This is probably my first thread, as I'm really excited about what I've just heard.
First of all, some background about myself. I don't consider myself as a total inexperienced as I did spend quite some time on headphones several years ago, where I ended up with Mark Levinson No. 31 + ML No.30+Yeli 8PS( an Stax007 amp from an renowned Chinese DIYer)+ STAX 007. After lived with this setup for a while I kinda lost interest in headphones as this system gave me enough satisfaction as I expected from a headphone system. After that I seldom listened to this desktop system and lived happily with my iphone 4s+Westone 3. I never considered a more advanced portable system not because of budget but I value "Portable" as the most important factor, meanwhile I know no matter how much money/time consumed, a portable system can never come even close to the desk system mentioned above.
Recently, something went wrong with my W3s and I'm looking for another IEMs to replace W3s. Thus I tired on SE 535, SE535ltd, W4 but IMO none of them manage to exceed W3s by far. Then, evilly, I'm putting my fingers on custom-made. As I love the sound signature of my W3s a lot, my first priority was Westone ES5s, plus the feedback on Headfi seems pretty positive.
Here comes the story...Please bear in mind this is just a quick impression rather than a review as I just spent like 1 hour in total with all the earphones mentioned below.
I went to a dealer(even with my ear molds) after work this evening to try on the ES5s and surprisingly found there are many other options to try out. Finally I ended up sitting in a quiet corner with JH 16pro, UE 18pro and ES5. Actually I have to emphasize that they are not real Custom-made but demo version with universal tips
UE 18pro: A balanced sound signature, everything sounds right, however compared to the opponents, lack of a bit of clarity
JH 16pro: Wow, bass is dominant here, punchy, immense, maybe a bit too much of authority? Surprisingly, it doesn't impact the mid and treble too much. Good clarity, good balance overall with a bit of bias on the low end. However, after listened to them for like 15mins with different genre of music, I still found the bass is a bit annoying and "unrealistic".
ES5: Bass is just about right, beautiful mids, even prettier trebles, good clarity. However, it does not quite meet my expectation on a top model from westone. For god's sake these cost 2 times more than a pair of W4s.
Among the 3 competitors above, I do prefer ES5s by a small edge but it's just not that exciting as it was when I heard the W3s for the first time several years ago. Just when I'm lingering about whether to make an order on ES5s. The dealer asked me if I want to try a "new Japanese brand" and he did tell me the price tag which put me in a shock. Firstly I have never heard of FitEar before and from my limited experience, to be honest I don't have much liking on Jap equipment. So to me, it's just a pair of way-overpriced stupid Jap earphones until I put them on...
Well, it def. doesn't make you "wow" in the beginning, my first impression is "hmm.....nothing wrong". Forgive me, this is exactly how I evaluate headphones/earphones in the first impression. I would usually focus on the negative side, if there's no obvious shortcomings that I can tell in the first couple of minutes, I'd give 8/10 to them already (see? I'm not a picky person at all ;) )
The problem comes at the moment when I switch the ES5s on, I was like: huh? did someone switch the ES5s with a W3? Yes, the gap is just that large. TG 344 almost outweighs ES5s in every aspects except trebles and space. The low and mid-low of 344 sounds just much more dense than ES5s does, with much more energy and focus, not to mention its ability to extract all the details..the 344s are the first earphones reminds me of the sound of STAX 007. The only tiny shortcoming could be its treble, it sounds roll-off a bit in the very high which makes it a bit dark signature. But I'm not sure if it is because its mid-low is just too good.
I have to admit these are amazing universal IEMs and now I'm confused, can anyone share with me your thoughts on:
1, Whether the demo version of ES5s sounds substantially inferior to CIEM version? If Custom-made could improve the sound quality by a lot?
2, Anyone tried the FitEar TG344 before, any comment?