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Sony EX1000 & Westone 4 — Impressions

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I was very fortunate to be able to try a pair of Sony MDR-EX1000s. I had them for 4 days. On the second day I placed an order to get my own pair. Here are some comments I made to the person who kindly let me try their EX1000s; I mostly compared them to the Westone 4:

 

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I managed to get a good fit from the get go. Am using my own large Sony hybrids, but the XL tips included are just as good. I don't really use IEMs outdoors so I won't be testing them out in windy weather.

 

The EX1000s are very, very good IEMs - best DD IEMs I've tried, no doubt about it. They remind me a bit of the TF10s, though the Sony's sound sig's not as V-shaped, with better mids than the TF10s, definitely, but I might prefer the TF10s slightly smoother treble.

 

I can see (hear) why some would prefer the W4s and others the EX1000s - both are excellent IEMs in their own right. I haven't found the Sonys to be better for some types of music and the W4s for other types; what I've found is that my preference is more dependent on recording & mastering type rather than type of music.

 

Mids I find better, fuller, a little more convincing on the W4s - mids is the frequency I attach most importance to. But, unlike the TF10's mids, the Sony's render mids very, very well.

 

Bass varies on type of music, but the Sony's bass, overall, is EXCELLENT. I guess there is slightly more mid-bass on the W4s and slightly more sub-bass on the Sonys. Don't know to what extent that affects the mids presentation, but on the whole I guess in the lower mids/ upper bass region the 4s deliver a more pleasing sound to these ears.

 

Treble: Here's where at times I'm having a little trouble with the Sonys. On some recordings the treble is very, very good (excellent even), on others it's a little bright, brighter than I like, and at higher volumes I know I'd get listening fatigue - it's not harsh, but brighter. Here's where I generally prefer the TF10s highs (from memory) and the W4's most of the time. On a couple of recordings the treble on the Sonys sounded a little grainy, only a little. I'm really nitpicking here as, on the whole, the Sony's overall sound presentation is very appealing, generally more exciting than the flatter (sort of) W4s presentation.

 

Because of all the above, I find W4s to have a slightly fuller sound, and the Sonys a little more hollow (for lack of a better term), though not in a bad way; the TF10s, by contrast, were similar to the Sonys but that hollow sound was sometimes a bit unappealing. I tend to prefer the fuller sounding W4s, but the Sonys are VERY appealing.

 

Not sure all of the above makes sense - I obviously need to do some more listening. There are some recordings where the Sonys get the upper hand and others - more so far - were the W4s have the edge. Would love to keep both.

 

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From the notes I've taken of which artist/ album I prefer, the EX1000 was consistently my preferred choice for orchestral music! Not so with string quartets or chamber music which I tend to listen to more. But on symphonic music the EX1000s deliver a more convincing sound. On solo piano music it's odd as the sound on the Sonys sounds slightly more realistic (?), but the Westones sound fuller, which is another aspect of the real sound of a piano, ie the tonal balance of the Sonys was better but the overall sound was ever so slightly 'thin'. A similar thing I've found on string quartets, though violins and violas sounded more real with the Westones - I had problems with high notes of the violin (too bright sounding) with the Sonys and mid frequencies lacking a bit of body. Still the Sonys were very, VERY good all along.

 

BTW, I love the cable type on the Sonys: non-microphonic, looks pretty durable, and the ear guides actually work beautifully unlike the utter rubbish (new) Shure memory wire/ ear guides which are quite intrusive

 

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I have just purchased the Sonys! Yes, after more time with them I'm really loving their sound sig and the list I've been compiling of artists/albums and my preferences is getting more even.

 

So, what I decided is that since my ES3X are similar sounding to my W4s (the ES3X ever so slightly better overall on more recordings) I'll keep the EX1000s and sell the W4s. Yes, as Americans would say, I'm really digging the Sonys.

 

The EX1000s are quite impressive, and they'll make a great match to my ES3Xs, different high quality flavours, no doubt. My W4s are already up for sale.

 

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After 2 days with the Sonys I just fell in love with their SQ and 2 more days and my decision was only reinforced, and although the choice of which IEM (the W4s or EX1000s) is better is really a tough one, the Sonys most definitely made some of my favourite albums sound like no other IEM, including my beloved ES3Xs - high praise for the Sonys there.


Edited by music_4321 - 4/30/11 at 12:19am
post #2 of 11

Nice impressions.  Did the treble settle down at all?  I'm wondering if the demo pair I heard were just fresh but otherwise I find my impressions of the treble similar to yours.  I had to think of the EX1000 treble as being similar to the ER4P, CK10 which were just a bit much for my ears personally.  That's why the full retail price at the time wasn't going to do it for me.  Though they have dropped in price a bit.  blink.gif

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

No, the treble didn't change at all - the set I got already had plenty of burn-in. What I learnt after 2 days (and plenty of different recordings) is that the sometimes 'offending' treble was more to do with some types of (re)masterings rather than a fault of the Sony's rendering of high frequencies.

 

I've never heard the ER-4P, but did own the CK10s (just over a year ago) and sold them the very next day. I found the treble on the CK10s too bright on many, many recordings and seriously lacking bass. So, no, I don't find the EX1000's treble to be like the CK10's - if that had been the case, no way I'd have spent so much money on the Sonys, even if they cost a lot less.


Edited by music_4321 - 4/29/11 at 4:18pm
post #4 of 11

Yep pretty much agree with almost everything you just said. Nice review mate. Thumbs up cool.gif

post #5 of 11

Thanks for the review.  From your descriptions of the Sony vs TF10Pro and W4, and owning the TF10Pro and W4 myself, I think I'll stick with the "fuller sounding" W4 for my favorite universal IEM.  I don't ever use the TF10Pro for entertainment anymore because it lacks that fullness or presence.  On the other hand, it's good to know the Sony don't have treble like the CK10 - that would be too much for me.

post #6 of 11

Poor CK10s are so misunderstood because of their insertion trickyness, either way a flaw though. 

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inks View Post

Poor CK10s are so misunderstood because of their insertion trickyness, either way a flaw though. 


No matter how I inserted the CK10 the treble was too forward for me.  It was smooth and without grain, but the treble energy was just too much.  Afterwards I was able to get a friend to measure their frequency response and they had a huge peak around 8-10Khz, while the response of my W4 was flawless. (don't ask me who or where and how, because I can't respond, sorry).

post #8 of 11

There is a peak in that area and it's not big imo and it's about outside the sibilance area for a lot of recording. Most modern recordings are harsh in those frequencies thought, so it could just be that to factor in. They're not only angle tricky but in depth as well. I hate to make the "you didn't make a good fit argument" as there's always factors one could think of, but I believe the small housing and the bore size really limits the way one could use them unless you're able to get a deep/flush seal with Sony Hybrids (I'm not one of them).

 

"flawless reponse" sounds very subjective either way, if that were an absolute truth everyone will be buying these. 

post #9 of 11

Have to agree with HPA here...the major spike in the upper-mids/mid-high region can be hit or miss depending on the song, and can sometimes be really fatiguing.

 

In terms of W4 vs EXK, to me they are very similar in ways of how they were approached by their respective engineer/designers, both use best of what current IEM technologies have to offer, and both stepped out of their safety zones a bit to boldly venture into unfamiliar worlds. I guess their differences are really just a result of their cultural differences: the EXKs were tuned the best way perceived by Sony Engineers, and are absolutely best suited for most popular Japanese music, which happens to be a lot of female vocal pop music, ACG, , Ayumi, Utada, Lisa Ono, Uverworld, etc... while W4s don't stand out in anyway, but doesn't do anything wrong, and a bit better for male vocals than the EXKs. 

 

In the end, if I had the money, I'd probably keep the EXKs for use with my favorite female vocals. While I don't have any reason not to keep the W4s, an all-around custom + an unique/specific-purpose DD universal is a far better combo which compliments each other, than an all-around universal + another all-around custom. So I guess it's W4's perfection and lack of personality/serious flaws that both make them and destroy them. Also it depends on what kind of end-game IEM collection one aspires to keep.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post




No matter how I inserted the CK10 the treble was too forward for me.  It was smooth and without grain, but the treble energy was just too much.  Afterwards I was able to get a friend to measure their frequency response and they had a huge peak around 8-10Khz, while the response of my W4 was flawless. (don't ask me who or where and how, because I can't respond, sorry).


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inks View Post

There is a peak in that area and it's not big imo and it's about outside the sibilance area for a lot of recording. Most modern recordings are harsh in those frequencies thought, so it could just be that to factor in. They're not only angle tricky but in depth as well. I hate to make the "you didn't make a good fit argument" as there's always factors one could think of, but I believe the small housing and the bore size really limits the way one could use them unless you're able to get a deep/flush seal with Sony Hybrids (I'm not one of them).

 

"flawless reponse" sounds very subjective either way, if that were an absolute truth everyone will be buying these. 



 

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post

Thanks for the review.  From your descriptions of the Sony vs TF10Pro and W4, and owning the TF10Pro and W4 myself, I think I'll stick with the "fuller sounding" W4 for my favorite universal IEM.  I don't ever use the TF10Pro for entertainment anymore because it lacks that fullness or presence.  On the other hand, it's good to know the Sony don't have treble like the CK10 - that would be too much for me.

 


Yes, I think you would likely prefer the W4s over the EX1000s, mostly because of the Sony's treble and the type of music (I think) you tend to listen to more. However, as much as the Sonys reminded me of the TF10s, the Sonys are a more refined IEM - to me markedly so - so much so that I didn't keep the TF10s (though I did have my doubts) and sold the UM3Xs instead. 
 
Now, as you know I liked the W4s so much that I sold my UM3X, even when the latter had detachable cables. Yet the Sonys are so good that I put the W4s up for sale, but only because I have my ES3X. Also, bear in mind that the Sonys are $500+ (in Europe), all the more reason for me to be pretty serious about my decision to get the Sonys, but also note that my decision was made only after 2 days.
 
In the end I didn't find the Sonys as fatiguing as I thought they might be, though I didn't listen for more than 4 consecutive hours (plenty, I think, for a fair assessment), and I do know I could have gone on. With the TF10s, after about 2-3 hrs I'd start to get a little listening fatigue, mostly due to the somewhat 'thumping'/ 'generous' bass, which is nice but compared to the Sonys it may be kind of 'rough'. Bass in the Sonys is beautiful, never boomy, muddy or thumping, but not lean/ anaemic - it is very, VERY refined, has enough weight & slam and is VERY 'seductive'. And, as noted, mids are also better in the Sonys than the TF10s. And although I said that at first the TF10s may have the edge in the treble department, the treble in the Sonys in the end proved better on quite a few recordings, but on others I preferred the TF10's (& W4's). 
 
If I had to decide which to keep (the EX1000s or W4s) and I didn't have my ES3Xs, I'd need to do (much) more listening to ultimately decide how many more albums either IEM performs best with for my taste. The W4's treble never sounds harsh, with the Sonys it sometimes sounds a little brighter (not harsh), but the Sonys sound better with quite a few albums - better even than with my ES3X -, some of which are albums I often listen to. As for mids, both W4 & ES3X have the edge over the Sonys. The W4s (& ES3X) are also more forgiving of low(er) bitrates.
 
As for the CK10s, I honestly think they're an overrated IEM, and I did manage to get a good fit - the bass & overall sound presentation was nothing like that of the W4 & EX1000s (and ES3X, UM3X, TF10 & CK100).

 


Edited by music_4321 - 5/3/11 at 1:25am
post #11 of 11

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yggdrassilious View Post

In terms of W4 vs EXK, to me they are very similar in ways of how they were approached by their respective engineer/designers, both use best of what current IEM technologies have to offer, and both stepped out of their safety zones a bit to boldly venture into unfamiliar worlds. I guess their differences are really just a result of their cultural differences: the EXKs were tuned the best way perceived by Sony Engineers, and are absolutely best suited for most popular Japanese music, which happens to be a lot of female vocal pop music, ACG, , Ayumi, Utada, Lisa Ono, Uverworld, etc... while W4s don't stand out in anyway, but doesn't do anything wrong, and a bit better for male vocals than the EXKs. 

 

In the end, if I had the money, I'd probably keep the EXKs for use with my favorite female vocals. While I don't have any reason not to keep the W4s, an all-around custom + an unique/specific-purpose DD universal is a far better combo which compliments each other, than an all-around universal + another all-around custom. So I guess it's W4's perfection and lack of personality/serious flaws that both make them and destroy them. Also it depends on what kind of end-game IEM collection one aspires to keep.

 

 

+1 Agreed! 

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