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Are We At The End Of The Line For IEM SQ Improvements? - Page 2

post #16 of 48

I envy ER4 owners, I just heard a pair this weekend and fell in love :(

post #17 of 48
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by twylight View Post

nah I think there is alot to do with crossovers and dyanmic style drivers still to come

 

The sooner universals are simply not purchased in favor of custom iems and tip will help the masses as well. 


We'll let's bring it on!  That's what I'm saying.  The universal IEM world (top end market) seemed to move at warp speed from about 2004-2008 but it seems nothing has improved in the last 4 years.  Just different as mvw2 stated (good post).  I guess it was more of an observation than anything.  I would like to think we will eventually see/hear further improvements.

 

I have wasted much money...errr...made multiple purchases of many IEM's (sold, re-bought, etc) only to realize it is EXTREMELY hard to settle on one and only one for good but this would seem pretty standard fare for an audiophile or anyone that is REALLY into a hobby.  I mean, take your pick.   Does anybody know of a DIEHARD hunter, photographer or fisherman that only owns one gun, one camera or one fishing pole?  Never!

 

I currently been circulating my JH5, UM3X (2nd time) and now TF10 (3rd time) and am enjoying them all immensely and am terrified to part with any of them.

[Until I need more $$ for the next great thing that comes out.   ROTFLMAO!]
 

 


Edited by Spyro - 7/26/11 at 12:36pm
post #18 of 48

Well, in my book the mind-bogglingly transparent FI-BA-SS demonstrate best what you can achieve with a single BA driver today, provided money is no concern. But as a result other limiting factors become all the more apparent, like source hiss or subpar recording quality. So in the end we have to ask ourselves, do we really want improvements that will make only a small part of our music libraries sound spectacular and the rest more or less like sh*t? Or, like |joker| put it in his review:

 

"This raises a question - is it possible that an earphone can be too detailed, too clear, and too transparent? Even among high-end earphones there are still a few that elicit complaints of poor clarity when compared to the competition, but the BA-SS clearly breaches the opposite extreme. The BA-SS is the earphone equivalent of an unretouched hi-res image – it may be the technical ideal for many, but ultimately some things are better off airbrushed, if only slightly."


Quote:
Originally Posted by ZARIM View Post

I like to see universal version of JH13Pro and then it willbe real improvement over todays highend dynamic and BA drivers IEMs.

Having heard the JH13 universal demos, I must say their crossover implementation didn't impress me that much. I think the W4 (and UERM) are more accomplished in that regard. Plus, I wonder if their odd weakness in portraying subtle nuances with delicate music is due to their twin drivers design. If so, then this would even be considered a step backwards in my book.


Edited by james444 - 7/26/11 at 2:09pm
post #19 of 48

Just a point to note, the UM miracle is considered a very good custom iem. Yet, you can sent UM Australia $500 and they will willingly let you borrow a 'universal' pair to test. So... I think universals can get a LOT better =) Also, there are a lot more high end dynamics now, like the EX1000s...

post #20 of 48

As Don Wilson used to say in the forum, it doesn't take much sound to fill the 1.4cc space of your ear canal.

 

I had said it with Sleek Audio SA6 (and later, with the Ortofon, Phonak, VSONIC and j-phonic) than the real improvements I have seen over the year are not about adding more drivers to an IEM and call it a day. It is the easy way out from my POV. The real improvement is from company that takes the simplest of concept / material / design and try to extract every bit of performance out of it, daring to be different instead of just playing the number game by piling up a mountain of drivers into one earpiece. Over the years, the improvement I have seen in the market is less about actually improving the SQ as a whole, but more about lowering the cost of SQ. What used to cost $300+ now can be obtained at half the price. What used to cost $150 is now $50.

 

Are we at the end of IEM SQ improvement? IMO, no. Well, maybe the goal doesn't become a lot better for the last few years, but the journey does. The moon is still out there, but now we have much better technology than the Apollo program to reach it if we want to. If we keep improving the technology and make it more efficient, then perhaps putting a man on Mars isn't that far a dream. It is all about the fundamental.


Edited by ClieOS - 7/26/11 at 10:37pm
post #21 of 48

When I read the thread topic, the first thing that came to mind was my ER-4Ps.  Part of me says that universals have plateaued.  However, my UE RMs are so far ahead of my universals in terms of accuracy and revealing details that I have to wonder if they could come up with an RM Universal that might do 80% of what the custom can do for about 1/2 the price (of the custom).  Otherwise I have to say that from what I've heard and own, a lot of the universals out there in the same 'tier' are mostly side steps.  Out of the IEMs I own, each one does something(s) better than the other.  I would even venture to say that there are things my universals do better (subjectively) than my RMs. 

post #22 of 48

 

To me the EX1000 was/is not a side-grade and/or just another flavour or preference, but a proper upgrade. Quite remarkable what a single dynamic driver IEM can do - not just outstanding SQ, dynamics, extension & timbre, but what I regard as remarkable coherence to the sound: seamless & effortless. I was so impressed that I paid (the pretty steep price at the time of) $500 for it. No regrets whatsoever, the EX1000 being the only universal that has matched, if not surpassed, my $850 custom ES3X's SQ.
 
The MDR-7550/EX800ST, an IEM I see as a kind of dark horse with a slightly different sound sig though still a member of the EX1000/EX600 family, comes very close to the EX1000's SQ, yet the 7550/EX800 has not yet had the recognition & praise it rightly deserves, IMO. 
 
However, the $135-$200 EX600 costing roughly one third of the price of the EX1000s ($400- $500), and half that of the 7550s ($300), is an incredibly good sounding IEM, which in my view delivers about 90% of the EX1000's SQ and performs better than quite a few so-called top-tier IEMs. Build quality on both EX1000 & 7550s is better than that on the EX600s, but the latter does have quite good build-quality and all 3 IEMs come with detachable cables. The EX600 remains the one IEM I'd definitely recommend to most people.

Edited by music_4321 - 7/27/11 at 6:23am
post #23 of 48
Thread Starter 

ClieOS...re: improvement in simple single driver design.  Very much reminds me of what Grado did with GR10 which I owned for several months.  Currently playing with a pair of Triple Fi Pro's and from memory, these two phones sound incredibly similar.  Very crisp, clean, airy, clear and balanced.  GR10 has slightly more forward midrange, TF10 has slightly larger soundstage but other than that they sound VERY very close.


Edited by Spyro - 7/27/11 at 7:33am
post #24 of 48

^ Because of the (very) low prices of the TF10s seen in the last couple of years, they now often seem to be sonically underrated and largely ignored, but I think they're still one of the best universals out there. 


Edited by music_4321 - 7/27/11 at 7:39am
post #25 of 48

So, starting with the FX700 (actually DDM to a lesser extent), then the EX600 and now the GR07, dynamics driver IEMs have blown my mind in what they can produce in timbre, accuracy, speed, clarity and details. The advancements have been so rapid that I find myself flip-flopping on which do I prefer - the dynamic driver or balance armature?

 

On the other hand, the Custom 3 crossovers produced one of my favorite sound signature for acoustic instruments (especially for acoustic guitar) that I think competes with most dynamics I've heard. The 1964-Q has a timbre that is pretty close to that of dynamics and on occasion remind me of some of the best parts of the FX700 timbre that I love so much. So I'm not ready to count BAs out and say that dynamics are forging ahead while BAs are remaining stagnant.

Certainly 1964 EARS and some other custom IEM companies are making inroads with the vented BA drivers to give that technology a dynamic sound within the bass region. And I know that 1964 EARS are in the developing stages for specific BAs that will be used to drive its six-driver BA audiophile custom. What I'm getting at is that I agree that you don't have to cram multiple drivers into a shell to get the best sound, yet I don't see anything wrong with shoving multiple drivers into a custom shell if it advances the technology some way. I'm about the music and being able to hear it in what I (subjectively) consider to be the best most natural and realistic sound I've ever heard. If that takes one 18mm dynamic driver, or 10 vented BA drivers crammed into one shell, so be it. I doubt one IEM, however, will be able to suffice all of my listening needs and expectations. I think the best is yet to come (WITH LOWER PRICES).

post #26 of 48


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffroyroycole View Post

The questions remains, can Sony do even better? Based on the thread title, that is. Maybe design-wise, they improve this lineup. Sound-wise, not so sure. They might have peaked. It will be interesting to see/hear what Sony's next release brings, whenever that might be.

The common problem with Japanese headphone makers are they don't tend to have a very focus plan on R&D. Sony and Audio Technical all share their issue. For what I know, they tend to have several R&D groups inside the same department working on different projects and they don't talk to each other. At the end, we see both great headphone and cheap stuff being pump out like nobody business. They are also overly focus on their local market. If those Japanese engineers spent a bit more time out here, they might be able to do a lot more things.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyro View Post

ClieOS...re: improvement in simple single driver design.  Very much reminds me of what Grado did with GR10 which I owned for several months.  Currently playing with a pair of Triple Fi Pro's and from memory, these two phones sound incredibly similar.  Very crisp, clean, airy, clear and balanced.  GR10 has slightly more forward midrange, TF10 has slightly larger soundstage but other than that they sound VERY very close

Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

^ Because of the (very) low prices of the TF10s seen in the last couple of years, they now often seem to be sonically underrated and largely ignored, but I think they're still one of the best universals out there. 

 

I agreed with music_4321. It is all strange to see so many sudden ditched TF10 after the price drop. It is like the sound just turned sour for no reason. Well, perhaps it really isn't no reason - if there are people believe in expensive gears which must sound good, then the opposite must be true as well. However, TF10 is a masterpiece by Jerry H. in my book and that isn't going to get affected by its price tag.
 

 

post #27 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post

 

I agreed with music_4321. It is all strange to see so many sudden ditched TF10 after the price drop. It is like the sound just turned sour for no reason. Well, perhaps it really isn't no reason - if there are people believe in expensive gears which must sound good, then the opposite must be true as well. However, TF10 is a masterpiece by Jerry H. in my book and that isn't going to get affected by its price tag.


Couple things.  I really don't see the TF10 as a bargain for its sound.  Sure it goes on a blowout sale once a year but it's still pretty pricey.  You've got $100-$150 IEMs that can punch at it's weight class or better.  The biggest flaws of the TF10 are fit and mids.  Two huge problems to have if you want to reign in the top teir.  They really have some of the most lackluster mids I've heard especially at the price.  I also have it on good authority the TF10 is not a true JH piece.  Sure he conceptualized the phone but never did anything further than that once Logitech got involved.  The complete design and implementation is basically Logitech through and through.  I also think the bass sucks tbh.  Fat, one note bass, bland and boring.  No natural dynamics at all.  A good example of why I disliked BA's for so long.  The fact that the sample I heard had a ringing in the right treble driver I could reproduce 100% of the time also didn't inspire confidence for me.  Unless you are really enamored w/ it's SS it doesn't keep up w/ the Joneses for me.  This is all subjective of course.  

 


Edited by Anaxilus - 7/27/11 at 8:38am
post #28 of 48
Thread Starter 

Yes, very subjective.   I didn't think Logitech had anything to do with TF10 which was designed I believe in 2006.  I thought Logitech entered the picture years after that (2009?)

 

Yes, fit is an issue for many with TF10.  Currently using supplied silicones.  Small in left ear medium in right and thay stay put just fine (but I would'nt go running with them).

 

Bass extends DEEP, period.  Much deeper than SE530/SE535.  Not even close.  Victor Wooten's bass is cavernous on my Bela Fleck recordings.  I personally don't like a forward midrange and my test of whether a midrange sounds good or not is whether the vocals sound good and I think they do on TF10.

 

Overall, I find it a pretty full sound but not overly where it crosses over a line of not being balanced.  BIG wide soundstage, crisp, clear....there's a lot to like.   They are great with jazz!

post #29 of 48
Thread Starter 

Logitech acquires UE in August of 2008.  TF10 was certainly out on the market by then.

 

http://www.stereophile.com/news/808logi/index.html

post #30 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post


Couple things.  I really don't see the TF10 as a bargain for its sound.  Sure it goes on a blowout sale once a year but it's still pretty pricey.  You've got $100-$150 IEMs that can punch at it's weight class or better.  The biggest flaws of the TF10 are fit and mids.  Two huge problems to have if you want to reign in the top teir.  They really have some of the most lackluster mids I've heard especially at the price.  I also have it on good authority the TF10 is not a true JH piece.  Sure he conceptualized the phone but never did anything further than that once Logitech got involved.  The complete design and implementation is basically Logitech through and through.  I also think the bass sucks tbh.  Fat, one note bass, bland and boring.  No natural dynamics at all.  A good example of why I disliked BA's for so long.  The fact that the sample I heard had a ringing in the right treble driver I could reproduce 100% of the time also didn't inspire confidence for me.  Unless you are really enamored w/ it's SS it doesn't keep up w/ the Joneses for me.  This is all subjective of course.  

 

Well, TF10 certainly won't be good if mid is what you are looking for. But that being said, ain't all IEM comes with its own pros and cons? I like the presentation enough not to bother with the slightly recessed vocal.

 

As for TF10 development, it was pre-2007 (Logitech bought UE at Aug 2008). If I recall it correctly, TF10 was first announced at late 2005 / early 2006, just after Shure announced the development of E500 at mid / late 2005 (which was showed on CES06). Jerry even made some posts about TF10 development here in the forum. I remember Jerry said that the last UE product he developed is UE11 Pro, which was in development since mid / late 2006 and hit the market at Aug 2007. That's about the same time when Jerry left the company.
 

 


Edited by ClieOS - 7/27/11 at 9:06am
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