EST vs BA for highs
Sep 22, 2022 at 5:14 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

kmhaynes

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I've only tried a couple IEMs with EST drivers for highs (see sig line), but I'm getting the sense that EST drivers present highs that are more tame and smooth compared to BA drivers. Does that seem like a fair assessment?

I tend to prefer the higher-energy treble of BA drivers -- the Kinera Norn, with only DD and BA drivers is fantastic sounding to me, where as the ThieAudio Oracle was rather "safe" sounding.
 
Sep 23, 2022 at 10:05 AM Post #2 of 6

Redcarmoose

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I've only tried a couple IEMs with EST drivers for highs (see sig line), but I'm getting the sense that EST drivers present highs that are more tame and smooth compared to BA drivers. Does that seem like a fair assessment?

I tend to prefer the higher-energy treble of BA drivers -- the Kinera Norn, with only DD and BA drivers is fantastic sounding to me, where as the ThieAudio Oracle was rather "safe" sounding.
I have concentrated on this subject for the last year. My personal findings are limited by only owning two IEMs with EST drivers, still I hope/think that I have a good idea about them in relation to BAs. First off every IEM is its own thing. That means that there are a multitude of tones. Some BAs are incredibly steely, others are well placed so that amazingly the metallic tone in less noticeable or not at all! BAs can be enhanced at times by adding a DD to make a hybrid that offers the best of both worlds, the pin-point accuracy of BA response which can be “tuned” and the warmth and physicality of DD. Yet to want ESTs.........they do indeed offer a different tone, more diffuse and refined. Though again it is an IEM by IEM phenomenon if you agree with what they have done in implementing the ESTs.......or not.

Obviously the ESTs are more money often, and it seems even more cash when they put banks of them in. They are more complex in needing an additional piece of equipment inside the IEM to make them work. But at the end of the day, I take IEMs on their merits and tend to not focus on methodology. Though of course I do enjoy the aspect of a new style of tone emanating from the treble section.

The fact is a few IEMs show the BA to offer a very specific tone, a tone that adds character to the overall response, that is endearing. It will have you guess they built the IEM around the happenstance of what sound comes from this union. Of course maybe it is, or is not luck that they found this combination.....to replay with such tone. Such BAs are typically name brand models and there can be 2 BAs for treble and 2 BAs for mids, and the sound keeps you inthralled as to it being and offering a great level of excitement! Remember BA technology is advancing forward too, Knowles just came out with a new super-tweeter. Also again it’s placement in the way the driver is showcased. My 2 EST units are the very cheap TRN BAX, and the midpriced ISN EST50. Both are incredibly different, where the BAX is more bright and vivid, the ISN is more refined. But the next level is tuning your IEM. Meaning I found different DAPs and cables to offer windows into new areas of playback which focus thought into different and new areas. Meaning the sound comes from every piece of equipment involved.

Obviously some equipment has synergy to either optimize the characteristics or put a damper on a specific tone or character.

The end result is also very personal, as to which technology you gather your thoughts towards. Planar IEMs offer even another new and exciting avenue to walk down, finding new (and slightly different) ways of making an IEM be something you connect with.
 
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Sep 23, 2022 at 2:09 PM Post #3 of 6

kmhaynes

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I have concentrated on this subject for the last year. My personal findings are limited by only owning two IEMs with EST drivers, still I hope/think that I have a good idea about them in relation to BAs. First off every IEM is its own thing. That means that there are a multitude of tones. Some BAs are incredibly steely, others are well placed so that amazingly the metallic tone in less noticeable or not at all! BAs can be enhanced at times by adding a DD to make a hybrid that offers the best of both worlds, the pin-point accuracy of BA response which can be “tuned” and the warmth and physicality of DD. Yet to want ESTs.........they do indeed offer a different tone, more diffuse and refined. Though again it is an IEM by IEM phenomenon if you agree with what they have done in implementing the ESTs.......or not.

Obviously the ESTs are more money often, and it seems even more cash when they put banks of them in. They are more complex in needing an additional piece of equipment inside the IEM to make them work. But at the end of the day, I take IEMs on their merits and tend to not focus on methodology. Though of course I do enjoy the aspect of a new style of tone emanating from the treble section.

The fact is a few IEMs show the BA to offer a very specific tone, a tone that adds character to the overall response, that is endearing. It will have you guess they built the IEM around the happenstance of what sound comes from this union. Of course maybe it is, or is not luck that they found this combination.....to replay with such tone. Such IEMs are typically name brand models and there can be 2 BAs for treble and 2 BAs for mids, and the sound keeps you inthralled as to it being and offering a great level of excitement! Remember BA technology is advancing forward too, Knowles just came out with a new super-tweeter. Also again it’s placement in the way the driver is showcased. My 2 EST units are the very cheap TRN BAX, and the midpriced ISN EST50. Both are incredibly different, where the BAX is more bright and vivid, the ISN is more refined. But the next level is tuning your IEM. Meaning I found different DAPs and cables to offer windows into new areas of playback which focus thought into different and new areas. Meaning the sound comes from every piece of equipment involved.

Obviously some equipment has synergy to either optimize the characteristics or put a damper on a specific tone or character.

The end result is also very personal, as to which technology you gather your thoughts towards. Planar IEMs offer even another new and exciting avenue to walk down, finding new (and slightly different) ways of making an IEM be something you connect with.
Thx for the thoughts! It makes sense that it's hard to say all BA's sound this way, or all EST's sound that way due to each maker tuning their units differently.

I've also tried the 7Hz Timeless with planar, and not knowing what to expect, I found it wasn't very different sounding, but was also a little safe / dull.

It also VERY possible that my 63-year old ears don't hear nuances like they used to. I have found that in the $500 and under area, that DD + multi-BA IEMs sound the best to me. I wish I were closer to a CanJam event, or even high end audio shop, so I could sample some TOTL IEMs and get a target sound in my head.

OR, I could just enjoy what I have and quit looking for the elusive "greener grass." 😄
 
Sep 23, 2022 at 3:21 PM Post #4 of 6

Redcarmoose

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Well, the Hybrids often will offer contrasts, where there seems to be a slight broadcasting of separation in comparison to single full-range drivers. So there is a huge number of people which relate to one methodology. Meaning it’s true that just the sound of Hybrids has often displayed a “generalized” tone. Such extras as non-cohesiveness are in a way welcomed by many. The pin-point “light” of what a BA does to highlight a tone is thrilling, even if it is slightly a bolt-on. I love Hybrids. But at the same time......often there comes a single DD which goes to display a style of unification that’s hard to argue with. The single DDs often hold advantages just by their nature, still many single DDs suffer from a slight congestion of sorts. It’s funny but (it’s true) people often find one way to make music the best. There is nothing wrong with sticking to one way, but often our minds tell us this one method is best, so we hear it as best. Though maybe for our hearing it is best. Part of the reason planars are incredibly popular right now is they offer a resolution per dollar that is unique. It’s for me a strange advance in the hobby to try Planar. I only tried the technology this last 5 months. But they didn’t sound great at the start. All my three planar IEMs needed bun-in, with the first two needing about 70 hours before they started to have bass. But even then it wasn’t an instant love affair, as I needed to adjust to the positive aspects of what they bring to the table. Also often planar IEMs require even more juice.

But truly I’m with you in that the sub-$500 realm is dominated by good Hybrids. Most of the IEMs I truly love in the sub $500 come from Hybrid ideas, yet as spoke of you can’t totally generalize, as each build is its own ideas of quality, with some broadcasting intense BA timbre and other showing less, or none. That bite that BAs do in the treble region is real!
 
Sep 23, 2022 at 3:29 PM Post #5 of 6

Redcarmoose

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Such BAs are typically name brand models and there can be 2 BAs for treble and 2 BAs for mids, and the sound keeps you inthralled as to it being and offering a great level of excitement!


Correction of my first post.
 
Sep 23, 2022 at 3:37 PM Post #6 of 6

Redcarmoose

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Thx for the thoughts! It makes sense that it's hard to say all BA's sound this way, or all EST's sound that way due to each maker tuning their units differently.

I've also tried the 7Hz Timeless with planar, and not knowing what to expect, I found it wasn't very different sounding, but was also a little safe / dull.

It also VERY possible that my 63-year old ears don't hear nuances like they used to. I have found that in the $500 and under area, that DD + multi-BA IEMs sound the best to me. I wish I were closer to a CanJam event, or even high end audio shop, so I could sample some TOTL IEMs and get a target sound in my head.

OR, I could just enjoy what I have and quit looking for the elusive "greener grass." 😄
Much of this hobby is a form of consumerism, where there is a thrill of hearing a new idea, if it resonates with your hearing and tonal values remains questionable. The newness can wear off, as somehow the hearing of IEMs slightly changes and you begin to figure out the complete sound signature. Then at that point sometimes a cable or tip change will bring about new found excitement.


But recently I have become more influenced by what cables can do. Getting the ISN SC4 cable has been a watershed event. Such cable will take an IEM which is on the slight bass laden side and influence the imaging and bass, even at times making the IEM not as well rounded, but 80% of the time adding to enjoyment. I’m such a promoter of such silly nonsense, when I always knew cables had a slight influence, but never as much as I believe.....currently? And again, maybe it’s partially in the mind. What ever you believe as the outcome can add expectation bias, which is then self-fulfilling.......making what you think will happen, happen!
 
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