Advice on noise-cancelling or IEM headphones
May 16, 2006 at 6:49 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 30

EHpianist

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Hello,

I will not pretend I know anything about headphones but was hoping you could help guide me towards my next purchase. I am a classical pianist and own a pair of Sennheiser HD 265 (yes, I've had these for a long long time) which are starting to sound their age. I do a lot of audio editing on my laptop (only classical piano) while traveling so I am looking for headphones with some major noise-cancellation or isolation so that I can do my work on transatlantic flights and in cars, which I couldn't with my Sennheisers. I need to be able to hear the little clicks that occur when an edit point is not properly cut though I also want to get the full range of the piano sound.

I read through a number of your past posts and gathered that the best noise-reduction comes from IEMs and that their fidelity can be quite good.

I have narrowed my search to:

Shure e4c
Westone UM2
etymotics ER4S
Super.fi 5 Pro

I am currently leaning towards the Etymotics as it seems to be the all-round favorite regarding flatness of sound though many complain about the fit. I really don't want to spend more than $250 on whatever phones I buy.

Also I plan on plugging these in directly to my laptop, I need ones that will work well without a headphone amp.

Any others I should be considering? Advice?

Thanks,

Elena
www.duoscarbo.com
 
May 16, 2006 at 6:55 PM Post #2 of 30

grawk

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Of those, for editting piano, I'd get ER4P, not ER4S. You can get the P->S cable later if you get an amp. Otherwise, teh 4Ps will do well wtih your laptop, and sound great with piano. You'll miss out on some of the impact in the bass, but that's not an awful tradeoff, imho. The UM2s sound very good, as long as you don't mind a tilt towards fun rather than accuracy.
 
May 16, 2006 at 6:58 PM Post #3 of 30

gigit

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Quote:

Originally Posted by EHpianist
Hello,

I will not pretend I know anything about headphones but was hoping you could help guide me towards my next purchase. I am a classical pianist and own a pair of Sennheiser HD 265 (yes, I've had these for a long long time) which are starting to sound their age. I do a lot of audio editing on my laptop (only classical piano) while traveling so I am looking for headphones with some major noise-cancellation or isolation so that I can do my work on transatlantic flights and in cars, which I couldn't with my Sennheisers. I need to be able to hear the little clicks that occur when an edit point is not properly cut though I also want to get the full range of the piano sound.

I read through a number of your past posts and gathered that the best noise-reduction comes from IEMs and that their fidelity can be quite good.

I have narrowed my search to:

Shure e4c
Westone UM2
etymotics ER4S
Super.fi 5 Pro

I am currently leaning towards the Etymotics as it seems to be the all-round favorite regarding flatness of sound though many complain about the fit. I really don't want to spend more than $250 on whatever phones I buy.

Also I plan on plugging these in directly to my laptop, I need ones that will work well without a headphone amp.

Any others I should be considering? Advice?

Thanks,

Elena
www.duoscarbo.com



from what i have heard from the headphones and from other people, the Ety ER-4s will have the best isolation, but lacks bass, where as the Shure e4c and Westone UM2 will have more complete sound, if i remember correctly the Shures out of the bunch have the most complete bass, though i dont know much about and never have heard the Super.fi 5 Pro. I would suggest the Ety ER-4S, but with thoes use the Shure foamies, allows for much better bass from the Etys (and usualy you can pick up a pair of ER-4 on the headphones for sale part of this forum for around $160, im not quite sure of the prices for the other IEMs mentioned though)
 
May 16, 2006 at 7:01 PM Post #5 of 30

gigit

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Quote:

Originally Posted by grawk
Of those, for editting piano, I'd get ER4P, not ER4S. You can get the P->S cable later if you get an amp. Otherwise, teh 4Ps will do well wtih your laptop, and sound great with piano. You'll miss out on some of the impact in the bass, but that's not an awful tradeoff, imho. The UM2s sound very good, as long as you don't mind a tilt towards fun rather than accuracy.


Oh yea i forgot about that P->S converter, which makes the ER4P a much more versitile IEM
 
May 16, 2006 at 7:26 PM Post #6 of 30

Lostlamb

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For plane rides I really enjoy my Sony MDR-NC11s, but I know people here don't like noise cancelling headphones because they don't like the sound, but being able to hear your music over the roar of jet engines is priceless. I don't have to crank up the volume to hear my music, and that my friend is better than a nice sounding headphone that requires you to crank up the volume to hear over the jet noise.

I really haven't tried IEMs yet...so my opinion may change.
evil_smiley.gif
 
May 16, 2006 at 7:31 PM Post #8 of 30

Lostlamb

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I know. That's why I need to try them out on my next airplane ride. For the time being my Sonys are doing me well.

EDIT: Ah, didn't see your need to do edits on your laptop. Well, noise cancelling should be avoided, they're good for making a room quiet, but not so good for sound quality. They sound a bit congested when the noise cancelling is turned on.
 
May 16, 2006 at 8:03 PM Post #9 of 30

EHpianist

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Hmmm, I just realized that the there is an ER•4B, ER•4S, ER•4P. What is the difference between the three? Also what is the P->S cable grawk refers to (sorry, I'm a newbie at all this audiophile stuff). So is the ER4P the one that sounds best without amplification?

Elena
www.duoscarbo.com
 
May 16, 2006 at 8:31 PM Post #10 of 30

lostbobby

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Quote:

Originally Posted by EHpianist
Hello,


I read through a number of your past posts and gathered that the best noise-reduction comes from IEMs and that their fidelity can be quite good.

I have narrowed my search to:

Shure e4c
Westone UM2
etymotics ER6
Super.fi 5 Pro

I am currently leaning towards the Etymotics as it seems to be the all-round favorite regarding flatness of sound though many complain about the fit. I really don't want to spend more than $250 on whatever phones I buy.




All of the above work fine on apple laptops. I use all except the Super.fi 5 pro's with Shure triple flange tip, so they all have the same quite good isolation for airplanes. The Super.fi5 pro has a larger diameter barrel, and 2-flange which doesn't really insert into my ear canal, for full isolation, you can use their grey foamies.

Since I'm not a musician/sound professional I'll say that none of these have the Sennheiser "reference sound" if that's what you're after. I really like the UM2's quality of sound reproduction, but I don't listen to solo piano much.

Maybe look at Altec im716 / PA2v2 amp combo. Never heard either but I suspect that would be most cost effective...
 
May 16, 2006 at 9:16 PM Post #12 of 30

sgprater

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I've had my ER4S IEMs for a little over a year now, and I use them quite a bit while travelling.

They do sound bright (bordering on tinny) to me, but I've become accustomed to that. The noise isolation is excellent; when they're properly inserted, you can't even hear the person sitting next to you loudly discussing their drink options with the stewardess.

The ER4S definitely sound better in a quietish environment -- I sometimes listen to them late at night at home, to totally immerse myself in the music. I've read elsewhere that the ER4Ps are better suited for noisier environments, like the street or the gym. Many have complained about the microphone effect of the cable with the ER line; it's definitely there, but if you use the little clip that comes with them to clip them to your shirt, you can all but eliminate it.

The big drawback (for me) with IEMs is their comfort level, or lack thereof -- after an hour or so, my ears start to hurt, and my head begins to feel like a balloon. I go back-and-forth between the rubber flanges and the foam inserts; the foam inserts are more comfortable, but harder for me to get a seal; the rubber flanges are less comfortable, but give me a better seal. But they all are fatiguing.
 
May 16, 2006 at 9:20 PM Post #13 of 30

sgprater

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FWIW, one of my all-time favorite music getaways is Angela Hewitt playing Bach's _The Well-Tempered Clavier_ -> Total Bithead -> ER4S. Clarity doesn't even begin to describe the experience -- it's the music of the spheres.
 
May 16, 2006 at 9:29 PM Post #15 of 30

EscaBoi

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Right now i'm using the 2-flange eartips (ER6i) with my ER4P's. The triple-flange just hurts my ears, like spgrater said. The 2-flange tips definately feel more comfortable. However, having down both the ER6i and ER4P, the ER6i's have a the better seal.
 

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