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Looking for a new pair of in-ear headphones.

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I am currently using a pair of Etymotic Research MC5, I got these not long after it came out so that's about 2 or 3 years ago I can't remember. I wanted to get a new one and I'm looking for the following features:

-The MC5, well the biggest complaint I have is probably the build quality. the plastic part is really a problem and both of mine broke. They are now held together by super glue. It's just the shape of the headphones, too easily damaged for portable.

- the rubber wire is also a problem, the rubber at the base of the connections have spitted into strands instead of a continuous tube. While it's not a problem now, I'm afraid it will start to break off in a year or so.

-I don't know what were they thinking not making the wire go behind your ears. Because it's a requirement for in-ear headphones as I discovered with the MC5 (yes it was my first). You can still wear the MC5 with the wires behind your ears but it's just awkward and bends the wire at the base of the connections causing the previous problem. So if possible, I really like something with like a fabric wire sleeve, something that's not rubber. but this is not a primary issue, rubber is just fine.

- Since I don't use amps and stuff, something easy to drive.

- Good isolation. I haven't compared with others so I don't know how good the MC5 compares, but it's good enough for me.

- Sound quality wise, I'm not a real hard core audiophile and after years of trying, to be honest, I still haven't heard the mystical "improvements" over regular headphones. I do have a pair of AKG Q701 on an ASUS Xonar Essence STX using ASIO output. I can tell that it sounds better than the ones I had. But really, it's not a huge difference. Also after trying it on an iPod Shuffle, I can barely, barely tell the difference. So really, I don't think getting a $1000 amp will make a lot of difference.
Well I'm getting off track, but basically anything better than the Apple stock headphones is acceptable to me. I can tell the dollar store ones suck though.

Budget, preferably around $100. up to $200 is really good. For now I have my eyes on the Shure SE215, because it's a familiar brand (used to have the SRH 440), and it looks nice,as well as good reviews and stuff.
post #2 of 6

You may not tell the difference between headphones resolution but imaging, instruments separation and soundstage size are easier to notice. I will recommend the Yamaha EPH100, GR07, UE TF10Pro, Sony EX7550 and JVC FXD80 are recommended and SE215 are great buy but these IEMs are even better sounding.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
thanks for the recommendations. I will do more research on these models.

I really can't tell the difference in soundstage as well (I'm assuming imaging, separation and soundstage are more or less the same, related to how well sound sources seem to position themselves). When I use any kind of bit-exact output they always sound right where they are, beside my ears, they don't sound anywhere beyond that. The only way to make them leave the headphones is by turning on processing features that does this, like Dolby Headphone from my sound card.
In fact that's what I would expect from a technical point of view. because these recordings couldn't have been recorded with a dummy head (for most recordings), so if you had a perfect reproduction of the recording, it won't have any sound stage, because the sound bypassed all the reflections(assuming they recorded in a sound proof studio room) from walls and your ear flaps. The only way there could by an illusion of positioning is if the software could put those effects back in, or if it could be produced by some kind of interaction with the internal structure of the headphone.
post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacobgong View Post

I am currently using a pair of Etymotic Research MC5, I got these not long after it came out so that's about 2 or 3 years ago I can't remember. I wanted to get a new one and I'm looking for the following features:
-The MC5, well the biggest complaint I have is probably the build quality. the plastic part is really a problem and both of mine broke. They are now held together by super glue. It's just the shape of the headphones, too easily damaged for portable.
- the rubber wire is also a problem, the rubber at the base of the connections have spitted into strands instead of a continuous tube. While it's not a problem now, I'm afraid it will start to break off in a year or so.
-I don't know what were they thinking not making the wire go behind your ears. Because it's a requirement for in-ear headphones as I discovered with the MC5 (yes it was my first). You can still wear the MC5 with the wires behind your ears but it's just awkward and bends the wire at the base of the connections causing the previous problem. So if possible, I really like something with like a fabric wire sleeve, something that's not rubber. but this is not a primary issue, rubber is just fine.
- Since I don't use amps and stuff, something easy to drive.
- Good isolation. I haven't compared with others so I don't know how good the MC5 compares, but it's good enough for me.
- Sound quality wise, I'm not a real hard core audiophile and after years of trying, to be honest, I still haven't heard the mystical "improvements" over regular headphones. I do have a pair of AKG Q701 on an ASUS Xonar Essence STX using ASIO output. I can tell that it sounds better than the ones I had. But really, it's not a huge difference. Also after trying it on an iPod Shuffle, I can barely, barely tell the difference. So really, I don't think getting a $1000 amp will make a lot of difference.
Well I'm getting off track, but basically anything better than the Apple stock headphones is acceptable to me. I can tell the dollar store ones suck though.
Budget, preferably around $100. up to $200 is really good. For now I have my eyes on the Shure SE215, because it's a familiar brand (used to have the SRH 440), and it looks nice,as well as good reviews and stuff.

 

HF5 are the natural succession upwards. The build is better this time around. Isolation is a bit better too, since they go in deeper with the smaller body. If you really want over-ear, the SE215 would do just fine. Obviously none of these need an amp.

 

Regarding the sound thing, listen harder! It isn't all just snake oil (though a lot of it is, but around this price, it's really not that prominent) 

post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacobgong View Post

thanks for the recommendations. I will do more research on these models.
I really can't tell the difference in soundstage as well (I'm assuming imaging, separation and soundstage are more or less the same, related to how well sound sources seem to position themselves). When I use any kind of bit-exact output they always sound right where they are, beside my ears, they don't sound anywhere beyond that. The only way to make them leave the headphones is by turning on processing features that does this, like Dolby Headphone from my sound card.
In fact that's what I would expect from a technical point of view. because these recordings couldn't have been recorded with a dummy head (for most recordings), so if you had a perfect reproduction of the recording, it won't have any sound stage, because the sound bypassed all the reflections(assuming they recorded in a sound proof studio room) from walls and your ear flaps. The only way there could by an illusion of positioning is if the software could put those effects back in, or if it could be produced by some kind of interaction with the internal structure of the headphone.

 

Yeah, the soundstage thing is a bit weird. I just perceive it as differing transient speeds that simulate "space". Obviously they won't sound out of the head, speakers only do this really, but we're just talking about relative to other headphones.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinQY View Post

Yeah, the soundstage thing is a bit weird. I just perceive it as differing transient speeds that simulate "space". Obviously they won't sound out of the head, speakers only do this really, but we're just talking about relative to other headphones.

Well in that case the difference is again, really minimal. a LOT less than just turning on software processing techniques. Some of these softwares can sound incredibly convincing like in some of the games. So good sometimes I feel I can play the game blindfolded. But that's just some of the games, with good sound engines. The ones without, and just plain music players, you're stuck with whatever is available on your hardware and their drivers.
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