IM04 is the most expensive.
Looks like the IM02 might be suitable for me price-wise.
Btw, has anyone done any comparison between the new IM series (namely the IM02) and the CKS1000?
Er, don't forget: You've got two series -- dynamic (IM50, IM70) and BA (IM01, IM02, IM03, IM04). The former is a lot cheaper, but may not be inferior.
Yeah I know.
I guess I'd go for the IM02 still if I was buying them, right now they'd cost me £122 inc FedEx from CDJapan.
I've been looking at the Sony XBA-H1 too.
I just got the IM50 tonight. I'll write up some impressions when I can. While I don't have the RE-400, I do know what it sounds like. If you're looking for a more fun-sounding but relaxed earphone, get the IM50. If you want something more neutral, get the RE-400.
Have you ever heard the Vsonic GR07 MKII? They have a balanced, neutral-ish sound. I wonder if the IM50 would be a good side-grade/complementary to the GR07. I am not too fond of overly bassy IEMs though.
Also could you compare these to the Moe SS-01? They can both be got for similar prices so a comparison seems fair.
Thanks in advance.
Picked up the IM50 tonight. Definitely a different sound signature than I'm used to (analytical/neutral), but I am nevertheless impressed, just like I was the first time I heard it. In the past, I've never really believed Audio-Technica to bring out "bang-for-buck" products, as they've always been suitably priced for the performance they bring in their respective price categories, but never world-beaters. The ATH-IM50 is the first IEM product from them that I think actually makes a case for Audio-Technica giving "great value" to the budget consumer at the reasonable ¥5000-6000 level.
Enhanced bass with emphasis on sub-bass, full lower midrange (i.e. vocal fundamentals), neutral upper midrange (vocal harmonics), relaxed treble (both lower and upper treble) but with good linearity (i.e. few break-up anti-resonance modes). Open, relaxed presentation.
Comes with a pair of Comply Tips, and S/M/L single flange silicone tips. ATH tips have always been good. A polyester soft pouch (with ATH logo) is also included, but no other cases.
About as good as you can expect for plastic at the $50 level for IEMs. The finish for mine is glossy piano black, with a matte black ATH logo. The L/R indicators and model number designation are printed well.
The removable cables are good; feels like the same quality from the IM50 all the way to the IM04, so IM50 people get a nice deal on that. Memory portion is not perfect, but pretty decent. I don't like memory wire, but this is more like the style of the EX600/800/1000. The new XBA-H series have a slightly better, beefier memory section, though. All in all, I wouldn't worry about cables. ATH has always made great cables.
It's your bog standard over-ear, concha bowl wear style, but keep in mind that the nozzle length is not short (about the same length and diameter as the CK100PRO's tube) and is canted at an almost exactly 45 degree angle, so make sure your ears won't reject the fitment. Also, shallower insertion seems to dramatically alter FR, rendering it brighter; I detect increased 7 kHz presence with shallow fitting, and overall increased brightness.
Audio-Technica is calling the twinned drivers in the ATH-IM50 and IM70 a "Dual Symphonic Driver" system. What it essentially is, are two transducers in an isobaric, push-pull configuration. Supposedly, an isobaric system helps lower distortion and improves bass extension. Incidentally, Audio-Technica claims the same in its product description of the IM50 and IM70. From my time with the IM50, I'd say these benefits are spot-on.
Extends deep, with an emphasis on the sub-bass. Speed is quick. Bass is enhanced. A rough estimate would be +9-10 dB at 50Hz. Whoa! Scary! Actually, not that terrible. As mentioned, the concentration of the bass is in the sub-bass region, and the bass feels quick, clean, and undistorting, making substantial bass boost bearable. Also, since mid-bass is less boosted, at perhaps only +6-7.5 dB, things feel pretty... normal?
Vocals are warm and forward, but not overly so. Good presence in vocal fundamentals for male voices. Vocal harmonics are relaxed, relative to the fundamentals, but the balance between fundamentals and harmonics isn't "off" --- all vocals come off clearly and not veiled, which is the important key point. Detail level is good for the price, but not the best. For example, the MOE SS01 holds more midrange detail.
Relaxed but linear, the treble of the IM50 will come off as "boring" to those looking for a sparkly, U-shaped response, but I find it quite impressive in that while it's laid back, I don't feel many things are missing. The treble is smooth and at times delicate sounding, lending a more "mature" feel to the music being rendered. At times, select instruments like snares, cymbals, and other transiently dynamic instruments that extend their harmonics deep into the treble region will come off as soft, but I don't personally, mind, as I bought the IN50 specifically for a relaxed presentation that I can listen to for long periods of time without fatigue. The best part about the treble is that there aren't any huge anti-resonance nulls like there can be in other earphones. 10 kHz sounds as loud as 5 kHz, and as loud as 12.5 kHz. This is what I mean about linearity in the treble.
Soundstage and Presentation:
The IM50 feels relatively open. Vocals are not overly close, and the relaxed, smooth treble gives the IM50 an easy-going presentation. Absolute soundstage width is average, but because of the open feeling of the IEM, few should complain about a lack of soundstage.
The IM50 responds decently to EQ. For a more neutral response, below is how I'd EQ the IM50:
Low Shelf: -6 dB at 600 Hz, Q of 2.0 (Bass Cut)
Peak: +1.5 dB at 2.6 kHz, Q of 1.5 (Ear Canal Resonance)
Gain: -1.5 dB (Equalization of Total Gain)
Despite the low 10 ohm impedance rating, these earphones are not ultra loud, though they're plenty efficient. They require a typical amount of volume to drive. My guess is that the 10 ohm value comes from the fact that the twin drivers are likely connected in paralllel, and hence the low (halved?) impedance. Sensitivity in isobaric systems is usually lower than single transducers. The isobaric system also somewhat mitigates the "loosening" effect of high output impedance of the source on dynamic transducers, but for best bass response, I'd still recommend a source with low output impedance (<1 ohm) to give the twin drivers even better control than they already have.
The blend of good ergonomic features, low price (if you're not importing through a third-party importer, that is), and good sound quality makes the ATH-IM50 a great product, and one of the best all-around products in this category. The sound signature of this earphone is not for EtyHeads, obviously, but the bass response is well within reason for the mainstream audience. Bassheads, conversely, will perhaps crave the bassier IM70, which gives more mid-bass impact and even greater sub-bass decay. Personally, I draw the line with the IM50. The bass is just a little north of neutral, with additional emphasis in the sub-bass. In my estimation, it will satisfy the needs of most head-fiers. What drew me most to the IM50, however, is how smooth the treble is. It's just incredibly smooth and linear, if a little relaxed. Again, the sound signature of the IM50 is clearly downsloping in nature (almost perfectly so), and so it's an IEM for ambience and relaxation. In that sense, it's like a poor man's Cardas EM5813.
Besides injecting a lot of value into the sound quality, Audio-Technica really took it over the top with the removable cables. These are very well-conceived consumer cables, and despite people potentially complaining that the connectors are gender-reversed, these cables will last you a long time. Only the cable tweakers will have a hard time coming to terms with not being able to use an aftermarket cable until much later.
I managed to purchase the ATH-IM50 for around $60 tonight. For that price, it's truly a great deal. Its ergonomics are near unparalleled in this price bracket (barring ambitious future entries from Chinese vendors, no American or Japanese company gives people this type of ergonomic freedom at this price point), and the sound is very articulate and appealing from a mass market standpoint. It certainly won me over, and I'm normally extremely picky with my purchases. I'm also willing to work with the sound, which isn't my ideal (nothing in this price range is), but I'm very accepting of it.
Please read the post above. Yes, I have heard the GR07MK2, and I owned the GR07 for over a year back in the day. As a complement to the GR07, yes, definitely, you would not be disappointed. As I mention in my impressions, the enhanced bass is mostly concentrated in the sub-bass. Mid-bass is rather tame, so that "slam" that most people register as a bassline is not actually super strong. People who know me know that I don't go for bassy earphones. My principal IEM is the UERM, which is a nice approximation of subjective flat with very, very mild lift in the low and high end. I tend not to go for earphones that have more than +4.5 dB of bass over diffuse-field flat (think Etymotic ER4). The IM50 is an exception. It's very articulate in the bass, and doesn't overwhelm you with bass.
The SS01 is more mid-bassy, and more upper-midrange focused. It's more of the classic Audio-Technica sound. ATH seems to have gone for a different sound this time around. The SS01, as I mention in the post above, has more detail, but the IM50 feels more open and relaxed, which I enjoy. The SS01 is for having energetic fun, while the IM50 is for R&R on vacation. Hope that helps.
Put them in the cart and look at the shipping prices. IIRC, they were $54 plus whatever the chosen shipping speed costs.
One can get a slightly more transparent sound with thinner/softer tips (I use the grey ones from the T-PEOS H-200), which I also find more comfortable. The fit annoyed me with the original tips, and I also prefer the sound now (only a small difference, but a favourable one).