Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › The $999 vs $99 Challenge Tour!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

The $999 vs $99 Challenge Tour!

post #1 of 524
Thread Starter 

Hi guys!


Welcome to The $999 vs $99 Challenge Tour!





In one corner we have the venerable Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor, a long standing pillar of neutrality. In the other corner stands the challenger recently born from the ashes of the Triple.Fi 10 and the sweat of Rin Choi, the Ultimate Ears Triple Fi Reference Monitor!


This tour has been in the works for a while, and is the brain child of long time member James444, and master measurement taker, Rin.




From James:



"First of all, huge thanks to you, Eke, for volunteering to organize the "$990 vs $99 Challenge Tour". Here's a short history of how I came up with this idea in the first place, and the background story so far:


In November 2012, my friend Rin Choi, one of the most knowledgeable audio experts I know, analyzed my Ultimate Ears Custom In-Ear Reference Monitors (UERM) and made the following statement: "Is it just me, or the frequency response of the UERM really resembles that of good old Triple.Fi 10 Pro? You be the judge, but as far as their frequency responses are concerned, the deviation here is a matter of a simple crossover circuit / acoustic damper modification."


Needless to say, I was more than just a little bewildered. The UERM is one of the most highly regarded IEMs I know and costs a whopping $999 (even more in the EU, where I live), whereas the TF10 can be had for as little as $99 during Black Friday sales. Had I been ripped off big time by Ultimate Ears? Well, I had no TF10 to compare to my UERM at that time, so I just told myself that measurements only tell part of the story and let the subject slide into oblivion.


About half a year later, I came across this highly controversial thread in a pirates' nest called Changstar and decided that the subject of measurements vs listening impressions was too interesting to let it slide a second time. So I came up with a plan: I'd buy one pirate's "unused artifact of IEM history" (aka the TF10) and simply present Rin with the challenge to mod it into an UERM. I'd also provide him with a universal UERM demo unit, so he could actually listen to both, the TF10 and the real thing.


Without further ado, I went to set my plan into action, and shortly afterwards sent the following PM to Rin: "Just bought a used TF10 to be sent to you for modding. Crack open whatever you want on them and do your wizardry. wink.gif If you succeed without destroying them, they'll be included with the subsequent UERM loan tour. Then people can judge for themselves how similar you can make a TF10 sound to the UERM."


Luckily, Rin being a man of his word, accepted my challenge, and so the TFRM actually came into being. In the end it took him a whole month to finish his mod and his PMs went from "I won't crack open TF10" to "TF10 doesn't look pretty anymore", but I have to admit his final measurements look pretty darn similar to the UERM.


So, now that modding and measurements have been completed, how will our esteemed fellow Head-Fier's ears relate to Rin's results? Well, that's what the "$990 vs $99 Challenge Tour" is meant for, to collect a sizeable number of subjective listening impressions and let the collective mind evaluate whether the $99 IEM has really been turned into a $999 one. I sincerely hope participants will be able to leave price and aesthetic differences aside and just judge both IEMs by sound quality only. I wish you all an interesting and fun experiment and I'll be patiently waiting for my turn as the very last member of the tour. smile_phones.gif"




And so began preparations for this tour.



The results are here:











The members have been selected based on experience, knowledge and overall trustworthiness, given that the items are rather valuable.




The participants are:





















A few guidelines:


1) Due to the long list of members, we're going to try to move the tour along as quickly and as smoothly as possible. We ask for each member to contain the length of his experience to one week, 2 weeks at the maximum.


2) We want to somewhat standardize the feedback system. Since we are comparing two IEMs, we thought it would be good to set it up on a scale of 1 through 10. The first scale will be for overall similarity, as in how close you think the two sound to each other in terms of signature, soundstage, technicalities, etc. The second scale will measure how you value each iem. For instance, do you think the UERM should be 3x or 10x more than the TFRM. 


3) Also, you're more than welcome to add subjective impressions and your own pictures to the thread. I'll make a list of names in the second post of the thread. I'll add each set of impressions under the name of its contributor, similar to how the T-Peos H100 tour (click) was organized.


4) We'll also use this thread to keep track of the movement of the items. We ask that you reply here when you ship to the next member, and for the corresponding member to acknowledge receipt. Also, if possible, try to use a delivery service that requires some sort of signature for the members who may not live in the safest of neighborhoods. This is something that could be talked about privately between members.




Again,  thanks for participating. Have fun!

Edited by eke2k6 - 2/12/14 at 8:16am
post #2 of 524
Thread Starter 

Reserved for impressions from:









Originally Posted by Inks View Post

Review and Comparison of:

Univesal Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor (UUERM) and Rins Triple-fi Reference Monitor (TFRM) 


Hmm alright, been listening critically to the UUERM and TFRM enough to draw concrete conclusions. I apologize for the delay, but I truly have been quite busy.


I will be comparing the two to two Olive-Welti (OW) flat IEMs, my BDD+NE and damped Monoprice 9927, IEMs which I know the strengths and weaknesses of really well. RE600, BA200 and EX1000 may get some mention as well


(note to tour users, according to Rin, place the cables in this matter in TFRM to keep it in-phase. 


(MH1C tips are used on both IEMs) Source: IP4S+Rin's impedance stabilizer


Bass: First off, BDD+NE, Sony EX1000 and damped 9927  (D9927) have what I'll call the best bass response for IEMs, all 3 have limitless bass extension with minimal midbass. In comparison, both UUERM and TFIRM lack a substantial amount of bass depth, they don't rumble as much, but the slightly bumped midbass does provide a more apparent punch, though it sounds more hollow in comparison due to the lack of depth. Even compared to the RE600, they don't simply have the depth of the dynamic as the bass as a whole sounds a bit less filled throughout the bass range. Having said that, bass levels between the UUERM and TFRM are very similar. TFRM does have less midbass and more rumble, a presentation of the bass I find much better than the UUERM. The UERM in comparison has a tad less rumble and is more midbass happy, giving more warmth to it's lower midrange. To note, the custom UERM should have more bass rumble, bringing it closer to the TFRM, but I don't see it getting it close the EX1000's or BDD+NE's bass depth. 


Midrange: The TFIRM no longer is recessed like it's older stock form. Midrange of both TFRM again are very similar, but have nuances that make them distinct, though still, both have what I'll call slightly laidback midrange. The TFRM have more "whack" and tinyness to it's midrange by just a tad, an attribute similar to the RE600/RE0. Two octaves up from middle C is emphasized and makes the midrange sound a bit more tiny compared to the UUERM. The midrange of the TFIRM also lacks the energy of the UUERM, there's less crunch and edge and sounds a bit more laid back in comparison. While I'll say both lack a bit of midrange energy, when compared to D9927, the UERM still takes the cake here as it's closer to a more coherent midrange integration. The midrange presentation of both comes off as very similar as a whole though. 


Treble: Here is where I also take issue with the sound of both and where they are most similar. Both have a treble that gives the off a metallic tinge to the whole sound, both are a bit piercing to these ears, but won't sound dull here as a RE600 would. I would say that even though both are equally piercing, the TFRM seems to have a bit more definition in it's treble. Both are helped by the use of MH1 tips, but the tinge remains.Treble extension seems almost exact, the UUERM a tad more airy, but the margins are very small here. Technically speaking, they both dropped after 17k for me via sine-sweep. As a whole, trebles are almost exact. 


Presentation: Soundstage wise these are very similar in all aspect. Width is similar as long as you have the TFRM placed correctly with the housing in this matter. Imaging, both comes off as pretty much exact, with small differences occurring from their perspective tonalities. 


Conclusion: Did Rin mod the TF10 to exactly match the UERM in all aspects? No, but it's close enough that I will place them both in the same sound signature and performance bracket. Do I like them both? Not really, both lack bass depth, midrange energy and have a piercing treble. According to James444, the custom version of the UERM is very similar. Taking that into account, I feel the extra money of going custom has more to do with comfort and isolation than performance when compared to these two, which sadly can't be commercially bought. Eke asks users to rate the closeness of sound between the two. Out of 10, I'll give it around a 8.5-9, 10 being almost impossible considering different drivers and housing. 


Wildcard: TFRM with Meelec triflanges. With these new tips in place, Rin states it matches BA200 [to be specific with it's stock double flanges]. I feel like it certainly does but sounds a bit more sibilant and keeps that slight midrange whack and honk previously mentioned. Soundstage wise it feels bigger and it's bass is just as full as the BA200s [though both still lack some depth]. In comparison, Meelec triflanges simply don't work UERM, making it less versatile. Meelec triflanges do give the TFRM more midrange energy than even the UUERM, though giving off some sibilance as a result. Treble no longer has the piercing tinge and sound more airy and coherent and overall, sounds much nicer than before. While I feel this combo surpasses the UUERM it truly starts sounding less like UUERM and more like a BA200. 


I want to thank Rin for his effort and James444 for his generosity, both for their support!













Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post

..finally got a chance to pop these in tonight.. very initial, off the cuff thoughts here.. DAC/amp is the UHA-6S MKII.


-- UERM : Not surprisingly, I like it.. a lot.  Signature is neutral, smooth, airy and utterly effortless.  The terrific dynamics, combined with eye popping clarity and speed make the 'e-stat' comparisons very apt.  Resolving ability is TOTL.. what impressed me was how natural and organic the way micro-detail was presented.  The person holding the scalpel was equal parts "surgeon" & "artist."


Soundstage is very open... terrific depth, width, height.  It certainly rivals open headphones, IMO.  The presentation feels very evenly spread across the stage.. the words "live" & "realistic" come to mind.  I don't experience the "three blob" phenomena or a "funneled midrange" (where the stage is wide, but the mids occupy a narrow area "in the head").  I'm a soundstage junkie and this phone, like the JH13, gives me my fix.. and feeds my addiction.


The tuning is on the (delicately) bright side of neutral.. it isn't fatiguing, sharp, or clinical.. not in the slightest.  The sound reminds me of a well DAC'ed/amped HD800.. or what the RE272 should sound like.  UERM has excellent freq. bandwidth/extension.  Bass is linear and the shelf doesn't seem boosted (will run sweeps).  The midrange is smooth, deliciously transparent, and extremely spacious.  Simply gorgeous.  Treble is clear, extended, smooth, and very detailed.. reminds me of the HD800's treble when run through a slightly warm tube.  Truth be told, I was expecting the UERM's treble to be much brighter and jarring.. mainly due to a lot of impressions I read before hand (that clearly blew it out of proportion)..I'm very pleasantly surprised.


One thing that immediately jumped out at me was the cohesiveness of the sound.. I immediately identified with this quality since the JH13 possesses it, as well.  In this regard as both these phones don't "sound" like multi-BA phones, in the stereotypical sense.  I will have some comparisons to the JH13Pro FP later this weekend.  Quickly though.. they seem very much on par with each other.  The JH13 sounds.. comparatively-speaking.. more lush, warmer, weighty, and intimate.


I don't need another custom.. but I'm extremely tempted to get the UERM.  I simply love it... it's as close to the "e-stat sound" as I've heard in an IEM.


-- TFRM:  This is the first time I've seen/held/inserted/heard the TF.10.  The fit?  Yeah.. WTF.  The (legendary) hate for this aspect is completely justified.  Unless you've got ear canals the size of those Indonesian caves (that the entire Empire State Building can fit in), there's no conceivable way to get a fit that's deep enough to reach the reference plane.. or even come near it.  I've never heard a stock TF.10, so consider these ears 'virgin' to the TF.10 sound (even though the fit is nothing short of 'ear rape').


I've got to credit Rin for the very admirable job he did with the tuning.  It certainly captures the 'essence' of the UERM sound.  The signatures are remarkably similar.. a feat in itself.  I don't think the TFRM is quite there in terms of speed, dynamics, soundstage, instrument separation, and resolving ability.. but I've got to do more listening & attain the proper fit before properly evaluating.  I will say this, if I could get the TF.10 reshelled, with Rin's TFRM signature.. I'd do it in a heartbeat.  Technicalities and all that aside, I totally love the sound.


More impression to come this weekend..















Originally Posted by shotgunshane View Post

The universal UERM and modded TF10 arrived several days ago. I’m going to call them the UERM and the TF10, instead of their new and confusing acronyms, in order to keep it simple for me.

The UERM and TF10 have very similar sub bass levels to my ears, which rolls off pretty quickly under 60hz, but the UERM definitely has more mid bass presence, which IMO makes for a more realistic bottom end. As a result, pianos, acoustic guitar and drums sound more lifelike and more believable with the UERM.

The greater mid bass presence is probably helped in part due to the custom come universal housings sealing of the entire ear better. While the TF10 is much easier to fit (and in fact I’ve never had a problem fitting the TF10 the two previous times I’ve owned them), just push them straight into your canals, I have to twist and cajole the mammoth UERM universal housings. The UERM does offer much more isolation, though within a few short minutes the universal UERM housings begin to become painful. Long listening sessions are not going to happen for me with these.

Vocals on the UERM sound much more accurate and have a better sense of intimacy. Conversely, they can sound oddly hollow in the TF10 on many songs. This is the area of biggest difference between the two and it’s not really close in my opinion. When I listen to acoustic/vocal oriented music, the hollowness I hear in the TF10 is very distracting. While the UERM doesn’t present some of these performances as intimate I’d like to think they should be, it’s much more enjoyable and much more realistic sounding than the TF10.

Treble has a very similar metallic timbre on both that I really dislike, since tonality is a pretty important feature to me. The main differences are in the 8k to 11k range, where their peaks are very slightly different, making the UERM sound a touch brighter, with its peak pushed higher up the FR. To me, the placement of the peak in the TF10 is less offensive and seems to dig just as deep into the recording. Unfortunately for music enjoyment, both really accentuate sibilance but the extra presence in this treble region is great for bringing low level detail to the forefront.

Overall the UERM sounds a good deal more spacious. It's slightly brighter treble ads some airiness and the mid bass gives it some depth advantages. I hear the UERM as both taller and deeper than the modified TF10.

The modded TF10 is a pretty good/close approximation; but to me, is clearly inferior to the UERM, especially in the midrange and with vocals. At the end of the day, neither is a signature I'd choose to own for music enjoyment but can appreciate the technical performance offered. Perhaps if the UERM had a more natural brassiness to the treble, with the treble peak tamed a bit and a little more sub bass rumble, it would be more appealing to me.



Originally Posted by shotgunshane View Post


On my tone generator 30hz is pretty quiet compared to 60hz and I have to concentrate to hear anything at 20 at the same volume level.

Edit: which is not a deal killer in the least. 50hz is loud enough and 40hz is serviceable.  Most of my music doesn't go below 40hz anyway.


As to the ratings, I'd say maybe a 6.5 for how close they sound to each other.


It's really too subjective for me to say how much more the UERM is worth over the modded TF10 but I can say I greatly prefer the UERM. It sounds much better and I certainly prefer the form factor of the UERM over the TF10, if for nothing but pure aesthetics and for being less noticeable. The responsible part of me says no TOTL is worth its price, yet I've bought several TOTL iems and have enjoyed them immensely over much cheaper models. Then again I love my $35 Soundmagic e10 and it gets plenty of ear time too.  So all that beating around the bush, I say if the UERM sound pleases you, its worth it.












Originally Posted by eke2k6 View Post

I've been listening intensely for the last 3 hours or so, and I think I'm ready to give impressions:


First, to stick to the rating scale, If the UERM is a 10, the TFRM gets a 5.5 from me, solely for how closely Rin managed to get its signature to match the UERM. I had a strong distaste for the TF10 when I owned it, so kudos to him for managing to transform it like this.


Here's why:



I listened to my music via shuffle for the first hour and a half, alternating between the UERM and TFRM so I could get a grasp on their sound. For the hour I've been A/B'ing using the tracks below. They were chosen because they each carry tiny nuances that have helped me distinguish higher class phones from the lower tier ones. Furthermore, I chose more acoustic based pieces because I wanted to have slower songs, where differences would be more highlighted. Faster songs usually pull me into the music, which doesn't help when I want to listen objectively. Also, despite the fact that these songs are among my personal favorites, I find that an iem has to be able to deliver them convincingly before I can drift off into the singer's melodies. So, without further text, the tracks:








All listen was done from an iPod Classic 6th gen LOD to a Tralucent T1 amplifier, and an iPhone 4 (almost 0 output impedance). All files were at least 320kbps.




1) The UERM has more body to the sound. It's not as much as I was expecting, going by SGS's impressions, but the difference is there in large enough quantity to make the UERM sound a good deal more natural than the TFRM.


2) I hear greater detail from the UERM, which I may from greater speed and resolution. This is evident in the strums of the guitar in Constant Knot, where the UERM resolves each individual string better. Furthermore, cymbals on the UERM are more resolved (Morning Song). Straying from the test tracks, I was listening to Stubborn Love, also by The Lumineers, and I found it resolving background vocals that I'd never heard before, even through Etymotic iems. The TFRM didn't do this.


3) This is the biggest, most stark difference


The soundstage. Here's a diagram of how I perceive how the two present the soundscape:




You'll notice that the biggest difference comes in soundstage height. The UERM's soundstage is much taller than that of the TFRM, making the presentation so much more natural. In comparison, the TFRM sounds like two tubes sticking out of your ears. I have my theories on this phenomenon, based on my experiences with the GR07, ASG-1&2, 334, and other customs-turned-universal, that a lot of an iem's soundstage capabilities come from the dimensions of the housing. 

I can't stress enough how much of a difference the UERM's soundstage height makes to the overall presentation. It sounds far more natural than that of the TFRM.



As for value, I'd say I'd comfortably pay at least 3x the TF10's price to get the UERM, given audio's quacky diminishing returns.



That's it from me. Again, congrats to Rin for changing the TF10 this much, but it still isn't near the UERM's total presentation or technical ability, which is very likely the best I've ever heard, from a technical perspective. It's not quite my favorite sound signature due to the dryness of the sound, but this is a highly impressive phone.  I'll update should my impressions change, but that's it for now.


Remember, these are my thoughts. YMMV, IMO, JM2C, etc all apply here.



PS. I also find the UERM to be pretty uncomfortable for long sessions.











Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post

Okay so here's my take on the UERM vs Rin's TFRM. They're pretty different to my ears. Fit could have something to do with it, but I did my best to mitigate any fit issues by trying as many tips and depths as possible. I settled on large single flange for both iems. 


To my ears, something about the TFRM is off, or "wonky" as Inks stated in his review. There could be a few reasons for this, but to me one of the reasons is the extra emphasis at 8k. Using tones I hear a very big spike in that area, bigger than the 10k spike I hear on the UERM. This results in a more emphasized, biting metallic treble on the TFRM. Cymbals don't sound as realistic or as smooth as on the UERM, and sibilance is slightly emphasized. The treble is by far the biggest difference between these two iems. 


I hesitate to say this, but I think there's a slight driver mismatch on the TFRM that is contributing to this "wonky" sound. I looked at Rin's graphs though and didn't see any TFRM graphs with both channels. I think this is something that should be looked into, as there's definitely something slightly abnormal about the presentation of the TFRM. It's possible that this issue is being caused by fit, but I'm using a shallow fit that I've used on many iems in the past, and I've never experienced this issue in a way that couldn't be rectified. I tried every tip, including the triple flanges, and the large single flange seems to mitigate this channel imbalance the best, but it's still not perfect. 


Moving on, I find the bass of both iems to sound very similar: polite, and just slightly emphasized over the ER4S. Sub-bass extension is pretty similar as well, with the TFRM winning out over the UERM by just a few Hz to my ears. Mid-bass is some of the best I've heard, managing to stay pretty much completely away from the mids, just like the ER4S. This lack of mid-bass bloat is RARE. I read all the time about iems with mid-bass that "doesn't affect the mids", and it's just not true for a vast majority of stuff out there. Well the UERM nails it imo. Clean clean clean mids, which are only very slightly warmer than the ER4S. I think a 3dB bump at ~2.8k improves the tonality of the mids, making them pretty much perfect. Mids on TFRM are very similar, but have more upper-mid and treble emphasis going into 6-8k. Vocals are bit more sharp with "t" and "s" sounds.


I compared the DBA-02 just for fun, since it also has a TWFK driver. It has a bit less bass extension than the UERM, and the mids are colder due to the heavily emphasized treble on the DBA. This spike also gives cymbals and drums too much snap in comparison. The tuning of the UERM treble is quite impressive, as it has just a little more emphasis than the ER4S, but not enough to be offensive in most cases. 


I'd rate the similarity of the UERM and TFRM as a 7. They share an overall signature, but the treble was just very different between the two for me. Presentation was much more realistic and convincing, and imaging was better on the UERM. Again, there is an issue with the TFRM to my ears that affects the presentation negatively.  


I'd say the UERM is worth much more than the TFRM, but I wouldn't pay more than $600 for a universal version. Customs aren't for me, and since I hold the $300 ER4S in such high regard, I can't honestly justify spending over double its price for something I like less. I would definitely want the UERM in a smaller form factor though, as this iteration is just massive. Something shaped like the ASG-2 would be awesome. 


Overall the UERM is one of the best iems I've heard, and I would put it right under the ER4S for a few reasons that I'll give over in the ER4 thread. 







Originally Posted by vwinter View Post

Impressions of Rocky IV (with alternate ending)


They are nothing like I expected. I thought they would be incredibly bright, harsh, and lean. They are none of those. I would describe the sound as smooth and natural, "neutral-ish" maybe, with good body and very large. It's like going to the planetarium for the first time as a kid, or looking at memories in a photograph.

There's very little to no forward projection. This creates a very different kind of mental assembly of a soundstage. I "see" it very much like Eke's diagram, including the height he mentioned, but maybe shifted a touch toward the front rather than dead center. Center imaging is very lateral between the ears for images that aren't created/recorded with depth. Images are large but very liquid. They sound just very smooth, yet they can easily have a very nice edge/crispness. They render the crisp texture of electric guitars better than just about everything else I've heard save the GR07 MK1. The UERM always knows what to do smooth or crisp, and can do both. In Daft Punk's RAM it'll go buttery smooth like the 70's on you and when ZZ Top's Eliminator or Tron Legacy Remixed comes on, the guitars and beats have incredible crispness and texture. Except the smallest bit of sibilance on tracks already having sibilance, they are extremely inoffensive, yet somehow, they remain extremely engaging and dynamic.

The name of the game is refinement with the UERM. There is just a metric ton of finesse. It takes the crown from the W4 for being the most cohesive multi BA I've heard. This extends from top to bottom. There are only two issues to my ears: (1) there is a metallic tinge to the mid to upper treble and (2) the sound can have a slightly hollow aspect because of the very large images combined with a character that is just a bit thinner than natural, so everything has great body but lacks a but of fullness. I also suspect that some might find the soundstage presentation a tad but oddball-esque, i.e. very different from the standard forward projection people are used to. So moving on,

The bass is probably my favorite bass of an IEM to date. It is incredibly articulate. It has great body as noted above and is very very clean, creating more a feeling of sound than strictly weight/rumble/air pressure. Also, it does not affect the midrange in any way that isn't completely and entirely negligible to my ears. It also does something unique in my experience with IEMs and it is likely in part to do with the sheer vastness of the stereo separation and space: it's able to image bass more than any other IEM I've heard, keeping it entirely separate from images on the same plane to the left or right of it. It can throw a large bass cue dead center and have the sustain not reach the ears to the left or right. I also heard a bit less roll off than shotgunshane with usable subbass at 30hz. Past that it rolled off quickly, but I didn't find myself missing it at all, which kind of surprised me. Interestingly enough, this is the only IEM in which Limit to Your Love by James Blake doesn't sound absolutely aweful and unlistenable to me.

The midrange is neither warm not cool. Some might call it sweet but I'd liken it to natural. Voices sound very much like you would expect them to sound like. They aren't nasal, or harsh, or thin. To can easily forget about them that way and let go into the music.

Instrument timbre is generally goodie good. Like has been said, there's a bit of a metallic tinge to the upper treble and this hurts instruments like cymbals and bells. Horns are generally good but not quite as aggressive and crisp as on the IE800, which was a particular standout for me. Drums have good body and reverb in general. The violin particularly stood out for me as exceptional. It was organic and rich and smooth. Other IEMs tend to make violists sound a bit squeaky and nasal. Piano was interesting in that it was diverse. The F111 for example is "always on" with piano's making them all sound rich and lingering in harmonics but the UERM while a little glassier at best, could diversify more between different kinds of pianos and playing styles. There was just more delicacy and finesse.

There is a small bit of sibilance on very hotly mastered recordings to my ears, though slightly less than the 1Plus2 and more less than the ASG-2 and IE800.

I also want to point out that the tuning of UERM is incredibly wholistic and cohesive in regard to the separate frequencies ranges and their interactions. My previous benchmark for multi-driver IEMs was the W4 but this is a bit better in my book. The tuning across all the drivers is also incredibly consistent.

My previous benchmark for transparency was the 1Plus2. And after hearing the UERM that hasn't changed, per se. It's actually created another benchmark for me. While the 1Plus2 is the most transparent IEM I've heard in regard to gear, the chain it's connected through, the UERM is more transparent to the music at the end of the chain. I listened to two metal recordings that came from studios in California made at around the same time, and with the UERM, not only could I discern the slightly different effects pedals being used on the electric guitars but I could also clearly hear the difference in the studio and recording layout. This was a revelation to me. Usually, my comment with these recordings is that "yup, they sound like California metal alright," but with the UERM they sounded like individual bands, with individual identities and very distinct yet only minutely different takes on the same musically temporal ideas.

The TFRM (modded TF10):

I don't know how the TF10 originally sounded. I'd never heard it so I don't know how much has changed. But, if the fit was as finicky as the TFRM, then it would likely have never seen the light of day in my house after the first week. Before I moved onto some not included tips, I was ready to give the TFRM a 4 out of 10 in similarity to the UERM, at best. I was very unimpressed to say the least, and had almost given up. Whenever I actually positioned it just so, so that it wouldnt sound like the sound was entirely imaged 2/3 to either side of the stage, it sounded like a tiny harsh mess.

Also, I'm convinced that Inks' picture of the TFRM fit is very very photoshopped. Either that or we're dealing with a stone that might better be left unturned.

I finally got an consistently good sounding fit for my ears with a set of Auvios.

In trying to mimic the performance of the UERM, created is a mismatch between the new design and original intent. The new parts just don't mesh well with whatever is left over from the TF10, like how a body might reject a donated organ, no matter how good. And because this might sound a little harsh since I'll be going into differences, I just want to be up front and say that Rin did a fantastic job with this. The TFRM in its own right sounds very good and I would easily put it up with the best I've heard in the lower price ranges of upper tier sound, ie below the magic five oh oh. rolleyes.gif

On sound signature alone, I would rate the similarity at a solid 7.5, maybe an 8 if you can get that magically elusive reference plane fit and not need to have them surgically removed afterward. But the devil is in the details, and it's in the presentation and refinement that the UERM pulls away, and it pulls hard. The TFRM exacerbates many of the UERM's flaws while not quite meeting up to most of its strengths.

Where the UERM already has a metallic tinge to the upper treble, the TFRM has even more, and it is spread wider, creeping it's way into the mids. This is not helped by the TFRM being generally harsher than the UERM. It's a much denser sound, and combined with the added harshness makes some songs a little hard to listen to.

The density of the sound is wholistic, from bass through upper treble. In that way, even though the bass reaches a bit deeper, it lacks the body of the UERM sound. It's fuller down low, but not more satisfying for it, and thinner up top.

The UERM has a much grander sense of scale, larger images, more body, larger stage with more stereo separation and cleaner imaging and more clarity, which is interesting because the TFRM is generally harsher and more aggressive. All the while, it just isn't as dynamic. The images on the TFRM just aren't as palpable.

Finally, it doesn't have the sense of transparency to the recording as the UERM. I think this is in large part due to a very scientific principle I call "finesse." The refinement and finesse of the UERM allow it to tailor it's presentation, sharp and crisp with one track, and soft and smooth with the next. The TFRM just doesn't have this range to keep up.

Now in regard to the overall similarity of sound, I would say, with an amazing fit, I would give it a solid 6. With a perfect fit, who knows, but I'd only 3 people in the world can achieve a perfect fit, does it really matter?

Because I'm not really sure about the value proposition as I feel something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. I'd be willing to pay a bit less than retail for a UERM and since I compared the TFRM to <$500 IEM's I've heard earlier, I figure 2-3x seems appropriate for me in how much more I would pay for the UERM.









Originally Posted by SoundFreaq View Post
First, I apologize for the slow response. Work has been insane recently. I'll spare you the details. 
The UERM vs TFRM - a very subjective evaluation.
(MBAir>Wiredworld USB>Cypher Labs -dB (2.0v version)>ALO 1/8" connect>RSA P-51)
Things I didn't mention, like soundstage, treble presence, etc.. is because I found the differences negligible. 
I think even putting numbers to it as Eke suggested in his original post is very subjective. At that point you're trying to quantify subjectivity, and you can get in to problems really quickly like that. The spectrum, the scale of evaluation is inevitably drastically different across members. So I'll just write from the heart and how these two legendary earphones spoke to me. 
When the package first arrived, I did a very quick prelim listen. From my recollection, I was quite impressed with the TF, and thought it could hold its own. Now that I've had a chance to listen to a variety of musical genres, from classical, piano and violin sonatas, to vocal, instrumental, electronic, and more - I have to say the UERM is justified in its price. Considering the diminishing returns in this hobby, I think they are consistent with the rest of the earphone playing field. The UERM's compete at the highest level. They remind me most of my AKG 3003. The similarities are uncanny. In some situations I could prefer the UERM to the 3003. 
I am in disbelief that they achieved such voluptuous, dynamic bass with a BA bass driver in the UERM. That bass is impressive. Really impressive. It's very dynamic, tight, quick, yet textured and voluptuous. Sounds more dynamic than the dynamic bass driver of my 3003! Though I would give a slight nod to the 3003 for accuracy in timbre. Isn't that something? Sounds backwards. 
For me, the difference in quality was pretty stark between the UERM and TF. The difference in price completely justified. If I'd had the opportunity to hear both before purchase, I would not hesitate to shell out the extra $900 for the UERM. Of course they are not $900 better on a linear scale, but there's no way I could live with the thought of how much I was shortchanging my musical experience with the TF. Even if I lived on a shoestring budget, it would be imperative for me to wait and save for the UERM. 
The overall presentation of the UERM vs the TF is one of rich and engaging vs cheap and incomplete. 
Talking about the bass, the UERM is more textured, more rich, more enveloping all the while being cleaner. It's almost an anomaly. Tighter and cleaner yet more vivid and robust sounding. The bass of the TF sounds flat in comparison. 
Listening to a violin sonata with these two pair of earphones really showcases how much more clear of a window the UERM presents. It's more refined, more clear, more accurate. It allows a sweetness, a melodic quality to shine through that is mostly lost on the TF. The TF plays the music ok, and most of the details are there, but the depth is lost. 
I switched to a very basic violin/piano sonata thinking that the flat, uncolored sound of the TF might work to its favor. Not the case. The difference in refinement, clarity and detail were even more evident. 
The UERM on vocal music is so much more robust, full and engaging to me. The TF just falls short in every way for me. 
That about sums it up. The UERM is much more rich, full, lifelike, with excellent texture and rendering of the bass. I become absorbed into the music, engaged, almost an interactive experience as I dance with the music. 
The TF sounds cheap and flat by comparison. Nothing there to draw me in. No emotional pull. 
For $100, and the mods excellently executed by Rin, you can't go wrong. It would be a fine earphone for someone starting their journey. But there's no way I could live with them, knowing I can have such a more vivid experience for $900 more. I prefer the UERM by a wide margin. Of course the difference in price vs value is subjective person to person - but for me, and this hobby, the difference is worth it without hesitation. 
I may be able to provide comparisons to the 1plus2 and further notes on the 3003. 
One day I was touring the Northern Californian countryside, near Napa Valley, where the grapes are grown for wine. I cruised along the narrow and curvy roads, with sunlight splattered across the road by the sun streaming though the large old trees lining me in my little car. I happened onto a small winery. It was made entirely of wood, contrasting against the verdant lush fields of grapes extending behind the log cabin, and against the green hillsides further in the distance. Parking my car, I headed to the entrance - not even sure if they were open. I opened the door and was greeted warmly by the owner, an aging man, but still spry with the passion of a man in love with his life work. I was the only one there. Just the winemaker and I. Next, he put on a show for me. 
Without a word he reached under the counter a brought out a clean, gleaming, crystal wine glass. He took it to the window and scrutinized the glass, twisting the stem between his thumb and index finger, searching for any impurity or finger print. Out of a motion of habit, he reached behind him and grabbed the top clean towel on a stack of fresh towels that were stacked neatly on the counter behind him. He massaged the glass gently with the pure white rag, to ensure its cleanliness. 
He turned around and set the glass squarely in front of me, in the middle, in one steadied gesture. There were two wine bottles, only two on the old wooden counter behind him. He grabbed the first, a red wine, and with the twist of his wrist, poured one swallow's worth into the wine glass before me. 
This was this man's life work in the glass before me. An artist, honing his talent and skill over years. 
After gently swirling the wine in the glass, and doing all the little things you're supposed to do when you taste wine, I took a sip of that first wine. He called it the "TF" as it had gone through some sort of special Triple Fermentation process, a modification that only he could perform, he assured. 
The "TF" tasted good. It was wine. It was a solid wine. Nothing to complain about. Nice breadth in flavor, and touches of various flavors came through to the tongue. If put against other wines in this category, this one would surely be a winner. Probably the best wine I had ever tasted in this category. 
After removing my glass, replacing it with a short glass of cool, pure water, the gentleman reached for a second wine glass so that I may sample his second wine. I rinsed my palette with the cleansing water, and watched as the master poured one swallow's worth into a perfectly clean wine glass. 
He called this wine the "UERM" 
Upon tasting it, I suddenly understood this man. His life work was brought to life! This was his masterpiece. Was it leaps and bounds better than the first wine? No. But it had an undeniably special characteristic that transcended the wine tasting experience into something much more profound. I was immersed into the wine fully, able to visualize the nutrient-giving soil, and the warm sun supplying life. Bold flavors, nuanced flavors, all came to the surface. It was rich and robust, yet clean and never overwhelming. The variation in subtle flavors and vivid flavors became a much more engaging sip, and the combination danced across my tongue warmly. This wine had history, the story of a life-long winemaker, perfectly evident in that sip. The warmth of his artistry was clear now. Now, the first wine seemed like a distant memory of something ordinary. But this, this had depth, a transparency into the soul of the winemaker himself. 



Originally Posted by SoundFreaq View Post

Alright Gents:


AKG 3003 and the UERM


I don't think this one is about one being better quality. For my tastes, I prefer the 3003. I could see some preferring the UERM.
The UERM actually sounds more colored to me. It's thicker, and has a more present and immediate, powerful presentation. I found the 3003 to to be bigger, more open and able to breath, more air, and a larger soundstage. The 3003 is a bit more laid back, but the timbral accuracy and organic presentation win me over. Think sweet purity. The 3003 is a smidgeon brighter, but not in a bad way. I feel the UERM a tiny but stuffy sometimes with its surprisingly robust bass, and more immediate presentation. I find the 3003 to be a bit more accurate and refined all the way across the FR. And that to me, is more engaging. I am swept into the purity of the music with the 3003. I connect with it more. It's a more transparent window into the music, and pulls on your emotions moreso than the UERM. But I think the fun presentation of the UERM would call a lot of people's names. Depending on your genres, you may prefer that dash of color and immediacy. I like huge, immersive soundstages, with breathing room. That's the 3003 for me. 
The UERM isolates more, and has a very secure fit, but it's also a lot to cram in your ears. I prefer the much smaller, and to me, more comfortable and smaller footprint of the 3003 on my ear. The 3003 have no security issues - as in it's still a tight fit. Just not too tight. I don't need to adjust them like I do the 1plus2. 
Those are the biggest differences. 
 The UERM is like being in an isolated cabin, in the middle of the forest. The forest is green, lush, and teeming with life. It's a bit overgrown, and the greenery is everywhere, life at its fullest. You can hear the animals, and the birds calling out. It's the summertime and and you live in a moderately sized log cabin in the woods. It's warm, but never repressively so - the canopy cover ensures cooler temperatures, and you rarely even break a sweat. Life is good, like is powerful, a force all around you. It's uplifting. 
The 3003 is in the dead of winter. All the greenery is gone, and replaced by trunks and branches of trees everywhere. Fresh, pure snow has been falling lightly for days, and a complete blanket of snow covers the ground and tree branches. In your cabin, you have a large fireplace burning wood you chopped earlier that afternoon. The fire warms your large cabin to a nice cozy and comfortable temperature as you're wrapped up in a cashmere blanket in the loveseat, soaking in the warmth of the hearth. Your cabin is filled with windows. Floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows on all sides of the cabin, and a large glass observation skylight takes up a giant space in your roof. At night, the purity of the snow gleaming in the moonlight, while content and warm, moves the soul. The dark trees, cast long, dark shadows against the brilliant white snow. White/black, cold/warmth, the emotions are heightened peacefully, filled with juxtaposition. A few bright planets and some twinkling stars that peer through, remind you of the size of the universe itself. Life is precious, life is sweet, life is pure, and it's the most beautiful creation this universe can offer. 









Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post

Hi All, 


The UERM/TF10 should be reaching the next person on the tour now.


First off, big thanks to eke2k6, james444, Rin, and everyone else who made this tour happen. It’s definitely a fun little experiment and of course the UERM is something I’ve always wanted to hear, so that’s an added bonus. My brief thoughts on these units are below.


First impression – “man, the UERM demo unit is huge”. It’s bigger than all of the custom demos I’ve tried in the past, including those from Unique Melody, Rooth, Westone, Altec Lansing, and so on. It’s also larger than all of the custom-come-universal units I have, such as the FitEar TG334 and InEar StageDiver SD-3.


Surprisingly it’s not less comfortable than a Triple.Fi 10 once fitted (should be noted that I’ve never liked the fussy fit of the TF10), and sounds pretty darn good. As far as universal demos go, the best I’ve heard previously was the Rooth LS-X5 hybrid, but I think this universalized UERM might be better.


I was happy to compare the UERM to the customized TF10 unit to start with. I switched between two sets of identical tips on both – UE single-flanges and MEElec bi-flanges, which allow me to get a nice seal without having to force the housings partway down my ear canals.


On to the sound…


Overall, the UERM demo is a little warmer than I expected but otherwise falls right in line with what I figured it would sound like – punchy and clear, with good treble energy and a spacious presentation.


The TF10 unit, as tuned by Rin, is an improvement on the original tuning – more neutral, tight, and balanced, it makes the original TF10 sound boomy and veiled in the midrange. The re-tuned TF10 is truly a top-tier universal and I found it preferable to the newer UE 900.


Anyway, the re-tuned TF10 is also quite a good match for the UERM signature. In comparison to the UERM demo, it sounds a little thinner overall. The bass is a little more hollow and a touch lacking in texture. Depth is similar, however, which is to say rather good but not up there with something like the Hidition NT 6. Then again, the stock TF10 has good bass depth to start with. The UERM has a bit more (mid)bass and a fuller sound, but otherwise the mids between the two units are similar.


Tonally, the TF10 is a little brighter than the universal UERM and tends to sound a little more harsh and sibilant. The UERM is smoother and more forgiving, and its treble sounds more natural to me overall. In terms of presentation, the UERM is more well-rounded – soundstage size is similar between the two but the UERM is more convincing overall.


All in all, I think these two earphones are similar in sound signature and just differ here and there in minor details. Performance isn’t too far apart either, though the small variations do add up to a win for the UERM to my ears. They certainly are far closer than two earphones with such a wide cost berth should be in overall performance, but then we already know this from the dozens of other lessons in diminishing returns hi-end audio has taught us.


As curious as I was to compare the UERM demo to the modded TF10, I was just as interested in the UE Reference Monitor itself. Tuned in collaboration with recording artists and studio engineers, the UERM is billed as a hallmark of accuracy. I figured it would be a good match for some of my more accurate custom monitors and performed some A:B comparisons. Keep in mind that this is a universalized UERM unit. In my experience, a full-shell custom can differ a little or a lot from a universal Demo. In this case I would bank on “a little” just based on the demo unit’s performance, but who knows.


UERM Demo vs Unique Melody Miracle ($950)


The Miracle is a balanced earphone but has a laid-back and very slightly v-shaped signature. Compared to the Miracle, the UERM has more forward mids and a brighter overall tone. The treble of the UERM is a touch more metallic-sounding but the unit sometimes seems clearer than the Miracle as a result of its treble emphasis and greater midrange presence.


The Miracle sounds a little more refined overall. It has less midrange emphasis but generally keeps up with the UERM in clarity. Its presentation is a little more laid-back and it seems slightly more spacious overall. Most noticeably, the smoother treble of the Miracle is more tolerant of harshness and sibilance, and arguably makes the earphones a touch more natural tonally.


UERM Demo vs Hidition NT 6 ($1200)


Hidition’s reference monitor, the NT 6 is a brighter-sounding earphone with lots of aces up its sleeves. It is brighter than the UERM and a touch thinner-sounding as well. As a result, the Hidition unit seems a little clearer and more resolving. However, its triple bass drivers also provide a low end that’s more natural and filled-in. The low end of the NT 6 is more textured and deeper (although perhaps bass depth would be better with the full-shell contact of a custom UERM). In comparison, the bass of the universal UERM sounds a little hollow, albeit not lacking in punch.


The tone of the UERM is warmer and the mids are a little fuller and more fluid. The treble of the NT 6 is a little smoother but very similar overall until the spike at ~10k, which is what gives the NT 6 its bright character. Happily, the NT 6 is smooth in the sibilance-prone region below ~8k and overall it still comes across as sounding a touch more natural despite its brighter tone.


UERM Demo vs JH Audio JH13 Pro ($1099)


The JH13 is my favorite custom monitor but admittedly the universal UERM isn’t too far behind in overall performance. The signatures of these earphones aren’t too different – there is greater variation in soundstage and note presentation, with the UERM sounding a little more smoothed-over and “fluid” and the JH13 being more transparent and “raw”.


Overall, I thought the JH13 was clearer and more natural than the UERM, especially in the midrange. The UERM is smoother and tends to gloss over fine texture a bit in comparison. This continued up into the treble, where the UERM is actually a touch more forgiving of sibilance than the JH13. The largest difference, however, is in the presentation, where the UERM sounds more laid-back and out-of-the-head while the JH13 is more three-dimensional, with better depth allowing for more realistic portrayal of intimate, forward soundscapes and more convincing imaging.


UERM Demo vs 1964EARS V6-Stage ($699)


The V6-Stage is the newest flagship from Portland, OR-based 1964EARS. Signature-wise the V6-Stage is not very different from the UERM and performance is really a toss-up as well. The earphones have similar clarity with perhaps a slight advantage going to the V6 due to its thinner note presentation. As with the NT 6 comparison, the UERM has a bit more mid-bass than the V6-Stage for a fuller sound and again sounds smoother overall, partly because of the lushness afforded by its warmer signature. It is smoother up top, as well, with the V6-Stage being more prone to sibilance. On the whole, however, these two earphones are remarkable close in performance despite the price difference between them.


UERM Demo vs Noble 4C ($999)


The quad-driver, silicone-shelled Noble is different from my other “reference” custom IEMs in that its sound is more mid-centric. Sets like the JH13, UERM, V6-Stage, and even the Miracle tend to have more impactful bass and stronger, more energetic treble than the Noble. The 4C, on the other hand, almost reminds me of a HiFiMan product in the way it presents a neutral signature in a more mid-centric way. It sounds very flat, with less bass compared to the UERM and a more neutral tone. It’s an amazingly smooth earphone that makes the UERM seem a little peaky in the treble region. Tonally, the 4C makes the UERM sound colored – no small feat by any means. In comparison to the more level Noble, the UE Reference Monitor has a warmer, bassier sound and added treble energy. 


UERM Demo vs Ultimate Ears 900 ($399)


This one was a disappointment. I wasn’t expecting great things from the UE 900 compared to one of UE’s flagship customs, but even Rin’s modified TF10 held up much better than this. Frankly, next to the UERM, the UE 900 – a pretty decent earphone on its own – sounded like crap. Overall clarity was nowhere near the UERM and the bass sounded boomy and unrefined. The only thing the UE 900 had going for it here was good bass extension.


The upper mids, which I’ve always thought were dull and lacking in energy on the UE 900, seem especially veiled next to the UERM. The UERM is flatter through the midrange and sounds much more transparent as a result. The midrange, and vocals especially, come through much clearer. The UE 900 gets better from there – the treble and presentation really aren’t bad at all, but there is just no comparing these two in overall realism.














 TF10 Rin modded
Less sensitive than the UERMs.  Needs more gain even on my UHA6Smk2 high gain.  Sounds much better than the normal TF10, more balanced.  Not quite as clear though, a slight hint of warmth but good detail.  Bass feels more linear than normal TF10 but doesn’t have the impact of the TF10s.  Imaging is a bit hazier.  Bass guitar on Hotel California has harder time resolving itself, tone is off.  Tonally more relaxed in a way I think some would find more appealing than the UERM.  A bit Westonish.  It is also a bit bass light, this track is mastered bass heavy. A very solid effort with respect to tonal balance.  However, overall less refined and articulate in resolving nuances and detailed transients.  At times, there’s a bit of an uneven sort of resonance or decay which lends to the inarticulate sensation.  While there is less treble zing and bass boom which is better for those wanting a more relaxed fatigue free listen, sibilance on Glen Frey’s vocals are more pronounced.  I do think there is an upper mid grain that is over accentuated or just sounds harsher due to lack of resolution.  This came to be more prevalent on cymbals w/ some Scorpions tracks.  All said and done, I have to commend the overall effort, sounds less refined than the TF10 I sold, but more balanced and neutral.  I think the more natural sweetness of the TF10's timbre is lost though as well. 

Post TF10 listen using UERM demos-overall signature is much smoother and refined.  All the notes sound more complete and fuller.  The sonic impression is more akin to comparing WAV files to MP3s.  Imaging and SS is much more precise and clarity is better.  Sibilance on cymbals and vocals are much more natural too.  There are also more macro and micro dynamics being reproduced.  Compared to the TF10 experiment, the UERM just makes everything sound more real and ‘there’ but showing more of what is actually on the recording.  IT’s just extracting more information and laying it out for the listener.  This is no small feat by the way, I almost bought the JH13FP but ultimately felt the UERM was still more resolving and balanced despite other strengths the JH13FP had like imaging and clarity.  This really speaks to UE's tuning and inherent design superiority with the UERM.













Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

Sorry for the delay but I am done with the modded TF10 and UERM universal. I will have them shipped out today. It would have been yesterday but got delayed a bit.


First off I would like to thank james444 for providing us with this tour and eke2k6 for organizing it.

My setup with all listening is done with a Concero HP connected to my laptop. 


The TFRM is definitely a change from the stock TF10. I sold mine a few weeks back so it's a shame I couldn't do a direct comparison but it's different enough where it's obvious. The TFRM's goal is to be closer to the sound of the UERM and while it is closer there is still a large difference in terms of sound. I had a hard time listening to the TFRM however. The issue I had is with the midrange of the TFRM. It sounded very strange as it's almost as if the bass is there and the treble is there and then the midrange was forgotten and just added it in as a last minute effort that didn't do much. For lack of a better term the midrange is very wonky or hollow as another member termed it. Midrange aside the bass and treble is better and closer to the UERM. While the bass doesn't reach the lowest of lows it is nice in quantity and quality for someone who appreciates a more neutral signature. The treble is also nice. It's a smooth and extended treble similar to the UERM as well. It's not smooth as in lacking details but rather lacking a peak on top that makes things sibilant. 


The universal UERM I would say is close to the custom UERM but everything toned down a dial. This should not come as a surprise since my custom UERM is fitted for my ears while the universal..is not. That being said the UERM is a very good sounding iem. It has quality from top down as should any iem at this price range. The bass again is quality over quantity but it does roll off a bit as does most BA earphones I've heard or owned but that roll off is not significant to me. The quality is near the best I've heard. The mid range is very detailed, smooth and transparent. The biggest thing about the UERM is the treble is that is is a bit different than most iems with this kind of signature. It's more smooth than peaky where sibilance is an issue. Rather it's more smooth but still very transparent. The clarity of the UERM is extremely good and among the best i have heard or owned. The stage of the UERM is impressive for an iem but it's also your typical left and right but that's how iem's are. Lastly tonality as you can probably guess is close to neutral but leaning towards a bright signature.


If I were to quantify things I would say in terms of how close the UERM and TFRM is I would say a 6. In terms of how close they are on a technical level it would be a 5. I would buy the UERM (well..I already have the custom UERM so it's a bit pointless) over the TFRM at 10x the price for sure. However diminishing returns kicks in here for sure so that's something to consider.












Originally Posted by skfktkwjs View Post

Here is my comparison review of TFRM VS UERM

My first language is not English so please be generous about my broken English. 






For about one week I had both TFRM and UERM to compare! 

I thank to eke2k6 and Rin choi

I used to be fan of ultimate ears and their triple for 10pro. Tf10 Pro was my first iem that cause more than $10.

When some time ago, I hear Rin had modified tf 10pro I was so interested to hear them and here I am with his Mod tf10pro!

Luckily eke2k6 provided UERM as well so we can compare them each other!





My evaluating Standard


Before I go over the sound of iem I would like to mention few things.

First I do not believe that cable will make sound better.

Second, I also do not believe that amplifier will give me better sound.


My entire test was done on IPod touch 5th gen, ifi idac, and O2 amp.

All of that equipment is well known as flat and neutral response and have less than 1ohm of output impedance.


I tested both IEM with Classic, Movie & Game OST, Heavy Metal, and some Pop





General Sound signature of Both TFRM and UERM is V shape sound, Bass and High are emphasized and Mid is recessed.



Bass: Bass is where UERM had disadvantages due to universal fit mod. As you know Custom iem has almost perfect seal.

However UERM did not have perfect fit. It fits tightly to my ear, but still it does not have same tightness as custom fit.

On the other hands, original tf 10pro was designed as a universal fit iem. 


Both of IEM had emphasized mid bass area. That mid bass hump gave me extra punchy to my music, Bass extension was great.I was able to hear around 30~40 Hz area without pulling up the volume too much.

Bass was tight and well controlled.They have fast snappy punch. All the instrumental in bass area was well separated. However, I was able to hear little bit of masking in both iem between drum and bass guitar.

When bass and drum played together in the music, they start to mask over each other.

I feel TFRM has little more Sub bass than UERM. Not 100% sure it’s because of fitting issues but. to my ear TFRM sounded slightly tighter and deeper.



Mid: Both of TFRM and UERM have well defined mid. They are fairly detail and closer to neutral.

I would not say that they are neutral sounding mid due to missing information around 3khz, but it was much better than what I was expected. Both TFRM and UERM has laidback mid. But they still capture good details of vocal, guitar and other instrumentals in mid area. I won’t say they are vivid and life like.Female vocal lost some of details and guitar sounded somewhat colored. To my ear, TFRM has more details than UERM in mid high area.


I found some problem with both iem when I played classical music. When track has violins, the volume of violins starts to change depending on their pitch.This problem is usually found in Audio-Technica’s W lineup headphones due to constant deep and peak on frequency response.All instrumental separated well and did not find much of masking between each other. However, since they have recessed mid, bass slightly mask mid. It is just slight masking that I found in Metal and Classical music but it won’t bother you too much. Both of TFEM and UERM has thinner mid due to emphasized high.

I find TFRM has little bit more forward sounding Mid.




High: TFRM and UERM both have emphasized high. They are vivid and clear. Extension is great on both of iem. I was able to hear up to 15 kHz (my ear can pick up sound up to 17.5 kHz).

Cymbal and high-hat was really stand out on most of music. Because it has a lot of treble, all the instrumental sounded thinner than what I prefer. All harmonic was well played in music and I don’t really find much weakness on them. However I am for sure some people will find them too aggressive and sharp.

I found both of UERM and TFRM sounded equally good to my ear.



Sound Stage


I personally do not care about sound stage because iem always image inside of head. but I found uerm has little more tree dimensional sound to me.

However tree dimensional sound is not always good. As far as I know 3d sound in iem and headphone only come from different volume level between instrumental.

That means un-linear sounding headphone will creates more differences in volume and that will makes you think it tree dimensional sound.



Both TFRM and UERM have fairly identical sound to my ear. I would scale it 9 out of 10 for its overall similarity. I fond overall performance is better on mod Triple-fi.

This comparison is not accurate to tell UERM is bad because UERM was mod to universal fit but I would say with custom fit UERM will sound as good as TFRM.

However I see UERM is quite overpriced. Sound does not match for the money that you pay.

It is funny to talk about pricing of iem, but to me UERM does not seem have advanced any technology than Triple-fi.



I specially give thanks to Rin Choi and eke2k6 for giving me a chance to compares them!

I would love to see Rin’s Mod method so I can actually mod tf10 to TFRM!


Thank you all to read my short comparison review and see you next time!


Edited by eke2k6 - 3/15/14 at 7:15am
post #3 of 524
Looking forward to this, Eke..

Rin.. any chance we could get CSDs of the TFRM & UERM?
post #4 of 524

Why didn't someone disclose music_432 was participating?? This will totally destroy my credibility eek.gif.


In all seriousness, this should be fun.

post #5 of 524
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by woodcans View Post

Why didn't someone disclose music_432 was participating?? This will totally destroy my credibility eek.gif.




Oh, will you two just kiss already? rolleyes.gif

post #6 of 524

eke, thanks for the part you play in organising this. Now, may I ask, is "myself" you yourself or is there a HF'er whose ID is actually "myself"?





Originally Posted by woodcans View Post

Why didn't someone disclose music_432 was participating?? This will totally destroy my credibility eek.gif.


In all seriousness, this should be fun.


How can someone "totally destroy" your credibility when you already have none?

post #7 of 524
Interesting.... Did a quick read through the build of the TFRM... Tonality is one thing but Soundstage, imaging and timbre is another. Anxiously awaiting some impressions
post #8 of 524
All those factors are dependent on FR to some extent, not completely independent, though the least dependent is soundstage surely.

Rin highly recommends MH1C tips and I may just include mine. Meelec triple flanges changes the sound quite a bit and brigs it close to the BA200s sound 0_o
post #9 of 524

So Far So good~ I can't wait to see rin's new work~ + UERM(I was looking forward to get one before).

post #10 of 524
I am not siding with any party but have some comments:

1) Rin's frequency measurements of TFRM vs UERM were done at reference plane. A human reviewer may or may not achieve that insertion depth, which may be more difficult with TFRM than UREM (UERM may have unfair advantage of insertion depth, seal and overall fit). To overcome the fit difference, reviewers should carefully try multiple insertions/seals/tips and compare them.

2) The price difference is probably not $99 vs $999. $99 is TF10's DISCOUNTED price and $999 is UREM's retail price. And after Rin's extensive modification, the TFRM would cost more than $99 (even if Rin's labor/time is disregarded, extra parts cost and shipping still applies). 

However, if the intent of this challenge is to push UE to produce better earphones for cheaper, then it is a good thing for us Headfiers.
post #11 of 524
Originally Posted by zzffnn View Post

2) The price difference is probably not $99 vs $999. $99 is TF10's DISCOUNTED price and $999 is UREM's retail price. And after Rin's extensive modification, the TFRM would cost more than $99 (even if Rin's labor/time is disregarded, extra parts cost and shipping still applies). 

However, if the intent of this challenge is to push UE to produce better earphones for cheaper, then it is a good thing for us Headfiers.

Sometimes artistic license can be permited  wink_face.gif

post #12 of 524
Lets Rock.
post #13 of 524
Thread Starter 
An issue has come up that forces me to cancel the tour. Maybe I'll reopen the thread later down the line if the problem is resolved. Apologies to all involved.


This is me making up for not doing anything in April fool's day.
post #14 of 524
Originally Posted by zzffnn View Post

I am not siding with any party but have some comments:

1) Rin's frequency measurements of TFRM vs UERM were done at reference plane. A human reviewer may or may not achieve that insertion depth, which may be more difficult with TFRM than UREM (UERM may have unfair advantage of insertion depth, seal and overall fit). To overcome the fit difference, reviewers should carefully try multiple insertions/seals/tips and compare them.

2) The price difference is probably not $99 vs $999. $99 is TF10's DISCOUNTED price and $999 is UREM's retail price. And after Rin's extensive modification, the TFRM would cost more than $99 (even if Rin's labor/time is disregarded, extra parts cost and shipping still applies). 

However, if the intent of this challenge is to push UE to produce better earphones for cheaper, then it is a good thing for us Headfiers.

Insetion depth has been considered and its fine even 6mm away from the reference plane.

Kimvictor who is a custom UERM and blog collaborator may be added.
post #15 of 524
Originally Posted by eke2k6 View Post

An issue has come up that forces me to cancel the tour. Maybe I'll reopen the thread later down the line if the problem is resolved. Apologies to all involved.


This is me making up for not doing anything in April fool's day.

Aaaaand my initial reaction:

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › The $999 vs $99 Challenge Tour!