IEMs vs Full-sized headphones

In general, in a controlled environment, and price no object, I would choose:


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Apr 18, 2020 at 10:37 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

IEMusic

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I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority, but I actually prefer the sound of IEMs more than the sound of headphones (open and closed HPs) overall. I know they are fundamentally different, and soundstage from an open HP is far superior to most IEMs, but soundstage is not that big a deal to me personally. I like the more intimate and isolated sound of IEMs....always have. Size, portability, and convenience are added bonuses. I’m not knocking HPs at all, this is just my preference. I’m just curious if this is an odd opinion. Do most people use IEMs as a compromise, due to functionality?
 
Apr 18, 2020 at 11:11 AM Post #4 of 16

baskingshark

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I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority, but I actually prefer the sound of IEMs more than the sound of headphones (open and closed HPs) overall. I know they are fundamentally different, and soundstage from an open HP is far superior to most IEMs, but soundstage is not that big a deal to me personally. I like the more intimate and isolated sound of IEMs....always have. Size, portability, and convenience are added bonuses. I’m not knocking HPs at all, this is just my preference. I’m just curious if this is an odd opinion. Do most people use IEMs as a compromise, due to functionality?

Personally I prefer IEMs over headphones for a few reasons:
1) Generally, IEMs have better isolation and portability - as I commute a lot and also use my IEMs for stage monitoring. Outdoors and in transit and noisy environments, bass frequencies are usually the first to be lost with poor isolation, so IEMs (with a good seal) help preserve the bass and details, and allow a lower volume of music to be played, which is good for longterm hearing health.

2) Most IEMs are generally pretty drivable, unlike certain full sized high impedance cans and even high impedance earbuds, so no need for additional gear/sources on the go usually.

3) Cans may be uncomfortable for some folks wearing specs and in hot weather.

Cans usually have better soundstage than IEMs as u say, but I think imaging and instrument placement is of more importance than actual soundstage width for monitoring purposes. In the past few years, CHIFI has also advanced very rapidly such that I would say some CHIFI IEMs can compete or exceed western budget/midfi IEMs at a fraction of the western gear's pricing. The advances in CHIFI IEMs seem to be much more rapid than in CHIFI headphones, and I feel headphones are generally still dominated by the western, german and japanese brands. So from a price to performance ratio perspective, I would also pick CHIFI IEMs over headphones.

Well this hobby is very subjective, I have friends who love their headphones over IEMs, but we have many choices in this hobby, and YMMV!
 
Apr 18, 2020 at 3:55 PM Post #5 of 16

buonassi

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You're posting the poll in the 'portable audio' section so I'd expect there to be more votes for IEMs.

Or was it your intention to only poll iem users to determine if they'd still pick IEMs in a controlled environment?
 
Apr 18, 2020 at 3:58 PM Post #6 of 16

IEMusic

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You're posting the poll in the 'portable audio' section so I'd expect there to be more votes for IEMs.

Or was it your intention to only poll iem users to determine if they'd still pick IEMs in a controlled environment?
I was just gonna start a thread for discussion b/c I am curious about other opinions, but then decided to add a poll. Afterwards, I realized the bias about where I was posting. This really should be in a more neutral section, b/c I want to here the opinions of those that prefer their cans.
 
Apr 18, 2020 at 4:39 PM Post #7 of 16

1TrickPony

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I've always been a pro iem jock. Convenient, portable, and nifty for its sound quality based on available technology (look at the size of these things!).

I've said this before. Nothing beats the unencumbered feeling of a open back. My 660S is my default timbre king and reference (esp for jazz). Had to buy the elears for that exciting bass and just goodness in dynamics (altogether costed me 700$ new; couldn't pass up knowing I'm not keen on the hype surge of costly iems).

That said, I find my home base in iems, coz I am in a vocalist binge as of late. Iems can really, really nail it for me!

Edit: OP you should do a secondary poll then, and see where that goes. #brainfart
 
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Apr 18, 2020 at 5:36 PM Post #8 of 16

IEMusic

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I've always been a pro iem jock. Convenient, portable, and nifty for its sound quality based on available technology (look at the size of these things!).

I've said this before. Nothing beats the unencumbered feeling of a open back. My 660S is my default timbre king and reference (esp for jazz). Had to buy the elears for that exciting bass and just goodness in dynamics (altogether costed me 700$ new; couldn't pass up knowing I'm not keen on the hype surge of costly iems).

That said, I find my home base in iems, coz I am in a vocalist binge as of late. Iems can really, really nail it for me!

Edit: OP you should do a secondary poll then, and see where that goes. #brainfart
Which forum would you recommend?
 
Apr 19, 2020 at 10:30 PM Post #12 of 16

Tybot

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I have a set of LCD-3 as my only real set of full sized headphones. My listening season is about October through April. After that, my ears get hot with almost all full sized headphones. I much prefer IEMs for that reason and have grown to like the sound better as well. Also sleep with IEMs in. Very hard to do with full sized.
 
Apr 20, 2020 at 3:40 AM Post #13 of 16

Blackwoof

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Full sized headphones are overhyped, The ER4XR/ER3SE(EQ'd) sound better to me than anything i had. With well tuned BA headphones the only gains i see from a full size, Is a LCD or HE400i in the planar verse. Since detail/res is the same or better wither BA or planar. I remember my ER4XR outperforming my then Shure SRH1540 for detail/res & bass decay from being BA based.

This really should be in a more neutral section, b/c I want to here the opinions of those that prefer their cans.

I highly doubt the Full size section wouldn't be any more bias free. Without someone getting sore over the ER4P/S detail/res levels & why it has no soundstage ignoring the HD650 is more narrow.
 
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Apr 20, 2020 at 8:38 AM Post #15 of 16

Peddler

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Given that for most recordings, the 'sound stage' is somewhat artificial anyway, I think I prefer IEM's for most of my listening although I do go back to my full-sized cans pretty frequently. At the moment I tend to listen to wireless IEM's - which have come on leaps and bounds in the last year or so.
 

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