Full Sized Cans vs. IEMs, rules have changed?
Sep 4, 2009 at 7:24 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 27

peli_kan

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In the past, it was a good rule of thumb to go with open backed full sized headphones for the best possible sound quality at so and so price. With the introduction of dozens of new IEMs along the lines of the Phonak PFE, Head-Direct RE0, Westone UM3X, and JH13 Pros at extremely high performance to price ratios, does this rule still hold true? Have IEMs actually come level with full sized headphones in sound quality, given same price range?
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 8:38 AM Post #2 of 27

bakhtiar

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But, depends on people too. There are peoples who like to listened to headphones and others not. To my ears, SQ and price/performance wise, IEMs win by large margin. Not to mention the portability and power efficiency.

TQ.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 7:23 PM Post #3 of 27

peli_kan

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bakhtiar /img/forum/go_quote.gif
But, depends on people too. There are peoples who like to listened to headphones and others not. To my ears, SQ and price/performance wise, IEMs win by large margin. Not to mention the portability and power efficiency.

TQ.



Weird, so all else aside, you prefer the SQ of IEMs over that of full sized headphones in general? That completely flips the equation from what it used to be.

I suppose that should be no surprise given that top of the line universals are no more expensive than upper-mid-range full sized cans.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 7:30 PM Post #4 of 27

Antony6555

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I don't agree at all. Iems will probably never have the imaging of full-size phones. In addition, they simply don't cannot match full-size cans in treble extension. Even iems with good treble, like the er-4S, have rolled off treble compared to full-size cans.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 7:42 PM Post #5 of 27

barleyguy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Antony6555 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I don't agree at all. Iems will probably never have the imaging of full-size phones. In addition, they simply don't cannot match full-size cans in treble extension. Even iems with good treble, like the er-4S, have rolled off treble compared to full-size cans.


X2. I agree.

Universal IEM's still do not have the same level of detail as full size cans of equivalent price. My most detailed 'phones are a pair of orthodynamics, and no universal IEM I've tried lets me hear the same level of depth. (I've heard most of the high end universals.)

Custom IEM's, like an ES3X or JH13 may be a different story. But that is a different price range ($800-1100) as well. At that price range, custom IEM's may be competitive in detail with full size cans, and may have an equally immersive (though possibly smaller) soundstage as well. I'm speaking from reading reviews in that case though.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 7:50 PM Post #6 of 27

Scott_Tarlow

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We are forgetting Amps and sources as well for the open cans. Really, u could have an Ipod + IEM and it will sound pretty damn good compared to a full size with just an Ipod in the same price range.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 8:03 PM Post #7 of 27

barleyguy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott_Tarlow /img/forum/go_quote.gif
We are forgetting Amps and sources as well for the open cans. Really, u could have an Ipod + IEM and it will sound pretty damn good compared to a full size with just an Ipod in the same price range.


Good point. Stats, orthos, high impedence cans etc. really need to have an amp to live up to their potential. IEM's can get pretty decent detail with just a music player.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 8:32 PM Post #8 of 27

Scott_Tarlow

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Right now, I am listening to my Custom TF10 pros and Pico. Sounds very good, sounds like full size cans. Custom IEM's are in a different league than Universal fit. Its pretty obvious, even having them reshelled makes a huge difference.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 8:35 PM Post #9 of 27

barleyguy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott_Tarlow /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Right now, I am listening to my Custom TF10 pros and Pico. Sounds very good, sounds like full size cans. Custom IEM's are in a different league than Universal fit. Its pretty obvious, even having them reshelled makes a huge difference.


Cool. Did you get your customs back from Unique Melody? I'm planning to do that soon too. You could post a review in the UM thread if you haven't already.
wink.gif
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 8:42 PM Post #10 of 27

rune-san

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Right now, IEMs are my main headphones. I listen to all types of music but my main interest in music is bassy and I need headphones that can reproduce that bass. I haven't known any full size cans that can reproduce the level of bass of such IEMs like the Westone 3s.. If anyone knows of any that can though I would love a full size can, even if I have to use an amp it would be a lot more relaxing to have some full cans..
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 9:19 PM Post #11 of 27

Scott_Tarlow

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rune-san /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Right now, IEMs are my main headphones. I listen to all types of music but my main interest in music is bassy and I need headphones that can reproduce that bass. I haven't known any full size cans that can reproduce the level of bass of such IEMs like the Westone 3s.. If anyone knows of any that can though I would love a full size can, even if I have to use an amp it would be a lot more relaxing to have some full cans..


Both the ESW9 and D2000's Bass destroy the w3's.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 9:34 PM Post #12 of 27

ephemere

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Quote:

Originally Posted by barleyguy /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Universal IEM's still do not have the same level of detail as full size cans of equivalent price.


I would be very interested to know what full-size cans for $170 are as detailed as the Etymotic ER-4.

I don't have a whole lot of experience with headphones, but when I was in the market for full-size cans a few years ago, I didn't find anything up to $250 that were anywhere near as detailed or as pleasing overall as the ER-4. I tried the HD600, DT880, K501, and various Grados, and none of them came close. I wish they had. I ended up with the SA5000, which was better but twice as expensive.

However, I attribute this partially to the isolation afforded by the ER-4. Compared to the cans listed above, the ER-4 with triple flanges probably achieve over 20dB of additional dynamic range in almost any practical situation. (Even in my quiet house at night, there's a significant amount of background noise.) Right there you're going to get a lot more detail "for free".
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 11:18 PM Post #13 of 27

barleyguy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ephemere /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I would be very interested to know what full-size cans for $170 are as detailed as the Etymotic ER-4.

I don't have a whole lot of experience with headphones, but when I was in the market for full-size cans a few years ago, I didn't find anything up to $250 that were anywhere near as detailed or as pleasing overall as the ER-4. I tried the HD600, DT880, K501, and various Grados, and none of them came close. I wish they had. I ended up with the SA5000, which was better but twice as expensive.

However, I attribute this partially to the isolation afforded by the ER-4. Compared to the cans listed above, the ER-4 with triple flanges probably achieve over 20dB of additional dynamic range in almost any practical situation. (Even in my quiet house at night, there's a significant amount of background noise.) Right there you're going to get a lot more detail "for free".



I haven't heard the ER-4. So I can't compare directly. But I have X10's and NE-8's, and have spent good time with the W3, UM3X, and FX500.

This will sound like crazy talk: My orthodynamics were $40 on Ebay. They are seriously more detailed than the universals above, as well as my Grado SR225i's. That may be a totally unfair comparison though, since they are used (circa 1978). Also, they need a really good amp to sound good.

I agree that the isolation issue is a big advantage for IEM's. The detail of full size open cans is only useful in a quiet environment.
 
Sep 6, 2009 at 12:00 AM Post #14 of 27

dnullify

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i'd say they've gotten pretty close. but its the experience that causes the difference. sitting back with a good book and my grado sr225i is so much more relaxing than with any of my IEMs. I like the detail and signature provided, in genera, by headphones over IEMs, though my experience may be limited.

I know people who refuse to use iems, but have the nicest desk setups. (mulitple amps, preamps). They'd rather not listen at all when on the move, than use IEMs... matte of opinion...
 
Sep 6, 2009 at 12:27 AM Post #15 of 27

ephemere

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Quote:

Originally Posted by barleyguy /img/forum/go_quote.gif
This will sound like crazy talk: My orthodynamics were $40 on Ebay. They are seriously more detailed than the universals above, as well as my Grado SR225i's. That may be a totally unfair comparison though, since they are used (circa 1978). Also, they need a really good amp to sound good.


Very interesting. I'll have to check into that. Thanks.
 

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