This is not a review. It's purely subjective.
Hello, I wanted to share my somewhat bizarre experience with my IEMs. Firstly, I did tests on two IEMs - Westone 4 and Shure SE425. They are two different species but stay with me. I used a variety of genres - orchestral classical, tango, jazz, pop, rock and vocal. Each song has different bit rates (mp3 - 320kbps, 256kbps, 128 kbps). I happen to have one 96kbps song so I'll pop that in. :) I'm not discussing their strengths and weaknesses in specific genres/soundstage/etc for now.
The balanced Westone 4 makes every song sound great no matter what the bit rate is (128 +).
Bit rate: SQ
128kbps: 7 to 8/10
The analytical SE425 wowed me only in fantastic recordings and higher bit rates.
96kbps: 2-3/10 (it's a pain)
My personal findings:
-256 and 320 kbps made little difference but it is noticeable. Big difference between 256 + and 128kbps. The SE425 exposes the differences (Duh, it's cold and unforgiving).
-The W4 happens to magically turn bad recording into a decent piece.
-Although technically more drivers = better, neutral sound, in reality maybe not. I'm questioning the true capability of multiple drivers.
-SE425 sounded better than the W4 (when recording is great).
Did a blind test with a person who has no interest in headphones whatsoever: The individual preferred the SE425 because of the better fit and more intimate, larger soundstage and detailed sound (256 +). He also stated he liked the W4's instrumental separations and clarity on all songs no matter what the bit rate is.
The quality of sound that you're going to hear depends on the quality of the recording (SE425). And for the W4, you will hear great music (every time). Whenever I listen to good recordings, the SE425 excels. The W4 is a great all rounder! Is the $200 extra worth it? You decide.
Do you guys have some experiences that people wouldn't believe?