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.
- 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)
- 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