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flinkenick's 17 Flagship IEM Shootout Thread (and general high-end portable audio discussion)

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  1. papa_mia
    Yeah. GREAT idea. Not even joking. Just dew it.
    pithyginger63 and Deezel177 like this.
  2. Deezel177
    As with many questions in the modern world. it's more than possible, but I beg the question: Why? Drivers are only several cents each; just buy 'em online.
    pithyginger63 likes this.
  3. pithyginger63
    wait wut? several cents? even in our flagship iems?
  4. papa_mia
    If 2 of your mid-tier, each can sound 70% as good as your best IEM. Break 'em. Put 'em together. Patch 'em.
    Now what you have is a over the top of the line pair of IEMs that can be at least 40% better than your top dog.
    It's basic math.
    Definitelya great idea.
    buonassi and pithyginger63 like this.
  5. pithyginger63
    where exactly does textural detail come from? I always assumed it to be the quality of drivers
  6. Deezel177
    Oh wait, scratch that - this Knowles RAB I found is $16 a pop; $9-ish in bulk. Turns out I made a massive understatement. :D

    Screen Shot 2018-11-12 at 12.23.20 PM.png

    But still, they're relatively inexpensive for home experimentation. It's easy to ask the question, "Then why do custom IEMs cost thousands of dollarzzz?!" Well, there's the months of constant tuning, experimenting, prototyping, marketing, bla.. bla... bla... Once you get your hands on a few of your own drivers, tubing and cross-overs, then you'll understand why they're so expensive and difficult to develop (the good ones; that is). :wink:

    If by textural detail you mean sharpness or definition, it's usually upper-treble-reliant. Boosting 10-12kHz will give you texture and clean lines, but boosting it too much will cause the transient of the note to overpower the harmonics and potentially introduce both brightness and leanness.
  7. papa_mia
    I think he meant to ask where does it come from, physically, other than where does it lie in the sound. You should have said it comes from a $800 silver cable...
    Anyway I enjoyed your post nonetheless.
  8. pithyginger63

    and yeah, I did mean to ask where it's from physically :D
    I think I'm also trying to ask, what exactly is it that gives larger headphones and big 2 channel speakers their levels of detail? Listening to a 2 channel system with good recordings was a big shock to me, the stage presentation, the size of the sound, the sheer detail made me start doubting the capabilities of portable audio.
    System is my uncle's old 2 speaker setup from when he was really into audio. He hasn't updated it much after buying a new house and living there. So this system is actually just sitting in a house no one lives in in a very safe location where no one would be able to steal it.
    here are some pictures, not sure what any of it is. Theres also a big subwoofer (so 2.1?) in the corner of a room which threw off some of the imaging for me, but it didn't take away from my enjoyment

    of course :p
    the thought of even just soldering is intimidating to me

    I just had another idea though.... if I find an iem that I like, and I'm somehow able to source all the parts, then theoretically I could reproduce it, though the quality of craftsmanship would be.... full of character
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
  9. Deezel177
    A lot of people are already doing that on TaoBao, for example. There are also constantly updated spreadsheets out there that detail what drivers are in X IEMs (with no mention of crossovers or tube lengths, though). You just have to know where to look. :wink:
    pithyginger63 likes this.
  10. Deezel177
    Well, I promised impressions, so let's go! :D

    Alclair Audio Electro - First Impressions

    IEMs-1 (2).jpg

    The Electro has a distinctly clear and level-headed tone. It's highly reminiscent of in-ears like the Lime Ears Model X, Kumitate Labs Meteo, Rhapsodio Eden and Vision Ears VE6X2 in that its clarity doesn't come from treble peaks or lower-mid dips - rather, it's the relationship between the top-end as a whole and the mid-bass.

    The Electro's low-end is very even-handed. This is a bass I'd comfortably call flat or reference. Now, over the years, those descriptors have unfortunately been stereotyped to mean lean or anaemic. How I'd define a reference bass is how much it alters from one track to another. If I play a Japanese acoustic track then switch to Kendrick Lamar's Alright and hear minimal changes in perceived bass quantity, then that in-ear clearly has a coloured low-end. With the Electro, that's not the case at all. When switching between genres - and even between songs within the same album - you can hear the shift in bass quantity and quality. But more importantly, I've yet to find a track where the Electro sounds dull. So, bassheads beware, but engineers and enthusiasts alike should be happy with the Electro's low-end - as long as your minimum is enough.

    Thankfully, the low-end as a whole is of high quality. The headroom the treble provides (which we will discuss later) allows the bass to rumble, reverberate and bloom whilst maintaining absolute control. Some would call this too much control - mid-bass decay is on the quicker side - but a very slight sub-bass lift does inject a bit of fun. The transition from sub- to mid- to upper-bass is well-done as well, so the low-end feels like a solid, singular unit rather than just rumble or just impact, etc. Ample extension imbues the low-end great physicality despite its middling presence; allowing it to cut through the mix very well. Pop and rock fans do not fret, it will make its presence and authority known. Warmth radiating from the mid-bass is minimal at best, but it isn’t recessed or sucked-out either - again, very even-handed; no more, no less.

    The Electro’s midrange is vibrant and engaging with a slight bias towards the upper-mids. It's forwardly placed, musical and immensely clear (we'll get to the treble soon, I promise :p). Instruments have caverns of space to radiate and render detail, so cleanliness is probably as high as it could get. It's a consistent-sounding midrange because of how evenly it balances the lower- and upper-mids, allowing it to sound pleasing and smooth with every genre of music. But perhaps, its safety is a weakness as well. The Electro's midrange echoes the A18t, the Model X and the Meteo; detailed, clean and well-balanced, but a bit two-dimensional - not in holography, but in emotional resonance and dynamic range. Instruments don't sound as enthralling or absorbing as they could possibly be. When listening to cellos or female altos, I tend to miss the bellowing thickness and beauty that the Phantom or Prelude can provide. But then again, those two don't deliver clarity and detail as readily as the Electro or A18t do either, so it's definitely a matter of preference.

    Opening-1 (1).jpg

    Now, onto the treble. :D The Electro electro-statically-charged treble is undoubtedly special. It renders detail in an unprecedentedly effortless and refined way. Much of it stems from how cleanly it performs. There aren't any brittle harmonics or bright hazes or resonances in any shape or form. Notes come and go with utmost authority, precision and speed. Of course, the natural comparison to make is against 64Audio's highly-acclaimed Tia driver. The two technologies perform with similar airiness and openness, but the key difference here is in lushness and finesse. The electrostatic drivers sound smoother and more effortless whilst rendering the same amount of detail. Treble notes sound larger, smoother and more holographic, so you get a breezier, more engaging listen with no compromise in technical performance or tone relative to Tia.

    The Electro's stage heavily benefits from this as well. The e-stat drivers serve dividends when it comes to stage structure and definition. The dimensions of the soundscape are expertly defined and unwaveringly maintained, so - for lack of a better term - bigger-picture-listening is easier than ever. You can appreciate both the small nuances and how those nuances are intricately weaved to form the final image. Consequently, stereo separation and imaging precision both excel. Expansion on its own isn't mind-blowing relative to the best the market has to offer - a touch less out-of-head than the A18t and Zeus, for example - but the air between each note is so clean, that the extra volume isn't necessary anyway. The space where the music takes place is so well-defined and well-lit, that locating and following instruments become second nature. But fortunately, this definition and clarity comes without brightness; simply by way of speed, authority and extension. Again, the overall tone is squarely neutral; just a touch brighter than what I'd consider natural. But, there's no denying that the e-stat drivers give the Electro some of the best headroom I'd heard yet - clear and precise, yet engaging and easy to listen to all the same.

    Overall, I think the Electro is a strong entry into the current landscape of TOTLs and a convincing case to how much e-stats can bring into the in-ear industry. Do I think it's a perfect IEM? Certainly not. The bass, while impressively transparent, isn't the most fun to listen to. Some would readily take the hit in spatial performance in exchange for a bit more warmth down low. I think the midrange lacks a bit of maturity and three-dimensionality. It nails evoking the fun and pop of instruments, but it lacks the warm, meaty beauty that I've gotten used to with my other in-ears. But considering how well the Electro works as I whole, I reckon my critiques are best reserved for an entirely new IEM. Nevertheless, I think the Electro is a noteworthy IEM - at its price point, especially - that many hi-fi enthusiasts will love. Audiophiles looking for a more affordable A18t or an upgrade to their Andromeda shall look no further than the Electro, and those looking to invest in a new dark horse should certainly look at Alclair Audio - these boys are in for a bigger splash. :wink:
  11. pithyginger63

    Nice impressions as always, looking forward to comparison with other dual someone tweeter configs. I wonder how much tuning can be done with these new drivers. Your shell designs are so pretty
    davidmolliere likes this.
  12. pithyginger63
    Sudden curiosity, has anyone reshelled an andromeda or a jupiter? would the taec be fkd?
  13. seamon
    Why would you reshell a Universal IEM?
    pithyginger63 likes this.
  14. Deezel177
    Thanks! Certainly be on the lookout for further comparisons. :wink:

    Ambient Acoustics are very well-known for their Andromeda custom sleeves. You should give them a Google or go on their Instagram.
    pithyginger63 likes this.
  15. pithyginger63

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