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Ultimate Ears In-Ear Reference Monitors Review - Page 4

post #46 of 527

Thanks for the suggestion, but I think the Pico Slim is meeting all my portable amping needs.  I was fairly happy with the SR71B when I had only the JH16 and ES5, but the 71B's gain was too high for certain sources.  The 71B also made those customs sound a bit overpowering in the bass, especially since the 16 and ES5 seem to have an inherent bass presence to them irrespective of source or amp.  I mainly got the Pico Slim to get better volume control with the ES5, but it turned out to be a great match with the UERM.

 

I just pulled out the TTVJ Slim.  It's been a while since I listened to it, because it's too loud even on the lowest volume with all of my customs when using the CLAS (my main portable source).  The TTVJ reveals a bit of hiss with my customs even when it's not connected to anything, and the volume pot is only 1-2 notches above silent.  Meanwhile, the Pico gives me a dead silent background at all volume levels that a human could stand to listen to. 

 

Compared to the Pico, I'd say the TTVJ is more laid back.  It has a sort of faded vinyl feel to it, which could either be dull or natural depending on your preference.  I'd say that the TTVJ holds a bit of the UERM's treble delivery back, while emphasizing the midrange and mid-bass.  On the other hand, the Pico sounds more polished and "digital" to me, although I imagine some could find the UERM-Pico combo a bit harsh or analytical.  I don't--the Pico's focus and balance feel natural to me.  I think the Pico edges out the TTVJ in terms of imaging and soundstage dimensionality as well.

 

Bottom line:  I listened with the TTVJ for about 20 minutes.  But once I put on the Pico, I just felt closer to, and more immersed in, the music.  I had no desire to switch back.

 

I was surprised to read that Joe found the UERM's treble harsh and even sibilant.  Although I feel like the UERM's treble is more crisp than either the JH16's or ES5's, to me it hasn't sounded brittle or strident.  Whereas the 16 and ES5 could sound a bit shy in the treble region, the UERM seems to remove a bit of grain from the treble.  I'm sure that the prominent treble, coupled with the lack of a bass cloud over the sound, help contribute to the sense of clarity that I hear from the UERM.  But I still don't think the UERM's technical ability is just a function of frequency tuning; somehow it sounds more capable, more effortless, and just more real than the other 2 customs I've heard.

post #47 of 527

^It's nice to hear your description of the TTVJ presentation because I like the size/volume control of the Pico Slim and am very happy with the sound.  Your description of the TTVJ presentation might be why I didn't hear the improvement i was expecting when I tried it with PK1.  The regular Pico amp also seems warmer to me and I hope to try the TTVJ and regular Pico back-to-back sometime.  I currently have the <larger> D12 when I prefer a more relaxed sound...

 

Coming from Grados, the UE RM/Pico Slim combo actually makes me think (along with some test tones) that the UE RM are tuned for a nice upper-mids emphasis that provides the detail but is not as "peaky" and "scooped" as Grados so that if you turn it up you hear detail without fatiguing stridency.  And, if I listen to the bass, I hear it but it does not dominate or "muddy" the mix.  I still think there is a "touch of sweetness to the lower and mid-mids" (or decay?) whether from the source/amp/phones, but it seems like just the right amount to me.  I do sometimes look for excuses to try another pair of customs but have a problem articulating what I might want that is different from what I have.

 

With tones, I heard more bass coming from 63Hz upwards and not much below 28Hz.  in the 12kHz-16kHz region it seems to smooth out also.  I don't think I can really hear above that.  What is nice is what it does throughout 28Hz-16kHz (to me).

 

I think the UE RM emphasize the ~1kHz-6kHz region, thereby providing lots of detail.

 

But, purrin's recent waterfall graphs showing the speed of Grado RS1 decay might be another clue that decay and FR together are responsible for the <overall clarity> that we perceive with these. And yet we do not find them fatiguing, which is a good thing.

 

Sometimes I am tempted to try something else, but so far- these keep delivering.  

 

Appreciate your comparison to other customs, you are saving me money!!

beerchug.gif

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post #48 of 527
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dj nellie View Post

Great review, joe.  I've been meaning to comment on your review for a while, but never got around to it.  While I mostly agree with your characterization of the UERM's sound signature, I'm surprised that you didn't seem to find the UERM to be qualitatively better at detail resolution and transparency compared to the JH16.  I think it's true that the UERM's bass is much thinner than the JH16's, and its midrange and treble are more robust (and forward) than the 16's, but I don't think it's just a matter of the UERM having different frequency bands emphasized compared to other IEMs. 

 

As I go back and forth between my ES5 and UERM, the first difference I notice every time is the increased sense of openness and clarity that the UERM deliver.  The ES5 sounds significantly warmer and lusher, but also hazier and less focused.  Imaging feels more precisely located, and the soundstage appears to be more 3-dimensional with the UERM.  I sold my JH16s after feeling much the same way about them as I do the ES5; they are far more similar than different.  The UERM is a totally different headphone altogether.

 

People seem unconvinced when I say there is a qualitative (and not just sound signature) difference between the UERM and the JH16 and ES5.  Even my LCD-2 and Edition 8s don't deliver quite the same level of crisp detail.  While some might find the UERM's presentation a bit thin due to the minimal bass impact, I think the UERM's bass output can vary considerably depending on the source and amp.  A fairly neutral source and amp like the CLAS and Pico Slim allow the UERM to give razor-sharp resolution, but perhaps at the cost of bass presence.  On the other hand, my warmest portable source, the HM-801, gives me the right amount of bass for most genres (and sometimes too much bass with the ES5).

 

I'm hoping to eventually post an ES5 vs. UERM (and possibly JH16) review, but it's clear to me that the UERM is the only custom IEM I've heard that was designed as a studio monitor.  As a consequence, it doesn't have (as its default signature with most sources) the bass warmth that can help performers cancel out stage noise or feel the rhythm of the song.  But it also provides the pinpoint accuracy that I would think studio engineers require.

 

In case anyone's interested, Craig from Whiplash is able to make one of his TWag cables using the UE prong covers.  He took a pair of covers off of a stock UE cable and heatshrunk them onto one of his cables for me, and the result is a polished beauty that I hope will prevent the prongs from getting bent or being exposed to moisture.

 

photo.JPG

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

Hmm, I think there seems to be split camps on how people hear the ES5 similar to how people hear the W4s.  I have various theories about why this is but regardless the ES5 offers more coherence in the actual rendering of instruments and performers giving a better 3D feel to me.  The UERM certainly has the clear spatial cues.  The UERM has the cleaner spearation and placement but what I call imaging (think rendering) the ES5 does better.  UERM is great for lasering in on the recording but you really need to do some source manipulation get the UERM to get close to that 'live' presentation.  The ES5 is technically superior to me though the UERM has the more neutral and precise tuning of a studio monitor.  I'd say they are both about as close as two different sounding phones can get if that makes sense and I enjoy them both for different reasons and seasons.  


Thanks.  I compared the JH16 and UERM quite extensively and I can hear/understand more micro-detail with the JH16 than the UERM, but the differences aren't large by any means.  The UERM is more analytical with a thinner note and that brings the detail out more to the forefront.  I do have scores for all the custom IEMs I have reviewed, which I will publish when I feel I have it perfected, but the UERM beats the JH16 in soundstage (due to better proportions), clarity, imaging, transparency, and resolution (ability to resolve ambiance) while the JH16 wins in detail, and dynamics.  Even though the UERM beats the JH16 is many categories, it is close while the difference in dynamics in favor of the JH16 is fairly large resulting in a fairly close overall score.  Of course, score really isn't as important as the sound signature for many people.

 

Not having heard the ES5 I can't say either way and have to wait until I have some time to decide what to review next as I still have a pretty full plate with the SE 5-way, aud-5X (Dream Earz), and Hidition NT-6 not to mention the Livewires and Alclair custom IEMs.  And, I also have to review a bunch of cables and then several amps/DACs.

 

Speaking of amps/DACs and the iQube, it did get a very high score in my review (this is in response to CEE TEE), but the Pico Slim is very nice.  For me the 801 didn't add warmth, but made the presentation dark, but the 801 to an amp resulted in an amazing pairing due to the added resolution the UERM could resolve.

 

As far the "live" presentation, no matter the source I used the UERM didn't come close to recreating the ambiance that the EM3 Pro and SE 5-way recreate, although the EM3 has a good deal less detail and lacks the clarity, but spaciousness is very good if not small (I am very curious about the EM4 among so many other potentially great custom IEMs).  I am not sure how much, if any, perspective plays into how we hear the UERM.

 

Also, I want to note that my reviews are done with a composite of music and are averages as with some genres or specific masters one custom IEM can perform much better than others.  And as far as your comment on the LCD-2, there are many custom IEMs I hear as crisper than the LCD-2 including the JH16, UERM, LS8, and SE 5-way to name a few.

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dj nellie View Post

I was surprised to read that Joe found the UERM's treble harsh and even sibilant.  Although I feel like the UERM's treble is more crisp than either the JH16's or ES5's, to me it hasn't sounded brittle or strident.  Whereas the 16 and ES5 could sound a bit shy in the treble region, the UERM seems to remove a bit of grain from the treble.  I'm sure that the prominent treble, coupled with the lack of a bass cloud over the sound, help contribute to the sense of clarity that I hear from the UERM.  But I still don't think the UERM's technical ability is just a function of frequency tuning; somehow it sounds more capable, more effortless, and just more real than the other 2 customs I've heard.


Bottom line seems to be that you found something that you are satisfied with, which is great!  And my comments about the treble are not consistent on all tracks, but on a fair number of tracks I don't have issues with others such as the LS8 and JH16 which both have different frequency responses than the UERM, and if I am not doing direct A/B with the others.  It could be ear shape as I know other people that have issues with certain universal IEMs I don't have issues with and vice versa all in the treble range.  And a 711 coupler, which many companies use to tune IEMs, is only accurate up to 8K I think it is, so anything above that must be tuned by ear and ear shape/size will affect the results.  For example, the LS8 treble frequency response looks fairly peaky but in my ear it is very flat.

 

I can see how you would think the UERM is more capable and real than the JH16 (with acoustic music because with electronic, what is 'real')), which I would say is in part due to the note presentation, frequency response, and soundstage proportions.  At least that is how I see it.  The UERM is a great custom IEM, but the sound signature isn't for everyone IMO.

post #49 of 527

Just tried the UERMs on. (Damn Anax, you have big ear holes!) I effing hate all of you guys. I hate you all. That's another grand I'm going to have to steal from the house down payment or kids college fund.

 

CEETEE: They sound nice out of the BA. No noise issues at all. Amazing soundstage. Didn't know IEMs could do soundstage. You really shouldn't settle for less. Make sure you get the KR PX4 tubes too.

 

Anax: No, they are not too analytical for me. Just right. As I said, most people's analytical is my musical.


Edited by purrin - 10/12/11 at 9:34pm
post #50 of 527

^Oh no.  

 

YOU are gonna cost ME more money than I am going to cost YOU!

 

I was so busy trying to find a rig that would satisfy me as much as my portable that I didn't even talk to you about the RM at the mini-meet!

 

Man, those KR PX4 tubes PLUS AMP are gonna be...eek.gif

 

Well, at least you guys are validating me because I keep thinking my portable rig (at least) is pretty good.  redface.gif

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post #51 of 527

It's really hard for me to pick the UERMs apart. The multi-way with crossovers definitely help with killing any ringing. They sound very flat - maybe a slight broad emphasis around 3kHz? But we are talking speaker level accuracy of +2-3 db instead of the typically headphone inaccuracies of 6-10db. It's really hard for to me tell. I feel the bass and treble extremes are rolled off a bit - nothing EQ shouldn't be able to correct.

post #52 of 527
Quote:
Originally Posted by purrin View Post

It's really hard for me to pick the UERMs apart. The multi-way with crossovers definitely help with killing any ringing. They sound very flat - maybe a slight broad emphasis around 3kHz? But we are talking speaker level accuracy of +2-3 db instead of the typically headphone inaccuracies of 6-10db. It's really hard for to me tell. I feel the bass and treble extremes are rolled off a bit - nothing EQ shouldn't be able to correct.


Pretty spot on.  What amp are you using that you feel they sound best with?  I think the Leckerton for accuracy and the uha120 for euphony/musicality.

 

I think AJ and CEE TEE and myself also feel a roll off around 30hz.  That is one their flaws IMO, you miss out on the viceral sub bass even for classical or acoustic pieces but overall balance and neutrality is superb.

 

Glad you like them, told ya IEMs were no joke.  ;P  Headphones definitely have more 'issues' and associated costs to dial them in IMO when talking ToTL.

 


Edited by Anaxilus - 10/12/11 at 10:09pm
post #53 of 527

 

^agreed with Anax on sub-30Hz.  

 

But, if a thicker "overall" bass presentation is what I would have to accept to get more <30Hz response, I don't think I would want to do that.

 

My friend's Dunntech Sovereigns and the Massive Attack concert I went to showed me what a 20Hz "flutter" can feel like.

 

I don't <have to> have that in my customs to enjoy music.

 

If I were an engineer, I am guessing that I would want to use a sub-woofer to really know what is going on between 12Hz-40Hz.

 

Wonder from any engineers if using the UE RM might be <almost as good> as using Yamaha NS-10's to understand the midrange + using a different set of monitors like the Mackie HR824 for further extension (but neither do sub-40Hz)?

 

When I heard one friend's set-up of NS-10/HR824 for checking mixes, the HR824 had a greater impact or "thickness" than the RM.

 

Yet I like the clarity of the RM and can go to my TF10 if I want more "thickness of bass" or to bigger cans for more "impact".  

 

(IE8 were the only "club" emulators that I have heard from in-ears so far- but at the expense of everything I like about the RM...)

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post #54 of 527

Nah, thicker would be more of a mid bass effect.  This is where dynamic drivers have physics on their side but it can be done w/ BA's but more consideration/compromises have to be made.

 

Eww...TF10 bass is soooooo boring.  tongue.gif  That's BA bass done wrong IMO.  I really don't like phones that sound like BA's if some can relate to that.  

post #55 of 527

I need to look at the FR of the Merlins...do they get sub-bass without having an inflated mid-bass?

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post #56 of 527
Thread Starter 

To my ears the SE 5-way and JH16 have great sub-bass without too much mid-bass.

post #57 of 527

Been listening to the UERMs quite a bit and I'm very impressed with how good the IEMs have gotten since I purchased my last pair (Shure E2c's) many many years ago. So I've been trying to figure out what headphones the UERMs sound like as they do seem familiar sounding... and I'm saying this on dare: 

 

The UERM sound like the STAX SR009 in IEM format that costs $3500 $4250 less. biggrin.gif
 
There, I said it.

Edited by purrin - 10/13/11 at 11:08pm
post #58 of 527

^My goodness.  

 

The thread wants to close before you take it back...ksc75smile.gif 

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post #59 of 527

You've heard the SR-009. C'mon you know the UERMs sound just as good. wink_face.gif

 

I'm powering the UERMs from the BA though.

post #60 of 527

It is good to know that the BA will be a good trans-portable amp.

 

Helps me justify the expense...

 

(Until Justin comes out with the KR PX4 option for the Pico Slim!)

 

wink.gif

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