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[Double Review] Etymotic HF3 & Sony XBA-3, with appearances from the Vsonic GR07 MKII - Page 3

post #31 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobeau View Post

I've owned the HF3s for a couple years now and have had the GR07 Mk2s for a few months.  Years ago (circa 2005) owned the ER4Ps for a couple years as well and they were my sole portable phone until I tried the Shure S500s.

Maybe after thousands of hours of listening to Etys (generally because they're so well regarded on Head-fi) I would hope I'd 'get it', but I just don't.  I prefer everything else I own to them... relative low end stuff at this point, including EPH-100s, FXD80s, S500s.  To my ears they come off dull, anemic in the bass, and shrill.  And I've tried driving them out of things like my old desktop setup (Metrum Octave -> WA6SE), O2/ODAC combo, and the Dragonfly.

So something about me must be defective to not hear how special these guys are.   I still use them regularly - for conference calls with clients because of their mic.  Music listening, no way.  OTOH, the GR07 Mk2 are my favorite IEMs right now, so it's not as if I'm against a neutral presentation.

The etys are highly tuned for a reference diffuse field frequency response but deviation from the design plug depth would cause a treble peak somewhere above 7kHz, causing a shrill presentation. Rather than try to fiddle with tips to find a tip I can get to the reference plug depth (a lost cause anyway as I would never be able to get them in deep enough) I just EQ the one resonance peak out and they sound much better. Look at PiccoloNamek's "how to equalize headphones" guide for details on how to find that resonance. I wrote an "advanced EQ tutorial" but while it's sonically superior I have to admit it's rather less comprehensible redface.gif

http://www.head-fi.org/t/413900/how-to-equalize-your-headphones-a-tutorial
http://www.head-fi.org/t/615417/how-to-equalize-your-headphones-advanced-tutorial-in-progress
post #32 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post


You should try the ER-6. They were meant to match the 4S and are more accurate than the hf series. The ergonomics suck though.
This should be a good comparison thread. It's funny I've also ended up with the GR07 and etys as my main 2 iems. They are both the best at what they do imo and compliment each other very well.

 

I can't seem to find the ER6 anywhere for around the same price I got the HF3.

 

I never ever thought I'd end up being so impressed by an Ety, hence the title of the thread. I'm actually looking forward to comparing them myself (I still haven't listened to my GR07). Unless the XBA-3 impresses the hell out of me, it'll probably be going up FS.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

Great impressions and I agree completely - Etymotic HF series are some of the most natural and enjoyable IEMs I've ever heard. Like you wrote, I also think the treble is superb with pristine refinement and resolution, second only to the ER4S IMO - compared to the latter it lacks that last bit of control and sounds sibilant at times. But, really, other than ER4S, I can't think of any IEM with better treble than that of the HF series. They are even more refined than ER4P (although a bit more sibilant) and a more enjoyable listen overall than ER4P to my ears. I also agree about the 3D soundstage - with the HF series imaging is incredibly precise. Again, I feel that they surpass ER4P in this area where the latter sounds more flat and 2D with less depth to the soundstage, even when amped. ER4S images a bit better maybe, but HF series are more intimate sounding and arguably more musical.

 

I'm glad we hear so similarly. I'll be exploring the ER4S in the future, but the H3 has me covered for a long time.

post #33 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by eke2k6 View Post

I can't seem to find the ER6 anywhere for around the same price I got the HF3.

I never ever thought I'd end up being so impressed by an Ety, hence the title of the thread. I'm actually looking forward to comparing them myself (I still haven't listened to my GR07). Unless the XBA-3 impresses the hell out of me, it'll probably be going up FS.



I'm glad we hear so similarly. I'll be exploring the ER4S in the future, but the H3 has me covered for a long time.

ER-6 can be found new on amazon japan for about $100. It requires using a forwarding service like tenso though.
post #34 of 106
Thread Starter 

Ah, ok. I'll just wait to grab your when you put it on the FS forums.

post #35 of 106
Thread Starter 

Well, my XBA-3 is here, and I'm excited to hear it.

 

Now that all three are here, I can update this over the weekend...instead of studying. Thanks, Head-Fi!

post #36 of 106
Thread Starter 

The entire review has been completed. I've added the XBA-3 as well, and compared both using the GR07 as a benchmark.

post #37 of 106

Damn, now I wish I didn't say anything, at least until after the review.  Well at least it seems we hear things in a similar fashion.  Certainly can't argue against what Etys do well, but they're not what I look for to enjoy my music.

 

Now I'm intrigued by the XBA-3 though.  I had the impression these had a pretty bad rap here and haven't paid much attention to them.  Might pick one up if I see a good deal in the FS forum...

 

Eke, are you planning on checking out he 4.ai or GR08 when it comes out?

post #38 of 106
Excellent comparisons Eke.

I agree with assessment mostly. I actually prefer the cymbals of the XBA3 over the GR07 MK2 (I actually prefer the original GR07 over the MK2 in this area).

The HF3 sound better with some music but generally speaking I prefer the XBA3 due to the bass. The XBA3 is a bit less detailed in the kids and treble but I actually found that the HF3 sounded artificial in comparison. I will have a listen to all your YouTube tracks to get a better feel.

If the MDR-1R manages to sound bigger while bring just a bit of the Ety's mids and treble detail I may be in audio nervana LOL.
post #39 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobeau View Post

Damn, now I wish I didn't say anything, at least until after the review.  Well at least it seems we hear things in a similar fashion.  Certainly can't argue against what Etys do well, but they're not what I look for to enjoy my music.

 

Now I'm intrigued by the XBA-3 though.  I had the impression these had a pretty bad rap here and haven't paid much attention to them.  Might pick one up if I see a good deal in the FS forum...

 

Eke, are you planning on checking out he 4.ai or GR08 when it comes out?

 

 

Yeah, I was shocked when I listened to my GR07 for the first time after spending a week with the Ety. It seemed to have an obnoxious amount of bass, and was bloated in comparison. Now that I'm readjusted to the vsonic, and now the sony, it's the Ety that's a little light.

 

 

The XBA-3 is really good. It's awesome for classical because it has little spacial cues that other iems don't quite produce, and it's powerful and dynamic enough to make certain sections come alive. It has a *expletive* J-cord though. It's not too bad, but it's a J-cord.

 

I'm much more interested in the GR08 than the 4ai. A marriage between the HF and GR07 would equal happiness to me. I'm still broke (AKA, a student), so I'll have to shift some stuff around.

 

 

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by dweaver View Post

Excellent comparisons Eke.
I agree with assessment mostly. I actually prefer the cymbals of the XBA3 over the GR07 MK2 (I actually prefer the original GR07 over the MK2 in this area).
The HF3 sound better with some music but generally speaking I prefer the XBA3 due to the bass. The XBA3 is a bit less detailed in the kids and treble but I actually found that the HF3 sounded artificial in comparison. I will have a listen to all your YouTube tracks to get a better feel.
If the MDR-1R manages to sound bigger while bring just a bit of the Ety's mids and treble detail I may be in audio nervana LOL.

 

Thank you, kind sir. 

 
The cymbals of the XBA are great, but there's a spike somewhere in the treble that sounds extremely irritating. It's almost like the sibilance issue with the original GR07. Have a listen to the first track with the XBA-3, then again with your HF3 to see what I mean.
post #40 of 106

Thanks for the nice comparison's, eke. I always thought the XBA-3 was the one I wanted to try. I never pull the trigger cause I have my Sony HPM-78 which I liked best overall when I had the GR07(original early batch version) and the ASG-1 1.0 to compare with. So, I already have an excellent sounding Sony with an annoying J-cord, lol. Tempted by the HF3/5 also especially when they get very cheap but I've had the ER4 twice already. Keep up the good work! 

post #41 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jant71 View Post

Thanks for the nice comparison's, eke. I always thought the XBA-3 was the one I wanted to try. I never pull the trigger cause I have my Sony HPM-78 which I liked best overall when I had the GR07(original early batch version) and the ASG-1 1.0 to compare with. So, I already have an excellent sounding Sony with an annoying J-cord, lol. Tempted by the HF3/5 also especially when they get very cheap but I've had the ER4 twice already. Keep up the good work! 

 

 

Thanks jant. It's a really good iem, but now I'm curious to hear what the extra woofer in the XBA-4 does to the sound.

post #42 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by eke2k6 View Post

I'm much more interested in the GR08 than the 4ai. A marriage between the HF and GR07 would equal happiness to me

 

The reason why I mention the 4.ai is I've seem some comments along the line of them being 'the ER4 done right'.  I'm kinda curious about them myself but figure they won't quite be for me.  

 

The GR08 is also the one I'm pretty anxious to see turn out.  Also if you haven't heard, JVC is coming out with e *triple* dynamic soon, will be a bit shy of $300.  That might be too much dynamic goodness, and to be perfectly honest, I'm not a big fan of their current dynamic king, the FXD-80, just a little too boomy down low and the mid suckout is too much.  But I'm in love with their S500 so who knows...

post #43 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobeau View Post

 

The reason why I mention the 4.ai is I've seem some comments along the line of them being 'the ER4 done right'.  I'm kinda curious about them myself but figure they won't quite be for me.  

 

The GR08 is also the one I'm pretty anxious to see turn out.  Also if you haven't heard, JVC is coming out with e *triple* dynamic soon, will be a bit shy of $300.  That might be too much dynamic goodness, and to be perfectly honest, I'm not a big fan of their current dynamic king, the FXD-80, just a little too boomy down low and the mid suckout is too much.  But I'm in love with their S500 so who knows...

 

 

I'm only slightly curious about the 4ai, and I just don't know why I can't muster up any excitement for it rolleyes.gif

 

I actually the new JVC, but I'm not exactly a fan of the FXT90, so I'll be waiting around for that one. 

post #44 of 106

Interesting impressions, especially since I've neither heard the HF3 nor the XBA-3. Actually, they're reinforcing my decision to take a pass on both, because of subpar soundstage size on the former and off-timbre on the latter. So, despite their somewhat iffy treble, the GR07 Mk2 still look like the best pick out of these for my taste.

 

Btw, didn't know that you play the drums. That explains a lot regarding your love of the GR07, lol. wink.gif

post #45 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

Interesting impressions, especially since I've neither heard the HF3 nor the XBA-3. Actually, they're reinforcing my decision to take a pass on both, because of subpar soundstage size on the former and off-timbre on the latter. So, despite their somewhat iffy treble, the GR07 Mk2 still look like the best pick out of these for my taste.

 

Btw, didn't know that you play the drums. That explains a lot regarding your love of the GR07, lol. wink.gif

 

The timbre isn't bad at all in the XBA, it's just that there's a spike somewhere that affects the hi-hat, and a much smaller one that affects cymbals. I was about to PM you that they sound great with orchestral pieces. I have copies of Mahler's 9th symphony, Symphonie Fantastique, and Carmina Burana. The XBA is great on all three, and the treble has a slightly brassy quality to it that makes it sound very nice with trumpets and horns.

 

Yeah, the Ety wouldn't be in my top three choices for classical. It just can't quite capture the grandness of a track, and isn't powerful enough.

 

I've been playing since I was 6, but my skill isn't quite proportionate to my experience. rolleyes.gif

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › [Double Review] Etymotic HF3 & Sony XBA-3, with appearances from the Vsonic GR07 MKII