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It's Like UNIVERSAL IEM Deja vu!!! Journey into universal IEMs when I thought I was done... - Page 10

post #136 of 155
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I wanted to state quickly (before going into this meeting) that the Zo does wonders for the TF10. Fuller bass (more sub-bass) and it puts weight on the vocals to make them sound more natural to my ears. A really rich and more natural sound comes out of this triple BA with the Zo.

post #137 of 155
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Even though this thread was started by regarding my adventures in rediscovering the TF10, It's really meant to be a thread of my musings and discoveries in this never-ending maze of a hobby in the IEM world (and to a lesser extent headphones). 

 

So I thought I would put down a few observations about the world of universal IEMs that struck ME hard in 2011. I will say for me that the biggest lesson learned for me in 2011 in regard to IEMs period is that the more money you spend doesn't necessarily equate to the best IEM technically and sound quality-wise. Oh, I know most of us want to believe this (including me) - that if we invest $300 or more into an IEM it better be technically superior than those little $50 to $200 babies IEMs running around in circles down there. And for the most part, I would even argue that most $300 and above IEMs I have heard are top tiers (i.e. EX1000, SE535, W4, SM3, etc).

 

But 2011 proved to be what I call the "VFM Revolution" (value for money) for within the 2011 IEM industry. Smaller companies like Vsonic, HIFIMAN, ThinkSound dared to say, "Hey! We can make an earphone for half the cost of those top tiers - or less - that will be just as great sonically, technical and visually appealing. And if it's not top tier sound (which we are aiming for), we'll come closer to top tier than ever before."

 

And that - the little companies that could -  they did. I can't forget headphone companies like Fischer who with the FA-011 made a headphone that in my opinion rivaled anything I've heard from Sennheiser and Grado as a fraction of the cost. Also, this is true for the world of custom IEMs. Yes, I've only heard the 1964-Q, but other head-fi friends who have the 1964-Q and own a higher-end custom tell me that the 1964 EARS products compete just fine with the more costly customs. So again, the first shots were fired in 2011 in the VFM Revolution!!!

Now, some giants in the industry heard the first shots and recognized that while they might be able to win some major battles, they weren't going to necessarily win the war over time. So these giants decide to adopt the old adage: you can't beat them, join them. Thus we saw wonderful products such as the EX600 by Sony and the amazing JVC FXT90 offer technical brilliance VFM prices. And although it was for a limited time, UE helped me rediscover the greatness of an IEM that I absolutely despised at first listening a couple of years back - the TF10. I'm convinced now, however, that my first TF10 had to have been defective, because the one I own now and this one sound nothing alike (especially in the mids).

 

So, which are my stars of 2011? Well I have several for various reasons, but I will first list my top universal IEM, top custom (you know I've only heard one...lol) and top headphone of 2011:

 

TOP UNIVERSAL IEM OF 2011: HIFIMAN RE262   (this is pretty much what a wrote on different thread, but hold true why it's my top universal IEM): Well, for me the EX1000 would have been nearly perfect except if it wasn't for those shrilling highs. I would have dug the SE535 quite a bit if it wasn't for its anemic bass. I thought I found a happy medium with the 7550 (and I did for the most part), but bass is tad bit softer than I would like (nothing like the SE535) and the overall sound signature has good depth, but I always wanted a little bit more (that little extra something the EX1000 has). Mids and highs were pretty spot on for me, however, in the 7550. 


Then through the not-so-subtle suggestions by FlySweep, I ended up trying the RE262, and it was like "DING DING DING!!" This sound signature is everything I had hoped the EX1000, the SE535 and the W4 would be. It has the spacing and 3-D depth of the EX1000; it has the gorgeous silky smooth mids of the SE535 (with some 7550 mids thrown in the mix), and the distinct instrument separation of the W4. And the beautiful micro-details of the FXT90 and FX700 mixed (along with great timbre). All of this with highs that are clearly there and extended, but it isn't harsh to my ears. So I think I would have to say the RE262 is my greatest discovery in universal IEMs in 2011.

 

TOP CUSTOM IEM OF 2011: 1964 EARS 1964-Q   Easy since I have only heard the 1964-Q by 1964 Ears. But I still have to give this custom kudos because it introduced me to how good an IEM could be. I have heard no universal IEM that can beat it in transparency, clarity, depth and quality/quantity of bass mixed. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some universals that come very close with certain expects (the RE262, EX1000 and W4 to name a few), but no universal I've heard gives me everything in a cohesive fashion as the 1964-Q does. This only makes me ready, however, to hear some other customs by other companies, and also to hear what 1964 EARS has inline for us audiophiles in the near future.

 

TOP HEADPHONE: FISCHER FA-011    I don't really have more to add that I haven't stated already above, but the Fischer FA-011 blew me away. It had like the great mids I love in the Grado with some wonderful deep bass similar to a Denon or unveiled Sennheiser. And the would cups are simply beautiful. A great bang-for-the-buck headphone.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: The W4 was the best universal BA I've heard, the GR07 is one of the best dynamics I've heard with the best drums of any IEM I've heard (if you don't count the amped RE262); the FXT90 was like listening to a baby being from the union of the DDM and FX700 (outstanding timbre and unique layered sound with googobs of micro-details); and the Sony EX1000/EX600....7550 series showed that dynamics could compete with BAs in transparency, speed and clarity. 

 

Overall, 2011 proved to be a great year for in-ear monitor hobby. Here's to looking at what goodies, innovations and technical brilliance 2012 brings. Happy listening! beerchug.gif (as usual, will edit later).....


Edited by ericp10 - 1/2/12 at 10:07am
post #138 of 155

Thanks for the insight Eric , so do you ever listen to the tf10 these days ? 

post #139 of 155
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucozade View Post

Thanks for the insight Eric , so do you ever listen to the tf10 these days ? 



yes... i like it....not one of my favorites...but i like it now.

post #140 of 155

Sounds like you went through a lot of earphones in 2011 eric :) You ever thought of getting a second custom to act as a different sound signature to your 1964Q?

 

I've since stopped buying and selling earphones except for a few here and there that may interest me but usually not much in the earphone world interests me as some regulars here can probably notice my lack of activity in this section of head-fi the last few months. However my focus has shifted to full sized headphones and pretty content right now but there's always room for improvement.

post #141 of 155
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

Sounds like you went through a lot of earphones in 2011 eric :) You ever thought of getting a second custom to act as a different sound signature to your 1964Q?

 

I've since stopped buying and selling earphones except for a few here and there that may interest me but usually not much in the earphone world interests me as some regulars here can probably notice my lack of activity in this section of head-fi the last few months. However my focus has shifted to full sized headphones and pretty content right now but there's always room for improvement.



Yeah rawrster, I have tried a few universals this year. I didn't think it had been that many, but it has. The funny thing about it (except for the SM2 and EX600) I don't really want to sell any of them. Each one serves a different listening experience for me that I enjoy immensely. But yes, I will venture into more customs... I think I want the Merlin and the ES5, but I'm really looking forward to what's next from the 1964 EARS. I expect to have some new custom within the next two to three months.

post #142 of 155

Interesting read over the last few pages :)   Finding my self in a similar position.  Sent my triplefis into to be reshelled, unfortunately it's not worked out fit wise and as I'm european and I went with fisher in the states it takes a month there and back each time it needs a refit.  So I've been without any decent iems from end of august when I began.  Now amazon uk have the trips on offer again for a limited time and I find my self torn between getting them again or going the whole way and getting the w4's.  It would be used mainly at work so I don't think I would be getting the whole benefit of the quality of the 4's plus I'd cry if something would happen to them!

 

Cheers.

 

Quick edit, since typing that I've figured what the hey and ordered the trips.  Figured they'd only be used intermittently once I got the customs back anyway.  Didn't really want to drop the £££'s for the westones so there you go.  Of course once I made that decision I got a hang up on whether to splurge on "next day" (or as close as you can get it atm) and figured what the hell again.  Still seeing as I got £50 bonus from work and a £20 amazon voucher for christmas I figure these are only going to set me back about £40 anyway:)

 

On that note its holiday over and back to work tomorrow "groans".

 

 


Edited by davidcotton - 1/2/12 at 2:05pm
post #143 of 155
Thread Starter 

So, my Fiio RC-UE1 upgrade cable for the TF10 came in today. And I can say - even before cable burn-in - these are a MASSIVE improvement to my ears over the stock cable! I'm digging it. Mids - especially vocals - are brought significantly forward; even more weight on bass; and just the right amount of treble to my ears (actually I haven't noticed even major changes on the extension of the highs). This cable is really making me go from kind of like the TF10 to really really liking it. I can only imaging what cable burn-in with reveal. 

I think ClieOS mentioned in a review that the cables tend to warm the TF10 up a bit. If it was him who stated this I agree. I don't think he liked the added warmth too much, but I do. The cable itself is made of the highest build quality with a great adapter plug. Bass is approaching the sub-bass level of the W4 now (although the W4 is still a much more neutral IEM). More details later I get burn-in, but clearly Fiio has become my favorite "budget" company for high-quality electronic accessories in this expensive hobby.

post #144 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericp10 View Post

So, my Fiio RC-UE1 upgrade cable for the TF10 came in today. And I can say - even before cable burn-in - these are a MASSIVE improvement to my ears over the stock cable! I'm digging it. Mids - especially vocals - are brought significantly forward; even more weight on bass; and just the right amount of treble to my ears (actually I haven't noticed even major changes on the extension of the highs). This cable is really making me go from kind of like the TF10 to really really liking it. I can only imaging what cable burn-in with reveal. 

I think ClieOS mentioned in a review that the cables tend to warm the TF10 up a bit. If it was him who stated this I agree. I don't think he liked the added warmth too much, but I do. The cable itself is made of the highest build quality with a great adapter plug. Bass is approaching the sub-bass level of the W4 now (although the W4 is still a much more neutral IEM). More details later I get burn-in, but clearly Fiio has become my favorite "budget" company for high-quality electronic accessories in this expensive hobby.



I have the same cable on my TF10's, I LOVE it. Its way overbuilt, but yet still flexible and no memory, so it doesnt really tangle. I wish it did have memory over the ears, but using the chin slider works just fine.

post #145 of 155
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Watagump View Post



I have the same cable on my TF10's, I LOVE it. Its way overbuilt, but yet still flexible and no memory, so it doesnt really tangle. I wish it did have memory over the ears, but using the chin slider works just fine.



X2

post #146 of 155
Thread Starter 

So, my Sony XBA-4 (for newbies, that's four balance armature drivers, if you will) IEM came in today and I've gotten approximately 10 minutes of listening in with them, so it's way too early to say anything definitive. I can't even say if  I like them or not as of yet, but I can say they are different than any BA universal IEMs I've ever heard. First, they're not kidding about that subwoofer (fourth) BA. It puts out some massive bass!! I do think, however, that the 1964-Q custom goes deeper and with better bass (but only when you need it). Again, more listening is required.

 

What is different from the XBA-4 and the 1964-Q is that I would say that the Sony has a wider soundstage. Such a big soundstage coming out BA IEMs is interesting to my ears. Instrument separation is definitely there and clarity. I"m not sure yet how much the sub-bass woofer relaxes when not needed.

 

As for vocals, I saw some report that the vocals are recessed. I don't think that they are, but I can see how one might think that with the bass. The vocals aren't forward either. It just sounds like a lot of space between the vocalists and perspective instruments. Now, I've only tried these for rock music thus far (mainly Led Zep). I haven't listened to any jazz yet. The guitars sounds incredible in these Sonys. They are not recessed at all. The treble is sparkly and are clearly there, but I haven't been able to wrap my head around how it fits in with the rest of the sound spectrum with these earphones. I really don't know what else to say other than the XBA-4 is a different beast than any other IEM I've heard before. Again, not a good or bad thing at this point, but certainly exciting to me since I do like different sound signatures. I'll report more on them tonight.

post #147 of 155

How's the J cord?

post #148 of 155
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shotgunshane View Post

How's the J cord?



Interesting that I don't generally like J cords, but these aren't really bothersome to me. Maybe because the cables are more flat? I don't know. And the long cable is long enough that I don't feel like I'm being choked (I have a thick neck and jaw area). I was able to wear the XBA-4 over my ears in relative comfort.

 

I can say that the moderate bassheads (not extreme bassheads who just care about bass and want quantity over quality in their sound) should find the bass in the XBA-4 more than satisfying. I think I'm more of a moderate basshead (I always want quality of sound over quantity).


Edited by ericp10 - 2/9/12 at 2:40pm
post #149 of 155

How's the fit for you outside of the j-cord? They just look so big. I have an XBA-1 on the way.biggrin.gif

 

NO IDEA what to expect.

post #150 of 155
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Selenium View Post

How's the fit for you outside of the j-cord? They just look so big. I have an XBA-1 on the way.biggrin.gif

 

NO IDEA what to expect.



Fit is great for me. I can get most of the body inside (okay what is the part called inside the ear but outside of the canal?). It only sticks out a little bit. I actually think the TF10s stick out more.

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