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Looking for $50-$100 IEMs suitable for walking

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi all,


  So I've been lurking here while I learn more in my quest to replace my old iPod earbuds. I recently got a pair of Woodees Vintage earbuds, and while I was really impressed by the sound and the look of these, I ended up returning them after a week for a couple of reasons:


1. Microphonics. I didn't know what this was until I tried walking with the IEMs in. The cable noise was a big surprise to me, but it seems that's pretty standard with IEMs. Using the clip and wearing over the ears decreased this a lot when I'm sitting or standing (on my commute, where I use these). However, I walk about a half-mile and the reverb from my footsteps is too much. I have to turn the music up too loud to overcome this, and one of the points of IEMs for me was to not have to turn up the volume to overcome the noise.


2. Headaches. I don't know if this is a problem for all IEMs or just for people sensitive to it, but after just 2 days of using these, I started getting headaches and earaches. I had no ringing in my ears, so I don't think it's a volume issue. (I don't listen loud anymore.) Instead it feels like the cartilage in the earlobe is irritated. The headaches move in a kind of stripe behind my ears, at the base of my skull, and they don't go away quickly.


I've seen the Basic Guide To In Ear Canalphones, and Joker's awesome Multi-IEM Review, and they've been quite helpful, but I'd like to hear some specifics about "footfall microphonics" and headaches. Am I just oversensitive to these things and should I just stick with external earbuds?


Thanks for any help.

Edited by LuckyFrank - 3/26/11 at 4:48pm
post #2 of 13

I get that kind of headache even when listening to regular headphones. I haven't figured out why, although I think it correlates inversely with sleep.


Is the problem unique to IEMs for you?

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'd been listening to my white iPod earbuds for a while with no problems, but now that I've started getting the headaches, I get them more often. I'm not sure what's going on with that. I'm (kind of) glad to hear that I'm not the only one!

post #4 of 13

the most comfortable iem's I've used have been the westone 3(but westone 1's would be just over your price range), the brainwavz m1 and the mee m6.  The mee m6 had the least amount of 'walking' noise (there's a name for it, but I don't remember) and the sound quality is not bad at all, especially considering the price.  I know other people swear by the phonak pfe's and soundmagic pl50's for comfort.  I now use the m6's for gym workouts and for walking the dog.


post #5 of 13

PL50s are the most comfortable I've ever tried.  They even sit less than flush with the ear so you can sleep with them on.

post #6 of 13


My Pl-50's aren't THAT comfortable. And they have quite a lot of microphonics

UE700's are quite nice :D

But i suggest you get something with a shirt clip, which will reduce microphonics

Edited by nucgaek - 3/26/11 at 6:25pm
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies. I looked at the recommended PL 50s, but it does seem that they are quite microphonic. I'll take a look at the Westone 3 & 1, the Brainwavz m1 and the Mee m6.


Does anyone know what the term for the waling noise that I hear so loud? I want to avoid it, but I don't see mention of it in any of the reviews. It's different from regular microphonics.

post #8 of 13
post #9 of 13

I noticed that using the biflanges on my Senn IE8 while wearing them upwards really helped with the occlusion effect. However I tried it again at the library and this time I couldn't get the right seal. Haven't spent much time with the IE8 outdoors/on the go but it's worth looking into (using biflanges, that is).

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

So I've done my best to look more into this, and it seems that there are two effects that people point to as problems endemic to IEMs: microphonics and occlusion (or bone conduction).


Microphonics (or "cable noise") seems to be a solved problem: if you wear the earphones "cables up," so over the ear, plus a shirt clip, you are unlikely to hear noise from brushing the cables against anything. Some earphones have cables that are more microphonic than others, but overall the only thing confusing about this is why so many manufacturers make it seem that over the ear is "upside down" with their markings and imagining. Shouldn't cable down be considered "upside down"? Anyway...


Occlusion or bone conduction is the amplified sound you heat when wearing IEMs. This is tough to consider, because even Joker's great IEM shootout thread doesn't rate this effect. It seems that some people are more bothered than others (consider me a "more bothered" person). Some suggestions are to change how you walk (step on the ball of your foot), change your fashion (cushiony sneakers seem to be less affected than dress shoes) or change the music you listen to (it seems to be a bigger problem with acoustic, jazz and soul than hard rock, hip hop or dance music). These are all non-starters for me. Another suggestion was to change eartips. Perhaps there's a lesser effect with "bi-flange" or "foamy" eartips. I wonder if there's a relation between earphones with great isolation and high occlusion effect. Would that mean that, for me, less isolation would be better because I wouldn't be so distracted by the footfall thuds? What do "sport" IEMs do? (Or are these all outer-ear "buds"?)


This is frustrating because I returned the nice-sounding IEMs I had because of this, and now I'm back to the white iPod earbuds, and it's hard to go back! (In fact, I just listen to music less on my commute!)

Edited by LuckyFrank - 3/30/11 at 10:27pm
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

So I returned the Woodees Vintage earphones and went back to my stock Apple earbuds. Wow, that wasn't going to last long. So after more, research and reflection, I realized that the inline mic and controls are important, so I started looking for another pair of sub-$80 IEMs. I wound up going with the Maximo iMetal iP-595. There a head-fi'ers review of the similar iP-HS5 here and a Macworld review of the 595s, too.

The microphonics of the 595s are much lower, but still there when worn cord-down. But for the walking noise, it's no comparison. I couldn't understand how people said you'd get used to it! Now I see. You can hear it with the 595s, but it doesn't overpower the music. I wonder what the difference is. Is it the different eartips? The 595 comes with a kind of bi-flange instead of the basic silicone tips. I notice that the isolation is a bit less with the 595s, but it's worth the tradeoff for me. (In fact, it's not even a real tradeoff because I prefer to hear a little about my surroundings, especially when walking.)

I also appreciate the little sack and the extension. I'd read a lot about the Shure 215s and was put off by the extra-long cord. There is a bit of driver flex popping when putting them in, which is a bit of a drag, but the biggest drawback for me is that the control buttons rattle. It makes the unit feel cheap, which is too bad because it the rest of the build quality seems great. Also, wearing them cord up makes the mic go really high, so that's not reasonable for when I need the mic (which is not that often for me).

For the sound, I was unimpressed at first, but there's all kind of notice about needing to burn these in. Wow, what a difference! I do still find the bass to be "boomy," but that's improved with just a little burn in, so I hope it gets better. (We'll see ... er, hear.)

Overall, I'm happy so far. Thanks to everyone here for the helpful info!

post #12 of 13

In this price range, the PL50 might be a good choice, they have little to no microphonics due to their over-the-ear design.  However, they may or may not be comfortable with the stock tips for you (not to comfortable to me with them), so you may need to invest in third-party tips like the Sony hybrids or Comply foam tips.  I walk quite a bit with my PL50s and they're quite good for that, and have pretty good sound for the price.

post #13 of 13

MEElectronincs CC51. Thin cable but it's pretty quiet.

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