Headphone dilemma (IEMs or HD580's)
Mar 31, 2006 at 1:49 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 25


New Head-Fier
Mar 13, 2006
Hi everyone,
For years I've been ripping my CD collection (mostly classical and pop, some jazz particularly trumpet) into 320Kbps MP3s using LAME in anticipation of having a high quality rig some day. Current set up is an iPod nano with the Sony $30 IEMs. The Sonys were a big step up from buds, both from a comfort and a sonic perspective (I hate the feel of buds), but I'm looking for more.
I've been greatly desirous of the Senn 580's recently, and have even bid on a few. Just bought an older model Airhead yesterday which will be arriving soon.
And then reality struck: I'm a student now, and there's a not insubstantial chance I'll be doing a job which requires 4 days/week of travel next year. There's no way I'm carrying the 580's along with me, and I can't afford much more than $100 on the used market (for the 580's this will almost certainly have to be $120 or $125, which is the extreme upper limit). That rules out the UE 5.Pro as an option. So for IEMs in that price range, I'm looking at the ER-6i or the UE super.fi 3 Studio. Are these going to hold a candle to the 580? I heard a friend's top-of-the-line B&W bookshelf speakers recently and I'm not sure I can go back to mediocre sound....

As I see it:
1) Could buy the 580's now and live with the Sonys for the road (they're really not bad, just not audiophile by any means.
2) Could buy the IEMs now if not too bad quality.
3) Could buy the IEMs now and if disappointing save up and have something to look forward to (650? :) )
4) Could buy the 580's now and save up for the IEMs.
5) Could buy neither now and save up for the 5.Pros (would this be relatively comparable sound to the 580's without the size/openness?)

Thus the dilemma. Compactness or sonic bliss.
Mar 31, 2006 at 4:01 PM Post #2 of 25


500+ Head-Fier
Jan 14, 2004
I'd say you're limiting yourself too much. If you really want to get into the Sennheiser line a good place to start is the PX100. Many seem to think that they are 80-90% of the HD580's sound quality. And for you they have the added benefit of being portable. Then, if you want something even more portable, pick up a pair of Creative EP-630's. Nice thing is, you can pick both of these up and still be well under your budget. Also, have you considered any of the Koss portables (KSC35/75, Portapro)? They really can't be beat for the money.
Mar 31, 2006 at 4:01 PM Post #3 of 25


100+ Head-Fier
Nov 14, 2005
Hello gsk3,

you tell us you are getting a job, so that will give you extra cash in the long run... For the time being, you should evaluate your priorities and situation.

1. If you won't listen to cans much at home for the next months/year, it does not make sense to get the 580, invest in some shure, etys or UE in your price range, and they will probably (I did not listen to these IEMs myself, but that's the impression I get reading here about it) be close enough to the B&W to let you enjoy the sounds more than you think (but it won't be like listening to well placed loudspeakers, keep that in mind).

2. If you do not care so much about quality "on the go", but you will arrive home yearning for quality and will have the possibility to listen to music often at home, then get the 580s.

There is no point in waiting until you get the cash for the super.fi 5 pro, I think. In one year, you will probably earn enough to buy them right away, so why should you spend one year torturing your ears? I tell you this from my own experience... Once you get the super.fi's, and/or 650s
, you might sell the other ones.


Mar 31, 2006 at 7:09 PM Post #12 of 25


Headphoneus Supremus
May 16, 2005
I would go for the IEM here. No point buying a headphone you won't be able to use much. The 580 sounds a lot better than the Etymotic, but in one respect - detail - the Ety is comparable.
Mar 31, 2006 at 7:12 PM Post #13 of 25

Ice Nine

500+ Head-Fier
Feb 9, 2006
[size=small]Aren't the older Airheads better suited for a lower impedance headphone? If so you could go the HD-595 route or try something like the MS-1. I love the sound of my MS-1's and KSC-75's out of my PA2V2, which is from what I understand an amp better suited to lower impedance headphones.

On a side note my current favorite headphone is worth a try too, lol. The AKG K81DJ.

I have HD-580's paired with a Go-Vibe V4 (AD8620) and just love that for home listening.[/size]
Mar 31, 2006 at 7:29 PM Post #15 of 25


100+ Head-Fier
Feb 14, 2002

Originally Posted by jagorev
I would go for the IEM here. No point buying a headphone you won't be able to use much. The 580 sounds a lot better than the Etymotic, but in one respect - detail - the Ety is comparable.

I agree, it doesn't make a lot of sense to get the 580 now if your not going to be able to use them much.

Another question, do you need the isolation of IEM for portable? If not you should definitely check out the KSC-75 or PX100 like others have suggested. I haven't heard them px100 myself but there are plenty of other praises around here on the forums. I do own the ksc75 and ksc35 ... they both have sound that is worth about 3x their cost.

If you go this route you can save your money up faster for better full-size cans or IEMs in the future. BTW, the 75 is $20 at circuit city, but you can also get it on amazon for $12 (if you order something else w/ it, to make the order $25 you get free shipping).

Oh, and sorry about your wallet.

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