Executive summary: I'm looking for IEMs in the $50-150 range with good bass (esp. sub-bass), good overall sound quality, good soundstage, and (this is the important bit) no, absolutely NO driver flex. Comfort is subjective, but that would be the other important criterium.
I currently own Monster Turbines and Fischer Audio Silver Bullets. I got the Turbines late last year (partly on advice from the forums) after the wires on my V-Moda Vibes (original series) finally frayed to the point of nonfunctioning. I got the Bullets a few weeks ago, around the same time that my Turbines (possibly due to driver flex) also stopped functioning properly. Sound-wise, all three are/were acceptable; it's been too long to venture a comparison with the Vibes in any way, and while I'm also unfortunately unable to do a direct comparison, I think the Turbines and Bullets have different strengths (I feel the former is better for trip-hop and the latter for sludge, for example). However, these latter two share one big problem (no points for guessing): driver flex. Driver flex is -ing horrible and I -ing hate it. Whenever I feel like I've managed to get a good, enduring seal is exactly when the driver flex kicks in and cuts the sound out. It's also not a binary flip between sound and no sound; sometimes it suppresses the sound only somewhat or partly. This results in endless paranoia and twiddling of the phones in my ears to make sure all of the sound is coming through right (though is it really paranoia if they are out to get you?), which then tends to lead to the sound cutting out entirely or the seal breaking, leading to yet further rounds of twiddling and unplugging-replugging. I also have a very difficult time getting a comfortable and enduring fit/seal in the first place, even though I have access to the tips that came with all three phones along with a couple from a Shure E2c. (Which is kind of odd, considering that the tips from the Vibes fit the Silver Bullets perfectly, and I never had any kind of comfort, fit, or seal-related problems with using the Vibe tips with the Vibes.) In short, it's maddening and intolerable and usually leads to me not wanting to listen to music at all, defeating the whole purpose.
(I did read a few comments about comfort and driver flex related problems with the Turbines and Bullets before I ordered them, but as I'd never had any problems with either (didn't even know what driver flex was), figured they probably weren't very big issues in general. Turns out I had probably just gotten lucky with the Vibes.)
So anyway, the new line is: zero tolerance on driver flex. If it has to be ported or anything else (I care less about outside sound leaking in than about 'inside sound' leaking out, for what it's worth), so be it. Every other parameter is less important than this.
New priorities, in roughly decreasing order of importance, are:
- No driver flex
- Overall sound quality
- Good bass, especially sub-bass
- Good soundstage
- Physical good looks (Silver Bullets are pretty nice looking, for example)
- Inside sound not leaking out
- - gap -
- Outside sound not leaking in
- Everything else (assuming I'm not forgetting something, which may not be a good assumption)
Ideal price range is around $50 to $150.
Any advice is much appreciated.
Edited by illissius - 4/30/11 at 10:04am