I'm looking to buy my first custom IEM and would appreciate advice from people who have tried at least one, and preferably more than one, of the following:
Unique Melody Miracle
Earsonics EM4 (or EM6)
I currently own Sennheiser HD 25 II-1 headphones, which I like a lot. Previously I owned Future Sonics Atrio M5s (loved the bass; disliked everything else about them; hated the recessed mids and lack of clarity) and Etymotic Research ER6is (loved the isolation, sparkle and detail but lamented the lack of bass).
I found the flaws with the Atrios and ER6is to be irritating, and if I'm going to drop a grand on a custom IEM then I don't want any flaws/regrets.
My listening tastes are eclectic and tend to vary according to the phones and sources I am using - I tend(ed) to listen to bass-heavy tracks with the Sennies / Atrios, but I enjoyed string-based classical more with the Etys. I enjoy classic rock, hard rock, pop, classical, jazz, lounge and contemporary rock. I listen to music on my laptop at home and on a Sansa Fuze when out and about. I have a cheap amp (FiiO E5) which I prefer not to use because of the added bulk. I might buy an iPad when the next model is introduced (in 2013), especially if it supports FLAC.
I've read reviews for all three of my shortlisted IEMs, but none by reviewers who have tried two or three of them. My main source for the Earsonics is the rave review written by average_joe. I've read two rave reviews of the Unique Melodies which suggest that they are quite similar to the Earsonics in terms of audio quality. I've read quite a few professional reviews of the Westones, and all were very positive.
Some things I'm looking for:
1) Isolation is important to me, since I tend to use IEMs on public transport. I really enjoyed the ER6i's ability to isolate me from my surroundings. Reviews suggest that the Westones might be best in this department, since their shells expand in the ear. Apparently the Unique Melodies do not insert so far into the ear, and therefore do not isolate as well. I have no information on the Earsonics.
2) I don't want recessed mids or highs, although I do enjoy strong bass on occasion. Reviews suggest that all three phones have fairly neutral response, although the Westones and Unique Melodies may be a little light on bass.
3) I like a good soundstage. Reviews suggest that the Earsonics and Unique Melodies are excellent in this regard. I have no information on the Westone's soundstage.
4) Price is something of an issue. I live in Malaysia, and it appears that I can purchase the Westones and Unique Melodies through local merchants for roughly similar prices, but might have some hassles with the Earsonics because they would have to be shipped from France and I might get stung by Customs. Apparently the Unique Melodies are occasionally offered at discount prices in Malaysia, but I have no information on what those discount prices are.
5) Build issues. All three customs are apparently very well built, but the Chinese-made Unique Melodies appear to have the edge here in terms of general quality and bundled accessories. However, the cable on the Unique Melodies is apparently quite short between the split and the earpieces, and I have an enormous head. It's possible that I would find the short length to be irritating (as I did on an earlier set of phones).
I've eliminated some other custom IEMs from my shortlist for various reasons. Spiral Ears do not ship to Malaysia. Jerry Harvey Audio IEMs are very expensive and apparently inferior to my three shortlisted customs according to some direct comparisons I have read. The ACS T1 seems pretty good but also not as good as the shortlisted options in head-to-head comparisons. The Ultimate Ears Custom In-Ear Reference Monitors sound a bit too clinical for me.
I would appreciate any advice, guys.
Thanks in advance for your help.