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In a dilemma: Should I keep my headphones or go with a custom IEM?

  1. Poetik
    Hey guys,

    I was wondering if any of you have actually gone from a dedicated headphone setup to a pure iem setup? The reason i ask is because recently I've been thinking of selling my Denons and going with a custom IEM. 

    I've given it a bit of thought and I'll provide some facts to help as well:

    -I usually only listen to my headphones for less than 1 hour a day.
    -I started going back to school recently so I'm not really in my house too often.
    -A huge reason I bought the headphones in the first place was because I live in an apartment and I can't really turn up the volume on my speakers.  However lately I've been realizing that I don't mind listening to my less than steller onkyo home theatre in a box setup at a low volume than my headphones. 
    -Every time I put on my Denons I think to myself, "I would be a damned fool to sell these".  It's a constant struggle on what to do.

    I own a pair of ie8's that I really like when I EQ the midbass out of it and I'm assuming a custom IEM would provide a more euphoric experience? I do get to demo a universal pair of custom IEM's at the end of this month though so I'm sure that will help with my decision quite a bit. 

    Maybe someone in a similar situation could offer some advice? Anything would definitely be appreciated. 

    Thanks all,

  2. average_joe Contributor
    Hopefully some of the info here will help you with your decision.  It is a matter of finding something with a sound signature you like, however, if you are going to use EQ, it will be easier to find a custom.  
    What is your price range and what universal demo will you get to audition?  What do you like most about the IE8, and what other IEMs have you had that you did/didn't like (for sound signature preferences)?
  3. Poetik


    Hey Joe, thanks for the reply. 
    The price wont really matter too much as I can pretty much afford anything after I sell my LA7000's but it would always be nice to have a little extra money in my pocket since I'm going to school.  Later on this month I'll be trying out Unique Melody's Merlin which hasn't been discussed too much.  It's a hybrid with a dynamic driver for the low end, and 2 ba's for both the mids and highs.  All the information that I've been given on it is that it'll be a bit bass heavier than the Miracle and will be around the same price range.  It seems like it will be perfect for someone like me who prefers a bassier response but would love the accuracy and precision in the mids and highs.  Shortly after I get the demo I was gonna drive down to portland to give the JH16 universal demo a try as well.
    As for the IE8's I really like how massive the sound stage is.  It really makes the transition from headphone to IEM a lot easier.  I also use a custom cable on them to flesh out the highs a bit and my source has a tight low end and crispy highs as well.  My biggest gripe with the IE8 is it's midbass which EQ's out pretty nicely but besides that, I haven't really heard much better.  I was gonna give those 1964-Q's a try but from the sound frequency charts it looks like it might be a bit too rolled off in the highs for me.
    I have to get ready for school right now but I'll add more later on today.
  4. average_joe Contributor

    So Merlin is just about ready, I didn't know.  On a similar note, I have sent my ear impressions to Thousand Sound for their TS942 which is a dynamic/dual BA.  They have not received my impressions yet, and I am not sure how long it will take, but I have heard it takes 2+ weeks for impressions to make it to China.
    I already have the EP-10 Plus, which is another dynamic/dual BA, although it is open so the isolation isn't all that great.  The EP-10 Plus does have some great qualities, although I am not all that fond of the stock tuning and find a need to EQ the mid-bass down.  You can check out my detailed comparison in my $1K vs. Headphones link in my sig, and you can see my summary reviews of my customs in the Custom IEM Resource link.
  5. Poetik


    Thanks for your insight joe, I definitely have read your review a couple times and it actually initially sparked my interest about hybrids.  As for the Merlin's, I'm not sure if they are even finished yet.  I was just told that I could demo a pair near the end of this month so we'll see how well that actually holds up.  There is absolutely no information on them at the moment so something tells me that I'll be one of the few responsible for the information that surfaces.
    Man you own a ton of customs and it looks like you're about doubling to tripling the amount you have within the next month or two.  Was it the TS842 or the TS942 you're talking about? I see that it's the TS842 in your profile and I couldn't find any information on the TS942 but it looks pretty interesting.  Honestly I only found that 1 chinese iem thread that said it was tuned like the HD650.  If that's the case then I'm assuming it'll be a little rolled off in the treble but will have great mids, and a generous amount of mid bass. 
  6. average_joe Contributor
    Yes, it is the TS842, my fingers must have been extremely fat last night.  I do have a fair number of customs on the way with the goal of checking out the differences between them.  There are quite a few and the decision is a tough one IMO since there aren't many comparisons except for the top offerings from the mainstream companies such as JH Audio, UE, Westone, and ACS.
    I am jealous about the Merlin as my last PM to the UM rep about the Merlin went unanswered; I am looking forward to your updates.
  7. rawrster
    I was not aware that the Merlin was close to being developed yet :p
    Either way this is pretty much why I don't have more than one headphone or that great a headphone rig. Most of my listening is done outside of home so either on my commute somewhere on a bus/subway or at a library, cafe or similar place with a transportable setup including a dac/amp and then a pair of customs.
  8. Poetik


    Yea it started out as just asking if I could get a demo pair of the UM Miracles but then I was told I would probably enjoy the Merlin more if I liked a bassier response.  Besides that and being told I can demo them at the end of the month, there was no other information given on it but I sure hope that I can get a chance to listen to them soon. 
    I do suppose it comes down to where you do most of your listening though.  Maybe I'll just end up getting a 1964-Q and put on a silver cable to flesh out the highs a little.  I guess we'll just have to wait until the end of the month to find out. 
  9. aamefford
    Poetik - I have the same consideration.  A BUNCH of folks ditched full size rigs after receiving the JH13's, and I think the same with the JH16's.  I'm not sure how many stuck with that path.
    I have been considering it since the advent of the JH13, but never really wanted to pony up $1200 to check them out, though if they did replace a home rig, it would be a net savings for me, by at least a little bit.
    I have ordered a pair of 1964 ears quads (yeah, I'm kind of a FOTM guy).  Once I get them, I'll evaluate whether I can sell my D7000's and maybe the desktop rig in favor of them, plus a touch 4G and Arrow.  The smaller setup really is a better fit for me, for many of the same reasons you site.  I am well past school, but my life has similar demands.  I would get to listen to more music, more often with a pocket sized rig.
    I should (hopefully) have my quads at the end of the month.  I'll report back, here or somewhere.  Keep us posted on your journey.
  10. Nuwidol
    I ditched my desktop rig (HD650, DV332) a few years back after getting a pair of UE11s. Recently replaced the 11s with a pair of JH13s & although I'm perfectly happy with them, I still find myself reading about things like the LCD 2 & drooling all over my keyboard...
  11. Poetik


    Very interesting Aamefford, I would greatly appreciate your opinion when you get a pair of those in.  Actually I might even suspend my purchasing until you reply back since your situation is almost identical to mine.  I know frequency charts aren't everything but it does appear the 1964-Q might be a little too rolled off for me. 
    Anyways I'll let you all know how it goes, I'm really considering selling my LA7000's but I won't truly know until the end of this month or early april.
  12. josesol07
    A couple of days ago I got my Unique Melody's Miracle custom IEM, and have owned the IE-8 and currently using Fischer Audio DBA-02.
    I can tell you the best thing I have done is going the custom route.
    Miracle's bass is just out of this world, plentiful, huge in a way, never overpowering, with lots of presence and incredibly balanced with rest of the audio spectrum.
    To me, is a very very refined IE-8 regarding bass and soundstage.
    Miracle's soundstage is not as expansive as IE-8, pretty close but feels fuller. And has much better definition and instrument separation.
    Now, if we talk about comfort and seal, IE-8 is a joke in comparison with Miracles!!!
    The seal I get with the Miracle is... well... a miracle!! just perfect. And extremely comfortable.
    I am loving every minute with the Miracle, is a revelation for me!
    I'd never go back to universal IEM.
    You can read my impressions on the Miracle at http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/524282/review-unique-melody-miracle-6-driver-custom-iem/90
    Hope this helps!! YMMV!!
  13. Poetik
    Still looking for some opinions. =) Btw great input jose, even though I like the ie8's I wouldn't mind a more balanced presentation.  I'd actually prefer to be more balanced than mid bass heavy but I do like a boost in the 50hz region for sub bass impact. 
  14. sphinxvc
    Meanwhile, I'm contemplating giving up on my portable set-up all together.  And I was thinking of customs too just three weeks ago.  This is not going to be easy to articulate, so bear with.  With full size phones, the music emanates from outside my ears, like all sounds in real life.  With IEMs, I'm conscious that the sounds emanate from within my ear.  I don't try to be conscious of this, and of course the isolation of IEMs has always helped with getting lost in the music, but that strange sensation always rears it's head at some point or the other.  Basically, I'm somehow conscious that the outer part of the ear has no active participation in the listening process.  That might sound weird, and I too figured it was only psychological at first.  Then I stumbled upon this page + this page, both of which explain how the outer ear is as much a part of hearing and processing spatial cues as anything else.  All in all, the full size route sounds more right to me, plus I feel it does the music more justice.
    Of course, not using your full-size rig enough to justify owning it is a perfect reason to move on.  
    Edited to add links, etc.

  15. melomaniac Contributor
    hah - bet most people here will probably shout at their screens: BOTH! BOTH!
    listening to as many IEMs as you can is important before you decide, though.

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