I'm new to Head-Fi but I've been lurking around for quite sometime before I decided to post my query. So here goes-
I'm not technically an audiophile. I try listen to details in the music I usually hear but I lose my concentration at some point and just lose myself in it. So I don't mind colored sound signatures if they help to improve my experience and make it enjoyable.
I listen to rock/ heavy metal- mostly Children of Bodom, Gamma Ray, Sepultura, Metallica, Megadeth, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Opeth, Black Label Society, Thunderstone, Emperor...you get the drift. I do listen to Pink Floyd too- I love them despite the fact that they don't fit in with my usual genres.
My headphone/IEM collection's pretty sparse unlike what the pros here have. I've been using the Creative EP-630 for my commute for many years (since 2008). The turning point was when I bought a pair of Grado SR-60i-s. I was totally blown away! Except for the dodgy Y-spliiter, I love them! I quickly found out that they were perfect for the genres I listen to. As many know, they are like a gateway drug into the audiophile world. I think this's happening to me too- I'm finding flaws in the EP-630-s nowadays...like its bloated and slow bass, terrible midrange (as compared to the awesome Grado mids) and the unrefined treble. So, I'm looking for an upgrade- possibly a huge one- something that doesn't send me running back to my Grados every time I decide to listen to something on the bus.
Most of my listening is during the 2 hour commute to work and back and another 2-3 hours at home. I use the Creatives on the bus and the Grados at home. So, for the long commute, I've shortlisted the following IEM-s: (cheapest to costliest in India- I'm only looking at the ones avail. in India through Indian online stores... the ones imported from abroad by ebay Globalbuy can get really expensive- almost by 2x/3x).
1) Brainwavz M2
2) Ultimate Ears 500 (400 in India)
3) Ultimate Ears 600
4) Panasonic Zirconia HJE900
5) Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10
What I'm looking for:
Bass: I like some bass in my music. I hate it when it sounds too dry. But I don't like it to be too bloated, muddy and giving me a headache. It should also be snappy, quick and impactful otherwise the fast drumming in metal would feel awful. I hope I'm clear here..
Mids: I chose the Grados and for a very good reason- guitar solos and basses never sounded this good! I don't find the mid heavy sound of the Grados fatiguing. However, I don't have a clue as to how good mids would sound on an IEM as opposed to an open-ear headphone.
Treble: Easy- I'd like some decent definition here. I'd like to hear the cymbals crashing and sparkle unlike the lousy reproduction of my Creatives. I don't mind a hot sound here as it adds to the excitement.
Isolation: should be good and comfortable. Buses in India are quite noisy and the traffic gets very very loud. If stock tips of the IEM-s you suggest are bad, please do suggest another pair of tips to use.
Cable & microphonics: I'd like a well-built cable. I take care of my gear pretty well usually but in most cases an IEM fails because of a busted cable. I don't want that to happen here. About microphonics- well, I listen only when I'm seated and never while walking- so I guess it's not an issue.
If I give off the impression that I'm too demanding, I'm sorry. I can live with a little shortfalls here and there. The most important thing here is that my next IEMs should be enjoyable to listen to.
I'm personally inclined towards the M2-s, UE 500 and the Pana HJE900. Sure, the Panas are expensive in India, but I don't mind paying more if I get a better product that can last for a really long time.
Sorry for the long post. Please do try to read through my ramblings and help me out. Finally, I thank the every member for their reviews of these IEM-s (esp. Joker's giant 200+ IEM thread). Without them, I wouldn't even be able to compile this list.