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First high end pair of IEMs

  1. SciOC
    Ok, so I live in Iowa and don't really have shops I can demo things, so at best I could play the demo and return game, but I'm trying to decide what is my best first introduction to a TOTL IEM for about $1500 or less.

    My ears are pretty ideal for Universal fit, so I think I'll go that route rather than custom. I mostly intend to use these with a hiby R6, but could supplement equipment if needed. I own the ifi iematch 2.5, but am still a bit concerned about the r6's output impedance.

    The two most important aspects of sound to me in headphones are:
    Bass reproduction

    Knowing this, my preliminary 4 choices are:

    CA Andromeda
    CA Atlas
    Inear Prophile8
    Or buy the hype train and wait for the ibasso it04...

    Thoughts on these? All things being equal, I currently lean towards the "safe" option, the Andromeda in this case....
    1) Shure launch Kse1200 electrostat IEM. It is currently $1999 (I think local dealer may be some minus). If you like it, select a 2nd one by $1500 or less.

    2) Audeze isine20, $600
    SciOC likes this.
  3. SciOC
    Thanks, I already have the isine20. I was hoping for something a bit smoother with more "special" staging properties. I consider it mid-fi....

    I'll check into the Shure, but have never been a big fan of Shure so I'm a bit skeptical of their prices.
  4. mrears
    If you want a universal monitor you can save a huge amount of money by buying second hand. My first high end monitor was an SEM-9 that I got used on here and I've been very happy with it. I also saved a bunch of money and could resell it for about what I paid so I think it was a good decision.

    I've heard extremely good things about the Andromeda and Prophile 8 as well but I haven't had a chance to try either one. The Atlas hasn't gotten the best feedback from what I've seen, unless you want a super bass-heavy monitor.

    The best thing you can do is always try before you buy if you can. Also make sure you know what kind of signature you want before spending a ton of money, because you might find that the monitor you get is only 90% perfect, and you'll have to sell the one you bought and get something that was built around the signature you are looking for.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
    SciOC likes this.
  5. yong_shun
    Personally I like CA Andromeda the most so my comment here might be a little bias towards it. The separation and imaging is just simply amazing. Very spacious and the soundstage is very wide. All the micro details are presented very well. It might be bright for some people but I like bright sound signature so it suits my needs.

    I find that this new CA lineup has a similar sound signature to Dorado, CA hybrid TOTL which was launched around one year ago together with Vega. It stands in between Vega (King of Musical and Fun) and Andromeda (King of Details). The presentation is smoother as compared to Andromeda. The presentation is more like an art piece instead of several musical instrument playing together. The bass is deeper and more profound as compared to Andromeda. I find that the mids is slightly recessed but not as much as Vega.

    This is the best choice if you were looking for a reference IEM. This is the most reference IEM I had tried before (with the switches off). With the switches being turned on, it sounds more fun but I find the bass is a little bloated. Dark and laid back kind of sound signature. A little too dull for me as I mentioned I prefer something brighter.
    SciOC likes this.
  6. SciOC
    How does the imaging/ staging of all three compare? Honestly that's my most important consideration here. I've heard varying things in comparison of the PP8 and Andromeda. The atlas probably has my ideal tonality, but if the imaging is clearly a step down, I would take imaging over sound signature and just tweak with to my liking with EQ.
  7. yong_shun
    The difference between this three models are very minute that's why there are variation in comparison. Personally I find that Andromeda and PP8 are on the same par and Atlas lose a little bit. This is for what I listened so far.
    SciOC likes this.
  8. yong_shun
    SciOC likes this.
  9. SciOC
    Thanks. It sounds like the Andromeda may be the most interesting to me as well. I've been disappointed when I have bought headphones described as "clinical" like the PP8 is (oppo pm-3 comes to mind). I don't need a studio monitor....

    The Andromeda might lack a bit of bass presence for my taste but I have learned to very much enjoy the signature of the brainwavz b400 so I think I can live with it. Long term I may want to figure out a better way to drive them than the hiby r6 with ifi iematch though.... Probably wait for the next generation of DAPs in the range of the dx200.
  10. mrears
    If you really like bass you should probably also look into something with a dynamic driver. The empire ears bravado looks like it might suit your tastes.
  11. SciOC
    Thanks, that's only a dual driver, would that really be on the same level as the others?

    I want a clear step up from my isine20 and they go for about the same retail.
  12. mrears

    Yeah im not really sure tbh. I do think driver count is a bit of snake oil. More and more companies seem to have stopped basing prices on number of drivers.

    If the driver count bothers you (you arent crazy if it does, its kind of hard to get past for everyone i think) EE also has the whole X line but it seems like the Bravado and the Legend X are the best regardless of price for a lot of people and the Legend X is north of 2 grand.

    Having said all that I havent heard either so i cant really compare :) I dont care a huge amount about bass but if i did it seems like something with a dynamic driver would be the way to go. There are other companies with DD earphones you might want to think about as well, the Bravado is just one that seems like a really good deal that alot of people have been enjoying lately.
    SciOC likes this.
  13. SciOC
    Yep, that's why my fourth choice is to wait for the ibasso it04, but that's more of a crapshoot and it could just be ok.

    I'm not sure if it will truly measure up to the Andromeda or not, but I'm getting tired of waiting for the it04 which was my original plan. I can always sell some gear to but that one too....
  14. yong_shun
    I received my AKG N5005 yesterday and I think you can put that in your consideration too. The bass is more profound as compared to Andromeda without compromising the clarity. Very spacious and I like the treble a lot! Well extended and not fatigue causing but this is subject to personal tolerance towards treble sparkle.
    SciOC likes this.
  15. SciOC
    Cool, I'll read up on it. A wild card here I forget to ask about are the mrspeakers aeon c closed.... I tend to prefer staging aspects of IEMs, but have heard good things about the aeon c. I need closed or IEMs, my isine20 are already pushing the limits of my coworkers tolerance for my headphone habit.

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