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Most "airy" IEM with good isolation <100$ ???

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,


I need some help on this one as I am not very familiar with IEM.


I would like to find:

- comfortable

- with "airy" soundstage but not too recessed mids

- good external noise isolation (it is for metro)

- under 100$


Any chance?


Any idea?

post #2 of 7

This may depend on your ears as I cannot get on with the triple flange tips, I need Complyfoam tips.


But the Etymotic HF5 might be worth a look at. They have a single balanced armature driver which is more aimed at the treble than the bass. Bass is tight but low in level, and a good seal is required but once achieved, these really shine.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

So far I am between Fischer Audio Silver Bullet, Sony MH1-C, Soundmagic PL30.


The Etymotic HF5 are about 140 Euros over here, so way over budget. But thanks for your answer.

post #4 of 7

Zero Audio Carbo Tenore. A hidden gem that's now getting discovered and compared to $1000+ IEMs. May not reach that height but 2-3 times its price in performance there's little doubt.


post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

VERY interesting. What is the sound signature of these? Also, is the soundstage really BIG???

post #6 of 7

Yes it's quite spacious

Here's the detailed comparison among two of the top sub-100 IEMs:

Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post

Tenore VS MH1... FIGHT!!!



Let's get some of the technicalities out of the way. The contenders are: a recabled ZMF MH1 with large stock tips and a stock Zero Audio Tenore with large Sennheiser biflange tips. I have a made a pinhole bass vent in the top of the MH1 to alleviate over-pressurization risks. 



ZMF MH1: $120

Tenore: $60

These are the prices I paid.



Zach does a great recable. I chose black BTG Audio cable with an Oyaide Rhodium straight plug, and I much prefer it to my previous right angle plug ZMF MH1. The Oyaide plug is small and just exudes sexiness. The cable itself is quite solid and tightly braided. Microphonics are present but much mitigated with an easy over-the-ear fit. In comparison, the Tenore cable is softer and more supple, bending quite easily but never retaining it's shape. Microphonics are a bit better, and an over-the-ear fit isn't as necessary as with the ZMF MH1. 


Both iems are about the same size, although the smaller stress relief and buttery cable on the Tenore allows for a slightly more pleasant experience overall imo. It's just rare that a cable is so light and pliable, and it makes an over-the-ear fit extremely comfortable.



This is hard. Here are the three biggest differences to my ears, starting with bass:

  1. The Tenore has tighter bass with less decay and more definition. 
  2. The MH1's mids are more forward.
  3. The Tenore's treble is less emphasized.


So let's get more detailed. The flabby bass of the MH1 has always been its most obvious weakness, and the bass of the Tenore hits with more clarity period. The edges of bass lines have more definition, making it easier to tell when they end and begin. Mid-bass isn't an issue here with either phone, as it keeps well away from the mids on both. 


How bout them mids? The Tenore sounds a couple dB behind the MH1 with vocals, and with a more overall downward tilting FR, the Tenore imbues voices with a bit more warmth overall to my ears. Hitting the right tonality in the mids is a delicate balancing act, and I'm really not sure if I could choose the Tenore over the MH1 here. With vocals, the MH1 is no doubt closer in tonality to the ER4S to my ears. The mids on those iems are the stars of the show. The Tenore in comparison trades its mids emphasis for a wider field of sound, and coupled with what must be insanely low distortion, the immersion factor on the Tenore surpasses both the MH1 and ER4S imo. The presentation is wider and more 3D, with sound cues coming equally from all directions. The mids are more a part of this presentation than their own focus.  


The Tenore's treble timbre and tonality are among the best I've heard. While treble isn't as emphasized as the MH1 or ER4S, it is clearly present with smooth and natural attack and decay. Cymbals hit with authority and ride out with extremely clear definition, while simultaneously NOT causing fatigue over long sessions due to over-emphasis. Very very few iems pull this off. Too little emphasis and cymbals become buried, too much and they cause fatigue, and much of this depends on the recording. The MH1 is smooth, but has a little more ting to its sound than the Tenore. They are close, however, and listener preference will obviously affect this greatly. I appreciate both styles very much. 



Previously I've stated the the MH1 is one of the most hi-fi iems ever made. I compared it at length the K3003 and found that I'd probably prefer the MH1 if not for its thumpier bass. Now comes the Tenore offering similar top tier quality with tighter bass, and an even more immersive sonic experience. Can I choose one over the other? Likely not. But at this price point I really don't have to. I might find myself reaching for the Tenore more often, even though I slightly prefer the more forward mids of the MH1. The gains in bass performance, and the smooth treble resolution on the Tenore will likely be enough to sway me most of the time. 







Originally Posted by shotgunshane View Post

I may have gotten to the bottom of the impression differences.  As many of you know from reading this thread, I prepared for the Tenore apocalypse and bought 3.  Until yesterday, I had never opened the 3rd.  The two I had opened sounded identical- linear in the mids and treble, with a boost in bass mainly tilted in sub bass.  The overall effect, to me, was a slightly downward sloping frequency response, very similar to the Harmon target being discussed by Sean Olive. The bass seems to fall between the UERM and JH13 bass quantities. My impressions of these two matching Tenore's greatly match the graph inks has posted earlier in the thread:



Based on most people's impressions, I believe this very slightly downward sloping FR is the intended target. This is the sound that seems to bring the accuracy seeker and 'audiophile basshead' together.


However luisdent has been describing an ER-4S with almost perfect bass.  The ER-4S is diffuse field tuned and sounds slightly brighter and thinner overall (not harsh though) than the two Tenore's I have with stock tips.  Depending on how the track was mastered, I could occasionally hear that kind signature but definitely not every song.  By using the Comply sport series foam, s200, I could almost mimic his impressions regularly, as the sport foam is porous and doesn't seal like silicone or regular Comply foam.  The difference is probably 2db to 3db less bass.


Yesterday I decided to open my 3rd pair (all 3 were bought directly from Amazon.jp; no market seller).  When I first turned on the music I was floored- it seemed to be frequency response perfection.  It wasn't until this morning that I was able to A/B the 3rd set with one from my first two, using a little Fiio switcher.  This 3rd set indeed has just a hair less bass than the other two, with the mids and treble sounding the same.  In fact, when I put s200 tips on the other, they once again became virtually identical.  Basically I can now agree with luisdent, the Tenore can sound like a diffuse field ER-4S with a perfect (IMO) bass lift!


Every manufacturer has variation in their drivers, so this is really nothing new.  Perhaps more expensive and exclusive iems get more QC care to have less variation from set to set but even iems like the K3003 and TG334 have reportedly sounded slightly different from set to set on occasion. However I would expect more instances with significantly cheaper iems, especially those under the $100 mark.


So which of the two do I prefer?  I can't decide- both are simply fantastic.  The set with 2 to 3db less bass sounds like the best reference for FR I've ever heard and the other two sets satisfy my desire for a slightly more meaty presentation with a deeper bass kick. Just remember, the difference is seriously small between the two. If you have the seemingly more common bassier variation, you can just use Comply s200 tips to hear what the less bassier version sounds like. It's my opinion you can't lose with either set.  The Zero Audio Tenore is not just a budget gem but a complete head-fi gem in my book.


(FYI- I loaned Eke a pair before I discovered this, so he has the slightly bassier sig)

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Wow, thx. The Tenore are definitly sexy, but about 3 times the price I can get the MH1-C.

So I will go with the Sonyzzz + some Soundmagic PL30 (+ a beer) instead of the Tenore alone. They will probably join the family at one point anyway :-)
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