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Seeking Suggestions for In-Ear Headphones

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Greetings!

 

I am looking at acquiring a new set of in-ear phones. After doing a lot of reading on these forums, I've made a short list of possibilities and I'm coming to you now in hopes of getting more personally-tailored advice. These forums have been a terrific asset in my search and I'm very thankful for the abundance of information that is available!

 

Ideally, the phones that I get would have very strong lows that maintain a solid degree of definition. In addition, I'm seeking an appropriate midrange oomph and detailed, brilliant highs (without being harsh or fatiguing, of course). I'm not a seasoned audiophile so forgive my descriptions if they're rather vague and cliche.

 

I listen to a lot of different genres so something that responds well to everything would be preferred. If I had to put some labels on what I mainly listen to, I'd include any sub-genre of rock (post-rock, hard rock, metal, etc), a lot of acoustic material (pop, rock, singer/songwriter stuff, etc), and a small amount of country and hip hop.

 

A lot of the stuff I love most feature subtle nuances that I'd love to have brought to life. For those of you familiar with Sigur Ros, Mogwai, Pink Floyd, and other similar acts may get what I'm saying; the mix of those songs typically have a lot of beautiful detail that is easily lost in lower quality headphones. I want something that will make those songs sound awe-inspiring.

 

My current headphone is a set Sennheiser HD 280 Pros and I am underwhelmed by the sound quality and comfort. They put a lot of strain on my head (which I consider to be on the large side) and the detail is lacking. They get the job done but are not portable and don't astound in the field of sound quality. I'm set on in-ear phones because I have had several sets that I have thoroughly enjoy. I'd default back to the sets that I know well but this seems like a good opportunity for an upgrade.

 

My friend has a set of Klipsch S4s that sound good. The bass is strong (which I like) but it seems to come at the cost of clarity in the mids and highs. I know that I wouldn't be regretful of buying a set but I'd like to consider my options further.

 

I am also a fan of Sennheiser's CX300 phones. They feel comfortable and sound good. The bass presence is strong without neglecting to spotlight the highs. I would also be happy with a set of these again but, again, I'm certainly willing to pay more for a better set.

 

I have made a short list of headphones that I'm considering. I've spent the better part of this afternoon weighing the pros and cons of each model without reaching a conclusion on which would be appropriate for my needs. If you have any opinions on how these compare to one another, I'd love to hear! As always, I'm open to suggestions in the event that I've neglected to consider a certain headphone.

 

Ultimate Ears 700 - I have almost completely ruled these out as being an option because of some reviews that I've read regarding their bass quality. It sounds as though it is not their strong suit and that I could do much better in this price range, in that regard. I like what I've read about other aspects of the UE700s but I don't want to give up a solid low end thump since a lot of what I listen to relies on the thickness that it can offer.

 

Ultimate Ears 500 - From my understanding, these are better for bass response than the UE700s, but that may come at the cost of clarity in the upper frequency range. Would this be safe to conclude? They are much cheaper and still seem to get good feedback. I'd be hesitant because some comments I've read while comparing these to the Klipsch S4s lead me to believe that the Klipsch set outperforms these.

 

Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5 - I'm not sure how these compare to the UE500s so more research is in order. They are affordable and look comfortable. I don't have a well-formed opinion on these yet so I'll continue reading. I just wanted to add them to the list in case someone has opinions on how these compare to the other options.

 

Klipsch S4 - I can't ignore these as an option because I've had the chance to demo them and I am happy enough with the sound. There comes a point where spending more money might not necessarily result in a proportional increase in quality (for instance, a set costing $160 may not sound $100 better than the $60 Klipsch phones). I don't particularly believe that this will be the case in this price range since there is a lot of room for improvement, so it's not a huge concern of mine. Regardless, I'm still keeping these on my watch list because I know there won't be too many surprises.

 

Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 - It may not be fair to compare a $220 set to a some costing between $60 and $140 but I'm curious about these. They seem like they would be a good option to consider and, perhaps, it may be worth stretching my budget a bit further. My main concerns with the TripleFi 10s are the cable (a lot of users seem to comment on punctures forming from the memory cable bending) and the size. They look awkwardly large and heavy. I have read that they are not appropriate for people with small canals and that they easily pop out or need readjusted when moving. I don't think that I have small canals -- I normally wear the medium or large tips on my other phones -- and I don't plan on working out with an expensive set of phones. I do, however, want to be able to take casual strolls through campus without having to constantly fiddle with the position. Comfort is key.

 

Klipsch X5 - These are more costly than the TripleFi 10s but I'm still rather intrigued by them. They're not the set that I'm leaning toward strongest but I keep searching for more information on them regardless. At $250, they're the most expensive of the headphones that I'm looking at but I'm not sure if the performance lives up to that price tag.

 

 

Does it sound like I am on the right track with what I'm considering at this point? Are there are some contenders that I may have not given enough consideration? I have seen a wide range of brands being suggested but whenever I look up reviews, the comments on the bass never seem to impress me. I don't want to come off as being a bass-hungry college kid but I certainly don't want something that ends up sounding thin or anemic as a result of low bass output.

 

I will be mainly using these with my laptop and Zune HD. There won't be an external headphone amp in the equation; at least initially, if that makes any difference. The Zune HD sounds surprisingly good while my laptop's sound card leaves some to be desired. My desktop setup features a Focusrite Scarlett 18i6 sound card (for recording but the headphone out sounds terrific) so I will occasionally have higher end converters of which to make use -- they're not top-of-the-line but they sound better than the integrated solutions that I have access to presently.

 

One detail that I have to factor into my purchase is that the headphones I buy must be available on Amazon. Most of the money that I'm allocating toward this purchase comes in the form of Amazon gift credit that I got from selling my used textbooks back to them. I have about $150 left so I've got a strong obligation/desire to go through them. Their service is fast and reliable so I have no problem with that, to be honest. Their selection seems good enough but does take some options out of the equation.

 

I apologize for the long-winded post. I hope I have provided you with ample information to help guide me on my future headphone purchase! I appreciate that you took the time to read (and hopefully respond to) this! :)

 

All the best,


Justin


Edited by LarryKingsShoes - 9/20/11 at 3:49pm
post #2 of 17

Your budget is pretty broad it seems. The CX300's are quite bassy compared to most phones. I wouldn't get the X5. Definitely overpriced. I would take a look at the Phonak Audeo PFE 112's. I have not owned anything on the list aside from the X5's, but I owned the PFE's a couple years ago and thought they were probably the best price/performance I have owned. It is possible they'll be bass lite for you, but  maybe changing the filters (they're included) can remedy that for you. I'm sure other people will have more recent suggestions, like the VSonic GR07, Sony EX600's, etc. Also important to buy from authorized dealers too, which can be a problem on amazon. Maybe even take a look at Future Sonic Atrio M5, Monster Turbines, Monster Turbine Pro Coppers, etc. :D


Edited by Zalithian - 9/20/11 at 5:25pm
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response!

 

I'll look at those that you've mentioned and see if anything seems appealing. It's definitely a good place to start!

 

My budget is somewhat flexible but the $230 TripleFi 10s are about as far as I can stretch it. I wasn't initially looking to spend that much but if the quality goes up substantially in that tier, I am willing to drop the cash. I was hoping to keep it closer to $160 but I don't want to be underwhelmed just to save a few dollars. I'm glad to be able to cross the Klipsch X5s off of the list because they weren't the most appealing. The price does seem like it's inflated a bit too much.

 

Thanks again for the reply! I'll start searching again!

post #4 of 17

If you're going to go up to 200+ dollars then it comes down to two pairs of headphones...as mentioned previously the GR07 and the EX600.  Both are considered the cream of the crop when it comes to the recommended headphones in that price range.  If you're going up over 200, the Turbine Coppers are good, but I'm not sure they are better than the GR07s and with the GR07s being cheaper, it seems silly to stretch it.  Read the GR07 and EX600 threads...both are huge and both have a ton of info.  You can't go wrong with either of them I don't think.

post #5 of 17

X2 on the EX600 and Atrios for your budget and preferences.  

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

I'll definitely look further into those options! It looks like I have plenty of reading to do now. bigsmile_face.gif

 

On a side note, I'm also going to cross off the Klipsch S4s from the list. I'm listening to them right now and the bass is way too exaggerated. The mids and highs sound muffled so I don't think that these will make good long-term headphones. I'm listening to "A Smile For Judas" by Bleed the Dream (from Asleep/No Apologies), which has a deep bass quality, but it's overwhelming. They don't sound awful but they're certainly not what I'd look for, as far as spectrum-wide balance is concerned. They are very comfortable, though! It was easy to get a good seal and I can barely feel them in there. They feel much nicer than the CX300s that I'm used to. I hope that whatever I end up feels as nice as these do.

 

Is the MDREX600 what is referred to as the EX600? They're the only set that's showing up on Amazon, I just wanted to make sure that they're what I'm supposed to be finding.

 

It's going to be tough choosing between the Sony and the VSonic sets. The EX600s are cheaper on Amazon, which is great. If the GR07s sound better, I'm certainly willing to spend more.

 

I appreciate all of the advice that you guys have offered. It is terrific guidance and has encouraged me to look into a wider variety of in-ear headphones.

 

Thanks a lot!


Edited by LarryKingsShoes - 9/20/11 at 7:34pm
post #7 of 17

The EX600s aren't that well isolating though. If isolation is important for you I suppose the GR07 would be better.

post #8 of 17

GR07 has pooooooor bass

TF10 or Atrios M5 I think

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

At the moment, I'm leaning toward the Atrio M5s because of the comments I've heard on the bass quality. As long as the highs still have some shimmer, I think they would be satisfying. The more I listen to the Klipsch S4s, the more I am realizing the importance of the upper frequencies. These are truly lacking in presence so I'm not getting a lot of enjoyment out of them. I definitely wouldn't want that from the Atrios (and I don't expect it). The M5s are goofy looking but that's not a big concern of mine.

 

Does the lower isolation of the EX600s negatively impact the bass response when in noisy areas? I was listening to music with my Sennheiser HD 280 Pros in the car on Sunday and the bass seems to have diminished greatly. Now that I'm at home, they sound normal. I was upset by that aspect but I figure in-ear monitors will respond better to those situations.


Edited by LarryKingsShoes - 9/20/11 at 8:48pm
post #10 of 17

Yeah,I don't have a EX600 but I have a EX1000,the isolation is really poor.Actually,in a noisy place like a shopping mall or in metro,the music is seriouslly disturbed. 

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

That's very unfortunate. I was just reading more about the Atrios and became slightly turned off by some talk of the mids being muddy and the highs being piercing. The EX600s were my fall-back option but I want to be able to use them in the car without disturbance. Thanks for sharing this issue, it's an important one to consider.

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryKingsShoes View Post

At the moment, I'm leaning toward the Atrio M5s because of the comments I've heard on the bass quality. As long as the highs still have some shimmer, I think they would be satisfying. The more I listen to the Klipsch S4s, the more I am realizing the importance of the upper frequencies. These are truly lacking in presence so I'm not getting a lot of enjoyment out of them. I definitely wouldn't want that from the Atrios (and I don't expect it). The M5s are goofy looking but that's not a big concern of mine.

 

Does the lower isolation of the EX600s negatively impact the bass response when in noisy areas? I was listening to music with my Sennheiser HD 280 Pros in the car on Sunday and the bass seems to have diminished greatly. Now that I'm at home, they sound normal. I was upset by that aspect but I figure in-ear monitors will respond better to those situations.



Hmm if you are looking at the Atrios I'd suggest the MTPCs too, though they are a bit more expensive than the GR07s. Good bass without colouring the sound.

post #13 of 17

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Althas View Post

GR07 has pooooooor bass

TF10 or Atrios M5 I think


100% incorrect.  The GR07s are fantastic on the low end.  Sure, they aren't bass heavy like the Atrios, but they are well balanced with a fantastic low end that doesn't have the midbass hump like the IE8s or similar.  Stop spreading false info.

post #14 of 17

You're welcomed.Atrios M5 is a good IEM,although it looks simple an crude,it sounds great!

post #15 of 17

I'm not mean to spread a false info,we know everybody likes diffirent type,he like bass,but GR07 has less bass than TF10 and Atrios

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