[Review] UM Merlin, FS MG6Pro, AKG K3003 - Page 17
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Upon receiving them, the first thing I noticed was the classic fit issue. They were too small in areas and easily lost seal.
I immediately contacted Future Sonics customer service, which were very friendly and professional. They ask me to send them some pictures of CIEM’s in the ears to determine if a refit or complete rebuild would be necessary. Unfortunately a complete rebuild ended up being necessary, so I had to return to my audiologist for additional impressions.
Since this time, I have learned several things regarding impressions, molds, and the CIEM final product. The first is that the customer plays a large part in the quality of the impressions. For instance, did you clinch your jaws or where you relaxed? Did you look down or look up too much? Did you schedule them when you were sick or dealing with allergies? Secondly it is also important that your audiologist follow the manufacturer’s directions in making the impressions. Did they use a bite block? Do they have experience with musician’s monitor impressions? They are made slightly differently from hearing aid impressions, as they require a tighter fit and closer tolerances. And lastly the manufacturer can indeed make mistakes along the way, as confirmed from other members of this trade, from trimming the impressions, to the shaping and sanding stages and lastly when polishing the final product.
I received the rebuilt set in early April. Unfortunately I needed to send them back again, due to the nozzle portion of the right ear causing some discomfort and well as both faceplates sticking out from the ear too much.
I agree that the customer plays a large part in the quality of the impressions, and have been vocal to that effect, in the following thread:
However, in the case of the MG6 Pro, I, too, had to have new impressions done, for a rebuild, even though I knew damn well that there was nothing wrong with the first set. My pair were drastically over-buffed and had lost vital detail to the shape of the CIEM, particularly in the ear canal region, so they just fell out of my ears rather than forming a seal. I also happen to know exactly what circumstances led to this occurring (because Marty personally told me), but I will respectfully maintain Marty's privacy on that.
Like you, my rebuilt set had excessively large canals - it was like an over-compensation for the excessively-small canals of the first build. I actually had to file-down the ear-canal section of the second build, in order to achieve a comfortable fit and decent seal. I was fortunate that I had another pair of CIEMs to guide me exactly where to file the MG6 Pros. In some areas, I had to file just over a millimeter away (that's actually a huge amount on an ear canal moulding). I suspect that my second set of impressions may have been 'wax-dipped' twice. Or maybe it was some other reason, but that seems most plausible to me. If I had not had this other pair of CIEMs to compare to, I would have been unable to successfully file the excessive material from the MG6 Pros, in the correct places, and would have had to have yet another set of impressions done, and to send these and the MG6 Pros internationally again, at more expense and more delay.
The final kick-in-the-teeth, for me, was that the second build had the 2-pin cable-socket ground-down to such a degree that the 2 pins of the cable, on both earpieces will only insert to 50% depth. So, I was forced to cut the pins down to just 2mm, and, consequently, they frequently fall-out when I'm wearing the MG6s. I mean... honestly... how does something so obvious & fundamental get past QC?? And especially for an international order... Faced, then, with the prospect of yet more delays, and substantially more international expenses, I just held up my hands in despair and gave up trying to get a properly-made pair of MG6 Pros.
You and I conversed, via PM, not long after this time, Shane, and I regret that I was not more forthcoming with you, at the time, but I felt constrained by a misguided sense of duty towards Marty (no offence intended towards you, Marty - I'm just being totally frank here). In hindsight, I feel I did Shane a disservice and I now feel a duty to be more open to both him and others.
My MG6 Pro experience was almost identical to yours, Shane, both in terms of fit, and in terms of sound quality, and, not to put too fine a point on it, I feel very misled by the 'most popular MG6 Pro review', here on Head-fi. Very misled (also see: www.head-fi.org/t/539898/review-future-sonics-mg6pro-ear-monitors-dynamic-driver-custom-fit-in-ear-monitors/1080#post_11015497 ). I was shouted-down in that thread, by the main reviewer, who repeatedly intimated that I did not know what I was talking about, or that my information was incorrect.
Strange that some of that information came directly from Marty.
Strange that others (Shane, Tupac, etc.) have related less-than-stellar experiences of the MG6Pro (particularly shortcomings with the sound quality) in the intervening period since then.
Strange that that original reviewer is now stating the polar-opposite, in regards to sound signature, of what he stated in the original review, upon the basis of which many, including myself, regrettably ventured to purchase the MG6Pro.
Maybe Shane, Tupac, and myself are all clueless, and the MG6 Pro really is a perfect audiophile CIEM
I noticed that I was also experiencing a lot of harshness and an echo effect that made them very fatiguing to listen too.
I received a great fitting pair of MG6Pros in late April but unfortunately the issue of the harshness and echo effect, from the beginning, was still there.
The harshness and echo effect I was hearing seemed to be coming from the 2k and 3.5k ~4k areas. It was explained to me that Future Sonics has some peaks in the frequency response there to help balance the overall sound presentation out with the bass response. My sensitivity to these peaks seems to be greater than most, as Future Sonics has never had anyone complain about a harshness. It causes the tops of vocals and edges of guitars to become painful, fatiguing and ‘echoey’, which obscures details.
Upon sending them in for the 3rd time, along with some music tracks so that the techs and owner could hear what I was hearing, it was decided to rebuild and replace the components (which they do on any rebuild), to rule out any other possible attributing factors. I’m doubtful the Future Sonics staff was able to hear what I was hearing but they assured me the last set had passed their listening tests for the sound Future Sonics is known for.
I received my MG6Pro for the 4th time in early May. The harshness, echo effect and blurred treble detail remain.
It bears repeating, that to my knowledge, I am the only one to experience the harshness, echoey and blurring effects I’ve described in my review. It’s also not typical to discuss how an earphone sounds after EQ in a review but due to the apparent resonance issues I have with the Future Sonics tuning, I felt it important to bring this into the discussion.
Edit: Since the original writing of this review, I have received PM's from 4 to 5 other mg6pro owners confirming that they too hear issues similar to what I've described, albeit to differing levels.
It may sound as if I don’t like the MG6Pro and that would be true, due to the issues I am hearing. I simply cannot listen to them un-EQ’d for any length of time but I do find I can enjoy them once the peaks are taken away. The stock tuning is sadly disappointing and, in my opinion, tragically flawed.
Yes, I too experience an 'echoey' peak, occasionally, on my pair of MG6s. My personal take on this is that I suspect it may, perhaps, relate to a resonant frequency of the large single bore soundtube (anyone who has experience of building their own bass-reflex loudspeakers will be familiar with the kind of 'honk' peak that can occur with a less-than-optimal port implementation). Whether or not the MG6 Pro actually functions as a miniature bass-reflex speaker (inadvertently or otherwise) is debatable, given that the majority of the DD diaphragm is not directly exposed to the outside world; just a tiny user-removable 'port' grommet, and, at the other end of the CIEM chamber, the canal nozzle/'port'. Therefore, I'm not specifically stating that I consider the MG6 Pro to be functioning in a bass-reflex manner, per sē - I'm simply saying that the 'peak' sound can occasionally sound somewhat-reminiscent of a poorly-implemented bass-reflex port on a conventional fullsize loudspeaker.
There is, perhaps, a greater likelihood that the 'peak' sound might relate to a standing-wave within the chamber of the shell - it is notable that BA-based designs have sound tubes conveying all output directly to the ear canal nozzle of the CIEM, with no interaction possible within the main chamber of the shell. Even hybrid designs, using DD woofer and BA mids/treble may employ a tube, of sorts, to gather the DD output and convey it as directly as possible to the ear canal nozzle, avoiding interaction with the main shell chamber. Additionally, such hybrid designs do not permit the DD to produce any significant audible output in the upper midband, where the MG6 Pro's 'peak' seems to manifest itself.
Every pair of CIEMs is, by virtue of being customised to the shape of each customer's ears, unique in it's size and shape, and therefore the size and the shape of the inner chamber will always vary from one customer to the next. I view this as a major flaw in the design of the MG6 Pro. You would never see a loudspeaker manufacturer using identical drivers and crossovers but arbitrarily changing the dimensions and volume of the L/S cabinet for each consecutive pair rolling off the production line, with no consideration for the variability of interactions between the drivers and the cabinets. There would be uproar and derision.
These possibilities are not (in my view) negated by the fact that I additionally know that Marty tuned the MG6 Pro to have a particular 'shaped' frequency response for stage performers. I discussed this, some time ago, here:
But, in trying to remain diplomatic, I did not reveal the 'peaky' sound I occasionally experience.
Actually, when I first heard the MG6 Pro (my first experience of the 1st build), I didn't notice the echoey 'peak', but subjectively heard the higher mids as somewhat absent, relative to the lower mids (so female vocals sounded a bit recessed compared to what I was used to). In addition to the shell problems, I expressed this concern, about perceived unevenness in the midband frequency response, to futuresonics.
Some will read this post and think I'm being negative.
Actually, I am just being honest about a negative experience. I now regret not being fully forthcoming about my experience, because, in trying to be diplomatic towards Marty, I realise I have simultaneously been disingenuous to fellow head-fiers, even though that was not actually my intention. Marty's basically a decent guy, but talking top-service and top-product doesn't necessarily equate to that being the real customer experience in real life. I wish it did. And Marty, if you feel inclined to drop me a line, you are welcome to (or not), as you wish, and I'll be happy to talk with you, amicably.
Just as Shane has been honest about his experience of the MG6Pro, I, too, feel it is important to be honest about my experience of this CIEM, and the company, because I do not wish other Head-fiers to spend circa $900 on a CIEM they may have been led to believe is an audiophile product, only to find its frequency response is not conducive to audiophile usage, and then they cannot resell it (even at a substantial loss) because futuresonics will refuse to reshell it for a secondary customer. I said it in the above-linked thread, and I'll say it again - I feel very strongly that this CIEM should clearly be marketed in such a way that audiophile customers are not attracted to a product suited to stage usage rather than audiophile usage. Failure to be clear about this does not serve the best interests of audiophile customers, and does not serve the best interests of futuresonics, as a company, either. It just leaves both sides less-than-happy.
To be even-handed about this, and fair to Marty, at the point in between the 1st and 2nd builds, he did offer to make a rare exception and do the 2nd build as an MG5 rather than MG6, but having already paid the premium for the flagship, and with no certainty that I'd enjoy the MG5 tuning any more than the MG6, I had little reason to pay flagship money for the little brother, so I felt the only pragmatic way forwards was to continue the 2nd build as an MG6.
Even now, I feel conflicted about this whole situation - not wishing to be negative towards Marty or futuresonics, but, at the same time, feeling a duty to be properly forthcoming about a situation I do not wish others to go through. It is clear that Shane's experience was almost a facsimile of mine, in more than one respect. It is also clear to some of us that the MG6 Pro, as a CIEM design, has substantial flaws. I can but hope that Marty will take such concerns seriously, and develop and MG7 Pro that overcomes many of the shortcomings of the current MG6 Pro. I've been burned too badly by my futuresonics experience, so I won't be buying an MG7 Pro, but many other futuresonics customers may benefit from the improvements.
Make of that what you will, but please understand that Marty designed the MG6 Pro for stage performers, not for the audiophile community. If you are an audiophile and you still feel so excited by 'that review' that you feel the MG6 Pro will be your perfect audiophile CIEM, then please, at the very least, give futuresonics a call (even if you're in a different country), and ask to make an appointment to chat to Marty for 5 minutes. He's very approachable and amiable, and will clarify what to expect from the MG6 Pro, and the design ethos in its tuning. Then, at least, you may have a clearer idea of what to expect for your non-refundable, and non-resellable/non-re-shellable $900 investment.
Edited by Mython - 12/2/14 at 4:49am
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Thanks for the heartfelt and honest thoughts. As Head-Fi'ers, enthusiasts and customers, all we can do is share our truthful experience-- the good, the bad and the ugly-- in the hopes others can learn from it or take away some useful information from it. It's not easy to talk about negative experiences. It's just not fun and it's not the reasons most of us created an account on Head-Fi for; but it happens and I think it is to the betterment of the community that we share these experiences, warts and all, with level heads, intelligent thought, yet with the same passion we feel inside.