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SE530/535 Acoustic Filter Mod: More SQ improvement than cables? Dampers!

post #1 of 296
Thread Starter 

About 2 weeks ago, I broke my wax filter for SE535 while cleaning. The filter apparently is also a acoustic damper, which affects the sound. Without the filter, SE535's sound changed. The bass was less tight and treble was harsh. So I started a tread asking for help. Thankfully, Ink, contributor of this blog: http://rinchoi.blogspot.com/ , contacted me and offered to replace my filter. I sent my SE535 to Rin, and it came back today with multiple sets of dampers.

 

Here is the link to Rin's thought on SE535+Damper: http://rinchoi.blogspot.com/2013/05/shure-se535.html

 

Anyways, in this tread, I'll post how each damper changes the sound of the SE535 as well as how to change the dampers.

 

Thanks to Ink and Rin.

 

Here are tips on how to remove the dampers:

Using filter replacement tools like that of Etymotic helps, but is not needed.

I used a stock wax loop from UE.

Carefully pull on the side of the damper, not the mesh. Those mesh rips easily.

Also, the damper flies off once enough force is applied. Careful again.

 

 

User Impressions!

http://www.head-fi.org/t/663273/se530-535-acoustic-filter-mod-more-sq-improvement-than-cables-dampers#post_9711106

http://www.head-fi.org/t/663273/se530-535-acoustic-filter-mod-more-sq-improvement-than-cables-dampers/30#post_9748470

http://www.head-fi.org/t/663273/se530-535-acoustic-filter-mod-more-sq-improvement-than-cables-dampers/45#post_9773853

http://www.head-fi.org/t/663273/se530-535-acoustic-filter-mod-more-sq-improvement-than-cables-dampers/45#post_9844708


Edited by kimvictor - 9/29/13 at 7:36am
post #2 of 296
Thread Starter 

Pictures:

 

 

Tool used for extracting damper

Gray vs White Damper

 

New damper installed

Dampers given to me by Rin Choi.


Edited by kimvictor - 5/10/13 at 3:40am
post #3 of 296
Thread Starter 

About the dampers:

Although I am not sure where the dampers are from, I think they are from knowles. I will check with Rin or Inks about it.

 

Here are the part# from mouser. Credit to davee5.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by davee5 View Post

Lzyboy,

 

Here are the Mouser part numbers I used and I got only the "right" parts in the mail.

 

Gray 721-BF-1999-000

White 721-BF-1859-000

 

Everything is a little clearer on their PDF catalog page, where they're all nicely grouped so you can see what's what.  More intuitive than the search page for sure (though, obviously less searchable).

http://www.mouser.com/MobileCatalog.aspx?page=2741

 

I got my green dampers in today, and while I continue to be thrilled with the brown ones I will post a review sometime this weekend or early next week.

 

Happy modding,

 

:: Dave


Edited by kimvictor - 8/29/13 at 5:49am
post #4 of 296
Thread Starter 

Grey Dampers:

According to Rin, these filters are the ones used in SE535 ltd. This filter is responsible for better treble extension and more present treble of SE535 ltd.

 

Disclaimer: I have not owned or heard the SE535 ltd. I just read reviews about them.

 

So, the grey filters are the ones that I decided to try first. After about 2 to 3 hours of listening, I can tell you that the sound does change from filter to filter. Grey filters opens up the highs a little more. Although there still isn't much air, there is more air than stock SE535. There also is slight boost in upper mids and lower treble. This matches the description of SE535 ltd vs SE535, although I have not heard the SE535 ltd. There is also a slight increase in sound stage, probably due to more present treble. So after all, SE535 ltd, IMO, was just a paint job and filter upgrade for SE535.

 

Look at measurements from Rin's website. He compares my SE535+Grey Dampers to SE535 ltd with frequency graphs. That being said, I think it's proven that the difference between SE535 and ltd is the filter.

post #5 of 296
Thread Starter 

Orange Dampers: According to Rin, this is the best filter. It's supposed to make SE535 more fun like the UE Triple-fi.

 

Impressions: Normally, I like to listen to my SE535 in quiet volumes. With the orange filter, I go loud. Orange filter makes SE535 more fun and dynamic. The mids stays as it is, but bass and treble increases a bit, and becomes less midcentric and more fun. I recommend this to people who find the stock SE535 bit too boring.


Edited by kimvictor - 5/11/13 at 6:59am
post #6 of 296

Interesting....

I just wonder where it is possible to get these filters online?
 

post #7 of 296

You can buy those from mouser or digikey. Search for knowles accoustic damper/filter.

post #8 of 296
Thread Starter 

Green Filter: Not much info given to me. Refer to this website for info on the filters: http://www.knowles.com/search/product.htm?x_sub_cat_id=15

 

Impressions coming soon.

post #9 of 296
Thread Starter 

White filters: Stock SE535 filter.

 

Sounds exact or very very close to stock SE535. That is mid forward sound with rolled off highs.

post #10 of 296
Thread Starter 

I am sorry to say this, but I just sold my SE535, and hence, I cannot post impressions on filters that I have not tried(green and red).

post #11 of 296
Thread Starter 

The filters are from knowles. Go on their website for info: http://www.knowles.com/search/product.htm?x_sub_cat_id=15

post #12 of 296

First post on Head-Fi, I joined solely to add my experience to this thread.

 

After about 10 years of faithful service, my Shure E5s finally had the cables break badly enough that I couldn't kludge a fix for them.  I sent 'em back to Shure for an out-of-warranty replacement, along with my credit card info and a request for replacement with Bronze SE535s.  To Shure's great credit, they processed the whole thing lightning quick, and I had a brand new set of IEMs, half price, in about a week.  Sweet!

 

Now, I had read all the posts in here and begged Shure to send me the Red SE535LTDs... which they declined to do citing lack of stock and procedural problems.  For a while I despaired that I would be losing soundstage and clarity.  I considered selling the bronzes on ebay and buying reds, but then I stumbled across this post.  Could it be true that merely swapping dampers would get me the same results without the shenanigans?

 

In short, hell yes!!!

 

Auditioning the range of Knowles dampers has been a mind-blowing experience and I STRONGLY recommend that all Shure (and Westone) users give this a shot.  It's damn cheap and it is a fabulous way to tune the frequency range to your hearing style.

 

How I went about the whole process.

 

The day the IEMs arrived I put in an order on Mouser (www.mouser.com) for every Knowles damper they had in stock.  A few notes for you all about to try this at home:

  1. The Shure tube diameter accepts the ø2.08mm dampers.  Ignore the 1.78mm and other sizes when you search mouser for Knowles dampers.

  2. The costs reflect per-piece for individual dampers, not pairs.  I ordered 3 of each color/resistance in case one busted during experimentation (a prescient move).

  3. The orange dampers that are recommended above actually came in little plastic bins of 100pcs.  So now I have 300 orange dampers.  Weird, the others were singles.  YMMV.

  4. I could not find a removal tool anywhere and ended up using the wax loop as noted in posts above.

 

Removal/Installation

When I got the dampers in the mail I immediately set about removing the damper from the left in-ear so I could A:B it against the right with a fader.  The stock damper refused to budge with my feeble prying and I ended up accidentally busting the damper.  Once you punch through the stock damper mesh it's real easy to remove!  This was disconcerting as a way to start, for sure.  (That said, the stock damper is a plastic housing and has black fabric which looks way lower quality than the Knowles steel cans with colored mesh.  Hopefully I would like the other options anyhow...)

 
Once I got the stock damper out, the new ones go in easily.  The metal cans have a bit of a rolled lip that is much easier to "grab" with the wax loop (provided you put the filter-side in deep to leave the can edge accessible).  This makes further modification much, much easier.  Note I didn't push the damper all the way in past the barbs while auditioning, just flush with the plastic tube tips so I could put the olives back on.
 

Well in go the dampers, and out come the notes and the auditioning tracks.  I listen to a lot of jazz, funk, and rock.  My standard tracks are from MMW's studio albums where the dynamics and intricacy make for a challenge stage to reproduce authentically.  Once I get the details sorted out on acoustic jazz I move to rock tracks where the overall dynamics can shine.

 

Listening notes!

 

White / 680ohm:

This is supposed to be the "stock" damper, but I swear it sounds better than stock.  This may the difference between the sensitivity of my ears, but the Knowles white sounded more responsive than stock across the entire spectrum.  Highs, mids, and bass all sounded better defined and balanced.  Volume seemed to notch up a bit too, which may contribute to the perception of the better response.  Bass in particular is slightly warmer and more present, which fixes what seems like a bit of an anemic bass in the spankin' new SE535Vs.  Stock dampers sound hollow and tinny by comparison.

 

Gray / 330ohm:  (note, gray is actually kinda bluish)

This is supposedly equivalent to the damper in the Red/LTD edition.  Indeed the soundstage with gray dampers is wider and more detailed.  Clarity abounds, every note across the range sings out.  Nothing is missing, everything is there, and it is TOO MUCH.  For active listening it's great, astonishingly detailed, but at lower volumes and passive listening it's harsh and unrelenting.  Not exactly sibiliant, nor even really super precise, it's just in your damn face.  The cymbals are too close, the string buzz is too sharp, it just keep grabbing your attention.  But at high volumes where you want to hear every single thing, this is amazing.  Really, it's up to your taste, but I actually found it too analytical and lacking in the fullness of a more "colored" sound that pulls the lows up a bit and rolls off the sibilant notes a tad.  One man's opinion...

 

Brown / 1000 ohm:

Oh there's the bass, I didn't really see you there before.  The highs are still clear but the harshness is gone, the fullness is opening up.  At high volumes the bass starts to get a bit pushy, but at regular listening volumes it's much better balanced to my ear than the white setup.  You can push the volume a bit more without having the high end get piercing.  This is nicely warmed up from stock without losing too much presence or soundstage.  Really, really nice.  (Jumping ahead, the brown ones are what I settled on.  Love 'em!)

 

Green / 1500 ohm: Backordered!  No notes on this one yet. (notes made in separate listening session)

Thumping bass but with comparatively little sacrifice of soundstage, though details are certainly getting lost behind the thicker low end.  These are heavier and less crystalline than the browns, but not exactly muddy. Not bad, really, but the greens really pull back from that mid-forward Shure sound to crank up the bass.  Fun, but way too colored to be my stock, go-to setup (if you need more bass, maybe try EQ, hmm?).  The highs are still there, but they're taking a distinctly backseat to the bass and you need to strain a bit too much to hear the details.  An acceptable setup, but not for me as it's way too bass-forward and clarity is compromised.

 

Red / 2200 ohm:

Whoa Mr Bass, back up a little.  This is a super fat sound for sure.  Volume is starting to roll off a bit compared to stock.  Punching up the volume really brings out details in the bass and low-mids that you cannot hear with stock / white dampers before the treble pushes you away.  Bass lovers will adore red dampers, but for me it's starting to get slightly muddy and a bit washed out.  There is zero sibilance any more, which is nice 'cuz I hate that ssssss on cymbals, but there's to much being lost on the high end.  I picked up these triple drivers to hear the whole range, thank you, and these are starting to push details out in the service of a colored, warm sound.  Not for me, but still pretty fun.

 

Orange / 3300 ohm:

Super bassy, verging on muddy.  Volume is really starting to roll back and need to be pushed.  This does make the IEM a bit less hyper-responsive, which I guess is nice for using with normal electronics, but where the hell are my mids and highs?  After a decade of using Shures these just sound waaaay too fat.  Am I to understand that Westone listeners hear this sound signature all the time?  If so, count me amongst the Shure faithful.  Anyhow, even the lows are starting to get mushy from the over-emphasized bass.

 

Yellow / 4700 ohm:

Terribly bass heavy and quiet.  The trajectory was obvious, but for science I gave these a close listen.  Or, at least, I tried.  The detail is just gone, everything is thumping mud.

 

 

After Yellow I went back and auditioned white, gray, and brown again.  I still found the grays insanely responsive and detailed, but it's just too much high-end detail and piercing response for my day-to-day listening.  Whites sounded great, nice and "flat" to my ear but lacking in punch and fun.  That classic Shure sound where the bass feels behind the rest of the tone.  Brown, however, was delightful.

 

At regular listening volumes the Brown just sounds silky smooth, bringing out all the *musical* details without letting the other incidental details get in the way of the experience.  The brushed cymbals can still show every bristle, but it's not so damn emphasized as it is with the grays.  The buzz of fingertips on round-wound strings is there to show you the recording is good, but it doesn't dominate.  The bass is pulled up and rounds out the soundstage with a bit more punch and fullness.  Sound is slightly warmer and less clinical.  Rock tracks absolutely soar compared to the lower resistance dampers.  Acoustic jazz is not as precise, but it's more fun.

 

The slightly dipped mids just make this the sound I've always wanted in an IEM.  I LOVE this sound right now.  In time I may decide it's still too bass-forward and I'll switch back to white dampers but for now I'm rockin' out on the Brown Note!

 

No matter what, though, I'd consider any of the brand-name Knowles dampers to be an upgrade over stock.  For about $10 to audition every single damper with spare to keep in stock, you could not possibly find a better value for an IEM upgrade and tuning.

 

Amazing, simply and truly mind-blowing.

 

Here are a few of the key links, reposted for convenience.

 

Happy damper swapping, all, and thanks for populating such a wonderful resource here on Head-Fi.  As a long-time lurker it's been a great tool to pull from, leading me to things like this lovely thread!

 

Cheers,

 

:: Dave


Edited by davee5 - 9/3/13 at 9:58am
post #13 of 296
Nice! Finally someone not falling into the trap set by Shure with their overpriced LTE
post #14 of 296

Bah, forgot to repost those links:

 

Rinchoi's super helpful blog post.  The response curves in particular are invaluable to the damper modder.

http://rinchoi.blogspot.com/2013/05/shure-se535.html?m=1

 

The Knowles product page, which is actually a bit shy on information.

http://www.knowles.com/search/product.htm?x_sub_cat_id=15

 

The Mouser search page where you can pickup all those beautiful, multicolored Ø2.08mm acoustic dampers.  Cost of $1.19USD per piece at time of post.

http://www.mouser.com/Electromechanical/Audio-Devices/Speakers-Transducers/_/N-awp4u?P=1z0iza5&Keyword=knowles+damper&FS=True

 

Happy modding.

 

:: D

post #15 of 296
Thread Starter 

Great! Rin, Ink, and I aren't the only ones who thinks that dampers are the only difference between SE535LTD and SE535. I wish I had a SE535 to review them more extensively... I sold mine few months ago.

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