So, I've been looking for a pair of IEMs for a while...actually a few pairs, one for travel/work with an inline mic, one for home listening and a pair of beaters for the gym. Of all the pairs I've heard, I haven't found a sound signature in any of them that really clicks with me. I was hoping that one of you fine folks could suggest a pair or two that might fit my preferences? Maybe I'm just being too picky, but any input would be much appreciated.
My musical preferences are anywhere from death metal to classical to americana to experimental hip-hop... basically anything except EDM. My favorite pairs of headphones are the Koss KSC75 and the HD650, but I'm also a big fan of my Grados. Ideally I think I want something linear with a little extra boost/kick on the low end. Sources are generally Nexus 5 and rockboxed Clip Zip.
Well, here's my collection so far and how I feel about each one:
Philips Dynamic Bass (SHE3590), stock tips are actually a fantastic pair for the price and perform really well, probably one of my favorite pairs ironically. The bass is big, low and tight with really great extension. The detail through the midrange and treble is stunning at this price point, although the top end can be a little harsh and tinny at times. One of my biggest complaints is the recessed midrange, although for $10 I don't really complain.
Sony MH1c, Comply foam tips just fell flat on its face in terms of expectations. I do not understand the hype around these! The bass is good and strong but IMO not as good as the $10 Philips. The midrange has nothing for me to complain about per se, but the treble is just...flaccid. I feel about zero percent engaged in the music with these headphones; it's just not natural or realistic or lively. I refer to these as the "Sony meh-1c" because 'meh' is exactly how I feel about them. Making matters worse is the fact that the cable is incredibly stupid, which results in the fact that these things do not stay in my ears with silicone tips given even the slightest turn of my head. (Sony, if you're reading this right now, the J-style cable is really ******* stupid and you should ditch it.)
Meelectronics M6, Comply active foam tips Could someone explain to me why these headphones get recommended, ever?
Zero Audio Carbo Tenore, Meelectronics triple-flange tips is a pair that lives up to the hype to a certain point. I thought these things were awesome until I put them up against my other IEMs then I began to notice how bloated the lower mids are, and how disastrously recessed the treble is. Don't get me wrong: these are good IEMs and I would actually recommend these to non-audiophiles or to the type of audiophiles who cringe and weep at the sound of frequencies above 10kHz...you know, the type who claim that Grados are trying to kill them? Anyway, these are actually engaging and somewhat natural sounding, unlike the Sony MH1c, but now I can't help but hear the heavy roll-off of the top end and the bloated lower mids.
Etymotic HF5, stock triple-flange tips I haven't had these for long so take my impressions of these with a grain of salt, but they're the polar opposite of the Carbo Tenores in that they have a gorgeous high end and midrange, with some bloating in the upper mids, but the low-end is terribly recessed and has no real body or presence. The fit and isolation are awesome, though! Great with the right kind of music, but I don't want to be swapping headphones out every time I want to listen to a different genre.
Klipsch x10 (traded away), stock double-flange tips: These were actually a pretty decent pair of headphones; they had great bass and surprisingly smooth treble for being a single-BA-driver IEM. My complaint with them was that the midrange was recessed enough that vocals and guitars sounded restrained, and as a result the music was not nearly as engaging as it could have been. I do not like a recessed midrange, especially given that music that I listen to is usually heavy on the guitar and/or vocals, so while I don't regret trading these off... they were still a pretty decent pair in retrospect.
Westone 2, Future Sonics dual flange tips are a pretty okay pair of headphones as well. My issue with them is that THERE IS A WHOLE DRIVER IN THESE HEADPHONES DEDICATED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BASS, SO WHERE THE **** IS IT?! The treble on these things can also be really harsh depending on the recording quality, but with the right recording the midrange and treble on these can be very natural and pleasing.
So...sorry for the huge block of text, but I'd appreciate any recommendations as to a pair of headphones that I might actually enjoy. I'd also be happy to do a more detailed side-by-side comparison of any of these for anyone who's curious, or any other aspect of the sound that I didn't touch on such as soundstage/imaging, comfort, etc.
Edited by ohcrapgorillas - 6/23/14 at 12:49pm