Bass IEM Comparison
Jun 8, 2015 at 3:29 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 3


100+ Head-Fier
Sep 10, 2012
Hello everyone, I've been on a quest for about 6 months now, trying to find a decent IEM for sub bass and bass, while not having painful or fatiguing highs, and a decent midrange... At least to my ears... All tests exept the SE846's were done using both a sansa clip + with and without RSA Shadow amp, AND my desktop setup of foobar2000 with wasapi plugin, Schiit Modi and Magni.
I've tried the CustomArt Ei.3, Zero Audio Carbo Basso, Shure SE215-CL, Sony MDR-XB50-W, Sony XBA-H3, and Shure SE846-CL
Shure SE215-CL were EXTREMELY bright, with zero bass, i have no idea why anyone thinks they have bass, like they fell off even before the sub bass starts. barely anything audible under 60hz...
Shure SE846-CL were demod for about 2 hours at an airport electronics shop. I don't have very acute hearing, but I was still able to hear a great amount of detail, better than anything I've listened to. They come with three different inserts, somehow each of them changes the sound signature DRAMATICALLY. They come with the neutral ones installed, and there are ones for massive treble boost, and ones that give the low end a bit more grunt, but to me, not much detail, just sort of little more bass boominess, which isn't something that sounds good to me. I didn't have a portable amp at the time, but with the quad drivers, I'd imagine they'd respond very well to amping. With the neutral setting, mids and highs were very detailed, yet the highs were only barely sibilant, and not fatiguing at all, something I'm EXTREMELY sensitive to. The bass was anemic, maybe 4th best of the whole list I've tested. Definitely not good for electronic music. Classical, vocals, guitar...definitely.
Zero Audio Carbo Bassos were decent in bass, I'd say 3rd best, but the price tag really reflcts the overall sound quality, not very enjoyable, and with amping they sounded completely horrendous.
CustomArt Ei.3 were literally the worst sounding things I've ever put in or on my ears. sounded no better with amping. Zero sub bass, and i mean zero, barely any bass, highs were SUPER harsh with the silver cables, and still VERY fatiguing with the stock cables. I actually emailed Peter, about if he FORGOT the bass driver in them, and put two treble drivers in. They didn't have a single redeeming quality. I'm not exaggerating, the samsung EARBUDS that are free with a smart phone had INFINITELY more sub bass.
Sony MDR XB50 were quite boomy, and not very controlled in the bass, not my cup of tea, but came in 2nd place for sub bass amount. I also wasn't satisfied with any other part of the sound signature, and they didn't get any better with amping.
Sony XBA-H3 are a breath of fresh air. I'm still trying to find a good set of tips to fit snug in my ear, but even still, they have the nicest overall sound quality, not fatiguing in the highs, mids sound good, overall detail is good enough for me, the bass isn't boomy at all, and the sub bass is quite present, and has a decent amount of detail, the best overall sound, for my type of music, of any IEM I've listened to. They get significantly better with amping. Very enjoyable.
I settled on the Sony XBA-H3... I still much prefer my JVC HA SZ2000 for desktop listening.
Jun 8, 2015 at 9:18 AM Post #2 of 3


1000+ Head-Fier
Jun 26, 2011
Good comparo, you went from BA to something with a DD for the low end.

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