Looking for a pair of IEMs, $50-$150 range - need advice, the variety is a bit overwhelming.
Mar 18, 2013 at 4:22 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 15

phinael

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I have tried to do my fair share of research but in the end I would much rather decide based on people's opinion than my own limited understanding. 
 
Now while I understand that some headphones sound better on different types of music and source material, there is also a subjective "sound signature" that people may or may not like. I've experienced this myself with my tenure of purchasing lower-quality headphones. 
 
Basically, I'm looking for a nice pair of IEMs for listening to experimental rock. Post-rock, math-rock, etc. 
 
Emphasis on stereo dynamics. Looking for a wide sound-field. Instrument separation. Lots of guitar layering, intricate drums.
 
Vocals aren't a main focus. Want warm and clear bass but not pounding. Clear highs and mids that sit right where they ought to. 
 
Lots of headphones I've listened to are very unbalanced. Either too much bass, with a muddy sound, or too much highs and an overly digital sound. I guess I want something that sounds very balanced. 
 
I've had the Yamaha EPH-100s recommended to me before, but finding those is proving difficult.

Looking for a likely competitor or maybe a push to try and find the yamahas. 
 
For right now I'm listening on a Galaxy S-III, but will likely be purchasing a Cowon later this year. 
 
Thanks for any help
 
Mar 18, 2013 at 6:45 PM Post #2 of 15

NA Blur

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I use a pair of Brainwavz M2 with some Comply T-400 foam tips around work.  I really like them for their price point.
 
Here are the graphs:
http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/BrainwavzM2.pdf
 
As you can see they measure quite well.  I categorize them more as a fun headphone than a critical listening one.  The bass is not overpowering and the treble is nicely rolled off without completely killing it.
 
Mar 18, 2013 at 6:50 PM Post #3 of 15

TwinQY

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Quote:
Basically, I'm looking for a nice pair of IEMs for listening to experimental rock. Post-rock, math-rock, etc. 
 
Emphasis on stereo dynamics. Looking for a wide sound-field. Instrument separation. Lots of guitar layering, intricate drums.
 
Vocals aren't a main focus. Want warm and clear bass but not pounding. Clear highs and mids that sit right where they ought to. 
 
Lots of headphones I've listened to are very unbalanced. Either too much bass, with a muddy sound, or too much highs and an overly digital sound. I guess I want something that sounds very balanced. 

Mostly what I listen to, so....
 
Wide stage, separation, warm, balanced - does sound like the BA200s in this case. They were quite admirable for post-rock. GR07s (a bit over budget) does the wide-stage, warmth/balance as well, almost perfect texture and dynamics for rock. A bit unconventional but the A161p (not too warm but smooth and unfatiguing) keeps up with face-paced dynamics very well. Not as much weight and texture as the VSonics but they get you there just the same.
 
And of course - http://www.head-fi.org/t/596233/buying-portable-or-in-ear-headphones-seeking-guidance-dont-start-a-new-thread-ask-for-advice-here
http://www.head-fi.org/t/478568/multi-iem-review-274-iems-compared-hifiman-re-400-added-03-14-13-p-650#post_6492044
 
Mar 19, 2013 at 1:35 PM Post #4 of 15

phinael

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Interesting, thanks you guys for the recommendation. 
 
I wish there was a place I could go try all these out to determine the final contender....kinda sucks I have to buy before I try! 
 
I'm kind of tempted to go for the M2s because of the price point, but I would really like something better quality. 
 
TwinQY, out of all the ones listed, which do you think would be the best contender for indie/post-rock/math-rock? the dynamics and layering of tracks and etc
 
Mar 19, 2013 at 1:58 PM Post #5 of 15

TubeStack

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I'd check out some Grado iGi's, as well. I'm not an indie/post-rock guy (though I appreciate it) but the Grado sound does really well with guitar-based music in general, if that helps. Dynamics and track layering are amazing, too. I listen to a lot of classic rock, blues, and bluegrass.

I just finished an IEM search in the same price range, though I wanted to keep it to the $100 mark, if possible. I narrowed it down to Shure SE215, Etymotic MC5 or HF5, and the Grado iGi. Even to the last minute I was torn between the SE215’s and the iGi's, holding them both in my hand at the store counter. I went with the iGi's because I've been on a fantastic Grado trip recently, in love with some 80i's and 325i's, as well as their turntable cartridges - I just really, really love the whole Grado sound and experience. I have definitely drunk the Grado kool aid and am converted, lol.

The iGi's don't get much love around here, but I'm very impressed, so far. Spacious sounding, warm, very life-like with vocals and guitars. They're really like a 60i or 80i in an IEM format - they have the Grado signature sound. They don't necessarily feel super-well-made and you feel like you need to baby them a bit, thin cords, etc, but sound-wise they're pretty remarkable for the money. I have owned Shure E4’s and Westone UM2’s in the past, both in the $200+ range at the time, and I'd say these iGi's easily compare, sound and performance-wise.

I prefer full-size cans and vinyl for at home listening, but for my iPod Classic and iPad use, the iGi's are fantastic.
 
Mar 19, 2013 at 2:43 PM Post #6 of 15

phinael

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Thanks for more recommendations...my list is getting longer! 
 
What store can I buy all these audiophile headphones at? Maybe I can test some of them out. 
 
You mentioned having both "in your hand", that's the place I need to shop!
 
Mar 19, 2013 at 2:57 PM Post #9 of 15

TubeStack

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Yes, I've been lucky to find a local chain, CanadaComputers that stocks all the high end headphones at really good prices.

I know Guitar Center in the U.S. carries the Shure SE215’s, if that helps. Try a local indie/old school hifi place for Grados, etc. For example, East Hamilton Radio carries them here (although the CanadaComputers prices are better).
 
Mar 19, 2013 at 3:08 PM Post #10 of 15

phinael

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Yeah it's just the thing about headphones is so many can be considered to be good/great, but the rest seems to rely upon how much you enjoy the sound signature. 
 
There's pros/cons to everything, but I feel like it could be summed up in a "He/she likes the way they sound, I prefer this"
 
So it would be great to give a try to a few of the contenders to finalize the decision
 
Mar 19, 2013 at 5:45 PM Post #12 of 15

TwinQY

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Quote:
How does one try out IEM's? Isn't that kind of icky?
smily_headphones1.gif

?? 
Many stores let people try them out all the time. Demo units, etc, etc. Some hygiene wipes usually do the trick.
 
Mar 19, 2013 at 6:15 PM Post #13 of 15

TubeStack

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?? 
Many stores let people try them out all the time. Demo units, etc, etc. Some hygiene wipes usually do the trick.


Interesting. Have never seen it and don't think I'd be doing that. :D
 
Mar 19, 2013 at 6:43 PM Post #14 of 15

Ivabign

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I would recommend the Vsonic VC02 for your consideration - they are extremely accurate and I have found that the micro drivers are great at detail, but still give you the positive attributes of a dynamic IEM - they aren't as much as you seem willing to spend, but you could consider a FIIO E11 to drive them and you wouldn't be too far off your $100 figure. I ask the group, would the VC02 and a portable amp fit the bill here?
 
Mar 19, 2013 at 6:54 PM Post #15 of 15

TheManJP

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If you'd plan to travel with these IEMs, my money would absolutely be on the Klipsch X10s. Great bass that doesn't sacrifice sounding good or warm to sound powerful. Not perfect soundstaging, but great isolation if you plan on listening in public and very comfortable. Great quality for a great price, in my eyes at least.
 
http://www.amazon.com/Klipsch-Image-X10-Noise-Isolating-Earphone/dp/B000WAHFBK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1363732720&sr=8-3&keywords=x10
 

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