flinkenick's 17 Flagship IEM Shootout Thread (and general high-end portable audio discussion)
Aug 4, 2017 at 3:23 PM Post #3,031 of 36,025

SeeSax

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 10, 2015
Posts
2,207
Likes
3,800
Location
Bay Area, CA
So buy the warbler then. Sometimes a 4 * product can be as good as a 5* one in the right system. It's all about synergy rather than $$$.

but either way, looks like you will end up with a pretty bad ass iem

I don't think my sarcasm came through as intended. Anyway, I would love to buy the Warbler and am hoping they decide to make a universal. No customs for me unfortunately.
 
Aug 4, 2017 at 3:27 PM Post #3,032 of 36,025

Deezel177

Reviewer at The Headphone List
Joined
Feb 5, 2015
Posts
5,732
Likes
16,956
Location
Jakarta, Indonesia
I don't think my sarcasm came through as intended. Anyway, I would love to buy the Warbler and am hoping they decide to make a universal. No customs for me unfortunately.

Warbler told me they're currently working on a universal version and demo unit but progress is, in their own words, "...slow." I'm assuming it's because of their propriety acoustic chamber technology. Fingers crossed though :D
 
Aug 4, 2017 at 4:31 PM Post #3,033 of 36,025

Virtu Fortuna

Reviewer: Headfonia
Joined
Jan 12, 2014
Posts
819
Likes
762
I think Nic's done a great job with this shootout and I must say his approach is very correct and audiophile oriented towards all IEMs that participated.

While giving scores is never easy and there are always many factors and preferences regarding which one is the best, he remarked right off the start that each of these IEMs are great on their own.

Congrats to Warbler to create what it seems like an extraordinary CIEM. I hope they'll catch the demand after the shootout ends lol.
 
Aug 4, 2017 at 4:43 PM Post #3,034 of 36,025

ChrisSC

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Posts
658
Likes
161
I just did the math and you technically have two possible Top 3 orders. According to Nic's post above, the no. 3 is locked and the Top 2 are up in the air. Now, to find the one guy who guessed all 5 correct with 2 in the correct spot... (considering the 2 spots he guessed correctly are the Top 2; otherwise his post holds no merit to the equation)

I'm pretty sure that Nic said that awhile ago before switching up his order, but I could be wrong :beerchug:
 
Aug 4, 2017 at 10:19 PM Post #3,037 of 36,025

PinkyPowers

Reviewer: The Headphone List
Joined
Feb 16, 2015
Posts
6,160
Likes
6,843
Location
Kansas City, MO
can you please elaborate a bit?
are you saying the ve8 is not bright but very black background? so its detailed while tonally accurate?

And im guessing "almost worth its price tag" is considering the fact you can get a Zeus-XR with 300 less?

Tonal accuracy is indeed VE8's specialty. It doesn't do anything to wow you, not in treble, bass, or mids, but it achieves one hell of a natural sound. It is profoundly realistic, to the point I was a little bored by it. :wink:

But if tonal accuracy is your top priority, this is a prime option.

And yes, it does have a good blackness to its background. And while the details and resolution are there, they are not presented in a way meant to impress you. Again, very natural and realistic. Not hyper realism.
 
Last edited:
Aug 4, 2017 at 10:22 PM Post #3,038 of 36,025

Overkill Red

Previously known as theThirty3rd
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Posts
871
Likes
158
Had the chance to try a friend's Prelude (our ears are very similar) awhile ago, comparing it to many CIEMs and UIEMs, and I can see why it takes #4. Wanted to write something up in case anyone was really doubting like I was before.

Firstly, I feel that it's midrange tone is unmatched in its price range and it even gives the flagships a run for their money depending on your tone preferences. A truly beautiful sound that really clings to you after a few listens, especially going back and forth between the Prelude and something like a Zeus or Samba. Clarity may not seem high due to the warm tone, but I haven't heard an iem at this price that evenly articulates every note within the midrange (no emphasis on one range over the other), which does indeed lead to great transparency and a highly natural sound.

Have to agree with Nic that the treble is nicely tuned. It reminds me of a smoky music bar in a way, very warm and comfortable but not the clearest at times. People who don't listen to genres which require very sparkly treble will enjoy it I think.

The Prelude's weakness overall, however, is extension at the bass and treble regions. The bass, as Nic has noted, really doesn't extend very far and it failed a few bass tests that the higher end IEMs had no issues with (midbass for a single driver iem still kinda banging though, great job Warbler). Treble didn't suffer from this as badly but the rolloff is there. I think it's a consequence of having just a single driver. (On a side note, the soundstage size also suffers from the single driver design I believe..)

All this though, combined with easily above average technicalities (coherence, imaging, etc.) and a pretty good soundstage, leads me to think that as an overall package the Prelude is the king of the under $1900USD category (IMHO, YMMV, 2c of salt...). It could even take sales over more expensive IEMs just with its tonality. Its really that unique.

Take these impressions as you will, but I just felt like I owed it to Warbler to write this, seeing as I was filled with so much doubt over the past few weeks :wink: Really awesome job with the Prelude.
 
Last edited:
Aug 4, 2017 at 10:53 PM Post #3,039 of 36,025

subguy812

Reviewer: Audio Rabbit Hole
Joined
Jan 30, 2013
Posts
6,114
Likes
6,851
Location
Florida
Tonal accuracy is indeed VE8's specialty. It doesn't do anything to wow you, not in treble, bass, or mids, but it achieves one hell of a natural sound. It is profoundly realistic, to the point I was a little bored by it. :wink:

But if tonal accuracy is your top priority, this is a prime option.

And yes, it does have a good blackness to its background. And while the details and resolution are there, they are not presented in a way meant to impress you. Again, very natural and realistic. Not hyper realism.
I agree...a good all arounder. Jack of all trades master of tonal accuracy.
 
Aug 4, 2017 at 11:37 PM Post #3,040 of 36,025

Deezel177

Reviewer at The Headphone List
Joined
Feb 5, 2015
Posts
5,732
Likes
16,956
Location
Jakarta, Indonesia
I'm pretty sure that Nic said that awhile ago before switching up his order, but I could be wrong :beerchug:

Fair point :wink:

can you please elaborate a bit?
are you saying the ve8 is not bright but very black background? so its detailed while tonally accurate?

And im guessing "almost worth its price tag" is considering the fact you can get a Zeus-XR with 300 less?

Yes, I told a fellow Head-Fi'er via PM that what makes the VE8 special is its tonal accuracy and warmth, and the method with which it achieves its TOTL resolution; darkening the background so micro-details come through effortlessly despite their inherent warmth. @PinkyPowers explained it perfectly. The "price tag" thing was honestly more of a joke than anything, but it's honestly a very difficult price to swallow for an 8-driver. Granted, it is more than likely the best 8-driver IEM I've ever heard, but still, it's steep as heck. I also wouldn't buy an XR over the VE8, nor would I do the opposite; they are two very different IEMs doing different things especially well.
 
Aug 5, 2017 at 2:17 AM Post #3,041 of 36,025

knopi

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 18, 2008
Posts
903
Likes
223
Location
Prague
Great review @flinkenick
Also, because of its forgiving nature, I was able to revisit some of my favorite albums that sound harsh on the Zeus. As my friend puts it; "It's one of the easy-go-to iems. It's not the best in any category, but you might reach for it the most. It's very direct, smooth, natural and forward."
This remind me a little of describe Audeze LCD in some ways, LCD is not the best in term of technicality but in term of listening, natural tones/tonality (with still great accuracy, clean, atmosphere, dynamic) and many people will like it prefer it grab it over better headphone. Definitely I would like to get demo of Prelude if it will be chance in future.
 
Last edited:
Aug 5, 2017 at 3:34 AM Post #3,043 of 36,025

Wyville

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Posts
4,673
Likes
12,998
Location
NL
I don't think my sarcasm came through as intended.
I got it! :D
Anyway, I would love to buy the Warbler and am hoping they decide to make a universal. No customs for me unfortunately.
I'm in the same boat, no more customs for me. I dare say that now my left ear has recovered I can wear CIEMs for brief periods, but I notice that even with double flange tips I have to get them in right or it can cause trouble. So now I have a list of TOTL "dream IEMs" that all have universal options available (U12, Maestro V2, UE18+ Pro, H8.2) and two that will come at some point in the future (Warbler, Harmony FIBAE). Quite a list of options, but at least I have the time to think about it.
 
Aug 5, 2017 at 3:58 AM Post #3,044 of 36,025

dongster

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 23, 2016
Posts
279
Likes
143
hi Deezel177, PinkyPowers,

thanks for the feedback :)

Whats the advantage of having more drivers in the same frequency band?

I've seen explanation like allows less movement per driver thus less distortion.
But out of all these CIEMs that boast a high driver count,
A18, Tia, Zeus, VE8, Jomo Samba, UM Maestro, SE5, AAW W900,
I only found the AAW published THD on official website.
Which is a notable omission, considering how much this industry by its very nature likes to put impressive things in its marketing.

I've also seen explanation as allowing more freedom to design, but its the same frequency band, all of the 1-8 drivers in that same frequency range are acting the same. Cant imagine/find how it enables freedom.
 
Aug 5, 2017 at 4:49 AM Post #3,045 of 36,025

seamon

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 13, 2015
Posts
2,504
Likes
1,201
Location
Earth
This remind me a little of describe Audeze LCD in some ways, LCD is not the best in term of technicality but in term of listening, natural tones/tonality (with still great accuracy, clean, atmosphere, dynamic) and many people will like it prefer it grab it over better headphone. Definitely I would like to get demo of Prelude if it will be chance in future.
Imo the newer LCDs are very proficient technically. Bass extends better than HD800 and soundstage and micro detail wise, they are no slouch either.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top