Okay guys, I've been on a listening marathon of these Asian gems and I think I'm ready to give my verdict in terms of what I prefer.
I will just for now do a greater than, or equal to comparison.
I did my listening through either my Sony Walkman f806 run with a fiio l5 adapter into my fiio e18 amp, or through my stock Samsung Galaxy S which is a spare phone that I use on the go for music only (Ya, I know it's old) through a Monster Cable line into a fiio e6 amp. The media app I prefer is Google Music which I always stream or download in their highest quality setting (whatever that is). Like I said, I'm by no means an audiophile, I'm just willing to spend some cash to make my music sound good.
This wouldn't be fair unless I shared my preferred sound signature. I like my music to sound rich and warm with ample bass that is full, clear and not overly punchy and doesn't bleed into the midrange. Mid bass bloat drives me crazy. Good midrange is most important to me. It doesn't have to be in front of bass and treble, but it has to be clear regardless of how a set of phones is tuned. I listen for male voices to not have too much bass coming through in lower tones, and with female voices I listen to see if they are accurately portrayed (often times iems tend to do female voices no justice IMHO). I want to hear good separation between sounds and instruments. I like to hear sounds that the recording artist didn't intentionally put into music (it shows me that what I am listening to is clear and accurate). I like treble that is clear and accurately portrayed. I Iisten to see if cymbals sound like they should. I like my treble to sparkle without being sibilant. To be honest, I just want to find products that give me that "wow" feeling when I first listen to them. It's cool to go up to someone and have them listen to whatever cans I'm jamming and see their reactions. As I read the forums on this site, I guess you call it "the gift of head fi".
My music preferences are basically everything except country. I will jam pop, rock, jazz, classical, dub step and pretty much anything that suits my mood. I figure that the more I listen to, the more the opportunity to find things I like.
BTW, I don't listen to a ton of dub-step but the new Skrillex album "Recess" is awesome when played through some good earphones, just saying... It played a big part in drawing my conclusions. For Rock I listened to Metallica's Black album and Pink Floyd's "Dark side of the Moon" remastered album. Other albums listened to were Muse's "Black Holes and Revelations", Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories", and the Tron legacy Soundtrack. I listened to some Bob Marley and Michael Jackson hits as well. I also did comparisons with Dr Chesky's binaural recordings. If you want a good reference to guage your headphones at home, get some Dr Chesky stuff. Even if you don't listen to it, it's very good for gauging what you have.
With that being said, here is my opinion in terms of preference. Please understand that This is only an opinion from a novice music enthusiast. I only post this to consider when buying your next set of personal audio products, and maybe save someone a couple bucks or prevent someone from buying something they don't like. I will list everything I own, so if someone has any of the same products, and/or prefers a similar sound signature to mine they can use it as reference. So, here we go...
Dunu DN-1000>Havi B3 Pro I (old version)>Audio Technica ATH-M50>Denon C751K=Ostry KC06>Monster Gratitude (love the sound, hate the look and fit)=Vsonic VSD1S=Xiaomi Piston 2.0 =Xiaomi Piston IF=Soundmagic e30>Sony MH1 (with adapter)=Sony MH1C>Monoprice MHP-839=Sidy HK1=Monoprice 9927=Sony MDR-EX310LP>Koss Portapro=Soundmagic e10=Astrotec AX35=Don Scorpio Bass Colour (I DO NOT like the fit or comfort)>Sony MDR-EX58V=Meelectronics M6>JVC HA-FX40>Meelectronics A151P>Sony XBA-1>Sony XB500
I'm done buying headphones for a while (although those dolphins are tempting). I'm going to enjoy these, as I pretty much have a pair for every day of them month. I guess picking out a pair of headphones for the day will be a part of picking out what I'm going to wear lol.
A big thank you to pioneers of this thread like Bhazard, Peter123, and mochill. You guys saved me from a lot of trial and error with this thread. I never would have taken interest in the Chinese market and would have continued to buy overpriced stuff at Best Buy if it wasn't for you head-fiers. You guys rock.
Thanks, I hope this helps someone pick their next set of cans.
Edited by Hisoundfi - 5/4/14 at 6:13pm