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AKG K3003 High End 3 Way System Headphone - Page 14

post #196 of 1752
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

^ A clear step up? No, definitely not, if by that you mean a night and day difference. But, like so many things in life, a small difference to some may be a more significant difference to others. Well, I happened to pay £1000 ($1,550 USD at today's exchange rate. I know the K3003s currently go for $1,300 in the USA). I paid $500 for my EX1000s. Here, the law of diminishing returns is a very, VERY real thing, ie to these ears you do get an improvement in SQ, but I'm convinced most people (ordinary people, that is, and even some so-called audiophiles) would not be able to easily find the K3003s that much better sounding, let alone twice or three times better sounding.

You are well aware of my stance on custom IEMs which, on the whole, I consider downright overrated, ie I strongly believe there's too much hype and exaggeration just as there is, in my view, too much hype and exaggeration when it comes to bitrate differences and the seeming mandatory use of lossless files, or at the very least the need, according to some, to listen to 320 kbps files when it comes to using higher-end phones. Same [or (much) worse] goes for aftermarket cables and, to a lesser extent, portable amps.

Then, there's the usual variables such as sound preferences, fit issues, and so on. Already someone's said they prefer the 'treble' filter on the K3003s to the other two - to me the 'reference' filter is by far the better sounding of the three. Someone else said they found the treble on the AKGs rather 'troublesome' - so, here we have the usual differences we find in almost every IEM we talk about.

Yes, the K3003 is a very, very good sounding IEM, and it'd better be at that price! But, inevitably, expectations by some/MANY people (because of the price) will inevitably be very, very, VERY unrealistic. I'm sure in a blind test most people would very likely enjoy the K3003s, but there would be those who'd say they find a different, and (much) cheaper IEM better or similarly sounding. Some would just say: "Yeah, it sounds nice/great, but I wouldn't pay more that $100 - $150 for it.

There are people who will buy any and all high-end IEMs because they can afford them or for other reasons. There are also people who are very good at regurgitating audio jargon causing many to think that a particular IEM is truly something else. There are people who are prepared to pay a [very (high)] premium for a small increment in SQ…etc., etc., etc.

The EX1000 remains, in my view, an amazingly good sounding phone.

------

All that said, and for what it's worth, the K3003's midrange, to these ears, is simply unparalleled by any other phone I've heard.


I haven't seen you much around here lately, music, and posts like this are sorely missed. Honestly, they're essential to bring things a bit more down to earth. I agree with pretty much all of  what you say.

post #197 of 1752

So...resolving power.  Information extraction.  I'm not into sissy waterboarding, I want pulled fingernails, shredded bamboo caning and dips in acid vats.  Ranking one through three UERM, FAD, AKG.

post #198 of 1752
Quote:
Originally Posted by cn11 View Post

If only they were more like $600-700..... frown.gif



X2.. Hello cn11, buddy. Vsonic is coming out with a dynanic/dual hybrid too (probably this year), although I doubt it will be on the level I'm reading about here. Yet, I've been impressed with Vsonic..

post #199 of 1752

Hmm... the FAD didn't feel like pulled fingernails and acid baths to me... maybe I'm masochistic sadistic? biggrin.gif

 

Hopefully my 4.A employs some UERM-caliber enhanced interrogation techniques... heh
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

So...resolving power.  Information extraction.  I'm not into sissy waterboarding, I want pulled fingernails, shredded bamboo caning and dips in acid vats.  Ranking one through three UERM, FAD, AKG.

 

EDIT: silly me, it's not me that they're trying to get to squeal...


Edited by tomscy2000 - 1/6/12 at 6:00pm
post #200 of 1752
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericp10 View Post


X2.. Hello cn11, buddy. Vsonic is coming out with a dynanic/dual hybrid too (probably this year), although I doubt it will be on the level I'm reading about here. Yet, I've been impressed with Vsonic..


If it has the same design as the GR07 and sounds better w/o costing too much I'll grab 'em!  The GR07 sound is just not for me but it's probably my favorite universal design especially at that price point.

 

post #201 of 1752


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post


I'm afraid my Ex1000 are still on their loan tour somewhere in the US and Canada.


James do us a favour and get your beloved EX1000 back so you can give us some real comparison with the K3003! 

 

Once that's done, you can loan your K3003 to lucky me! biggrin.gifevil_smiley.gif

post #202 of 1752
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post


If it has the same design as the GR07 and sounds better w/o costing too much I'll grab 'em!  The GR07 sound is just not for me but it's probably my favorite universal design especially at that price point.

 



X2 (I love the sound though, although the RE262 has proven to be my favorite universal sound signature)...

post #203 of 1752
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericp10 View Post



X2.. Hello cn11, buddy. Vsonic is coming out with a dynanic/dual hybrid too (probably this year), although I doubt it will be on the level I'm reading about here. Yet, I've been impressed with Vsonic..


 

Hey eric,

 

Hmmm, a dynamic/dual driver from Vsonic definitely sounds interesting. I'm afraid I'm done with IEM's for a while though since I got the customs recently, and also just having reserved a pair of DIY orthos by lokesen, the KODA^2. Need to chill out for now! Heh.

 

That said, I would like to pick up one or both of the Sony Z1070 and iBasso DX100 DAPs after some impressions are up. The K3003 sounds mighty interesting too, but there's no way in Hades I'm going to drop $1,300!!!


Edited by cn11 - 1/7/12 at 12:32pm
post #204 of 1752
Quote:
Originally Posted by cn11 View Post




 

Hey eric,

 

Hmmm, a dynamic/dual driver from Vsonic definitely sounds interesting. I'm afraid I'm done with IEM's for a while though since I got the customs recently, and also just having reserved a pair of DIY orthos by lokesen, the KODA^2. Need to chill out for now! Heh.

 

That said, I would like to pick up one or both of the Sony Z1070 and iBasso DX100 DAPs after some impressions are up. The K3003 sounds mighty interesting too, but there's no way in Hades I'm going to drop $1,300!!!



 

X2

post #205 of 1752


Did you get another custom besides the MG6Pro?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cn11 View Post


 

Hey eric,

 

Hmmm, a dynamic/dual driver from Vsonic definitely sounds interesting. I'm afraid I'm done with IEM's for a while though since I got the customs recently, and also just having reserved a pair of DIY orthos by lokesen, the KODA^2. Need to chill out for now! Heh.

 

That said, I would like to pick up one or both of the Sony Z1070 and iBasso DX100 DAPs after some impressions are up. The K3003 sounds mighty interesting too, but there's no way in Hades I'm going to drop $1,300!!!



 

post #206 of 1752
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericp10 View Post


Did you get another custom besides the MG6Pro?



 



Nope that's the only one to date!

post #207 of 1752

Ok sorry for the delay, I'll spare you further excuses and just post my interim findings.

 

I've still had only about 15 hours with the K3003 though, so take this with a grain of salt. As I've said before, there isn't a night and day difference in sound quality between the K3003, FI-BA-SS and UERM overall, but with low volume listening things become more distinct and the K3003 rise above the others. Why is that? Well, on the one hand because their dynamic bass driver delivers the best texture and on the other hand because the AKGs have extremely good dynamics, even when played rather quietly. The FADs need a little more volume to come alive and the UERMs stay rather bland and unenthusiastic until about mid volume.

 

Low volume listening: K3003 > FI-BA-SS > UERM

 

Now let's see how these phones compare in detail at normal volume levels:

 

Speaking of bass texture, the K3003's dynamic bass driver is excellent, fast and extended, there when needed and out-of-the-way when not. There's a little hint of midbass elevation and warmth, enough for those who find phones like the FI-BA-SS and EX1000 too lean, but it's never obtrusive and stays well clear of the mids. Integration with the dual BA mid/treble drivers is seamless and surprisingly coherent, though those familiar with the characteristics of driver technologies will of course be able to tell that both are being used. I'd normally rank the FADs on top, since I prefer a leaner sound signature, but the AKGs are so impressive with drums and upright bass, that they end up on par with the FI-BA-SS. I'm afraid, the UERM have the least impressive bass in my book, still well defined and extended, but slightly lacking in texture.

 

Bass: FI-BA-SS = K3003 > UERM

 

The mids are where the UERM are at home and their midrange is simply marvellous, smooth, detailed and extremely refined. However, it is also noticably forward and you'd have to like the kind of vocal intimacy that goes with it. The K3003's mids are only a little less forward and imo exactly where they should be in relation to bass and highs. Their quality is again excellent and doesn't fall short in the least vs. the UERM, but I mids lovers would probably still prefer the UERM over the AKGs. The FI-BA-SS have the least conspicuous mids and even though they're not recessed or lacking in any way, your attention will inevitably be drawn away from them and towards the highs with these phones. The ranking is very close here, but still I'd say:

 

Mids: UERM > K3003 > FI-BA-SS

 

Treble is perhaps the most controversial part of the frequency range, cause there are those who're sensitive to spikes and others who like it lively "up there". I belong to the latter group and love a good amount of lively treble as long as it's not "metallic" like on some BAs or overly sibilant. Therefore the highs on the FI-BA-SS are a dream come true for me, since they bring classical music to life like nothing else I've heard. But the FI-BA-SS sound also highly revealing, raw and at times downright ruthless because of these highs and it goes without saying that they are definitely not for everyone. The K3003 have noticably better behaved highs in comparison, but still extremely impressive clarity, detail and sparkle. Somewhat similar to the PFE232's, these are world-class highs and strike probably the best possible balance between liveliness and forgiveness. The UERM's highs are more restrained in comparison, while retaining the same high level of detail retrieval and overall quality. They'll never offend anyone, but they've also the least ability to breath life into music.

 

Highs: FI-BA-SS > K3003 > UERM

 

Detail retrieval is an easy one, 'cause even though these phones have noticably different sound signatures, all three are extremely detailed and well suited for analytical listening.

 

Detail: FI-BA-SS = K3003 = UERM

 

Of course that doesn't mean that detail is equally apparent among all three phones. On some you have to listen a bit closer for it than on others. The lean FI-BA-SS are the clearest and most revealing IEMs and there isn't any part of the frequency range that appears obscured. The K3003's dynamic bass driver lags only a smidgen behind in clarity and the rest of their spectrum is flawless. On the UERM both bass and treble take a slight back seat compared to the mids and as a result the midrange appears extremely clear and both ends of the spectrum a tad less so.

 

Clarity: FI-BA-SS > K3003 = UERM

 

Separation is slightly different from clarity in that it's about what happens to clarity when things get busy. The FI-BA-SS have the best clarity, but their single driver suffers slightly more in comparison when exposed to a wall of sound. The K3003 and UERM both have very good clarity and manage to retain an outstanding level of separation, regardless of what you through at them.

 

Separation: FI-BA-SS = K3003 = UERM

 

I rarely mention dynamics separately, but the K3003 are just that good at it, that they deserve to win that point. Easily among the best (if not the best) I've heard. At higher volume levels the UERM approach the FAD's level of dynamics, so I rate these two about on par.

 

Dynamics: K3003 > FI-BA-SS = UERM

 

Good dynamics is a vital ingredient for soundstaging, as it lends depth and layering to the presentation. Not surprisingly, the K3003 excel at that and there's a stunning, almost holographic quality to their presentation. They don't quite reach the same width and openness as the FI-BA-SS (probably helped by the latter's "balancing air movement" design), but their layering is unparalleled among the IEMs I've heard. The UERM's presentation is somewhat underwhelming, not bad per se, but lacking in comparison.


Soundstage size and layering: K3003 = FI-BA-SS > UERM

 

Its rather limited soundstage makes it easier for the UERM to provide spatial cues and as a result their positioning is more exact than the other's, which have to fill a larger space. Both the K3003 and FI-BA-SS still manage a very realistic placement, but not quite as precise as the UERM.

 

Positioning: UERM > K3003 = FI-BA-SS

 

Last not least, isolation is one of the undeniable advantages of custom IEMs and sure enough the UERM best both universals in that regard. The K3003 have decent isolation, but probably not enough for commuting a noisy subway. I actually think it's rather low for a closed IEM and I think there might be a hidden vent somewhere. The FI-BA-SS are definitely vented, but (if worn with a deep seal) isolate almost as good as the K3003.

 

Isolation: UERM > K3003 > FI-BA-SS

 

 

(Preliminary) Conclusion:

As you can see, these are rather mixed results, except for low volume listening, where the K3003 really stand out. But if I'd be forced to part with one of them, it would be the UERM, since their only advantage over both universals is isolation and that's not high on my priority list. The other question is, which IEMs would I pick if I could keep only one? I think that would be the K3003, not because they're better than the FI-BA-SS, but because they're more forgiving and work better with a wider range of music. The Final Audios would probably render about 70% of my music collection obsolete, because they just need stellar recordings to sound good. So, to those who want to squeeze a winner out of me at all cost (even my fingernails ;-), I surrender and give you a name: K3003  smile_phones.gif

post #208 of 1752

^ Thank you for this wonderful post, james. thumbup.gif

post #209 of 1752
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post


I haven't seen you much around here lately, music, and posts like this are sorely missed. Honestly, they're essential to bring things a bit more down to earth. I agree with pretty much all of  what you say.


Thanks for the kind words.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

Ok sorry for the delay, I'll spare you further excuses and just post my interim findings.

 

I've still had only about 15 hours with the K3003 though, so take this with a grain of salt. As I've said before, there isn't a night and day difference in sound quality between the K3003, FI-BA-SS and UERM overall, but with low volume listening things become more distinct and the K3003 rise above the others. Why is that? Well, on the one hand because their dynamic bass driver delivers the best texture and on the other hand because the AKGs have extremely good dynamics, even when played rather quietly. The FADs need a little more volume to come alive and the UERMs stay rather bland and unenthusiastic until about mid volume.

 

Low volume listening: K3003 > FI-BA-SS > UERM

 

Now let's see how these phones compare in detail at normal volume levels:

 

Speaking of bass texture, the K3003's dynamic bass driver is excellent, fast and extended, there when needed and out-of-the-way when not. There's a little hint of midbass elevation and warmth, enough for those who find phones like the FI-BA-SS and EX1000 too lean, but it's never obtrusive and stays well clear of the mids. Integration with the dual BA mid/treble drivers is seamless and surprisingly coherent, though those familiar with the characteristics of driver technologies will of course be able to tell that both are being used. I'd normally rank the FADs on top, since I prefer a leaner sound signature, but the AKGs are so impressive with drums and upright bass, that they end up on par with the FI-BA-SS. I'm afraid, the UERM have the least impressive bass in my book, still well defined and extended, but slightly lacking in texture.

 

Bass: FI-BA-SS = K3003 > UERM

 

The mids are where the UERM are at home and their midrange is simply marvellous, smooth, detailed and extremely refined. However, it is also noticably forward and you'd have to like the kind of vocal intimacy that goes with it. The K3003's mids are only a little less forward and imo exactly where they should be in relation to bass and highs. Their quality is again excellent and doesn't fall short in the least vs. the UERM, but I mids lovers would probably still prefer the UERM over the AKGs. The FI-BA-SS have the least conspicuous mids and even though they're not recessed or lacking in any way, your attention will inevitably be drawn away from them and towards the highs with these phones. The ranking is very close here, but still I'd say:

 

Mids: UERM > K3003 > FI-BA-SS

 

Treble is perhaps the most controversial part of the frequency range, cause there are those who're sensitive to spikes and others who like it lively "up there". I belong to the latter group and love a good amount of lively treble as long as it's not "metallic" like on some BAs or overly sibilant. Therefore the highs on the FI-BA-SS are a dream come true for me, since they bring classical music to life like nothing else I've heard. But the FI-BA-SS sound also highly revealing, raw and at times downright ruthless because of these highs and it goes without saying that they are definitely not for everyone. The K3003 have noticably better behaved highs in comparison, but still extremely impressive clarity, detail and sparkle. Somewhat similar to the PFE232's, these are world-class highs and strike probably the best possible balance between liveliness and forgiveness. The UERM's highs are more restrained in comparison, while retaining the same high level of detail retrieval and overall quality. They'll never offend anyone, but they've also the least ability to breath life into music.

 

Highs: FI-BA-SS > K3003 > UERM

 

Detail retrieval is an easy one, 'cause even though these phones have noticably different sound signatures, all three are extremely detailed and well suited for analytical listening.

 

Detail: FI-BA-SS = K3003 = UERM

 

Of course that doesn't mean that detail is equally apparent among all three phones. On some you have to listen a bit closer for it than on others. The lean FI-BA-SS are the clearest and most revealing IEMs and there isn't any part of the frequency range that appears obscured. The K3003's dynamic bass driver lags only a smidgen behind in clarity and the rest of their spectrum is flawless. On the UERM both bass and treble take a slight back seat compared to the mids and as a result the midrange appears extremely clear and both ends of the spectrum a tad less so.

 

Clarity: FI-BA-SS > K3003 = UERM

 

Separation is slightly different from clarity in that it's about what happens to clarity when things get busy. The FI-BA-SS have the best clarity, but their single driver suffers slightly more in comparison when exposed to a wall of sound. The K3003 and UERM both have very good clarity and manage to retain an outstanding level of separation, regardless of what you through at them.

 

Separation: FI-BA-SS = K3003 = UERM

 

I rarely mention dynamics separately, but the K3003 are just that good at it, that they deserve to win that point. Easily among the best (if not the best) I've heard. At higher volume levels the UERM approach the FAD's level of dynamics, so I rate these two about on par.

 

Dynamics: K3003 > FI-BA-SS = UERM

 

Good dynamics is a vital ingredient for soundstaging, as it lends depth and layering to the presentation. Not surprisingly, the K3003 excel at that and there's a stunning, almost holographic quality to their presentation. They don't quite reach the same width and openness as the FI-BA-SS (probably helped by the latter's "balancing air movement" design), but their layering is unparalleled among the IEMs I've heard. The UERM's presentation is somewhat underwhelming, not bad per se, but lacking in comparison.


Soundstage size and layering: K3003 = FI-BA-SS > UERM

 

Its rather limited soundstage makes it easier for the UERM to provide spatial cues and as a result their positioning is more exact than the other's, which have to fill a larger space. Both the K3003 and FI-BA-SS still manage a very realistic placement, but not quite as precise as the UERM.

 

Positioning: UERM > K3003 = FI-BA-SS

 

Last not least, isolation is one of the undeniable advantages of custom IEMs and sure enough the UERM best both universals in that regard. The K3003 have decent isolation, but probably not enough for commuting a noisy subway. I actually think it's rather low for a closed IEM and I think there might be a hidden vent somewhere. The FI-BA-SS are definitely vented, but (if worn with a deep seal) isolate almost as good as the K3003.

 

Isolation: UERM > K3003 > FI-BA-SS

 

 

(Preliminary) Conclusion:

As you can see, these are rather mixed results, except for low volume listening, where the K3003 really stand out. But if I'd be forced to part with one of them, it would be the UERM, since their only advantage over both universals is isolation and that's not high on my priority list. The other question is, which IEMs would I pick if I could keep only one? I think that would be the K3003, not because they're better than the FI-BA-SS, but because they're more forgiving and work better with a wider range of music. The Final Audios would probably render about 70% of my music collection obsolete, because they just need stellar recordings to sound good. So, to those who want to squeeze a winner out of me at all cost (even my fingernails ;-), I surrender and give you a name: K3003  smile_phones.gif

 

EXCELLENT impressions, James444! Now, I haven't heard either the UERM or FI-BA-SS, but I can relate to A LOT of what you're describing/hearing.

One thing, though - in my case, I find the K3003's isolation quite decent, not Westone/Shure-like but not all that far, either, and better than on the EX1000s. I've also wondered about a vent on the AKGs, but so far, I haven't been able to find any.
 

 

post #210 of 1752

A hair more bass than the EX1000?  That sounds almost perfect.  biggrin.gif

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