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Need Advice for First High-End IEM: Shure SE535, PFE 232, Westone 4R, Heir 4.Ai - Page 2

Poll Results: Which IEM has the best combination of sound quality, isolation, comfort, and sturdiness (most overall value)?

 
  • 20% (18)
    SE 535
  • 39% (34)
    Westone 4R
  • 26% (23)
    PFE 232
  • 12% (11)
    None of them, I have a better idea (see below in comments)!
86 Total Votes  
post #16 of 77
If you want neutral go with etymotic. After many iems I can say that etymotic is the only brand I've heard that aims for actual neutrality. I have the now discontinued ER-6 and it is clearly the most revealing and accurate iem I've ever heard. Reading extensively about the pfe232 shows that they have a slight v-shape, which is not neutral.

Also impressions of the heir 4.ai show them to have a bass response north of neutral. Personally I find coloration to limit the versatility and usefulness of an iem especially when listening to many different genres.

The ER4S is backed by much actual research aimed at producing an iem that matches reference monitors in a sound treated room. Frequency response graphs are easily found, showing them to be the most neutral thing on the market except maybe the fitear tg111 which costs over $1000.

The problem with the ER4S is that it's not easily powered so it requires an amp. In this case it's brother, the ER4P is recommended as it has nearly the accuracy but can be used with portable devices. The discontinued ER-6 (ebay) is also close to the accuracy of the ER4S while working well with portable sources.

The isolation of the etymotics is also the best there is. I never knew what I was missing with my other iems. Wearing them around town and at the gym is really just a much better high fidelity experience imo.

I'm hope this helps. It looks like you are looking for a shortcut to really great sound quality, and this is what I would do if I were starting over knowing what I know now. This is my personal experience with these iems and if one is looking for neutrality like I've been then the etymotics are really the way to go. There is a lot to read about them however, and there are certain variables like fit and cables that should also be considered. Good luck.
Edited by gnarlsagan - 10/9/12 at 6:52pm
post #17 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post

If you want neutral go with etymotic. After many iems I can say that etymotic is the only brand I've heard that aims for actual neutrality. I have the now discontinued ER-6 and it is clearly the most revealing and accurate iem I've ever heard. Reading extensively about the pfe232 shows that they have a slight v-shape, which is not neutral.
Also impressions of the heir 4.ai show them to have a bass response north of neutral. Personally I find coloration to limit the versatility and usefulness of an iem especially when listening to many different genres.
The ER4S is backed by much actual research aimed at producing an iem that matches reference monitors in a sound treated room. Frequency response graphs are easily found, showing them to be the most neutral thing on the market except maybe the fitear tg111 which costs over $1000.
The problem with the ER4S is that it's not easily powered so it requires an amp. In this case it's brother, the ER4P is recommended as it has nearly the accuracy but can be used with portable devices. The discontinued ER-6 (ebay) is also close to the accuracy of the ER4S while working well with portable sources.
The isolation of the etymotics is also the best there is. I never knew what I was missing with my other iems. Wearing them around town and at the gym is really just a much better high fidelity experience imo.
I'm hope this helps. It looks like you are looking for a shortcut to really great sound quality, and this is what I would do if I were starting over knowing what I know now. This is my personal experience with these iems and if one is looking for neutrality like I've been then the etymotics are really the way to go. There is a lot to read about them however, and there are certain variables like fit and cables that should also be considered. Good luck.

 

Mostly good suggestions --- a couple things:

 

(1) When people ask the question, 'Does X earphone respond better to Y genre?" --- they're looking for color, undoubtedly. Neutral doesn't bias in any way; it responds equally well or poorly to any genre.

(2) The FitEar F111 is around $600, not $1000; it's the TO GO 334 that is >$1000. Yes, still very expensive, and not really in the realm of practicality for most people if they find Ety good enough for their needs.

post #18 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomscy2000 View Post

Mostly good suggestions --- a couple things:

(1) When people ask the question, 'Does X earphone respond better to Y genre?" --- they're looking for color, undoubtedly. Neutral doesn't bias in any way; it responds equally well or poorly to any genre.
(2) The FitEar F111 is around $600, not $1000; it's the TO GO 334 that is >$1000. Yes, still very expensive, and not really in the realm of practicality for most people if they find Ety good enough for their needs.

Thanks for clearing up the price of the F111. I might think about getting them at that price. The 232 goes for about that anyway.

I realize most people prefer coloration. I did for a long time until realizing that it hinders versatility. If a person listens to one or two genres then coloration makes sense but otherwise it just messes up the music.

Consider listening to new material; if I haven't listened to a song yet then I don't know if it will be a warm or cold recording (or something else), and consequently I have no idea whether to choose my bass tilted iems or treble tilted iems. A neutral signature will undoubtedly just work.

edit: The Fitear F111 is actually only $546 on pricejapan.com.
Edited by gnarlsagan - 10/9/12 at 8:00pm
post #19 of 77

I may have a chance to try the westone 4r, but i'm not sure yet.  I was wondering if someone could give me a detailed comparison of the westone 4r vs the pfe 232.  I am familiar with the pfe232 but have never heard the westone 4r.  I have been testing the shure 535, which are very good, but just don't have the high frequency reproduction I want.  Otherwise, I like the bass and mids.

 

So far I'd say the pfe232 are the best, but I've been working with some issues with them.  I was given an opportunity to try the shure 535 so I did, but I still think the pfe232 with issues is better for me.  My question would be how the westone 4r compares in terms of neutrality.  I find the pfe232 V shaped, which it is technically as well.  However, despite being V shaped they "sound" very natural with only some mids sounding less than perfect in level compared the lows/highs.  The shure 535 sounded very flat to me with only a slightly higher mid section, but when it rolls off at the treble it isn't flat :-P.  So I would say it sound flat until the roll off.

 

The westone 4r "look" very very similar to the pfe232 on a graph except that the pfe 232 has better treble extension at the top and maybe not as "smooth" a bass curve, but similar.  They both have cutouts in the mid to mid/high areas on graph.  Can someone that has heard both pairs for a while tell me if they would sound similar but not as good treble?  If they aren't as good I don't want to go through any more hassle and I'll keep the pfe232.  However, if they work, I may get great sound AND not have to deal with any of the issues I have with the pfe232 (ear specific issues mentioned in other posts).

 

I've read the westone is more neutral and balanced overall, but the graph would show otherwise.  I've overlaid the two graphs for these.  The red is the pfe232, blue westone 4.

 

 

 

It looks like the 4r rolls off a tad compared to the pfe...  in the sense that the bass and treble are ultimately at the same level on the pfe232 the westone treble is lower than the bass overall...  can anyone say if this is how it actually sounds?

 

 

Can anyone give a detailed comparison as to how they sound?  The polls here favor the pfe232, but I know from experience that "most" people prefer colored sound.  I prefer as flat as possible.  A slight bass increase is acceptable as I believe 'partly' in the 6db issue that has been bunked/debunked before, but essentially that a little more bass "makes up for" the lack of feeling a speaker.  But most of these high end models being mentioned are within a safe range to me, so not too worried there.  Please let me know if anyone has a comparison for me.  I'd like to make a decision soon...


Edited by luisdent - 1/12/13 at 10:11pm
post #20 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinQY View Post

I don't think Shure, Westone, or Audeo publish frequency response either. The only measurement site for these IEMs are Goldenears, I think

 

This is not aimed specifically at you, just a neat quotation;

 

Even on a specialist site such as head-fi, only a minority care about graphs. The rest of us listen to music. Those who wish to rely on those things tend to focus on that one technical "issue" they find and not let it go to the extent they represent it as the be all and end all. Zzzz. There is a difference between referring to graphs out of curiosity and referring to graphs to shape your opinion of what you are listening to. If you enjoy an IEM but turn away from it because of a graph, then I would put it the IEM is not at fault

post #21 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by LFC_SL View Post

 

This is not aimed specifically at you, just a neat quotation;

 

Even on a specialist site such as head-fi, only a minority care about graphs. The rest of us listen to music. Those who wish to rely on those things tend to focus on that one technical "issue" they find and not let it go to the extent they represent it as the be all and end all. Zzzz. There is a difference between referring to graphs out of curiosity and referring to graphs to shape your opinion of what you are listening to. If you enjoy an IEM but turn away from it because of a graph, then I would put it the IEM is not at fault

 

But as I stated, I was using the graph for a actual "listening" comparison.  And that's why I started the post at all, to ask people who have "heard" them.  I have heard the pfe232, and they sound like that graph looks.  I have heard the shure 535 and they sound like the graph looks.  My question was simply, do the westone 4r sound like the graph looks 'relatively' compared to the pfe232?  And are there any difference I should be aware of?  I wouldn't buy a headphone simply based on the graph, otherwise I would never have even touched the shure 535 as the high end is atrocious on graph.  But you can never know exactly what to expect.

 

However, in my experience, every single IEM I've tried compares very well to the goldenears graphs.  After I listen to them I can look at the graph and say "oh yeah, that does sound boosted in that range" or "oh yeah, these are missing some bass".  That doesn't always represent the "sound" of a headphone, for instance, how deep a sound or how wide or how detailed.  But in general, regarding frequency response, the graphs have been spot on.  With that being the case, the 4r appear to be less treble than the pfe232 overall based on graphs.  I find the pfe treble to be amazing, but I wish they had a bit more mids.  The 4r is 'said' to have more mids, but it's hard to gauge.  Perhaps mid/bass, but not really mids or mid/highs.  So I want to hear the opinion of someone who is familiar with both.

 

If the lack of treble makes them appear to have more mids, but the treble is still detailed and well extended that might be o.k., but in theory they would be bassier, because of relationship of the frequencies.  I also worry that the pfe232 and 4r share a similar treble response, but the 4r is missing the higher treble level of the pfe232.  If that is where all the incredible details are coming from I might pass.  But again, it's hard to tell from a graph, so I wanted to get some opinions from listeners.  Anyone?


Edited by luisdent - 1/13/13 at 1:05pm
post #22 of 77

I've read that the w4r is a bit slow in the mids and so they don't seem as recessed as they graph, which is a good thing imo. If I were you and I were looking for something largely flat with a bit of a bass boost I would consider the Heir Tzar 350, which is supposedly etymotic-like with a small bass boost and small treble bump. Tomscy has a really detailed review of them in that thread. I would also seriously consider the CK100pro. The graph is very similar to what you seem to be looking for. People have reported that it sounds like the graph.

 

 

post #23 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post

I've read that the w4r is a bit slow in the mids and so they don't seem as recessed as they graph, which is a good thing imo. If I were you and I were looking for something largely flat with a bit of a bass boost I would consider the Heir Tzar 350, which is supposedly etymotic-like with a small bass boost and small treble bump. Tomscy has a really detailed review of them in that thread. I would also seriously consider the CK100pro. The graph is very similar to what you seem to be looking for. People have reported that it sounds like the graph.

 

 

 

That does look very good, however nothing seems to have the treble extension of the pfe232.  It's pretty impressive.  Everything above 10k on most sets either rolls of drastically or simply does not exist.  The pfe232 stays solid till about 17k and even then rolls off higher.  And you can hear it.  I like how flat the ck100pro looks though.  Almost like a pfe232 with less mid loss...  And with the treble so flat i wonder if the high highs would still sound great...  is that only an import?

post #24 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by luisdent View Post

That does look very good, however nothing seems to have the treble extension of the pfe232.  It's pretty impressive.  Everything above 10k on most sets either rolls of drastically or simply does not exist.  The pfe232 stays solid till about 17k and even then rolls off higher.  And you can hear it.  I like how flat the ck100pro looks though.  Almost like a pfe232 with less mid loss...  And with the treble so flat i wonder if the high highs would still sound great...  is that only an import?

Most measurement systems are unreliable past 10k. The ER4 has much better extension than pictured in that graph. It'd be nice to find another graph for comparison. The ck100pro is available at accessory jack but I saw it on e-earphone for about 200 less. They are a quite well reviewed dealer but it may be necessary to use a forwarding service like tenso as they are Japanese.
post #25 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post


Most measurement systems are unreliable past 10k. The ER4 has much better extension than pictured in that graph. It'd be nice to find another graph for comparison. The ck100pro is available at accessory jack but I saw it on e-earphone for about 200 less. They are a quite well reviewed dealer but it may be necessary to use a forwarding service like tenso as they are Japanese.

 

That's too risky a proposition for me at $550.  If it wasn't comfortable I couldn't return it according to their site. :-o  I'm pretty happy with the pfe232, so I think the last option left would be the westone 4r for me to try.  I think I'll see if I can try it and see how it compares to the pfe...

post #26 of 77

TL;DR to save you from the trouble : If you're happy with your PFE, Don't bother with W4R.

 

I have only listened to PFE during a very short demo session that was probably no longer than 5 minutes, so take my comment about PFE with a grain of salt since I'm speaking based on memory of short demo session. However, I'm quite familiar with how W4R sounds; For the longest time I keep going back and forth about buying a pair of W4R, demoing them so often, only to hesitate when I'm about to pull the trigger. I'd call PFE brash, edgy and exciting. W4R is more low-key, polite and composed.

 

I have this slight aversion to what I'd call "hot" treble (or in more polite word, "exciting"), for my ears PFE have that kind of treble. W4R's treble is much more polite than PFE. Don't get me wrong, the treble details is all there on W4R. It's just as forward/pronounced as PFE's.

 

And then the bass. While the graph might show that bass response is rather similar, it's not really similar. PFE's bass is much thicker in body and decay, more THUDDY compared to W4R's quicker-decaying bass.

 

Then the mids. W4R's mids is more prominent than what the graph shows since it's "thick" and decays slowly, so it retains it's presence well throughout; So in a sense, W4R has better bass-mids-treble balance than PFE.

 

I hope this helps; If you want like, FLAT neutrality sound sig wise, consider Ety-4S, or if you can afford it, FitEar F111 Try using goldenears' house EQ app, Accudio. Supposedly it can make any IEM in its database (PFE232 included) sounds closer to flat neutral.


Edited by Deadlovestory - 1/14/13 at 1:09am
post #27 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deadlovestory View Post

TL;DR to save you from the trouble : If you're happy with your PFE, Don't bother with W4R.

 

I have only listened to PFE during a very short demo session that was probably no longer than 5 minutes, so take my comment about PFE with a grain of salt since I'm speaking based on memory of short demo session. However, I'm quite familiar with how W4R sounds; For the longest time I keep going back and forth about buying a pair of W4R, demoing them so often, only to hesitate when I'm about to pull the trigger. I'd call PFE brash, edgy and exciting. W4R is more low-key, polite and composed.

 

I have this slight aversion to what I'd call "hot" treble (or in more polite word, "exciting"), for my ears PFE have that kind of treble. W4R's treble is much more polite than PFE. Don't get me wrong, the treble details is all there on W4R. It's just as forward/pronounced as PFE's.

 

And then the bass. While the graph might show that bass response is rather similar, it's not really similar. PFE's bass is much thicker in body and decay, more THUDDY compared to W4R's quicker-decaying bass.

 

Then the mids. W4R's mids is more prominent than what the graph shows since it's "thick" and decays slowly, so it retains it's presence well throughout; So in a sense, W4R has better bass-mids-treble balance than PFE.

 

I hope this helps; If you want like, FLAT neutrality sound sig wise, consider Ety-4S, or if you can afford it, FitEar F111 Try using goldenears' house EQ app, Accudio. Supposedly it can make any IEM in its database (PFE232 included) sounds closer to flat neutral.

thanks.  i posted in some other areas on this, but here's my situation.  The pfe 232 cause upper sibilance or more specifically forwardness in the drum cymbal/high vocal area.  for instance, in a song like "never be the same" by christopher cross, the cymbal in the right channel is SO forward  it is literally the loudest thing in the song and I can't even concentrate on the song because of it.  This is fitting them "properly".  However, when pushing them in further, something changes about the way they work in my ear and this effect goes away COMPLETELY.  The bass might be a tad louder from an even tighter seal, but everything else is the same minus the issue.  If you see the photos in my other post you can see they are deeper than intended.  This doesn't "hurt" but it isn't "as" comfortable.  However, after trying the shure 535 i'd call it comfortable ;-o  haha. (Seriously)

 

So, with that said, the only other area I ever gave even a slight second thought is the mid area.  I don't mind the v shape, but sometimes I felt things like guitars were missing their body and sound paper thin.  Not that it sounded "bad", but just that I wanted more mids like the shure 535.  So I was thinking twofold.  If the w4 had the missing mids and similar treble while also being more comfortable, or more specifically comfortable in the standard fitting position with no problems, then I may like them better and save $70.  I still am within my exchange period.

 

So, if the treble is noticeably "less" good than the pfe forget it.  If the treble is pretty much the same but "warmer" or just different in character but just as revealing and extended in "air" then gaining mid would be nice.  I don't want to over complicate the process, but I've gone through a boatload of IEMs and other than the things I just mentioned the pfe 232 is almost the "perfect" iem to me so far.  But you can see, if the westone solved these issues i'd be done. :-)  If it wouldn't solve them, I'm done, but simply have to deal with those issues.  That is fine and i'd be happy, but i don't want to rule out being happy-er ;) haha.  Specifically since I have the ability to exchange.  It's like one last try. :-P

post #28 of 77

The classic win-some-lose-some situation.

 

Honestly, I don't have the best ears to notice micro-details in high frequencies above 10k. But I think yes, W4R have that thick-ish mid body you seem to be looking for. And yes, I do think that W4R's treble is detailed and quite extended. It's polite, it will not smack your face up front with gobs of details, but if you pay attention and specifically look for the treble detail, it's definitely there. So you gain mid body in exchange of up-front, exciting treble.

 

But as far as I can remember, PFE have thicker bass body, while W4R's is thinner. So if you like PFE's bass, you might want to put that in consideration.


Edited by Deadlovestory - 1/14/13 at 2:23am
post #29 of 77
Have you tried tips with a narrower bore? Like etymotic tips? They can smooth out treble quite nicely.
post #30 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post

Have you tried tips with a narrower bore? Like etymotic tips? They can smooth out treble quite nicely.

No I haven't, but if I decide to keep the pfe232 I will definitely be trying other tips.  I don't have any ety tips as I returned those a while back because of fit issues.

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