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Musician looking for IEM suggestions

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I've been snooping around here reading the forums for a while, doing research, but in the end I decided to start my own thread (even though the subject matter has been beat to death, sorry guys.)

 

I'm looking for a pair of nice IEM, preferable somewhere around $300.  Although I am a musician, these will be getting used primarily for 1) pleasure 2) playing drums and 3) in the studio.  I don't use monitors live.  Sound isolation isn't really an issue since I find that all in ears isolate plenty no matter what I'm doing.  What I'm really agonizing over (and I know this is a tough one because it's so personal) is sound signature.

 

First off:  My favorite headphones ever are the Sennheiser HD600s.  They just put a smile on my face every time I put them on.  I know that IEMs can't really mimic the spaciousness of the open ear design, but if I could get something with a relatively close curve I would be happy.  I'm also looking for transparency and separation.  They don't have to be 100% true and flat, I have other stuff for that. 

 

Example: The only high end IEMs that I have used are the E2Cs, E3Cs, and SE425s.  They all have their strong and weak points, but none of them really do it for me on all fronts.  The 2's are much too sloppy down low with not enough detail in the midrange or high end (ok I realize I didn't list any strong points...affordable?).  The 3's are much more balanced, but lack the transparency and overall fidelity that I'm looking for.  And the 425s are great in the midrange and have a nice tight low end, but I'm always disappointed by the lack of high frequencies.  I've thought about the 535s, but they really are out of my price range.  Plus I want to try a different brand.  Lots of fish in the sea.

 

Right now my main contenders are:

 

Westone UM2rc - The reason being that I have seen them compared to the HD600's

 

Westone UM3x - The reason being that they should theoretically be like the UM2, but...better.

 

and that's it. Etymotics look too flimsy to me, UE seems a) a little gimmicky and b) is owned by Logitech, which is fine I guess, but....I don't know.  And from what I've read of the Sennheiser IE80, they're pretty weighted in the midbass which I never like, plus the bass "control"...yuck.  

 

I've also been salivating over the Westone 4r's, but they're too expensive and an absolute requirement is that I want a removable cable, so no W3 or W4.  I've learned that lesson too many times. 

 

My hesitation in pulling the trigger on either of the two I mentioned is that I've read so many reviews that seem to contradict each other - some people say the UM3x are like the UM2's with better treble extension, while others say that the high end is more recessed than the UM2's.  Either way I'm nervous I'll wind up with something very similar to the SE425, which leaves me craving SPACE.  

 

Any ideas?  Sorry for the long 1st post.  Thanks in advance 

post #2 of 23
I've been researching this a lot, haven't made any decisions yet, but if you don't like the "closed in" sense of space, then the Westone UM3X isn't for you. A lot of people rave about the Earsonics SM3 V2 having a larger sound stage and more treble, so that might be a good bet.

There are some interesting IEM releases soon, one I'm pretty excited by is the Aurisonics ASG-2. It might be worth waiting until NAMM comes and goes because I think quite a few manufacturers are debuting interesting new products there.
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 

thanks for the suggestion, I hadn't checked those SM3s out.  They look good, and I like that the company preaches "neutrality," and "incredible finesse," which I take to mean a combination of transparent midrange and high end extension.  I also like that they're French, and their website is filled with spelling errors and broken english.  

 

Having not really heard of them, how is their support?  I see the warranty is only 1 year vs. the 2 year warranty that many brands offer.  Also I have seen reviews that characterize them as "dark" with insufficient treble, although if I listen to every opinion on here I'll wind up never buying anything.  The general consensus is that they compete with the UM3x, with some people favoring the Earsonics, others favoring the Westones.  I can get them for about $50 more than I can get the Westones.  

 

I looked at the Aurisonics, and right away disliked several things about them:

 

1) $799!!!

2) Tuneable bass port?  Sounds a little gimmicky

3) I feel like the 15mm dynamic driver will make it a huge earpiece.

 

Needless to say, even without 2 and 3, number one alone takes them out of the running.

 

Thanks for the help, keep it coming!

post #4 of 23
Perhaps other members can comment on the support of Earsonics - I do understand your concern, but I haven't had experience with them.

The Aurisonics ASG-2 isn't actually for sale yet. I think they will be around $500, IIRC. The price you saw was for the custom AS-2. The bass port may or may not be a gimmick, I think we'll get to find out when it's released. They do seem to make very high quality IEMs, though, so I don't know if they would really be a gimmicky kind of company.

The influx of BA/Dynamic hybrids intrigues me because it should, theoretically, allow you the best of both worlds as it were.

A lot of stage monitoring IEMs have recessed treble to reduce fatigue, but of course that might sound unnatural to you as a drummer. I think they do respond quite well to EQing if you're up for that, though.
post #5 of 23
@OP Where do you live? You might want to go to the biggest brick-and-mortar earphone store around where you live and demo the IEMs they have. See which one you like most.

Suggestion wise, SM3v2 does have a sizable soundstage as far as I can remember. But I also remember that the treble sounds "distant", as in positioned far behind the mids and bass. Don't get me wrong, treble detail is there, but the treble just not as prominent as mids and bass.

Take my comment with a grain of salt though, I never own any Earsonics, I'm speaking only based off my experience demoing SM3v2.
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, I'm pretty in the middle of nowhere, and the closest anything is about an hour - I wouldn't even know what to look for. If anyone knows of anything around dutchess county, NY let me know.

Soundstage is another important feature, and one of the traits in didn't like about the se425 in that it seemed so small. The Sennheisers have a beautiful soundstage, and if the SM3s have laid back treble but a nice spread I could still see myself enjoying them.

As far as EQing, im usually not much for it, and I would typically be running them unamped right out of my iphone anyway so that limits the possibilities. I also will use them for tracking, but in those instances I'm not fussy about what my headphone mix sounds like.
post #7 of 23

Shure SE535 ?

post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ocharlas View Post

Soundstage is another important feature, and one of the traits in didn't like about the se425 in that it seemed so small. The Sennheisers have a beautiful soundstage, and if the SM3s have laid back treble but a nice spread I could still see myself enjoying them.

Not sure if the sound signature is close to HD600; Never owned one, but yeah, SM3 do have laid back treble. The detail and the extension is there, though. Bass extends low too. Pretty transparent as well, with sizable, well-separated soundstage as far as I can remember. I don't think they're widely available in the states, though. Also, the price might be well over 300$. Most likely closer to 400$.

Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

Shure SE535 ?

Out of his price range, and OP did say he wants to try other brand. And besides, I dunno about you, but SE535 failed to impress me clarity/soundstage wise. That mids is to die for, though.

post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deadlovestory View Post

 

Out of his price range, and OP did say he wants to try other brand. And besides, I dunno about you, but SE535 failed to impress me clarity/soundstage wise. That mids is to die for, though.

 

Agree on that. Sennheiser maybe.

post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 

Anyone have experience with Heir Audio?  They make a couple universals that are floating around my price range, and I read (one) really positive review somewhere on here about the 3.Ai.  I would probably get that one or the Tzar 90, unless I could find the 4.Ai somewhere cheaper.  Unfortunately they aren't really available anywhere as far as I can see.  Also they don't mention whether they come with anything accessory wise - tips, case, what have you.  

 

But they are pretty damn good looking.  

 

Anyone care to chime in on these?

post #11 of 23

I happen to own Heir 3.Ai. Good SQ, very comfy, and gorgeous to boot. And I think the price is right.

 

But FR curve wise 3.Ai is far from HD600 so I kinda doubt it fits your taste.

 

4.Ai is flatter curve-wise apparently. No Idea about Tzar 90 aside from its high impedance.


Edited by Deadlovestory - 1/14/13 at 1:12am
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 

oh man I've been reading more and more about the Heir 4.ai, and it sounds like what I'm looking for.  Flat response, accurate low end, super detailed mids and a slight nudge up top.  Considering throwing up a WTB in the classified, but I'm not expecting much.  Runner up for now is the Earsonics SM3 V2, which I can get for about $350 if I skip lunch for the next few days.  I'm gonna give it a few more days of mulling before I pull the trigger. 

 

In the meantime, any other suggestions?

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 

Something occurs to me...being a Frenchman, I tend to sweat when playing.  A lot.  I would say a half hour of play gets me comparable to jogging a few miles.  

 

Is that something I need to worry about?  I don't want to get a nice pair and wind up ruining them because they aren't meant for that kind of environment.  I would imaging IEMs are more suited for that kind of environment, but I'm not sure if the 4.ai falls into that category, or more the Hifi category, which I would imagine might make it less suited for my soggy head (also the long hair probably traps more moisture...) 

 

On the other hand, they are a solid piece, except for a) where the cable connects and b) the opening, which is inside my ear and so not really exposed to anything (other than the usual waxy goodness)

 

I know the build quality is reportedly excellent, but what with the bouncing and the hitting and all the mishigas....thoughts?

post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ocharlas View Post

Something occurs to me...being a Frenchman, I tend to sweat when playing.  A lot.  I would say a half hour of play gets me comparable to jogging a few miles.  

 

Is that something I need to worry about?  I don't want to get a nice pair and wind up ruining them because they aren't meant for that kind of environment.  I would imaging IEMs are more suited for that kind of environment, but I'm not sure if the 4.ai falls into that category, or more the Hifi category, which I would imagine might make it less suited for my soggy head (also the long hair probably traps more moisture...) 

 

On the other hand, they are a solid piece, except for a) where the cable connects and b) the opening, which is inside my ear and so not really exposed to anything (other than the usual waxy goodness)

 

I know the build quality is reportedly excellent, but what with the bouncing and the hitting and all the mishigas....thoughts?


Sweat can be corrosive to exposed metal parts, so you should consider sports headphones/IEMs as well.

post #15 of 23

Their are several people here who have ASG2's on the way, myself included from their giveaway. They arent being shipped until NAMM is over. I plan on doing a review for mine as I have done in the past. Ive heard great things about AS, but have yet to hear a set personally.

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