I'm sorry for coming across harsh, I guess I didn't know where you were coming from either. The reason I responded is that such a post creates ambiguity over the context of the scoring, so I felt the need to correct it.
I'll try to put it more in perspective. Right now you are enjoying Vega. Vega is a very unique iem because of the signature that results from the quantity of its bass. It sounds thick, powerful, and can be considered very engaging. However, it is also one of the most coloured signatures. As a result, it will always be very polarizing: some people feel it should be top 5, others at the bottom. But there's no doubt it can be considered a 'musical' signature. However, I can't judge iems based on musicality, because that only relies on subjective preference.
For instance, another example of a very different 'musical' iem is the NT6pro. Neither Vega nor NT6pro have a particularly accurate timbre, but are both very enjoyable. Therefore, they have a similar average signature score. However, the NT6pro is just a bit more precise overall, which is why it has a higher rank. However, there will also be iems with high signature scores and only average technical scores, and finally, iems with both.
I guess what I am trying to say is you are right that reference iems score high when it comes to performance; however technical performance does not automatically exclude a natural, fun, or 'musical' signature, rather we would like to see both.
Totally understandable, you've put in a lot of quality time and work into these reviews and we're all grateful for it. It is the only way for people who don't have access to all that great gear and don't have the chance to test it out, to soak in as much insight as we can from your reviews so that we can make an informed decision. As content as I am with the Vega, there is a good chance that one of your top 3 picks will, unfortunately for my wallet, sneak its way into consideration as a next purchase. And it would be the one which, as you mentioned, has the best combination of both technical and musical performance as far as my personal tastes.
@fuhransahis, it's just one of the misconceptions when we are new to this hobby. But technicality does not equal neutrality/reference/clinical. A couple of IEMs that have already been ranked in this shootout, are more clinical than a couple of IEMs that are yet to be ranked.
Another good example is comparing the 64Audio U12 and the Etymotic ER-4S. U12 is both technically better, as well as more fun, than the ER-4S.
I'll admit to falling victim to this newbie misconception. Some of it stems from reading about what are generally regarded as the "best", if there is such a thing, in different categories. The HD800 is held in the highest regard by many, yet you read a lot about how much of a reference sound it has, and is called boring by many. Another part if it stems from the at-length discussions over aspects of phones and IEMs that are purely technical, with very little of the feedback going back to descriptions of how the music actually sounds, as obvious as the challenges may be in describing this aspect without resorting to technicalities, if one is to be objective.
But yes, in time I'll learn to sort through it all, and all of your feedback is invaluable in knowing how my wallet will end up scorning you, while my ears will thank you.