Originally Posted by hockey_magnet
H3's vs Shure 846
Edit - I did the comparison below at work - got them home in a quieter environment and swapped out the Black Olives for the grey Silicone sleeves. The silicone sleeves were better then the rotten (IMHO) black olives. Once again, getting the remaining black olive off the nozzle was very scary - really Shure, you need to fix this. who wants to feel like their $1000 iem's are going to break apart just getting a sleeve off? I did find that the sleeves I put on after getting the installed ones off came off much more easily.
Anyway, the main thing I noticed was that the vocals on the Shure now seem quite a bit better than they did during my earlier test and are significantly better than the H3 for vocal clarity. Still like the H3 for a warm relaxing sound though. The 846's are somewhat more fatiguing (which agrees with some other comments I've seen) but I would not say this is a problem for me, just an observation. Going to try a few more tips and check some reviews to be posted soon on the Sensaphonic custom sleeves before I order those.
Asked earlier if anybody had heard them both. Since there was no reply, I went out and blew $1000 on the 846's to see for myself. My very early impressions:
AB'd from an iphone 5, Comply's on the H3's, Black Olives on the Shures.
Right now, I'm actually finding the H3's more comfortable - The 846 memory wire is very stiff, plus I don't think the Shure tips are as comfortable. I was able to get a good seal with both, just easier on the H3. I think a big part of this is the Shure Black Olives - not a big fan, had them before and they just don't feel good in my ears. Obviously, though, you can't lie on your side with the H3's. Speaking of tips, I had read on a 846 thread the tips were hard to remove initially. Man they were right! I had to swap a medium for a large on one ear and was terrified I was going to break the nozzle - like it was glued on. Hopefully it's just because it was on there for 3 months (the 846's were manufactured in March).
Packaging: Shure wins big but so they should at triple the price. My biggest complaint about the H3's packaging was that it seems like the case is too small (bought a Pelican 1010 micro case which works better.
Build: Obviously the Shures seem better built - (stainless nozzles, etc.) but the H3's IMHO are very solid. The H3's joints are beautifully matched and finished wheras the Shures' joint seam is a bit rough when you run your finger over it
As above, the H3 cable is much more comfortable - with the Shure's the entire cable is stiff whereas the H3 cable is very soft and flexible - neither one has an issue with microphonics
Sound: Only tried the Shure blue filters so far
Based on the source the H3's hold up pretty well - maybe another story with better source and higher than 320 files. The Shure's are quite a bit more efficient - volume was about 20% higher on same settings but to me this doesn't matter at all.
Bass: Overall the Shures hit a lot harder, much more crisp and clear. The H3's sound deeper (lower) and more relaxed.
Treble: I honestly did not notice a huge difference between them, they were both excellent, although overall the Shures had better clarity
Mids: Shures had quite a bit more clarity and the mids were more forward
Separation and soundstage: Surprisingly the H3's were very competitive in both these areas. I think the Shures' separation may be more precise but compared to the the H3's they didn't stand out and to my untrained ears the H3's have a wider soundstage but the Shure's are deeper; but I suppose once you have very good separation you're not going to notice much of an incremental improvement.
Isolation: No contest, as expected the Shure's are much better
Overall: As I said, the H3's hold up pretty well. I did not expect a $1000 iem to be 3 times or even 2 times better than the H3 but I was still surprised. When I replaced my Westone UM2's and Bose QC20i with the H3's, I heard things in the music that I was not hearing before. With the Shures vs the H3's I'm getting a bit of that but not nearly as much. That said, I will probably keep the Shures and try different tips as well as maybe the Sensaphonics custom sleeves ( but that adds another $250 to the Shure's price.)
Hope this makes sense - I'm not an audiophile and my ears are getting old, so others may not agree or hear what I'm hearing