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Looking for good-sounding IEMs without driver flex

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

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
  • Comfort
  • 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 -
  • Durability
  • 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
post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 

Bah. I'm liking the Silver Bullet more and more in every other respect. So I guess what I'm looking for is a Silver Bullet, minus the driver flex. :(

post #3 of 12

Um. I quite like my GR07 and it has no driver flex? It's far from bass heavy, but it certainly has enough bass presence to please anyone but bassheads.


Also, a quick note, only dynamic driver IEMs suffer from driver flex.  Anything with a BA driver won't.  The GR07 is dynamic though, but I have yet to experience any driver flex.

post #4 of 12

Hippo VB is a great option


post #5 of 12


Originally Posted by yello131 View Post

Hippo VB is a great option


Not from my experience, it has the driver flex the OP wants to avoid.


post #6 of 12

Dynamic drivers are susceptible to driver flex. So if you want to avoid any chances of getting an iem with driver flex, go for an iem with balanced armature drivers. The drawback is that in most cases they can't reproduce low bass like a dynamic driver can.


post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hmm, what about dynamic-driver IEMs which are ported to facilitate air flow?


Looking at |joker|'s-giant-thread, the two candidates I found by searching for the word 'ported' which also reportedly have good SQ are the Cyclone PR1 (discontinued) and Brainwavz M2. Is there anything else that might be worth looking at?

post #8 of 12

Stax IEMs! Forgot what they were called but they're as open as an open full-sized headphone is.  A little bit waaay out of your price range though. :P


But really, any BA IEMs will not have driver flex, ever.  If you're that bothered by it, just get something like a DBA-02 or Triple.fi 10.

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

I like low bass though. Oh well. I'll figure something out. Thanks for the suggestions :)

post #10 of 12

triple.fi 10's have pretty decent low bass and are great value for the price.

I don't know what the silver bullets sound like but TF10's are pretty similar to the Fischer Audio Eternas I believe.  They have a V-shaped sound signature which means the treble and bass are pronounced while the mids are slightly recessed.

post #11 of 12

If you want a dynamic IEM that I know for sure doesn't have any driver flex, there's always the GR07.  I've had mine for about 2 weeks now and there hasn't been any driver flex to speak of yet.  The bass and sub-bass are quite good, maybe not quite to the deep, pounding basshead levels some other IEMs can dish out, but it's certainly respectable.  Definitely more accurate than true basshead headphones, anyway.


Or go for the Triple.Fi 10s.  They apparently have quite good bass, for BA headphones.  They will absolutely have no driver flex, seeing as how they're not dynamic.

post #12 of 12
I have the same problem with the turbines. I wanted to tell you though, i THINK..... You can get rid of most driver flex with comply tips. Since the foam is porous and slowly makes a seal in the ear, it relieves alot of the air trapped inside your canal. I never tried it with the turbines, sadly. But i have tried this method with a pair of phillips iems. With the sillicone tips i had tons of flexing but i but some comply tips on them and its was completely gone. I hope this helps you.
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