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Hi I'm new here; Looking for IEM recommendations...

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hi Everyone! I've been reading around the head-fi forums for quite some time now, usually looking at reviews of headphones and forum threads for solid IEMs.I'm posting today because I recently lost my Monster Turbine Copper IEM's, and I'm looking for something more in my next set of IEMs. I was fairly happy with the Coppers, they were a solid set of IEMs IMO, but the more I listened, the more I felt something wasn't quite there...

 

I don't really have a set budget for my purchase, but I don't want to spend $1,000 on CIEMS. I'd prefer to stay in the $600, or less, range, but if there's something above and beyond exceptional I MIGHT be willing to spend more, although it doesn't seem necessary from what I've been reading here.

 

I was hoping that y'all would be willing to recommend some higher end IEM's based around a few criteria that I:

 

Very accurate sound separation, and reproduction, Deep/Tight bass with some nice punch to it, warm/clean mid-tones, crisp clean high-end, without that 'OMG my ear drums are going to split open from this ridiculous treble' feeling.

 

I listen to a broad range of music, so I'm hoping I'm not barking up the wrong tree in looking for IEM's that will do right by the music to which I listen (hard rock, alternative, electronic/dance/dubstep, jazz, classical, and even some country). I'm by no means an expert-level audiophile (as you can probably already tell), but from what I've been reading around the forums I've seen strong recommendations for the following IEMs:

 

- Westone 4R

- Earsonics SM3 V2

- Phonak Audeo PFE232

- Heir audio 4.ai

 

I suppose I'm just looking for a consensus on which out of the one's I've listed, or others that I've forgotten/missed that may be better.

 

Thanks in advance for any help/info/advice you can provide!

post #2 of 10

As I have only heard the W4/4R out of those, I can't say about the others besides what I have read about. That said, the W4 is an excellent all arounder - and in many people's view, the best universal out there for that price range. The W4 has pretty accurate reproduction without being thin, good clarity while maintaining a smooth non fatiguing sound.

 

The W4's are good with everything, but I wouldn't say great with anything. The others may excel at some genres and be not so good at others. I heard the PFE was V shaped, but I can't confirm that, so if mids are really important then you might want to investigate that a bit.
 

post #3 of 10

I'm all about the SM3, its got such a good sound with its lush detailed mids, punchy bass, clean non harsh highs and the best over all soundstage along with the best separation and imaging I've heard.  For around $350 I think its well worth the price and I like the SM3 a bit more than the W4 though both are excellent IEM's.

post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveWillidow View Post

Very accurate sound separation, and reproduction, Deep/Tight bass with some nice punch to it, warm/clean mid-tones, crisp clean high-end, without that 'OMG my ear drums are going to split open from this ridiculous treble' feeling.

 

Well first of all, I'd like to ask you : What kind of music files are you using? If you are running 128kb files or something like that, I'd advise against getting a new IEM; The quality of your music files matters way more than your IEM.

 

If your music collection consists of high quality files (FLAC, ALAC, 24/96 and whatnots), then upgrading your IEM is a worthwhile investment.

 

ALL four IEMs you listed are all excellent IEM. Not gonna say which one is best, I'll only list their sound characteristics (all of them have excellent separation) based on my experiences. Which one is best in the end is up to your taste anyways.

 

W4R : Natural-sounding - slight mid-bass lift - thick, lush mids - smooth treble - in general warm but still detailed - good soundstage

SM3v2 : Deep, deep bass - clean mids - smooth treble - big soundstage - sounds off for some people due to soundstage size

PFE232 : Full-bodied, thumpy bass - mids on the thin side - bright, well-extended treble - good soundstage - least warm out of all

Heir 4.Ai : Never owned, listened nor demo'd, take my words with a grain of salt. Apparently they're flat-ish, a bit of mid-bass and treble lift.

 

I wouldn't describe any of those as having "accurate" sound reproduction however.

 

And I'd strongly suggest demo-ing those IEMs first if possible, as everyone have different ears & brain, and IEMs are highly subjective. I was about to buy a 1300$ FitEar TG334 only to be put off after demo-ing it, and end up buying a much cheaper F111 instead which I end up liking :p

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deadlovestory View Post

 

Well first of all, I'd like to ask you : What kind of music files are you using? If you are running 128kb files or something like that, I'd advise against getting a new IEM; The quality of your music files matters way more than your IEM.

 

If your music collection consists of high quality files (FLAC, ALAC, 24/96 and whatnots), then upgrading your IEM is a worthwhile investment.

 

Thanks for all of your replies!

 

Deadlovestory: With the exception of a few bootleg live recordings, my music collection is FLAC, "Apple Lossless," and 320kbps MP3's. I know 320kbps mp3's aren't quite as good as lossless encodings, but they're close enough, right?

 

Thanks for the rundown of the IEM's I listed. I'm going to try to demo them somewhere if I can - I live in the NYC area, so I'm sure I'll be able to find them. When you say the SM3v2's sound 'off to some due to soundstage size,' what do you mean exactly; is it that one can hear every detail so clearly that it's weird to some them? 

 

How would you say you F111's compare to the one's I've already listed?

 

Thanks for taking the time to describe the sound characteristics of the one's I listed!

post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveWillidow View Post

Deadlovestory: With the exception of a few bootleg live recordings, my music collection is FLAC, "Apple Lossless," and 320kbps MP3's. I know 320kbps mp3's aren't quite as good as lossless encodings, but they're close enough, right?

 

Thanks for the rundown of the IEM's I listed. I'm going to try to demo them somewhere if I can - I live in the NYC area, so I'm sure I'll be able to find them. When you say the SM3v2's sound 'off to some due to soundstage size,' what do you mean exactly; is it that one can hear every detail so clearly that it's weird to some them? 

 

How would you say you F111's compare to the one's I've already listed?

 

Thanks for taking the time to describe the sound characteristics of the one's I listed!

Yeah, your music collection is fine :D

 

Well, I said "for some", but it should've been "for me and few friends". What I meant is due to SM3v2's rather expansive soundstage, some instruments might be located too far out from other instruments (the details are present however). Case in point :

 

 

In this particular recording (dunno what kind of file is the YouTube one; the one I have is Apple lossless so there might be a discrepancy in how it sounds) it seems as if the hi-hat and cymbals are located further away, far from where the snare drum, toms and bass drum are located within the soundstage. This also happens in many other songs and recordings with the SM3, and that's why for me it sounds off. Few of my fellow IEM lover seem to experience this issue as well, but not all of them, so take my words with a grain of salt.

 

Compared to the IEMs you listed above, I'd say F111 is a different kind of animal with different purposes. As such, direct comparison would be rather silly; Besides IEMs at this price range is all about personal preferences. But I can say that to my ears it's basically a glorified version of the legendary Etymotic ER-4S (They also use the same transducer, Knowles ED-29689) : Flat FR graph, very accurate, fast, detailed and unforgiving of bad recordings or low quality music files. F111 also have the added benefits of more bass extension and body, smoother treble, slightly bigger soundstage and it's easier to drive. F111 also much more comfy than ER-4S. And also MUCH more exclusive, albeit at 3 times the price of ER-4S lol.


Edited by Deadlovestory - 1/23/13 at 8:00am
post #7 of 10

I think you can buy used highend CIEMs(like JH13Pro, Westone ES5, UM Miracle and soundstage, imaging, instruments separation, resolution are superb on these) with this budget from the forum and reshell them later.


Edited by ZARIM - 1/23/13 at 8:09am
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks again for the replies... I think the best thing for me to do would be to demo some of these IEMs and see which I like best.

 

ZARIM: thanks for the suggestion - I'll have to read more about those particular IEMs you listed, I don't know much about that... How would you say those stack up sound characteristics-wise vs. the ones already mentioned in this thread?

 

Thanks!

post #9 of 10

The highend CIEMs i recommended are another league and they offer wider soundstage, superb imaging, instruments separation, higher resolution soundquality, deep punchy bass compared to universal highend IEMs listed above and only AKG K3003 comes close to CIEMs which cost more than $1200.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

After reading a LOT more I've arrived at the conclusion that most universal IEM's aren't going to be exactly what I'm looking for in terms of sound quality. I got a chance to listen to the SM3's and the separation that deadlovestory noted earlier is something that I noticed as well, and just couldn't get on board with. 

 

I've narrowed down my updated search to the higher-end UM Miracle, UM Merlin and JH16Pro's - obviously the budget I noted in my original post is totally out the window. I figure if I'm going to be investing in a long-term, quality pair, of IEMs they might as well be just that: long term!

 

To be more specific about the sound I'm looking for:

 

Bass - I've always loved the FEEL of the punch of a high quality sub-woofer in a car or home audio system, to have a similar feeling in my CIEMs would be amazing. At the same time, I don't want the punch/feel of that bass to translate into a too-bassy sound that overpowers the music or bleeds together/interferes with the clarity of the other aspects of the music to which I'm listening.

 

Mids - Warm and rich. Something with plenty of body, and again not so much mid-bass that it interferes with anything else, and also not that empty no-mid-bass sound that one gets if you turn down all the mid-frequency channels on an eq... If you're a guitar player, think of the sound from a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier ala Trey Anastasio of Phish, or an even slightly warmer Dumble amplifier ala John Mayer Trio. I'd love that type of sound profile!

 

Highs - I like bright, clear, airy highs. Not so bright and sharp that it induces ear fatigue after an hour, or (as I said in my original post) makes your ears feel as though they're going to bleed from the high end. I wouldn't describe the type of highs that i like as calm, or muted at all.

 

Any preferences/recommendations/comments around the sound signature I've just described, and how it relates to the three sets I've noted would be awesome. Also, if you have a personal favorite for another set of CIEMs that fits the bill of what I've described, please feel free to suggest that.

 

Thanks again for all of your recommendations and comments so far, everyone, they have all helped and I appreciate you taking the time to respond!

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