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Would really appreciate thoughts on new IEMs/earbuds

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi there. Long time reader but infrequent poster. I've visited a lot more lately as I've been looking for something great. And I'm hoping you can help.

 

For about two years, I owned a pair of Ultimate Ears ue700s. I liked them a lot, especially compared to the Klipsch S4s I'd owned before then.

 

Around Christmas time, though, Amazon started running some great promos on earphones, and I managed to get a sweet deal on a pair of Miles Davis Trumpet earphones. I loved them. I didn't think I'd ever heard music as through them.

 

I had to return them something like three months later, for a couple of reasons. I found that the tips sometimes didn't really stay put--sometimes I'd pull out the earbud only to have to get a pair of tweezers to remove the tip (maybe I inserted them too far or something, but I felt like I needed a proper seal)--and then the left channel gave out. I called Amazon to return them and they took great care of the transaction and sent another set, but the new set's right channel was already out (it came from their Warehouse Deals program and arrived used, which I hadn't realized). So I started looking for another pair.

 

I ordered a pair of Etymotic HF5s because I'd heard great things about the ER-4Ps. I listened to them on and off for a few days. I didn't have a problem with the depth of insertion of the tips, but I wasn't a fan of the sound. About the same time, I picked up a pair of Yamaha EPH100s, which I'm still using and which I like, but while the design with the micro drivers seems close to the Miles Davis Trumpets, I'm not sure anything else does. I can't put them side by side, but the Trumpets were amazing to me.

 

So I'm coming here.

 

You'll noticed I haven't described the sounds of the different earphones--I sheepishly admit I don't know how to. I see a lot of words used in the forums and I think I get what they mean, but I'm not sure. For example, I think maybe the HF5s were too "analytical" for me, but then I think I could analyze the Trumpets, too, and they seemed . . . warmer, maybe? It seemed to me like the Trumpets had more character, perhaps a wider soundstage? I don't know. I just know I put them in and thought "Wow."

 

That's kind of what I'm looking for now. I have a pair of Sennheiser HD598s I use regularly right now, and I very much enjoy their open headphone design over the closed sound of the AKG--I think they're K271 MKIIs. What I'd like to do is get a pair of IEMs to complement them. Not to say I'm looking for IEMs with a similar sound as the HD598s. but I feel like the 598s are excellent open headphones for me, and I'd like a pair of excellent IEMs for me.

 

That's where I'm coming to you. I listen mostly to Spotify Premium right now (which I think has a decently higher bitrate), and I usually listen to either my MBPro, iPhone, iPad mini, or iPod nano. I have a small Fiio amp that I rarely use, even with the 598s. I also have a huge, decent-bitrate iTunes library, and I listen to pretty much every genre at some point. Lots of rock (Better Than Ezra, Airborne Toxic Event, etc.), some country and alt-country (Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers), classical (Vanessa Mae, Vivaldi, Brahms, Yo-Yo Ma) . . . I end up being pretty open to everything. I usually have my equalizer set to a Jazz preset in iTunes but pretty much flat everywhere else (like Spotify). I don't know why I do that last--I just always have, and I should probably stop that.

 

I'm hoping for an IEM that can accommodate a wide variety of music. I don't think I'm necessarily a "basshead," as I've read it in these forums, but I know I like some. I loved how clear (to me) the Trumpets sounded, but I'm not sure if that's what people would call "neutral" or whatever. I don't know what kind of soundstage I want (or even can expect). I do like to feel like the music has depth or is 3D or something, if that makes sense. I like being able to hear instrumentation precisely.

 

Right now, I've been checking out several. I kind of want an over-ear worn model. It seems like when you get to a high-enough degree of quality, that's what they all are, and if I'm going to do this, I want to do it right.

 

Logitech ue900(s): These sounded like they'd be perfect, until I read about quality issues. First, I don't expect to be hard on anything, but at $400 I expect not to have to baby anything. The 900s and Logitech's reticence to be clear on differences and transparent to customers has dissuaded me a little. Plus, those ue700s gave out after two years, and this is an investment I'd like to last longer.

 

Sennheiser ie80 - I figure I like the 598s, so sticking with Sennheiser might be good.

 

Shure 535s - I hear great things about them, and have for going on a decade now. It may be time to make the ultimate splurge. I'm just not sure if they're what I'm looking for given my music/listening preferences.

 

Heir 4AIs - Just discovered these today (and what compelled me to ask you). They sounded great, but then I read the main guy left last year, so who knows if they're still as good as they were a year ago.

 

Dunu DN2000s - I thought the hybrid system would ensure coverage of my preference.

 

Monster Turbine Coppers - I loved the Miles Davis Trumpets, so I thought the same company might be a good option.

 

Audiotechnica ATHIM03 - Don't know much about these, but Amazon mentioned them based on my browsing history.


Westone W40 - Same as above.

 

My budget is Shure 535s, basically.

 

Would really appreciate any thoughts you have. Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 

I hope it's okay if I bump this up. I'm sure somebody has some recommendations.

 

I think at this point I'm leaning toward either the Shure 535s or the Heir 4ias (or Nobles).

 

Anyone think that's a bad idea given all the above, or one of the two is a better idea than the others?


Thanks!

post #3 of 12
I'd say either the IM03(if you get past the fit issues)or DN-2k would be right up your alley. The SE535 has that really unforgiving treble, and to me, just isn't up to scratch to the newer offerings. Also, if you like realistic timbre or intimate vocals, Try the JVC FX850 or FAD Heaven V. Both are very good at what they do, and I highly recommend everything here.

There are also the new ATH CKR 9/10 which have been getting positive reviews, but I haven't heard them yet so I can't give them a recommendation.

Basically lots of choose from in the 300-400 range. Just depends on what you're looking for. Hope this helps!
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Exesteils View Post

I'd say either the IM03(if you get past the fit issues)or DN-2k would be right up your alley. The SE535 has that really unforgiving treble, and to me, just isn't up to scratch to the newer offerings. Also, if you like realistic timbre or intimate vocals, Try the JVC FX850 or FAD Heaven V. Both are very good at what they do, and I highly recommend everything here.

There are also the new ATH CKR 9/10 which have been getting positive reviews, but I haven't heard them yet so I can't give them a recommendation.

Basically lots of choose from in the 300-400 range. Just depends on what you're looking for. Hope this helps!


Thanks for that. I'll have to explore the CKRs. I know AT gets some great press (I think Gizmodo is rather fond of them). Can you elaborate about the fit issue? Just want to know what to look out for, consideration-wise.

 

And yes, so much to choose from! It gets confusing. I need a spreadsheet!

 

Thanks again.

post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by willentrekin View Post
 


Thanks for that. I'll have to explore the CKRs. I know AT gets some great press (I think Gizmodo is rather fond of them). Can you elaborate about the fit issue? Just want to know what to look out for, consideration-wise.

 

And yes, so much to choose from! It gets confusing. I need a spreadsheet!

 

Thanks again.


I'd say look at around 2-3 at a time. No point confusing yourself, and ending up not know which is which.  Also, if you are planning to use them on the go the read up on a pair of earphone's isolation too. Some might have amazing sound, but their sub-par isolation makes it hard for you to really hear anything in noisy environments.

 

The ATH IM-Series have large housings that are sort of semi circular in shape(think weston, but more bulky). I couldn't get a good fit with any of them, not the IM40/70s nor the IM01-04.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

I think I'm down to the IM03s or either Heir 3ais or Noble 3s.

 

The Heirs are so pretty, but I'm trying not to let that sway me.

 

Anyone have any experience with Heir or Noble (or Heir vs. Noble)?

 

I really like that Noble is privately held. It means I can't go through Amazon, but I like supporting small business.

post #7 of 12
I wouldn't really suggest going custom unless you already understand what kind of sound you like and/or have already heard them.

Customs are also considerably harder to sell without taking a large loss.
post #8 of 12
I think you would be perfectly happy with a pair of Klipsch X10s/X11s.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm definitely avoiding custom right now. I'm hoping to settle on a good IEM right now that will last a solid several years, and then maybe upgrade to custom down the line. I was going to go with the universal versions of the Heirs or Nobles.

 

I'm realizing I don't necessarily require heavy/pounding bass. I've been listening to my 598s pretty much exclusively for the past couple of weeks, and I really like how they handle music. I think a lot of people might feel they lack bass, and maybe they don't have it in huge quantity, but I feel like they have it in high quality.

 

Funny you should mention x10s Byrnie -- I bought my wife a pair for Christmas. Maybe I'll give them a listen this weekend to see if I like them. I tried them a little, and my initial impression was that they were, I think, muddier than the Trumpets I had. But I didn't really spend much time with them.

 

I also just saw a review of the Westone W4s that highlighted them compared to the IM03s. So I guess I'm focused in like you suggested, Exesteils. That really has helped, so thanks for that suggestion.

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by willentrekin View Post
 

I'm realizing I don't necessarily require heavy/pounding bass. I've been listening to my 598s pretty much exclusively for the past couple of weeks, and I really like how they handle music. I think a lot of people might feel they lack bass, and maybe they don't have it in huge quantity, but I feel like they have it in high quality.

 

Funny you should mention x10s Byrnie -- I bought my wife a pair for Christmas. Maybe I'll give them a listen this weekend to see if I like them. I tried them a little, and my initial impression was that they were, I think, muddier than the Trumpets I had. But I didn't really spend much time with them.

I have the HD598s and love them but they are bass light (not that's a bad thing).  Yea let me know what you think of the X10s they may very well be too muddy for your tastes, I personally didn't find them muddy but I only listen them at work so who knows.

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Just wanted to thank you both, and update: I pulled the trigger on a pair of Westone W40s. When I found them on Earphone Solutions, I discovered I got a second pair of phones (Phonaks, I believe) free, so I jumped on the deal.

 

I posted a review of the HD598s when I first got them, so maybe I'll do the same with the W40s. It doesn't look like there are many yet.

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by willentrekin View Post
 

Just wanted to thank you both, and update: I pulled the trigger on a pair of Westone W40s. When I found them on Earphone Solutions, I discovered I got a second pair of phones (Phonaks, I believe) free, so I jumped on the deal.

 

I posted a review of the HD598s when I first got them, so maybe I'll do the same with the W40s. It doesn't look like there are many yet.

Very cool man and congrats!

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