I'm contemplating moving up to custom IEMs soon, but I want to make sure before I make the whole investment. I currently own the Heir 4.Ai which I love, but I've never been a huge fan of the fit of a lot of universals, so I figure that customs would be much better in this regard. As for a sound signature, I would prefer a slightly mid-forward sound (similar to the 4.Ai, maybe even a bit more forward) with a good soundstage and accurate bass and treble. My second favorite IEM was the UM3X which has slightly boosted bass -- I enjoyed that bass, but I don't want anything too boomy or uncontrolled. I would love to combine the treble extension and detailing of the 4.Ai with the bass and mids of the UM3X with a slightly larger, out of head type sound if possible. I would say that I don't like mids that are too forward -- the SM3 had a very "in your head" vocal type sound that I didn't enjoy.
I was wondering if it would then be worth it for me to get CIEMs, probably in the $600-700 range. I have a few requirements:
- Made in the US (since it's my first custom, I can see problems with fit and don't want too much of a hassle with international shipping); this can be relaxed if an IEM is really tons better than US options
- Would prefer BA over hybrid systems (a bit afraid of bass boominess with hybrids; I'm certainly not a basshead)
- Slightly mid-forward with vocal clarity as my number one requirement, but not so much that everything sounds "in the head"
- Mainly balanced sound, with not too much of a bass or treble emphasis. I really dislike V-shaped sounds, so none of that.
- Good soundstage, since if possible I'd like to replace a full-size rig (HD600/Asgard right now)... this requirement might not be possible
- Doesn't butcher poorly produced songs; I listen to a lot of rock/indie rock that might not be the best produced, I don't want resolving to the point that those tracks become unlistenable; a lot of my files are also 256-320kbps mp3 and I use an iPhone mainly for a source
- I would prefer not to use an amp, but if it really helps I can see myself getting an Arrow; I own a DragonFly for computer use which I'll use
I was looking at mainly two IEMs that seem to fit that description: the Dream Ears aud-5x/6x and the 1964 Ears V6. I was also considering the UM Miracle and the Westone ES5 at much higher prices, since I'm heard good things about each that seem to have maybe the right sound signature for me, plus I've enjoyed the Westone sound. Any other recommendations would be appreciated (or even the recommendation of not going custom).