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Flattest, Most Neutral IEMs For Recording, Mixing, and Mastering

  1. StudioTan
    I currently own the JH13, but after using them more for this purpose, I'm finding that they're hyped a little in one way or another and wondering if their are IEMs out there that are truer to the source, which is important in my work.  I have a one-room studio and am constantly micing instruments while listening with the JH13s, as they provide great isolation in order to hear mostly what is coming through the mics.  But, what I'm hearing will dictate mic position and mic choice.  If, for example, the IEMs are slightly hyped at around 8K, then I'll tend to gravitate toward a mic that's a bit darker to compensate.  In the end, come mixdown while listening to my studio monitors, what I thought I was hearing in my IEMs sometimes isn't what I thought I was hearing at all.
    Because of this, I'm wondering about other IEMs that don't hype anything in the frequency spectrum, relatively speaking.  Something really "flat," but very fast, quick transients.  I know in these forums "revealing" is mentioned quite a bit, but I believe some may feel this way because their is a bit of hype going on, which can reveal things better, if not being entirely accurate.  I don't want this; I'd rather have flatness at the expense of this "fake" revealing.
    Some other IEMs/phones I own, and my descriptions of their sound...
    Focal Spirit PRO:  These are the flattest phones I own, but they lack a lot of transient information in the highs above 6K or so.  They seem to struggle in that area.  They're very "boring," but boring is a good attribute for what I'm looking for.  These also lack a lot of "air".
    DT880 (High Impedance Version):  A little lean in the bass overall, and slightly hyped above 8K (elevated), but faster transients than the Focals.
    Etymotic ER4S:  Very smooth in the highs but sounds like a high pass filter to me (the bass rolls off gradually - so the frequency response is relatively flat, but the whole thing is tilted upwards).
    HD600/650:  A friend of mine owns these, and I have access to them, but never liked them for my work, as they both sound muddy to me in the upper bass.
    Note that the headphones I mention above are to only give you my perception of their sound.  I'm looking specifically at IEMs.
  2. kokushu
    You can try the custom Jerry Harvey Layla.  They promise for it to be the flattest iem they create and it also design to accommodate mastering.  Try to see if you could sample the universal layla first and that would indicate the sound that you like.  I recently try the universal Layla at the burbank california site.
  3. germanturkey
    from what I hear, the NT6 is pretty neutral, apart from a slightly elevated treble.  
  4. Mooses9
    Ah darn I was going to say the er4 out of curiosity did you try the ER4P or er4s
  5. StudioTan
    Layla sounds promising but wonder how Angie would compare? Also, UERM seems like it could fair well, too, and is way less than Layla! However, the option to alter frequency balance would be a boon. What type of control does the Layla offer? Just bass?

    I have the ER4S, but they've broken too much to warrant paying $80+ every time they break. Plus, the foam tips work best for me, but irritate my ears after a couple of hours. I much prefer custom ear molds.
  6. jelt2359 Contributor
    Other options:
    Canalworks LQ05, but also a bit bass light. UERM. Angie and Layla- treble doesn't seem as smooth as the previous two. Hidition NT6 has a midbass hump and a peak in the treble that makes it not as flat imho.
    Apparently the Aclair Reference and the 1964 A10 are also tuned to be reference, but haven't heard them.
  7. StudioTan

    Thanks.  By "smooth," I'm assuming you mean relative lack of peaks and dips in the treble.  By treble, I'm guessing you mean anything above around 4K?
  8. jelt2359 Contributor

    Yes, treble evenness. The cut-off for treble is a bit fuzzy to me, some people call it anything above 2-3K, others 4-5K. Specific to the Layla and Angie though, 4K works fine as a definition.
  9. jelt2359 Contributor
    Checking the Alclair website, the RSM may be the reference one. Not sure.
  10. Phosphenetre
    OP, did you find a satisfactory IEM for this purpose?
  11. steffanan
    I'm interested too. Headphones in ear or over ear typically aren't great for working on a final mix, that's typically the job for bookshelf monitors. Unfortunately, the best custom in ears are still not anywhere near as capable as a decent set of bookshelf speakers set up properly
  12. crinacle
    Here are my votes for neutrality:

    Etymotic ER4XR
    Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors
    Ultimate Ears Referenxe Remastered
    Jomo 6R
    Perfect Seal Deca
    Empire Ears Zeus-R
    Ultimate Ears UE4 Pro
    Alclair Reference
    FitEar 333
    FitEar F111
    64 Audio A10
    Hifiman RE-00
    VSonic GR07X

    EDIT: just realised this thread is almost two years old. Hahahaha
  13. Lakers1
    Er4 and stax

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