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Bass-Heavy Earbuds (something new)

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I have been on somewhat of a quest lately. The quest, to find the best possible bass response earbuds that also happens to sound decent at other ranges, fit comfortably, is durable enough to handle the gym, and priced below $100.

This is a topic that has been talked about over and over, however there are some new players in the game that have had little discussion in the forums. It is my hope that a few of us have used these and have something to say.

For the last 3 years I have been using Sennheiser CX 300ii earbuds. Approximately 2 weeks ago one side said fin, no mas, the end...and the quest for their replacement began.

They performed admirably. The sound was nice and clear, they were extremely comfortable, excellent noise canceling, and the bass was good...but not great. And that's why I am in search of something better.

After extensive research I narrowed down the candidates to the following:

HiSound Audio HW2 WooDuo 2
JLab Epic
Sony XB60EX
Velodyne vPulse
Urbanears Kransen
MEE M31
MEE M-Duo
SoundMagic E10
JVC HAFX1X Xtreme Xplosivs

I have read hundreds of reviews of most of these and the one conclusion I have found is that no two reviewers agree. Virtually all have reviews that say things like 'best bass ever' followed by another review that says 'virtually no bass at all'. And so on and so on about the mids, highs, and comfort.

So I gambled and picked the Velodyne vPulse. $80. My review: in simplest terms they suck. Most would agree they aren't comfortable, and have poor noise isolation. But for $80 I expected better bass. There is virtually no sub-bass, the mid-bass has a nice punch but is not any better than my Sennheiser CX300ii, and the highs were piercing in a bad way. For the money, just not worth it...so I sent them back.

My next set I decided a bigger driver should equal better bass. So I got the JLab Epic, they have a 13mm driver. There is only one review on this site of the Epic and only a hand full outside of Amazon. But i kept thinking 13mm driver. The Sony's above have a 13.5mm driver as well but have been discontinued and the price has gone up for what supplies are still out there. My review: a mixed bag. Comfortable but have an odd foam tip instead of silicon. Doesn't make sense to me, and seems to result in poor noise isolation. Tons and tons of sub-bass. Strangely mid-bass and mids in general seem to be lacking. Highs are there and without complaint. As a result probably going to return the Epic, it's just not quit good enough.

The HW2 is on the edge of too expensive.

The reviews for the JVC way too mixed to be confident. At $20 though, might be worth the risk.

The Sony's, discontinued and mixed reviews on this site.

The MEE's, mixed revues though the M31 seems to likely have better bass.

The E10, some say they are great, others say they lack bass entirely. What to believe?

The Urbanears, fairly new, innovative in several ways, but not enough reviews exist to know sound quality and bass.

So...if you know anything about the above or have another recommendation entirely, your thoughts are welcome and appreciated.

Thx,

Atari
post #2 of 7

The Wirecutter selected the Kransen Urbanears as a bass-heavy pick in a recent article:

 

"They feel substantial and built to last. And they’re available in 10 colors. Beauty aside, the bass is very forward, so only bass lovers need apply. Brent liked them, saying that if he were to spend his own money, these are likely the ones he’d buy for himself. Geoff and John agreed with Brent on the design, but neither really loved the sound as much as their other picks. And while I agree that the sound may not be everyone’s cup of tea, we’d happily recommend them as a bass lover/design fan option for those prepared to spend $39."

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
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Edited by AtariPrime - 1/28/14 at 11:49pm
post #4 of 7
post #5 of 7

Klipsch S4 (II) is a bass heavy IEM. They get hated on here at head-fi, but I got mine from a price mistake off of Amazon for $9, so I figured they're worth a try at that price. You can usually find these on sale for $30-$50. In my opinion, they are good IEMs for around that price, but not much more.

 

The highs are slightly sibilant and veiled. They do have pretty good detail for a dynamic driver IEM though. The S4i II is made for rap, R&B, and EDM. They sound good with modern rock too, but it's not as good for other genres of music. Mids and lows are really good for this price range, but can be slightly muddy when compared to other mid-tier and high-end IEMs. Soundstage is OK but nothing special. Instrument separation is actually quite nice on these.

 

They did perform well when I hooked it up to my FiiO E10 amp / DAC. Bass gets a bit tighter and more punchy. If I didn't have much more expensive triple BA IEMs to compare the S4i II to and know what better IEMs sound like, I would have very little to complain about. I can see why a lot of people (non-audiophiles) are amazed at the sound quality of the original S4s if they are upgrading from stock Apple ear buds or other low-end, inexpensive IEMs.

The accessories are really lacking. The first generation S4s used to come with a tin case, but they switched to a cheap, tiny, flimsy cloth case. Better than nothing, I suppose. Other than that crappy case, you get a cheap shirt clip and 1 set of ear tips of different sizes. Bare minimum stuff here...

The cable is a lot thicker than the first gen cables. It's the same oval / flat cable design as my Sony XBA-3iP, but the S4i II is surprisingly wider and more tangle resistant. The strain relief at the 3.5mm jack and control / mic is also beefed up from the originals. You can tell Klipsch made a good effort to deal with the complaints of bad cables from the first gen S4s. 

These are comfortable IEMs like everyone says. Not as small or comfortable as my old Sennheiser CX500 (or any CX lineup), but good enough. The shell is lightweight and relatively low profile. The included silicone tips are soft and comfortable. Make sure to rotate the tips so that they line up to the marking on the shell. Klipsch's tips are oval and not circular like most IEM manufacturers.

The S4i II can't compare with my $100+ IEMs in terms of detail, soundstage, and overall sound quality. But if you can find these on sale for under $40 or $50, they're worth trying out. Just be careful of fakes because S4 is a notoriously popular counterfeited IEM. I also have the first gen CX300, which I don't like and don't use anymore. To me, the S4 II blow away the CX300 in every category except comfort and the CX300 is only slightly more comfortable. So if you enjoyed the CX300, you'd love the S4. 


Edited by Click - 1/15/14 at 11:41am
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
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Edited by AtariPrime - 1/28/14 at 11:49pm
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
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Edited by AtariPrime - 1/28/14 at 11:49pm
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