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DREAM EARZ Alternate Appreciation Thread

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

At the end of April this year, I sent my es5s in to Mitch of Dream Earz so that he could improve the bass by swapping bass drivers. He is a true asset to the head-fi community, and I don't know too many professionals willing to mod IEMs.  The end product is very impressive (review in next post), and communication has been excellent- usually within the day, unless he's touring with his band.

 

I believe in tipping for personal services, but when I tried to tip him, he declined, saying that he was happy that I had referred his services to someone else.  I figured I'd do one better now, and make a Dream Earz appreciation thread.  So here it is!

 

Edit: name changed to alternate appreciation thread- didn't realize earlier that the Aud-5x review thread was for appreciation also.. post in either!

http://www.head-fi.org/t/579760/dream-earz-aud-5x-custom-iem-review-pure-value-565-also-the-appreciation-thread


Edited by ChrisSC - 6/6/12 at 12:30am
post #2 of 33
Thread Starter 

So Mitch at Dream Earz modded my es5s...

 

                                           ES5+ Review

 

Before:  Westone es5s are a three way passive cross-over custom IEM that utilize a CI for bass, and 2 dual TWFKs (internally crossed over) for mids and highs.  They have two sound tubes- one connected to the CI and another to the TWFKs.

IMG_0645 2.jpg                                IMG_0646.jpg

- The top BA is the CI driver, below it are the TWFKs                                - Notice all the empty space on the right-hand side                                                                 

After:  The es5+ still uses the TWFKs for mids/highs, but replaces the es5's proprietary CI22955 with a CI2955 for bass and adds dual vented Sonion3800s for sub-bass.  These are the same BAs used by Mitch in the Aud-5x, and he tuned them to give these their same bass signature.  My es5+'s are IEMs with 7 drivers, 4-way passive crossover, and three sound tubes- one connected to the TWFKs, one to the 2955, and one to the 3800s.

IMG_0714.jpg                                IMG_0715.jpg

- you can see the CI2955 in the upper right, Sonion3800s                         - you can make out the three sound tubes-

left of it, and barely see the TWFKs at a 45 degree angle                         they almost look like skeleton fingers

from the sound bores                                                                         - you can also see an air bubble flaw

- you can see that there are now 3 sound bores                                      near the tip

- what's written in red vertically is the first letter of my

first name and my full last name- ignore that

 

Special thanks to Average Joe, Kunlun, Shotgun Shane, and Evilcalypse.  I've bounced many an idea off them, and this wouldn't have been made without their input.

 

1) the Annoying stuff you should probably read:

My relationship to Dream Earz:  I am in no way affiliated with them or Mitch, and have no interest in writing this, other than because he was absolutely great to work with.  If you disagree with something I've written, or have had a negative experience with Dream Earz, this is the place to publicize it.  Please air it out so others can make an informed decision.

 

My biases You should take any review with a healthy amount of skepticism.  Here are 3 good reasons for this one:

1.  There's no way for me to A/B compare the es5s to the es5+'s.  For 8 months, I listened to my es5s almost exclusively, and became very familiar with their sound signature.  However, a little over a month passed from time I sent in my es5s for modding and the time I received my es5+s, and sonic memory is extremely faulty.

2.  I went into this having read Average Joe's review of the Aud-5x.  What particularly struck me was this: "The aud-5X has more sub-bass capability vs. any BA custom IEM I have heard priced below the JH16.  Texture and tone are very good with a very natural decay while still being able to offer exceptional punch and good speed depending on the type of bass note being reproduced... The combination of speed and punch with the JH16 gives it a uniqueness to the bass that the 5X approaches but still doesn't reach.  The JH16 also doesn't sound quite as natural with acoustic drums as the 5X has a more natural decay, so both have their strengths."  This gave me a preconceived notion of how the es5+'s bass would be.
3.  I really wanted these to sound good.  As far as I know, I'm the first to try modding top-tier IEMs, and this was a substantial risk. Desire for improvement can shape impressions of whether or not one actually occurred.

 

Source:  iPhone 4.  Why?  Because most head-fi'ers can easily get to know its native sound signature.  They either have one, can try a friend's, or can go to an Apple Store and bring their headphones to listen with.  It performs decently, too- with both the es5s, and the es5+'s.  While either IEM scales up nicely, even with an iPhone 4, I don't feel like I'm losing much.

 

File type: 320kbhps. Why? Because I use my iPhone for other things, honestly, I don't have the space for apple lossless.  Just like the source, the IEMs scale nicely with lossless files music, but I don't feel like I'm losing too much with lossy 320.

 

Burn-in:  the e5s had hundreds of hours logged.  My es5+s probably have now somewhere between 80-100.  I didn't hear much of a change in sound with either.

 

Listening volume:  I calibrate my critical listening volume by listening to talk radio and adjusting the volume until the person's voice sounds as if we'd be having a normal conversation about five feet from each other.  Music goes on after.

 

2) the Build Review

Shell quality:  The es5+s have almost the same level of build quality as the es5s, which is very good.  Cables fit flush to the monitors, and the connectors are not exposed at all.  There are air bubbles on both tips, and the bores could look cleaner.

 

Durability: These things are solid.  As you can see from the first picture, the shell is particularly thick. Much thicker than my original es5s, and Mitch wrote me that his shells are about twice as thick as the average IEM.  They also have a half-silicon fill to further improve durability and isolation. 

 

Isolation:  I believe its slightly better than with the es5s.  I can have the TV on at normal volume, and my iPhone's volume at the first notch, and I can't hear the TV.

 

Comfort:  Surprisingly, just the same!  I thought the vinyl tip of the es5's would be more comfortable than the es5+'s acrylic tip, but I can't tell the difference.  I attribute this to getting really great original impressions, such that the es5's tips never really had to heat-conform to my ear canal shape.

 

3) the Sound Review

Overall signature:  I found the es5s not bass-light but bass-neutral, and now I find the es5+'s bass slightly elevated- not enough to satisfy bass heads.  Without looking at graphs, I would say that the es5+'s bass is slightly forward, mids are even more forward, and the highs are recessed.  The coherency is just as good as before, and the instrument separation is slightly better because the bass has better definition.  The overall signature of the es5+ is even more musical than the es5's, while retaining and even improving overall clarity.  

 

Highs/mids: Mitch didn't touch the TWFKs, and they sound exactly the same.  There are plenty of reviews on the es5 out there that do them justice.  Here's my favorite because it also addressess their shortcomings: http://www.head-fi.org/t/602246/westone-es5-vs-heir-audio-8-a-the-5-driver-vs-8-driver-shootout

 

Bass:  This was a revelation.  After receiving my es5+s, I'm done buying BA-based IEMs (well, never-say-never), and so the bass I've got here is the most technically proficient bass I'll likely ever hear from balanced armatures.  I found the es5's bass surprisingly slow hitting for being BA and that, along with it's signature not being bright, made it a poor choice for speed metal, punk, other faster rock genres.  By contrast, the es5+'s bass is tight and punchy, and it performs well with anything I throw at it.  I had never really thought that bass can be detailed, but these really bring it.  Still it knows when to say when.  It's there when its supposed to be, but you won't be hearing bass reverb from fingers plucking a guitar.  Best of all, the mids are still the star of the show.  With my es5s, I found that EQ'ing the bass up would cause the bass to hit deeper, but also wider.  With these, there's no mid bass boost, no bleeding into the midrange.  Despite the improved bass, mids remain so warm and liquid its like an ears jacuzzi!

 

Soundstage:  Its even better.  I believe that because there's more depth and texture in the bass, there's more depth to the overall soundstage.  This is quite amazing, considering that soundstage was previously one of the es5's highlights.  It retains the same width.  If I had to describe it, it makes good recordings sound as if you're surrounded by the performance- occupying the same space as the singer who's in the center of the stage, the bassist and guitarist(s) are a few feet to the left and right, and the drummer's a few feet further back.  They project an intimate and small venue presentation. 

 

4) Conclusion

While I don't have any other top-tier BA IEMs to compare to, I can't imagine another BA-based IEM giving significantly better bass than what mine offer.  The best aspects of the es5 remain, while the one that I found to be a weakness is improved.  It's not like an exponential improvement, because the es5's bass was never bad, but this modification has taken my es5s to another level that I didn't know existed.  If the es5s were a 9/10 before, I would give them a 9.5 now.

 

Good work Mitch, what's next?


Edited by ChrisSC - 6/6/12 at 10:09pm
post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 

Reserved for my 2nd Dream Earz customization project...

post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 

Reserved for #3


Edited by ChrisSC - 6/5/12 at 5:45pm
post #5 of 33

I'm a little confused... the CI driver usually used for bass is the CI22955... what did you replace?

 

EDIT: So you swapped out a proprietary "Westone-spec" CI for a generic CI-22955 (not saying the proprietary one's necessarily better than the generic), am I following correctly?


Edited by tomscy2000 - 6/5/12 at 4:04pm
post #6 of 33

Gonna try to do something similar also :DD!

post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 

Hey Tomscy: sorry, you caught me while I was editing what I had written.  The CI22955 was replaced with a Sonion 2955 and dual Sonion 3800s .  Its in the review.


Edited by ChrisSC - 6/5/12 at 5:38pm
post #8 of 33
Quote:
On the right:

- you can see the Sonion 2955 at the top right

- you can see the Sonion3800s at the top left

- you can see that there are now 3 sound bores

- you can barely see the dual TWFKs bottom left of the 2955

 

The es5+'s still use the TWFKs for mids/highs replace the es5's CI with a Sonion 2955 for bass and dual vented Sonion 3800's for sub-bass.  These are the same BAs used by Mitch in the Aud-5x, and he tuned them to give my es5's their same bass signature.  My es5+'s are now 7 driver, 4-way passive crossover, with three sound tubes- one connected to the TWFKs, one connected to the 2955, and one connected to the 3800s.

 

Looks like you added in a Sonion 3800, rather than swapping anything out. BTW, AFAIK, there is no Sonion 2955 driver; I think you're getting confused. It's hard to make it out from the pictures, but it looks like a Knowles CI22955 that I mentioned before.

post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 

In an email I got from Mitch last week about the final product, he said he swapped in 2955s for the CIs to better match the TWFKs.  I thought they were made by Sonion, but maybe they're Knowles or someone else?  I'll edit as soon as I find out.

post #10 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisSC View Post  In an email I got from Mitch last week about the final product, he said he swapped in 2955s for the CIs to better match the TWFKs.  I thought they were made by Sonion, but maybe they're Knowles or someone else?  I'll edit as soon as I find out.

 

He probably meant that he swapped out the proprietary Westone-spec CI for a generic CI (22955); they most likely have different impedance characteristics. You can check yourself; Knowles drivers have a 'K' logo on it, while Sonion drivers have their 'S' logo. See if the driver says CI-22955-000 (or something to that effect). Sonion 2000 series drivers are always 20XX, so '2955' doesn't make sense.

 

Anyways, it's not really that important. Glad you enjoy it. It's now more of an AUD-5X with an extra TWFK and ES5 frequency matching.

post #11 of 33
Thread Starter 

Exactly.  Thanks for clarifying, that makes sense about the CI swap, and yes, it does have a K in front of it- I'll add that its a CI the review.  Maybe it is more like an Aud-5x with an extra TWFK tuned like the es5 than an es5 with different bass drivers, because the bass driver taken out was proprietary.  Whatever it is, it sounds amazing to my ears!  Thanks for the well-wishes, its certainly is enjoyable!

post #12 of 33

Glad it worked out, seems awesome!

post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 

@ Joe: I wish there were a way for you to evaluate it- I'd love to hear your thoughts and comparisons!

post #14 of 33

Why are you guys still awake is my response?

post #15 of 33
Thread Starter 

ghhh...girlfriend's out drinking with friends so I gotta wait up for her + NBA highlights on TV over the Miami Heat loss (I really hate Lebron James) + slight obsessive-compulsive disorder over editing my first review = me right now tongue.gif

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