Hey Joe is there any initial impressions on them? Eager to hear your thoughts on them, or when can we expect the review to be coming out?
Hi silverkaze, thanks for the inquiry. There are two reasons I have not yet said much: 1) I didn’t want to post any initial thought incase those thought change or incomplete, especially since I will be getting some other heavyweight custom IEMs in the near future; 2) because there is a fit issue as the upper part of the concha is causing pain after wearing them for more than say 45 minutes at a time. It isn’t bad enough for me to have to take them out, but it is uncomfortable and I am not sure if that will affect my evaluaton, but I need to send them back for rework.
I did spend time Friday A/Bing with the Fabs & EM3 Pro and then Sunday A/Bing with the LCD-2 and EM3 pro. The 5-way Ref is not what I thought it would be from reading what Grezgorz wrote in the description, as I was expecting something with enhanced bass and added excitement. What I have is something that is what the name says, a reference.
I will send you a PM with more details as I don’t want to say anything at this time other than it seems more appropriate to compare with the LCD-2 than the EM3 Pro. Not that the soundstage space is equal to the LCD-2, but as far as the reproduction the 5-way is capable of.
Thanks for the reply and taking the time to write me a detailed pm, that information was very interesting, awaiting for more detailed comparisons. I am a big follower of your custom threads as I am considering to buy a custom for myself, before I was leaning more towards to the em3pro as I really like my sm3, but at the same time I feel that I should get something with a different sound signature to switch back and forth, now I am undecided and heavily relying on your comparisons and reviews of all the different customs. Even if I am not looking for anything to buy, it is fun to read about all your flagships compare to each other, thanks for all the work and keep the epic threads going!
Thanks for the compliments silverkaze and thanks for reading! Not only is this fun for me, but I also enjoy knowing others appreciate and read what I am spending my time doing!
And the EM3 Pro is a step up from the SM3 and does have a slightly different sound signature; here is a summary of the differences as I hear them:
- deep bass impact can be more enhanced depending on the tips even thought the EM3 Pro has more bass power and impact
- the SM3 is thicker in the mid-bass/lower mids
- the EM3 Pro seems to have a little dip in the upper mids making female vocals slightly more throaty
- the EM3 Pro has a good deal more treble presence
- the EM3 Pro is slightly more resolving and textured in the bass
- the EM3 Pro has a larger overall soundstage, although depending on the song it can be very close
- the SM3 changes more with each song
- the SM3 is a little easier to drive
Of course, it is all about how much you are willing to spend also, as the 5-way Ref is nearly 300 euros more than the EM3 Pro.
Update: I have started putting pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard) writing the initial part of my review and have logged many hours with these, playing around with sources and listening to many different genres of songs. Today I listened via my iPhone and Clip+...I was not disappointed by either source as the 5-way is still great from those sources. What is stopping me from my review is that I am waiting for my reshelled JH16 and Rooth LS8 for comparison. The Rooth should ship tomorrow.
The 5-way is an amazing custom IEM as it has more detail than anything else I own, has helped me point out the deficiencies in my HUD-MX1 (which I now am going to upgrade) vs. the 801, and there is a naturalness and smoothness about the presentation even though the detail is amazing. Also, the 5-way is very good at very low volume levels even in the bass, something that I have noticed where BA's seem to lag dynamic driver IEMs. The contrast of A/Bing the 5-way with the LCD-2 is pointing out weaknesses of my LCD-2 I didn't know existed.
My new portable setup for the 5-way as shown. They can eek every detail out of this setup with very rewarding results for carrying this large contraption around! Not possible for a pocket, but nice for a desk, backpack/briefcase and using the amp gives the 801 a good amount more battery life.
Wow another silicone iem, I wish i had known about htis one before I got my es5. I hope someone will be able to do a comparison between those two one day. Personally I love the comfort and isolation of the es5 so its nice to know that there are getting to be more non-acrylic iems out there. Greetings, Anouk,
The Pico Slim is more neutral than the Arrow and has more resolution compared with the original 12HE version of the Arrow that I have. The original version has a 10 ohm output resistor, but the newer versions (I will be upgrading to the 4G) don't, so I am not sure how much improvement there will be.
The Arrow matches with my iPod better as the 801 is on the warmer side, but the combo of the 801 and Pico Slim does have a good deal more resolution than the iPod, which is very apparent with the 5-way, but not nearly as much with my other customs.
Here is an excerpt from my review, although I am still waiting on the JH16 reshell before I post my review as well as a high end desktop DAC. This part is from the section where I evaluate what Grzegorz has written about the 5-way. This is not final, but I wanted to post something since I have been waiting for such a long time to get some equipment.
Super extended resolution, frequency response, instrument separation and multi-dimensional soundstage will make you realize all the subtleties you have missed and never heard before in your well known recordings. And we mean all recordings - I do agree that I can hear things I miss with everything else I have including the LCD-2, LS8, and SA-43 to varying extents. What is missing is the ambiance of the room and the performance as well as the clarity and detail present in the little things. But I don't agree with the "all recordings" part as I have some recordings that just don't have that much information (Flo Rida - Low for example). I can understand where Grzegorz is coming from because the clarity is better than everything else, but it is not analytical clarity like the LS8, it is natural clarity that, for me at least, often surprises me when I go to something else. The LS8 is ultra detailed and each instrument has the full detail present, but the room ambiance isn't necessarily present, at least to the extent of the 5-way. The SA-43 also has this natural clarity and some room ambiance, but not to the extent of the 5-way. The EM3 Pro does have somewhat similar room ambiance, but the clarity is lacking compared with the 5-way, degrading the realism.