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Need IEM recommendation (~$150 budget)

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

I've been spending the past 5 hours reading up on IEMs and browsing various recommendation threads on this forum, but now I'm in a dilemma... hence this thread.

 

I'm looking for a good-quality IEM in around the ~$150 range, which I will be using outside and in travel. So, isolation and comfort are pretty important to me.

 

When it comes to sound signature, I believe I'm more of a mid-to-bass head. I like midrange focus because of the way it brings out instruments in orchestral works, but I barely ever listen to vocals. Bass is good as long as it isn't stronger than the mids.

 

I currently own the KOSS Pro DJ100 and am enjoying their sound signature very much. I decided to look for IEMs with a similar signature, so naturally, my first glance fell upon the HiFiMan RE262 as they seemed to get a lot of praise on these forums. I had almost decided that they were the perfect pick, but then I noticed the impedance, and along with that read some opinions which suggested that their sound signature might only make them good for a specific set of genres.

 

Now, if I only listened to classical, that wouldn't be a problem. But my music preferences are slightly all over the place; they can be mostly summed up by a mix of orchestral, electronic and ambient. Here are a few examples; will the 282 perform well with these types of music?

 

 

Anyways, this question made me lean towards more neutral headphones (which I also enjoy), and I have considered the VSonic GR07... however, I have heard that they have a treble spike, and those I find hard to tolerate.

 

So, to sum it up, I need a recommendation on a pair of neutral or midhead phones around $150 and, preferably, easy to drive.

 

Thanks in advance,

Zloy loup.

post #2 of 36

RE-262 is difficult to drive and  needs a good amp to drive such as FiiO E6. Otherwise, you wont get the expected sound quality that the reviewers gave.

 

Yamaha EPH-100 (151$ at amazon) suits you perfect if you are a bass head, it has good impact and depth in bass on mids and with highs very non fatiguing and having excellent Isolation than others in its price range.

 

GR07 has some sibilance only at higher volumes, but its treble is very balanced and its the perfect IEM for long time listening sounding very natural.

 

Ultimate Triple Fi 10 (169$ at amazon) is also a good alternative. It is considered to be an upgrade to GR 07 in mid-bass and   detailing in mids.

 

I used to be the same situation as you are some days back and I learnt this stuff from recommendations and reviews from head-fi. Ask Joker or ClieOS on their review threads to get a perfect one for your needs.


Edited by hitme987 - 8/8/12 at 5:13am
post #3 of 36

A good mid-centric IEM in your price range is the Creative Aurvana IE3 which is $100.  They have very lush mids along with pretty good bass and the bass sounds even better EQ'ed you a bit.

 

The EPH-100 would also be good though its not mid-centric but they do have very clean and detailed mids.  The bass is very good with nice impact and depth, they thump pretty good. 

post #4 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hitme987 View Post

RE-262 is difficult to drive and  needs a good amp to drive such as FiiO E6. Otherwise, you wont get the expected sound quality that the reviewers gave.

 

So, you think that the 262s would sound better with an E6? I've heard mixed reviews about it. I can afford something like an E11, but the main reason I am skeptical about it is because am concerned that it wouldn't be enough to get the fullest out of the 262s; am I wrong?

 

 

 

Quote:
GR07 has some sibilance only at higher volumes, but its treble is very balanced and its the perfect IEM for long time listening sounding very natural.

 

 

If that is true then I might seriously consider it as I usually don't listen at high volumes. :) Does it need an amp?

 

 

 

Quote:
I used to be the same situation as you are some days back and I learnt this stuff from recommendations and reviews from head-fi. Ask Joker or ClieOS on their review threads to get a perfect one for your needs.

 

Thanks for the tip, I'll be sure to try to check out those threads as well. For now I think I will buy the 282 and see how it sounds; maybe that'll help me figure out what I'm looking for.

post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 

Another thing - I can extend my budget to $200 if no amp is needed. :)

 

What do you guys think of the Westone 2?


Edited by zloy loup - 8/8/12 at 12:39pm
post #6 of 36

The Sony EX600, HiFiMan RE262, Atrio MG7, GR07 or EPH-100 are all between $100 & $200 and are either balanced or more mid-centric.  

 

The Rockit Sounds R-50 would also be a good choice and is me favorite IEM with its balanced and very detailed sound.  The bass has good impact and depth with nice decay time but has less bass impact then the others mentioned though I wouldn't call them bass light either.  Soundstage is nice and wide with good depth and height and they have a nice airy quality as well, also some of the best imaging and separation I've heard to.  For only $120 they punch well above they're price point and compete with sets costing 2 and even 3 times as much.  You can find reviews in the R-50 thread and in the Head Gear section under universal IEM's.

post #7 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Techno Kid View Post

The Sony EX600, HiFiMan RE262, Atrio MG7, GR07 or EPH-100 are all between $100 & $200 and are either balanced or more mid-centric.  

 

The Rockit Sounds R-50 would also be a good choice and is me favorite IEM with its balanced and very detailed sound.  The bass has good impact and depth with nice decay time but has less bass impact then the others mentioned though I wouldn't call them bass light either.  Soundstage is nice and wide with good depth and height and they have a nice airy quality as well, also some of the best imaging and separation I've heard to.  For only $120 they punch well above they're price point and compete with sets costing 2 and even 3 times as much.  You can find reviews in the R-50 thread and in the Head Gear section under universal IEM's.

The EPH-100 seems like an interesting choice, but joker's review suggests that they might not be a good fit for a person with narrow ear canals. I don't really know how wide my canals are, but I am a young (17 y.o.) female, so I suspect that they would at least be at the smaller end of the spectrum.

 

How do the R-50s compare to the rest of the bunch in terms of SQ? If it means better SQ I would rather stretch my budget and get something more expensive, because I am not planning on upgrading (maybe only in the very distant future). This is why I have considered getting the Westone W2; they don't seem to be the best in terms of quality/price ratio, but if they are still better than the $150 headphones that I have considered so far, then I will take them. $250 is the most I am willing to spend, and I want to get the best SQ, isolation, and comfort for that money without considering more costly options.

 

If anyone has an opinion on the W2, please leave it here. I would be very grateful. :)

post #8 of 36
Thread Starter 

Well, after some more reading, I think I have finally narrowed down my choices to a few IEM models:

 

RE-262

TDK BA-200

GR07

EPH-100

and possibly the R-50 that Techno Kid had suggested

 

One question - will the GR07 also require an amp (using an ipod nano)?

 

Also, RE-262s will be arriving tomorrow along with an e11 amp. I will be testing them out to see if they are worth the reduced compactness.

post #9 of 36

Gr07 sounds fine ampless. The RE262 sounds fantastic with my Sansa Clip Zip + Fiio E6 and i have no doubt your setup(ipod Nano+ Fiio E11) will sound better than mine.

post #10 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by zloy loup View Post

Well, after some more reading, I think I have finally narrowed down my choices to a few IEM models:

 

RE-262

TDK BA-200

GR07

EPH-100

and possibly the R-50 that Techno Kid had suggested

 

One question - will the GR07 also require an amp (using an ipod nano)?

 

Also, RE-262s will be arriving tomorrow along with an e11 amp. I will be testing them out to see if they are worth the reduced compactness.

Any status report on your Re-262/e11 combo?  I'm about to buy a pair of IEM's and have basically the same short list you mentioned.

post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ethanw View Post

Any status report on your Re-262/e11 combo?  I'm about to buy a pair of IEM's and have basically the same short list you mentioned.

Yes! The RE262 arrived late but I was still able to burn them in and listen (along with the GR07) before my scheduled flight that week. I wish I had the time to audition the other headphones in my list as well.

 

The RE262 does need an amp to sound good, and with what I could tell from my limited experience with amps, the E11 worked just fine. It is neutral and doesn't color the sound at all. I think you can safely buy it without any second thoughts.

 

 

The sound of the RE262 itself is very specific. Before I tried this headphone I honestly considered myself to be a midhead, but now I'm not entirely sure. The mid-emphasis is very apparent compared to more neutral headphones. This makes the sound beautiful and impressive to some people in some cases, while making it muddy and unclear to others. I think that whether you like the RE262 or not will depend on the kind of music you listen to, and what you look for in it.

 

If you like complex passages and being able to hear every single instrument in classical music, these headphones are probably not for you, because the recessed treble puts a veil over the sound. Likewise, music that relies mostly on detail or texture (such as the dark ambient from my examples in the OP) will not sound right with these. But if you listen to vocals, or music that is easy to follow or analyze, there is a good chance that you will enjoy the RE262.

 

There is an unusually addictive quality to their sound. Even though I tried and couldn't bring myself to like their sound signature, I could still listen to them for hours on end. In the end I EQ'd them, but they still retained that unique flavor (I suppose that's why they say it's easier to make a neutral headphone colored than a colored headphone neutral)... These are all very vague, unhelpful and subjective things to say, but I felt like mentioning it because I noticed a lot of people on this forum describe them in a similar fashion. Consider this to be more of a notice than something that's supposed to help you. :P

 

 

Also, the soundstage and imaging are impressive.


Edited by zloy loup - 8/28/12 at 2:46am
post #12 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by zloy loup View Post

 

 These are all very vague, unhelpful and subjective things to say, but I felt like mentioning it because I noticed a lot of people on this forum describe them in a similar fashion. Consider this to be more of a notice than something that's supposed to help you. :P

 

 

Were you expecting a different sound than what you read about or just were curious to see if it matched others descriptions?

post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FieldingMellish View Post

 

Were you expecting a different sound than what you read about or just were curious to see if it matched others descriptions?

I ordered the RE262 and the GR07 so that I could try them out and gain some point of reference, since I was getting confused with all the choices and never having listened to IEMs before. :)

 

But to answer your question, the RE262 mid emphasis did manage to surprise me, even though I tried not to delve into expectations too much and despite the things I read about it on the forum.


Edited by zloy loup - 8/28/12 at 3:09am
post #14 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by zloy loup View Post

Yes! The RE262 arrived late but I was still able to burn them in and listen (along with the GR07) before my scheduled flight that week. I wish I had the time to audition the other headphones in my list as well.

 

The RE262 does need an amp to sound good, and with what I could tell from my limited experience with amps, the E11 worked just fine. It is neutral and doesn't color the sound at all. I think you can safely buy it without any second thoughts.

 

 

The sound of the RE262 itself is very specific. Before I tried this headphone I honestly considered myself to be a midhead, but now I'm not entirely sure. The mid-emphasis is very apparent compared to more neutral headphones. This makes the sound beautiful and impressive to some people in some cases, while making it muddy and unclear to others. I think that whether you like the RE262 or not will depend on the kind of music you listen to, and what you look for in it.

 

If you like complex passages and being able to hear every single instrument in classical music, these headphones are probably not for you, because the recessed treble puts a veil over the sound. Likewise, music that relies mostly on detail or texture (such as the dark ambient from my examples in the OP) will not sound right with these. But if you listen to vocals, or music that is easy to follow or analyze, there is a good chance that you will enjoy the RE262.

 

There is an unusually addictive quality to their sound. Even though I tried and couldn't bring myself to like their sound signature, I could still listen to them for hours on end. In the end I EQ'd them, but they still retained that unique flavor (I suppose that's why they say it's easier to make a neutral headphone colored than a colored headphone neutral)... These are all very vague, unhelpful and subjective things to say, but I felt like mentioning it because I noticed a lot of people on this forum describe them in a similar fashion. Consider this to be more of a notice than something that's supposed to help you. :P

 

 

Also, the soundstage and imaging are impressive.

 

Thanks for your thoughts.  Your description was very helpful.  So, you got to listen to the GR07 too.  How do they compare in your opinion?  It actually sounds like maybe the RE262 is not for me.  I'll have to read some more posts I guess.  Good to know you like the E11.

post #15 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ethanw View Post

 

Thanks for your thoughts.  Your description was very helpful.  So, you got to listen to the GR07 too.  How do they compare in your opinion?  It actually sounds like maybe the RE262 is not for me.  I'll have to read some more posts I guess.  Good to know you like the E11.

 

The RE262 and the GR07 are two very different types of earphones. While the RE262 can take it to the extreme with their mid focus, the GR07 is the opposite end of the spectrum.

 

To me, the GR07 is the definition of an all-rounder. Take any attribute of sound, and the GR07 will at the very least be good at it. Like all the reviews say, they are very flat and don't draw your attention to anything. One quality which I think stands out though, is the instrument separation and layering, which is very good. The soundstage is not as big and spacious as that of the RE262, but then again the RE262 seems to be special in that sense. From the reviews I read it seems like the GR07's soundstage competes well in the particular price range.

 

I looked at your thread and noticed that you needed something comfortable, for that I want to make a recommendation. If you can stretch your budget, I think you should consider the Westone 2, which excels in that field, especially when it comes to lying on your side.

 

When I arrived in my home city, I went to a specialized headphone store and auditioned the Westone 2, UM2, UM3x, and 4, among other stuff. The Westones had a quality of disappearing in my ears (particularly the smaller Westone 2, since I have small ears). I couldn't feel the Westone 2 for the entire 1,5 hours I listened to them. They also have a braided cable which is stronger than the RE262's thin glossy cable, in case you accidentally tug on it. The only possible downside is that they can only be worn over the ear.

 

Alternatively, I could audition the Westone 1 this weekend. They should be in your price range.

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