Ok, so I was running through my playlist at work, playing with my new Tek9s (thanks, WhiteFang!) I started jotting down some notes on how I felt about the song, and then just kept going. There's no way this will compare to |joker|'s review, which I also recommend you read. This is not a long comparison, or even a good review. It's pure listening impressions.
All in all, I have to say that I'm very pleased with this purchase. However, they most certainly are not for everyone. These do a lot of things very well, and a very small handful of things not well at all. Anyone looking for a wide soundstage, a very analytical IEM, something that will work for every song in a very eclectic playlist...go away. These are not for you.
However, if you're reading this, you're most likely not one of those people, anyway. You're probably like me, and looking for an IEM that can actually deliver BASS. Not like the "bass" Klipsch S4's put out. That's bass that my mom (now 70) would find pleasing. You're probably looking for in-your-face, split-into-a-grin-at-the-drop, but still clean bass. If that is indeed what you're looking for...read this.
FLAC - James Blake - CMYK and Footnotes.
in CMYK, the phones just disappear. The piano leaves the ears, and sets up shop right outside an open window. I don't know how else to describe it. It's not QUITE like being in the same room, but there's not really a "veil" hiding it, either. the voiceovers are very good. The drop on both songs is a slow, meandering thing, and these handle it quite well. The bass is always controlled, both sub and mid-bass are
tremendous, always threatening to overwhelm the mids, but somehow always avoid it. In CMYK, the altered voice is somewhere in the 200-300hz range, and is somewhat difficult to distinguish from the bass. However, the fact that I can even tell it's there with this much bass present is impressive. The long 50-200hz note at the end of Footnotes is a thing of pure beauty.
128k - Bar 9 - Piano Tune / Flux Pavlion I Can't Stop
WHOAH SUB BASS. I picked this song because the intro has very, very deep (sub-80hz) sub bass. I know it's there. I just felt the drop in my sinuses. They may start to drain. "The WUB" never overwhelms the piano, though it threatens to. All frequencies of bass are EXACTLY where they're supposed to be. Good Lord, this is HAWT. How will I listen to anything but dubstep again? I need to order this CD so I can hear this lossless. Ugh. It's over already?! Good thing Flux Pavilion is up next...God, I'm so happy I bought these. That's all I have to say.
FLAC - Far East Movement - Rocketeer
Holy ****. Ryan Tedder's voice is amazing. The drop hits like a punch in the face. I had to turn the volume down...I thought my teeth were rattling. Overall, the song sounds a little uncontrolled, but it might just be how compressed the song is, or it could be the lack of burn in. Overall, though, I have never heard Far East Movement sound better.
P.S. I already tried Like A G6, and thought it was too easy for these 'phones. Rocketeer is much more complex and I wanted to see how the vocals on this track stood up.
FLAC - Kid Cudi - Up Up & Away and Day N Nite
Bass is good and tight. Guitars blend in a little bit. At higher volumes, Kid's voice gets completely lost. His voice is generally very clear, but I hear a tiny bit of interference during bass hits. It's weird. It's probably my source, as I haven't seen this problem on other songs.When he samples his own voice in the "wake up wake up" part, it sounds very, very good. Soft, smooth, and clearly separated from his "top-level" vocals. Day N Nite sounds utterly freaking amazing. I can't even describe it. I got chill bumps. The bump is pure sex, his voice stays exactly where it's supposed to, and the trippy cross-channel swaps are exactly the way they should be. I think maybe the producer was using Munitios when he mixed this. I want to move onto the next song, but I can't bring myself to do so.
FLAC - Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism
Piano feels veiled, but has a very, very nice tone. It sounds like Ben Gibbard is singing from the bottom of the Atlantic. However, his voice sounds very pleasing, very mellow. I need to hear this song on a set of Grados. Subtle details throughout the song that were very forward with the Klipsch S4s are practically nonexistant. However, once the guitars kicked in, I was unable to understand the words on the S4s. I can understand most of what he says, which to me indicates a bit better seperation. Guitars in the last half of the song sound good. Still don't obscure his voice. 1.2khz seems to be a secondary sweet spot, as chords in this range are brought well forward and are very sweet.
edit--I tried a couple more songs after Rocketeer (see notes below). They all have this sound...I wonder if it's the recording? Or maybe his voice just falls into a slump in the FR?
256k - Sum41 - Still Waiting
WTF happened? Did I stick cotton in my ears? I don't think these are very forgiving of bad rips. That's the only explanation for this to sound so bad after the stunning performance they gave on the last song.
FLAC - Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare
Whoah. Intro sounds warm but very, very nice. Double bass is good sh**! You can practically feel when the drummer taps each foot. Everything about this song is right so far. Holy crap, I wasn't expecting this. The chorus vocals are a little muddy, but again...I can hear a little crackle in it, which makes me think it could be the source. Guitars could still use some separation. Wait...there's a piano in this song? I can't wait to get a proper DAC. I really wish i wasn't at work so I could headbang and not look like an imbecile. I haven't felt like doing that in nearly a decade. lol. Hrm. Guitar solos are still meh. ****.
FLAC - My Chemical Romance - Bulletproof Heart
Sounds good. Gerard Way's voice is clear, forward, and well presented. Hardly transparent, though, seems a little dark. Guitars sound good and are fairly well presented, but the close soundstage makes it feel a little congested when things get complicated. Guitar solos are meh.
FLAC - The Offspring - Smash
Meh. Could be better. Still has that **** crackle. Has to be the source. Internal DAC may be getting hot...it's a solid 85 degrees in my office. Freaking broke A/C. Or the DAC could just suck. Still don't think this song will be a good fit, even with a brilliant DAC. Hmm...his voice sound amazing, though. His vocal solo at 3/4 is very, very pleasing.
160k - Matchbox Twenty - **** Overall song is very veiled. However Rob Thomas's voice is pure velvet being rubbed across my eardrums. Probably overly warm for most people, but it's just so pretty. For once a guitar solo sounds pretty good. Probably because of the lower chord range. I like it.
FLAC - Katy Perry - California Gurls
Blah. Her voice has no sparkle. Very veiled. I love Katy's voice, but this is kinda sad. Snoop sounds great, though. Lol. The guitars are nice, have a good, clear twang to them. Turning up the volume helps considerably to bring her voice out. Sounds much better now, but I'm pretty sure listening at this volume level isn't healthy. Still not what I'm used to from her voice...it sounds kinda like the Harmon Kardon system in my wife's BMW. Good, but not hugely exciting.
320k - Kerli - Walking On Air
Whoah. BASS. OVERWHELMING. Lemme turn this down. Better. I'm amazed at the amount of bass that is produced at low volumes. ****. Kerli's voice is not even a little haunting. I don't think these are right for this song...it's supposed to be creepy, atmospheric, and a little weird. None of that is really well conveyed, though nothing sounds bad, per se.
FLAC - Glee Cast - Thriller/Heads Will Roll Medley
Artie's voice is a sweet spot. The Rachel Berry's voice is surprisingly forward and rich. The chorus rings, but is kind of lost in the background howling. Santana's voice seems to fall outside the sweet spots. It still sounds good, but her lovely rasp and overall vocal character is completely lost. I don't think I need to mention the bass yet again, but I will. It's beautiful, deep, and incredibly well controlled. This song doesn't sound veiled at all. Very, VERY fun and engaging, just the way it should be.
160k - Hilary Duff - Our Lips are Sealed / Ke$ha - Animal
As embarassing as it is to admit that I even listened to these songs, they were on my wife's playlist that made it onto my portable drive. Both Hilary and Ke$ha's voices sound like I expected Katy's too. Good sound. Still not the sparkle I'm looking for, but very close. Maybe because their voices are in a higher range.
#edit: I removed the spoilers because I feel like they made it hard to read.
Edited by benzoylmethyl - 7/9/11 at 8:41pm