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From Sennheiser CX300 to IE80 to InEar SD3, but not yet satiated; almost, but not quite. Where to next?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Dear Sirs,
I should very much appreciate any help and guidance that you may be able, and willing, to offer me in my pursuit of my aural nirvana.
I fully understand the subjective nature of this hi-fidelity malarkey, and am not seeking absolutes, merely guidance or pointer in the right direction would be great.
Here is my quandary:
A few months ago, on some spurious impulse, only a supernatural being could comprehend, I purchased myself a set of Sennheiser IE80's. This, from a position of years of enjoyment of mediocre mobile music via my phone (Samsung Galaxy Note) and a pair of Sennheiser CX300 (I think), which, by the way, blew me away at the time.
This coincided with the discovery, for me, of EDM (yes, I must indeed have been in hiding this past 48 years!), and the IE80's were just stupendous (to my ears) with this genre. Lots and lots of inane grinning later, I thought it time to begin listening to my 'usual' music collection. My grin lost some of its composure. Great bass, but what had happened to the vocals? Yes, far, far more detail in the music than with my previous earphones, but something was untoward. Just that I didn't have the experience to comprehend what it was.
In isolation, the vocals seemed great, if a little distant, and the bass was really to my liking, but put together, the vocals disappeared in to the distance behind a swish velvet curtain. Strange. I then found you gentlemen and began reading, reading, and reading. Information overload; a new language which has been quite bewildering. Anyway, read something or other in the forums and ended up buying a Fiio E18 to use with my new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to try and change the sound. Made a difference, but some negative results too. The velvet curtain in front of the vocals was even more apparent, but the bass was still great!
OK, fast forward a few months, still with a smile on my face with my new EDM discoveries, I determined to try and find an earphone that might work with my 'usual' music. Read some more here, then some more, and then some more. Do not ask me why or how, but I decided upon the InEar Stage Driver 3. This arrived at my door a few days ago.
Well, all I can say is wow! The soundstage is unbelievable! 3D would apt describe it. The singer is ten feet in front of me and elevated by a similar amount. Crisp and detailed and not behind that velvet curtain! Superb! The cymbals and flue are so crisp, and all playing right next, and all around me. Acoustic guitar send shivers down my spine. A revelation. I have not heard so much detail in the bass (?) area before. Quite stupendous. My initial anxiety of almost doubling the cost of my IE80's was unfounded, and I am content that I have my monies worth even in just the encompassing, almost 3D, sound stage alone. But.....
There is so much more to hear in the bass than the IE80's, but it just doesn't seem to have that deepness/crispness/impact (?) of the IE80's. Outside of the bass, the SD3's are just a revelation to me, where the veiling (?) with the IE80's is a real let down, the SD3 have none. However, the weaker (?), but more detailed bass on the SD3 often overshadows/bleeds(?) parts of the frequency above it, but stops short of the vocals (not sure if I am explaining this in a coherent enough way, sorry). And that last, but a most important, issue facing me with the SD3 is the fit. My ears are in abject agony. Mainly my right ear, which I am now of the opinion has a somewhat distorted canal. I am going to visit an Audiologist to have this checked out. Because of the nature of the SD3, the housing provides no room for adjustment once it is located correctly. A quick view in the mirror with the IE80's fitted comfortably does indeed show that I have the right set up at a different angle to the left, leading me to conclude a disfigurement in my ear canal or such like. I shall ask more about this fitting issue in the relevant forum.
So, good people, is it possible for me to have my cake and eat it? In this world of hi-fidelity, does there exist an earphone that combines the strengths I see in the IE80 and SD3? That of a bass with impact and depth (for which I am willing to sacrifice detail and a little quantity) without a veil to the vocals and no bleeding (?) of the lower frequencies, which has the separation and crispness and the amazing 3D sound scape of the SD3?
Of course, this may just be a pipe dream, and I shall graciously accept that, should it be the case, and be happy for what I have, but having read some of the requirements that you audiophiles demand, surely my trivial wish list cannot be an insurmountable proposition? I do not doubt for a moment that you will regard my ramblings on the positives of each of these earphones as the opposite of how you see them, but please humour me in my ignorance. I would be unbelievably happy if I were able to emulate those aspects that I see as positives in both earphone in a single, comfortable unit. Hi-fidelity nirvana for me!
As for type, style, costs, I would propose at least a custom mouldable tip (something I shall order for the IE80's) or a full custom, should you determine that the quality part of the sound from the SD3 is due to the multiple drivers (?). Over ear a must, and cost, can I say £600+/-, assuming that by adding another £200 each time provides such great improvements? I am quite content to search for an earphone primarily for my 'other' music and keep the IE80's for this EDM infatuation.
I thank you, and look forward to any advice you are minded to offer.
post #2 of 7

Spoiler alert: you won't be satisfied, ever. 


post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Squallkiercosa, that did indeed make me laugh!


I totally see your point, and it could probably have been quite apposite with regard to my own situation, however, my expectations I do not think are that high. I would be most satisfied indeed if I could find a comfortable option with a similar bass sound to the IE80's and the rest similar to the SD3's.


Unlike you audiophiles I am basing my modest expectations on the properties of only three earphones that I have ever heard, therefore, they cannot be too high, surely?


Anyway, today I believe that I have moved forward toward concluding my search. I have narrowed it down to only two options. 1. InEar do indeed manufacture a custom earphone called the the LivePro 3 which should have the benefit of a good fit, and offers a bass adjustment. I have written to the company asking about the sound signature compared to the SD3 and whether the bass adjustment would have any material impact. If the answer is affirmative then that would be the obvious solution. OK they are 1100/1200 dollars, a little more than anticipated, but they just might be my journey's end.


Option 2. Having studied the '309 earphone reviews' by Joker, who seems to be a sage in these parts, I thought I might just bite the bullet and and go straight to the top and buy the JH Audio JH13 as they have been given such a high score. You see, my rationale being that this journey's end is as much about psychology as it is about aural fidelity to me. If this is the top of the tree earphone, then I will have to get used to the sound signature and be happy as there is nothing better. I shall walk away from this project contented.


Thank you for your humorous reply, it was much appreciated.



post #4 of 7

I do own a pair of cx300-ii, I tried the IE80 once, and I have an idea of what you might want. I also own the W4R which are quite nice, refined but not fun enough. The first thing that came to my mind were the TF10, but those will be even worse than the Senns in terms of comfort. The GR07BE are also a good choice, but they share a common shape with the IE so they're out. I read (I haven't heard any of those) good things about the Westone um30pro and the w3. Can't really help you.


post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you for that info squallkiercosa, but I may have taken you in the wrong direction. It is not the IE80 that have a fitting problem, rather the SD3's, which I have now returned. I have read-up on some of those you mention, but I really do not want to get in to this bug you lot have of slowly moving up the ladder finding great sound in one area and bad in another all the while spending more and more money. Yes, I appreciate the experience gaining potential, but think that I am happy in my ignorance and shall jump straight to the top. That way, I believe, I shall blissfully happy knowing that I have the best money can buy and not be at all critical as I have no basis in knowledge or experience to do so. Illogical I am sure, but that is me all over!


Again, thanks for your help and suggestions, I appreciate it.


OK, just one more thing then, JH13, JH16 or the cheaper 1964 V6s? Come on, my indecisiveness is beginning to take a hold!



post #6 of 7

Get the Vsonic then GR07BE. Well praised around here. Can get them for a good price too! check lendmeurears.com

Edited by squallkiercosa - 2/10/14 at 9:32am
post #7 of 7

I know this thread is old, but if your still looking for something try and source some pfe 232's. I had some ie80's and i listen to a ton of EDM, but always felt that the bass was always just a bit too bloated, even at the lowest setting. The pfe's are amazing. They have bass thats super detailed but just as impactful as the ie80's. They also have near perfect treble, with just a very minimally recessed midrange. They are discontinued and slightly expensive, but well worth it. 

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