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Upgrade from TDK BA200 to Westone 4 / SM64?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi All,

 

My favorite IEM right now is the TDK BA200 - this is really an awesome IEM and the one I like best by a good margin. I have / had others (HF5, A161P, Rockit R-50, Super 5, Monster Nergy, VModa Vibe, etc...), but the sound signature, quality and presentation of the TDK BA200 is the one I really like better.

 

I do like the smooth sound they produce, with slightly forward mids and controlled but present bass. I enjoy their presentation as well. The other ones I had were usually lacking bass (like the HF5 - too bright but very analytical), or were a tad too bright and sibilant for my taste (Rockit-50 for instance, while being a really good IEM), or where just "bland" (like the other ones I mentioned). I am quite sensitive to sibilance and do not like too much harshness / brightness.

 

I will be driving these guys with my Leckerton UHA-6S mkII most of the time (BTW: this amp is just amazing - I am also using the DAC portion [usb and optical] and the bass is so nice and natural, plus it adds some good clarity and bit sparkle to the sound).

 

Sooooo, my question for those who upgraded their BA200:

 

=> What would be a nice upgrade to my BA200?

 

Note: I would like a similar sound signature but with a bit more "sparkle" in the highs (but NOT brighter or too sibilant), and a tad more bass (especially low end) but NOT too bassy (I am not a bass-head). I would also love the same kind of 3d presentation with forward mids, and I usually like a wider soundstage. I like smooth, relaxing, non-fatiguing music vs analytical. I am listening mainly to Trance / Techno and Pop, but no Classical or Rap for instance.

 

Options:

 

1/ Westone 4R: Seems like a good match from what I heard - now what is that "veil" that people talk about, how does the mid clarity compare to my BA200?

2/ Earsonics SM64: They seem like a great IEM - and earsonics are usually close to the BA200 in presentation I read - except for the build quality issues often mentioned

3/ Westone UM3X or SM3v2?

3/ Any others?

4/ Save your money it ain't worth it ;) !

 

Thanks a bunch in advance guys!


Edited by BEZMan - 3/27/13 at 10:51am
post #2 of 9

I'd suggest, if possible, going to a proper electronic/music/headphone/earphone store that have some demo units in-store. Demo as many IEMs as you can, see if you can find one you like.

 

Anyways, if you're in no position to demo some IEMs, I doubt Westone 4R is what you are looking for in terms of bass; it does have a good amount of bass, but it's mostly in the mid-bass section, not low/sub-bass that you prefer. EarSonics SM3v2 seems to fit your preferences; it's smooth-sounding, with good low-end extension/sub-bass lift and spacious soundstage, though I don't think it has more treble sparkle than BA200.

 

Saving your money is also a good option, oftentimes people spend a lot of money on IEMs they don't really like just for the sake self-gratification. Why upgrade if you're happy with what you have? atsmile.gif

 

Not gonna make any claims on SM64 or UM3X since I never owned or carefully listened to both.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi Deadlovestory,

 

Thanks a bunch for you help and insight!

 

Quote

 

Originally Posted by Deadlovestory View Post
 

I'd suggest, if possible, going to a proper electronic/music/headphone/earphone store that have some demo units in-store. Demo as many IEMs as you can, see if you can find one you like.

 

=> Unfortunately, not many in the SF Bay area ;)

 

Anyways, if you're in no position to demo some IEMs, I doubt Westone 4R is what you are looking for in terms of bass; it does have a good amount of bass, but it's mostly in the mid-bass section, not low/sub-bass that you prefer. EarSonics SM3v2 seems to fit your preferences; it's smooth-sounding, with good low-end extension/sub-bass lift and spacious soundstage, though I don't think it has more treble sparkle than BA200.

 

=> I think I was not totally clear - sorry. I do not *prefer* low/sub-bass in fact (I am not a bass-head). I like tight / controlled, natural and textured bass, but I was looking for a tad more sub-bass so that I would kind of "feel" them a bit more - like they would give a bit more warmth to the sound (on some instruments and some vocals).

 

Saving your money is also a good option, oftentimes people spend a lot of money on IEMs they don't really like just for the sake self-gratification. Why upgrade if you're happy with what you have? atsmile.gif

 

=> 100% agreed - hence why I am asking that question ;) The BA200 are truly a good IEM - at least to my ears, and I am investigating "upgrading" or not indeed.

 

Not gonna make any claims on SM64 or UM3X since I never owned or carefully listened to both.

 

Thanks again!

post #4 of 9

Ahahah, I probably shouldn't have used "prefer" then, as it might imply that you're a basshead :p

 

To clarify, neither W4R or SM3v2 have what I would say as basshead-level of bass; both does have more-than-neutral bass although W4R is more mid-bass focused whereas SM3v2 is more linear/balanced between sub- and mid- bass. Both have excellent bass control, but as for which one sounds more "natural", I can't really say since as far as I know some prefer mid-bass and some prefers sub-bass. I mean, what sounds natural for me isn't always natural for you or others.

 

Anyways, if you're looking for more "warmth", BA200 is among the warmest-sounding IEM I've ever listened, save for perhaps Shure SE535. Hence I'd like to pull my recommendation back -- neither W4R or SM3v2 is warmer than BA200. But I think SM3v2 is as close as it gets to how BA200 sounds, and W4R does have thick, warm-sounding mids due to its relatively slow mids decay, so you might want to put that into consideration

 

I wish I can help further, but I'd have to step back and let the others help you~

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

You've been great! Thanks a lot again!

post #6 of 9

The BA200 is among my favorite universal IEMs, as well.  I owned the W4 before it.. and based off memory, I liked the BA200 much more.  The W4 is a very nice phone, too.. but I found it's (seemingly) ever-present midbass (centered) boost too bothersome after some time.  The W4 mids are excellent (as Westone is typically renowned for).. but I found the BA200's mids to be even more seductive and special.  Both the BA200 & W4 have similar treble presentation in that they're quite smooth and laid back.. but I found the BA200's treble to be more linear.  The W4 separated instruments a little better and had slightly better dynamics.. but the difference in price was in no way indicative of the difference, IME.  Given the price difference, I'd take the BA200 10/10 times over the W4.  Heck, even if they were the same price.. I'd almost certainly pick the BA200 over the W4.  I just fell in love with it's smooth, warm, slightly forward, analog-inspired signature.  THe W4 is more akin to a monitor in that it's tuning is more neutral and studio-oriented.

 

Another phone I'd put in the same category of the BA200 is the Sony XBA-30.  The XBA-30 is a wonderful phone.. with more treble presence than the BA200.. but it remains very smooth and non-fatiguing.  The BA200's mids might be a touch more forward, but both phones share a warm, liquid, deep midrange presentation.  The bass on the BA200 & CBA-30 are quite similar as well.. the BA200's bass might be a touch more linear.. but the XBA-30 certainly satisfies my desire for a well balanced, but deep, punchy bass presentation.  The XBA-30's bass as slightly better speed and texturing ability than the BA200's bass.. which is saying something since the BA200 does those things really well.  Where the XBA-30 really shines is the soundstage.  It's simply spectacular.  With staging that's both deep, wide and tall, the XBA-30 has a very immersive feel.  A lot of people talk about excessively boosted frequencies causing listener fatigue.. but over the course of hearing many IEMs, I've come to find that an overtly narrow, shallow, or compressed soundstage can be just as fatiguing to my ears as excessive treble, overly aggressive midranges, or bloated bass.  Therefore, I value a well proportioned soundstage, in addition to excellent frequency balance.

 

If you're in the US, you can buy the the XBA-30 from Amazon.cp.jp and use the Tenso forwarding service to have it shipped to the US.  It can be had for around the same price as the BA200 (retail), give or take $20 or so.  I did a fairly extensive comparison of the XBA30 vs the BA200 (and it's dynamic driver brethren, the TDK IE800) on the BA200.. search that thread to find it.  It was posted within the last three months. 

 

Another phone I recommend looking into is the HiFiMan RE-400 (another excellent phone).  Its bass isn't quite as present as the BA200's bass.. but it's quite accomplished in terms of technical ability.. the RE-400's mids are very clear, and slightly warm.. it is the 'focus' of the presentation.. and the treble has just the right sparkle and presence for my tastes.

post #7 of 9

I would say the w4 would be closer in sound signature to the ba200. Whether it would be a clear upgrade or not, that really depends on your preferences. I used to own the ba200 and did comparisons with w4 a number of times in stores. Not the ideal condition for comparisons IMO but here is what I thought. W4 is a thicker and fuller sounding IEM with more body to the sound. It just sounds larger. It also has more overall bass quantity, especially mid bass. Clarity wise I thought ba200 was slighlty better. On first listen W4's mid does sound a bit muddy and veiled but after a while it seems to go away as your ears get accustomed to the sound sig, and then you start to hear the wider soundstage and better depth. Treble has the extra bit of sparkle that you are looking for though. Apart from sound, build quality and ergonomics would be a direct upgrade no doubt about that. For the sound, it is really hard to say! I didnt think it was a worthwhile upgrade given the price. 

 

As for the SM3, I owned it for quite along time before I got tired of its thick and overly present mids. It is a lot thicker sounding and has even less sparkle than ba200, but does bass and soundstage better. Ba200 again has slightly better clarity due to more natural mid thickness, while SM3 has slightly better overall detail and fullness of sound. Again, not a worthwhile upgrade in my opinion given the price. 

 

I never compared the UM3X to the ba200 or heard the SM64 so cant comment on those. BA200 is already a stellar IEM regardless of price and I actually think it is quite hard to find a direct upgrade!

 

Just my 2 cents!

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

FlySwepp & omastic: Thanks a million for your feedback. It looks like guys are saying the same thing. Just keep the BA200 as there is really no real upgrade given the sound signature I like. Thanks for my wallet ;)

 

Now, I am also looking for an upgrade to my ATH M50 (a bit to V shaped for me - too bassy / high treble / recessed mids), and that thread [ http://www.head-fi.org/t/649046/hd600-in-the-form-of-an-iem-with-very-good-isolation ] mentioned the BA200 as sounding just ilke the HD-600.... now that sounds like a good upgrade ;) My wife is not going to like the open dynamic design past midnight though ;(

 

Thanks a lot again guys for your detailed comments! 


Edited by BEZMan - 3/28/13 at 6:09pm
post #9 of 9
What about heir audio 4ai compare to the ba200 ?
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