Head-Fi.org › Forums › Help and Getting Started › Introductions, Help and Recommendations › Need help determining if my new Ultimate Ears Custom In-Ear Reference Monitors are defective.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Need help determining if my new Ultimate Ears Custom In-Ear Reference Monitors are defective.

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hello everybody.

 

For my first post I have some questions about my new CIEM and I would appreciate any help.

 

I recently bought the Ultimate Ears Custom In-Ear Reference Monitors with a Samsung S3 as my main source at the moment until I can afford something better.

The reason I post here and not contact Ultimate Ears (US) is I bought them from abroad and the round trip for a checkup could take close to a month, so I need to be sure before I sent them back.

 

My questions are about the highs reproduction.

Most reviews I read for them said that if a fault can be found is the unforgiving highs that don’t go well with bad masters.

However I found this to be the case for most recordings, with the most common culprit being drum cymbals (a very splashy sound that just sounds off). Even S sounds in singing voices can be hard to hear, for tracks that I listened lots of times before with no problem.

My previous headphones were the Sennheiser HD 518 (very different I know) that did not have these issues with the same songs.

 

 

Questions:

 

1) How would I go about in detecting a defect and if possible can I have some recommendations for tracks to check (preferably Spotify so its the same source - on mobile “High Quality” is free) with a specific instrument/time to watch out for.

 

2) Can this be an S3 issue, an inadequate source for this headphones maybe? I am on stock 4.3 ROM.

 

 

 

Below are some problematic tracks for reference (I can not vouch for the quality of these, just that I listened them before without noticing the issues).

 

Bokomolech – Capital U

The cymbals are splashy especially at 1:41-1:56 when they are closer together.

Most of the singers Ss (1:02, 1:09, 1:36)

 

Drake – All me

The hit-hat (I think) sample that comes in at 00:31 is splashy especially when its longer in duration (first time at the end of 00:32).

Also a lot of the Ss from Drake stand out too much (00:22, 00:25, 00:29…).

 

Archive – Lights

The cymbals for the whole track more noticeable at 15:20 up to the end of the track (15:22, 15:26, 15:29, 15:32…)

 

I have the flac versions of all of the above with the same issues.

 

I realize these can be things that were already there I now notice more with the better resolution of the IERMs and not a defect, I’m just trying to find out which is which.

 

Sorry for the long first post.

 

edit:bold song titles


Edited by michaelf - 4/15/14 at 7:03pm
post #2 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelf View Post

 

Most reviews I read for them said that if a fault can be found is the unforgiving highs that don’t go well with bad masters.

However I found this to be the case for most recordings, with the most common culprit being drum cymbals (a very splashy sound that just sounds off). Even S sounds in singing voices can be hard to hear, for tracks that I listened lots of times before with no problem.

 

2) Can this be an S3 issue, an inadequate source for this headphones maybe? I am on stock 4.3 ROM.

 

Not that this will be an absolute, definite answer, but the S3's frequency response is kind of dark. I have an Aurisonics ASG-1 IEM and while its specs say the upper limit is 25khz, on the ears they sound dark, and it only gets darker on the S3. Every dedicated, discrete circuit DAP I've tried with it including ones known for having an analog output stage that makes the sound "warmer" (Fiio X3) all have a more open, more dynamic sound throughout the entire frequency range and the treble actually is more extended (Fiio X5, Ibasso DX50, heck even the AK100 wasn't too bad, just wasn't more dynamic than the smartphone). Sine sweep on my S3 has the treble rolling off past 10khz, falling more sharply after 12khz, then after 16khz is only audible at max volume (so effectively, at listening volume, it isn't there anymore). Even my iPad2 and Acer laptop (with a Realtek chip) have less severe roll-offs, although relative to the listening volume they're still silent at some point after 16khz.

 

Aside from a roll off on the S3, I also note that yeah cymbals are a little splashy. While on some IEMs they can be too sharp (MEE M6P, JLab J3), on the ASG-1 and Westone 2 the sound reverberates too much but it's like you hear all that without any guts in the attack of the notes. Kind of like the treble equivalent of muddy bass where the bass drum doesn't have any "kick" to it, which is has on the same IEMs where the treble is too sharp.

 

In any case see if you know anyone with an iPad at least and try the same tracks on theirs.

post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
Not that this will be an absolute, definite answer, but the S3's frequency response is kind of dark. I have an Aurisonics ASG-1 IEM and while its specs say the upper limit is 25khz, on the ears they sound dark, and it only gets darker on the S3. Every dedicated, discrete circuit DAP I've tried with it including ones known for having an analog output stage that makes the sound "warmer" (Fiio X3) all have a more open, more dynamic sound throughout the entire frequency range and the treble actually is more extended (Fiio X5, Ibasso DX50, heck even the AK100 wasn't too bad, just wasn't more dynamic than the smartphone).

I am gonna hold off for the moment on things I can not test, I already went basically blind on the CIEMs so I would prefer something I can test this time, I will try to find something of the sort on the local audio shops.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
In any case see if you know anyone with an iPad at least and try the same tracks on theirs.

This was in my plans for the weekend when I was going to visit the folks for easter but I have a friend with and iPod, I will get on that today.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
Even my iPad2 and Acer laptop (with a Realtek chip) have less severe roll-offs, although relative to the listening volume they're still silent at some point after 16khz.

 

My laptop had similar issues but I avoided posting anything because I didn't expect a lot of people to have something to compare with, its an HP 8730w (AnalogDevices Soundmax chipset) for reference.

 

The bass and mids were great on this (in reference to the muddy bass in the ASG-1 and Westone 2), I am really hoping this is a source issue as I am liking everything else I am hearing.

I will post back when I test the iPod.

post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelf View Post
 

I will post back when I test the iPod.

 

Actually the iPods are a little dark too up to the 6g and 7g, but try them out anyway. Still try to track down an iPad - among mainstream devices that's my favorite source. Plenty of grunt too, if at least for an integrated audio chip.

post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

Actually the iPods are a little dark too up to the 6g and 7g, but try them out anyway. Still try to track down an iPad - among mainstream devices that's my favorite source. Plenty of grunt too, if at least for an integrated audio chip.
Thanks for the help smily_headphones1.gif

The friend also had an iPad so I tested both with simillar results.

Any recommendations for some tracks to test high frequencies especially cymbals would be great.

Has anyone listened to the tracks I posted above by the way?Am I hearing things or are the recordings not that good?
post #6 of 25

I actually have custom UE IEM's so I'll check out your reference tracks and see if I find any similarities. I haven't used mine in awhile.

post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelf View Post

Any recommendations for some tracks to test high frequencies especially cymbals would be great.

Has anyone listened to the tracks I posted above by the way?Am I hearing things or are the recordings not that good?

 

I don't have Spotify but YouTube audio on them seemed normal on my ASG-1, its frequency roll-off considered, but of course it sounds a lot better through the iPad2 than the S3. I haven't tried with my reference system though.

 

Off the top of my head (admittedly I just used it as an example in another thread so that might be why) try Epica's "Unleashed" if it's on any quality streaming service (min 320kbps) you can access. There are a lot of cymbals there, plus there's a part before the first verse where the guitar riffs (and drums, bass) suddenly stops, then the symphony plays three notes, and in terms of staging occupies a wide area from center-rear to right-rear. It will do that again, this time the sound will occupy only the right side of the previous area, and the tone will be higher, indicating only some of the strings (violin and the smaller one, maybe a cello but its softer than the others). It will do that a third time, this time occupying only the left side of that initial area, and the tone will be very deep and "brassy" at the trailing end, indicating...well...the brass instruments, maybe the cello and bass viola also. Now if that second time is a lot softer than the third, then the response is rolling off too early. Ditto the cymbal hits throughout that song - they need to be clean, have a decent amount of decay (not too quick but not too splashy either) that sounds like an actual (strong) hit on the cymbals.

Also what music player are you using? Neutron when the crossfeed is on for example softens the harsh high frequencies, but also compresses left-right imaging (good if your headphone or IEM has a too strong L-R sound), so that panning I described above with the symphony part isn't easily noticeable.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 4/17/14 at 1:50am
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thievesarmy View Post
I actually have custom UE IEM's so I'll check out your reference tracks and see if I find any similarities.

Thanks :)

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
Also what music player are you using? Neutron when the crossfeed is on for example softens the harsh high frequencies, but also compresses left-right imaging (good if your headphone or IEM has a too strong L-R sound), so that panning I described above with the symphony part isn't easily noticeable.

The stock music player and jetAudio Basic. I tried Newton before and cannot install it now as its a trial and I am currently having issues with paying in the Play Store, if I manage to install it I will post back.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
1) There are a lot of cymbals there, plus there's a part before the first verse where the guitar riffs (and drums, bass) suddenly stops, then the symphony plays three notes, and in terms of staging occupies a wide area from center-rear to right-rear.
2) It will do that again, this time the sound will occupy only the right side of the previous area, and the tone will be higher, indicating only some of the strings (violin and the smaller one, maybe a cello but its softer than the others).
3) It will do that a third time, this time occupying only the left side of that initial area, and the tone will be very deep and "brassy" at the trailing end, indicating...well...the brass instruments, maybe the cello and bass viola also. Now if that second time is a lot softer than the third, then the response is rolling off too early

 

1 is at about 00:39 and the other two come in succession right? (from flac that I found on piratebay).

What do you mean by softer exactly? in terms of volume they are about the same.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
Ditto the cymbal hits throughout that song - they need to be clean, have a decent amount of decay (not too quick but not too splashy either) that sounds like an actual (strong) hit on the cymbals.

Well for starters they are not as harsh as the previous songs but they are a bit splashy, less so than the above tracks but still there.

 

 

 

From what I can tell this is probably not a defect right? When this mostly effects cymbals and other metallic percussion then its just how these headphones sound with my current setup.

post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelf View Post
 

The stock music player and jetAudio Basic. I tried Newton before and cannot install it now as its a trial and I am currently having issues with paying in the Play Store, if I manage to install it I will post back.

 

No need to get into that for now, just wanted t oeliminate the possibility that Neutron's processing was affecting the sound.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by michaelf View Post

 

1 is at about 00:39 and the other two come in succession right? (from flac that I found on piratebay).

What do you mean by softer exactly? in terms of volume they are about the same.

 

Well for starters they are not as harsh as the previous songs but they are a bit splashy, less so than the above tracks but still there.

 

From what I can tell this is probably not a defect right? When this mostly effects cymbals and other metallic percussion then its just how these headphones sound with my current setup.

 

Softer means lower volume. If it was, then it's a matter of frequency response not being flat enough. Since you don't have this issue, just do one more test to confirm - download a sinesweep generator, or search for one on YouTube, and test them from 20hz to 20khz. If there is no drastic drop in response in the treble I'd say don't sweat it - most likely anything you hear whether the treble is harder too hear or too harsh is likely in the recording. Feedback to the contrary may have been due to whatever recording they were listening to.

 

 

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
Sine sweep on my S3 has the treble rolling off past 10khz, falling more sharply after 12khz, then after 16khz is only audible at max volume (so effectively, at listening volume, it isn't there anymore). Even my iPad2 and Acer laptop (with a Realtek chip) have less severe roll-offs, although relative to the listening volume they're still silent at some point after 16khz.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
Since you don't have this issue, just do one more test to confirm - download a sinesweep generator, or search for one on YouTube, and test them from 20hz to 20khz. If there is no drastic drop in response in the treble I'd say don't sweat it - most likely anything you hear whether the treble is harder too hear or too harsh is likely in the recording. Feedback to the contrary may have been due to whatever recording they were listening to.

Yeah you told me to do that again and I did but because there was no way to tell what the frequency was on the media player I left it for later and forgot to try again :).

I now tried the Youtube one that shows the frequency and I pretty much get the same results as you.

So I guess I have to live with this sound.

 

 

 

Do you have some quick DAC and or amp recommendations for the S3 before I go through the forum here reading reviews?

FiiO gets a lot of recommendation around here but after this comments from supercurio (the creator of Voodoo Sound) about the E5 and the E17

https://twitter.com/supercurio/status/210718227880349697

https://twitter.com/supercurio/status/253130626973171712

I am sceptical, the E18 seems more promising as it bypasses the internal DAC altogether.


Edited by michaelf - 4/19/14 at 12:05pm
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks again for the help by the way.

 

I was gonna post this on the previous post but it gets moderated every time I edit because of the links to external sites.

post #12 of 25
Quote:

Originally Posted by michaelf View Post

 

I now tried the Youtube one that shows the frequency and I pretty much get the same results as you.

So I guess I have to live with this sound.

 

Do you have some quick DAC and or amp recommendations for the S3 before I go through the forum here reading reviews?

FiiO gets a lot of recommendation around here but after this comments from supercurio (the creator of Voodoo Sound) about the E5 and the E17

https://twitter.com/supercurio/status/210718227880349697

https://twitter.com/supercurio/status/253130626973171712

I am sceptical, the E18 seems more promising as it bypasses the internal DAC altogether.

 

Do you really need the phone to be your source, ie use it with YouTube, etc? In my reference the reason why I use my phone is because it's a desktop A/C powered system, so I can plug in my phone after listening (or before, depending on how much charge I have left when I get home); also because I prefer the input to my DAC-Amp in digital (so the analog signal doesn't travel too far) but without using a computer that will draw more power. Plus it comes out looking neat.

 

 

In your case if you'll be using it on the go where the battery life of the phone, plus the ergos of having a phone strapped to a DAC-Amp might be a problem, you might want to look into getting a dedicated audio player like the Ibasso DX50 or Fiio X3. I found both to be much clearer than the S3, and its only really useful audio feature is the USB audio output.

post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

Do you really need the phone to be your source, ie use it with YouTube, etc? In my reference the reason why I use my phone is because it's a desktop A/C powered system, so I can plug in my phone after listening (or before, depending on how much charge I have left when I get home); also because I prefer the input to my DAC-Amp in digital (so the analog signal doesn't travel too far) but without using a computer that will draw more power. Plus it comes out looking neat.

 

 

In your case if you'll be using it on the go where the battery life of the phone, plus the ergos of having a phone strapped to a DAC-Amp might be a problem, you might want to look into getting a dedicated audio player like the Ibasso DX50 or Fiio X3. I found both to be much clearer than the S3, and its only really useful audio feature is the USB audio output.

 

Basically an audio player is easier to search and do research for, plus I can probably test some from friends and at shops. DACs are not so common and I just wanted your personal opinion on the DACs above - the E18 basically as I am only considering USB ones, I too want my input digital :) 

 

I am considering all options, including a dedicated audio player, however I was thinking to go hi-end for that like the headphones when I have the money together.

 

Battery life is not a problem, I bought 2 new ones that I keep with me all the time, they are pretty small and easy to change . The ergonomics are an issue that I think I can live with. And the S3 has Spotify which is the only service of its kind at my country.

 

I was currently thinking of going the €200-€250 route and get whatever gives the best sound. A USB DAC in that price range that can get comparable results to a similarly priced audio player interests me but I am open.

 

Which changing base is that for the S3 by the way and are you satisfied with it?

 

edit: some clarifications


Edited by michaelf - 4/18/14 at 4:02am
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelf View Post

 

Basically an audio player is easier to search and do research for, plus I can probably test some from friends and at shops.

 

I am considering all options, including a dedicated audio player, however I was thinking to go hi-end for that like the headphones when I have the money together.

 

Yes, it is much easier to research on, considering that the issue with some DACs is that theytend to have incompatibility issues. Since you have an S3 however it won't be much of a problem - the only incompatibility spec will be compared to how a regular computer can send out 5v of power via USB. There are a lot of DACs that work - look in the Portable Source threads for the Android Phones and USB DACs threads. In every page number that is a multiple of 5, DanBa posts a list of Android devices and DACs that are compatible. Note that unless it is one of the Android-specific DACs upgrading to another phone might cost you USB DAC functionality (this is why I just bought extra batteries for the S3 and being extra careful with it, as the S4 and S5 have more incompatibilities, AFAIK).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelf View Post
 

DACs are not so common and I just wanted your personal opinion on the DACs above.

 

I was currently thinking of going the €200-€250 route and get whatever gives the best sound. A USB DAC in that price range that can get comparable results to a similarly priced audio player interests me but I am open.

 

I have not tried the E18, but I have tried the old E7 and didn't like that one. The X3 works great and I think it's basically the E17, and the E18 is kind of like that but with Android-specific chips/software, s it should sound more neutral than the S3. Note that other people don't think it's neutral at all, but I only say so in comparison.

 

You can also try this, and it also comes with the USB OTG cable: http://www.ibasso.com/en/products/show.asp?ID=79

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelf View Post

 

And on an unrelated note which charging base is that for the S3?

 

It's the RND brand I got from Amazon. Basically I searched for "charge sync dock," as there might be some cradles only have wires on the power contact pins on the microUSB plug on the base and the socket on the rear. Still requires the USB OTG cable adapter though as I haven't met up with a friend who has more steady hands than I do to rewire the dock itself for OTG, not to mention it's hard to find a microUSB to B cable. I can't even use the one Ibasso has because it won't reach the input on my amp, as it was made for that DAC-Amp.

 

 

 

post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

Yes, it is much easier to research on, considering that the issue with some DACs is that theytend to have incompatibility issues. Since you have an S3 however it won't be much of a problem - the only incompatibility spec will be compared to how a regular computer can send out 5v of power via USB. There are a lot of DACs that work - look in the Portable Source threads for the Android Phones and USB DACs threads. In every page number that is a multiple of 5, DanBa posts a list of Android devices and DACs that are compatible. Note that unless it is one of the Android-specific DACs upgrading to another phone might cost you USB DAC functionality (this is why I just bought extra batteries for the S3 and being extra careful with it, as the S4 and S5 have more incompatibilities, AFAIK).

Yes I skimmed the S3 DAC thread a couple of times, time to read it a bit more thoroughly.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

I have not tried the E18, but I have tried the old E7 and didn't like that one. The X3 works great and I think it's basically the E17, and the E18 is kind of like that but with Android-specific chips/software, s it should sound more neutral than the S3. Note that other people don't think it's neutral at all, but I only say so in comparison.

OK

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

You can also try this, and it also comes with the USB OTG cable: http://www.ibasso.com/en/products/show.asp?ID=79

Will do :)

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Help and Getting Started › Introductions, Help and Recommendations › Need help determining if my new Ultimate Ears Custom In-Ear Reference Monitors are defective.