Thank you for the additional info and suggestion.
I dig your reviews on other thread / FAD and i love your reviews on PF and Heaven series. I happen to love PF X-G hence i trust we have some common brand we like :-)
May I ask if you happen to own any of the CW models and what's your impressions?
I am on the fence with both QD and L51a models. I am just hoping that CW is a good brand that offer great sounds with understated / less hype appeal. However within the same price range we have seen many brands and models to choose from: SE 5, NT6 Pro, JH Roxanne / JH 13 /16, CustomArt 330PRO, Fitear 335dw / 435.
Honestly the reviews of NT6Pro from VZ and AJ really intrigue my interest with the word "Clarity", and JH 13 FP obviously. The other is a review of fitear 435. These three seem to be the "kings of clarity".
Here are the CIEMs I have experience with personally:
Canal Works L05QD
Canal Works L51a
FitEar Private C435
Jerry Harvey JH-3A / JH-16Pro Freq-Phase
Noble Kaiser 10
Ultimate Ears Ref. Monitor
Ultimate Ears Personal Ref. Monitor
One of the biggest selling points for FitEar in my opinion is the brand's truly astounding build quality: for me it simply blows every other cIEM out of the water in fit and finish, and I find them the most comfortable to wear of any cIEM I've tried. It'll really spoil you in that regard. In terms of sound, I find the FitEars very non fatiguing and easy to listen to for long periods of time. I'm not so sure I'd describe them as the last word in 'clarity,' as they sound a little thicker and more intimate than what I'd consider my baseline, but they have a very 'natural' type of sound to me.
The best tonal balance of any cIEM I've tried remains the UERM. I seriously love it, and I'm planning on finally buying one when funds allow. It's more linear than the FitEars which sound downright thick in comparison, but it's a little more fatiguing. Still it has a bit of added warmth which makes it fairly versatile. It's kind of funny: when switching to the FitEars I think "wow these sound thick." But when switching from the FitEars back to the UERM, I think "wow this sounds thin." So really it just takes a bit of adjustment in either case.
The UEPRM on the other hand did not impress me at all.
I'm still evaluating the Kaiser 10, but I'm finding it has some of the best extension / range of the cIEMs I've tried while also possessing some of the smoothest integration and transitioning from bottom to top. It kind of reminds me of the JH13Pro and JH16Pro in that is has a U-shaped signature with bass and treble emphasis, but it's a much gentler U-shape compared to the Jerry Harvey models which have more pronounced extremes. At this point I think I'd take the K10 over either. Haven't heard the Roxanne, however. I do get a bit nervous when there are so many drivers at play; seems like more chances for things to go wrong. It's impressive that the K10 manages to get its 10 drivers to cooperate so harmoniously.
As for Canal Works, I think they compete in terms of sound with any of the other models I listed up there. The L05QD is extremely clear-sounding, very crisp and absolutely relentless when it comes to your source material. It smoothes nothing over. That being said, it's thankfully not sibilant or anything (*cough*Tzar 350*cough*). The L51a on the other hand is much fuller sounding, much more of a traditional "hi-fi" kind of sound, but with the added fun of being able to change resistors. They actually change the bass response quite noticeably to my ears, allowing for a flatter type of tuning or a definite bass emphasis. It's a much more elegant solution IMHO than having a separate tuning box like the JH-3A.
I personally feel that Canal Works has some of the more interesting and no-BS ideas in this segment, with a very solid product line that they've refined quite a bit over the years. Not quite as solid as FitEar who is an institution in the world of Japanese cIEMs, but they're no slouch. Also Canal Works has a really nice selection of playful shell options. In contrast, their countryman FitEar gives you four options to mix and match.
Those high prices are more a function of having to go through distribution channels. Whenever you buy a product from a reseller rather than directly from Canal Works (or FitEar), the distributor always wants a cut. So yeah, not really hype so much as an unfortunate reality of importing these Japanese cIEMs at this point in time.
Edited by MuppetFace - 12/17/13 at 5:47pm