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Need Advice for First High-End IEM: Shure SE535, PFE 232, Westone 4R, Heir 4.Ai - Page 3

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

 
  • 21% (18)
    SE 535
  • 39% (33)
    Westone 4R
  • 27% (23)
    PFE 232
  • 11% (10)
    None of them, I have a better idea (see below in comments)!
84 Total Votes  
post #31 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deadlovestory View Post

The classic win-some-lose-some situation.

 

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.

 

Wow, you nailed it on the head with all of this.  I'm listening to the 4R now.  The treble is better than I expected, but not as extended as the pfe.  It lacks the true "airy-ness" of the pfe232.  But the treble is still very good and I would call it more forgiving in general.  It's not muffled, but almost soft in comparison.  The mid range is exactly what I was looking for as you expected.  The bass is another story.  It is probably the second best bass I've heard in a universal iem.  The first is the pfe232.  It sounds more flat in nature in the bass, but doesn't extend into the sub as much.  There are certain songs that the lowest notes don't sound as level in volume as they do on the pfe.

 

Overall, I would really say that these two sets, as far as I've heard the 4r, are really very close but different.  I wouldn't say either is necessarily better than the other per se, but it would depend on wether you value the treble and bass over the mids and flatness.  I'm not sure which I prefer yet! haha.  :-o

post #32 of 77
I'd keep both if I have the money. PFE232 for aggressive genres and rocking out, 4R for calmer genres and long flights/relaxed listening sessions *_*
post #33 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deadlovestory View Post

I'd keep both if I have the money. PFE232 for aggressive genres and rocking out, 4R for calmer genres and long flights/relaxed listening sessions *_*

I agree here.  I'm having a hell of a time deciding between them.  It basically comes down to neutrality vs high low extension.

 

The pfe clearly has better low and high extension to my ears.  I don't mean the bass and treble in general, as they are actually more "boosted" sounding to me than the 4R, but more that the reproduce treble and bass beyond the widest frequencies of the 4R.  Whereas the 4R sounds more neutral, because the mids sound more even with the bass and treble.

 

So what I'm finding is that in some songs on the pfe232 I think "man i wish that guitar or instrument had a little more body and it would sound so much more realistic"... where on the 4R it does.  And then sometimes with the 4R I think "man i wish the high frequencies extended a bit more and that effect would be more believable", where on the pfe232 it is.

 

For instance, rain, if you listen to any recording of or with realistic rainfall, the pfe232 comes off as sounding real.  You can almost get lost in it and forget that it is a recording.  It is really transparent.  The 4R doesn't have this at all.  It isn't that it is far off, or that it is bad, but rather that last bit of treble missing simply ruins the effect.  So while it sounds great, it isn't truly transparent.  This goes for soundstage as well sometimes.  It is like the pfe232 allow you to hear the 'air' in the room like you're there and effects and instruments can sound very transparent.

 

On the other hand, the 4R has the better more full mids.  So there are songs where the instruments sound more real if they require body.  For instance, listening to some guitars that are in a mix, the pfe232 sometimes comes across as being thin sounding with the guitars like they are paper-ish.  This is exaggerating, but you get the idea.  On the 4R the guitars have more neutral body and sound more full and realistic.

 

Overall though, the biggest difference is simply neutrality.  I get the sense that the 4R are simply more neutral sounding with the right tips.  the pfe sounds very realistic and fairly neutral, but they do seem to have either more of a bass/treble boost, or more of a mid cut.  Either way resulting in the same sound.  The differences are less than those of comparing some lesser headphones, but at $400-500 you want your moneys worth right? :-P

 

I'll give it another few days and see what impressions form, but so far they're really close and I'm not sure what to do! :-P

post #34 of 77

also, i've seen photos online of white silicone tips which supposedly give the most treble response with the 4R.  I didn't get these with mine. Did they possibly change the accessories?

post #35 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by luisdent View Post

also, i've seen photos online of white silicone tips which supposedly give the most treble response with the 4R.  I didn't get these with mine. Did they possibly change the accessories?

Never mind.  This is in fact an upgrade, and I have the newer set, per westone.

post #36 of 77

So I've been listening to the 4R a lot the last two days, and the more I get used to them, the more I find I want to eq them to have more high treble like the pfe.  They don't need much else, but I'm finding the treble is hard to match even with eq.  The good thing about the 4R is that they do respond extremely well to EQ.  However, the pfe just nailed the treble when the fit is right.  I think I'm leaning towards the pfe, as it sounds more natural and "real".  The 4R sounds very flat, but because of the treble differences (which aren't really "bad") it sounds more blah, or just not lively.  Not just in that it's neutral though.  I have speakers that are neutral and sound more lively.  But this is all relative.  They are much better than anything else i've heard in the iem world so far, just comparing to the pfe232....

post #37 of 77

Did you try W4s with earsonics sm3 biflange tips(big bores)?  They make W4s significantly brighter. In fact, it was too bright for me so I turned back to the grey mushrooms. It may be the solution for you.

post #38 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by aras View Post

Did you try W4s with earsonics sm3 biflange tips(big bores)?  They make W4s significantly brighter. In fact, it was too bright for me so I turned back to the grey mushrooms. It may be the solution for you.
I don't have those to try, but when you say "brighter" do you mean they act like changing the filters they come with but more drastically?

Because they are bright enough with the treble they have, but they don't extend much past say 12khz or so, where the pfe go higher up. If the tips boosted the existing treble that wouldn't work for me, but if they "extended" the treble without raising the 4-12khz range, that woul be nice...
post #39 of 77

Sheesh.  Another day passed, and I'm no closer to my decision. Ha.  I'm not sure if these things are breaking in, or i'm getting used to them or what, but they don't sound as 'flat' today.  They sound neutral, but not really flat sounding, which is a good thing.

 

Sometimes I feel the pfe232 are too colored or lack too much mid.  Other times I feel the 4R are too flat and lack treble/bass or just "liveliness" or air.  I need money.  That's my problem. haha.  Then perhaps I could keep them both, or better yet get a super hi-end custom.  :-P


Edited by luisdent - 1/24/13 at 10:15am
post #40 of 77

Buy something cheap now and/or hold off for a few months and attend a city meet or a canjam? Buying blind based on the written word is a risky game. Funnily enough hopefully this time next month I will own 3 out of 4 models listed in the thread title. Could have funded one sweet custom instead tongue_smile.gif The only headphone bought blind that is still in my collection is the HD600. All others have been sold. Hopefully the 4.ai will be the former rather than the latter

post #41 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by LFC_SL View Post

Buy something cheap now and/or hold off for a few months and attend a city meet or a canjam? Buying blind based on the written word is a risky game. Funnily enough hopefully this time next month I will own 3 out of 4 models listed in the thread title. Could have funded one sweet custom instead tongue_smile.gif The only headphone bought blind that is still in my collection is the HD600. All others have been sold. Hopefully the 4.ai will be the former rather than the latter

What do you mean?  I'm not buying blind, their in my ears right now! ;) haha.  I can't decide listening between them.

post #42 of 77

If anyone is actually interested in my ongoing debate over which IEM to settle on, here is my view so far.

 

I'm really starting to like the neutrality of the 4R, however, the high highs are somewhat of a letdown for me on the ipod touch 5th gen, which I've found is .75 ohms output impedance http://monoadc.blog64.fc2.com/blog-entry-99.html if that site is correct.  I find this odd, if the low impedance is really showing the true color of the 4R.  I almost can't believe it.  My other devices are higher impedance which will increase the treble in certain areas, but the difference on the duet is minor overall, but adds those nice crisp high highs.

 

I can "somewhat" offset this on the ipod with eq, but that raises a few issues.  First, i can't exactly replicate the quality, but close with eq.  However, eq uses battery.  Eq doesn't play all of my drm files as apple doesn't allow 3rd party access to the drm technology of their aac files.  Lastly, I simply don't like eq.  ha.  I always feel that I can hear a degradation somehow in the quality by use of any eq.  Perhaps this is imagined, but I can't get past it.

 

So, with the pfe232, the curve isn't as desirable, but they don't sound bad by any means.  Same thing with the eq.  So basically, as I listen to music 80% maybe, and mix music 20% I think the ipod touch/classic performance is more important than the duet for my IEM.  I can get over ear monitors for mixing if I have to for more money/quality ratio.  In fact, I have a pair of AKG's I've tried that I have my eye on.

 

Anyhow, I still prefer neutrality.  I love hearing things the way they were recorded or as close to it as possible.  So, if there were an easy way to make the 4R sound more like the duet without spending a lot of money, I think I'd go with those.  Otherwise, I think I'm leaning towards the pfe232 now.  I just love having that mid that they lack, but then i love having their highs the 4R lack. :-P  I know, I know, pick one already.  :-o  Well, I really wish I could keep both, but for now the comparison continues, unless anyone has a magic solution to my cross-device quality changes. :-P

post #43 of 77

Did you consider the Heir Audio Tzar 350 yet? 

post #44 of 77

The SM3 V2 is one you might want to consider, it sounds better than the SE535 imo.  THE PFE232 is very good but can be quite bright so if you don't like really bright highs the SM3 is very smooth yet still has very good detail in the mids and highs which are never harsh.  Along with the SM3 V2 the W4 is the other one that I think is a good choice, its on the warm side also with smooth highs.  One of the biggest differences between the SM3 and W4 is the soundstage where's the SM3 has a very 3D like imaging which makes the music feel like it surrounds you and some people like myself really like that while others don't.  Both the W4 and SM3 are excellent IEM's and I think sound as good as the PFE232 which is around $150 more give or take.

post #45 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post

Did you consider the Heir Audio Tzar 350 yet? 

 

I have not.  After much research, without the ability to demo, I decided on three sets.  I went with earphonesolutions, and they let me try the 535, pfe232 and 4r, which were my final research conclusions.  I don't have an option to return them, nor would I really want to, as they have already done me a great favor letting me try all three.  I think I'll be happy with the pfe232 in the end though, I'm just making absolutely sure the 4r is out. :-P  They are really good as well.  The 535 just doesn't have a high high end really.  Too rolled off for me.

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