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Multi-Custom In-Ear Monitor Review, Resource, Mfg List & Discussion (Check first post for review links & information) - Page 107

post #1591 of 4815
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aethernum View Post

Pretty much all of my listening will be on the go. Or in music practice rooms, where I won't have access to any sort of setup besides what I can carry with me (I'm a music student going into performance next year at the Bienen School of Music in Chicago). 

 

For listening on the go.  I would recommend a mid-fi music player like some of the offering by Hifiman or Hisound.  If you're more interested in functionality rather than a pure audiophile-oriented experience, something like the Cowon would be recommended.

post #1592 of 4815
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aethernum View Post

I'm in a similar boat as an earlier poster. I used to have Shure SE420s, which were good universals but not great. Now I'm looking to step up to high end custom IEMs, and am a little overwhelmed by all of the information and companies. Where to start?

 

I tend to listen more to classical music than any other genre, but my library includes a large amount of jazz, classic rock, hard rock, metal, choral, electronic, broadway, marching/drum corp, and other types of music. So I'm looking for an IEM which performs well in all genres, but particularly in classical. The Shure SE420s had good treble sound, but lacked bass for me. I think what I'm looking for is a V-shaped signature - good bass (low brass, drums, double bass, etc.), but not so bass-heavy that it overpowered the good treble, which is most important for me (violins, violas, woodwinds, etc.) 

 

I, too, have been saving for a while, so budget isn't too much of an issue. However, for the Shure SE420s, I just used a plain old iPod as my source. Which was fine for those IEMs. But I'm thinking with a high end custom I'm going to need something more substantial for my source, and/or for an amp.

 

Do you have a recommendation for me for an IEM? And what kind of source/amp would I need to get the best sound? Thanks.

 

I agree that where to start is the difficult part.  Custom IEMs are not your typical mid-tier universals as they have so much more ability and one part of the spectrum won't interfere with another.  And then you have to decide what is most important to you, IMO both in sound signature and in technical ability.  For example, the bass of the 5-way changes quite a bit with each track, so some tracks sound bass light while others pound you mercilessly compared with something that is bass enhanced all the time.  And there are bright CIEMs that present the details right to you while others present in what I term as a more natural presentation, presenting all the details within the presentation, so if you look for them you will find them, but they don't jump out at you.

 

If you are looking for a V shape, the LS8 and JH16 are two options I have heard, and from the demo, the Miracle may also fit the bill.  The Rooth LSX5 offers a well integrated dynamic bass driver and a natural treble.  They all will pull the music apart and allow you to hear all the detail.  You may want to read reviews and then ask specific questions about how things compare and see if they sound like something you truly want.  Not that I am recommending the aud-5X for you, but I find this review interesting from someone that only had mid to high level universal IEMs before the aud-5X for the perspective.

 

See below for amps/sources.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassadian View Post

 

Honestly, you don't need an expensive amplifier rather than a better source.  And even then, you don't need the Anedio D1 or any similarly priced DAC or amplifier.  Sure you may get a better sound but at the point its just tiny nuances and minute details that you'll be picking up on.  I'm no expert on this, but I'm sure anyone would agree that past a certain point there are diminishing marginal returns.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aethernum View Post

That's helpful, thanks! I said budget isn't really a concern, and it's not. But, if I would need a high end DAC or amp in order to get the sound I'm paying for out of a higher end custom, then obviously budget does become a concern, because I'm paying for one or two other pieces of equipment, too. Any thoughts on the custom that would best suit what I'm looking for?

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

Diminishing returns can be argued to be different for each user. Some people would say anything past a FiiO setup is wasteful. Others would say my Anedio D2 ($1470) is still considered a "budget" DAC. Most of us fall somewhere in between. 

 

Are you intending to listen mostly on the go? Or mostly at home? Because there is quite a distinction between the two, so it would be helpful to know your intent prior to giving recommendations. 

 

With high end audio, there are two things to consider when pairing many thing.  First is capability.  Are there differences between amps?  Yes, for sure there are as the Portaphile 627 is by far the best sounding portable amp I have heard (if you can really call it portable).  But it is not about the ability of a single component, but more about holding other components back.  For example, if I use a top tier CIEM with my Clip+ or iPhone, I am not getting the best performance I can out of the CIEM.  If I use an amp with my iPhone, the iPhone limits the reproduction regardless of how good the amp and CIEM are.  Same if you use a great DAC and mediocre amp.  This is more apparent as you go up the CIEM chain, although some CIEMs are affected more than others, especially by the amping (most likely due to the crossovers).  Second is synergy as there are some combinations for whatever reason sound better.  Some reasons make sense to me, for example complimentary sound signatures while others just are.

 

I can agree that using a high end CIEM vs. a high end universal with a Clip+ will give a larger differential than going from the Clip+ to a DX100, but the improvement can be quite pronounced to my ears, adding quite a bit or realism from the added spatial queues and detail.  The choice is up to you, but I do recommend players like the DX100 and 801, at least from a sound quality perspective.  I have a source matching section in my reviews, but I now have the DX100 and RoCoo BA, so if you want more info with a particular CIEM, please let me know.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GL1TCH3D View Post

Definitely a great thread! I'll be reading all of this before my upcoming purchase.

 

Thanks, let me know if you have any questions. 

post #1593 of 4815

First off, I'd like to clarify the situation.  

 

The statements that I iterate are said within a certain context.  Yes, everything depends on how the CIEM reacts with respect to certain factors such as the scalability and synergistic effect etc.  

 

When I stated that he wouldn't need a amp rather than a source, the fact is that most CIEM's are easily driven, but CIEM's such as the Spiral Ear 5-Way as you stated reflect the source and in that way a upgraded source should in my mind always take precedence over an amplifier.  After all, garbage in, garbage out.  

 

Also, I'm not sure if you saw my previous post as you quoted the older one.  It is indeed true that a DAP containing an sophisticated amplifier like the HM801 will give the user a significant number of benefits.  However, the differences are less noticeable for someone who is a beginner compared to someone as yourself who has had the privilege of being able to compare numerous high end CIEM's.  Furthermore, I do agree that you can achieve the an augmentation in sound quality, however, the input will lead to decreased output as you continually input more investments (in this case money).  

 

:]

post #1594 of 4815
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassadian View Post

First off, I'd like to clarify the situation.  

 

The statements that I iterate are said within a certain context.  Yes, everything depends on how the CIEM reacts with respect to certain factors such as the scalability and synergistic effect etc.  

 

When I stated that he wouldn't need a amp rather than a source, the fact is that most CIEM's are easily driven, but CIEM's such as the Spiral Ear 5-Way as you stated reflect the source and in that way a upgraded source should in my mind always take precedence over an amplifier.  After all, garbage in, garbage out.  

 

Also, I'm not sure if you saw my previous post as you quoted the older one.  It is indeed true that a DAP containing an sophisticated amplifier like the HM801 will give the user a significant number of benefits.  However, the differences are less noticeable for someone who is a beginner compared to someone as yourself who has had the privilege of being able to compare numerous high end CIEM's.  Furthermore, I do agree that you can achieve the an augmentation in sound quality, however, the input will lead to decreased output as you continually input more investments (in this case money).  

 

:]

 

I get what you are saying and I appreciate your input, which is valuable.  And I do believe in the law of diminishing returns from a technical standpoint to an extent, but how do you quantify additional size and recreation of micro-detail in a believable way.  Technically the differences are small, but to the human brain (at least mine), they are significantly more "correct" which makes them more realistic and emotional.  What do you think when you go from watching a HD show to watching that same show in standard definition?  I would almost rather not watch it personally.

 

The person that wants to buy a high end CIEM and source is usually (at least on here) looking to obtain the best possible sound quality.  The little things matter to that person and they usually listen critically, or they probably wouldn't care to be here.  Even if the person is a beginner, over time their brain will adjust to the better source and the differences will come through for most people.  But, from a perspective viewpoint, the person may not realize what they have unless they downgrade their source and then hear the difference.  

 

Of course, how they listen is also important as people on the go that don't really pay attention to the music don't need for the best source, or even a CIEM unless they want the isolation.  I am perfectly happy with my Clip to the SA-12 for gym use as I am using my music for motivation and concentrating on pushing weights or keeping up my speed during cardio, not the music.  Of course, there is no issue with someone wanting to travel light, or buying a CIEM first, adjusting to that, and then upgrading the source later.  I like to present many source options and let each person decide what is right for them.  I am all for people trying out high and low end sources and selecting which one they think is the best value and selling the other.  Whatever makes each person happy!

post #1595 of 4815
Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post

 

I agree that where to start is the difficult part.  Custom IEMs are not your typical mid-tier universals as they have so much more ability and one part of the spectrum won't interfere with another.  And then you have to decide what is most important to you, IMO both in sound signature and in technical ability.  For example, the bass of the 5-way changes quite a bit with each track, so some tracks sound bass light while others pound you mercilessly compared with something that is bass enhanced all the time.  And there are bright CIEMs that present the details right to you while others present in what I term as a more natural presentation, presenting all the details within the presentation, so if you look for them you will find them, but they don't jump out at you.

 

If you are looking for a V shape, the LS8 and JH16 are two options I have heard, and from the demo, the Miracle may also fit the bill.  The Rooth LSX5 offers a well integrated dynamic bass driver and a natural treble.  They all will pull the music apart and allow you to hear all the detail.  You may want to read reviews and then ask specific questions about how things compare and see if they sound like something you truly want.  Not that I am recommending the aud-5X for you, but I find this review interesting from someone that only had mid to high level universal IEMs before the aud-5X for the perspective.

 

See below for amps/sources.

 

 

 

 

 

With high end audio, there are two things to consider when pairing many thing.  First is capability.  Are there differences between amps?  Yes, for sure there are as the Portaphile 627 is by far the best sounding portable amp I have heard (if you can really call it portable).  But it is not about the ability of a single component, but more about holding other components back.  For example, if I use a top tier CIEM with my Clip+ or iPhone, I am not getting the best performance I can out of the CIEM.  If I use an amp with my iPhone, the iPhone limits the reproduction regardless of how good the amp and CIEM are.  Same if you use a great DAC and mediocre amp.  This is more apparent as you go up the CIEM chain, although some CIEMs are affected more than others, especially by the amping (most likely due to the crossovers).  Second is synergy as there are some combinations for whatever reason sound better.  Some reasons make sense to me, for example complimentary sound signatures while others just are.

 

I can agree that using a high end CIEM vs. a high end universal with a Clip+ will give a larger differential than going from the Clip+ to a DX100, but the improvement can be quite pronounced to my ears, adding quite a bit or realism from the added spatial queues and detail.  The choice is up to you, but I do recommend players like the DX100 and 801, at least from a sound quality perspective.  I have a source matching section in my reviews, but I now have the DX100 and RoCoo BA, so if you want more info with a particular CIEM, please let me know.

 

 

Thanks, let me know if you have any questions. 

 

So basically what you're saying, in a nutshell, is that my setup is only as strong as its weakest link. I mainly use an iPod classic for mobile listening, simply because the ability to use the iTunes interface has always been the most convenient, and I've not used earphones before that would have benefited greatly from a better source. But I gather from the comments that, essentially, getting better custom IEMs will always improve my sound quality, but I would improve it MORE by pairing those with a similarly high-end source/amp. Let me know if I'm wrong.

 

I guess what my question comes down to at this point, then, is whether it is best to spend all of my money on a high end, custom IEM, or to spread out my money between an "okay" custom IEM (which will still sound better than any IEM I've used before, though) and a new source/amp. I said earlier that budget isn't a problem, but if I go too far over $1,000 I'm pushing it. Over $1,000 still seems to put the majority of these custom IEMs within reach, or close to it. Not so if I'm spending another $500 on other equipment.

 

In regard to what you were saying about how the sound is presented, I like audio that sounds like you're standing in the middle of an ensemble. Or up front on the podium, conducting, from a classical perspective. Because it's what I've been doing my whole life, pulling out different details of the sound isn't really a problem for me. I can hear the tuba versus the trombone part, or the flutes versus oboes versus clarinets, etc. I don't really have any experience comparing the two sorts of IEMs, but based on what you're describing I think I'd like the sound to be all presented to me at once. Unless doing that muddies the overall sound, I think hearing it all at once will sound more like what I'm used to on stage. I like that sound of standing in an ensemble - where you can really feel the sound, including the bass. But, the bass doesn't overshadow the treble, which usually has the melody (from a classical perspective). 

 

Everything you've said is really helpful. Thanks again for taking the time to make this kind of resource. I said it was all a little overwhelming, which is true, but just having the option to see all of this information laid out is incredible, and the more information the better, if I can learn to make sense of it. Thanks again, both for this thread and answering my questions.


Edited by Aethernum - 5/20/12 at 12:22am
post #1596 of 4815

Good discussion here folks!

 

Aethernum, since your specific uses require a portable or maybe transportable setup, I'd take a good look at the Leckerton UHA-6S. It's one of the best portables I've ever heard and it also happens to be somewhat reasonably priced. You can use a line-out dock to connect your iPod and have a very usable system that isn't too massive to carry around.

 

At that point your weakest link would be the internal DAC in the iPod. In my humble opinion, Apple does a pretty good job with their D/A conversion. It's certainly a stronger point than their amp section. People like to throw around "Wolfson!" as a buzzword, since the older iPods used that brand, but the Cirrus Logic chips used in many of the newer Apple products are just as good if not better. I don't know which iPod you are using but here are some test results from a few models that should be similar. This level of performance is on par with what you'd generally expect from an entry level CD player like NAD or Cambridge Audio. Once it isn't held back by the amp section, the DAC is very respectable.

 

The upside is that if/when you get the chance to settle down a home setup, even just a DVD player in a dorm or a laptop, the UHA6S has a great onboard DAC which can be accessed through USB, coaxial, or toslink. So it's a device that can grow with you over the years.  

post #1597 of 4815

I should have Rocoo BA next week. I'll post some comparison between BA and studio-V

post #1598 of 4815

This is a really cool thread and even though it took me a couple of days to get through all 106 pages, I have learned a lot about CIEM's.  I'm not really an audiophile but do enjoy listening to a wide range of music.  I currently own a pair of UE 600's universal IEM and Sennheiser PXC 250 noise canceling headphones but I have decided to look into getting a set of CIEMs.  Before discovering this thread, I had no idea that there were so many options out there or that some of them are actually affordable.  Since I'm not a serious audiophile and I have no idea what sound signature I would prefer, I don't want to go off the deep end and spend too much money but I also wan to make sure that if I make this kind of investment, I get something that I will really enjoy so I don't want to just get the cheapest custom I can find.

 

Initially (before I discovered this thread) I was considering either the Alien Ears C3's or the Dream Ears Audio Ears 2x.  I have decided against the Live wires because I don't like the bolt cable connector.  After reading this thread, I'm hesitant about the Alien Ears and have decided to consider the 1964 T, Alclair Duals, Heir 3A, and Clear Tunes CT200.  Since some of these models have 2 drives and some have 3, one question I have is how much of a difference will that make?  The Alclair Duals are only $250 which seems like a great deal but is it too good to be true?  Will I really be able notice a big difference between them and what I currently have?  the 1964's and Heir's are a little more expensive but like I said, if I'm going to make this kind of investment then I want something good.  I've read Jokers reviews of the 1964 T and CT200 and it sounds like they are both pretty good.  It also sounds like Heir is putting out good products but I haven't seen a review of the 3A and Joe seems to like the Alclair reference model but I'm not sure I'm ready to spend $500.  Anyone have any suggestions/advice?  Oh and since Heir is in China, anyone know how much extra I would be looking due to shipping/customs?

 

Thanks to everyone for making this thread such a great resource!

post #1599 of 4815

Shipping your impressions to Heir will cost anywhere from $20-50 depending on who you use. They charge $55 for return shipping of the finished product. Customs is a gamble - you may have to pay or you may not. I've ordered literally dozens of of products from foreign countries and always escaped any extra charges..... until a few weeks ago. 

 

Dual driver and triple driver models all have the potential to sound really great, or decidedly mediocre. I'd shoot more for the one that fits your preferred sound signature rather than just assuming "more drivers = better". It can be better, but it isn't necessarily a guarantee. 

 

Of the specific choices you mentioned, I enjoy the 1964-T and I think it's a good buy. 1964 Ears is a great company to deal with, local in the USA, and have a strong track record. But you should really be thinking in terms of what sound you want - massive bass? Neutral even sound? Treble emphasis? 

post #1600 of 4815
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aethernum View Post

 

So basically what you're saying, in a nutshell, is that my setup is only as strong as its weakest link. I mainly use an iPod classic for mobile listening, simply because the ability to use the iTunes interface has always been the most convenient, and I've not used earphones before that would have benefited greatly from a better source. But I gather from the comments that, essentially, getting better custom IEMs will always improve my sound quality, but I would improve it MORE by pairing those with a similarly high-end source/amp. Let me know if I'm wrong.

 

I guess what my question comes down to at this point, then, is whether it is best to spend all of my money on a high end, custom IEM, or to spread out my money between an "okay" custom IEM (which will still sound better than any IEM I've used before, though) and a new source/amp. I said earlier that budget isn't a problem, but if I go too far over $1,000 I'm pushing it. Over $1,000 still seems to put the majority of these custom IEMs within reach, or close to it. Not so if I'm spending another $500 on other equipment.

 

In regard to what you were saying about how the sound is presented, I like audio that sounds like you're standing in the middle of an ensemble. Or up front on the podium, conducting, from a classical perspective. Because it's what I've been doing my whole life, pulling out different details of the sound isn't really a problem for me. I can hear the tuba versus the trombone part, or the flutes versus oboes versus clarinets, etc. I don't really have any experience comparing the two sorts of IEMs, but based on what you're describing I think I'd like the sound to be all presented to me at once. Unless doing that muddies the overall sound, I think hearing it all at once will sound more like what I'm used to on stage. I like that sound of standing in an ensemble - where you can really feel the sound, including the bass. But, the bass doesn't overshadow the treble, which usually has the melody (from a classical perspective). 

 

Everything you've said is really helpful. Thanks again for taking the time to make this kind of resource. I said it was all a little overwhelming, which is true, but just having the option to see all of this information laid out is incredible, and the more information the better, if I can learn to make sense of it. Thanks again, both for this thread and answering my questions.

 

Yes, precisely, the setup is only as strong as the weakest link.  If your total budge is $1K of so, would you be willing to spend more later on a source?  I ask because if you spend that amount on the CIEM and at a later time upgrade your source, you will probably spend less than if you get a lower cost CIEM and then a higher cost CIEM down the road.  Something like the O2 amp or Neco amps can help the iPod at a lower cost, but both, especially the O2 are not very portable.  Something like an Arrow can help your iPod, but the cost is relatively high.  IMO, there are some major tradeoffs in the portable sources available today.

 

From your description, it sounds like you would prefer something mid-forward, and the SE420 is also mid-forward, so that makes sense.  If you go to a V shaped CIEM I think you will be in shock, at least initially!  

Here are some recommendations from CIEMs I have reviewed/heard:

Alclair Reference - neutral but not the most resolving or capable, and doesn't benefit from higher end sources like other CIEMs.

Dream Earz aud-5X - very capable but the midrange is a little on the thicker side.  Very capable, especially for the price.

Rooth LSX5 - Not quite mid-forward, but presents details to you and is very capable across the spectrum. (I have only heard the demo)

ACS T1 - Midforward and detailed with a very musical and involving sound, but on the higher end of the price spectrum.

Rooth LS8+ - While I think you probably want a more mid-forward presentation, the LS8+ has very high resolution and great smoothness wrapped in musicality. (I have only heard the demo)

 

I can recommend the LSX5 with the RoCoo BA, if you can live with the BA UI and limitations, but it sounds excellent for $250.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

Good discussion here folks!

 

Aethernum, since your specific uses require a portable or maybe transportable setup, I'd take a good look at the Leckerton UHA-6S. It's one of the best portables I've ever heard and it also happens to be somewhat reasonably priced. You can use a line-out dock to connect your iPod and have a very usable system that isn't too massive to carry around.

 

At that point your weakest link would be the internal DAC in the iPod. In my humble opinion, Apple does a pretty good job with their D/A conversion. It's certainly a stronger point than their amp section. People like to throw around "Wolfson!" as a buzzword, since the older iPods used that brand, but the Cirrus Logic chips used in many of the newer Apple products are just as good if not better. I don't know which iPod you are using but here are some test results from a few models that should be similar. This level of performance is on par with what you'd generally expect from an entry level CD player like NAD or Cambridge Audio. Once it isn't held back by the amp section, the DAC is very respectable.

 

The upside is that if/when you get the chance to settle down a home setup, even just a DVD player in a dorm or a laptop, the UHA6S has a great onboard DAC which can be accessed through USB, coaxial, or toslink. So it's a device that can grow with you over the years.  

 

I agree that the chip manufacturer doesn't make a huge difference, but the other components internal to an iPod are critical. Having modded iPods, I know how much the line out can improve by bypassing the internal circuitry, and yes, the newer iPods sound better than the older ones.  However, iPods are all different (as are iPhones) and have been hit or miss.  The Touch 3G has a pretty poor HPO and LO IMO while the iPhone 4 is better than the 4S.  I have been using the line out from the iPhone 4S and comparing it with my modded iPod and the difference is quite significant.

 

I do keep hearing many good things about the UHA-6S but haven't heard it yet, so that may be a very good choice, thanks for bringing it up.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by piotrus-g View Post

I should have Rocoo BA next week. I'll post some comparison between BA and studio-V

 

I will be interested to read about your comparison and see we hear them the same.  I think Hisound finally got it right for high sensitivity BA IEMs/CIEMs with the BA...no hiss and musical at a reasonable price and tiny size.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by yancem View Post

This is a really cool thread and even though it took me a couple of days to get through all 106 pages, I have learned a lot about CIEM's.  I'm not really an audiophile but do enjoy listening to a wide range of music.  I currently own a pair of UE 600's universal IEM and Sennheiser PXC 250 noise canceling headphones but I have decided to look into getting a set of CIEMs.  Before discovering this thread, I had no idea that there were so many options out there or that some of them are actually affordable.  Since I'm not a serious audiophile and I have no idea what sound signature I would prefer, I don't want to go off the deep end and spend too much money but I also wan to make sure that if I make this kind of investment, I get something that I will really enjoy so I don't want to just get the cheapest custom I can find.

 

Initially (before I discovered this thread) I was considering either the Alien Ears C3's or the Dream Ears Audio Ears 2x.  I have decided against the Live wires because I don't like the bolt cable connector.  After reading this thread, I'm hesitant about the Alien Ears and have decided to consider the 1964 T, Alclair Duals, Heir 3A, and Clear Tunes CT200.  Since some of these models have 2 drives and some have 3, one question I have is how much of a difference will that make?  The Alclair Duals are only $250 which seems like a great deal but is it too good to be true?  Will I really be able notice a big difference between them and what I currently have?  the 1964's and Heir's are a little more expensive but like I said, if I'm going to make this kind of investment then I want something good.  I've read Jokers reviews of the 1964 T and CT200 and it sounds like they are both pretty good.  It also sounds like Heir is putting out good products but I haven't seen a review of the 3A and Joe seems to like the Alclair reference model but I'm not sure I'm ready to spend $500.  Anyone have any suggestions/advice?  Oh and since Heir is in China, anyone know how much extra I would be looking due to shipping/customs?

 

Thanks to everyone for making this thread such a great resource!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

Shipping your impressions to Heir will cost anywhere from $20-50 depending on who you use. They charge $55 for return shipping of the finished product. Customs is a gamble - you may have to pay or you may not. I've ordered literally dozens of of products from foreign countries and always escaped any extra charges..... until a few weeks ago. 

 

Dual driver and triple driver models all have the potential to sound really great, or decidedly mediocre. I'd shoot more for the one that fits your preferred sound signature rather than just assuming "more drivers = better". It can be better, but it isn't necessarily a guarantee. 

 

Of the specific choices you mentioned, I enjoy the 1964-T and I think it's a good buy. 1964 Ears is a great company to deal with, local in the USA, and have a strong track record. But you should really be thinking in terms of what sound you want - massive bass? Neutral even sound? Treble emphasis? 

 

I don't have experience below $500, but if a company makes a good $500 or $1000 product there is a very good chance the lower end will also sound good as these are tuned in part by ear.  From what I gather talking to many people that own lower cost CIEMs, I would say take a closer look at the CTM, Alclair, and Heir models in the price range, and the Rooth demos I have sound quite good.  Of course whatever project86 is also an excellent resource and very well versed!  

post #1601 of 4815

Thanks for the advice. Preferred sound signature is part of my issue.  I haven't listened to enough different headphones nor am I very well versed in music listening "science" for a lack of better word so I'm not sure what my preferred signature would be.  I listen to a wide range of music from rock to r&b to jazz to techno and a little classical.  I like some bass but don't need a ton of it.  I like a pretty crisp sound so that you can hear the different instruments and details.  I have no idea about forward or back or space in general.  Does that help at all?
 

post #1602 of 4815
Quote:
Originally Posted by yancem View Post

Thanks for the advice. Preferred sound signature is part of my issue.  I haven't listened to enough different headphones nor am I very well versed in music listening "science" for a lack of better word so I'm not sure what my preferred signature would be.  I listen to a wide range of music from rock to r&b to jazz to techno and a little classical.  I like some bass but don't need a ton of it.  I like a pretty crisp sound so that you can hear the different instruments and details.  I have no idea about forward or back or space in general.  Does that help at all?
 

 

That's understandable. It sounds to me like you would benefit from a generally neutral presentation - if you were a true "basshead", you'd probably know it by now. And perhaps you don't want something with a smoother top end since you enjoy a bit of "crispness". 

 

The 1964-Ears "house sound" seems to favor smoothness in the highs rather than blinding detail retrieval. So maybe the 1964-T should not be your first pick. If going with Heir Audio, the 4.A seems like a better candidate than the 3.A for your needs. I'm not up to date on some of those others you mentioned so I can't be sure. 

post #1603 of 4815
Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post

 

Yes, precisely, the setup is only as strong as the weakest link.  If your total budge is $1K of so, would you be willing to spend more later on a source?  I ask because if you spend that amount on the CIEM and at a later time upgrade your source, you will probably spend less than if you get a lower cost CIEM and then a higher cost CIEM down the road.  Something like the O2 amp or Neco amps can help the iPod at a lower cost, but both, especially the O2 are not very portable.  Something like an Arrow can help your iPod, but the cost is relatively high.  IMO, there are some major tradeoffs in the portable sources available today.

 

From your description, it sounds like you would prefer something mid-forward, and the SE420 is also mid-forward, so that makes sense.  If you go to a V shaped CIEM I think you will be in shock, at least initially!  

Here are some recommendations from CIEMs I have reviewed/heard:

Alclair Reference - neutral but not the most resolving or capable, and doesn't benefit from higher end sources like other CIEMs.

Dream Earz aud-5X - very capable but the midrange is a little on the thicker side.  Very capable, especially for the price.

Rooth LSX5 - Not quite mid-forward, but presents details to you and is very capable across the spectrum. (I have only heard the demo)

ACS T1 - Midforward and detailed with a very musical and involving sound, but on the higher end of the price spectrum.

Rooth LS8+ - While I think you probably want a more mid-forward presentation, the LS8+ has very high resolution and great smoothness wrapped in musicality. (I have only heard the demo)

 

I can recommend the LSX5 with the RoCoo BA, if you can live with the BA UI and limitations, but it sounds excellent for $250. 

 

Yup, I would be willing to upgrade my source/amp later if I spent all my money on the custom IEMs now. And you're right, that will probably end up being the cheapest, because then I'm just getting the good stuff rather than spending money on intermediary equipment. Do you have recommendations for good, high-end portable amps? Something that would run any of the customs that you mentioned well?

 

As for the description of the sound, I have heard that the SE420 is mid-forward, but I've also heard that classical music generally benefits the best from a V-shaped signature. I'm probably used to something mid-forward, but would a V-shaped sound ultimately be better? I really like the reviews of the ACS T1, and have heard good things about the Alclair before, too. How would you compare the sound of some of those CIEMs to the earlier recommendations (which were the JH16, etc.)?

post #1604 of 4815
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yancem View Post

Thanks for the advice. Preferred sound signature is part of my issue.  I haven't listened to enough different headphones nor am I very well versed in music listening "science" for a lack of better word so I'm not sure what my preferred signature would be.  I listen to a wide range of music from rock to r&b to jazz to techno and a little classical.  I like some bass but don't need a ton of it.  I like a pretty crisp sound so that you can hear the different instruments and details.  I have no idea about forward or back or space in general.  Does that help at all?
 

 

To me, crisp = bright & detailed, so if that is your #1, anything in the Rooth lineup, JHA, and Hidition will give you crisp.  I am listening to the demo Rooth products and think the whole lineup is quite good.  You may want to get a CK10 or DBA-02/B2 and see what you think of those before buying a CIEM.  You can always sell the universal without taking much of a hit, especially if you can find a used one.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aethernum View Post

Yup, I would be willing to upgrade my source/amp later if I spent all my money on the custom IEMs now. And you're right, that will probably end up being the cheapest, because then I'm just getting the good stuff rather than spending money on intermediary equipment. Do you have recommendations for good, high-end portable amps? Something that would run any of the customs that you mentioned well?

 

As for the description of the sound, I have heard that the SE420 is mid-forward, but I've also heard that classical music generally benefits the best from a V-shaped signature. I'm probably used to something mid-forward, but would a V-shaped sound ultimately be better? I really like the reviews of the ACS T1, and have heard good things about the Alclair before, too. How would you compare the sound of some of those CIEMs to the earlier recommendations (which were the JH16, etc.)?

 

If you want an amp that makes everything sound better, the Portaphile 627 is that amp.  Other amps vary more in how much they help depending on the CIEM, and the more overall presentation focused CIEMs tend to benefit more from amping.  However, something like the RoCoo BA, 801 (although discontinued and will be replaced by the 802 if memory serves), and DX100 really don't need an amp.

 

The JH16 and LS8/LS8+ have different presentations than the T1, and the Alclair is between the two.  The JH16 has a lot of bass enhancement (and the JH13 is supposed to have neutral bass) while the Rooth products have less enhancement (I should post my Rooth write-up this week).  You can read about how the JH16 and LS8 compare in my JH16 review.  

 

I am not a heavy classical listener, but I do prefer the wider, more laid back soundstage that usually comes with a V shaped presentation for classical.  

post #1605 of 4815
Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

 

That's understandable. It sounds to me like you would benefit from a generally neutral presentation - if you were a true "basshead", you'd probably know it by now. And perhaps you don't want something with a smoother top end since you enjoy a bit of "crispness". 

 

The 1964-Ears "house sound" seems to favor smoothness in the highs rather than blinding detail retrieval. So maybe the 1964-T should not be your first pick. If going with Heir Audio, the 4.A seems like a better candidate than the 3.A for your needs. I'm not up to date on some of those others you mentioned so I can't be sure. 


The problem with upgrading to the 4A is that it starts out at the upper end of my budget and then there is the added shipping expenses but probably most importantly, I'm not sure I can order a set of Heir's and not get the sweet custom wood faceplates which raises up the cost even more.  I mean if your going to get custom headphones you have to get CUSTOM headphones, right!  Seriously though, thanks to both you and Joe for your input.  I have a lot of thinking to do. 

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