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I feel like I might be nuts - CIEM's

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 

Hey all, I've been a full size headphone junkie for years and am now looking to possibly jump over to CIEMs for a few reasons like portability, isolation, comfort, and lack of sound leaking.

Currently, my two main headphones are the Denon D7000 and the Audeze LCD-2. I'm looking for a CIEM that rivals these headphones (especially the LCD-2) and ideally, replaces them.

 

There's one main problem, though. I've never liked any of the IEM's I've ever owned. Admittedly, it's only been two, the Westone UM2 and the Hifiman RE-600. However, it does still worry me, but is one of the main reasons I'm considering trying the CIEM route. I feel as though there is either is something up with the shape of my inner ear that is making it difficult for universal IEM's to sound good, or I've just been unlucky.

 

At the moment, the CIEM's I'm most interested in are the 1964 V6 and V8, the Heir 8.A, the Westone ES5, and the JH Audio JH13 and JH16 Freqphase.

 

The 1964's seem to be both the most affordable and some of the best looking, which is alluring. The 8.A seems to often be compared to the LCD-2, which has me interested, the ES5 is known to be punchy, and the JH models were praised like mad in that big Innerfidelity shootout.

However, the fact that Heir is based outside the US has me worried about the quality of customer service (I notice companies that have a large presence in the country I live in also seem to have better customer service), and the fact that JH does not reshell their models worries me about potential resale value.

 

I know 1964 offers universal demo units, do the other companies do the same?

 

The sound I'm looking for is energetic, dynamic, fast, punchy, textured, detailed, and euphonic with an excellent transient response but plenty of kick and unusual amounts of texture (what I find in Audeze headphones). Frequency response is ideally flat with a very slight treble rolloff and a moderate bass hump down to the deepest subbass. I currently EQ my LCD-2's, but I'd rather not do that with a portable CIEM (not sure if I can find a portable parametric EQ). I've tried most high-end headphones, and my ideal is pretty much the LCD-X with maybe a tad more bass. I am very fond of good quality 3D soundstage and imaging, but not having that isn't a deal breaker, I'm sure there are limitations to IEM soundstage.

 

I like to listen to a fairly wide range of music genres, and I like my headphones to be decent all-rounders (I prefer to have one really good headphone that I use for everything rather than multiple). My favorite genre is probably experimental electronic music (non-dance).

 

Here are a couple of examples:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm interested in any thoughts and experiences with CIEM's vs high end full size headphones and with what CIEM would best fit me. Also, any information on how resale is affected and CIEM amplification needs would also be very helpful.

 

Thank you guys!


Edited by Taowolf51 - 5/21/14 at 9:15pm
post #2 of 45

If I were in your seat I would put few more IEM and CIEM into that race

 

Universal IEMs:
Shure SE846
Translucent 1Plus2

Custom IEMs:
UM: Merlin
Spiral Ear 


 

post #3 of 45
Taowolf51, I've heard few opinions that Spiral Ear 5way Reference is similar in sound to Audeze LCD-2.
post #4 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuZo2 View Post
 

If I were in your seat I would put few more IEM and CIEM into that race

 

Universal IEMs:
Shure SE846
Translucent 1Plus2

Custom IEMs:
UM: Merlin
Spiral Ear 

 

 

I've wanted to try to stay away from UIEMs because of my past history with them. However, I'd give them a chance if I were able to go out and find a place to demo them. Are there any common stores that let you demo high-end UIEMs?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shakur1996 View Post

Taowolf51, I've heard few opinions that Spiral Ear 5way Reference is similar in sound to Audeze LCD-2.
 
Aren't Spiral Ears only available to those within the EU? I'm located in the US.
 
And to add a bit of clarity to the LCD-2 comparisons, I love the impact, dynamics, and texture of the LCD-2's but the FR is too dark for me which is why I EQ it.
I'm looking for an IEM that delivers the dynamics, punch, and texture of Audeze headphones with a more balanced FR (with a bit of extra bass).
post #5 of 45

Thing with CIEM is you have to trust reviews from other if there are no demo units and if you dont like them resale value is less because they need to be reshelled. I think more companies are now moving to high end ciem. eg JH Roxane.
 

post #6 of 45
Thread Starter 

That's one of my worries. Also, the complete lack of measurements is really leaving me in the dark. I've been looking through some IEM measurements and they seem to be a bit of a mixed bag. The SE846 with black filters was measured at -57db at 18-19 kHz, that's insane. I'm hoping that that's just an artifact of some issue with Tyll's measurement setup.

 

Also, I'm looking at amplification for demo pairs, and most of my headphone amps are either far too powerful (speaker amp for LCD-2) or have a high output impedance (5 ohm for M-Stage and 4 ohm for SGS3). I do have an old iPhone 4 which is supposed to be 1 ohm and an XDA-2 which is a nice 0.1 ohm. Would either of these be sufficient for a demo? I'll be going for a new amp if I decide to go the CIEM route.

 

Also, is there a way to hook my SGS3 to a portable amp and keep its output impedance to a minimum? I like to listen to Spotify on the go with my phone, but at 4 ohms I don't think it would sound that great.


Edited by Taowolf51 - 5/22/14 at 12:24pm
post #7 of 45
Thread Starter 

Also, since JH Audio doesn't seem to reshell their CIEMs, do they have a lower resale value than most CIEMs? Where would be a good place to get them reshelled and are there differences in the sound?

post #8 of 45

Since you are in the US, I would stick with CIEMs manufactured in the US. If for whatever reason your fit doesn't turn out right, you can thank me later for dodging massive shipping and customs costs.

 

As far as recommendations... I would steer from the V8 and JH16. I have no idea how the ES50 sounds (have never heard them and there no indication of their signature), but from what I've read about the ES5, I figure it's more neutral. So my choices would be JH13 (because I've heard it), or ES50, or the V6. The latter is priced substantially cheaper, so you may want to consider that since this is your first CIEM and you want to tread carefully.

 

And for your last questions, resale is basically an immediate 50% loss. That's just something you have to come to terms with. Amplification is not needed at all with CIEMs.

post #9 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JAG87 View Post
 

Since you are in the US, I would stick with CIEMs manufactured in the US. If for whatever reason your fit doesn't turn out right, you can thank me later for dodging massive shipping and customs costs.

 

As far as recommendations... I would steer from the V8 and JH16. I have no idea how the ES50 sounds (have never heard them and there no indication of their signature), but from what I've read about the ES5, I figure it's more neutral. So my choices would be JH13 (because I've heard it), or ES50, or the V6. The latter is priced substantially cheaper, so you may want to consider that since this is your first CIEM and you want to tread carefully.

 

And for your last questions, resale is basically an immediate 50% loss. That's just something you have to come to terms with. Amplification is not needed at all with CIEMs.

 

That was my thought as well, even outside of the shipping costs and time, international shipping can be finicky sometimes, especially to places like China (I can speak from experience unfortunately).

 

Any specific reason you would steer away from the V8 and JH16? Is the bass overwhelming? Admittedly, I am a bit of a basshead, but with very high standards for the quality of said bass. :p

 

What were your thoughts on the JH13? Both freqphase models seem to be getting overwhelmingly high praise. How would you compare it to high-end full size headphones if you have any experience with any of them?

 

Wow, that's quite a drop. Considering it's my first CIEM, should I just look for used models and get them reshelled?

post #10 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taowolf51 View Post

That was my thought as well, even outside of the shipping costs and time, international shipping can be finicky sometimes, especially to places like China (I can speak from experience unfortunately).

Any specific reason you would steer away from the V8 and JH16? Is the bass overwhelming? Admittedly, I am a bit of a basshead, but with very high standards for the quality of said bass. tongue.gif

What were your thoughts on the JH13? Both freqphase models seem to be getting overwhelmingly high praise. How would you compare it to high-end full size headphones if you have any experience with any of them?

Wow, that's quite a drop. Considering it's my first CIEM, should I just look for used models and get them reshelled?
If your buying decision considers resale value, don't buy Customs. If you want the best comfort/isolation/sound custom is best IMO. Demo before you buy to ensure you're happy. Only you know what sounds right to your ears.
post #11 of 45

http://www.head-fi.org/products/noble-audio-kaiser-10

 

Pros:
“Supremely natural sounding, fantastic mids, thunderous but tightly controlled lows, amazing highs”
“Balanced signature that works with many music genres; bass, midrange and treble are all excellent”

Cons:

“No real cons
post #12 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyInnerEar View Post


If your buying decision considers resale value, don't buy Customs. If you want the best comfort/isolation/sound custom is best IMO. Demo before you buy to ensure you're happy. Only you know what sounds right to your ears.

 

If they're good enough, it won't bother me. However, customs are more of a gamble money-wise and that does worry me. I'm not sure I want to consider universals because of my poor history with them.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by presata View Post
 

http://www.head-fi.org/products/noble-audio-kaiser-10

 

Pros:
“Supremely natural sounding, fantastic mids, thunderous but tightly controlled lows, amazing highs”
“Balanced signature that works with many music genres; bass, midrange and treble are all excellent”

Cons:

“No real cons
 

 

Unfortunately, those are a decent amount out of my price range.

post #13 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taowolf51 View Post
 

 

That was my thought as well, even outside of the shipping costs and time, international shipping can be finicky sometimes, especially to places like China (I can speak from experience unfortunately).

 

Any specific reason you would steer away from the V8 and JH16? Is the bass overwhelming? Admittedly, I am a bit of a basshead, but with very high standards for the quality of said bass. :p

 

What were your thoughts on the JH13? Both freqphase models seem to be getting overwhelmingly high praise. How would you compare it to high-end full size headphones if you have any experience with any of them?

 

Wow, that's quite a drop. Considering it's my first CIEM, should I just look for used models and get them reshelled?

 

Yes - you lose a lot of money selling used customs - but if you find a custom that fits your sound signature, it won't matter - you won't sell them. Some folks here are extremely susceptible to the siren call of "The new/next product" and even if a large portion of their brain is satisfied with their current gear, there is another portion of their brain (small, but with great influence) that tells them they are missing out on something and they are off on the road to more and larger purchases. So in a small way, they are never satisfied. If you are doing this for you and you alone - if your end game is to hear great music - and you nail it with the CIEM you choose - the point about lack of resale is moot. You don't necessarily have to sell them - even if you upgrade down the road, you can still keep them (what a concept!) 

 

But, money can also be an issue - you might be in a position where if you want to try another flavor (OTM) - you have to, for financial reasons, sell your current gear. Then resale is a concern. I have gone both ways - I have reshelled used customs and bought new (the fact that JH Audio doesn't reshell their own gear is not a major concern - there are shops that can do it and do it well for reasonable prices)

 

One thing - If you are looking to get just one good set of IEMs - if it was me, they would be customs - I also have issues with universals sometimes - even the ones that fit fine still need to be monkeyed with from time to time when I listen for extended periods - not so with a custom.

 

Maybe the way to go is a used custom - but then your choices are more limited - and you have to take into account condition, hours, in addition to sound signature. Let me just say that I love both my JH16FP's and my Universal V8s' - If you are cool with the occasional eq adjustment - the 16's might be a great way to go - big bass, but extremely sharp mids and highs - if the bass is too much, you can tone it down - it is easier than trying to add bass with eq that isn't there in the beginning....

 

New or used - it's up to you...

 

just some ruminations...


Edited by Ivabign - 5/22/14 at 4:10pm
post #14 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivabign View Post
 

 

Yes - you lose a lot of money selling used customs - but if you find a custom that fits your sound signature, it won't matter - you won't sell them. Some folks here are extremely susceptible to the siren call of "The new/next product" and even if a large portion of their brain is satisfied with their current gear, there is another portion of their brain (small, but with great influence) that tells them they are missing out on something and they are off on the road to more and larger purchases. So in a small way, they are never satisfied. If you are doing this for you and you alone - if your end game is to hear great music - and you nail it with the CIEM you choose - the point about lack of resale is moot. You don't necessarily have to sell them - even if you upgrade down the road, you can still keep them (what a concept!) 

 

But, money can also be an issue - you might be in a position where if you want to try another flavor (OTM) - you have to, for financial reasons, sell your current gear. Then resale is a concern. I have gone both ways - I have reshelled used customs and bought new (the fact that JH Audio doesn't reshell their own gear is not a major concern - there are shops that can do it and do it well for reasonable prices)

 

One thing - If you are looking to get just one good set of IEMs - if it was me, they would be customs - I also have issues with universals sometimes - even the ones that fit fine still need to be monkeyed with from time to time when I listen for extended periods - not so with a custom.

 

Maybe the way to go is a used custom - but then your choices are more limited - and you have to take into account condition, hours, in addition to sound signature. Let me just say that I love both my JH16FP's and my Universal V8s' - If you are cool with the occasional eq adjustment - the 16's might be a great way to go - big bass, but extremely sharp mids and highs - if the bass is too much, you can tone it down - it is easier than trying to add bass with eq that isn't there in the beginning....

 

New or used - it's up to you...

 

just some ruminations...

 

Thank you for such a detailed response! I mirror your thoughts in your first two paragraphs almost perfectly, but also worry about the potential that I do not like them. Spending all that cash for a CIEM to end up not liking how they sound would be a very expensive mistake. I plan on trying out 1964 Ears' demo program which should help ease any worries. I emailed JH regarding demos as well, we'll see if they respond.

In an ideal world, the IEMs would not only be good enough that I wouldn't need to sell them, they'd be good enough that I could feel comfortable selling my LCD-2's (which are both absolutely incredible and annoying at the same time).

 

It seems as though a lot of IEMs are very dark. I think the LCD-2's pre-eq are too dark, but the RE-600's (the last IEM I had) seems to be about twice as dark according to Tyll's measurements. I just need to make sure I don't get a dark IEM.

 

Are there any places you recommend for JH Audio reshells? I've heard that reshells remove the freqphase feature (though I've also heard this isn't true).

 

Can you give me a quick comparison between the JH16FP's and the V8's? The lower price of the 1964 Ears plus the ability to demo them first is making me very interested in them, but I fear that the drop in price won't be worth the drop in quality compared to the JH (which has received nothing but unusually high amounts of praise as far as I've seen).

post #15 of 45

You should try the 846 because a few people have made a favorable LCD (?) comparison. If you are in Philly, you can call your local InMotion Entertainment store at a nearby airport and see if they have an 846 for demo. If you like it, there is a place (or places) that make custom sleeves to fit the 846.

 

There's no gamble here if InMotion has a demo and Shure's customer service is top notch if you have a problem.

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