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IEMs for electronic and bass heavy music

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Been quite a while since I have been on the site. I have my dream setup for over ears and amp and have been very happy with my portable rig (Ipod 5 running rockbox and westone 3's) until the time I decide to try out some customs. That was until my portable rig was stolen frown.gif...


At this point I have replaced the ipod and gotten a storage upgrade as the 5.5 generation is now working with rockbox. For the headphones I know I could simply replace the W3's and be happy enough, the problem is there is something in me that would feel more cheated if I had to spend all this money over again and be right back where I was. I would like to use this as an opportunity to try something different, equal in quality or better that might suit me a little or a lot better.


I am looking for some input from some of the heavyweights of head-fi to steer me in the right direction


Taste in Music (in order of frequency of listening): 

I listen to the portable rig mainly at work and like lyricless music as it helps me zone in and concentrate. 


Electronic music -  Glitch Mob, tons of stuff from Beatport, Deadmau5, 

things like -Lindsay Sterling, Ratatat, Gramatik

Epic soundtracks- GOT, LOTR, etc



Then stuff with lyrics- Mumford and Sons, Monsters and Men, Edward Sharpe, Regina Spektor, Coldplay, Muse... Hip hop

Occasionally I get back to my rock roots but don't need the phones to be tailored for this


Thoughts on Signature:

I want- Natural, warm, musical, effortless. Something that will get my foot tapping and head nodding etysmile.gif


I am beginning to realize I am a bit of a basshead. I like it to be really present without drowning out the rest of the frequency range. I love really clear detailed highs. I am less concerned with mids but recently getting into some of the mumford and sons types of music I have found my D7000's to be a little lacking in clarity and texture. Not bad with this music but not impressive either. What I would really like to have is something that will impress with bass presence AND quality as well as overall clarity through the frequency range. Words I want to describe the highs: crisp, sparkling, clear. All this while being pleasant to listen to mid centered music , vocals and guitars etc. Mids are less of a priority though.



Most of the time I will listen to these at the office, needs to be acceptable for leakage for a normal office environment (mainly not to disturb people around me as the office isn't very noisy) Would need to be able to use them on the occasional flight and long car ride. 


Price range:

600 USD is probably the max I could justify to myself and would definitely not want to push to that level without being very impressed with the headphones performance over the Westone 3's




gen 5.5 ipod classic all lossless music

Phones need to work great unamped or be able to be amped within the budget (and beat something of similar price without an amp)

I may get an amp in the future but its not on the buy list yet


IEM's on my radar:


Probably want to stick to universals:

JVC FX-700 (worried about leakage to co-workers)

Earsonics SM64

Westone 4

Monster Turbine Gold (worried about TOO much bass)

Heir Audio?? (Don't know much about their sound, don't know why they intrigue me)

IE8 (comes up a lot in my searches and don't know why it doesn't intrigue me)


Might consider customs... just a lot of commitment...

1964 quads



Last note: My stolen rig consisted of a gen 5 ipod classic in really nice condition. I had a leather case with red stitching and of course they were stolen with the Westone 3's and my long comply tips were on them. If you would, keep an eye out for things for sale that would match this description. The setup was stolen in the Peoria IL area.


aaaaaaannnnd GO!

post #2 of 8

Shure SE 535 or Westone 4 would be a good replacement.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

The SE535 has been on my radar before, everything I have read has been that that was a mid focused iem and might be lacking in the bass department, but I am not sure. How does the low end compare from westone 3 to 4, is it a big or little step down?


I did like the low end on the 3's but did feel it could be more controlled.


Just to add to the first post a smidge, the FX-700's were a very very close second to the W3's when I first bought them, I almost bought them anyway just to try them out.

post #4 of 8

I think Westones have a more natural/flat sound compare to the Shure. Yes, the shures are mid focused, but the highs and lows are great too. The red edition of the Shures, have even further treble range.


Here is a nice review on the 535 by innerfidelity.



Edited by pformagg - 7/31/13 at 7:50pm
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Ok, I could use some more insight here. New phones on my radar - UE 900, PFE 232. Westone 4 or 4r are looking good as well as from what I read they will do a better job with instrument separation, sound stage and refinement in the mids, sacrificing some bass quantity while improving the quality over the W3's. Might do what I am looking for if a bass lover will still enjoy these phones.


Anyone else care to weigh in on my dilemma?

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Alright, plan going forward is to get a pair of JVC-FX700 as they are largely reviewed as the iem equivalent of my D7000's. To compare with it I will also get a pair of either the W4's or the PFE 232 (maybe something else, still deciding) and I will decide what I want to keep.


Not that anyone is reading this thread now but this might help someone later to see my thought process and outcomes. I hate it when I come up on threads looking for similar things I want and they are never updated with what ended up working for them.




FX-700 bought :) thanks mepstein10! 


Now what to compare to... westone 4, pfe 232, something from Heir? someone HALP!!

Edited by Mcarter3 - 8/8/13 at 4:20pm
post #7 of 8

If you like the Weston sound and feel, then go for them. Heir Audio are pretty sweet too. They look amazing as well.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Update for any future readers looking for similar things:


Picked up a pair of JVC FX700 and got an open box set of westone 4r. Picked up an O2 amp while I was at it because I always wanted to try one out and also wanted to be using the LOD of my ipod while I was comparing.


FX700- Tried these on right when they came in the mail and was sadly underwhelmed. I could hear the epic bass they were known for but something seemed to be missing. Just for fun as I was still really excited about them anyway, I threw them on as I laid in bed going to sleep that night... OMG what a difference. It was like a veil was removed from the previous listening session. So clear and detailed, and holy SH%* at that bass. Flipping fantastic. This just revealed what I already should have known that I should have been less concerned with the poor isolation leading to disturbed coworkers (they would not be able to hear a thing even at eardrum bursting volumes) and more concerned with the noise leakage affecting the sound quality. Were these phones able to produce their quiet room quality sound anywhere they would for sure be the phones I stick with but I think the poor isolation is going to be a dealbreaker for me. I actually had the opporotunity to do some work in an anechoic chamber at work the other day and had them with me.... I really wish this sound was possible with a closed back IEM, OH man it was GOOD!! Just absolutely imerssive bass, free and natural sound throughout the frequency range. The mids were recessed but still detailed enough for me. Bass was just amazing for me. Treble... right in line with what I wanted in my original post. Too bad I dont get to be in the anechoic chamber every day...


So on to the 4r... My first listening session was completely different, I loved them right away. I listened to one of my favorite tracks 'Bad Wings' first and LOVED it! There was detail I had never experienced before. Now not only the bass was immersive but the entire frequency range was just soooo detailed and enveloping. That is a very bass heavy track and it felt just right to me, better than normal in the low end. The bass is so controlled with these IEM's and if the bass is there like in this track.. the 4r's hit just as hard as they are supposed to. If I stick with these for the long haul I may need to get used to less bass in the tracks I am used to listening to emphasized bass through the Denons or W3's. 


I haven't had a ton of time to do extended listening on either set so these are very much first impressions. I plan to get some equal head time on both over the coming month, establish a favorite (if I haven't already) and post some more informed impressions. Ill then need to sell a set pretty quickly as I spent way too much money this month :/




Listening to my music right now on the 4r's and hearing so many tracks in a whole new light... continually impressed...



Quick note on the O2 while I am at it: Haven't done much of a back to back or anything and done have enough head time with and without it to talk too much to it but the noise floor is super low with it. The 4r's dont reveal much static to begin with. When I first plugged them directly into the ipod I was truly worried for a second that I got a bum pair as I could hear no hiss while I was selecting a track. Going from the O2 to the Ipod headphone out, I can hear the hiss from the HO. So that's nice... more to come

Edited by Mcarter3 - 8/27/13 at 10:45am
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