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Best CIEMs for classical music? (JH16 or UE 18 or?)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

 Hello all,


I'm finally able to seriously upgrade my portable rig - which for the last years consisted of ER-4P IEMs paired with Cowon S9 (source material being APE and FLAC mostly, some .ogg and .mp3 but not many).


I'll be going for the DX100 on the player side, but wanted to ask for your help/advice with the earphones. I listen to 99% classical music (the other 1% being Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Armstrong et al.) - but there it's the full gamut, from 16th century madrigals to the late 20th century (so, vocal, symphonic, piano solo, opera, chamber music etc etc).


I've never actually listened to any serious IEMs besides the Etymotics, and I was overall very happy with their sound (absence of bass on flights/trains/buses being the only significant problem); but from the reviews I read of the top CIEMs, those seem to be far ahead in terms of sound (as well as isolation), so I'm getting me one :-].  


What I couldn't understand from the reviews was whether there's a single pair which is considered the best for classical music. Is there one? And if not, could those of you who have listening experiences with classical music/CIEMs share some impressions perhaps?  


Soundwise, I'm not sure if I'm looking for complete neutrality. Are the ER-4Ps considered colored? If they are, I think that this is the kind of sound signature which I like (of course, had nothing to compare to, but I have an E-MU 1212m for my desktop setup, and in comparison between the two constantly find the ER-4Ps + Cowon S9 to be slightly warmer, and overall more enjoyable). 


Budgetwise, I can go for the UE18 if that's indeed the best option (are there any more expensive options? edit: yes, of course, there are; stupid question. So let's say up to $1,500).


Thanks in advance,


Edited by bgiltburg - 6/4/13 at 9:51pm
post #2 of 12



I believe the UERM more suitable for classical music than UE18.

The Miracle or Fitear C435 (if you can get one) are other great CIEM for classic. It's not a CIEM but the Togo 334 are although great on classic.

post #3 of 12

If you don't like a lot of bass the JH13's would be better than the 16's

post #4 of 12

How about UM Miracle with nice aftermarket cable?

post #5 of 12

Another thing to consider is that isolation (in my experience) is less with custom acrylic shell monitors than the ER-4 which has pretty amazing isolation.   The ER-4 is a completely different animal from the the JH16 UE18 in terms of frequency response. I would really try to go to some sort of Headphone get together to audition the universal versions.  Nothing I have heard has replaced the ER-4's signature sound.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Many thanks for the responses, guys. 


@ M3NTAL - ha, so I would actually be losing in terms of isolation by switching to a CIEM? But then, is there nothing at all to be done about the bass problem? I use the foam tips (both the originals and several aftermarket options), and when on any kind of public transport, the lower bass (low cello sections, non-bombastic timpani or anything played by double-basses) simply disappears - I sometimes just sit there for 15 or 25 seconds of silence. And even when the bass is there, it's nowhere as present as the mids and the highs (again, this is just when traveling; at home I'm completely happy with the sound as it is; but the thing is, I'm traveling quite a lot).


BTW, what about the SE 5-way? I've just read Joe's review of them on the forum, and he says that the replacements he had had 10/10 isolation compared to 9/10 for the E4-RP with foams. (but would they be good for classical music)?  


@ Marshal Banana - wouldn't the UERM be too neutral/analytical? 

post #7 of 12



Sorry I didn't reply about the bass issue. I was just giving you what I could give first hand experience with.  Yes, when travelling - bass gets lost on all IEM's. If you will be mostly travelling then something with more bass would be a good option. Like I said, sample some at a show if you can to get a first hand feel,

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

Been reading loads of reviews/comparisons. (In fact, so many, that I'm nearly drowning in the information). What sounds promising/intriguing so far:


SE 5-way


JH13Pro (Freqphase)

Heir 8.A


Very different sound signatures, I know.

Or just keeping the ER-4Ps :P


A possibly stupid question - I'm currently using M-size Comply tips. Those fit snugly, no problems at all. If I tried L-size tips instead, would it improve isolation? 

post #9 of 12

The triple silicone tips were the most isolating for me.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hm, that's interesting. I tried all the original tips back when I got the ER-4Ps and promptly dismissed everything but the foam. Too promptly perhaps? Will give them another try later today. 

post #11 of 12

I see a lot of ER-4 lovers also using Hifiman products in the RE series. The 262, 272, RE-0, RE-Zero get a lot of praise.


You should check in the portable headphones sub-forum and read the big IEM review thread by Joker.  He has ratings and descriptions of a large number of in ears.

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

I did! The SE 3-way got the highest score (and the only 5/5 for isolation from the whole bunch), closely followed by Miracle - he didn't include the SE 5-way. Soundwise he rated the Etys as 9.1, the SE 3-way as 9.7 and the Miracle as 10 (!). But to my surprise, the Etys are consistently described as analytical and even aggressive (once). My mental picture of the Etys would be a completely natural, pleasantly bright and rounded sound completely lacking in aggression or overly hard edges (listening to it is a very pleasant experience for me) - though they can certainly pack a punch for those big orchestral climaxes. So, if this is actually what corresponds to analytical, it is very probable that I've no clue of what I'm talking about :-).


Will check out the RE series - I wasn't aware of them before.


I wonder if reshelling the Etys (Miracle offers such an option), would improve isolation and/or bass presence at all. 

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