High Quality IEMs for work?
Jan 13, 2008 at 4:39 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12


New Head-Fier
Dec 13, 2007
I need to buy some good IEMs for work, where I listen to my 5.5G iPod about 6 hours daily.

Full-sized cans aren't really an option because headphones aren't normally allowed in my office (I use them as a disability accomodation) so I like to be somewhat discreet. It's common knowledge that I have a special need and am able to have music when I need it, but I prefer not to be obnoxious about it.

I listen mainly to stuff like James Taylor, Paul Simon, Sheryl Crow, Queen, Jimmy Smith, Eddie Daniels, some classical.

I'm currently using Shure E3Cs and am not thrilled with them. Cost isn't important. For work I'm not using using an amp, but am considering changing that.

Thanks for your input.

Jan 13, 2008 at 4:46 PM Post #2 of 12
A set of custom monitors can be verry discreat. Most people don't notice when i have mine in and they are blue, but you can get clear or skin toned which are extreamly hard to see or look like hearing aids.
Jan 13, 2008 at 5:03 PM Post #3 of 12
You could also consider the q-jays or the er-6is. Never heard them before, but my friend has the er-6is and they're tiny and barely visible when its in his ears. Also, the q-jays r supposedly the smallest(?) IEMs available right now.
Jan 13, 2008 at 5:53 PM Post #5 of 12

Originally Posted by DLRStudio /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'm currently using Shure E3Cs and am not thrilled with them.

I've got a pair of those as well and feel the same. I have had them a year and recently had them replaced under warranty due to the right 'phone dying. While waiting for them to be sent, I used the Etymotic ER6i that I use at home and realized how much I like those again. When I got the replacements from Shure (now called SCL3) a couple months back, I thought maybe I would like them more because they were new and possibly whatever caused the right 'phone to die made the sound unpleasant. Wrong. In the two months I've had those, I've hardly listened to them. I took my ER6i back to work and it's been heaven. Funny - they're half the price of the Shure's and I like them three times as much. You might want to look into them.
Jan 13, 2008 at 7:02 PM Post #6 of 12
Westone UM1 or UM2 - very comfortable and very discreet. You can use them with a wide variety of Westone, Ety and Shure tips , so you can experiment to find what you like best. They are also very efficient, so you really don't need an amp. They sit flush with your ear and have very good sound isolation. I have no problem even sleeping on my side and wearing the UM1. Some folks don't like the SQ, but I find them quite pleasant. They seem fairly neutral, and really don't stand-out at any particular frequency. I suspect that probably leads to some of the less favorable comments - they probably aren't for either bass-heads or people that like lots of sparkle in the highs.

I wish I could afford the UM2 (well, actually I wish they were cheaper!), so I could have all the advantages of the UM1 in a dual-driver design, but for my needs the UM1 does very well.
Jan 13, 2008 at 11:56 PM Post #7 of 12
Thanks for the suggestions. I'm always open for more.
I'm looking at the UM2. I do like the neutral sound, rather than bass heavy. I like the highs to be clear and separated. I think these may fit the bill.
I've heard good things about Stax, but I don't think I've read any comments about their in-ear. Any thoughts?
I also considered the ER4Ps, but since I'm unhappy with the E3C, I'm hestitant to try another Shur right now. I know they're an upgrade, but I think I'd rather look at something totally different.
I'll probably order something tomorrow. Any new suggestions before then are welcome.
Jan 14, 2008 at 1:57 AM Post #9 of 12
Ugh. Of course it is. My lack of sleep is for a few days is showing. Probably time to stop thinking about this til I've gotten a night's sleep (wish me luck with that!).

Jan 14, 2008 at 1:03 PM Post #11 of 12
I find customs to be very easy to insert and remove compared to full-size headphones. Also, I usually find myself not needing to remove customs or any IEMs in general to have a conversation, as my hearing is still sensitive enough to make out what's being said.

As far as the Stax system goes - I find the ES2 to be generally better, but the Stax system is terrific value for the money (provided you get it at Audiocubes prices and not US retail). It doesn't isolate at all since it is actually an open headphone, but it does sound like a full-size headphone and not like an IEM. It sounds warm, with a very clear but punchy bass and rather forward, liquid, and organic mids. The treble is rolled off, and the soundstage is a bit limited. However there is a lot of detail, and transient response is the 2d fastest I've heard out of any headphone period (TakeT H2 being #1). It's a very good system for rock and jazz, being ideally tonally balanced for it, but it is capable enough to deal with just about any genre. It may not have enough soundstage for full-size orchestral works, but not many portables will. It is bloody uncomfortable, though.

Go with either that, or with a good set of customs. If price is not an issue, go straight to the top and get the UE11, or if you want to be a bit more frugal but still want top quality, get the ES2. Livewires and the like are a solid budget option.
Jan 14, 2008 at 4:46 PM Post #12 of 12
I will only add that if duration is a consideration, UM2s are definitely a good candidate. 3-4 hr sessions are easily accomplished with no issues, and 5 or 6 hr sessions are feasable (although I'm not sure how healthy continual lengthy sessions are for your ears!). The biggest hurdle seems to be finding the right tip, once you do it is nEARvana... My only other issue with UM2s was the sound sig shock of coming off of Ety ER4s. The UM2s initially sounded a little boomy and/or muddy, but after about 10-12 hrs. of 'brain-in' they sounded clear and balanced, and I haven't looked back since. Good luck.

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