EDIT: I will be doing only a review for the UM3X as I no longer have it on my person. However, I will still be able to compare the EX1000 and CK100 before my EX1000 goes bye-bye. And finally, there will be an addition to this thread later this week... ;)
For whatever reason, I haven't found anything on all three of these IEM's compared directly so I figure I might as well go ahead and compare all of them. I'll be A/B'ing them throughout the weekend; my time today is limited. Reviews will be forthcoming, I just wanted to get this thread out there.
UM3X review ETA: Sometime Saturday, or Sunday
EX1000 review ETA: Done!
CK100 review ETA: Done!
The comparison will be done after I'm done reviewing all three IEM, so you can expect that sometime next week.
Background: This being my first comparison/multi-review, I think I should give a run-down of who I am and why I am reviewing all three of these IEMs. I have been fascinated with audio all of my life stemming from my father's interest of it. He actually was the one to push me towards pursuing hi-fi audio in the first place because he himself use to do the same thing with speakers and amps. Anyway, skip to a young me in the 8th grade, ogling the Shure SE500 due to their high price and rating on cnet.com. I became obsessed with finding out more about them and other IEMs, so that's when I stumbled upon Head-Fi and began to buy IEM after IEM. I finally ended up with IEM that cost significantly more (MSRP) than the SE500's and I couldn't be happier. But enough of that, lets get down to what I have for sources.
Sources: I don't know if I'm the only one on Head-Fi that thinks this, but I don't think putting IEMs on a home rig to judge how they will perform portably gives them a fair shake. They are IEM after all; they should be portable. Regardless, I don't have anything high-end DAC/amp wise. I'll be using my trusty Clip+ (rock boxed) and iPod Touch 3G. As you can guess, I will be judging the IEMs not only on the way they sound, but how one is able to use them portably.
Now for the main event... Let the reviewing begin!
Sony EX1000 (The Beast)
This is where pictures will go!
Packaging: This is one thing that really surprised me when I first got them. Very clean, very large, very elegant packaging. It screams expensive; I mean, the things were $800 at one point. So what do we have in it: a dizzying array of tips (7 Hybrid tips, and 3 "isolator" tips), a leather carrying case, and the EX1000's themselves. The only gripe I have with the packaging is the blasted tab; I ripped it because the damn thing wouldn't come loose.
Build Quality/Comfort: Being made out of magnesium alloy, I don't see these IEMs failing very quickly. That, coupled with the removable cables makes the EX1000 one of the best built IEM I've had. Some people might find the ear guides annoying, especially if you like to have things perfect like me, but once you get over the fact that you'll never have them perfectly fitted to your ears they are rather comfortable. Not the most comfortable IEM, but close. They don't go all the way into the ear canal. Depending on what tips are being used, they should only go in just a few millimeters.
Isolation: I am in the minority here, let me just say that. There are legions of people with the EX600/1000 that think they isolate terribly and pick up an enormous amount of wind noise. While the wind noise observation is true, the isolation issues people are finding is definitely not true in my case. I think they isolate about 70% of what the UM3X's isolate, so it's really not that bad. Actually, for some sick, strange reason I like the wind noise. Do not ask me why; I myself don't know the answer to that one haha.
-Bass: There are some IEMs that have too much of this, like the IE8. Then there are IEM that have to little, for me, like the ER4P. I think the EX1000 draws a happy medium between the to. They have fantastic texturing with what seems like no roll off for sub-bass (I don't have a freq. response graph on me, so don't hold me to that.) The bass on the EX1000 doesn't have the most quantity, but I can't say that I am wanting whenever I listen to bass heavy music like hip-hop with the EX1000's. There is literally nothing bad I can say about the bass; it's there when you want it, and gone when it isn't needed. Also, I should mention the lack of mid-bass hump. I dislike mid-bass very much, so not having to EQ it out makes me very happy.
-Midrange: Oh I see, another part of the EX1000 that has nothing wrong. Lets see, the midrange is fantastic. I could leave it at that, but I'm so cynical as to leave my fine readers wanting. So this is why the EX1000 succeeds at having incredible midrange: it isn't super pronounced and isn't recessed. The mids seem really spacious, like the singer is a couple yards in front of you. It has a certain liveliness to it that I can't put my finger on, although that may be due to the romantic-type of sound-signature of the EX1000's, but more on that later.
-Highs/Treble: Whew, I thought I wasn't going to criticize the EX1000 on anything for a second there. The treble can be a little finicky on the EX1000's. It still has a lot of detail and extension, but there is a pretty noticeable peak in the 8khz range that will make you jump when you hear it. It's especially noticeable with techno/electronic music, so beware. Also, there is a certain graininess to it. At first when I heard people describe the treble as grainy, I thought they were crazy. But I recently discovered that it's ever so slightly grainy. That's all that I can bash the EX1000 on, the rest is phenomenal. Great extension, amazing detail, and very lively/hot. Everything someone could want in a top-tier (treble wise.)
-Soundstage/Imaging: I like to group soundstage and imaging together as I feel they benefit from one another. So as all of you might know, the EX1000 has been cited in this review, and many others, as having a romantic sound signature. What does that mean, you might be saying. That means that the music just flows and is very musical; that it is up-close and far away at the same time. That's how I can best describe it anyway. And the imaging is inline with the soundstage, meaning it is also very good. I wouldn't say it has the best imaging as the sound signature and soundstage present the sound as a cohesive blend of sound, but I can spot points of reference from which I'm hearing where the instrument is.
Conclusion: Okay, so is the EX1000 top-tier? Yes, yes, and YES!!! To say that it's amazing is an understatement. If you want to know what I think of them, me buying a 2 year warranty for them when I never buy warranties should speak volumes. These IEMs are unequivocally one of the best IEM's I have ever owned. I will go as far as to say they are the best for my taste, but there is now a competitor. The UM3X is a good complement to the EX1000, but the CK100 gives them a run for there money...
~~~~This review will have some changes made to it throughout the multi-reviewing process/when I have more time~~~~
Edited by mastershake2393 - 10/24/11 at 5:11pm