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[Poor Man Reviews] Audio Technica ATH-IM02 - Page 3

post #31 of 87

If single BA IEMs can retail around $25, why can't dual ones retail for around $50? It's not

like they have a fancy crossover or something else to boost the price. I guess its just

the novelty of dual BA. Let's see what happens when dual BA ones become mainstream 

and extremely common. Remember when the first dual core PC processors came out?

Now many quad core ones are very inexpensive.

post #32 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by JK1 View Post
 

I'm not impressed. While it may sound good, I would like to see dual BA

IEMs priced under $100, and to eventually see ones priced under $50.

For now the only BA IEM I have is the Sony XBA-1 that I bought for $25.

The Sony XBA-H3 seems intriguing, however I would never pay $300+ for it.

If something like the XBA-H3(but not like the XBA-H1) gets under $100 I might buy it.

Unlikely. If you know how much balanced armatures cost...

 

Throw in R&D, marketing, manufacturer's profit margin, dealer's cut, the store's cut.

 

Go figure, really.

post #33 of 87
Thread Starter 

For those looking for a new review, see my DN-2000 review here.

post #34 of 87

Finally got my IM-02 from Stereo Electronics, they were out of stock since a week ago. BTW is there any need for them to "burn in"?


Edited by Thatnoob - 11/8/14 at 5:37am
post #35 of 87
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thatnoob View Post
 

Finally got my IM-02 from Stereo Electronics, they were out of stock since a week ago. BTW is there any need for them to "burn in"?

Glad that you pulled the trigger on this one!  Enjoy it...cause it's good. This is a balanced armature earphone, so no burn in necessary. However, psychological burn-in for awesomeness may be needed. 

post #36 of 87

Thanks for ur help, after using for more than 20 hours, it certainly sounds similar to the UE900 except for soundstage, btw have u tried the AT-HDC5 cable 

post #37 of 87

Thanks for ur help, after using for more than 20 hours, it certainly sounds similar to the UE900 except for soundstage, btw have u tried the AT-HDC5 cable 

post #38 of 87
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thatnoob View Post
 

Thanks for ur help, after using for more than 20 hours, it certainly sounds similar to the UE900 except for soundstage, btw have u tried the AT-HDC5 cable 

No, but I am now very tempted to go buy it....like RIGHT now....

 

Please help save my wallet and don't raise awesome suggestions! :p

post #39 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by mephiska View Post
  I'll also compare them with my Shure SE315's, though my initial impression is that my SE315's will quickly start collecting dust with the new IM02's in the house.

 

Would love to hear your thoughts now that some time has passed.

 

I am seriously considering getting some good earphones and have narrowed it down to the ATH-IM02, Shure SE215 and SE315 (got to stay under $200).  Would love to hear your thoughts vs the Shure SE315.  Comparison reviews between these are few and far between on the interwebs.

post #40 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff92k7 View Post
 

 

Would love to hear your thoughts now that some time has passed.

 

I am seriously considering getting some good earphones and have narrowed it down to the ATH-IM02, Shure SE215 and SE315 (got to stay under $200).  Would love to hear your thoughts vs the Shure SE315.  Comparison reviews between these are few and far between on the interwebs.


Hands down the IM02's are superior to the SE315's.  I ended up giving my SE315's away to a friend.  The IM02's are just much more clear sounding than the SE315's.  I would go so far as to say that the 315's just sound a bit congested in direct A:B comparison, but this is likely due to the fact that the IM02's are dual BA.  Each driver in the IM02 handles about half the frequency range of the single driver in the SE315, and the result is a more accurate sound signature.

 

Since they're roughly the same price ($165-$170 range), I can't see a reason to go with the SE315's now that the IM02 are on the market.  They just sound better from every source I've tried.  Amped, or even unamped.  I think Shure needs to drop the price of the SE315 to match the IM01 and price match the SE425's with the IM02.

post #41 of 87

Saw the IM02 on amazon for $130 which is a bargain considering it sells here in australia for $300 so i just had to pull the trigger. Currently using the Soundmagic PL50 for my portable which sounds nice for its price but being a single BA it doesnt do any one thing particularly well and leaves me wanting a bit more. The IM02 looks like a nice step up in sound quality and is a steal for that price imo.

post #42 of 87

Thanks for the help.  I ordered a set of IM02's earlier today.  Should be here on Sunday (Amazon Prime).  Now comes the most annoying part...waiting.

post #43 of 87
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff92k7 View Post
 

Thanks for the help.  I ordered a set of IM02's earlier today.  Should be here on Sunday (Amazon Prime).  Now comes the most annoying part...waiting.

Hope you like it!!!

post #44 of 87

Well, I got the IM02's yesterday and was immediately disappointed.  They didn't sound anywhere near as good as I expected.  After fiddling with them for a while and changing the ear tips around to try the different ones, I have finally gotten the IM02's to where they sound acceptable.  I couldn't get any seal at all with the small or medium Silicone tips and the large silicone tips don't sit well in my ear.  If I move around much, they don't stay in place.  I've noticed that these earphones are also very placement dependent.  They sound the best when I have them in and have a little bit of pressure on them to push them ever so slightly into my ear canal.  Their normal position is okay, but the bass and low mids suffer when they aren't being held in place. I think a lot of this is just the way my ear is shaped.  The tubes need to extend about 1mm farther to fit comfortably in my ear canal. 

 

That said, even with holding them in my ear, they just didn't sound right.  It sounded like there was a frequency peak right around 2.5kHz and then a sharp roll off above 5-6kHz.  I knew there would be a roll off in the highs somewhere because of the listed specs only going up to 16kHz.  I wish the specs would list the range for the readings.  Is it + or - 3dB, or + or -10dB.  That's a big difference.  So I did some measurements.  Based on my measurements, it looks like the frequency response was made using a + or - 15dB range, though I'm sure that the manufacturer probably has some other way of calculating it that gives them 'better' numbers.  Still, here are my results...

 

(note: it seems my account doesn't have permissions to embed images, so hopefully the links will work).

 

I ran uncompressed 24 bit 96kHz pink noise through them using a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 as the headphone amp with the volume set to about 1.4.  I then used an Audix TM-1 measurement mic back into a mic input on the Focusrite and into the computer to an RTA program.  I set the measurement mic right against the port on the various ear tips and ran the tests multiple times to ensure I had good results for each test.

 

No seal:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=EE9EAEC1D420426E%2151684

 

Without any sort of seal between the microphone and the earphones, this was the result.  Basically nothing below about 450Hz, then a sharp rise up to about 2.2kHz, followed by a plateau across to 6kHz, then a drop to 10k, a small bump again around 11.5k, then a steep dropoff ending around 16k where it goes below the chart.

 

This was pretty much expected...no seal = no bass.

 

Second, Foam:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=EE9EAEC1D420426E%2151685

 

Using the foam tips dramatically improved the low end, but it still isn't flat.  It shows up on the chart right at 20Hz, then gradually slopes up (almost ruler straight slope) to about 1.2kHz, staying flat until about 1.75kHz, then a drop to 4kHz, and the rest of the HF content is the same as without a seal.

 

The foam was the most consistent.  With making minor changes to microphone positioning, the response pretty much stayed the same.  If there was a seal with the foam, it sounded the same.

 

Third and fourth, Silicone:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=EE9EAEC1D420426E%2151686

 

Silicone was very inconsistent.  I had to take a lot more readings with the silicone to get any sort of usable readings.  It was very difficult to get a good seal with the silicone.  When I could get a good seal, I got readings very similar to the foam.  Honestly, this surprised me a lot.  Based on my own ears, I expected to see a sharp spike in high frequencies and a larger roll off of bass frequencies.  My expectations though, were way off.  The earphones themselves performed very consistently.  The biggest changes in frequency response were mainly due to differences in positioning of the earphones, the ear tips, or the microphone.

 

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=EE9EAEC1D420426E%2151687

 

What was very surprising is the graph when I could get a perfect seal with the silicone tips.  The response was practically flat from 20Hz up to about 6kHz with a bit of a spike around 2-2.5kHz.  Above 6kHz, the response was the same as all the others.  However, I should be very clear that you will never, ever get that good of a response in your ear.  This had the microphone practically touching the exit port of the earphones and there is no way you will ever get your eardrum that close to the sound port.  Moving the microphone out to normal distances resulted in the previously listed response curve. (Before anyone argues that this means silicone are better, I should point out again that the mic was practically touching the sound port and the silicone really wasn't doing much at this point.  I'm sure I would get the same response from foam if I could get the mic that close.)

 

Closing:

So in closing, there are two notable observations that I have about the ATH-IM02's.

 

First, the HF response above about 2kHz is very consistent.  It is clear that there is a bump centered around 2-2.5kHz regardless of tips, and that the HF response above 7kHz goes down hill fast.  Excepting a small bump around 12kHz, the HF response is pretty poor.  Some corrective EQ on your music player could make this better, but it is never going to work for reference quality monitoring.

 

Second, the various ear tips don't alter the sound.  It is harder to get a good seal with the silicone tips, but all the arguments about silicone sounding "better" than foam, or vice-versa are complete crap.  The tips sound the same.  The way the earphone sits in your ear is the biggest contributor to sound quality.  The choice of tips should be made on what is most comfortable, what gives you the best seal, and what allows the earphone to sit closer to your eardrum (ear shape permitting, of course).

post #45 of 87

Reading back through, I realized that I forgot to specifically note that I ended up going with the foam tips on mine.  They seem to provide the best seal in my ear as well as holding them firmly in place.  I'll probably buy a sample pack of the various foam tips available to see if the other foam shapes work better, but for now, it's just the basic, included foam tips for me.  They just seem the most forgiving for in-ear placement.

 

Additionally, I left out my subjective views of the IM02's sound quality.   Technical measurements are only one part of how you can expect something to sound.  My subjective views are as follows....

 

Because of placement in my ears, the silicone tips sound awful.  When I can get a seal, the music still sounds anemic and the highs are almost piercing.  A dagger through the eardrum and directly into my brain would be less painful.

 

The foam tips allow the earphones to sit in a better position, leading to better sound.  Bass sounds much better and the highs are almost a tad muffled.  Again, placement is everything.  Adding a little bit of pressure to get them a bit farther down my ear canal makes the sound fill out.  Bass is rich and full and highs are much more natural.  I can't say it enough, placement is everything.

 

Mids are the one high point of these.  Excepting the peak at 2-2.5kHz, the mids sound as close to perfect as I could expect.  The quality of the midrange is rich and powerful.  Midrange instruments sound exceptional and most vocals sound great.  Bass sounds present but a tad thin (again, because of placement), but it is certainly acceptable.  I've definitely heard much worse.  With a touch of HF EQ added, the highs fill out well and sound really good.  Everything becomes bright and clear.

 

Honestly, I expected better from these nearly $200 earphones.  These don't have the ruler flat reference quality sound that I expected based on other reviews, but they are still pretty good.  They are certainly better than your typical white earphones that come included with your late-model, overpriced fruit phone; but I'm not quite sure that they're worth the premium price.  Maybe I'm just too picky.  These certainly won't replace my studio monitors on my desk, or my large over the ear headphones, but they should work just fine for small, coffee shop earphones or for traveling.

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