The SM3 is definitely a great BA and more than capable, but I actually like the BA200 more than the SM3. I just feel that the BA200 has a more airier and natural sound than the SM3. The SM3 was almost too much of a good thing to my ears. Actually, I like the SM2 more than I liked the SM3. I needed to be further away from the stage than right up on it (which is the way I felt when listening to the SM3). But make no mistake, it's a great earphone IMO.
I wouldn't really consider the ba200 mid-forward. It is more balanced than most at the price range. in face, i'd say it is 'the' most balanced at the price. I guess you could call it mid-forward because the treble is just slightly less airy and neutral than flat, but i don't find that the mids "stick out" at all, but rather sit in balance with the rest of the frequencies. :)
I like the BA200 more than the GR07 MKII. Currently, I'd peg it as my favorite universal IEM under $500. It's as close to possessing an HD600-like "seductive" midrange as I've heard in a universal IEM. The RE262 previously held this title for me.. but I find the BA200's midrange even better. The BA200s midrange separation and openness sounds more natural and lifelike, to my ears, than the GR07 MKII's midrange. The GR07 has a slightly more textured, natural bass response that quite round and full.. but the BA200 comes very close to that. The GR07's treble sound a bit uneven and harsh compared to the BA200's smoother, more linear treble.. even though it's laid back more than the GR07's treble.
What I like about the BA200's unique sound is the subtle, analog-inspired warmth combined with the slightly thin note weight. Don't mistake the 'thin note weight' as "thin sounding".. no way.. the BA200 has excellent dynamics & soundstage proportion. No "wall of sound"-type presentation here. This blend gives way to an airy, HD600-inspired midrange that's very inviting (though the BA200's mids are a little warmer than the HD600's mids). I haven't heard the SM3, but having read plenty of reviews about it, I sense it possesses a fairly high degree of note thickness that makes it unique (but, at times, not always ideal for some genres of music).
I like the smooth, laid back nature of the BA200's treble too.. plenty of detail.. but it's not in your face about it. I facilitates long term listening quite well. Run it through a clean, transparent portable amp (like the UHA-6S MKII) and you'll hear the treble detail, separation, and extension better.
Fiio E9/E10 combo or a portable amp with the iPODs. But I read somewhere that it's designed to conserve DAPs power supply. Well see.
SM3 has excess forward treble The SM3 never sounds fatiguing and actually has proper treble sparkle, If anything, some people call them too polite because it's not sparkling enough. What people complain about the SM3 is their unique presentation and sometimes too aggressive lower mids, though i don't necessarily agree on the mids part.
I personally think the BA200 could use more air and also cymbal could definitely shimmer a little more with it. This is possibly due to the BA200's limited extension and oversmoothened treble, though many IEMs also suffer from this. Note that I am overly nitpicking, but the flagship electrostats and orthos pull off a more proper treble sparkle and extension and they don't sound harsh. They are really great for $135, but sometimes it sounds as if the BA200 is the best thing since sliced bread (I should remind myself again that this is head-fi )
NewForce, yes I did say the BA200 sounds mid forward because its does to me. There's a difference between mid-centric and mid forward, the TDK is so good at isolating the vocal that its gives the impression of a forward sounding midrange. Now its sounds more mid forward with some music more than others but the BA200 isn't a mid-centric IEM like the SM3 or UM3X are.
They look just like the BA700 which is there cheapest BA based IEM, but I know that these aren't and they just share the same housing. I'll be looking forward to your impressions of them.
After looking into the TDK LoR it looks like the might be just a different name for what was going to be called the BA700. The LoR is the same price at around US $71 so they are the lower end BA and ClieOS when I asked him how the BA700 sounded he said its not as good as the BA100 which I didn't think was anything special when I heard a pair of those. These still might be a different pair and the price makes me think they're a lower end armature.
Yeah I'd say that's a good way of looking at it.
There's some IEM's that are hard to call them just mid forward or mid-centric like the SM3 and UM3X because they can both sound either way sometimes . Both are mid forward for sure but from time to time the SM3 can sound pretty mid-centric, it depends on the recording and also the source player. On my Fuze the SM3 is a bit more balanced with the mids forward but not sounding mid-centric but on my Sony player the mid are brought out a bit more to where they sound more mid-centric especially with my FiiO E6 on EQ 2.