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Top Tier Showdown (Top Pick Announced) - Page 13  

post #181 of 366

i2ehan.... brilliant.... that's all I have to say.... If those other headphones are giving the W4s a run for their money, you must be in heaven! lol. I picked mine up yesterday from FedEx, and so far I've got about 6hours on them I would guess. No burn in, just straight into some music. With lossless files they are performing absolutely fantastic! In comparison to my others they seem to have a thicker note, while at the same time having very near the separation of my hf3s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVwp1qB5OUg In that song, around 2:50 listen for the bass guitar carrying on. It seems to me that my hf3s separate the bass guitar from the drums more than either my Custom 3s or the W4s. That being said however the fullness with the thicker note from the W4 on most every track, makes me feel almost like I'm sitting back in my chair in a concert band, it's a very intimate sounding phone!

Edited by BrianMB - 5/22/11 at 4:14pm
post #182 of 366
Thread Starter 

That's awesome news my friend! It's really really difficult not to fall in love with the W4's, and I'm not surprised to find that's even the case right out of the box! You'll come to find that the more you listen in direct comparison to other IEM's, the more you'll appreciate just how well balanced and natural they sound with just about anything you throw at them, thus they'll only continue to grow on you overtime. Oh, and please do try and post a comparison between the W4's and your other 2 current IEM's. ksc75smile.gif


Thought I'd update everyone, I've finally managed to further filter my current top picks down to just three (W4, EX1000, and SE535's, which I feel I still need more time with), and as difficult as it is for me to part with the SM3's, it's inevitable since in the end, I'm in search of whichever ONE best fits my taste. Nevertheless, I'm completely content with the current top picks, and feel that in the long run, they are all around best fit with regards to my entire collection, rather than just a few select tracks. As for the current three picks, they'll undergo some extensive listening sessions before I can settle on any one over the other. wink.gif

post #183 of 366

Ah, yes, have you considered throwing an Etymotic into the fray as well?

post #184 of 366
Thread Starter 

I have indeed, but not before the FX700 or the Ortofons.

post #185 of 366

Hi i2ehan,

i followed ur thread for awhile.

just wanted to chime in here. tho i didnt have sm3 myself, i found sm3 to be almost perfect, but i also immediately notice what you call veil.

imho, its actually a problem in the decay of the sound. the frequency extension is good, sound production is good..

but how the sound dissaper is actually quite abrupt.. the decay is cut short at the very last moment, and this happens throughout the frequency range.

for me its very clear cut on the first listen, since everything else is done so well, the defects stand out so obvious.

otherwise i have nothing to fault it, but sad the fault is something i cant tolerate.

good luck on your quest. the sony sounds interesting though, but fit is possibly an issue.

Originally Posted by i2ehan View Post

I was beginning to think that the SE535 had slightly veiled highs, until I heard the SM3's! I'm discovering now just how veiled the sound signature of the SM3 is, which isn't to say it's a bad thing, because they still sound spectacular. But when compared to the rest of the current top contenders, they are definitely veiled, and quite literally sound as if someone placed a blanket over the speakers. It's only obvious to me now because I've spent a great deal of time with the W4's, and haven't been able to put the EX1000 down, and while the W4 is the more natural sounding, the EX1000 is a close second and is too much fun! having gotten a much better seal (with the Shure E2C foam tips), and significantly better cancellation (though still nowhere near that of the Westones, CK10, or SE535), I've been listening back to back with mostly the W4 and EX1000, though the SE535 is just as much fun from time to time. biggrin.gif


post #186 of 366
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the insight my friend. I'm sure you have a much better understanding of it than I do, and what you said with regards to "since everything else is done so well, the defects stand out so obvious", I couldn't agree more to! It's one of those things where the SM3 sounds so good at first, one can't help but begin searching for flaws, be it minor or majort. Indeed, this "flaw", if you will, is the very reason I feel I would have ultimately grown out of the SM3's, and preferred a different sound signature. Ironically, as difficult as it is to keep the EX1000's off, it's just as difficult keeping them on for lengthy listening periods. This is the very reason I knew the SE535's hadn't lost my attention just yet, because the Shure olives are second to none. The EX1000 is nearly perfect for me, with the exception of seal and cancellation. Those aren't minor exception either of course, and in order to find best fit for my ears, it must meet my criteria as best as possible. Thus far, only the W4 has managed to do so. With that in mind, unless my ears are able to adjust to the EX1000's "flaws" one way or another, they simply aren't practical for me in the long run.

post #187 of 366

to be honest, i really envy those that didnt hear what i did with the sm3.

for those very lucky people, it's the end of their iem journey. For unlucky people like me.. its still a long way to go.


so the sonys arent that easy to wear? then probably i'll have to skip that, already had a bad experience with ddm. a decent fit hurts my ears.

anyways will look forward to more impression from you. nice work.

post #188 of 366
Thread Starter 

Thank you my friend! If you don't wish to find a decent fit, I'd most probably avoid the Sony's. They've got incredible potential however, which they're unfortunately stripped of for listeners with high regards to seal and cancellation, such as myself. The further I try to look past it, the more obvious it becomes that they just aren't practical for my ears, down the longrun. I hear you loud and clear, to my ears, the SM3's are definitely worth hearing through and through, and if I'm ever to consider a second pair of earphones when all is said and done, the SM3 is most definitely up there on my list. smile.gif

post #189 of 366

Just to mention, for me I also hear the flaws on SM3 but I still didn't bother, just like I hear the flaws on my other iems...These iems grew into me, and it took a lot of time trying to figure out how well it would stretch more, searching for the best tips, daps and amps.


My initial reaction for SM3 is also not good, as last time I was pairing them with Iphone 3gs, as it was too dark for me but it suddenly shined when I paired it with my J3, as I eq'd it a bit. Even the custom iems, like my JH16, has their flaws when speaking strictly on preference. But when I paired them to an amp and the CLAS, then it came from meh to OMG. IMO It's like buying full-size headphone, some amps synergize well, some don't.


Some I did bother to sell since I made some of my friends have interest in Hi-Fi phones. But given the time I use them everday, I enjoyed my music even more and have no regrets.

post #190 of 366

Just a slight reminder on the EX1000. It is vented (it is above the SONY logo if you are most curious about where it is)... which means in exchange for good sound stage and bass impact, the EX1000 isn't isolating. At all. wink.gif

post #191 of 366
Thread Starter 
@kingdice10: that's awesome my friend; whenever anyone speaks good of the SM3, I'm not the least bit surprised! Its wonderful that you found a sound your ears are fully content with, I'm hoping for the very same, no regrets. While I wouldn't at all mind if the SM3's were my only ever IEM's, my ears have become so accustomed to the W4's brilliantly natural, all around nearly perfectly balanced sound signature, it's very hard to replace; needless to say, my search continues of course. There's no doubts in my mind that when amped, the SM3 sounds just that much better, but the sound signature is still the SM3's sound signature. It's the very same with my Headstage; when amped, with bass boost the bass becomes much more boomier, while maintaining it's clarity; with crossfeed, the soundstage became slightly wider, or narrower (based on setting); with gain, all frequencies were slightly pushed forward with a barely noticeable gain (yet I could appreciate the difference every time); with impedance, the highs were slightly tamed, and the lows tightened. Even so, I could still tell, with or without the slight changes from the amp, that the signature was still that of the SM3's, or, more generally speaking, whichever IEM was plugged in. This is strictly in regards to my own experience of course, via the Headstage. It's the signature of the W4 and now ever so slightly the SE535 that I find better suited for my taste, since nothing is veiled with any track I've heard with either. In my own experience, the sound definitely changed, but the amp cannot alter the signature altogether I'm assuming. Though I'm much too new in that regards to say otherwise, I'm sure you've had much more experience with it that I have.

@MaxwellDemon: makes complete sense, because it indeed has excellent soundstage, and I can't begin to say enough about the bass impact! Thank you for the pointer! Nonetheless, when both seal and cancellation are taken into consideration, the EX1000 just couldn't cut it to the finish line for me. I've even placed them aside for now, because the more I listen with them, the more I regret what I find lacking I them, to my ears of course.
post #192 of 366

The EX1000 is currently my home and work setup. After all, with the EX1000, I can tell when my boss is coming in due to the vent.


And at home, I can hear when my brother wants to talk to me. Unfortunately, that means my SRH840 has just generally been going unused. redface.gif

post #193 of 366

Hmm.  Judging by some of your initial impressions, you might want to cross off the FX700's off your list, since it too is vented and doesn't isolate well at all, despite having pretty orgasmic sound.  The Ortofon's though, you might end up liking, though not sure if they'd be enough to overtake your top position.


Honestly, beyond customs, I think the W4's you have right now are probably your best bet to be "the one" to be perfectly honest.  It's going to be hard to top that sound in my opinion, if that is the sound signature you're looking for.


Though, I think when your DBA's come in, if and when paired with something like the ZO subwoofer or even the bass boost on your Headstage, I think might give the W4's a bit of a challenge, despite having slightly different qualities and signatures (though both are to be quite 'balanced', the DBA should sound more clean, brighter, and aggressive).


Looking forward to reading more, keep the impressions rollin' :)

post #194 of 366

From what I remember of the W4 (no, my W4 STILL hasn't arrived) compared to the DBA-02... I'd be surprised to hear that the DBA-02 is equal to the W4. DBA-02 is amazing for its price... but at this point, I don't really think of it as 'top-tier'.

post #195 of 366


have the Westone 3's and the Shure 535's. I love both of them dearly, W3's are what I always reach for. If I may make a couple of suggestions and comments.  Since you love the olives, You may want to try the Olives on your W4. Westones love the Olives, just be a little careful taking them of, Olives tend to stick to the nozzle (with the Shures also). And  regarding the Shures cable, try not to let the cable influence your decision, as in time, the cable becomes second nature, and once broken in, the "pivot" works brilliantly, and allows you to "lock in" with ease.

I Really admire what you are doing, as I consider myself an experienced music listener for many moons, and I find something that I love About the W3's almost daily (as with the 535's when in use) Listening and analyzing all these IEM's and evaluating (while most importantly listening to the music) is a beautiful chore, and I thank you for sharing your experiences and time with all of us here. I appreciate how you don't throw the ones that don't appeal to you under the bus.((W3's and SM3's) While I haven't tried many, I believe ALL of these little things are masterpieces that have improved my quality of life. Actually made my life "quality". 

Since I marvel at the 535's monster Midrange (shure made me a MidHead) Can you take a moment to compare the mids on the 535 to the W4. I am very interested, as I understand the the Mids on the W4 are not forward like the shures, so I have a hard time grasping what they would be like (W4)



Lastly, Both Companies (Westone and Shure) Have outstanding Customer service. Something to note if ever (God Forbid) you need them. Westone is probably the best CS I have ever dealt with. Best wishes in your final decisions

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