In Search of Non-Hissing IEMs: Replacing the Super.Fi 5 Pro
May 7, 2008 at 2:51 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 15

dehory

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A few weeks ago, the bass driver in one of my Super.Fi 5 Pros died. My 2-year warranty has expired, so I'm looking for a replacement set of IEMs rather than taking advantage of the 25% discount which UE offered me.

The biggest complaint I had with my SF5Ps was the amount of hiss coming from my iPhone and iRiver H-120 (both unamped). It greatly limited what I could actually listen to with those sources. The Ratatat remix of "Stunt 101" and Darkthrone's Transylvanian Hunger both sounded great in their own ways, but Arvo Pärt's Te Deum and Bill Evans's "Waltz For Debby" were essentially unlistenable.

Judging by posts on this board, hiss in IEMs seems linked to impedance and sensitivity. (Poor quality sources can also be an issue of course -- but given that FLACs out of my iRiver's lineout hissed as much as 128 bitrate MP3s on my iPhone, I don't think this was the problem.)

What I'd like is to find some IEMs which will definitely not hiss with either of my sources. I value pleasurable, engaging listening over analytical, flat-sounding listening (so no Etymotics), and I'd like to spend less than $200, but can spend a lot more if someone is persuasive enough. I don't want to use an impedance adaptor, and I'm happy to take a knife to a minijack to make it fit in my iPhone.

Is there any consensus as to whether, say, the relatively high impedance q-JAYS definitely do not hiss where the SF5P does? If it varies from IEM to IEM, can people report on the amount of hissing they've experienced with the iPhone and iRiver -- especially with the q-JAYS and Atrio M5s?

Some sample impedance/sensitivity specs

Super.Fi 5 - 21 ohm / 119 dB

q-JAYS - 39 Ohm / 95 dB
Atrio M5 - 32 ohm / 112 dB
Triple.Fi 10 - 32 ohms / 117 dB
SE530 - 36 ohm / 119dB
Westone UM2 - 27 ohms / 119 dB
 
May 7, 2008 at 3:14 PM Post #3 of 15

dehory

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It's bizarre to me that this problem seems so widespread with DAPs. You'd think that with more and more consumer IEMs being introduced, they would have found a solution that was more elegant than adding an attenuator...
 
May 7, 2008 at 3:26 PM Post #4 of 15

killkli

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Any attenuator is a harm to the sound quality.
If you really want such instrument, you can always get UEs.
I think most UE's IEMs got an attenuator as it's accessory.
The attenuator's resistor is about 100 ohms, which is very sufficient to filter almost all noise from your DAP.

But, if you really don't like the attenuator, then you can try Denon C751. It's not as sensible as SF5 pro.
 
May 7, 2008 at 3:32 PM Post #5 of 15

intoflatlines

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Quote:

Originally Posted by killkli /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Any attenuator is a harm to the sound quality.


That's not entirely true.. While an attenuator will alter the sound signature, whether it is for better or for worse is completely subjective.

Some people like the sound of their IEMs much better when paired with an attenuator, others don't.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
May 7, 2008 at 5:04 PM Post #6 of 15

lostbobby

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you could try inline resistors from Ultimate ears, Ety or Dr. Meier. The Ety P to S converter (75 ohms or so IIRC) works pretty well, except that i keep losing them, which gets expensive.
 
May 7, 2008 at 6:31 PM Post #7 of 15

Danosaurus

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I had a pair of SF5 Pros that I returned, not because of the hiss but because of fitting issues. I got the Sleek SA6s instead, and I hear no hiss with them. They fit easily and sound great!
Also just got some Westone UM2s that also fit great and are super comfy, but they hiss about as much as the SF5 Pros. Doesn't bother me though since I can't really hear it while the music's playing.
 
May 7, 2008 at 7:22 PM Post #8 of 15

dehory

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Danosaurus /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I got the Sleek SA6s instead, and I hear no hiss with them.


What DAP are/were you using? The Sleek SA6s would be an interesting choice. I didn't realize they had such a high (50 ohm) impedance.

Quote:

Originally Posted by lostbobby /img/forum/go_quote.gif
you could try inline resistors from Ultimate ears, Ety or Dr. Meier.


I would rather look for a pair of IEMs that don't hiss in the first place. Given that one of the great things about IEMs is how discreet and portable they are, a clunky attenuator is my last resort. (I already have one from my SF5Ps.)
 
May 7, 2008 at 8:29 PM Post #9 of 15

jinx20001

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Quote:

Originally Posted by intoflatlines /img/forum/go_quote.gif
That's not entirely true.. While an attenuator will alter the sound signature, whether it is for better or for worse is completely subjective.

Some people like the sound of their IEMs much better when paired with an attenuator, others don't.
smily_headphones1.gif



i agree with this, many people think attenuaters alter sound for the worse all the time but ive heard one or 2, in fact both shure and UE attenuaters seem to clear up artifacts and smooth out harsh frequencies, this is a good point for me, although i rarely use an attenuater i certainly like using one when i feel the need for it.

maybe they introduce artifacts, most will claim they do. is this a bad thing if the artifacts help reduce other artifacts introduced by the source being used??
confused.gif
i would say no, they do a nice job 4 me.
 
May 8, 2008 at 5:48 PM Post #10 of 15

dehory

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The best choices, it seems, for non-hissing IEMs are:

q-JAYS - low sensitivity
Atrio M5/8 - dynamic drivers
Sleek SA6 - high impedance

Which of these factors will make the most difference in terms of hiss?
 
May 8, 2008 at 11:24 PM Post #11 of 15

Danosaurus

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dehory /img/forum/go_quote.gif
What DAP are/were you using? The Sleek SA6s would be an interesting choice. I didn't realize they had such a high (50 ohm) impedance.


Directly out of my Ipod 5th gen. They sound great, I like the removeable cable and there's a wireless solution in the works...
 
May 8, 2008 at 11:35 PM Post #12 of 15

Navyblue

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I didn't notice hiss with my ER-4P and Sony NWZ-A8216. There might very well be hiss at higher volume but at my listening volume and the environment that I am in I've never notice it.
 
Jun 25, 2008 at 4:44 PM Post #13 of 15

dehory

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Just as a quick follow up, I switched to Atrio M5s and the hiss from my iPhones was indeed much decreased. The sound, too, was actually preferable to the SF5Ps. It seems to me like there are improvements year-to-year with IEMs.
 
Jun 25, 2008 at 6:49 PM Post #14 of 15

ricthaman

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I'd go for Triple.fi

You're into the UE sound signature and the Triple.fi are awsome.
I hear no hiss directly form my iPhone.

Greetz
 
Jul 3, 2008 at 9:56 AM Post #15 of 15

Spadge

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Can anyone give me an example of an attenuator? Is this the same thing as an inline volume control such as..

http://headphones.com.au/psingle?productID=352

I am using my iPAQ 210 as a portable source with my Atrio M5's and there is a slight, but noticable (on quieter tracks) background hiss. If I add a portable amp (an old Xin Mini) into the mix the hiss is pretty much gone.

Since I'm trying to be as portable as possible an inline volume controller such as the one I linked to would be more portable than the Xin amp.

Would the inline volume controller do the same job in reducing hiss as the amp?

Thanks
(and sorry if this is an obvious question)

Paul
 

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