This is going to be a long post, so hang in there. I've recently been getting into Head-Fi again, which is doing wonders for my wallet. Anyway, I'm looking for an improvement on my current IEMs, which are UE Triple.Fi 10s with Chris_Himself cables. I really do like these IEMs a lot (especially the sound with the cable upgrade), but I'm thinking that I might be able to find something else more to my liking. I also own a pair of Monster Miles Davis Tributes as well, which are also pretty good. I'll be describing my sound preferences mainly using those two as a reference.
If possible, I'd like a pair of IEMs with the following:
- Mid-centric sound, especially for vocal music; the cable replacement really helped this a lot from the Triple.Fis. I find myself turning up the music to better hear the vocals, often making the IEMs a bit louder than I'm comfortable with.
- An intimate soundstage, but one with good instrument separation. The Triple.Fis have a huge soundstage, but they aren't that great at centering vocals which I have a problem with. Things are kind of either to the left or the right, but never in the center. It would be great to have a IEM that's good at centering voices and making it upfront.
- Good treble sparkle -- I do love the way that the treble is presented with the Triple.Fis. I don't find too much fatigue with them, although I wouldn't mind them tuned a bit less, but still with some sparkle.
- Fast bass, but with some body. I'm not really sure how to describe this, but the bass on the Tributes are way too bloated while the Grados had good bass amount, but terribly thin. The presentation on the HD600s is perfect though, so I guess not heavy bass, but flat and accurate. Good speed would be great too, since I listen to a bit of punk rock.
- Better ergonomics would be great. Triple.Fis actually fit me pretty well, but the aftermarket cable is a bit microphonic. Replaceable cables are a plus, but not a must.
- Works well with rock (pretty much 90% of what I listen to), ranging from punk to indie. Not too much classic rock and not metal. Mainly pretty medium paced, but with some faster paced punk. Examples would be Radiohead, The National, The Smiths, Husker Du, The Beatles (although their recordings are pretty poorly mastered).
- No amping. Really don't like carrying around a portable amp with the phone. Source is iPhone 4S (so a decent source).
- Budget is ~$300, can stretch it a bit.
tl;dr version: I guess if I had to describe a sound I wanted in three words, it would be mid-centric, clear, and fast. I'm currently considering the Westone UM3X (seems to be my top choice now, I like what I hear), Shure SE425/530/535, Ortofon e-Q7 (some worries about the fit for these; had the MEE CC51s with larger nozzles, hated the fit), RE262 (worried about the amping requirement), and the FAD Heaven IV (haven't heard much about these, although I had heard the mids are mesmerizing). Etys also a consideration too. I heard the SM3 is a better version of the UM3X, but the squareness of the fit seems like an ergonomic nightmare.
Thanks for the help!