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Need new IEM's around $300-400

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi all. I am basically new to the idea of forums but I thought I'd give this a shot. I am extremely overwhelmed by the sheer variety of headphones out there. Particularly by the IEM sector which I am in the market for right now. I have taken the advice of others here and read around the forums but to no avail.

I am looking for a pair of mid-range in-ears ($300-400) that deliver a solid bass response with a punch. Since the surround sound systems in my family's cars are the closest thing to expensive audio equipment we own I'm going to use those as a short reference to what I like. I love the sharp and shiny detail in the HK logic 7 HD (If anyone's heard it) because the sound is just so immersive. Although i also really like the huge bass response of the Bose surround sound too. I'm not sure but I think Im looking for something that is full-bodied and has a good bass and sub-bass response. Though something that has sharp highs too.

Reading around I came across BA's and dynamic drivers. I don't know what they are exactly (so some explanation may be necessary) but a post here suggested that BA's are more accurate but lack bass. And that the dynamic ones had a more 'lively soundstage'. The headphone he was referring to I think was the Sennhieser Ie80 which was in my price range and sounds like what I need.

As a final note I travel a lot and I need something that isolates well (maybe not a priority over sound quality) and also something that can be used off an iPhone5.

If anyone could give me any other suggestions or share any experiences with the Sennhiesers that would be awesome.
post #2 of 10

When it comes to IEMs, Head-Fi confuses me too. It's a different sort of soundworld than headphones, with different criteria. I honestly find joker's site to be more useful for this. Try this: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone-list/. Enter your price and what's important to you, such as isolation. Be sure to put 4.5 at the minimum value for "microphonics" because that can really ruin the experience. Read the reviews. At the bottom of each review, the section called "Value" usually sums it up succinctly followed by a tr;dr of pros and cons.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for this! Ill check it out now
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have managed to pin my choice down to these based on their reviews and apparent sound signature.

T-peos H-200
Dunu DN-1000
Vsonic GR07 BE

Currently I have the Bose Mei2 for normal use, and they sound pretty good to me but I'm told they are very consumer based and personally I feel they lack the bass I want. I'm looking forward to trying out an audiophile type IEM. If there are any other earphones I should be looking at, please point then out.

P.S. if anyone could explain the difference between BA's and Dynamic Drivers in actual physical terms rather than what they do that would really help. Thanks
Edited by Dereyal - 3/3/14 at 12:34pm
post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dereyal View Post

I am looking for a pair of mid-range in-ears ($300-400) that deliver a solid bass response with a punch.

 

Aurisonics ASG-1 - easily driven by my smartphone and tablet with very little gains in using a DAC-Amp.* Bass is solid, a little too strong but not too much - I can play metal without it getting in the way of the other instruments but run a hip hop or house track and if I'm listening louder than what I use with metal (which is around 25% on the SGS3, 15% on the iPad) I can feel the bass hurting my eardrums.

 

As with everything nothing is perfect for everybody so just a few concerns. Initially it will sound "dark," because the treble starts dropping off at 10khz, then takes a nosedive after 12khz (that's using a 20hz to 20khz sweeping test tone) I got used to it after a while, even though using my HD600s too soon after this requires a few minutes of adjustment due to the full range treble on that one. However, the fit in my ears is just perfect and the music doesn't sound anemic off mainstream mobile devices because of the drivers' efficiency and 32ohm impedance that doesn't stress their audio chips (too high or too low can be a problem, even the popular 16ohm). That fit however might not be perfect for you: as much as it sits perfectly in my ears without relying too much on the eartips to anchor to my ears (just for isolation and sound), its reliance on the shell shape rather than the tips themselves means there could be people whose outer ears don't match well to the shape.



*If anything the midrange on my portable unit sounds a little "sweeter" and the treble is a lot clearer compared to the SGS3, but again it's so efficient that my desktop amplifier at low gain setting can go from silence to ear-splitting on it that I really can't use them together. Not that I actually would but I just thought I'd try it once, and at least it's one more indicator of how easy it is to drive this thing. By contrast I can actually use a Westone2 on the same amp. By far though my favorite source for it is my iPad2.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 3/3/14 at 7:37am
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
The aurisonics look like awesome IEMs with the potential to sound great. I'm surprised I haven't seen the ASG-1's before. Although the fit may be a love/hate situation and the price is a little bit to the top of my budget BUT they still seem worth it. The reviews of them on this site look awesome and wholly support the rev 2 version especially.

Also I have heard the Shure 535's are an alternative to this, both parties claim each one is better than the other. Are there any people here with experience using the Shure's? I think this is the price range I need to get something that would be satisfactory for all situations.

Are these headphones that can be used for commutes/ on the go?

Also, I have no experience with an Amp/DAC so any help is very much appreciated. I have heard there a specific combinations that work, I guess the SGS3 is good for the aurisonics... But are there any amps the work with everything? And most importantly a portable amp is a must! Thanks again
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dereyal View Post

The aurisonics look like awesome IEMs with the potential to sound great. I'm surprised I haven't seen the ASG-1's before. Although the fit may be a love/hate situation and the price is a little bit to the top of my budget BUT they still seem worth it. The reviews of them on this site look awesome and wholly support the rev 2 version especially.

 

I think they're on the Rev 3 now and the sound is more even. I have the Rev 2 and I'm using it with some generic clear tips I have lying around that I got free from a friend's spares and at the time he said they were all Westones. I've been looking at Westones on the net and they don't seem to have the same size bores, so now I'm not sure what the heck these are, but the wider exit bore on the tips vs the Sony Hybrids and the stock tips I think helps the treble a bit.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dereyal View Post

Also I have heard the Shure 535's are an alternative to this, both parties claim each one is better than the other. Are there any people here with experience using the Shure's? I think this is the price range I need to get something that would be satisfactory for all situations.

 

Use the search function, tons of threads on the SE535. A lot of people report hissing on a lot of sources, but from my limited time with them I never encountered any source or amp where it hissed, so you'd want to check what does.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dereyal View Post

Are these headphones that can be used for commutes/ on the go?

Also, I have no experience with an Amp/DAC so any help is very much appreciated. I have heard there a specific combinations that work, I guess the SGS3 is good for the aurisonics... But are there any amps the work with everything? And most importantly a portable amp is a must! Thanks again

 

Definitely, yes. Here's the deal - the way they fit in my ear, they don't really rely on the eartips to grip my ear canals in order to stay in place. First benefit from that is they don't irritate my ear canals; the other is that when I use small tips on these they leave some space in my ear canals to let me hear ambient noise. When I'm on the go I don't aim to totally block out the world around me because the last thing I need is some truck or bus with broken brakes barreling at me and I can't hear it honking.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dereyal View Post

Also, I have no experience with an Amp/DAC so any help is very much appreciated. I have heard there a specific combinations that work, I guess the SGS3 is good for the aurisonics... But are there any amps the work with everything?

 

Not in absolute terms but generally an amp with a flat response and good power supply will work with just about anything. Of course, that last bit will vary depending on what headphone you're talking about. Some amps might have a flat response but are designed to produce a lot of voltage and deliver a lot of mWs to 300ohm and 600ohm headphones; some are designed more for producing current for low impedance, lower efficiency headphones. And either of these designed with a monster power supply will be practically useless for nearly all IEMs since even the lowest gain settings are likely too loud for them just past zero.

 

I'm not really sure about flat response portable amps because with all the headphones I got to try all sound too warm for me compared to my reference amp, or even if flatter than a portable source like the SGS3, are still noticeably warmer than the iPad2. Most portable amps are likely designed that way to make them sound more pleasing to someone listening with an earphone crammed deep into the ear canal (and too much or too honest treble can be more readily apparent for some) or to wow newer listeners with a lot of bass (which sometimes is needed for some genres anyway).

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dereyal View Post

And most importantly a portable amp is a must! Thanks again

 

If the headphone is efficient enough that it can get loud enough without the amp distorting, why get an amp? When I'm using my iPad and SsGS3 I don't use any amps, and the only reason why I use a portable DAC-Amp with my laptop is because it's easier and faster to turn the analog knob with my left thumb rather than any of the various ways one can do the same with Windows if I hook it up directly to it. Also I got this basically for free from my cousin, who also bought it cheap; otherwise I doubt I'd use it at all.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 3/3/14 at 8:30pm
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
This is a really informative reply, thank you! Your probably right: thinking about it I'm not going to want to carry (or use) an amp if its not needed. Especially if my only source of music is my iPhone5.

I really like the sound of the asg-1 now and it is definitely in for consideration. The problem i have is that I live in the middle of no where, and so getting to a store can be quite the challenge. Having a pre-ordained list really helps save time and stress.

One thing that I cannot seem to find now though is the difference between the asg-1 and the asg-2, are they the different revs?
Also how would these compare for bass performance with the Sennheiser Ie80's? According to joker's site the ie80's have some of the best bass he's heard; but there's nothing on the aurisonics...

Also I have been looking at the Westone 3/4 models. These seem to be very popular armature IEM's with very good sound. Does anyone know how these sound (sound signature?) Thanks again all!
Edited by Dereyal - 3/4/14 at 4:48am
post #9 of 10

While searching for my new set, I came across the http://www.head-fi.org/t/681403/astrotec-ax60-thoughts-reviews-and-tour-impressions Astrotec AX60. They seem very good based on reviews and I hear they are a tad above the Dunu DN-1000. The Astrotecs are too expensive for me but they might be the one for you considering your price point. Personally I'm going with the Dunus.

 

Edit. Some more research suggests that the Dunus are actually preferred over the Astrotecs by many.


Edited by SpaceInvaders - 3/4/14 at 1:48pm
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dereyal View Post

One thing that I cannot seem to find now though is the difference between the asg-1 and the asg-2, are they the different revs?

 

ASG-2 is a different IEM - it's a 2-way set-up, with a 7mm driver added to take over the treble from the single driver 15mm. I'm not sure if you might be able to understand the comparison, but think of the ASG-1 as a single-driver 6" speaker with a (badly designed) notch filter* and the ASG-2 as the same 6" fullrange driver with a super tweeter instead of just a simple notch filter.** Basically, on paper at least as I haven't listened to the ASG-2, the problem with the severe treble roll-off (despite the claimed 26khz response) should have been solved, and with a higher crossover transition, you avoid complex crossover designs that have to deal with possible errors in having them cross within the midrange frequencies.

 

Did you read this yet? You'll get a clearer comparison here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/664613/review-aurisonics-asg-2-comparisons-added-k3003-xba-h3-s-em6

 

 

 

*because in speakers that size the treble actually gets too loud for some of the designs, or they have a peak somewhere, so they add a passive filter to introduce a gentle roll-off; if you don't do it right you can shave off too much of the treble, as on the ASG-1, except the driver's response just rolls off without additional tweaks like that

**unlike conventional 2-way speakers, this has a simpler crossover design so as not to add too many components that will influence the signal, as well as allowing a lot more frequencies to go through the fullrange driver, thereby putting the midrange in the same point source and only the highest frequencies come from elsewhere and there are usually less timing errors (in hearing the tweeter vs the midwoofer), plus there won't be a point in the midrange where you have to match the start of the tweeter to the drop in the upper response of the midwoofer 

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dereyal View Post

Also how would these compare for bass performance with the Sennheiser Ie80's? According to joker's site the ie80's have some of the best bass he's heard; but there's nothing on the aurisonics...

 

Post in that thread too, there might be someone who has at least heard both, even if not using them in direct comparison at the time.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dereyal View Post

Also I have been looking at the Westone 3/4 models. These seem to be very popular armature IEM's with very good sound. Does anyone know how these sound (sound signature?) Thanks again all!

 

I've only heard the Westone 2 and Westone 4, and for the price I'd prefer the W2. The W4 has deeper bass without getting too sloppy, but I'd rather the relatively weaker bass on the W2 than the slightly sloppy bass using my Galaxy S (what I had at the time). Also, I can tell you now to just ignore whatever eartip is on those if you get them and just substitute the foam tips right away. Both of them just plain sucked (but it might be the fit, so others might have a different experience) with the silicone eartips. That includes the dual and triple flange, which are just more comfortable. I first got to try the W4 at a cafe when I met up with a local head-fier/headphiler(our local forum) and those tips had too much treble and not much bass, kind of like cheap speakers that didn't even try to trick buyers with bass, and I'm quite certain they're the right size in my ear canals, but were otherwise fantastic with the foam tips. A few days later I was at my brother's apartment in SoCal, and I found his W2 just sitting next to his computer, and his CX200 getting a lot more use. I swapped out the triple flange (his preferred tips for comfort) with the foam tips and even he was amazed at how it actually sounded like real music with those. He makes do with the itch he gets on the foam tips (I normally do but if the foam is smooth enough I'll only get that after more than an hour listening).

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