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AKG K3003 Universal IEM Review: Challenger to the Custom IEM World? - Page 5

post #61 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by cravenz View Post

To be fair, all reviews need to be read with a pinch of salt. For starters, everyone has a different hearing perception, and because of that, it skews testing. What you are experiencing is what you believe sounds best to your ears, and that's great. Remember, AJ is sharing his opinion i.e. his and his alone and it isn't meant to be taken as gospel. We need to read expansive reviews with caveats e.g. who hears them, how they hear them, what they hear them through etc. 

 

All that aside, it is good to have alternate views. And yours, as is AJ's are welcome views :)

I agree with every sentence you write, and I do appreciate the writings of AJ very, very much, and he has been very helpful to me in the past too. However, my point, to make it as simple as I can, is that based on my own four hours of experience with the AKG K3003, it would be extremely sad if someone looking for a high end reference UIEM refrains from even trying the K3003 because of AJ’s writings and authority.

 

So my request to anyone looking for a high end reference universal in ear monitor (in my opinion surpassing many of the qualities of a high end reference CIEM such as the EarSonics EM6) is this. Don’t take anyone’s word for it (good or bad). Listen to the AKG K3003 for yourself because I think there is a very good chance you’ll think it’s worth its price and more!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cravenz View Post

 

What's the most important though, is that you enjoy your music!

 

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 95

post #62 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post

So my request to anyone looking for a high end reference universal in ear monitor (in my opinion surpassing many of the qualities of a high end reference CIEM such as the EarSonics EM6) is this. Don’t take anyone’s word for it (good or bad). Listen to the AKG K3003 for yourself because I think there is a very good chance you’ll think it’s worth its price and more!

 

X2, beliefs and prejudices aside, my ultimate litmus test has always been actual listening time. Having owned both the K3003 and the UERM (a well-respected high end CIEM) for more than a year, my score is about 80% vs. 20% in favor of the AKGs.

 

(Btw, since you mentioned you were there for an audition of the IE800: what did you think of the Senns vs. the K3003? My take on these two is here, if you're interested.)

post #63 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post

 

Hi Aero Dynamic, thank you for asking your questions and seeking clarification.  

 

After having read through your review again, this time quite carefully, I find it somewhat trying to praise it the way I did having browsed it through the first time. Although well written and very informative I think it’s problematic that it isn’t clearly conclusive. On one hand you praise the AKG K3003 as the best UIEM you’ve heard to date, but on the other hand it doesn’t seem to win out to any of the compared IEMs except the SM3, which you then disqualify as being too low-cost to be compared with in the first place. I think the 334 technically outperforms the K3003, but then they have very different sound signaures.  I do get the distinct impression that despite your clinical approach and praise of the AKG K3003, you are after all promoting CIEMs in general both sound-wise and otherwise before the AKG K3003? They perform better technically, and I stated as much.  Well, maybe that was your intention and clearly obvious from the start to everyone but me!? As evident in your review both CIEMs and UIEMs in general have their advantages and disadvantages. I point out the advantages and disadvantages in my review.  I would like to add the following comments to your review in this respect.

  1. It is more common that audio stores carry universals (than customs) that can be tested and compared before they are bought.  True, but do all those stores carry the K3003? I am asking because I don't know since there are no stores I know of in my area that carry anything to listen to.
  2. Comfort, sound and isolation of CIEMs (at least in my experience) depend on the position of the facial muscles and the body as a whole. Reading your review I see a possibility that readers with no previous experience of CIEMs may be lead to believe that CIEMs are the be‑all and end‑all in IEM design. For those readers I think it may be of value to know that acrylic CIEMs are rigid, very rigid (think glass), while ear canals are not. This, at least for me, limits the use of CIEMs. As soon as I move my facial muscles (like when smiling) or deviate too much from the position of the body as it were when the impressions were made, like when laying down on my back in bed (my preferred position when listening to music), the shape of the ear canals changes and consequently affects the isolation, sound and comfort. I would say that (at least for me) CIEMs are ruled out whenever I’m not keeping my head in the upright position it was when the impressions were made. In this respect I find the flexibility of UIEMs to be a major advantage.  Interesting, and this is the first time I have heard someone say anything about facial muscle position.  I often lay down and listen before I go to bed, and I have slept in CIEMs before with no issues.  I now realize that small fit issues can change sound and comfort.  For example, I shaved down a CIEM recently and one channel was just right while the other was slightly larger and the sound of the tighter fitting CIEM wasn't as good as the just right one.  I have experienced many other 
  3. It’s a bit of a shame that the stock ear tips didn’t work for you as it hard to completely ignore the suspicion that it might somehow have affected your perception of some of the AKG K3003’s sonic abilities. The AKG K3003 was no doubt designed to work very well with the stock ear tips. As reported by some, the stock ear tips seem to work very well for comfort, isolation, and sound. Anyway, what I want to say is that what happened to you in this respect probably wouldn’t be the typical situation or even a somewhat common problem for most buyers of the AKG K3003.  Believe me, I tried to get the stock ear tips to work, but due to how deep they have to go in to create a seal and the housing shape, they just don't work at all for me unless I want pain.  If I was a consumer, the fit would return them, and if I was an average Amazon reviewer, give them 1 star.  I haven't checked into the tip issue, but I am not the only one I know of.  Plus, I mentioned how the sound changed from the stock tips to other tips.

 

Because of some really negative reviews and some rather critical reviews of the AKG K3003 I had no intention of even trying it. However, as faith had it in my way, I happened to try it (perhaps to get my preconceptions confirmed) in my audio store when I was really there to give the Sennheiser IE 800 a listen. I began to realize that there must have been something wrong with my preconceptions when suddenly my breathing stopped and I developed goose bumps all over. I actually had to take it out of my ears to make sure that it was really the AKG K3003. I occupied the store’s headphone room for about two hours with the AKG K3003 in my ears and then again a couple of days later to compare it to my reference headphone (Sennheiser HD 650). After that I realized that my (still rather modest) collection of headphones would be incomplete without the AKG K3003 and I just had to order it and I’m now impatiently waiting for it. I thought to myself: “the hell with the coherence issues, treble peaks, dips, flaws, etc., etc... I know what I hear, and I know when I like it.” I also thought: “from now on I will read less (or at least be more critical to what I read) and listen more for myself.” And as already mentioned this is fortunately more often an option with universals.  It comes down to perspective.  If I didn't bring up the issues, someone else would and ask why I didn't, or PM me about it after they bought them, or just think my reviews are incomplete.  I know the level of the HD650 and have heard the IE800 and can see why the K3003 would receive that response.  As my review said, the K3003 is a very nice sounding universal IEM, and I enjoy the sound signature with the reference ports.

 

Of course I can’t blame you for having and expressing the opinions you have. On the contrary, your reviews are most often very clinical and a great balance to much of the hype found here and elsewhere. However, being the IEM authority you are I think you have a special moral responsibility to point out that there are other authorities in the field that do not share your conclusions about the AKG K3003 versus CIEMs in general. For example, Steve Guttenberg at CNET thinks the FitEar ToGo! 334 (UIEM) is: “the best I've heard from an in-ear headphone of any type”, and there is testimony from several people owning both the 334 and the K3003 who say they are on par although having different signatures. To be sure, that does not mean to say in any way that you are wrong, but that there indeed are authorities having a different and in many ways opposite opinion. (I know Steve Guttenberg isn’t considered very highly by some here on head-fi, but for the sake of the example I hope I will be excused!)  I have spent plenty of time with the 334 as well as the K3003 and objectively can't say they outperform many of my CIEMs, especially the ones in the same price range.  I am not the only one.  Take a look at joker's chart where the K3003's sound score is 9.6 vs. the 10.0 of the Miracle (which I haven't heard), 9.7 of the 334 (which I agree with in comparison of the two), 9.7 for the SE 3-way reference, which is half the price, and 9.6 for the Alclair Reference, which I also agree doesn't perform to the level of the K3003, but is $400.  I don't care how bright or dark something is, I care about how the detail, presentation accuracy, clarity, note attack and decay capability, etc.  I know certain mainstream reviewers have their preferences, and as you said, my goal is to be clinical.  

 

What’s problematic the way I see it is that there is a very real risk that people who are looking for a high end reference UIEM are a lot less likely to even try the AKG K3003 after having read your review as it in its entirety conveys a feeling of the AKG K3003 being inferior to CIEMs in general, sound-wise and otherwise. If so, I think that’s really sad! One evident example is the comment of "up late".  People PM me all the time and I recommend what I think fits their wants, needs, and preferences.  I have recommended the K3003, 334, UE900, SM3, FX700, etc. to people that were thinking of CIEMs because they fit what they were looking for better.  My goal is to recommend something that will make the person happy. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by up late View Post

And that's cool. I guess I'm a bit surprised by how big the gap is between a top flight universal and custom earphones.

 

What do you intend by "gap"? Thanks!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by up late View Post

Sound! I kinda expected a fantastic sounding universal to compete with customs soundwise that's all.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post

When compared with similarly priced custom IEMs, a frequency coherence issue becomes apparent in the region where the dynamic driver and balanced armature drivers crossover, which is most evident with the Reference Sound port.bass and midrange drivers

 

I have counted the number of times you return to the AKG K3003’s “coherence issue” in your review. Guess how many times? 10 times! I only have a vague notion of what is meant by coherence in general and what you mean by it in regard to the AKG K3003 and hybrid CIEMs in particular, so if you could elaborate on this in some more detail and perhaps give me an example of where this is “apparent“ when compared to my high priced all BA driver CIEM, the EarSonics EM6. I’d really appreciate it!  The note presentation from the bass driver is different than that of the BA drivers, and I heard a bit of a dip where the crossover occurred, even with the stock tips.  Dynamic and BA drivers use different types of force (Maxwell force for BAs vs. Lorentz force for dynamic drivers) to generate sound, and therefore they typically sound different.  An exception is the 334 bass which to me sounds more like a dynamic driver than the Rooth LS5X, which is a hybrid and has very tight but capable bass.

 

As far as something that is readily apparent, different people can focus on different potential issues.  I am very sensitive to soundstage presentation and 3D space for example, but I am not sure how you hear things.  You could try to listen for the issues, but there is no need to.  My ratings for the EM4 in coherence are 80 while the K3003 is 45 with the reference port, the TS842 (hybrid CIEM) is a 30, and the 334 scores an 80.  The LSX5 demo is the most coherent hybrid I have heard and rates at a 60.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by average_joe View Post

If an average acrylic shelled custom IEM is a 5 of 10, then the AKG is well below, around a 2.5/10.

 

So what you’re really saying is that the isolation of the AKG K3003 is about half that of a CIEMs in general, and CIEMs have very good isolation in general, right? Anyway that sounds a lot less bad than 2.5 out of 10, doesn’t it?  My rating was made for CIEMs, and CIEMs such as the i9pro gets a 3.5, but perspective is important here and I do use the SM3 for a comparison.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by average_joe View Post

It is, of course, the brightest of the three, but the bass and midrange remain untouched from the Reference port.

 

Did you really mean to say: “the High boost port”, or, “with the High boost port the bass and midrange sound the same as with the Reference port”, or maybe something entirely different?  I am not sure what I was responding to, but I believe I was saying the high boost port has the same bass and midrange as the reference port.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by average_joe View Post

But, when I jump into critical listening mode, the K3003 isn’t perfect, and there are some issues that jump out at me. This is not to say the issues will jump out at you, but they do to me because I am a frequent high end custom IEM user!

 

 

Is there some way you can rephrase that to make its meaning (which I don’t really get) more clear?  If I have been listening to my high end CIEMs, the issues with the K3003 really stand out to me.  I can, however, just put the K3003 in after a long day and enjoy :)

 

Quote:

 

Originally Posted by average_joe View Post

This issue isn’t unique to the K3003 as my CIEM hybrids have this issue to some extent as well, and I can forget about it when I am just listening to music and not critically listening.

 

So, are you saying that this issue is more, or less prominent with the AKG K3003, or basically the same in any hybrid (universal or custom)? See above.

 

Thanks!

 

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

 

X2, beliefs and prejudices aside, my ultimate litmus test has always been actual listening time. Having owned both the K3003 and the UERM (a well-respected high end CIEM) for more than a year, my score is about 80% vs. 20% in favor of the AKGs.

 

(Btw, since you mentioned you were there for an audition of the IE800: what did you think of the Senns vs. the K3003? My take on these two is here, if you're interested.)

 

I don't think I understand what you meant, could you please elaborate?

post #64 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post

I don't think I understand what you meant, could you please elaborate?

 

80% vs. 20% actual usage time in favor of the K3003 vs. the UERM, over the course of more than a year. 

post #65 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

80% vs. 20% actual usage time in favor of the K3003 vs. the UERM, over the course of more than a year. 

 

Thanks for the clarification.  Your choice makes sense to me.

post #66 of 77

I recently trialled a pair of these at the suggestion of someone not on this board who described them as a "custom killer". Overall while I found them to be of a very high quality in both build and sound, they just seemed too... polite. Maybe I've become too used to the deeper insertion of customs, but I felt that the shallower seal and universal tip were actually the Achilles Heel of these phones - for me they would benefit from a shell re-design that allows for deeper insertion. Considering you can get most customs for up to $500 less they just don't seem to be a genuine player in the bang for buck stakes, rather a toy for The Audiophile Who Has Everything. 

post #67 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post

So my request to anyone looking for a high end reference universal in ear monitor (in my opinion surpassing many of the qualities of a high end reference CIEM such as the EarSonics EM6) is this. Don’t take anyone’s word for it (good or bad). Listen to the AKG K3003 for yourself because I think there is a very good chance you’ll think it’s worth its price and more!

 

X2, beliefs and prejudices aside, my ultimate litmus test has always been actual listening time. Having owned both the K3003 and the UERM (a well-respected high end CIEM) for more than a year, my score is about 80% vs. 20% in favor of the AKGs.

 

(Btw, since you mentioned you were there for an audition of the IE800: what did you think of the Senns vs. the K3003? My take on these two is here, if you're interested.)

Thank you for your comment James444! I’ve been following your writings about the IE 800 rather closely and that was a major reason to why I wanted to hear the IE 800. I thought there was a chance that it might be just perfect for me. Unfortunately, just like you I found its bass to be (slightly) overwhelming and gave up after about fifteen minutes of listening. Considering its many virtues it’s a shame really, but probably will earn Sennheiser more cash. I’m afraid there are still more IEM bass heads than IEM audiophiles in this world. Well, I guess you can be both, but I’m just not one of them. Anyway, it was at that point that I decided to give the AKG K3003 a try and had my little glimpse of heaven! ksc75smile.gif

 

BTW, I really enjoy your writings in general, very balanced without ever getting dry, and often with examples of music to exemplify your points. Very entertaining too, so keep going!

 

Thanks!

post #68 of 77

Thank you AJ for your lengthy and detailed reply to my post! Much appreciated!

 

Hi Aero Dynamic, thank you for asking your questions and seeking clarification.

 

I do get the distinct impression that despite your clinical approach and praise of the AKG K3003, you are after all promoting CIEMs in general both sound-wise and otherwise before the AKG K3003? They perform better technically, and I stated as much. Technical performance is important (and interesting) to a certain degree, but at the end of the day it is the IEM bringing me the most musical joy that is the winner, and the AKG K3003 brings me a lot more musical joy than my one and only CIEM, the EarSonics EM6, which by the way is no slouch technically (or in the field of musical joy), and I think you would agree with me on that. Well, maybe that was your intention and clearly obvious from the start to everyone but me!? As evident in your review both CIEMs and UIEMs in general have their advantages and disadvantages. I point out the advantages and disadvantages in my review. Yes you do, and that’s why I was so careful to mention it. I simply added a few important advantages and disadvantages that I thought were missing in the review. I would like to add the following comments to your review in this respect.

  1. It is more common that audio stores carry universals (than customs) that can be tested and compared before they are bought. True, but do all those stores carry the K3003? I am asking because I don't know since there are no stores I know of in my area that carry anything to listen to. I guess it depends on where you live. The store I can recommend if you are in Stockholm, Sweden is Audio Reference (Click here). They carry many European high end headphones and UIEMs (no CIEMs though), and you can try them as much and for as long as you like, but you cannot not borrow them. Since Stockholm is a comparatively small city I would guess most major cities in Europe have at least one store of that caliber.

  2. Comfort, sound and isolation of CIEMs (at least in my experience) depend on the position of the facial muscles and the body as a whole. Reading your review I see a possibility that readers with no previous experience of CIEMs may be lead to believe that CIEMs are the be‑all and end‑all in IEM design. For those readers I think it may be of value to know that acrylic CIEMs are rigid, very rigid (think glass), while ear canals are not. This, at least for me, limits the use of CIEMs. As soon as I move my facial muscles (like when smiling) or deviate too much from the position of the body as it were when the impressions were made, like when laying down on my back in bed (my preferred position when listening to music), the shape of the ear canals changes and consequently affects the isolation, sound and comfort. I would say that (at least for me) CIEMs are ruled out whenever I’m not keeping my head in the upright position it was when the impressions were made. In this respect I find the flexibility of UIEMs to be a major advantage. Interesting, and this is the first time I have heard someone say anything about facial muscle position. I often lay down and listen before I go to bed, and I have slept in CIEMs before with no issues. I now realize that small fit issues can change sound and comfort. For example, I shaved down a CIEM recently and one channel was just right while the other was slightly larger and the sound of the tighter fitting CIEM wasn't as good as the just right one. I have experienced many other. No, I don’t think it’s a matter of fit! I’m more likely to believe it is a characteristic of CIEMs in general. UIEMs are simply more flexible, and as already stated I think that’s a major advantage over CIEMs. It would certainly be interesting to hear if there’s anyone else noticing a change of comfort, isolation and/or sound when for example lying down on your back in bed.
  3. It’s a bit of a shame that the stock ear tips didn’t work for you as it hard to completely ignore the suspicion that it might somehow have affected your perception of some of the AKG K3003’s sonic abilities. The AKG K3003 was no doubt designed to work very well with the stock ear tips. As reported by some, the stock ear tips seem to work very well for comfort, isolation, and sound. Anyway, what I want to say is that what happened to you in this respect probably wouldn’t be the typical situation or even a somewhat common problem for most buyers of the AKG K3003. Believe me, I tried to get the stock ear tips to work, but due to how deep they have to go in to create a seal and the housing shape, they just don't work at all for me unless I want pain. If I was a consumer, the fit would return them, and if I was an average Amazon reviewer, give them 1 star. I haven't checked into the tip issue, but I am not the only one I know of. Plus, I mentioned how the sound changed from the stock tips to other tips. If you were an average amazon reviewer you’d give it 5 stars! (Click here) You do admit having very large ear canals so I’d be very surprised if the fit issue would be anywhere near typical.

What’s problematic the way I see it is that there is a very real risk that people who are looking for a high end reference UIEM are a lot less likely to even try the AKG K3003 after having read your review as it in its entirety conveys a feeling of the AKG K3003 being inferior to CIEMs in general, sound-wise and otherwise. If so, I think that’s really sad! One evident example is the comment of "up late". People PM me all the time and I recommend what I think fits their wants, needs, and preferences. I have recommended the K3003, 334, UE900, SM3, FX700, etc. to people that were thinking of CIEMs because they fit what they were looking for better. My goal is to recommend something that will make the person happy. If you were on the lookout for a high end reference UIEM, would you be considering trying the AKG K3003 after having read your own review? I guess not, and that is what sparked me. I would have loved seeing at least something like this in the conclusion of your review, because I feel the AKG K3003 deserves it; “If you know, for one or another reason that CIEMs aren’t for you and you are on the lookout for a high end reference UIEM, then don’t take my word for it, listen to the AKG K3003 for yourself because it may just be what you are looking for.” Of course, you a free to think and write in any way you like about the AKG K3003, but that would’ve been my wish, because, and as I already said, it definitely and at least deserves to be listened to.

I have counted the number of times you return to the AKG K3003’s “coherence issue” in your review. Guess how many times? 10 times! I only have a vague notion of what is meant by coherence in general and what you mean by it in regard to the AKG K3003 and hybrid CIEMs in particular, so if you could elaborate on this in some more detail and perhaps give me an example of where this is “apparent“ when compared to my high priced all BA driver CIEM, the EarSonics EM6. I’d really appreciate it! The note presentation from the bass driver is different than that of the BA drivers, and I heard a bit of a dip where the crossover occurred, even with the stock tips. Dynamic and BA drivers use different types of force (Maxwell force for BAs vs. Lorentz force for dynamic drivers) to generate sound, and therefore they typically sound different. An exception is the 334 bass which to me sounds more like a dynamic driver than the Rooth LS5X, which is a hybrid and has very tight but capable bass.

As far as something that is readily apparent, different people can focus on different potential issues. I am very sensitive to soundstage presentation and 3D space for example, but I am not sure how you hear things. You could try to listen for the issues, but there is no need to. My ratings for the EM4 in coherence are 80 while the K3003 is 45 with the reference port, the TS842 (hybrid CIEM) is a 30, and the 334 scores an 80. The LSX5 demo is the most coherent hybrid I have heard and rates at a 60. Thanks for elaborating on this. It was instructive. In what musical genres is coherency inconsistency most easily heard or detected? I’d guess classical? After my four hours with the AKG K3003 I thought it was the most coherent IEM I’ve ever heard. Heavens, it was fantastic! I’ll let you and other interested readers know what I think in a couple of weeks.

I am not sure what I was responding to, but I believe I was saying the high boost port has the same bass and midrange as the reference port. Yes, that’s what I thought. Thanks for clarifying!

Quote:

Originally Posted by average_joe

But, when I jump into critical listening mode, the K3003 isn’t perfect, and there are some issues that jump out at me. This is not to say the issues will jump out at you, but they do to me because I am a frequent high end custom IEM user!

Is there some way you can rephrase that to make its meaning (which I don’t really get) more clear? If I have been listening to my high end CIEMs, the issues with the K3003 really stand out to me. I can, however, just put the K3003 in after a long day and enjoy :) I’m very, very glad to hear!

post #69 of 77
I vote white as the next colour.
post #70 of 77
Lol! Lighten up guys they're only earphones. smily_headphones1.gif
post #71 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by up late View Post

Lol! Lighten up guys they're only earphones. smily_headphones1.gif

 

A well renowned artist was once asked to define what great art is and what poor art is. He pondered the question for a while and then replied: “Poor art leaves most people indifferent; they don’t take much notice of it. Great art leaves no one indifferent; they either hate it or love it.”

 

I can think of no other headphone that has stirred up so much emotion as the AKG K3003. By the definition above, it must be because it is a great piece of art! wink.gif

post #72 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post

 

A well renowned artist was once asked to define what great art is and what poor art is. He pondered the question for a while and then replied: “Poor art leaves most people indifferent; they don’t take much notice of it. Great art leaves no one indifferent; they either hate it or love it.”

 

I can think of no other headphone that has stirred up so much emotion as the AKG K3003. By the definition above, it must be because it is a great piece of art! wink.gif

Nice , i agree with youbeerchug.gif

post #73 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by mahesh View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post

 

A well renowned artist was once asked to define what great art is and what poor art is. He pondered the question for a while and then replied: “Poor art leaves most people indifferent; they don’t take much notice of it. Great art leaves no one indifferent; they either hate it or love it.”

 

I can think of no other headphone that has stirred up so much emotion as the AKG K3003. By the definition above, it must be because it is a great piece of art! wink.gif

Nice , i agree with youbeerchug.gif

Thanks! beerchug.gif

post #74 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aero Dynamik View Post

Thank you AJ for your lengthy and detailed reply to my post! Much appreciated!

 

Hi Aero Dynamic, thank you for asking your questions and seeking clarification.

 

I do get the distinct impression that despite your clinical approach and praise of the AKG K3003, you are after all promoting CIEMs in general both sound-wise and otherwise before the AKG K3003? They perform better technically, and I stated as much. Technical performance is important (and interesting) to a certain degree, but at the end of the day it is the IEM bringing me the most musical joy that is the winner, and the AKG K3003 brings me a lot more musical joy than my one and only CIEM, the EarSonics EM6, which by the way is no slouch technically (or in the field of musical joy), and I think you would agree with me on that. Well, maybe that was your intention and clearly obvious from the start to everyone but me!? As evident in your review both CIEMs and UIEMs in general have their advantages and disadvantages. I point out the advantages and disadvantages in my review. Yes you do, and that’s why I was so careful to mention it. I simply added a few important advantages and disadvantages that I thought were missing in the review. I would like to add the following comments to your review in this respect.

  1. It is more common that audio stores carry universals (than customs) that can be tested and compared before they are bought. True, but do all those stores carry the K3003? I am asking because I don't know since there are no stores I know of in my area that carry anything to listen to. I guess it depends on where you live. The store I can recommend if you are in Stockholm, Sweden is Audio Reference (Click here). They carry many European high end headphones and UIEMs (no CIEMs though), and you can try them as much and for as long as you like, but you cannot not borrow them. Since Stockholm is a comparatively small city I would guess most major cities in Europe have at least one store of that caliber.  You are lucky, but I am not sure how lucky most others are.  From what I know there are certain areas where there are plenty of places to audition and others that are scarce.

  2. Comfort, sound and isolation of CIEMs (at least in my experience) depend on the position of the facial muscles and the body as a whole. Reading your review I see a possibility that readers with no previous experience of CIEMs may be lead to believe that CIEMs are the be‑all and end‑all in IEM design. For those readers I think it may be of value to know that acrylic CIEMs are rigid, very rigid (think glass), while ear canals are not. This, at least for me, limits the use of CIEMs. As soon as I move my facial muscles (like when smiling) or deviate too much from the position of the body as it were when the impressions were made, like when laying down on my back in bed (my preferred position when listening to music), the shape of the ear canals changes and consequently affects the isolation, sound and comfort. I would say that (at least for me) CIEMs are ruled out whenever I’m not keeping my head in the upright position it was when the impressions were made. In this respect I find the flexibility of UIEMs to be a major advantage. Interesting, and this is the first time I have heard someone say anything about facial muscle position. I often lay down and listen before I go to bed, and I have slept in CIEMs before with no issues. I now realize that small fit issues can change sound and comfort. For example, I shaved down a CIEM recently and one channel was just right while the other was slightly larger and the sound of the tighter fitting CIEM wasn't as good as the just right one. I have experienced many other. No, I don’t think it’s a matter of fit! I’m more likely to believe it is a characteristic of CIEMs in general. UIEMs are simply more flexible, and as already stated I think that’s a major advantage over CIEMs. It would certainly be interesting to hear if there’s anyone else noticing a change of comfort, isolation and/or sound when for example lying down on your back in bed. I can't say I agree with the statement for the general population as most reviews and people I converse with think a custom mold, when fit properly, if more comfortable.  I have helped people that couldn't wear universals because of irritation decide on a CIEM and have no problems.  There are always exceptions, but from my data points, CIEMs are more comfortable for most.
  3. It’s a bit of a shame that the stock ear tips didn’t work for you as it hard to completely ignore the suspicion that it might somehow have affected your perception of some of the AKG K3003’s sonic abilities. The AKG K3003 was no doubt designed to work very well with the stock ear tips. As reported by some, the stock ear tips seem to work very well for comfort, isolation, and sound. Anyway, what I want to say is that what happened to you in this respect probably wouldn’t be the typical situation or even a somewhat common problem for most buyers of the AKG K3003. Believe me, I tried to get the stock ear tips to work, but due to how deep they have to go in to create a seal and the housing shape, they just don't work at all for me unless I want pain. If I was a consumer, the fit would return them, and if I was an average Amazon reviewer, give them 1 star. I haven't checked into the tip issue, but I am not the only one I know of. Plus, I mentioned how the sound changed from the stock tips to other tips. If you were an average amazon reviewer you’d give it 5 stars! (Click here) I don't have the link handy, but I have read reviews like "great for the price, but not as good as my HD800," two stars for a $200 product.  I have seen 1 star reviews with praise and even a 3 or 4 star review of a carbon monoxide detector that said "saved my kids life."  Saved a kids life and was not a 5 star review? You do admit having very large ear canals so I’d be very surprised if the fit issue would be anywhere near typical.  While my ear canals may be large, I am no freak of nature. I can list others on here that have similarly sized, or even larger ear canals.  Steve Guttenberg supposedly has large ear canals.  I have tried over a hundred of universal IEMs and only about 5 have given me fit issues.

What’s problematic the way I see it is that there is a very real risk that people who are looking for a high end reference UIEM are a lot less likely to even try the AKG K3003 after having read your review as it in its entirety conveys a feeling of the AKG K3003 being inferior to CIEMs in general, sound-wise and otherwise. If so, I think that’s really sad! One evident example is the comment of "up late". People PM me all the time and I recommend what I think fits their wants, needs, and preferences. I have recommended the K3003, 334, UE900, SM3, FX700, etc. to people that were thinking of CIEMs because they fit what they were looking for better. My goal is to recommend something that will make the person happy. If you were on the lookout for a high end reference UIEM, would you be considering trying the AKG K3003 after having read your own review? I guess not, and that is what sparked me. I would have loved seeing at least something like this in the conclusion of your review, because I feel the AKG K3003 deserves it; “If you know, for one or another reason that CIEMs aren’t for you and you are on the lookout for a high end reference UIEM, then don’t take my word for it, listen to the AKG K3003 for yourself because it may just be what you are looking for.” Of course, you a free to think and write in any way you like about the AKG K3003, but that would’ve been my wish, because, and as I already said, it definitely and at least deserves to be listened to. I reread my summary and I would be interested in the K3003.  Of course, the fit part kills it for me and I would know that. 

I have counted the number of times you return to the AKG K3003’s “coherence issue” in your review. Guess how many times? 10 times! I only have a vague notion of what is meant by coherence in general and what you mean by it in regard to the AKG K3003 and hybrid CIEMs in particular, so if you could elaborate on this in some more detail and perhaps give me an example of where this is “apparent“ when compared to my high priced all BA driver CIEM, the EarSonics EM6. I’d really appreciate it! The note presentation from the bass driver is different than that of the BA drivers, and I heard a bit of a dip where the crossover occurred, even with the stock tips. Dynamic and BA drivers use different types of force (Maxwell force for BAs vs. Lorentz force for dynamic drivers) to generate sound, and therefore they typically sound different. An exception is the 334 bass which to me sounds more like a dynamic driver than the Rooth LS5X, which is a hybrid and has very tight but capable bass.

As far as something that is readily apparent, different people can focus on different potential issues. I am very sensitive to soundstage presentation and 3D space for example, but I am not sure how you hear things. You could try to listen for the issues, but there is no need to. My ratings for the EM4 in coherence are 80 while the K3003 is 45 with the reference port, the TS842 (hybrid CIEM) is a 30, and the 334 scores an 80. The LSX5 demo is the most coherent hybrid I have heard and rates at a 60. Thanks for elaborating on this. It was instructive. In what musical genres is coherency inconsistency most easily heard or detected? I’d guess classical? After my four hours with the AKG K3003 I thought it was the most coherent IEM I’ve ever heard. Heavens, it was fantastic! I’ll let you and other interested readers know what I think in a couple of weeks. There are no special genres as any genre that has both bass and midrange/treble.  Do bass notes sound the same speed and thickness as midrange/treble notes and do the detail levels are similar to you?  From what I know of the EM6 (I have only heard the EM4), the bass is more pronounced, and if it is anything like the EM3 Pro I have, it isn't the most detailed or clean/clear bass, so I can see that there could be some similarities.

I am not sure what I was responding to, but I believe I was saying the high boost port has the same bass and midrange as the reference port. Yes, that’s what I thought. Thanks for clarifying!

Quote:

Originally Posted by average_joe

But, when I jump into critical listening mode, the K3003 isn’t perfect, and there are some issues that jump out at me. This is not to say the issues will jump out at you, but they do to me because I am a frequent high end custom IEM user!

Is there some way you can rephrase that to make its meaning (which I don’t really get) more clear? If I have been listening to my high end CIEMs, the issues with the K3003 really stand out to me. I can, however, just put the K3003 in after a long day and enjoy :) I’m very, very glad to hear! The bottom line is I thought my review states what I meant it to say...the K3003 is an excellent universal both technically and from an enjoyment standpoint with other great attributes such as build quality.  However, it doesn't outperform my top tier CIEMs in technical ability.  Ultimately, I always recommend people buy based off their preferred sound signature and needs.

 

 

Wow, this is getting long.  beerchug.gif

post #75 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post

 

Wow, this is getting long.  beerchug.gif

True, but I've made my points, so I'm good, and I would guess you are too!? Cheers! beerchug.gif

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