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Technical factor to consider and compare in choosing IEM ?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi All,

 

Can anyone please guide me or explain to me as to why when buying IEM, I should not focus on the number of armature (BA) driver only, because some people say that crossover and multiple bore is also need to be considered as well.

 

how about sound range and impedance ? what determines an IEM need amplification or not ?

 

Thanks.

post #2 of 23

From what I know, there's crossover designs like Westone that use 1x drivers each for low, mid and high frequencies, along with a 3 way crossover.

Then there's Shure that uses 3 drivers also (SE535), but in 2x mid-low + 1 high freq order, and a 2 way crossover.

 

But the sound is all about the tuning, and you cannot say 3 drivers are better than 2.

 

Some goes for bores. 

 

So you should look at the frequency response to get a rough idea where the sound lies.

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

From what I know, there's crossover designs like Westone that use 1x drivers each for low, mid and high frequencies, along with a 3 way crossover.

Then there's Shure that uses 3 drivers also (SE535), but in 2x mid-low + 1 high freq order, and a 2 way crossover.

 

But the sound is all about the tuning, and you cannot say 3 drivers are better than 2.

 

Some goes for bores. 

 

So you should look at the frequency response to get a rough idea where the sound lies.

Ah yes, so the factor to consider are as follows:

 

1. Number of Drivers

2. Crossover (more crossover means better sound quality)

3. Bores (Yes means better sounding)

4. Comfort

5. Isolation

6. Frequency response (at least within 20-20k Hz range)

7. Impedance (lower impedance means not needing amplification to produce sound clarity).

 

Please let e know if I need correction in those factors above.

post #4 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnSantana View Post

Ah yes, so the factor to consider are as follows:

 

1. Number of Drivers

2. Crossover (more crossover means better sound quality)

3. Bores (Yes means better sounding)

4. Comfort

5. Isolation

6. Frequency response (at least within 20-20k Hz range)

7. Impedance (lower impedance means not needing amplification to produce sound clarity).

 

Please let e know if I need correction in those factors above.

 

2 and 3 are pretty subjective. 3 way crossover may give you more precise sound, but you may not prefer it based on your music.

post #5 of 23

To me, comfort is always neglected over the emphasis of sound quality. However, I find that comfort is rather important because when the headphones pressed the ear too much, or heat accumulates on the ears, our mood will be negatively affected. I can't really enjoy music if I'm in a bad mood and/or feeling uncomfortable.

post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnholy View Post

To me, comfort is always neglected over the emphasis of sound quality. However, I find that comfort is rather important because when the headphones pressed the ear too much, or heat accumulates on the ears, our mood will be negatively affected. I can't really enjoy music if I'm in a bad mood and/or feeling uncomfortable.

 

My understanding is that some of the best IEMs are custom made to fit customer's ears... for comfort and sound quality (proper seal.) In the full size world, STAX electrostatic cans are very comfy IME.

post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ultrabike View Post

 

My understanding is that some of the best IEMs are custom made to fit customer's ears... for comfort and sound quality (proper seal.) In the full size world, STAX electrostatic cans are very comfy IME.

 

Yes it is I must admit by the review on this forum, but obviously it is not comfortable in terms of price eek.gif --> Stax SR009

post #8 of 23

Custom IEMs? That'd be a sweet spot too high to reach for normal audio lovers! Over here in my place, the gears are sold at triple, sometimes quadruple of the international price due to exchange rate and also business profits. Frankly, even the GR07 is already considered exquisite gear where commoners wouldn't spend on it.

 

STAX? Haha. This expression sums it all: eek.gif

post #9 of 23

You guys got it all wrong... This is what I want to hear:

 

 

post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnholy View Post

Custom IEMs? That'd be a sweet spot too high to reach for normal audio lovers! Over here in my place, the gears are sold at triple, sometimes quadruple of the international price due to exchange rate and also business profits. Frankly, even the GR07 is already considered exquisite gear where commoners wouldn't spend on it.

 

STAX? Haha. This expression sums it all: eek.gif

You are not alone man, here in Sydney Australia, the price is nearly doubled :-| 

Westone brand is a parallel import and AFAIK doesn't have any local distributor for RMA.

post #11 of 23

 

 

Quote:

1. Number of Drivers

2. Crossover (more crossover means better sound quality)

3. Bores (Yes means better sounding)

4. Comfort

5. Isolation

6. Frequency response (at least within 20-20k Hz range)

7. Impedance (lower impedance means not needing amplification to produce sound clarity).

 

 

1. Number of drivers is something to consider, but not necessarily an indication of performance and quality of sound on its own. 

2. More crossovers also can mean more problems. Getting a crossover *just right* so it sounds natural is hard to do. Even harder in an iem. The best crossover is not needing one at all (Which is why a single dynamic driver, well implemented, can sound as good or better as 3 or 4 B/A drivers). 

3. meh

4. yes

5. yes

6. within reason - *most* people cannot hear 20-20. More important than the range, to me, is the response graph showing how it presents the music. bass heavy? flat response? peaky and tinny? etc. IMO - always aim for a flat (uncolored) response. 

7. Anything under 80ish ohms won't be a problem from portable unamped sources (and if you do go with amps,  something between 50 and 80 gives you more flexibility without risking impedance mismatches than an uber-low nominal impedance - helps noise floor too). Ultimately though, I wouldn't worry about this one too much either. 


Edited by liamstrain - 10/12/12 at 12:04am
post #12 of 23

For personal listening? (i.e. not for professional purposes)

 

You just need to find something that sounds good on your music, and your setup. Comfort is something that is also critical, and hard to determine until you try it. Worrying about the technical merits of one IEM over another just leads you down the path of chasing gear for gear's sake, instead of gear for music's sake.

post #13 of 23

Regarding multiple balanced armature drivers, crossovers:

 

 

Axel Grell wrote:
Balanced armature drivers were originally developed as small, high efficiency narrow band transducers for hearing aids. There undistorted maximum SPL is limited. you have to use sveral of them for a good wideband sound reproduction. Multiway systems have the disadvantage of time differences between the signals from the different drivers (a well known problem with loudspeakers). A single, well engineered dynamic driver can do it better: Better wide band reproduction, no phase distortion, higher undistorted SPL and better wearing comfort, due to its smaller size.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 

so based on your response:

 

6.  true and perfect square wave is the ultimate goals in digital sound reproduction, so the graph must be as close to square wave as possible. for example here in UE700 IEM that I own right now is not ideal: http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/UltimateEarUE700.pdf because the graph is not perfect square compares to STAX SR009 which is the crown jewel of headphone in the world http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/StaxSR009.pdf as at now.

 

which graph should be flat ? 

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by liamstrain View Post

 

 

 

 

1. Number of drivers is something to consider, but not necessarily an indication of performance and quality of sound on its own. 

2. More crossovers also can mean more problems. Getting a crossover *just right* so it sounds natural is hard to do. Even harder in an iem. The best crossover is not needing one at all (Which is why a single dynamic driver, well implemented, can sound as good or better as 3 or 4 B/A drivers). 

3. meh

4. yes

5. yes

6. within reason - *most* people cannot hear 20-20. More important than the range, to me, is the response graph showing how it presents the music. bass heavy? flat response? peaky and tinny? etc. IMO - always aim for a flat (uncolored) response. 

7. Anything under 80ish ohms won't be a problem from portable unamped sources (and if you do go with amps,  something between 50 and 80 gives you more flexibility without risking impedance mismatches than an uber-low nominal impedance - helps noise floor too). Ultimately though, I wouldn't worry about this one too much either. 

post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnSantana View Post
 
which graph should be flat ?

 

The frequency response. The top left graph - should try to trend as flat as possible. There are some caveats to that, but as a general rule, for accurate response, that's a good one. 

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