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