I mix Dubstep, Drum & Bass and Electrohouse mostly. I am also a audio production major and I am producing these three genreas in Ableton Live. What suggestions do you have I was looking at Westone UM2s and Westone UM3s. Are there better options for me? Will UM2s Suffice?
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If you want IEM's primarily for monitoring purposes the Westone UM3X is a great choice.
The only thing I can see the UM3X being bad for your purpose of using them is their isolation preventing you from being aware of your surroundings. That may be a good thing.
Single micro driver, but don't let that fool you they punch when they need to, and isolation and fit is equally as good.
Here's the thread to really wet your appetite.
Courtesy of tienbasse
Here's a short review that I wrote initially for ABI, but since I really was surprised by those IEMs, I thought I should share.
Please be nice with me, I'm not used to writing IEM reviews (and English is not my first language), although I have used a lot of IEMs in the last 4 years...
Well, Yamaha is not exactly famous for their IEMs (and given the quality of their soundchips, I wasn't expecting the best), but I was really intrigued by the design that they used for these EPH-100, and the price was not too steep (140 Euros = 185 US$) so I got curious and ordered them.
Claims : Yamaha has gone far from conventional IEM design for those: full aluminium body with chromium anti-corrosion plating, proprietary double flange silicon tips with a straight shape (not conical), and a 6mm closed dynamic driver which is fitted directly within the nozzles (see Yamaha schematics below).
They claim that fitting the driver within the nozzle part of these IEMs makes the sound less distorded and more "pure" since the driver sits deeper into the ear canal. We'll see about that. Frequency range is the usual deal (20Hz-20kHz), impedance if supposed to be 16 ohms.
Packaging/accessories : we have an eco-friendly PET/carton box (100% recyclable). The IEMS are tightly hold and well protected, and for the price of 150US$/140euros, you get 5 pairs of proprietary silicon tips (SS, S, M, L, LL), a 1/4" adapter, a 2m extension cord, and a soft polyurethane pouch (way too soft to fully protect IEMs, Shure's hardpouch remains my favorite one). Quite good overall, I appreciate the variety in tip sizes, although Yamaha did not have a choice since standard tips won't fit the 6.5mm external diameter of these IEMs nozzles.
Large Comply foams (T or TS400/500) may fit using pliers, but I still have to soften them a bit, they are made for 4/5mm nozzle diameter, not 6.5mm.
Build quality : the aluminium body is really well-crafted with a hardcoat/plating making them scratch resistant and very light, and with a very shiny and convex mesh to protect the drivers. Depending on the tips that you chose, they can look very thin (SS, S and M tips) or very strange (mushroom shape with L and LL tips). The strain relief coming out of the body is very flexible, I'm a bit worried that it will get cut on the aluminium edges in case of repeated pulling. The Y piece is the basic moulded type, with no engraving. The cord has a VERY thick section (> 2mm) and is 1.2m long, it is tangle-free and produce no microphonics at all. The connector is angled and relatively thin. I know that a lot of people here like angled connectors but I personnaly don't like it because it can break more easily if the cord is pulled out of the player by force. Final touch is the Yamaha name and symbol which are printed on the external extremity of the body, not too shabby.
Well, with exception of the connector, quality is top notch, I would put it on the same level as my JVC HA-FX700 and Sennheiser IE8.
One note though: the nozzle mesh comes very close to the tip surface (please see on the last picture), so earwax can easily deposit on the mesh. People with "wet ears" will have to clean these IEMs often so wax does not obstruct the mesh.
Comparison set-up: A/B-ing with Sennheiser IE8, JVC HA-FX700, Shure SE420 and Westoen UM3X, coupled with a Cowon X7 (flat EQ, and some playing with BBE to assess soundstage). Some additional testing with a Sony NWZ-A847 player (flat EQ, but mids are more forward than with the X7). Music selection included classical/orchestral music, progressive rock, metal (with male and female singers), pop music. No R&B, no rap (sorry, not my taste...).
Here are my assessments of Sennheiser IE8, JVC HA-FX700, Shure SE420 and Westone UM3X before I compare them with the EPH-100s (you may disagree of course, I'm more of a dynamic driver fan). I for example did not like the TripleFi 10, they sounded like a sound mess was thrown at my ears, I had trouble with the rendering because I found them to sound unnnatural and congested.
- Sennheiser IE8 have a relatively flat spectrum with a bump in the higher part of bass (a bit boomy but could be worse), they have so-so clarity (= less than armature-type IEMs), average dynamics and they provide poor isolation except when Ts400/500 Comply foams are used. Sounds average, but what you have in return is a HUGE soundstage, on par with full-size headphones. With better clarity, they would be perfect for my taste.
- JVC HA-FX700 are quite different. They clearly have a V-type spectrum, with huge bass (but not the Monster-type basses,here we have dynamic bass with very short decay and no bleed on the mids). Mids are nothing special (not forward, not recessed). Treble are AMAZING, very forward but without a hint of sibilance, making these great to listen female vocals. Clarity is very good (on par with good armature-type IEMs) and they are fast (very nervous IEMs, they can be tiring for some people). Soundstage is ok but not exceptional, they are more the "band is sitting in your face"-type IEMs. Of course, there is a drawback: these have the ****tiest isolation EVER for IEMs, even with Ts400/500 Comply foams, since they are very open by design. So they're no good in noisy transport (metro / plane).
- Shure SE420 are your typical Shure multi-armature IEMs. Relatively flat EQ with a small emphasis on mids, so-so soundstage, good clarity, average dynamics, exceptional isolation (best I've ever encountered with large Shure foams or large olive tips). Good for very noisy transport but boring for my taste. At least you can sleep with those on without any issue.
- Westone UM3X are relatively peculiar triple-armature IEMs. Soundstage is tiny, but clarity and separation are just unique, with a good amount of clean bass, nice mids, nice treble. Some would call that a nice clean sound overall, no fatigue over the hours. Just one thing: it is quite tough to get a good fit with huge ears. Triple flange fit depp and nice but make the sound more distant with some loss in details. Rigid monoflange don't fit my right ear which has a weird 45° angle. P Comply foams are too thin and too long, they don't fit well and finally grey Olives offered me a good fit and good sound, but isolation is only average.
First sound test (10 minutes long, no burn-in): WTF? It sounded so flat for a dynamic driver that I wanted to cry. Decent bass, but I had trouble with the fit, even with LL tips (but I'm used to this with my huge ear canals, this is the reason why I like to use spherical Comply foams, they fit way better, but they are not long enough for the EPH-100). Nevertheless it sounded more like armature-type IEMs, similar to the Shure SE420, bass aside.
Time for 100 hour burn-in with random music (no in-between listening). Although I am not a huge believer in burning-in headphones, I really think it has some scientific meaning with dynamic drivers since they're using a membrane made out a soft material.
Second (and final for this review) sound test : I tried different insertion positions (when worn pendant, the fit is ok but not great, and I can't insert them very deep, which makes me crank up the volume a lot). When worn over-the-ears, they go deeper into the ears since strain reliefs don't touch my ear lobs anymore, so the fit is better and the sound really gain in power, although I still have to set-up the volume higher than with the JVCs/Senns/Shures/Westones.
Something sounded different this time, something familiar, especially with guitar, percussion and male voices. Then I realized: it sounded like Panasonic HJE-900, with very forward mids and bass, great instrument separation to listen to guitar, male voices and low-pitch percussions, but with more clarity than the Panas and much more tamed treble. Since I got the UM3X later than the others, I did not see the resemblance right away.
- Duel against Sennheiser IE8 : bass quantity is the same but bass is tighter on the Yamahas, mids and treble are much more clear on the Yamahas, soundstage is better on the Sennheisers (IE8 puts you in the middle of a theater, while EPH-100 are placing you in the middle of the living room), instrument separation is so much better on the Yamahas than the Sennheisers sound muddy, although they're not especially. Isolation is better on the Yamahas. Except for classical music where soundstage really helps the IE8, these Yamahas differ from IE8s in every possible way. Winner: Yamahas.
- Duel against JVC HA-FX700 : bass has a similar tightness but is more reasonable on the Yamahas (not for bassheads), mids are more forward on the Yamahas, treble are more forward on the JVCs, so JVCs remain better for female voices and high-pitch percussions, but Yamahas win for metal and progressive rock. Instrument separation is a better on Yamahas, soundstage is significantly better for Yamahas (the band is sitting around you), clarity is slightly better on Yamahas. It's a draw in my opinion, I'd say they're complementary.
- Duel against Shure SE420 : bass is better on Yamahas (stronger, tighter), mids and treble are similar quantity-wise, instrument separation is slightly better with Yamahas, clarity is way better with Yamahas. Isolation is slightly better with Shures but not by much. Overall, a clear win for Yamahas with all music styles, I'm definitely not a big fan of armature-type IEMs. Winner: Yamahas.
- Duel against Westone UM3X : overall image is the same, good bass, forward mids, fine treble, excellent separation and clarity for both. Soundstage is smaller with the Westone, bass are more punchy on the Yamahas but equal in quantity, and overall Westone are more on the soft side (some would say "natural") whereas Yamahas are a bit more sparkling (some would say "lively" without causing fatigue). It's a draw in my opinion, I'd say they have a similar overall image (in one word: CLEAN) but you can still guess which one is dynamic-type and which one is armature-based.
Summary : flat spectrum with VERY good clarity in the mids, excellent instrument separation for a dynamic driver, close soundstage with good spatialization, good dynamics and excellent isolation. I like the fact that I am able to follow each instrument (especially drums) even during parts with heavy guitar work.
Conclusion: for a nice price, these EPH-100 were a real surprise. They're very polyvalent since their spectrum is quite flat, but they really shine because of their excellent instrument separation and clarity. For male voices and guitar, this is a bliss, and even with their average soundstage, classical/orchestral music is a pleasure, you can follow every instrument at will, like you usually can with triple-armature IEMs.
Comply or no Comply? Getting some foam tips on those 6.5mm nozzles is quite the job!. Comply Ts400 fit well but are too short, the mesh of the nozzles are too exposed and get copious amounts of earwax on them after extended listening sessions.T400 foams, which are longer, fit well and give good comfort, but the seal is not as good as with stock tips, so bass impact is lost. Back to stock silicon double flange tips! Conclusion: no Comply!
For lazy people, short version:
PROs : excellent build quality, isolation, clarity and instrument separation are top notch, relatively flat spectrum with good bass and mids. Could really be BA intras given the clear semi-analytical sound, except for the nice bass impact reminding you that these are dynamic driver-based.
CONs : the thin angled jack connector, comfort is excellent for people with small ear canals but only average with large ear canals (be ready to play with large silicon tips a lot before getting a good seal)............... and they still cannot beat FX700's treble (but I can't imagine any contender for this)!
PRICE/VALUE : good, no real shame against top-tier universal IEMs. Consider them as a lively-er UM3X (similar image, but a bit more sparkle, for those who appreciate that).
Edited by Huxley - 1/20/12 at 9:37am
Interesting... I read all that and for seme reason I still feel a little uneasy, It doesn't make sense to me that single driver headphones could sound as good as tripple driver headphones. Im going to be using these for production and djing mostly, do you not thing there would be a worth difference in sound clarity and instrument/frequency separation?
Nope, certainly nothing that warrants a huge price difference between a decent balanced armature phone.
I have quite a few phones, the yamahas more than hold their own against more expensive brands.
I have a pair of custom ba iem's, and dynamic iem's have come a long way in the past couple years.
Look at the above review, they are compared with phones he already has, most of them top teir balanced armature and dynamic.
Just thought id suggest it, as the yamaha compares favourable to the westone um3x, an iem i too was thinking about getting.
Plus don't get caught up with numbers, the reason you get multiple ba drivers is because they can then handle the work better.
A single ba can often get congested, and struggle to keep up plus there's always a trade off with the music.
Some will have detail but lack bass, or vice versa, by having two or move you can add more to their sound.
A dynamic doesn't have this problem.
Edited by Huxley - 1/20/12 at 12:58pm
I just found a old pro coverage gift card from guitar center, i called in and it has 125$ on it. They have shure 425s there. Which means i can put 175 cash and 125 gift card and have them today. What would you guys have to say about that route?
Edited by Bri1 - 1/20/12 at 4:14pm
You can get technically more superior IEM's for $300 such has the Westone 3 or UM3X.
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