 - 12/2/10 at 9:37am
post #10 of 21

I have the Um3x with a Cowon J3  and UM1 for my Cowon I9 (for work) for me these are an excellent match.  My collections of players is the Cowon J3 & I9, Clip +.   I had the IPOD, IPOD Touch but gave them away.  The UM3x is a wonderful set of phones.  Excellent clarity and warm tight tones from a very small earpiece.  Some say it’s not bassy, others say it’s too flat so music is boring.

 In my experience the UM3x have plenty of bass so it may have been their ear-seal may not have been good.   I haven’t tried every IEM on the market but I have tried the Denons, Senn IE 8s, Scull Candy cheapies and a bunch of the default IEM’s from my players.   For my ear the UM3x sound much better.

What I love in the UM3x is the comfort and builds quality.  The wires are removable and are twisted. They feel very strong.  You never hear any scratchiness when it rubs your clothes.  The wires go over your ears and allow you to secure them out of the way during activities.  Some says the “Y” split is too short however the idea is to use the “Slider” to snug the wires to the head/neck which further secures the fit.  I have used these headset for hours on end, walking, yard work anything and they always stay snug in my ears. This is a big issue for me because I hate when the buds pop out during an activity.

As for support, I stepped on my Um1 and completely broke the tip.  I called Weston an sent them in; received a replacement all in 10 days.

Now as for sound this is a very personal things which is why I didn’t comment on that previously. Everyone hears and wants a personal type of sound. What sound good for me may not be what you are looking for.  I listen to a lot of Christian, Jazz and R&B music.   I want to hear the fingers move along the guitar strings, I want punchy tight bass; I want clarity in voice and tone.  These I receive with the UM3x.

Yes I am a Weston Fan! Plus they are made in the USA!

post #11 of 21

You don't have to worry too much about your DAP not being able to run these IEMs. From what I know, the only IEM that actually requires an amp is the ER-4S. smily_headphones1.gif

 

Having said that, most of these top tier earphones would benefit from an amp though. As Eric said, you don't have to consider an amp unless you are starting to feel like if your earphones are being lacking in some aspects.

 

To answer your question though, the iPod Touch will run the Miles Davis just fine and I do think they'll sound wonderful too. tongue.gif

post #12 of 21

As an owner of the Coppers passes by calmly, he says, "fast, punchy, AND strong bass without overwhelming the spectrum? Get the Coppers."

post #13 of 21

The newer Shures have a replaceable cable, with the exception of the SE115. However, the sound signature might be too warm for your taste.

post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 

UPDATE: So, I appreciate all of the input, and I thought it would be nice to update you on what I decide and then give my impressions (in case anyone following is curious).

 

I ordered the Miles Davis Tribute Monster Turbines because I think I will really like the sound signature, and I really like the style (even the blue cord...which isn't for everyone).  I should get the phones tonight or tomorrow.  I will thouroughly audition them and report back.

 

I also decided not to order a portable amp at this time.  If I do order a portable amp, the Heastage Arrow looks really good to me (the size, power, and options are all top-of-class IMO).  I will give the headphones a shot and see if I feel anything is lacking.  I will probably upgrade to an amp at some point, but probably not right away.

 

By the way, my wallet if very angry with all of you wink.gif

 

Thank you for the help, and I will make sure to report back.

post #15 of 21

i have only tried the um3x, shure 530..and monster gold...

handsdown the gold medal goes to monsterGOLD.

um3x is analytical n uninvolving to my taste.. but soundstage is great..tried to like it but failed...despite all the good reviews.

love the shure530, but felt there must be something out there with better highs but the similar signature..

warm n  thumping...then i found the GOLD...its what i wanted..FINALLY.

 

not sure if there is a higher mountain to clmb..

for now i will be eyeing the coppers n miledavis.

its a goldmine on monsterhill.

well, thats just personal taste.

 

PS: ya, must say getting a good fit is tough on the GOLD..

but i found it in the medium sized supertips...worth the trouble indeed.   

 

 

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