First of all, thanks for all the replies. I think I have my conclusion. The Kaede's is not for me if I craved for vocals. However I might give them a try as soundstaging and imaging seems to be sublime.
Sorry for the not so organised and poor english...
I think you need to decide whether the signature suits you....
The Kaede does image and soundstage wonderfully, however when a IEM has those characters, part and parcel of this is that, images within the soundstage are in proportion. So from that perspective the vocals can be classed as recessed from an IEM users perspective but the actual sound is wonderfully correct!
Other than SM3, I have Westone 4, CK100Pro and ER4P, and of all the them I prefer Westone 4 for all rounder. I stated SM3 above as my preferred sound signature to emphasis my liking of forward midrange. As long as it is not overly boomy or screechy, I am ready for any kind sound signature. However what I really appreciate is a sound which makes me don't want to take off the earphones.
I have a chance auditioning FX700, and the soundstage was very very impressive. So I definitely understand your praise for Kaede. In my opinion, the downsides of FX700 were the distant vocals and sometimes piercing high. From what I have read through this thread, I have the impression that Kaede might be the same case as FX700 in the midrange, if they portrayed music the same way.
Can't speak for the KAEDE, but the SUI is significantly less forward and lush in the mids than the SM3. Upper mids are thinner and treble is more agressive than on the polite Earsonics.
As a complement they'd be fine imo, but if you want something with more similar sound signature to the SM3, I'd highly recommend the TOGO 334 instead.
I have thought of the TOGO334, which seems to be perfect for my taste, if it is not for the price...
I read that the custom MH334 plays vocals better than TOGO334, which makes me think to as well save money for the custom version which (hopefully would) fits my ears perfectly, though at a heftier price.
Of all the earphones I listed above, SM3 has the most engaging midrange to my ears. I wonder if there are anything else which sound more engaging than SM3. So, I would say SM3 is an extreme, and I shouldn't have stated SM3 as my sound preference since this is a Kaede's thread. Actually I have more or less figured out that the Kaede is not about midrange, but how distant it is I was not able to speculate, thus the question I posted earlier.
FX700 would be great if the vocals sounded a little more closer, which I have hoped either SUI or Kaede would be. Since the sound of SUI and Kaede are said to be close to each other, and based on your comparison between FX700 and SUI, I deduce that Kaede places vocals too far away for my liking.
I can only speak of the Flat-4 SUI, but from what I understand, the Kaede and SUI are pretty similar. SUI definitely projects a larger stage than the SM3, with more emphasis on width and lateral depth vs. the SM3's more spherical presentation. The SUI beats out the SM3 in imaging IMO as the directional cues on the SM3 can sound off to me. It's immersive for sure, but the extreme intimacy and viscous midrange can result in a rather congested/claustrophobic sound. The F-4 tends to centralize vocals similar to the SM3, with instruments floating off to either side, suspended laterally in space; you can easily approximate the distance between instruments and vocals as everything is allotted ample room within this space. Vocals are dialed back perhaps two or three notches but can feel more distant depending upon the recording, they are however, clearer and more nuanced on the F-4, and it's actually easier to ingest the entirety of a piece of music given that there isn't this laser focus on any one element. I feel the intimate presentation of mid focused armature monitors can be pretty distracting, as listening to music can feel like trying to appreciate a painting from two feet away as opposed to ten; while being closer does bring an extreme degree of clarity to individual subjects you lose the overall focus on the composition as a whole, since various elements (vocals or guitars for instance) tend to pop out at you, distracting you at every turn. All in all, the F-4 will net you large gains in soundstage, detail, clarity, dynamic range, and bass/treble extension, but it won't impart that lush midrange if that's what you're after. Still, that same smooth presentation comes at a cost, as the SM3 is so smooth and forgiving that it tends to gloss over details and robs music of grit, edge and texture. I'd recommend the FAD Heaven VI as an upgrade if you enjoy the SM3's lush midrange (but not to the detriment of loss of detail), and I'd put the Flat-4 (SUI) and the FAD Heaven VI on a par, technically.
So, SUI and Kaede are about soundstaging :) This seems to be the general consensus in this thread.
I can understand that extreme intimacy might sometimes make things feel congested, but I never have any claustrophobic experience with my SM3. This might sound weird, but I have choking feeling when listening to earphones with too powerful bass. The painting metaphor explains things very well, though I hope that I had a better eyesight to catch the details I want to inspect further even standing far from the painting, in this case vocals.
I will check on the FAD Heaven VI.
Edited by gravisily - 4/19/13 at 1:26am