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Brainwavz B2/DBA-02/ATH-CK10 clarity, but with more bass?

post #1 of 103
Thread Starter 

I currently own the Brainwavz B2, and have previously owned the TF10s in the past. I loved the V shaped signature and wide soundstage of the TF10s, but fit was always an issue.

 

I absolutely love the treble and clarity of the Brainwavz B2, though I find the bass to be lacking. Everything else, including soundstage, sits pretty well with me at the moment.

 

I've heard that the ATH-CK10s are quite similar to the B2s, so I suppose this question applies to them as well.

 

Are their IEMs that have treble and clarity equal or at the very least similar to the B2s or the CK10s, just with a meatier low end? Not just bloated mid-range bass, but I'd prefer a deep, reverberating low end that still packs a punch.

 

As far as genre's go, I listen to near anything, from acoustic to classical to house to dubstep. I'd like to be able to feel the crisp plucking of an acoustic guitar, but also feel the low wobble of a good dubstep track.

 

Any recommendations?

post #2 of 103

I say the Ortofon e-Q5. I went from the IE8 to it and was still very satisfied with the low end it produced along with the clarity.

post #3 of 103

It's hard to really get the entire spectrum well.  I guess it might depend on what type of sound signature you're shooting for.  Do you want a V shaped response again or something that's flat and even?  Do you have a budget at all?

 

The Ortofon options, the e-Q5 or e-Q7 are certainly good options that cover the spectrum well and are well balanced to boot.  The GR07 and RE252 are also excellent options.  I've used the DBA-02 before and found them to be significantly lean on the low end.  Any of these will fair better.  The GR07 is better decay and thickness, but the Ortofons have more impact and energy.  The e-Q7 is slightly on the thicker/warmer side versus the e-Q5 is a little brighter and upbeat.  They vary some but aren't far cries from each other in the grand scheme of things.  The GR07 is extremely well balanced and even but lacks raw power.  The RE252 is quite stark and unforgiving but offers good balance, thickness, and impact.  Personally the e-Q7 is my favorite, but the correct choice is relative to the specific preferences of the person.

 

Another route I would highly suggest is Westone.  The W3 or W4 are outstanding products and if budget allows should highly be looked at.  They will offer a lot of the qualities you seek include low end performance and presentation desires.  Westone product just typically are not flat in response, so you need to be willing to have a somewhat colored presentation.  The quality of sound is outstanding any way you slice it though.  I've only used the UM3X personally, but their products are top notch at this level.  There are a lot of Westone lovers for a good reason, so they should be high on your list.

post #4 of 103
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestions.

 

I did really like the V shaped signature of the TF10, so I think I'd like that again.

 

What it most important to me is for the IEM to have sparkly, clear treble like the B2/DBA-02/CK10s. Large soundstage and good separation and instrument placement are also important, along with the bass of course.

 

I'm a bit wary in going for a neutral IEM as I'm not sure if the treble will satisfy me.

 

As far as budget goes, I don't really have a limit, though I'd like to steer away from investing in customs if possible.

 

 

post #5 of 103

+1 on Ortos e-Q5 

with its low cost VS performance it is outstanding

I also just got T15 from ACS

Quite great product with close sound sig to Er4 and earsonics Sm3,

But I liked it more and price is not bad 235US shipped from Japan.

I will write more on T15 after I get a proper listen

 

post #6 of 103

Often neutral is more a matter of midrange in many cases.  A lot of earphones are V shaped to generate bass and treble emphasis for wow factor and because many seem to expect it (youthful tuning).  A neutral earphone doesn't specifically throw away bass or treble but simply evens out the presentation, bringing that midrange back into the picture.  There is less wow but more balance.  The challenge then becomes a matter of if the neutral earphone is too analytical, bland, sterile. These are greater dangers than simply being flat in response.

 

Now using the Triple.Fi 10 and the DBA-02/Brainwaves B2 you are relatively used to aggressive treble.  I'm sure you enjoyed the Triple.Fi 10 with it's excellent breadth of response, thick (for a BA) and powerful bass and still sweet and detailed highs.  The Brainwaves probably gave you a new sense of crispness and energy as well as a perception of better balance.  However, that lack of low end and even midrange body really does lean out the sound quite a lot.  It's a stark contrast to the Triple.Fi 10 on the low end.

 

Understand that the CK10 is not the same as the B2.  They are markedly different sounding earphones.  However when we're talking about a significant amount of treble energy, extension, and speed, they tend to be talked about together.  The CK10 is more dynamic, better textured, and better balanced.  I view the CK10 as superior in most every way including offering a more balanced presentation and fuller low end.  The CK10 is incredibly good and the most realistic sounding earphones I've used.  I personally was not impressed by the DBA-02 I owned briefly.  I felt it was an excellent attempt, but compressed dynamic range and very short decay were serious problems when it came to actually fully reproducing sounds.  The CK10 is significantly better and in my eyes is one of the least faulted earphones I've used.  It wasn't my personal favorite, but it was one of the most technically correct earphones I've used.  I view the CK10 has lightyears better than the DBA-02/Brainwaves B2.  I would rather use something like the $99 RE-Zero over the DBA-02 for a more even, natural, and well presented sound.

 

In terms of overall performance I view products like the Triple.Fi 10, CK10, e-Q5/e-Q7, and quite a number of other top tier earphones as all on the same level, just offering very different sound signatures to suit a wide array of preferences.  It's not so much that one is better than another.  It's more that they are all good bit geared for a different thing.  The inherent challenge then becomes finding the one product that best fits your personal preference.  Now you like treble certainly.  Enjoying the top end power of the B2 and Triple.Fi 10 sort of require that you do.  At the same time you understand a need for more low end body and presence, something you saw in the Triple.Fi 10 but not the B2.  

 

You concern yourself with sound stage, instrument separation, and placement.  That's good.  It is important not only to make sound cleanly but also to create a fully developed presentation.  To do this you focus on two main areas.  To convey distance, you need a range of volume.  Higher dynamic range as well as good linearity of this range creates that distance.  Close is loud and far is quiet.  Any dynamic compression will limit the size of the stage space.  An inability to portray subtlety well will prevent a good sense of depth.  An inability to portray loudness and what I like to call "explosiveness" prevents the ability to portray proximity and intimacy.  Step one is to have at least a reasonable dynamic range along with some ability to convey subtle and loud information well.  

 

Part two of this sound stage equation requires information to fill out the space.  You need to be able to hear the smaller echos and noises in the background to generate a mental picture of the room.  Close your eyes at home and say something.  Note how you perceive the room space.  You don't hear the space with your voice.  You hear the space from the echos and reverberations after.  They are quiet and complex, noisy, and random.  An earphone needs to be able to portray these background noises in order to really flesh out the sound and make it "real" in your mind.  Too little and it can sound a bit hollow, ghostly, or non-existent.  So what's needed to get these sounds?  First, you need time and for an earphone this means decay of a reasonable length.  If the decay is super short it offers too little time to allow these details to show through even if the earphone is very fast.  This plagues some excellent earphones like the SE530 and RE262. Now we not only need decay but we also need information there.  If an earphone is too smoothed or sluggish, we lose some of those smaller details.  Thick, sloppy earphones may have a lot of presence and sound full and enveloping but can't provide the information to materialize the stage space.  What we need is detail, so we need an earphone of good decay time but also with moderate speed and texturing.  We want those micro details to show through and be heard.  Good decay and good texture will give us this.  A slow earphone will lack texture and be too smoothed and with low detail.  A fast earphone (with decay) will be textured with a good amount of that small, background detail.  To an extreme, we can even get a very articulate and almost chiseled level of detail, very high and very exact, although not many go this far.

 

Separation is pretty easy to do without high dynamics or much decay.  Separation in itself is about cleanliness of note, enough speed and control to keep things from being muddled together.  Something like the B2 is good about this because it's rather quick.  The Triple.Fi 10 is a bit thicker and smoother in note (very thick for a BA) and does start to blur stuff just slightly.

 

In the end, the goal is to try and get a reasonable amount of all the qualities.  We want to have the dynamic breadth.  We want to have a reasonable amount of decay time in the note.  We want enough speed to show detail and texture during this decay time.  Good speed and dynamics often also make a relatively well articulated sound as long as the sound isn't too heavily controlled (ex. dynamic driver with a lot of damping).  We just want a good mix of everything, and as long as we have everything, we get a good, comprehensive sound that caries all the information we need.

 

When talking about the mix, I like products such as the e-Q7 because it offers that good mix of everything in a balance that works well.  It's why I've stuck onto it and why it is one of my favorites.  This isn't to say there aren't good mixes in other products.  The CK10 does very well.  The e-Q5 does very well.  Most any Westone does very well.  Klipsch's Custom 3 does very well.  The FX700 does very well.   The list is long, although they do all vary somewhat in mix and amount of each trait.  Some have longer decay than others, some more detail, some more dynamic breadth.  The end result varies some.  In the end, most are good choices, but the exact fit is different.  Without you having a large experience with many earphones and myself not knowing exactly what you like, it's hard for me to point you to one specific product and say "Yep, this one best fits you."  I can guess and be close, but maybe I'm a touch off and the other option actually fit you better.  If I were to suggest blindly, the Ortofons certainly are a good start.  The e-Q5 is a little brighter, crisper, and upbeat.  the e-Q7 is a little more laid back, thicker, and bodied.  I favor the e-Q7 personally, but they're both a slight twist on the same good thing.  The GR07 may also be a great choice.  It's less dynamic however, but the level of detail is high, and it offers an excellent amount of decay on the low end.  It's clean and super transparent.  The limited dynamic breadth due to what I think is a somewhat weak motor for the driver (break in and amping doesn't help) does bug me personally.  However, the balance, breadth, and monitor quality presentation does make it a serious contender anyways.  it pretty much only has the one gripe, and that's it.  As I already said before, the CK10 is one of the most technically correct earphones I've used, very little to complain about and extremely realistic sounding.  It's remarkably good in almost every way short the narrow 10kHz response spike that tend to make it just little hot and spitty with certain music.  Because you don't actually seek a highly balanced sound and don't mind a V shaped response, I would certainly suggest the Westone 3 or 4 earphones if your budget allows.  These are outstanding products that are remarkably good.  While I did mention the FX700 above, I will shy you away from it if treble and top end air and sparkle is one of your goals.  It simply doesn't have it.  The top end is laid back and rolls off.  It's extremely good otherwise and fits a lot of what you seek.  I would just instead point you towards the Westones as something similar in performance but with more top end.

 

Yes, there are lots of choices.  The IEM market has exploded over the last several years, so you have the joy of weeding through many great candidates.  The hard part is not finding one that's good.  The hard part is finding one that you will actually like that fits your personal preferences almost exactly.  That is the greatest challenge.

post #7 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by yello131 View Post

I also just got T15 from ACS

Quite great product with close sound sig to Er4 and earsonics Sm3,

But I liked it more and price is not bad 235US shipped from Japan.

I will write more on T15 after I get a proper listen


Looking forward to it. That's one IEM I am interested in now.

 

post #8 of 103
I will highely recommend the RE272+ZO, Sony EX1000+ZO and both offers amazing clarity around the whole frequency spectrum. The RE272 has clean extended highs like B2(even more), very detailes mids, deep bass and ZO will add more punch without losing any details. Sony EX1000 are very engaging and offers sparkly extended highs, very detailed midrange, deep punchy bass and wide soundstage( serve almost all genres equaly well).
post #9 of 103

There are limits to what software adjustment can offer.  The speaker, a mechanical device, has certain limits of performance.  We can play with software to add reverb, phase shifting, and EQing changes, think BBE here, and we can generate a different sound that comes out of the speaker.  However, the speaker is no more capable than what it was before.  As well you can't add data to an audio track.  The audio track will still have a limited amount of actual information there.  We may be able to stretch and shape the wave pattern to add effects, but the earphone won't do more in the end.  It's realistically more a question of if the earphone can actually perform the task.  You can't take an earphone that can't play a 40Hz tone to save its life and add a ZO to make it magically do it.  It still won't play a 40Hz tone.  In my eyes you need the performance capability there in the first place.  Software enhancements are great to shape the response towards a personal preference.  This is why EQing and BBE type adjustments exist.  However, you are always bound by the raw limits of the hardware.  If the earphone isn't fast enough to show the detail, it still won't show the detail.  If the earphone doesn't have the dynamic breadth it still won't have the dynamic breadth.  Something like the ZO may stretch the dynamic range of the audio track, but it's still bound to within the upper and lower limits of the earphone.  You are simply reshaping and colorizing the original audio track to generate a new sound effect.  You aren't making the earphone better.  Now software enhancement is nice when the hardware is also good.  It simply offers additional flexibility in sound reproduction.  We can shape already highly capable hardware and highly lossless audio source to our personal liking.  One challenge we do face though is attempting not to over color the presentation and make it a little too artificial.  Many times you will find enhancements like BBE are cool to listen to but are ultimately less natural and balanced.  It's a trade-off.  It's like Dolby Surround or any other software manipulation tool.  It really comes down to if the effect the product creates is ultimately desirable over no change at all, and this isn't about the initial wow factor either.  When you really sit down and critically listen to with and without or at varying degrees if the device offers a range of adjustment, which actually comes out on top in relation to your personal preferences and goals?  That is of course for the individual to decide.

post #10 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post

There are limits to what software adjustment can offer.  The speaker, a mechanical device, has certain limits of performance.  We can play with software to add reverb, phase shifting, and EQing changes, think BBE here, and we can generate a different sound that comes out of the speaker.  However, the speaker is no more capable than what it was before.  As well you can't add data to an audio track.  The audio track will still have a limited amount of actual information there.  We may be able to stretch and shape the wave pattern to add effects, but the earphone won't do more in the end.  It's realistically more a question of if the earphone can actually perform the task.  You can't take an earphone that can't play a 40Hz tone to save its life and add a ZO to make it magically do it.  It still won't play a 40Hz tone.  In my eyes you need the performance capability there in the first place.  Software enhancements are great to shape the response towards a personal preference.  This is why EQing and BBE type adjustments exist.  However, you are always bound by the raw limits of the hardware.  If the earphone isn't fast enough to show the detail, it still won't show the detail.  If the earphone doesn't have the dynamic breadth it still won't have the dynamic breadth.  Something like the ZO may stretch the dynamic range of the audio track, but it's still bound to within the upper and lower limits of the earphone.  You are simply reshaping and colorizing the original audio track to generate a new sound effect.  You aren't making the earphone better.  Now software enhancement is nice when the hardware is also good.  It simply offers additional flexibility in sound reproduction.  We can shape already highly capable hardware and highly lossless audio source to our personal liking.  One challenge we do face though is attempting not to over color the presentation and make it a little too artificial.  Many times you will find enhancements like BBE are cool to listen to but are ultimately less natural and balanced.  It's a trade-off.  It's like Dolby Surround or any other software manipulation tool.  It really comes down to if the effect the product creates is ultimately desirable over no change at all, and this isn't about the initial wow factor either.  When you really sit down and critically listen to with and without or at varying degrees if the device offers a range of adjustment, which actually comes out on top in relation to your personal preferences and goals?  That is of course for the individual to decide.

Very well said.
 

 

post #11 of 103

@ mvw2 that was a great post.

post #12 of 103
Thread Starter 

Great posts mvw2. You've been making me re-think what I'm looking for in an IEM. I think I'll try to go for a neutral IEM rather than one with a V shaped signature. Is it safe to associate neutral with natural, or no?

 

I suppose I'd like an earphone that recreates the sound naturally then, with nothing truly over powering the other and without sounding too sterile.

 

I've been reading nothing but good things about the Westone 4s, and have been thinking of getting them for some time. Would these be a safe bet for this type of sound signature?


Edited by xII DM IIx - 10/21/11 at 11:41am
post #13 of 103

Neutral is not necessarily natural. Natural is a somewhat subjective term, while neutral is more measurable. I am not saying these two are not totally unrelated though, as one goes from too bass/treble-emphasized to a more neutral sound, it is going to sound more natural. But then too neutral can be cold and lifeless, which would in turn become unnatural. 

 

W4 is leaning toward the darker side of things but still fairly close to neutral. Definitely lacks some treble spark though. 

 

There is no do-it-all IEM. You have to let go of either treble sparkle/clarity, bass body/impact, or mid/vocal emotion and closeness.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xII DM IIx View Post

Great posts mvw2. You've been making me re-think what I'm looking for in an IEM. I think I'll try to go for a neutral IEM rather than one with a V shaped signature. Is it safe to associate neutral with natural, or no?

 

I suppose I'd like an earphone that recreates the sound naturally then, with nothing truly over powering the other and without sounding too sterile.

 

I've been reading nothing but good things about the Westone 4s, and have been thinking of getting them for some time. Would these be a safe bet for this type of sound signature?



 

post #14 of 103

Indeed.  Neutral is simply a balance issue of frequency response, energy in presentation, etc.  It sounds even across the board.  Natural has more to do with adequate note weight, dynamics, texture, etc. as in the note presented sounds "normal" or at least your interpretation of normal.  It doesn't sound overly tight or crisp or drawn out and bloated or whatever else you feel like describing.  Sometimes natural is hard to come across.

 

As far as the do it all type of earphones, I agree.  It's hard to really find a product that just does everything well or at least normally.  Often they under do or over do traits or are artificially colored in some way or limited in what they can reproduce, something.  Very few just do really well all around and are just plain good but in a very middle ground sense where nothing's over done or weird in any strong way.  I see products like the Ortofons as earphones like this.  I hold onto my e-Q7 because it's a great middle ground product that just does a lot of things well but is also set well in the middle range of things.  At least from what I've used, I do view it as the best all-around mid placed high end product.  This isn't to say it's better or even perfect in any specific way.  It's an earphone I see most people liking.  I am very easy to suggest this earphone because it isn't wild or weird.  Is it the most natural?  No.  Is it the most detailed?  No.  Is it the best at any one thing?  No, not really.  I can often pick other options that do this or that better.  However, from a holistic view as a total package, it in my eyes is one of the better and better balanced products out there.  The build quality and comfort isn't too shabby either.

 

I speak of the Westones because they have been really getting the BA based products down very good.  They implement drivers well making dynamic, textured, detailed, and fun to listen to earphones.  It's just hard to go wrong because most all of their products are good.  The UM3X I owned was stellar EQed flat, although it was more of a tool than a musical listening device without EQing.  The W3 and W4 fair better in the musical sense.  I have not used either personally, but the reviews and comments show them to be extremely good.  I would have no issue suggestion Westone because they are just plain excellent.  Westone of course isn't the only game in town, but they know what they're doing.

 

I still would not shy away from the CK10 either despite what I said just above.  Again, the CK10 is one of the most technically "correct" and most realistic earphones I've used to date.  I could say it wasn't my favorite due to personal preferences, but it's technically extremely good.  Since you're used to strong treble, the top end detail and even the narrow 10kHz spike probably won't be much of an issue.  No, I have no clue why the spike is there or if there's some sort of mechanical fix to it like a certain tip or something.  I could say the low end is a hair lean, but compared to the DBA-02/B2, it's a good deal thicker and textured.  The transparency, texturing, and speed are all excellent.  There really isn't another earphone out there with as much speed and top end detail.  The DBA-02/B2 is quick but not as textured or dynamic up high as the CK10. The CK10 will sound less aggressive though given it's not as dynamically compressed and forward as the DBA-02/B2.  It may actually sound a little more tame to you despite being more detailed and with that treble peak.  The DBA-02/B2 is pretty aggressive and forward up top although certainly flat across the board on the high end which was nice.  Because the CK10 is so technically correct in reproduction, I am very hard pressed not to suggest it for most anyone seeking a very good high end earphone.  

 

Personal preference will play a role though, so with all of these good earphones it will come down to preference rather than performance.  The performance of the CK10, e-Q7, e-Q5, W3, W4, GR07, etc., etc. are all pretty much on par from a holistic point of view.  The difference isn't in the performance.  The difference is in the sound and how that sound suits your own taste.  To my ears, the CK10 is the most correct earphone I've used, period.  It's the most lifelike and in many ways the most accurate.  However at the same time it isn't my favorite.  When I suggest the e-Q7 above, again it's great but the choice for myself is preferential rather than it being better or worse.  I do go a step further though and say that I feel it fits better as a main stream product in the sense that it is not only broadly capable and balanced but also in that it isn't too much of anything.  The CK10 can be extremely detailed, perhaps more than you want.  Maybe you have lossy recordings that may sound annoying with a too accurate earphone.  The e-Q7 is somewhat forgiving despite being well detailed, so it fits more people.  It has good body and texture, even sounds a little warm/full at times which is very likeable.  It's energetic but not edgy.  The e-Q5 is very near it but more aggressive in presentation which may or may not put off some.  I feel the e-Q7 fits more people.  Out of the broad spectrum I feel it would likely fit the most people.  Understand this is why I do suggest it.

post #15 of 103

I am far from an expert in portable amplification, but perhaps adding amplification could help you achieve a more favourable sound signature from the earphones that you already enjoy. Assuming that the sound you want isn't too far away from what you are getting from your current earphones that is. Of course the phones themselves will ultimately be the limiting factor, but it could be an easier road than trying to find another set of earphones that tick all the boxes you are looking for.

 

Just a suggestion.

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