- 98 Posts. Joined 7/2014
- Location: Guangzhou, China. From East Yorkshire, UK.
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do IEMs give more bang for buck?
- 710 Posts. Joined 6/2011
- Location: Sussex, England
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Hmmm.. Not better, just different. IEMs have their own sound as the rest of the ear is not involved - whereas full-size does bounce sound all over your ears and so is maybe more realistic when compared to speakers.
You might also theorise that IEMs are proportionally more expensive as they need to be made small and are potentially harder to work with.
It can also be the case that the 40mm or 50mm dynamic driver with a relatively flat response might be easier to produce than making several BA drivers and designing a crossover that works right. If anything in the process is cheaper for IEMs, it's shipping - manufacturers can cram more of them into a single crate than headphones, so technically each unit costs less to ship..
$300 is way above my budget, I was more just testing the principle. It kind of relates to the Chinese stuff, though. Reading the rave reviews of things like the hifiman re-400 and havi b3 pro that I can order locally for 20-30% less than back in the UK makes me question whether I really want to spend three times the cost of the havi B3 pro on a pair of over ear monitors.
A 9mm driver isn't that far handicapped vs a 50mm driver in all aspects. For one, it's at your ear canal, so provided it gets a good seal it doesn't need to throw the bass that far nor have the bass thrown all over the place around your ear with sound leaking in and out through gaps between your skin and the earpads (if not through the earpads themselves if they're porous enough). Compare that to speakers in a small room for example, though not necessarily exactly the same issues that will be dealt with - a standmount with a 6in or 7in midwoofer can have enough bass response to not only make the bass guitar audible, but the bass drums will have enough kick. Put a huge tower speaker with two 7in bass drivers, a dedicated 6in midwoofer, a midrange and a tweeter in the same room and you end up with the sound being localized to each driver instead of blending properly. Put both in a much larger room, and the 5ft tall towers will likely blend well and provide fullrange response, while the small standmount will lose low end response if you don't move your seat closer.
The real question isn't really how wide the response is but how flat they can make it. A single driver can tend to have issues with both, but that is a much bigger problem with speakers in a room than either headphones and IEMs. Some IEMs in order to produce flatter and wider fullrange sound use several Balanced Armature drivers, but then that makes for the need to design the crossover properly - on speakers think of this as similar to that multi-driver tower in a small room plus a badly designed crossover. This is why brands who don't have the same RnD budget as Westone, Shute, UE, et al so far only have 2-way BA IEMs, kind of like how many DIY speaker kits are 2-way standmounts (well, shipping costs are a factor in that too) - a more complex design can have a better potential, but also comes with a higher risk of screwing it all up.