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What am I missing -or- diminishing returns with IEMs?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I'm new but I have been doing a lot of reading here and in other audio related sites on the wide world of ye ol' interwebs. I appreciate good sound but maybe I'm not quite a true audiophile.

I started doing a lot of online reading and researching to find some new in ear headphones. My four or so year old V-Moda Spin (Costco special) IEMs were starting to show their age. I would occasionally get crackling in one or both channels and sometimes a mild shock that didn't seem like static. They always seemed slightly loose and muddy anyway so the hunt was on...

So I read and scoured and my budget inflated as I read reviews. I listen to a few genres of music, but my favorite band is Tool. Since they tend to put a lot of emphasis and detail in the lower regions of the frequency spectrum I knew I wanted something that would represent the bass well, if not emphasize it slightly. Ultimately some V-sonic GR07 BEs and SoundMAGIC E10s showed up at my door.

I'm not using anything special to listen to the IEMs. My Droid 2 streaming free Pandora or Slacker or MP3s from the memory card is the main source. Hardly audiophile quality, I know. I tried my PC because I have some FLAC files on it but I have a LOT of noise (fuzzy and high pitch whine) coming out of it. The phone is actually the least noisy source I have tried. I'm shocked at how little difference I hear. Definitely the V-moda is at the bottom. The E10s bring more clarity and some nice tightness to the low end. To me the GR07 BE though isn't even as different to the E10 as the E10 is to the V-Moda. Tighter bass, yes. I'm having a hard time finding anywhere else that I can hear a significant difference.

The question is; What am I missing? Is there something common (a source, a score, a composition, a modern album) that you can point me to and a specific thing to listen for that will highlight the difference? Or have I found a point of diminishing returns for myself?
post #2 of 17

Hey yardstick.


Just a quick question, can you hear any difference between your droid vs computer sound?

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

The biggest difference I hear between the computer and smart phone is the clarity.  There is a lot of noise in the computer's signal for some reason.  I hear a whine that goes along with mouse movements and a lot of static.  That's there whether music is playing or not.  Same MP3 to same MP3 comparison between the two for just the sound, I have a hard time telling much of a difference.  The smart phone's output seems to bump up the bass a tad over what the computer puts out.  I have been using an EQ app in "flat" mode to detune that slightly.  

post #4 of 17
You could possibly invest in a cheap amp and see id that helps the sound.

U can also try using strictly the gr07 with ur phone for a week then go back to ur computer. Once ur eara adjust maybe ull hear a bigger diffrrence
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

An amp for the computer or an amp for the phone?  Any recommendations?  


I'm giving the GR07 BE another try today while I'm at work.  I feel like I'm listening a little on the loud side (for me) and the phone is only at about 1/3 volume.  

post #6 of 17

i would look into fiio and ibasso for some possible ideas.

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

This might not be totally fair, but I listened to the GR07 BE for most of the day today and then switched to the E10 at the end to see if I could tell a difference.  I was mainly streaming over wifi to my phone, so nothing fancy.  I think I could tell a difference.  The GR07's bass is tighter and the low end hits seem to taper off quicker.  I noticed that before, though.  The mids and highs are also a little clearer and more forward with the GR07.  It seems to give a bigger/better sense of space.  Still, it's not by much, which is surprising.  The E10's started giving me a little pop once in a while, similar to what the old V-Modas did.  What could that be?  Artifacts of streaming or a quality issue?  I didn't get anything like that with the GR07s.  


For interest sake I put on the V-Moda Spin IEM's too.  YIKES!  With either of the others it's like being in the room with the band or at least the stereo!  With the V-Modas it's like being on the other side of the door trying to listen through a paper towel tube pressed up against the door.  

post #8 of 17
So youre able to hear a bit more of a diff?

Sometimes it takes time for uour ears to adjust to each'a sound and thats why seithing between the two can be difficult to hear the diff
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

Definitely hearing some difference.  It's very minor, though.  Definitely not as striking of a difference as switching between either of those two and my old IEMs.  Maybe I should have bought the MKII instead of the Bass Edition of the GR07.  Or maybe some other, more balanced IEM.  

post #10 of 17

Evaluating your hearing is very difficult.  As soon as I upgraded my headphones the ATH M50's to the V-Moda M-100's, I noticed a difference.  Then when I upgraded my source material, mp3 (all kinds of kps) I heard a difference, when I added the VAMP VERZA AMP/DAC, I heard a difference.  Now, I can only listen to ALAC/FLAC material through my VAMP VERZA with either the M-100s, Amperior or X1.  I can hear the difference and if it's a lesser quality source or headphone I won't be that into it.  Now the question is, do you want to pay for that difference?  That's the dangerous game you play with head-fi.  I'm already to getting ready to buy another 4 more headphones next year just to hear the difference and maybe another AMP/DAC.


Good luck to you!


(oh and to clear up your computer audio, just get a USB AMP/DAC.  Mine at work used to annoy me to no end till I got the VAMP VERZA.)

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
I switched back to the E10s today and noticed something unexpected... NOISE! I must have just ignored it before but there is a distinct low level noise and occasional pop when using the E10s that I didn't get with the GR07 BE. I was concerned in the first few days of trying the E10 out because it exhibited some similar noise to the old V-Moda Spins. I thought some of the V-Moda's noise was a cable or other connection problem. I did some reading and the only thing I can find to explain it is the differencd in impedance between the E10 and GR07.
post #12 of 17

yea that's generally just impedance and sensitivity issue. I guess give it more time and tell me how things go and we'll see where to go from there? Seems ur discovering things little by little

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

So I have been noticing more and more subtle differences between the E10 and GR07 BE.  I think some differences seem subtle to me when they would be very pronounced and obvious to someone else.  The sound staging on the BE is way bigger than the E10.  It seemed like a little difference to me at first.  It's not so little with certain music.  The BE is also much more precise and quick.  Again, it didn't seem like a big difference at first, but I hear it on certain tracks.  My wife heard it right away.  She described the E10 as like listening to the radio and the BE like being in the recording studio with the band.


One thing I don't understand is how the BE is not considered a basshead IEM.  I don't know if the natural tuning on my Droid 2 phone bumps up the bass or if it's strictly the IEM, but these things will almost rattle my eyeballs!  I have never been into huge amounts of bass but went with the BE because it sounded like it would suit my style of music best.  It's incredible how hard these little things can thump me in the head!  I just heard Octopus by Bloc Party and I get almost too much of a kick on that track.  I wonder if I would have been better off with the MKII version!

post #14 of 17

i dont have the bass edition i have the original mkii. You are using a fiio amp with it right? is the amp's bass boost on?

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

No amp.  I'm running them straight from my Droid 2 phone.  The BE's seem easier to drive than the E10.  Or at least, for the same volume setting, the BE's are louder.  I considered getting something like a Fiio E07k or E17 as an amp for the phone and to use with my desktop computer.  No decision on that yet, though.

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