Instead of crowding other threads and potentially derailing them as I have been coming close to doing over the past few days, I decided to create a separate thread about my IEM dilemma. I hope people with the experience and knowledge will chime in and help me out!
I thought I'd format this for maximum reading clarity and directness (I'm prone to rambling, as you can see). Hope no one misreads this as me sounding too demanding.
What I'm looking for:
- Generally neutral response - it doesn't have to be industry-standard flatness like the ER4 or RE-272, but I want an IEM that's generally neutral, with equal presence through the entire spectrum, no exaggerated boosts. I dislike 'dark' or overly 'warm' earphones - I used a TDK BA200 for a week or so, and found the treble in general to be too laid-back and even a bit rolled-off. I also dislike bass-light IEMs, and a slight lower-bass boost might be all right, because it appears IEMs seem to need a small boost down there to help out with a natural-sounding bottom-end. Which brings me to:
- Realistic bottom-end body, weight and decay. My previous IEM purchase was the Rock It Sounds R-50, which I loved for many reasons, especially the fantastic detailing, clarity and instrument separation. But I couldn't help but feel the overall presentation, was a bit unnaturally thin, and that percussion and bass instruments lacked a realistic weight and body to them. I want an IEM that is neutral but can still push out the bass that the track and production demands, when it is called for.
- Well-extended on both ends - Again, the R-50 was fantastic with the treble extension and presence (maybe a TINY bit too bright in the lower treble), but it felt sorely lacking in bass extension to me. I would like something that can kick out some respectable lower bass and sub-bass when the track has important elements there. I'd like something that can reach well on both ends and has good, capable presence through the entire spectrum.
- Detailed, transparent reproduction, great instrument separation - These are the things I fell in love with the Rock It R-50 for, and would like something that is in a similar league in these respects. I love hearing finer detail and nuances in productions, especially since I work with music production myself. And I hate congested sounding IEMs. Again, doesn't have to be godlike ER4 level, but definitely needs to be on the higher side.
- Isolation above average. I use IEMs primarily when travelling, at home I am very satisfied with my Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro (which I pulled the trigger on only after excellent advice from this wonderful forum. Thank you, everyone!)
IEMs I've used (for reference points):
I thought I'd quickly describe what I felt about IEMs I own/have used extensively, to maybe make it easier for people to understand my reference points or standards.
- Rock It Sounds R-50 - beautiful detail, separation and clarity, fantastic treble extension and sparkle, disappointing thin-ness to the overall sound, lacking some bass extension, could not really pump out convincing bottom-end presence when the track called for it, ended up sounding bass-shy to me.
- TDK BA200 - a little more filled-out in the overall presentation, more realistically weighty percussion and bass instruments, but lacking treble presence, extension and air to my ears. In a word, dark.
- Soundmagic E30 - I know this has no place here, but it's my current daily IEM, and I like it, but I find it a bit laid-back in the treble to be really neutral. Also sometimes comes across as 'slow' compared to the above two.
The CONTENDERS (so far):
- VSonic GR07 MkII - This appears to be my best bet so far, but I am a bit concerned about it potentially sounding a bit too bassy or warm.
- HiFiMan RE-400 - Everyone loves the RE-400, but from what I read so far, this might be even warmer than the GR07. Also, while it is definitely a FANTASTIC IEM at its price, my budget extends to double of the RE-400's worth, so I feel I can do better.
- Ortofon e-Q5 (maybe) - Another good all-rounder, but it seems people are very divided on the treble extension and presence. Again, might be a tad too warm, but more importantly, I fear it might lack treble extension past 10k (as suggested by this measurement and some impressions among Head-Fi members).
- Fischer Audio DBA-02 MkII - Appears to have some more body in the bottom-end compared to the R-50, but I'm far from convinced this will be a substantial enough difference, given the fact that they share the same driver and are supposed to sound quite similar.
In addition to these, I'm looking for anything else that might give me what I need, or come close to it, as long as it falls within a 200 USD budget.
I have to thank |joker|, ClieOS, FlySweep, AstralStorm, shotgunshane, tinyman392 and several others for helping me via PMs and responses in other posts, but I thought it best to take this to a new thread, lest I annoy the thread owners and readers.
I live in India and have to rely on friends from Europe visiting shortly, to acquire anything decent, so auditioning is impossible. Friends in question will leave Europe in two weeks, so unfortunately, my time is short. I hope the community here can help me soon!
Thanks for all the information and advice so far,
Edited by DanielKRego - 3/6/13 at 6:13am