My SM64 review has been posted here.
Very nice review!
I'm getting my SM64's in a few days and I'll be doing a comparison to my W4's.
God, it's like you and me share some unspoken bond thru those phones. Truly, we are 64 bros. 4 lyfe
What ear tips are you guys using? Anything you're really liking?
Here's my saga and happy ending.
The included double-flange take some fiddling to get a seal and with the foamies the seal was good but the details and treble took a hit. Playing around with insertion depth using the double-flanges I found the sound stage improved when pushed in as far as they would go (this made the housing uncomfortable though). Then I cut the ends off pair of the foam tips to be even with the end of the black nozzle inside. Much less of a hit on the details & treble with some sound stage improvement when inserted deep, but there was always this of odd sound-coming-down-a-tube effect going on (something akin to when someone is talking through the paper tube from wrapping paper or paper towels).
Then it was onto the tips included with my W4. The large grey tips sealed well but changed the sound, and not in a good way, with the tone, detail and sound stage all taking a hit. Thinking the tiny bore of these tips was impacting the sound I had a great idea and cut the stems shorter and pushed the nozzle in until it was even with the end of the tip. This made them too shallow to get a seal. :( Next up was my tip of choice with the W4 -- the stock Westone white triple-flange cut down to a double. These are comfortable and always give a good seal, which proved true when used with the SM64 too. While better than the grey Westones but still didn't sound as good as the stock Earsonics. Messing with insertion depth I found deeper was better, especially with regard to sound stage. In fact, when inserted a deep as possible the tone and details were almost as good as the Earsonics, but with a really good gain in sound stage! But I couldn't wear them that deep for more than about 10 minutes.
This got me motivated. I wanted it all -- seal, comfort, tone, details and sound stage! Reading the recent buzz about the new Westone Star tips I bought the Westone sampler pack with both the Star and their foam tips. The foams gave the same results as the Earsonic ones. The seal and comfort with the Star tips was better but the sound was about the same as cut-down triples inserted normally. Deeper insertion didn't improve things either (the shape of the Star tips seems to limit insertion depth).
So I'm back to the stock double-flange but needing a more consistent seal and really wanting that sound stage. Seeing that Phonak was getting out of the IEM business I bought the PFE 232 while they were still available. I prefer the SM64, but loved the ease of use and comfort of the 232. Looking at the 232 tips I noticed the bore was much wider than any of the Westones and even larger than the Earsonics. Hmm, intriguing! But they are very shallow tips so I worried getting a seal, let alone good sound stage. Putting them on the '64s and in my ears gave an instantly good and comfortable seal! Turn on the music and... nice! The best sound stage of them all! Isolation isn't quite as good but it seems like a good trade to me.
The 64's sound stage width is great from the start, but to my ears is lacking in height & depth, and with mid-stage instruments somewhat compressed together towards dead-center. Considering how well they perform in most all other aspects, the resulting stretched-wide effect was a disappointment to me. The Phonak tips have added some to the depth, added considerably to the height, and improved separation/positioning all the way across. Add these sound stage improvements to the clarity, coherence and smoothness of the SM64 and result is greater than the parts to me - delivering a very open, airy and clean overall presentation. I'm not talking night and day here, but for me the improvements are both noticeable and worthwhile.
While I can't say for sure, but with the Phonak tip being short and having a wide out-bore, my theory is the nozzle of the 64 should be shrouded as little as possible by the tip.
To really hear what the '64s can do, try the Phonak tips with one of the Chesky/HD Tracks binaural recordings. Amber Rubarth's "Sessions from the 17th Ward" is a truly amazing recording. Listening to "Sessions" with the Phonak tips the I find the sound, reflections and resonances of the venue really come into play - nearly as well as with the TF10's with the Supertips. Then add in the 64s tighter & extended bass, extended treble and overall clarity and... well... I'll just say "sweet!" comes to mind!
It would be nice to learn what you all are hearing with some of the other tips. I've never tried the Shure olives or Sony hybrids and Monster doesn't make Supertips with a small bore. Is there anything else out there that fits and is worth trying?
PS: The 232 nozzle is slightly larger than the SM64 and after a while they stay in your ears when you take the headphones out (thankfully they're a shallow insertion). A round or two of clear medical tape around the nozzle should solve that. I'll buy some and let you know how it works.
The stock double-flange seals fine, until I move about (if only they were slightly larger).
Maybe a fellow SM64 owner would spring for the Phonak tips to confirm (or not) what I'm hearing. You can get 3-pairs for $9.99 at soundearphones.com with free shipping.
Also, what other tips are known to fit?