I've spend the past week researching the heck out of IEMs to try to find a replacement for my Brainwavz M2's. They still work, but my wife needs 'new' ones so I'm taking the opportunity to pass those on to her while getting something new. Just for context, I also have a pair of Grado SR80s (which I rarely use because of the open backs - I'm rarely alone while listening to music, unfortunately).
I've spent a ton of time reading Joker's thread, as well as sorting and dicing up the spreadsheet. I wanted (or so I thought) something with good isolation, great comfort, and a terrific sound rating that cost under $150. I ended up selecting the JVC FXT90 and brought them home yesterday, thinking this would be the best listening experience I've ever had.
Plugged them into my iPod touch (2nd gen) and at first, I hated them - probably because I was so used to my M2's. I was impressed with their musical ability, particularly on instrumental tracks (This Will Destroy You, God is an Astronaut, etc.) but disliked the harshness of the high end (also found they had too much sibilance) on female vocalist tracks (Daughter, A Fine Frenzy, Sucre) and the bass - while punchy - was sorely lacking (especially on tracks by Nicki Minaj, Ice Cube, etc.).
I thought, okay, maybe they just need a bit of tweaking so I downloaded Accudio onto the iPod, loaded up the profile for the FXT90's and gave a listen. Hmmm. A slight improvement, but still issues. Dialed down the sibilance to -2, upped the subbass to +6 and bass to +4, and tried again. Better, but still not blowing me away. Sigh. Putting my M2's back in I love the deep and punchy bass, but also now appreciate how muddled the sound is on the mids and highs compared to the FXT90's.
So, I've discovered I'm not as much of an audiophile as I thought I was. I seem to prefer a U-shaped curve over flat. So I guess what I'm really looking for is a 'fun' IEM that has incredibly solid and low bass while at the same time clear mids and especially highs. My other criteria:
- Has solid, deep base suitable for rap/hip-hop tracks
- Has great musical ability in the mid->high range (for female vocalists and acoustic music)
- Sounds great with i-devices (iPod/iPad), without using a 3rd party EQ
- Doesn't require amplification to get the best sound
- Straight down orientation, not 'over the ear'
- Are comfortable
- Provide good isolation
Does what I'm searching for even exist?
Right now I'm considering returning the FXT90's and trying the following (local prices listed):
Sony XB90EX ($105)
Atrios M5 (MG7) ($113)
Hippo VB ($90)
Audio Technica ATK-CKS99 ($120)
Velodyne vPulse ($100)
Any suggestions on which of these (or if there are others) might best meet my listening needs (acoustic folk (usually female vocalists), instrumental, top 40, R&B/hip-hop)? Any help would be much appreciated.
Edited by canuck88 - 2/11/13 at 8:42am