$1k IEM Recommendation
Dec 28, 2021 at 12:46 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 33

kadinh

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once again, looking for recommendations on a new IEM to try out (my gear in my sig). currently, top contenders are:

- Monarch MKII top choice right now
- MEST MKII
- Sony M9 prob not since i have the Z1R
- Oriolis Isaballe + Dunu Zen Pro
- IE 900 prob not since Z1R has similar tuning
- Andromeda 2020

would also be open to getting two $500 IEMs (like Variations, Blessing2 Dusk, OG Monarch)

thx in advance
 
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Dec 29, 2021 at 2:54 AM Post #2 of 33

surfgeorge

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I have the M9 and the Variations and sold the Blessing 2 a couple of months ago.

The M9 is really, really good but quite sensitive to tips and fit.
It is always highly detailed while successfully avoiding BA issues, but the included cable - while supremely comfortable - is a little soft and warm sounding. Adding a CEMA PS cable opened up the sound and stage. Tips can make them sound anywhere from soft and bass light to crisp, open, with punchy and extended bass with the Moondrop Spring tips, which are my current favorites.

The Variations are really good as well, smooth and clean with good detail and clean, powerful (sometimes almost overpowering) bass.
They sound a little thin though in the lower mids and can’t keep up with the M9 on detail, crispness and treble extension. But I still use them a lot, maybe more than the M9 simply because I mostly use the M9 for desktop listening with the Hugo 2, while the Variations are used mostly on the go with the Mojo or just the phone.

I would not recommend the Blessing 2 (Dusk) because the bass lacks detail and texture and the mids can sound grainy. Staging is also far behind the Variations, let alone the M9. Overall I found the B2 didn’t live up to the hype for me. I did emulate the Dusk tuning with PEQ and it improved the B2, but technically it‘s just bottlenecked.

I have not heard the Mest and Monarchs, but have to say the Monarch II looks very Intriguing - I’d expect it to sound like an improved Variations. Based on everything I read I don’t expect it to beat the M9, but with your IEM collection I think the Monarch would add an interesting, different flavor.
About the Mest I just want to mention that I read several statements that the MKII is not really an improvement.
 
Dec 30, 2021 at 4:16 PM Post #3 of 33

silent-circuit

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Empire Ears Bravado MK2. :wink:
 
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Dec 30, 2021 at 5:23 PM Post #4 of 33

Neweymatt

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Have you tried or considered Campfire Andro2020?

I see you have IER-Z1R, which I find to be highly contrasting/complimentary to the Andro. Where the Z1R can be lacking in the mids, this is Andro's greatest strength. Conversely, Z1R sub-bass reaches very deep with longer decay that I find creates that cavernous hall-like stage. Andro creates its own beautiful staging and imaging from it's emphasis on the upper frequencies instead.

What they both share is a highly engaging and musical presentation, either of which I can get completely lost in. They just get there in very different ways.
 
Dec 30, 2021 at 7:58 PM Post #5 of 33

HiFiHawaii808

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once again, looking for recommendations on a new IEM to try out (my gear in my sig). currently, top contenders are:

- Monarch MKII
- MEST MKII
- Sony M9

would also be open to getting two $500 IEMs (like Variations, Blessing2:Dusk, OG Monarch)

thx in advance
I think Monarch mkii > Sony IER-M9. I own both and mkii is better.

The choice between MEST mkii and Monarch mkii is reference vs fun tuning. It depends on what you are seeking. Both are great. It just depends on what you like more. MEST is more bassy and has recessed upper mids. If you have trouble with upper mids and shoutiness, MEST mkii might be better for you. But, it's really fun tuning.

If you want multiple IEMs, I would recommend Oriolus Isabellae, 7hz Timeless and Blessing 2 Dusk. That would be around $1000 and they are all great and different sounding IEMs. Would I prefer Monarch mkii over Isa, Timeless and Dusk? Probably not.

graph Monarch mkii MEST mkii.png
 
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Dec 31, 2021 at 12:12 AM Post #6 of 33

kadinh

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I think Monarch mkii > Sony IER-M9. I own both and mkii is better.

The choice between MEST mkii and Monarch mkii is reference vs fun tuning. It depends on what you are seeking. Both are great. It just depends on what you like more. MEST is more bassy and has recessed upper mids. If you have trouble with upper mids and shoutiness, MEST mkii might be better for you. But, it's really fun tuning.

If you want multiple IEMs, I would recommend Oriolus Isabellae, 7hz Timeless and Blessing 2 Dusk. That would be around $1000 and they are all great and different sounding IEMs. Would I prefer Monarch mkii over Isa, Timeless and Dusk? Probably not.

graph Monarch mkii MEST mkii.png
I have been interested in the Isa and Dusk, really liked the Timeless but have been wanting the Monarch OG since it released. Good suggestions tho. I’ll still be open to all 3 tho.
 
Dec 31, 2021 at 10:12 AM Post #7 of 33

kadinh

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If you want multiple IEMs, I would recommend Oriolus Isabellae, 7hz Timeless and Blessing 2 Dusk. That would be around $1000 and they are all great and different sounding IEMs. Would I prefer Monarch mkii over Isa, Timeless and Dusk? Probably not.
for argument's sake, what do you think Variations vs Timeless + Dusk?
 
Jan 11, 2022 at 6:21 PM Post #8 of 33

kadinh

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OP edited to show different options
 
Jan 12, 2022 at 12:16 AM Post #9 of 33

surfgeorge

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for argument's sake, what do you think Variations vs Timeless + Dusk?
Variations on a good source is quite a big step up from the Blessing 2 IMO.
B2 has limitations in bass quality, occasional grain in upper midrange and treble and so-so staging and separation.
Variations solves all these. Although described as neutral with bass boost, to me the bass can be overwhelming, and lower mids are quite thin sounding.
I am mostly comparing to the M9 which are much more balanced and and natural to my ears. Detail is also a lot better on the M9.
Considering that I paid $700 for the M9 and $500 for the Variations, the M9 was the way better deal.
 
Jan 14, 2022 at 7:27 PM Post #10 of 33

lostrockets

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just got variations as my first and had a very similar list as yours OP, with addition of dunu sa6. did u decide?

currently contemplating if i should try the sa6 along with mest mkii or monarch mkii. these would be paired at home with my elekit 8200 tube amp
 
Jan 14, 2022 at 8:41 PM Post #11 of 33

HiFiHawaii808

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for argument's sake, what do you think Variations vs Timeless + Dusk?
Just saw this post. I have not heard the Variations.
 
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Jan 15, 2022 at 11:21 AM Post #12 of 33

kadinh

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just got variations as my first and had a very similar list as yours OP, with addition of dunu sa6. did u decide?

currently contemplating if i should try the sa6 along with mest mkii or monarch mkii. these would be paired at home with my elekit 8200 tube amp
Pretty sure I'm going with the Monarch MKII. I'll always wonder how much better they might be than the Variations or whatever else.
 
Jan 17, 2022 at 7:04 AM Post #14 of 33

surfgeorge

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Got a $1k to spend. Just how much Monarch MKII is better than Variations?
These might help:
https://www.headphones.com/community/reviews-learning-and-news/thieaudio-monarch-mkii-review
https://www.headphones.com/community/reviews-learning-and-news/moondrop-variations-review
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pUCELfWO-G33u82H42J8G_WX1odnOYBJsBNbVskQVt8/edit?usp=sharing
More thoughts on the Variations: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/precogs-iem-reviews-impressions.937468/post-16754428

Only "one guy's" take but Precog is one of the most experienced and critical reviewers IMO
That makes his take exceptionally valuable.

Personally I find the Monarch 2 frequency response very intriguing, since it seems to address the exact points I have slight issues with on the Variations: too much sub bass and a somewhat thin midrange.
 
Jan 17, 2022 at 8:06 AM Post #15 of 33

bombom

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These might help:
https://www.headphones.com/community/reviews-learning-and-news/thieaudio-monarch-mkii-review
https://www.headphones.com/community/reviews-learning-and-news/moondrop-variations-review
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pUCELfWO-G33u82H42J8G_WX1odnOYBJsBNbVskQVt8/edit?usp=sharing
More thoughts on the Variations: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/precogs-iem-reviews-impressions.937468/post-16754428

Only "one guy's" take but Precog is one of the most experienced and critical reviewers IMO
That makes his take exceptionally valuable.

Personally I find the Monarch 2 frequency response very intriguing, since it seems to address the exact points I have slight issues with on the Variations: too much sub bass and a somewhat thin midrange.
Great. Thank you a lot. MK2 seems to be quite big and I am afraid that it won't fit me :frowning2: Otherwise would go for it in a heartbeat.
 

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