Over the past few days I've been obsessing over trying to find the perfect pair of IEM's within my budget (~$150-200 MAX). I'm upgrading from a lousy pair of Skullcandy Ink'd earbuds and have absolutely no experience venturing into semi-audiophile IEM's. I've been considering Klipsch Image S4 (I actually tried these out from a friend, hated the muddiness), Etymotic hf5 (veteran posters have warned about the riskiness of entering the higher-end range by starting with an analytical-style driver), the Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 (worried about comfort), and the Ultimate Ears 700. However, today I came across the AMAZINGLY helpful guides put together by both ljokerl and ClieOS and stumbled across the HifiMan (also known as Head-Direct) products.
I really liked the overwhelming praise that the RE262 received and was COMPLETELY convinced that this was THE IEM for me, however through further reading discovered that it is apparently MANDATORY to amp these pair of IEM's to get even a decent sound. Is this slightly exaggerated? I'm not an audiophile and please don't preach to me about how I'd need an amp with any set of IEM's to get decent sound, as that's not what I'm asking for in this post. I have already recognized the fact that I will NOT be using an amp 95 percent of the time and am only asking if the headphones I'm considering are even worth buying considering this information.
Like I said, I've never even considered experimenting with audiophile-quality headphones and I listen to the POS Skullcandy buds with my Droid Incredible all the time, so it's not like I've developed a high-quality taste by any stretch of the imagination. Also, I should mention I have a pair of Sennheiser HD280's which I LOVE, and I use these with my audio interface on my laptop. So I guess I do have some idea of what good sound "sounds" like (at least compared to the setup I use most of the time), but the Sennheisers aren't practical to carry with me all the time.
So am I at risk of losing anything by investing in the RE-262's based on the assumption I will NOT be using an amp 95 percent of the time? Does not using an amp render these headphones ultimately useless, even to a COMPLETE newbie, or does an amp only add the icing to the cake that highly-trained ears are able to distinguish? Will using the RE-262's without an amp still give me phenomenal sound? If not, are any of the substitutes I have listed above a better option, or is there an even better option for me? Would I be better off investing in one of HifiMan's other sets of IEMs such as the RE-0 or RE-ZERO?
Just incase it helps, I mostly listen to mainstream and alternative rock (Rise Against, A Day To Remember, Breaking Benjamin to name a few), some electronic/dubstep, and a little rap here and there. Again, I'm not an audiophile and don't look for immaculately recorded tracks or orchestral music or whatever the majority of the community listens to here; I just listen to my favorites. So please be gentle with my tastes in music :)
Also, I know there's a separate forum for headphone amps, but I felt that my post was more geared towards the specific set of IEM's I was looking at and my options. So I apologize if I've misposted, forgive me just this once ;)
Thanks so much guys. I really appreciate the help.
Edited by snoshreddax21 - 1/8/12 at 12:23am