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Thought I'd lost my IE8s, looking for cheaper alternative & discussion of Ogg vs FLAC and sources

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

 

Hi all,

 

I have a pair of Sennheiser IE8s that I thought I had lost last week, running for a bus.  It turns out that they were safe at home, but it did make me think about buying some cheaper IEMs for day-to-day use.  I have to say that I have never been that in love with the IE8s considering the price, even after EQing out the mid-bass hump (what a massive improvement that was).  Either I'm just expecting too much from my IEMs or it's due to my source.

 

All of my music is currently encoded in Ogg Vorbis format, quality 3, which seems to average around 128kbps.  I know people will sniff at that but I always found Ogg 128 to sound as good as MP3 at 160.  Also at the time, I "had" to fit everything on an iRiver H340 with a 40GB hard disk.  These days storage is a lot easier to come by, so I'm experimenting with encoding my CDs to FLAC instead.

 

Most of my listening is Ogg / FLAC via a laptop headphone output or on my Desire HD via Google Music, which transcoded all my Ogg files to MP3, *sigh*.  I expect FLAC to be much better via Google Music, as even though it is still transcoded to 320k MP3, it's a lot better than going from lossy to lossy.

 

To be honest, my initial FLAC experiment has been underwhelming.  I ripped Dream Theater's A Dramatic Turn of Events, and back-to-back vs my Oggs, using the IE8s on my laptop, the difference is not as much as I would have hoped for.  It sounds great, but so does the Ogg file.  I'd say perhaps a veil has lifted, there's a little more dynamism, openness and punch, but not the night and day difference I'd hoped for.  I'd be really interested to get some feedback on this.  Some options: the laptop sound card is really bad, the album is badly recorded, my ears are getting worse, the Ogg codec is rather wonderful.  ;)

 

My "serious" headphone career consists of some Grado SR60s that I bought a *very* long time ago, even 15 years.  I was a student with an Arcam CD / Amp (still going today), and I heard about these mystical cans.  I had to travel across London to the one small shop that imported them at the time. I auditioned them against a pair of Sennheisers that cost three times as much, and I was sold.  To me they were even better, I couldn't get my credit card out quickly enough.

 

My first pair of IEMs were a basic pair of Shures that I bought from a play.com sale.  They were a great introduction to IEMs but fell apart after a few months, very poor.

 

Anyway I'm not going to sell the IE8s because I feel that they have their place, and I have yet to get the best out of them (see ramble above). But I'd like something to compare them to, preferably somewhat cheaper, something that I won't panic about losing on the bus. I buy in the UK so I'd say below £100, and even that is pushing it, if there's anything around the £50 point, that would be better.  The point of the exercise isn't to have two pairs of expensive IEMs like the rest of you.  ;)  But I do wonder if I might find that the IE8s just aren't for me, maybe I might get a pleasant surprise.

 

I generally listen to guitar-based rock / blues / metal, 60s - current, soft, hard, progressive, bluesy, raw, cultured, the whole spectrum.  ;)  I'd say that I'm not a bass-head, I prefer a neutral presentation and to let the music express itself, and I crave detail but not a tiring presentation.  I do have to say that even though I always put the IE8s in my ears with a sense of wishing they could do more, I can listen to them for long periods.

 

Hope this is enough for someone to point me in the right direction.  :)


Edited by topperdoggle - 3/3/12 at 1:23am
post #2 of 7

Could always give the Sony EX600 a try.  I'd say they are more neutral than the IE8's and have a very nice sound.  They also should fall into your price range at £100.

 

The downside for the EX600 for me was the fit, but many others have no problem with their fit.

 

Anything else I could recommend would be based on second hand knowledge; but some other IEM's that get recommended around in that range are the RE0's, FXT90, GR07, HF5...to name a few.

post #3 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by topperdoggle View Post

All of my music is currently encoded in Ogg Vorbis format, quality 5, which seems to average around 128kbps.
Does not compute. Ogg Vorbis -q 5 should average at around 160kbps. Either your music was encoded at a lower quality setting, or it has a higher average bitrate than you think.

Ogg Vorbis -q 5 is generally considered to be transparent. I've tried to ABX (double blind test) all quality settings from 0 to 6, and while I can reliably ABX up to -q 4, I can't ABX -q 5.
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skamp View Post


Does not compute. Ogg Vorbis -q 5 should average at around 160kbps. Either your music was encoded at a lower quality setting, or it has a higher average bitrate than you think.
Ogg Vorbis -q 5 is generally considered to be transparent. I've tried to ABX (double blind test) all quality settings from 0 to 6, and while I can reliably ABX up to -q 4, I can't ABX -q 5.


You're right, I started with -q 5 in the mists of time but then moved to -q 3 due to space considerations.  I'll edit my OP.  Really amazing considering there is such a fuss about 320kbps MP3.

 

I read a lot on here about people re-encoding their music as new cans / IEMs reveal problems with lossy encoding, but now I'm wondering how much of it is placebo.  Make no mistake, I'll go to FLAC if I can hear a benefit, but if not, maybe I should just move to a higher Ogg Vorbis bitrate.

post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by topperdoggle View Post

Make no mistake, I'll go to FLAC if I can hear a benefit, but if not, maybe I should just move to a higher Ogg Vorbis bitrate.

If you want to shoot for full transparency, I recommend you run ABX tests with a couple songs that you know very well. Start from Ogg Vorbis -q 3 and work your way up. You'll be able to determine what sounds fully transparent to you.

That said, the placebo factor is not to be dismissed. I, myself, use lossyFLAC on my smartphone despite being unable to ABX Ogg Vorbis -q 5, because that codec makes me "feel good". It is artifact-free by design, and gives me peace of mind. I *know* I'm being irrational, but at least I'm not kidding myself, and if it makes me feel good, who cares?
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by barid View Post

Could always give the Sony EX600 a try.  I'd say they are more neutral than the IE8's and have a very nice sound.  They also should fall into your price range at £100.

 

The downside for the EX600 for me was the fit, but many others have no problem with their fit.

 

Anything else I could recommend would be based on second hand knowledge; but some other IEM's that get recommended around in that range are the RE0's, FXT90, GR07, HF5...to name a few.


Thanks for the recommendations, seem to be in the right ballpark.  I can't find GR07, EX600s, EX700s or FXT90s in the UK for anywhere near my budget.  The RE0s are very intriguing indeed, as are the HF5s.  I can buy either from Amazon UK who I trust - RE0s for £60 and HF5s for £80.  I have absolutely no idea which ones to go for, as they both get good reviews.

 

I've also seen the $150 deal (less with coupon) on Monster Miles Davis, I'd snap it up in a second but I don't live in the USA.  *bangs head against wall*  If anyone here's willing to purchase them for me and forward them on, I'll of course cover all costs plus beer.  :)

 


Edited by topperdoggle - 3/3/12 at 9:46am
post #7 of 7

having owned quiet a few iems including the ie8, i would recommend the re262, it is one of the few relatively cheap iem that gave me the wow factor, maybe you can do some reading on it, although it is mid centric, it makes the ie8 sound veiled. currently on amazon uk for 99 pounds, easily the best bang for buck iem i own.

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