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Defining a new "upper-mid-level" in IEMs

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

A few years ago I made my first real step into the head-fi world, picking up a pair of Shure 420's for use on the road and in loud places. While I've always been a big room speaker kind of guy, I loved the sense of intimacy and the clarity offered by a good set of IEM's, and while my Shures are not quite top of the line, I definitely felt as if I had gotten my money's worth. 

 

In the intervening time, my phones have taken a beating, and without a replaceable caple I fear that my Shures will soon require replacement. When I came back to Head-Fi, however, I was surprised to see the massive uptick in both ultra-high-end and relatively in expensive custom IEM's, the prevalence of user-replaceable cables and available upgrade cables, and the near-ubiquity of portable amps across an increasingly wide price range. 

 

So as I look at the possibility of an upgrade or replacement for my ailing Shures, I am wondering what the new "upper-mid-fi" standard really is. Do inexpensive custom IEM's sound better than top-of-the-line universals? Do portable amps really offer a noticeable improvement for either custom or universal IEM's?

 

I guess my question ultimately boils down to this: Given ~$500, where would you put your money? On custom IEM's? On top-of-the-line universals? Portable amp? Cables?

 

For reference, I listen primarily to jazz/funk and classic rock. I love the clarity and fluid mids of my Shure IEMs but I value comfort nearly as much as sound quality.

post #2 of 11

If you want to save your Shures, you can contact Brian from BTG who can make the cables removable: http://btg-audio.webs.com/

 

He's not taking orders now, but he should be soon. I've only heard good things about him.

 

As for your answer, definitely universals or customs. I feel amps for IEMs are rarely worth the money. 

post #3 of 11

I just got SE535 for $350

 

I seriously looked into customs but having multiple re-fits, sending them back and forth, bubbles in the shells and possible re-fits sounding different, scared me away from them.

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScaryFatKidGT View Post

I seriously looked into customs but having multiple re-fits, sending them back and forth, bubbles in the shells and possible re-fits sounding different, scared me away from them.

 

And whom were you having this experience with?

post #5 of 11

I looked into the JH5's and was reading in the appreciation thread and then I found people selling there JH13 and 16's in the marketplace and I was really exited that I could afford the JH16's, but then I found out most of them are selling them at a huge loss because, after many re-fits, they could never get them to fit right, and that really scared me away from them (JH and customs all together). Also I have read that JHaudio's shells are inferior to other companies and if the color is wrong or there are bubbles that they wont fix them, people were sending them in for "fake re-fits" to get the color they wanted. I looked into some other companies but most of them are over seas so shipping back and forth for re-fits would take forever, like 2 weeks at a time.

 

I Sort of realized that JHaudio only wants to deal with bands and people making money that can dish out the dough or fly there for refits on the spot or what ever and they don't sound to happy making things right with people that saved up for 2 years to get the JH16's.

 

Then I started looking into other companies, UM, UE, Heir... but you can't tell how they sound and there custom so once you buy them your stuck so I just gave up and got the SE535's, I would like to hear the UE 900's though. The best part is if I don't like them I can take them back or trade them for UE 900's or Westone 4's down the road, can't do that with customs.

 

I really like JH audio from all the rave reviews but I just don't have the time or money to deal with every thing, maybe the first go you get a pair that fit perfect but it not ur screwed.


Edited by ScaryFatKidGT - 12/5/12 at 10:49am
post #6 of 11

Time to start buying and selling IEMs on the trading forum!

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScaryFatKidGT View Post

Then I started looking into other companies, UM, UE, Heir... but you can't tell how they sound and there custom so once you buy them your stuck so I just gave up and got the SE535's, I would like to hear the UE 900's though. The best part is if I don't like them I can take them back or trade them for UE 900's or Westone 4's down the road, can't do that with customs.

 

Do you know how many knowledgeable reviews there are on UM, UE and Heir products? Also, another way is to ask for a demo unit from UM for half of the price just to see if the sound is right for you. Once you're done with the demo, simply return it and they will give you your money back. Rather a difficult and complicated procedure, but it's better than buying your first CIEM blind. 

 

Like the saying goes around here, once you go custom, you don't go back wink.gif

post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by planx View Post

 

Do you know how many knowledgeable reviews there are on UM, UE and Heir products? Also, another way is to ask for a demo unit from UM for half of the price just to see if the sound is right for you. Once you're done with the demo, simply return it and they will give you your money back. Rather a difficult and complicated procedure, but it's better than buying your first CIEM blind. 

 

Like the saying goes around here, once you go custom, you don't go back wink.gif


Is UM the only company that does that? I know customs are great I just can't justify driving an hour away and paying for shipping for 5 re-fits. Or paying $1000's for pink shells with bubbles instead of solid red shells. For $1000 F@*# dollars I better get what I want and it better be perfect.

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScaryFatKidGT View Post


Is UM the only company that does that? I know customs are great I just can't justify driving an hour away and paying for shipping for 5 re-fits. Or paying $1000's for pink shells with bubbles instead of solid red shells. For $1000 F@*# dollars I better get what I want and it better be perfect.

 

I'm sure a lot of other companies are willing, but you have to be a very willing customer. Uhh... I haven't had a single re-fit or reshell in 4 years. And UM's craftsmanship is flawless, no bubbles to be seen.

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,

 

I appreciate the opinions. planx- can you comment on your custom IEM experience? Was it worth the hassle?

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Othello3 View Post

Hi guys,

 

I appreciate the opinions. planx- can you comment on your custom IEM experience? Was it worth the hassle?

 

It was definitely worth the hassle because the end result was fantastic for me. I had a perfect fit, at the time, and felt and saw no imperfections on the CIEM. Stephen Guo from UM was extremely friendly and treated me as family during the wait. The end result sounded so fantastic that I still praise it as the best sounding IEM i've put my ears into to date

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