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The $999 vs $99 Challenge Tour! - Page 18

post #256 of 524
Impressions of Rocky IV (with alternate ending)


UERM Demo

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.
post #257 of 524
Quote:
Originally Posted by CEE TEE View Post
 

^^Thank you for the kind words, @FlySweep!  I am very happy to help out.

 

Unfortunately, I have checked with UE and the "Official" response is that they have not/won't offer any Universal/Demo versions of their Custom designs.  Sorry, all!

 

Fortunately, it seems like the UERM on this tour may be someone's Customs (with universal tips) and the demos in the comparison photos show how small they can be made.

 

As for Universals, I hope to hear the UE900's at RMAF and have some demos so that I can compare their sound to the Custom line-up...cheers!

 

Maybe instead of ear molds we could send them molds of an iem nozzle, and say we just have a perfectly cylindrical ear shape. Boom custom universals. 

post #258 of 524
Quote:
Originally Posted by vwinter View Post


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.

 

 

Great way to put it. I agree that these were the biggest differences between the two. 

post #259 of 524

I love hearing these impressions. Mainly because I've fought with myself with buying the UERMs several times in the past. The lack of money and drive to take the dive into customs has since prevented me. I'm still thinking if I was going for a TOTL I'd probably grab them to balance out the fun headphone I have in the ASG-2. But It is tough since there are so many great IEMs now in that price range. (and I still want to hear the 1+2s in a controlled quiet environment. They left a good impression on me and I hope that I can hear them in a longer demo soon)

 

However I'm terribly curious now about the TFRM. 

post #260 of 524
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vwinter View Post

Impressions of Rocky IV (with alternate ending)

 

 

As always, highly worth the wait.

 

Adding to second post.

post #261 of 524
Thanks guys!

I just reread them and holy iOS autofrackupcorrect Batman. rolleyes.gif
post #262 of 524
Quote:
Originally Posted by vwinter View Post

 I figure 2-3x seems appropriate for me in how much more I would pay for the UERM.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eke2k6 View Post
 

 

As always, highly worth the wait.

 

Adding to second post.

 

Nice one, v! UERM 2-3 times... hmm.. even with the audio-industry standard Diminishing returns in full play?

post #263 of 524
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundFreaq View Post


Nice one, v! UERM 2-3 times... hmm.. even with the audio-industry standard Diminishing returns in full play?

I'm talking intangibles here. There's a very similar sound signature and very similar detail retrieval. For some people, that's enough to think me saying 2-3x is bonkers.

And thanks!
post #264 of 524

Sadly the UERM is on its way to woodcans. I'll honestly miss them. I found an eq that worked very well for me. It takes away the slight tizz in the highs, brings the mids forward a bit, and evens out the sub-bass. It's been fined tuned to work with my particular in-ear resonance, but I recommend anyone using a parametric eq to give these settings a shot. It will probably work well for most people, with slight variations in the treble settings. To me this resembles an ER4S quite closely, with a little more emphasis through the mid-bass.

 

 

20Hz: +4dB / Q: 1.6

2.8kHz: +3.2dB / Q: .7

7.2kHz: -4.5dB / Q: .3

8.1kHz: +1.5dB / Q: .2

10kHz: -4dB / Q: .2

post #265 of 524
I still can't believe you found the midrange recessed. Not in terms of volume levels but positioning wise, if it was any more forward, the vocals would be behind me lol.
post #266 of 524
Quote:
Originally Posted by vwinter View Post

I still can't believe you found the midrange recessed. Not in terms of volume levels but positioning wise, if it was any more forward, the vocals would be behind me lol.

You're right the mids are generally very good as far imaging, but that extra bump really perfects the tonality to my ears. Vocals are just a little more focused, and combined with the treble eq reduction, they become crisp and clear without any over emphasis on "t" and "s" sounds. Really the UERM with this eq was one of the most enjoyable sonic experiences I've had thus far. I could likely replicate it with a wide but small midbass increase on the ER4S, but this eq stuff is tricky and takes a while to get down. Shotgunshane is the one who has inspired me to pursue simplified but powerful eq settings by using tones and Q values. His IE800 and W4 eq settings were awesome.

I'm just seriously amped on using tones lately lol. They're such a great learning tool.
post #267 of 524

Arrived from gnarlsagan yesterday. Forming impressions currently.

post #268 of 524

More impressions! I'm hyped.

post #269 of 524

So here are my notes:


UERM:

 

Closest to speaker like sound I have heard from an IEM. Doesn't handle compression all that well. (Few IEMs do). 

Easily inserted for a good seal.

Microdetail and vocal 'palpability' excellent.

Soundstage just enough out of head to be considered great or more than great.

Comfort, not so great.

 

Compared to Kaede.

Kaede is brighter with less bass impact. Kaede's are slightly more 'mushy' when recording is compressed, but slightly faster.


Compared to TFRM:

Significantly less bass. But sound signature is slightly similar. The Uerm has much more air between instruments, more instrument separation and  a much more natural vocal presentation, and without question, it digs much deeper into low and mid level detail.

 

Bottom line. How similar are these two iems? Slightly. The UERM is TOTL. The TFRM is a little brother/sister. Not in the same league, but in the same family.


Which one will I be listening to until they are on their way to the next tour member? All I can say is I can't stop listening to Alex Young singing 'one for the road...' through the UERM.

 

As far as the scale goes:

4-5 in terms of sound signature similarity.

the UERM is easily 3-5x worth more than the TFRM. Possibly and more than likely worth 8-10x more, in my opinion.

 

It did not take me long to come to these conclusions. If anything changes over the next week I will post, but I doubt it will.

 

Regards,

-wc

 

Thanks for including me on the tour!


Edited by woodcans - 10/3/13 at 7:10pm
post #270 of 524

Yeah! So many fans of UERM! I love mine.

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