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BEST IEM FOR J-POP/J-ROCK (BUDGET $500 APPROX.)

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 

Hello,

 

 

 

I am looking to buy a new pair of IEM's for mainly Japanese music. I already read a lot of reviews including Joker's detailed review.

 

 

 

MUSIC- Some of the music I listen to are ayaka, YUI, Emi Fujita, Natsukawa Rimi, Utada Hikaru, Namie Amuro, BoA, Thelma Aoyama, SCANDAL, Luna Sea, X Japan, ONE OK ROCK, UVERworld, High and Mighty Color, Miyavi, The Gazette, L'Arc~en~Ciel and some K-pop.

 

 

 

 

SOUND PREFERENCES-

  • Clarity, airy/transparent
  • Articulate
  • Mids
  • treble must be smooth (not harsh or too bright)
  • good soundstage- feels as if you’re listening to a live concert
  • not a too bassy as I’m not much of a basshead. The eq-7’s bass is adequate for my needs.
  • vocals a bit more forward than instruments. I like vocal centric headphones but I also want instruments to be engaging.
  • good imaging (able to pin point where instruments are and not congested on complex passages.  

 

 

 

 

SOURCE- Sony Walkman Z, but I also have an Cowon J3. No amp.

 

 

 

 

Currently I’m looking at the Audio Technica CK100 and CK100PRO. Budget is around $500.

 

 

 

Thank you for your time regular_smile%20.gif


Edited by Love Music - 12/14/12 at 9:13am
post #2 of 65

i mainly(80% of the time) listen to japanese indie (asian kung-fu generation if u know who they are). so far i feel my Sony EX600 is doing great for it. i think you should check out EX1000

post #3 of 65

You're asking for an almost perfect IEM.

Unfortunately it's a give and take situation for IEM.

For example the IE80s has excellent bass response and sound staging but falls short in terms of clarity.

If you want an all rounder you probably need to go the custom route costing you a thousand plus.

 

That said I'm recommending the Sony ex600s as well or even the shure se535 red.


Edited by muscular - 12/14/12 at 9:44am
post #4 of 65

From your description the Earsonics SM3 V2 fits really well with what your looking for, I know I've been recommending these a lot lately but in this instance they seem to be one of if not the best choice for the OP.

 

 

Clarity, airy/transparent - yes
 
Articulate - yes
 
Mids - yes (very good mids)
 
treble must be smooth (not harsh or too bright) - yes (the highs are exactly that)
 
good soundstage- feels as if you’re listening to a live concert - yes (one of the best soundstage I've heard)
 
not a too bassy as I’m not much of a basshead. The eq-7’s bass is adequate for my needs. - yes (very accurate bass)
 
vocals a bit more forward than instruments. I like vocal centric headphones but I also want instruments to be engaging. - yes (they isolate vocal very well)
 
good imaging (able to pin point where instruments are and not congested on complex passages. - yes (again some of the best if not the best imaging I've heard)  
 
They cost anywhere from around $300 to $400 and you can get them from Musica Acoustic for $398 and I believe they're in Japan also.
 
I'm sure others will say the Westone W4 and they would also be a good choice though I think the SM3 would be a bit better for what you want.
post #5 of 65

Most Japanese music are handled great on mastering, I'm the one who listen to J-Rock/J-Pop too.

I can say AT CK100 is a great choice. But have you heard Shure SE535? I really recommend you to try it. (comparing with CK100)

I like

I never tried any iems in this range other than these two. So I can't recommend any other.

If you have nearby store which have one of these to try, try it. You're the only one who can judge which one is better =)

post #6 of 65
Mid centric IEMs like the Ck100 or SM3v2 are great choices. I would not recommend the W4 because of the veil over the mids.

I listen to a lot of those artists too smily_headphones1.gif mostly songs from anime OP/ED and OST.
Edited by Peculier - 12/14/12 at 5:33pm
post #7 of 65

I've never heard the CK100 but I've read a little about them and they do look to be pretty good.  I think the OP would really enjoy the SM3 also and the SM3 is a bit better than the SE535 imo.

post #8 of 65

I would say SM3 or the W4R

And another person who likes High and Mighty Color - miss them so much

post #9 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by muscular View Post

You're asking for an almost perfect IEM.

Unfortunately it's a give and take situation for IEM.

For example the IE80s has excellent bass response and sound staging but falls short in terms of clarity.

If you want an all rounder you probably need to go the custom route costing you a thousand plus.

 

That said I'm recommending the Sony ex600s as well or even the shure se535 red.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seekky View Post

i mainly(80% of the time) listen to japanese indie (asian kung-fu generation if u know who they are). so far i feel my Sony EX600 is doing great for it. i think you should check out EX1000

 

The Sony's used to be one of my choices but many people who owned it says the isolation sucks. It will be ok to use in a quite environment but not when your outside.

post #10 of 65
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the suggestions guys. The earphones i'm considering right now are ck100, ck100PRO and SM3.

post #11 of 65

I know a little about J-Pop and the SM3 will sound very good with that style of music.  If you want the mids to be very forward than its seems like the CK100 would be a good choice but I love the mids of the SM3 because will forward they don't over power the bass and highs.

post #12 of 65
Thread Starter 

Thanks Techno Kid. How does the SM3 compare with your eq-7 since I'm currently using them.

post #13 of 65
My own recommendation based on your listed preferences. First 3 points can be crossed off immediately, because both the CK100/CK100PRO do not have any issues with those at all, and will fufill those requirements easily, From the 4th point onwards, it gets alittle trickly as these 2 IEMs behave quite differently since they are tuned and built with their own DNA/sound signature, so I will try to explain alittle more in detail. My answers in bold.

Q) treble must be smooth (not harsh or too bright)
A) Both Audio-technica IEMs do present a smooth treble quality, with the CK100 presenting a more liquid/lush sound signature while the latter giving a slightly harder, grainy texture note/sound to it. Both will not fall under as harsh sounding, but both are considered bright-sounding IEMs to my ears. In terms of technical performance/analytical-ness level, the CK100PRO can probably be considered a notch or two levels higher than CK100, in terms of resolving clarity/resolution definition due to different FR tuning and different Knowles drivers been used in it. (despite both models are all based on 3-driver Knowles BA models)

Q) good soundstage- feels as if you’re listening to a live concert
A) Both have good soundstage properties, but CK100 has a smaller, more intimate soundstage feel due to it's mid-centric vocals, and a more rounded 3D-spatial cues in terms of sense of space. CK100PRO has a much larger width and taller depth/height, mimicking a pretty grand and expansive space, but it still goes according to your music track's original recording in the first place, meaning if it's meant to mimick a studio space, it sounds like a studio, if it's supposed to be a live symphony recording, it will show you the depth and width of a theatre hall accordingly.
So in this case, personally in my own words the CK100 presents a slightly more unnatural way of soundstage presentation/space, while CK100PRO is much more true to my ears in regards to the actual CD's original recording, in terms of accurate reproduction of the actual soundstage. Some people may prefer CK100's presentation, while others the CK100PRO.


Q) not a too bassy as I’m not much of a basshead. The eq-7’s bass is adequate for my needs.
A) Actually Audio-technica's CK family line of IEM models are never known for having overly-bassy/booming bass qualities, even the CKS line of family IEMs does not have that sort of traits, they just have huge huge amounts of tight, thumping quality bass with slighty mid-bump emphasis, with good extension in terms of sub-bass. Both CK100 and CK100PRO are adequate in terms of bass qualities to my ears, but I would say in terms of the diverse genres I listen these days (check my original review again if you have doubts) that I would definitely pick the CK100PRO over the earlier predecessor. CK100 is fine in terms of bass for japanese female vocals, but they just don't do so well for many ambient/acoustic music and also heavy/majestic orchestral or symphonic tracks, that do come in most anime/movie japanese OST soundtracks found these days.

Q) vocals a bit more forward than instruments. I like vocal centric headphones but I also want instruments to be engaging.
A) The CK100's are considered vocal-centric, thus I have already mentioned beforehand in my original thread review they are considered mid-centric IEMs. The CK100PRO not so much, but they are still forward-sounding in terms of vocals so nothing to worry about. They have good separation in terms of instruments from the vocals, so no your worries are unfounded as CK100PRO will separate the instruments from the vocals well to make them not congested/blended together, and yet you will hear both equally well in terms of clarity.

Q) good imaging (able to pin point where instruments are and not congested on complex passages.
A) Both IEM models are excellent in terms of imaging presentation and separation. You will not find your songs or tracks congested even in terms of complex passages. So yeah nothing to worry about.

Other than CK100/CK100PRO from Audio-technica, may I suggest the below maker models as they should be well within your listening preferences. But without a way to audition these you are still putting yourself in alot of risk, as some of us may hear things differently.

  • ATH-CK90PRO MKII - Dual-BA model also from ATH, definitely not as bright as CK100PRO's. but said to have the treble quality refinements of their multi-BA flagship model. Also a pretty balanced/linear-sounding pair of IEMs just like the 100PRO's according to owner impressions from japanese BBS. But I have not heard of this model before for myself yet, so take my above words with pinches of salt but it's still something for you to consider if you are willing to consider Audio-technica.
  • Final Audio Design Heaven C (FI-BA-SA) -Joker has written a review before on his long multi-IEM comparison thread against FAD's own Heaven S (FI-BA-SB), with the latter having a more vivid, edgier treble quality so I would advise against that, since you have stated you are sensitive to treble spikes/energy.
  • Sony MDR-EX1000 or EX800ST -Already recommended to you before in PM's, but their isolation properties may not measure up to other alternative universal IEMs, so give and take. However sound quality is definitely one of the best though for japanese vocals, that you can take my word for it.
  • Shure SE535 LTD -magical mids, improved highs from the previous model, and definitely not as bright as CK100PRO. Seems to sound good with most japanese female vocals I had tested with, but bass quantity is more than CK100PRO's so it could be a slight problem for you. (well there's already equalisation alternatives so since you are using Walkman Z which comes on Android platform, EQ-ing down or switching off ClearBass totally could be a good remedy for your case)

Hope the above helps.
post #14 of 65

 RE272 vocal sound great with great midrange details, clear highs and good bass response with good imaging and space, very good buy base on your requirements......


Edited by HFAUDIOPHILE - 12/18/12 at 1:39pm
post #15 of 65
So far, I think I would recommend the Um3x and EX1000. Both have great bass and vocals. I find EX better with female vocals and westone quite nice with both male and female vocals. I find the SE 535 really nice with Utada Hikaru but not so good with scandal recordings. And it's horrible with One Ok Rock Uverworld and Spyair stuff.
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