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Which IEM to Buy?????? - Help! HA-FX700, SM3, UM3x, RE0, ER-4p, CK10, DBA-02

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Hello all, 

 

This is my first post and I am quite excited. I have recently forayed into the world of quality audio and it has definetly changed my music listening for good. I am ready to make my first substantial purchase in the field of IEM's and need a bit of guidance. My music listening consists of pretty varied genres From Blues to Jazz, R&B, Indie rock, alot of live concert stuff, Rock, a little bit of folk, some acoustic guitar tracks, and the odd bit of instrumental and classical music. I would say bass is important to me but not to the point of quashing all the other frequencies. Soundstaging and detail are also two things that have led me into buying a top-tier earphone. I like the sound of over the ear phones but cannot travel and carry them around with me. I Recently I made a trip to my local audio store to try some brands with my ipod and my music. I rip all my records at either 320 Kbps or Lossless.  I started at the top price in the store. The SE535's dissapointed me. They seemed muddy and the frequency overlap between the triple driver system was extremely noticeable. The vocals were also screaming in my face instead of being properly places in space. I tried the IE8's, which seemed to have the best soundstaging and presentation I had heard but the bass sometimes boomed over the other frequencies ( I think the bass knob was at +2). However the IE8 seemed better to me that the GR8 the S4, and S5 combined. I have tried and loved my friends ER4-P/ER4-S and love the detail and accuracy of those  Ety phones, but I can't help but be disengaged sometimes with the thin sound that the singe BA in them produces, and the lack of textured and impactful bass. From what I've heard so far the ER4P and the IE8 seem to represent the two extremes that are what I love to hear: great soundstage for IE8 and great clarity, detail, and accuracy along the entire spectrum for the ER4P. I guess I like a sound between fun and true, with instrument separation, soundstaging, and bass also being important factors - if only to make sure that bass is not non-existent for the rap tracks that I listen to. 

 

From my description, the FX700 seems right up my alley. I hear there is a lot of isolation problems with it, and while i don't need any Isolation really for myself, I do spend time on buses and airplanes and need to make sure I am not going to completely annoy the people beside me. A little sound leakage is okay, but will this emulate an open back over the ear phone in terms of sound leakage? how many grumbling looks can I expect in a plane cabin?

If it weren't for this factor I think the FX700 would be hands down my baby, even if the V signature scares me a little as I quite like the balance ER4P and the FX700 is basically the polar opposite. 

 

The other options I have seen good reviews on in terms of clarity,bass,decent mid and treb, soundstaging and the like is:

 

SM3

UM3X

RE0

CK10

DBA-02( although this might just be a tad too flat and analytic for my tastes, given reviews)

 

I can't Justify spending anything over $400 for IEM's and DESPERATELY need some heavyweights to weigh in on what is going to be the best overall phone that I can also take on the road and not annoy people to death with. Should I be worrying as much as I am about the FX700 and leakage? can it be muffled with different tips? what other phones other than the ones I listed would be Proper for my needs? I hope you will guide me in my first foray into high end audio purchases. Help!

 

Kind Regards, 

 

D

post #2 of 29

You seem to be looking for a very balanced and well-rounded type of sound - not emphasized in any particular frequency range like the SE535s (forward mids, leading to the effect with vocals that you experienced) or IE8 (bass hump). This also fits your taste in music - very wide range that demands performance across the frequency spectrum. Many of the options you listed are somewhat specialized - the SM3s for example have rich, creamy forward mids in a very warm, maybe even thick presentation that are loved by many but at the same time hated by some. The RE-0, CK10 and DBA-02 are treble-heavy in general, and the RE-0 at least have somewhat lean bass especially unamped (the DBA/CK10 both have more bass quantity but none of them will ever fall under "bass heavy" earphones. As for FX700, isolation is poor. You will not be enjoying them to anywhere near their full potential on street/commute use I feel, and it's quite a waste as they are fairly expensive.

 

As you can see there probably isn't a earphone that performs exceedingly well in everything you asked for, it really depends on what you find to be acceptable standards for bass, soundstage etc. For example if you find the DBA-02's bass and presentation up to your needs then it is an easy recommend. The UM3X is another option that's not likely to go wrong - solid performer across the spectrum and immaculate instrument separation. I'll also throw out some other Japanese models - the Ortofon twins (e-Q5 and e-Q7) are also solid across the spectrum (e-Q7 a little more mid-centric, e-Q5 balanced) with well above-average soundstage and to me no real weakness to the sound. If you can find them for cheap, Sony's EX1000 and EX600 can be considered as well.

 

 

tl;dr: Audition the earphones if possible to confirm your sound sig preferences. If you can't, I suggest some of the more balanced, well-rounded performers eg UM3X, Ortofon e-Q5 rather than polarizing picks like the SM3 or IE8. FX700 sounds fantastic, but isolation is a big minus.

 

If you haven't already, the fantastic thread here:

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/478568/multi-iem-review-186-iems-compared-xears-nature-n3i-xe200pro-added-8-01

 

gives some ideas about the kind of sound you can expect from a variety of celebrated models. Enjoy and welcome to head-fi, sorry about your wallet etc tongue.gif

post #3 of 29

The vsonic GR07 fits your descriptions perfectly, and it has good isolation too

 

About the sound leakage, some IEMs may have poor isolation, but they don't leak sound nearly as much as open back headphone

post #4 of 29

The RE272 are new highend IEMs and it offers really wide soundstage, superb details in mids n highs like ER4P/S with deep punchy bass. The bass on JVC FX700 is deep reverbing with wide soundstage and good mids n highs. Sony EX1000, EX7550, EX600 are very detailed in mids n highs and fun to listen with wide soundstage. I will recommend to try RE272 for superb details, wide soundstage and deep punchy bass but overall it's neutral n bright. BTW i think the best balance ( fun to listen without being bright n neutral with good bass response) you will find in GR07, EX600, EX1000.


Edited by ZARIM - 8/9/11 at 10:31am
post #5 of 29


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZARIM View Post

The RE272 are new highend IEMs and it offers really wide soundstage, superb details in mids n highs like ER4P/S with deep punchy bass. The bass on JVC FX700 is deep reverbing with wide soundstage and good mids n highs. Sony EX1000, EX7550, EX600 are very detailed in mids n highs and fun to listen with wide soundstage. I will recommend to try RE272 for superb details, wide soundstage and deep punchy bass but overall it's neutral n bright.



Have you heard all of those?

post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 

Great, just great ! Thank you all. These are some well thought out suggestions. Any other ideas of what's better than the Sen IE8( $399) and ER4-P($200) for the money. I also thought about going with the 1964 - T Custom as it will run me 350$ plus cost of ear molding. But I might not be ready for a custom set yet. But this is definetly a keeper, one time buy and I want to get it right and have it last for several years, or until it dies. I'm not about acquiring several different IEM's that will just take closet space and wallet space.

 

 I also have very little ability to try the smaller brands out there that are so highly reviewed here on Head-Fi, so your imput is tantamount. The EQ-5 Definetly sound like a better Sound Sig. than the EQ-7 but I am not speaking from experience. I need a real worker here. The GR07 also sound like a workable option. For the longest time, all I knew was what I heard out of the Bose Triports:( and I am ready to treat my ears better!

Others, put in you .02 pretty please? what's your favourite IEM under $400 that is not flat on bass and not meant for a basshead either?

 

Aspiring audiophile, 

 

D

post #7 of 29

For under $400, I would recommend Ortofon eq-5, Triple.Fi 10 and FX700 (haven't heard the latter personally).

I wouldn't call the bass of the eq-5 flat, it has great texture and all, just lacking in quantity, and slight rolloff.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveA View Post

Great, just great ! Thank you all. These are some well thought out suggestions. Any other ideas of what's better than the Sen IE8( $399) and ER4-P($200) for the money. I also thought about going with the 1964 - T Custom as it will run me 350$ plus cost of ear molding. But I might not be ready for a custom set yet. But this is definetly a keeper, one time buy and I want to get it right and have it last for several years, or until it dies. I'm not about acquiring several different IEM's that will just take closet space and wallet space.

 

 I also have very little ability to try the smaller brands out there that are so highly reviewed here on Head-Fi, so your imput is tantamount. The EQ-5 Definetly sound like a better Sound Sig. than the EQ-7 but I am not speaking from experience. I need a real worker here. The GR07 also sound like a workable option. For the longest time, all I knew was what I heard out of the Bose Triports:( and I am ready to treat my ears better!

Others, put in you .02 pretty please? what's your favourite IEM under $400 that is not flat on bass and not meant for a basshead either?

 

Aspiring audiophile, 

 

D



 

post #8 of 29

Being a FX700 owner and working in a busy workplace, I can say that the isolation is not as bad as many people describe. With the seal that I get on them, they almost have the same isolation as the IE8 if not better (I didn't get a very good seal on the IE8...)

 

As you can see in my sig., the FX700 are my favorite IEM so far, so you can guess what my recommendation would be biggrin.gif

post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveA View Post

Great, just great ! Thank you all. These are some well thought out suggestions. Any other ideas of what's better than the Sen IE8( $399) and ER4-P($200) for the money. I also thought about going with the 1964 - T Custom as it will run me 350$ plus cost of ear molding. But I might not be ready for a custom set yet. But this is definetly a keeper, one time buy and I want to get it right and have it last for several years, or until it dies. I'm not about acquiring several different IEM's that will just take closet space and wallet space.

 

 I also have very little ability to try the smaller brands out there that are so highly reviewed here on Head-Fi, so your imput is tantamount. The EQ-5 Definetly sound like a better Sound Sig. than the EQ-7 but I am not speaking from experience. I need a real worker here. The GR07 also sound like a workable option. For the longest time, all I knew was what I heard out of the Bose Triports:( and I am ready to treat my ears better!

Others, put in you .02 pretty please? what's your favourite IEM under $400 that is not flat on bass and not meant for a basshead either?

 

Aspiring audiophile, 

 

D


The IE8 can be had for $255, just a heads up.

 

post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by shureThing View Post

For under $400, I would recommend Ortofon eq-5, Triple.Fi 10 and FX700 (haven't heard the latter personally).

I wouldn't call the bass of the eq-5 flat, it has great texture and all, just lacking in quantity, and slight rolloff.
 



 

Ortofon e-Q5 is priced well below 400 price mark (250$ to be specific) so it is an absolute  winner based on price-performance. For 300+ e-Q7 or

  Another option is FA Heaven A or even FA heaven sb.

Fx700 is closer to 400 yet is from another league, very bass heavy Dynamic type IEMs set. Nothing to do with BA like Ortos, Ck10 or DBa02

I like your picture btw, have you heard the amp ?
 

 

post #11 of 29

 

The e-q7, I'm quite sure, can be obtained for just under $300. I own the EX1000, which I've heard sounds quite similar to the FX700, and I am easily satisfied with the eq-5 and the EX1000, so I was just basing this off my personal experience.

 

No I haven't heard the amp, but that is because of my lifestyle: I only do my listening on the go. But, if it weren't for that, I'd have that amp sitting on my desk. I found it very attractive, and hence I used it as my avatar.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by yello131 View Post

Ortofon e-Q5 is priced well below 400 price mark (250$ to be specific) so it is an absolute  winner based on price-performance. For 300+ e-Q7 or

  Another option is FA Heaven A or even FA heaven sb.

Fx700 is closer to 400 yet is from another league, very bass heavy Dynamic type IEMs set. Nothing to do with BA like Ortos, Ck10 or DBa02

I like your picture btw, have you heard the amp ?
 

 



 

post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by shureThing View Post

 

The e-q7, I'm quite sure, can be obtained for just under $300. I own the EX1000, which I've heard sounds quite similar to the FX700, and I am easily satisfied with the eq-5 and the EX1000, so I was just basing this off my personal experience.

 

No I haven't heard the amp, but that is because of my lifestyle: I only do my listening on the go. But, if it weren't for that, I'd have that amp sitting on my desk. I found it very attractive, and hence I used it as my avatar.
 



 




Could you suggest where can one get e-Q7 for under 300US other then in Japan itself?

it is crazy,  by having the picture of the amp up there, you are promoting Ortofons  and arent even getting paid, arent you?confused.gif

 

post #13 of 29

For best balance of musicality and performance for consumer grade unamped sources, my choice is e-Q7 (not e-Q5, which I believe sounds less balanced). Amped out of a great audiophile source, RE0, 262 or 272 may be better.

post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by yello131 View Post






Could you suggest where can one get e-Q7 for under 300US other then in Japan itself?

it is crazy,  by having the picture of the amp up there, you are promoting Ortofons  and arent even getting paid, arent you?confused.gif

 


musicaacoustics apparently has them on sale right now.. http://www.musicaacoustics.com/Ortofon_e-Q7.html

bear in mind that I have never used the website before, but it is recommended around here pretty often for Japanese IEMs.

 

@OP: I recommend the e-Q5 although it is not bass-heavy. one of the fastest, most detailed (CK10 beats it though) yet balanced IEMs I have heard. Bass is a little on the light side though, it's all there down to the very low end, but lacks quantity somewhat. Still has a lot more than the CK10 though haha. Has a slight bump in the 3 KHz and 5 KHz range, so sounds a little brighter, but thankfully never sibilant. Imagine it as a better version of the GR8.

Also FX700 and EX1000 have more bass and actually might be better suited for you due to more bass but both don't isolate too well (if you're going to be on the road, isolation is very important, otherwise you could just get some cheap earbuds, trust me if isolation is not up to par you won't hear any difference). actually I have problems getting a proper fit with the EX1000 at all.. don't know how one is supposed to wear them lol.

Also consider W3 and W4? W3 is fun, W4 is quite balanced across the spectrum.

 

post #15 of 29

They better be better than that when mine arrive in the next day or two.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveA View Post
The SE535's dissapointed me. They seemed muddy and the frequency overlap between the triple driver system was extremely noticeable. The vocals were also screaming in my face instead of being properly places in space.
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