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Tried a lot, want to explore: IEMs with a u-shaped response, clear mids, big soundstage.

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

My IEM quest began in 2010 with my purchase of the Shure SE215. There were a few things right off the bat that didn't feel perfect with the SE215, aspects of the sound that didn't quite fit my tastes, but they impressed me so much compared to the Sony, Beats, and VMODA IEMs that I had been using that I immediately clung to them mentally and assumed whatever I would like in the future would be an upgraded version of the same sound. The SE215 have been with me for the last 4 years, and so I've had a lot of time to realize what I like and dislike about them.


The main thing I like about the Shures is the enhanced bass and presence regions of the spectrum. I love that Shures emphasize vocals, but ultimately the SE215 are a bit warmer sounding than I really like; ideally I would like to have something with a bit less bass presence and more neutral midrange.


I've tried a bunch of IEMs and the two that have come closest to my preferences are the Earsonics SM3 v2 without filters, and the TF10. I like the sparkly, emphasized treble, and slightly enhanced bass from both. And I have to say, as much better as the SM3's midrange really is, I'm a bit done on warmth and any kind of veiling in the midrange. What I really want from a pair is earphones is fun from the bass and treble, and strictly business from the midrange; I like vocals to be full and forward, but not overly lush or warmed up, and I want instruments to be clear and neutral, and properly spaced.


I really enjoy my DT770s for full-sized cans, and I've thought about going back to Westone 3s for on the go listening, just because I remember them having the clear, neutral midrange that I really like, despite being overshadowed by the bass. By looking at frequency graphs for IEMs I've enjoyed, I've concluded that part of what I liked about the SE215, despite being overly warm and the bass not having exceptional control, is the boost in the 2khz and 5khz range that gives vocals and some instruments more presence and realism. I've noticed the W3 has emphasis at 2k but not 5k, possibly why the midrange seemed a bit recessed to me. The biggest reason I never went for the W4 was hearing that it is "warm" and seeing the dip at 5k on its FR graph. Same goes for SM64. The one set I've seriously considered is the PFE232, but I'm not keen on buying something that won't have warranty support and cable replacements available. I'm currently looking at either saving up for W30s, or getting a pair of W3s reterminated by BTG Audio with an MMXC connector so I can use my beloved Shure Android mic cable.


Anyways, I'm just curious if any helpful souls have any suggestions based on these anecdotal meanderings :)

Edited by Gilly87 - 4/23/14 at 7:22am
post #2 of 3

First of all, I'm somewhat intimidated conveying my experience to a Headphonius Supremus. My vocabulary is a bit lacking and my experience isn't very far reaching. I'll try not to ramble.


My current IEMs are Shure 535LTDs, Sennheiser IE80s, Triple Fi 10s, Shure 3** and Yamaha EPH-100. I've owned some beats IEMs ( meh...) and Turbine Golds and coppers. The Turbine Coppers, to me , sound kind of like what you're looking for. When you say big sound stageI immediately think of my IE80s but that sounds exactly like what you don't want besides enchanced bass and spaciousness. They are pretty mellow sounding but are the only IEMs I've come across that gives the more "out of your head" experience more common in headphones.


The Turbine Pro Coppers don't have the bass of the Golds but it's definitely pleasing, the mids are there but not forward or distracting like the 535s and the treble seems well extended. I haven't listened to them for a while and listen to mostly rock and fairly compressed music so my experience would lend well to being able to judge soundstage for those things. No more than average would be my guestimate. More well controlled bottom than the 215s for sure (shure... heehee) and better highs. 


The Yamaha EPH-100 are kind of a similar monster; quite aggressive, nice bottom but not an incredibly well extended top. Probably a bit peaky in the upper mids, somewhat Grado sounding with a bit more thump. I dig them and think they were well worth the price. More of a "rock out" IEM, decent for acoustic music as well. Highs not as well extended as the Triple Fi 10 but a bit more cohesive from top to bottom.


I recently picked up a pair of HD700s and previously the Fidelio X1 ( still have them). They carry and open design with medium/large soundstage ( much moreso with the 700) so my perception of soundstage has been blown out of the water. IEMs always feel somewhat in my head, the exception being the IE80.


Sorry for the boneheaded musings, like I said, I'm not an audiophile and for the most part my view on sound is like my view on wine. I may not be eloquent but I likes what I likes.

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the response :-)

The Coppers are an IEM I considered quite some time ago and have never really come back to...would you say they really have a bigger soundstage than the TF10? Can it hang with the TF10 in terms of overall balance/neutrality?

I'm actually rather interested in the IE80, graphs seem to show it as a bit more v-shaped than the OG IE8, which intrigues me, if only aandn even more "fun" alternative to my TF10 for when I'm at work and need minimal isolation.

The EPH100 wasn't for me; too warm, not clear/neutral enough overall.

You're lucky to have your hands on the HD700; I've been eyeing them, as well as the T90s, for a while now. Alas my budget has halted me at the DT770, but that may very well change soon.

Thanks again for the input :-)
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