Listening tests UE10 and Senaphonics 2X
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Tyll Hertsens

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I reckon I'm one of a very few, if any, that have had a chance to listen to both of these top-of-the-line IEMs. It's a tough job etc. I thought I oughta post some impressions for those interested in shelling out big bucks on tiny cans.

I've had my UE10s for quite some time now and LOVE them I think they are the best audio transducers I've ever heard. I was thrilled when Mike Santucci of Sensaphonics agreed to a little trade: a Micro Stack for a pair of ProPhonic SOFT 2X IEMs. They came yesterday, and I've had enough time switching back and forth to get a good first impression. And they are VERY good, too. In fact, the most difficult part of testing these cans is that it takes so much fidgeting to switch between them that you don't get a quick comparison, so you have to listen for a while on one, then listen for a while on the other.

Both these cans are world class. Both have very good extension at both the high and low end, and are well balanced and integrated; meaning both are seemless and smooth through the entire frequency responce range. To my ear the UE10 is a slightly warmer and rounder sound than the 2X. They might be a touch too full in the bass, but only ever so slightly and certainly without a whiff of bloat. And the mids seem to be a bit lusher than the 2X. The impression I got of the 2X was that they were slightly dry sounding in comparison, but I got no sense of withdrawn midrange at all.

The 2X is a soft silicon earpiece, the UE10 is a harder but still slightly flexable appliance. (I think you have some options from Ultimate Ears there.) The 2X was a little more difficult to insert as it squished around a little bit, the UE10 could be pushed in with a bit more authority, though a little less comfort during insert. Both these cans were comfortable installed, but the edge here may go with the 2X as its a little more compliant during jaw movements. It was easier to take out the UE10 as the earpieces I have are slightly larger and stiffer than the 2X and therefor a little easier to get a grip on to tug out.

In summary I'd say that both are great. Go for the UE10 if you like things a little lush, the 2X if you like things articulate. Or get both. After all, if you can afford one...
 
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Hey there Tyll, thanks for the impressions... couldn't have come at a better time


Just a few quick questions, do you have a headphone thats sonic signature mimics that of these cans, just so I have a comparison before I take the plunge.

Also I'm on a bit of a tighter budget and am leaning toward the UE5C due to this, which simular to your findings is said to have a bit 'to' much bass. Have you had any luck EQing the bass on the UE's down as I imagine you would get simular success in both cases.

Thanks in advance for your responce.
Cheers
Jake
 
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Tyll Hertsens

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I have to say that I'd be tempted to take the Shure E4 over the UE5. I think the UE5 really does have too much bass. And though the E4 is a bit shy of the highest highs, and not custom fit, of course, I'd say they are more balanced on the whole than the UE5.

It's very hard to compare these two IEMs to any regular cans because there just aren't any in this league, IMHO. If the UE10 sound close to anything it's the 2X. There really isn't very much difference between them; please read my comments as just the finest of distinctions. To a first, and even second aproximation, these cans are perfect.

I know it's a stretch, but if you're willing to shell out serious bucks for the UE5, it may be worth just getting more serious about it and saving up for the UE10 or 2X.
 
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Thanks for the post Tyll, I've been considering getting one of them and every impression helps!
 
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Hello Tyll,

Good to hear a comparison from you! I'm surprised that you say the UE's are more lush sounding than the Sensas - it seems like most other people here who have heard both say that the UE-10 Pros sound more forward with faster attack (more immediately apparent detail?) and in some cases with a shrill high-end compared to the Sensas. Since you seem to be such a long-time fan of the Sennheiser HD-600/650s, I'm assuming that you are basing your opinions using those as a reference (is this correct?) - and given that you really like both the Senns and UE's a lot I'm sort of inferring that both share a similar sound signature. And of course, now the Sensas as well.

What do you think about them in comparison to the Etys? The Etys definately have a very different sonic presentation in comparison to the Senn HD650/600s, and I remember that you really liked them as well.

Anyway, I thought that your comment about the UEs possibly having bass "too full" was very interesting and in some way correlated to what I felt about the UE-10 Pros. So, to share my UE-10 Pro experience...

I actually purchased a pair of UE-10 Pros through HeadRoom about a month ago or so, I had a few fit problems (which I am not worried about since I can get them fixed) but most importantly the sound was actually honestly... pretty awful.

In short - I feel too much bass that literally swallows up the mids and highs and recessed mids. The bass wasn't just "too much" - that would have been OK by itself but the amount of bass seems to somehow compress and kill the rest of the spectrum. I've listened to several headphones (including ER-4S/P and HD-650 among many) with bass boost jacked up on my old PPA that my eardrums hurt but never in these cases the increased bass distort the mids and highs so much.

And I don't think it's specific to my ear as the Etys sound perfectly amazing and my impressions of the Etys correlate very well with others' impressions.

Someone here once posted a while back that by accident he/she recieved a pair of UE-7 Pros mislabeled as UE-10 Pros. With my UE-10 Pros, I feel like I am listening to the bass-heavy UE-7 Pros as well.

Anyway, I've gotten another ear impression made and have sent them in to UE for a new fit, hopefully this time things will be a bit different. I love my Etys - they do have boosted mids (which can be a blessing sometimes but not always) and recessed bass - I'm hoping that when I get my UE-10 Pros back they will really trump the Etys.

But, as they stand now - they are quite underwhelming. The bass makes mids and highs colored (distorted) and everything just sounds off. I would listen to the Etys any day over the UE-10 Pros at the moment - only if it wasn't for the price I paid I would not give them a second thought.

What worked was using a software EQ and dropping bass from 20~500 Hz by about 3~5dB (in a sort of U-shaped curve that reflects the freq. response charts on the UE custom fit models). Bass decreases, and with it the mids and highs magically come out, as if there's more room to breathe for them to come alive. A lot of the coloration/distortion in the mids and highs are gone after this, and the phones start sounding very nice. I still feel the mids are a bit recessed but at least things sound "right" and sound very good in a different way. More neutral? I don't know, but after getting used to the EQ'ed UE sound for a few hours I don't have any complaints and everything sounds very nice. Of course, there is still a ton of bass even with the EQ adjustment that if I turn up the volume a bit bass-heavy tracks do shake my eardrums quite a bit.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to share my UE-10 Pro experiences. I will post some more impressions when I receive the fixed one back from UE later. Hopefully it will be a much more positive experience.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Tyll Hertsens
I have to say that I'd be tempted to take the Shure E4 over the UE5. I think the UE5 really does have too much bass. And though the E4 is a bit shy of the highest highs, and not custom fit, of course, I'd say they are more balanced on the whole than the UE5.

It's very hard to compare these two IEMs to any regular cans because there just aren't any in this league, IMHO. If the UE10 sound close to anything it's the 2X. There really isn't very much difference between them; please read my comments as just the finest of distinctions. To a first, and even second aproximation, these cans are perfect.

I know it's a stretch, but if you're willing to shell out serious bucks for the UE5, it may be worth just getting more serious about it and saving up for the UE10 or 2X.



Have you actually listened to the UE5c? (You didn't mention that in your review of the Sensas and the UE10, so I am thinking perhaps you have not heard them.) Those of us who have them seem to love them too -- I wouldn't necessarily assume they have too much bass, unless of course you've actually heard them and have a basis for your thinking apart from some assumptions based on how they might differ from the UE10Pro. I say this because the bassline experience also depends on the overall balance of the phones, so even if the bass is slightly boosted on the UE5c, the net effect is still balanced (see John Atkinson's review of them) and gorgeous. And some have even preferred them over their UE10 because of their bassline and warmth.

Anyway I did enjoy reading your impressions -- always very helpful to hear thoughts from people who've heard more than one of these custom IEMs!

And, as for anyone on the fence about the UE5c -- go ahead and buy them, you won't be disappointed!
 
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Tyll Hertsens

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Yeah, I've got some UE5. I like them very much, but I do think they are bass heavy.
 
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Tyll,
Thanks for your impression. How do you rank the E5C among these in-ear monitors, E4C and Ety ER-4S/P included. I hope you are enjoying your time off.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by random person
Have you actually listened to the UE5c?


You're asking Tyll if he's heard a set of headphones????!?!?!?!! /wild, maniacal cackles of laughter follow
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Tyll Hertsens
The 2X is a soft silicon earpiece, the UE10 is a harder but still slightly flexable appliance. (I think you have some options from Ultimate Ears there.)


Thanks for another comparison of these two systems. From a purely comfort standpoint, once they have been inserted, which do you like?

Thanks!
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by joncirca57
Thanks for another comparison of these two systems. From a purely comfort standpoint, once they have been inserted, which do you like?

Thanks!



Reading comprehension is your friend. Try your hand at his post one more time, maybe.

jesse
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by jesse_w
Reading comprehension is your friend. Try your hand at his post one more time, maybe.


Ouch, that's gonna leave a mark!
 
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After a short period of time with E2s, and then 1.5 years with E5s, I took the leap for the 2X-S, which I've had for about a month now. Based on what I'm hearing, I can only agree wholeheartedly that either of the mentioned custom IEMS (being so close in preformance) are well worth the money. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

My only other cans these days are Zu'd 650s out of a Mini-DAC, which is IMHO a very decent combo. Not to make a direct comparison, but occasionally when listening to the 2X-S (remembering that they are relatively new), I look over and am surprised to see the 650s hanging on their rack; thought they were on my head producing the excellent sound I was hearing. The 2X-S simply do everything well and with what appears to be near perfect spectral balance.

I've also found that to my ears the 2X-S provide a better quality of sound (more detail, better bass, etc.) out of just about every device to which they've been connected. Like many, I have a few reference tracks that I use when testing new gear. I'm hearing detail out of a modified EJ2000 and the 2X-S, unamped, that I've previously heard only out of higher end equipment that was amped.

Over the last 4 months, I've started my hi-fi journey all over again by selling/replacing most of my gear—left with one pair of cans, a DAC, and one pair of custom IEMS—so can't give an impression of the 2X-S with a true high-end amp. Suspect they will scale very well, just like the 650s. Another reason to look forward to the upcoming Boston meet.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by gpalmer
You're asking Tyll if he's heard a set of headphones????!?!?!?!! /wild, maniacal cackles of laughter follow



Well, Hell he only just got the Sensaphonics and some people have had em for months and months! so yes I thought it was possible he didn't have the UE5c. I'm SO ashamed.


Anyway I bought the UE5cs BECAUSE they were bass-heavy! Doesn't mean they're not awesome!


Tyll -- I'd be interested in your thoughts about bass on the UE5c vs the UE10Pro (since you also found the UE10Pro bassy, which many have not). Is there a big difference in the bass between them?
 
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Tyll Hertsens

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I don't think I said they were "bassy".

Quote:

To my ear the UE10 is a slightly warmer and rounder sound than the 2X. They might be a touch too full in the bass, but only ever so slightly and certainly without a whiff of bloat.


they're just ever so slightly warm compared to the Sensas. I'd have to go listen again to the UE5 again to make direct comparisons but I would have to say that my opinion is that the UE5 is clearly a bass heavy headphone although plesantly and not overly so. While the UE10 and 2X are extremely neutral cans, with the former slightly on the warm side and the later slightly on the dry side.
 
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