Hello fellow head-fiers, i've been following the site for a few months but hadn't joined until now, and i need your help.
You'll see, I, as a lot of us, love hearing my music through a good pair of headphones and earphones alike.
I listen to a lot of musical genres the most notable being metal, instrumental, jazz, blues and orchestral music.
The problem is that as much as i love high-end headphones, my sound files are not the most high quality, and as is the case with a lot of metal recordings, the quality might drop a bit, and some high-end headphones can get really punishing and reveal every single harshness on the recordings and tear the tracks apart, which i really don't like.
Through reading a lot of reviews, i've found a couple of high-end-ish IEM's that have caught my attention but that i have tons of doubts about and really have the concern that perhaps might be too revealing, so i would really appreciate if you could help me decide on which to get based on your impressions.
I will list a couple of things that i am looking for in the IEM's and some things we might have to take into consideration
MUSICAL TASTES: i listen to metal, rap, rock, rock and roll, jazz, blues, punk, orchestral music, instrumental music, alternative music, percussions, celtic music, some anime music, a little bit of scram-ish metal and some michael jackson, daft punk and Queen.
I do NOT listen to Hip-Hop, Dubstep or any kind of electronic music, salsa, mambo, reggaeton, or top 40's music.
OUTPUT: All of my audio will come directly form my computer, my IPod classic and my SmartPhone (IPhone 5, thinking about changing to an HTC One m8) and will be un-amped so no audio tweaking there.
BUILD QUALITY: I've had some really bad experiences with cheaply-built earphones and headphones alike, and this is really important to me. No matter how good a pair of earphones/headphones sound, if they are fragile and will break after a couple of months i do not want them. Certainly something i am really looking for in a pair of earphones is that they are the most rugged possible. Also, as i will be buying some kinda expensive earphones, i want them to last as long as possible.
SOUND QUALITY/SOUND SIGNATURE/BOTTOM-LINE
Here's the tricky part, and the part where i really need your help. I consider my tastes of music very wide and because of this i want a pair of earphones that can handle every genre really good. I am aware that some genres will shine more than others, but i hope that at least they sound well. According to what i've heard the best signature for this is one with a slight focus on bass and mids, but i'm open to suggestion
Now the interesting part, the sound quality. As i said before, i would like to purchase the highest-end possible IEM's, but as my files are found in compressed format, i want a pair that is not revealing. I'm looking for as High-end IEM's as possible without getting revealing. If the earphones can get a really high quality without punishing poor recording quality then they are for me.
SHIPPING: Now this is not for the earphones Per-se but still important, as i live in México, not in the USA, and if i can not get the IEMs to ship here then there's no point on buying them.
COUPLE OF IEM'S: Now i'm going to list some IEMs that have caught my attention and some things that i have found about them, i'm completely open to suggestions.
Bowers and Wilkins C5: These are one of the few IEMs in this roundup that i can actually purchase here without ordering them. I've read some good reviews about these and the focus on the low-end seems to fit the desired sound signature, but some other reviewers say that it can get overpowering and that is something i do not want. As far as punishment goes, these seem to not be revealing at all, and that is something i really like. My only gripe apart form the maybe overpowering bass is the build quality, as some reviewers say the cable is rather thin.
Sony XBA-3: As well as the c5's, i can actually purchase these from a store and don't have to order them online. These are balanced armature headphones and have a sound more focused on the mids-highs and as far as reviews go these are pretty revealing and the build quality is not that great either. Definitely my least favorite according to what i've read.
Bose IE2/MIE2: Another pair that i can get from a store. These have some bad reviews because of their overpowering bass but they do not seem revealing. The build quality seems OK but i have my doubts about how good these sound.
Torque t103z: These are earphones with interchangeable filters that allow it to change its sound signature, which to me, is pretty awesome. The sound signature seems just what i was looking for and even if it isn't i could always change it up. Again, i do not know if these are revealing or not and feedback on that will be really appreciated. Also, i've heard that the chord is rather thin, plus i'm really hesitant into buying these as Torque is working on a higher-end model with the same interchangeable filter and i would hate buying these and then having the new ones come out.
SHURE SE SERIES: This is where the thing gets a little more complicated. I'm a real fan of the chord system on the SE series and i've heard some really good things about the quality of the chords, and having the possibility of changing it out once the chord dies really extends the life of these. My main concern about these is that the higher you go up in the tiers, the more revealing they COULD be, but i have never read any review that actually states whether the high-end models actually are or become revealing or whether they are or stay forgiving. Also, along the line of the SE each has its things and so i'm going to list them below.
SE 215: The bottom-tier model, the 215 is the only one that uses a dynamic system instead of a BA one. Heard really good reviews about them and definitely not revealing. The only thing stopping me from buying these is the fact that maybe higher end models of the line do sound better and are still not revealing. Also, i do not know how these compare to the C5's which is its main competitor. If it's not as good, the C5's definitely get my attention as they do seem a little higher-end without being revealing.
SE 315: I've read really unimpressive reviews about these. They say these are not worth the 100 dollar upgrade over the 215, but i've never read whether these are revealing or not. If these are not revealing still, i'll surely take them over the 215. The only things stopping me form buying them is the same as the 215.
SE 425: These shift the focus of the sound to the mid-range. I've read some rally weird reviews. There is no doubt that these are great, but some reviewers say these are even more revealing than its older brother the 535 while others say the 535 are more revealing. Really confused about these earphones. If anyone could give me feedback about these and the 535 and which one is the revealing one, i would certainly appreciate it. This could determine which ones i will get.
SE 535: The highest-tier one in this whole roundup. If i knew for a fact that these are NOT reveling i would certainly get them, no questions asked. As opposed to the 425, the 535 shifts its focus to the same place as its predecessors, the low-registers. These seem perfect in every single way, but no reviewer has stated whether these are punishing or forgiving to poor recordings, and this is the doubt that is killing me the most.
SE 846: Alright, these are not part of the roundup, i'm not willing to spend that much money on a pair of IEM's. These are here only for me to know whether they are revealing or punishing should i ever consider an upgrade from the previous roundup. Just as the 535, these seem almost perfect in every way, plus it has a removable filter system that lets you alter their sound. Almost perfect except for the doubt of whether these are really punishing or if you can actually enjoy your music regardless of poor format.
Sennheiser IE800: Exact same thing as with the 846, not actually considering them right now but rather as a possible upgrade over time. These have awesome reviews and top-notch quality. According to most reviewers, these are actually really forgiving headphones and work well with unamped sources. If that's the case, then these have definitely won my heart, but again, i would really appreciate your thoughts on that.
Again, i really need your help to help me decide between all of these, so i will leave you a summary of what i'm looking for:
-Highest-end sound possible without being revealing
-NO overpowering bass
I will really appreciate your help and any feedback to help me make a decision is welcome. Thanks
Edited by AceOfZen - 6/30/14 at 8:57pm