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High end headphones and IEMs

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I recently got the chance to try out some fairly high-end headphones at an audio shop, and while I was quite impressed with the quality, I was a little disappointed a the bulky units, thick cabling, and large amount of sound leakage that seems common to these premium units.

In my view it really limits the utility of them quite a bit, to the point where they are really only suitable for home listening, as opposed to the office, commute, or even in bed. A fact which ended up dissuading my purchase more than the price.

 

So my question is simple, though it may end up controversial I suspect.

 

How do high end IEMs (which have many advantages in utility) compare in sound quality to the high end headphones? Specifically I'm talking the 1-2k mark such as:

Audeze LCD-X

Grado GS1000 and PS1000

HD800

 

Are there comparable IEMs to each of these? For the same sort of price point? Or can the downsized units just not hope to match that level of fidelity?

 

 

Hoping to hear from some folks who can answer based on their own experience rather than hearsay or speculation :)

 

Thanks.

post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 
Bump
post #3 of 8

I've had HD580s for a few years now, but have been using my Westone W4 for most of my listening recently. Went back to the Senns the other week and found they had a more rounded, "airier" sound, but I missed the instrument separation and "accuracy" of the IEM.

 

That's just my general subjective view, rather than strict back-to-back comparison. I was using a tube amp for one and SS for the other, which may also have been a contributor.

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Anybody else have some thoughts they'd like to share?

post #5 of 8

My Shure SRH 1840 is so much better than the Shure SE535 while I bought them at the same price. They are not in the same league. 

 

However, someone on this board sold his LCD-2 after buying the Shure SE846. 

post #6 of 8

I always find it silly when the comparison of iems vs headphones comes up and even the headphones vs speakers although that doesn't come up as much as the first one does.

 

It's really hard to compare as they serve different purposes, have different amp/source requirements, etc. Also many times people compare just the price of the headphone but not the entire setup. My headphone goes for $1500 and up but my headphone rig is a bit south of 5k. 

 

That being said I do find that good iems are closing the gap compared to a few years ago however not quite there depending on what you are looking for. There is a trade off especially with portability as well as ease of use with iems compared to headphones. I can plug my JH13 into my phone and it sounds great. If I plug a totl headphone into my laptop headphone jack it doesn't sound great. I find that with good iem's you can get it to sound very good much easier but the gains with better amps and sources are less than with headphones. The gains that you get from a better source and amp is much larger with full sized. When I had the HD800 an upgrade in source made a pretty noticeable different while with iems after a while there really isn't any difference other than sound signature of dacs,amps, etc of course.

post #7 of 8

At the same price and unamped, I've found that IEMs sound better than headphones.  This is from testing everything in my sig out of my laptop jack.

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grayson73 View Post
 

At the same price and unamped, I've found that IEMs sound better than headphones.  This is from testing everything in my sig out of my laptop jack.

IMHO, I think that applies to cans/IEMs under the $300 mark. After you break the $300 dollar seal, I think there are several headphones that outdo their in-ears brethren. You'd have to spend a little more a la CIEMs (starting around $400) to best those headphones.

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