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IEM flagship, which should I go for? (with impressions on brief encounter)

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

I'm looking for be-end flagship IEM which suits my listening experience. Previously I was a happy-pop lover, but slowly shifted to something with extra kick (Bon Jovi, to be precise). Lately, I discovered that my song preference slowly changed to something slower (like jazz vocals, instrumentals, classicals) but the transition hasn't been complete.

 

I'm currently owning 2 primary IEMs: Ocharaku Flat-4-Sui (90% of the time listening to it) and also Shure 535 Red.

 

I'm trying to find out which one suits me more (don't mind going customs). Price is almost the same for the listed IEMs:

I add some listening experience on the ones which I've personally tried for a while (less than 30 minutes).

 

1. Fi-ba-ss.(extremely detailed and transparent, soundstage is involving and clearly defined. Excellent mids, surprisingly full-bodied bass response).

2. Piano Forte IX (Hadn't tried, the one I had a brief experience is the Piano Forte VIII. Feel "nostalgic".

3. Fitear To-Go 334. (Tried it, heard it was the king of universal. Not sure about that. While extremely detailed, I find that the bass felt overpowering. Maybe I hadn't find a sweet spot on how to appreciate it, same as the other IEMs.)

4. JH 13/16. Didn't find them particularly pleasing despite cannot find flaw on them. Felt like it didn't suit for vocals.

5. Ocharaku Flat-4-Kaede (this one is a total mystery to me despite having the 4-sui).

6. ACS T1 Live: Tried the T1, quite comfortable. Loving the gel housing. Sound signature didn't please me especially. No fault found either.

7. Opinions?

 

Thanks for reading.

Happy Head-Fi beerchug.gif

post #2 of 19

It seems like your genres/preferences fits FI-BA-SS If my memory of demoing it is correct. Might want to consider UE IERM too if you don't mind going custom.

post #3 of 19

The Flat4-SUI is one of my absolute favorite IEMs as well. TBH, you're not going to be seeing drastic improvements even though you'll be spending twice as much. Diminishing returns certainly apply. Anyway, here's my thoughts on some of the ones you've listed which I own:

 

 

Final Audio FI-BA-SS: Very refined, but has a certain ruthless or raw quality to its sound in that it'll reveal everything in a given track, flaws and all. Despite this I wouldn't characterize it as harsh. Treble is energetic but well controlled like the Flat4. Bass is less emphasized, but extremely well textured and punchy. Detail retrieval about on par, however presentation is more externalized and less "in your head" compared to the Flat4. Analytic but natural sounding. Comfortable for me to wear and beautiful to observe, you'll want to be careful when handling these as they can scratch easily. Mirror finish is also annoying to keep polished (you'll probably want to, at any rate).

 

Final Audio Piano Forte IX: Extremely mid-centric sound, with rolled off bass and treble. Midrange is warm, liquid, and the overall sound is very "vintage." The VIII, IX, and X versions sound more alike than not, however the X is the most extreme in how it's voiced. The IX is a bit more balanced, though that's in a relative sense. These are very forgiving but sound more involving on some tracks than others. Presentation is extremely expansive and hall-like, but the sound remains very thick and blanketed. Ergonomics are very hit or miss: there are no tips aside from the built-in metal flange that is one-size-fits-most. Very shallow insertion, so not suitable for strenuous activity.

 

FitEar TO GO! 334: Very balanced sound, though there's a slight bass emphasis. Sound is refined and polite, with an emphasis on "getting out of the way" and allowing music to come through as it was recorded. More of a monitor-type earphone than a strict audiophile device, so it may lack that immediate wow-factor for some people; however it gets very little wrong in my opinion, and due to its transparency it's something of a chameleon in that it changes from track to track. Some have issues with fit, but I find they fit extremely well, even better than my full-on CIEMs. Cable is extremely microphonic. Build quality however is top notch, perhaps the most impressive of any in-ear monitor I've encountered thus far.

 

Ocharaku Flat4-KAEDE: The most impressive presentation and packaging of any in-ear monitor out there in my opinion. Basically a special edition of the Flat4-SUI. Sonically it is more similar than dissimilar, with perhaps a very slightly less bright and more bass-emphasized sound signature relative to its predecessor. If you already own the Flat4-SUI, I'd consider the others on the list first.

 

 

* * * * * * *

 

I'd also add the following to your list of considerations...

 

AKG K3003: A very airy and open presentation, though it can sound a bit unfocused and incoherent at times on certain tracks. In terms of tonal balance, I find the standard reference filter to be quite satisfying overall. Highs have a sparkly quality and sense of air that make this sound very "hi-fi." The midrange gives vocals a breathy and ethereal feel. Very comfortable for me to wear and strongly built, though I'd advise against the version with an inline remote as some have reported failures with that version (the "K3003i" version).

 

Sennheiser IE800: My new favorite universal. This thing has some of the nicest mids of any IEM I've ever heard, universal or otherwise. Biggest issue is the bass which is too emphasized on certain tracks for my liking, though it's a clean bass and doesn't muddy-up the midrange thankfully. Highs are refined and well controlled, sounding relatively linear. Overall presentation isn't as airy as the K3003, but it has more focused imaging to my ears. Cable is too short, but the overall build quality seems robust.

post #4 of 19

Wow, so Sennheiser got an IEM 'mostly' right?  biggrin.gif

post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cn11 View Post

Wow, so Sennheiser got an IEM 'mostly' right?  biggrin.gif

 

As someone who never really connected with the IE8 or IE80, I myself am surprised by just how much I've been digging the IE800. There are definitely some frustrating aspects to it, namely the ergonomics and stock performance on really bassy tracks. However everything else is so good I'm willing to overlook those issues and use a little EQ when the need arises.

post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post

 

As someone who never really connected with the IE8 or IE80, I myself am surprised by just how much I've been digging the IE800. There are definitely some frustrating aspects to it, namely the ergonomics and stock performance on really bassy tracks. However everything else is so good I'm willing to overlook those issues and use a little EQ when the need arises.

 

Very nice! I'd be quite curious to hear them. Sounds like they found some better balance from the midrange up through the highs (compared to the IE8 & 80)... 

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post

The Flat4-SUI is one of my absolute favorite IEMs as well. TBH, you're not going to be seeing drastic improvements even though you'll be spending twice as much. Diminishing returns certainly apply. Anyway, here's my thoughts on some of the ones you've listed which I own:

 

 

Final Audio FI-BA-SS: Very refined, but has a certain ruthless or raw quality to its sound in that it'll reveal everything in a given track, flaws and all. Despite this I wouldn't characterize it as harsh. Treble is energetic but well controlled like the Flat4. Bass is less emphasized, but extremely well textured and punchy. Detail retrieval about on par, however presentation is more externalized and less "in your head" compared to the Flat4. Analytic but natural sounding. Comfortable for me to wear and beautiful to observe, you'll want to be careful when handling these as they can scratch easily. Mirror finish is also annoying to keep polished (you'll probably want to, at any rate).

 

Final Audio Piano Forte IX: Extremely mid-centric sound, with rolled off bass and treble. Midrange is warm, liquid, and the overall sound is very "vintage." The VIII, IX, and X versions sound more alike than not, however the X is the most extreme in how it's voiced. The IX is a bit more balanced, though that's in a relative sense. These are very forgiving but sound more involving on some tracks than others. Presentation is extremely expansive and hall-like, but the sound remains very thick and blanketed. Ergonomics are very hit or miss: there are no tips aside from the built-in metal flange that is one-size-fits-most. Very shallow insertion, so not suitable for strenuous activity.

 

FitEar TO GO! 334: Very balanced sound, though there's a slight bass emphasis. Sound is refined and polite, with an emphasis on "getting out of the way" and allowing music to come through as it was recorded. More of a monitor-type earphone than a strict audiophile device, so it may lack that immediate wow-factor for some people; however it gets very little wrong in my opinion, and due to its transparency it's something of a chameleon in that it changes from track to track. Some have issues with fit, but I find they fit extremely well, even better than my full-on CIEMs. Cable is extremely microphonic. Build quality however is top notch, perhaps the most impressive of any in-ear monitor I've encountered thus far.

 

Ocharaku Flat4-KAEDE: The most impressive presentation and packaging of any in-ear monitor out there in my opinion. Basically a special edition of the Flat4-SUI. Sonically it is more similar than dissimilar, with perhaps a very slightly less bright and more bass-emphasized sound signature relative to its predecessor. If you already own the Flat4-SUI, I'd consider the others on the list first.

 

 

* * * * * * *

 

I'd also add the following to your list of considerations...

 

AKG K3003: A very airy and open presentation, though it can sound a bit unfocused and incoherent at times on certain tracks. In terms of tonal balance, I find the standard reference filter to be quite satisfying overall. Highs have a sparkly quality and sense of air that make this sound very "hi-fi." The midrange gives vocals a breathy and ethereal feel. Very comfortable for me to wear and strongly built, though I'd advise against the version with an inline remote as some have reported failures with that version (the "K3003i" version).

 

Sennheiser IE800: My new favorite universal. This thing has some of the nicest mids of any IEM I've ever heard, universal or otherwise. Biggest issue is the bass which is too emphasized on certain tracks for my liking, though it's a clean bass and doesn't muddy-up the midrange thankfully. Highs are refined and well controlled, sounding relatively linear. Overall presentation isn't as airy as the K3003, but it has more focused imaging to my ears. Cable is too short, but the overall build quality seems robust.

 

Thanks for your excellent impressions, MuppetFace.

So, from my perception, it seems the Flat-4-Kaede is the best in the pack. But how is it better (or what's its advantage over the others?)

 

It seems that this far, FiBaSs is the most closest to what I'm looking for. PF IX is having that old, vintage feel. Well, I'm not sure if it's excellent in vocals and jazz. How about classical where instruments are highly varied in FR?

 

Regarding the IE800, do you mean they're a surprise which strays away from the typical IE8/IE80's signature? But I'm a little worried about its bass overpowering the other frequency.

 

Seems like K3003 would be a great choice too. I love the "hi-fi" feel, if we're on the same perception on how Hi-Fi sounds. Something like FiBaSs.

post #8 of 19
An important difference of the Piano Forte is that with its zero isolation and loose metal-tip fit, it is in my view useless as a portable. I like it very much but it is a home headphone for quiet environments that just happens to be IEM sized.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cooperpwc View Post

An important difference of the Piano Forte is that with its zero isolation and loose metal-tip fit, it is in my view useless as a portable. I like it very much but it is a home headphone for quiet environments that just happens to be IEM sized.

 

Thanks for the reminder. I think I always slipped those issues out of my mind when buying IEMs.

 

So far I don't really listen to IEM on the move. I drive a lot, so while driving I don't think it's safe to use IEM. Most of my music-listening sessions happen in room while I surf the net, or lying on bed while listening, so I guess those won't be a pressing issue. About isolation, well, I think it won't be a problem too.

 

I think now the question lies on which one suits my wants better. Besides, I got a certain kind of love for the FAD (hope it's not a fadtongue_smile.gif). The housing is impressive and elegant!

post #10 of 19

Not much to add to MF's excellent overview, except that I believe anyone who's seriously into classical (and listening indoors) should give the EX1000 a try.

 

All the more because they seem to be quickly phased out as we speak, and there's no successor in sight.

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

My question here would be:

 

Is Fitear 334 a level higher than the rest of the IEMs there (in terms of universal IEM)?

post #12 of 19

How about the JVC FXZ200?

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 

I don't think that can fit my ego (I'm honest) and also the crave for flagship ><

post #14 of 19

To be honest you really should try the PFIX if you can. For Jazz and vocals, it is the best thing I have heard. But there's a good chance you may not like it. For classical, I prefer the FI-BA-SS. Can't comment on the others. You could always pick up the IX, and return it to Musica Acoustics for a trade up to the FI-BA-SS, if you were so inclined. I know he carries the 334 as well. 

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks. But I'm in Malaysia...

The reliable headphone store would be Jaben (the only one I could think of). It has the widest range of products available AFAIK in my region.

That's why our choices are limited.

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