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Massdrop PLUS Universal IEM

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  1. MuppetFace

    New Massdrop IEMs from.... Massdrop?
    Massdrop introduces their first audiophile product under their own brand name: the PLUS universal in-ear monitors.

    Since everyone is off at RMAF, I figured I’d go ahead and start a thread on these myself, as I’ve been one of the fortunate product testers. While you’re checking out the link above, allow me to give you the usual sort of introduction for these things. And hopefully do a decent enough job explaining why I think they’re so much more than the “usual sort of thing.”

    So yeah, the obligatory part. I’ve been in this hobby for a while now. Met a lot of amazing folks. Heard a lot of enchanting gear. Heard some, uh, not so enchanting gear. These days it takes a lot to really elevate my heart rate. So much hyperbole, so much market speak: at a certain point you find yourself becoming desensitized. Maybe even a bit jaded. That being said, these IEMs are like a smack in the face. They’re dreamy. An ice cold soda on a hot summer day. They’re Christmas Day. And rainbows. And puppies, all rolled into one. And frankly they shouldn’t exist.

    It all started innocently enough one day, when my long-time friend and fellow head-fi nutcase CEE TEE casually asked me if I’d like a UERM with sub-bass. Well sure. The UERM has long since been a high water mark for reference sound in the earphone arena thanks to its neutral but lifelike sound. It’s one of those legends spoken about in hushed reverence; I’m pretty sure there’s some ritual involved whenever you invoke its name aloud. Point is, there are quite a few fans of Ultimate Ears’ original Reference Monitor here I’m sure. They know what I mean. Ask them to tell you why the UERM is so special sometime.

    Now check out that price tag. If I said the Massdrop PLUS was an UERM for that price, I’m pretty sure I could just stop embarrassing myself at this point with my awkward enthusiasm and call it a day. But then the “plus” part comes into the equation: there’s honest to goodness rumble with these little monsters. They are—for lack of a better phrase—fun as hell when you’re listening to Kendrick Lamar or Four Tet. Yet all the while I never felt myself wanting more midrange presence or clarity. Somehow the PLUS retains a reference tuning throughout all my test tracks and comparisons.

    Oh, and they’re extraordinarily comfortable. That’s a thing. I was actually quite skeptical when I heard that the shells had been created through averaging a bunch of ear impressions that had been taken over the years, but they fit my ears like a glove. They are without a doubt one of the most custom feeling universal I’ve worn yet.

    So.... yeah! This is that rare bird: the ever elusive “fun” sounding reference monitor. Neutral in mind but fun at heart.

    Over the next few days you’ll read about the experiences of others, see plenty of comparisons. I’ll do my best to offer a bunch myself, since I have a pretty healthy collection of earphones on hand. Funny thing is, I can honestly say: I’d take these over most of them. That includes some with four digit price tags. In fact, throw the whole price equals performance schema out the window. It’s just not happening here. Punches above their weight? Try knocking out. I sincerely think these raise the bar on what you get for your hard earned dosh.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  2. Thenewguy007
    MuppetFace likes this.
  3. Soaa-
    Tuning inspired by UERM and ER4? Consider me interested!
  4. mochill
    Very interesting
  5. SHAMuuu

    What are your favorite cans/iems at the moment? :D thx
  6. MuppetFace
    I don’t wear full sized headphones as much these days due to nerve damage from jaw surgery. After a while it just gets too uncomfortable. Headaches ensue. Etc. However I consider myself a fan of Stax and Fostex headphones.
    Also the overall best headphone made today for my personal tastes is a modified Oppo of all things: the Audio Zenith PMx2.

    Some of my fav earphones right now: the Audio Technica LS200, Radius Wn4, Sony N3, Final Heaven VII, UERM, Noble K10, FitEars .....and yeah, the Massdrop Plus! Of all the earphones I mentioned, the Plus reminds me the most of the UERM, so I definitely want to take some time to compare the two closely. For example the highs are a bit different.

    If I had to describe my “ideal” sound signature, I’d say neutral leaning but with some added warmth. Or maybe “ever so slightly on the dark side of neutral.” For example Grado headphones are usually too bright for me, even tho I like the way they look.
    rschoi75 and Dino2000 like this.
  7. snip3r77
    Have you heard of the md plus?
  8. MuppetFace
    A very quick comparison with the UERM this morning (more to come — have to get to an appointment, so this is a little brief for now).

    The mids of the UERM and Plus are definitely similar to my ears. I’d say the Plus even sounds a bit more clear in this area, however they do not have quite the level of refinement that the UERM has. In a sense the UERM sounds a bit smoother to me, while the Plus is a little bit rougher sounding, although I wouldn’t describe it as harsh at all. The biggest difference is in the sense of depth and layering: the UERM just sounds a bit more three dimensional and nuanced. The Plus is more intimate to my ears, with more of a “up close” kind of presentation. I actually prefer this for vocals, so it’s not necessarily a point against them.

    In terms of highs, the Plus is slightly less fatiguing to me. Someone compared the highs to a properly driven Sennheiser HD650 (no veil), and I think that’s pretty spot on from what I’ve heard so far. No trace of sibilance with these, mercifully. At the same time these don’t have quite the same sense of air that some of the brighter IEMs have, but they still manage to sound extremely clear, and it’s this combination of clarity and lack of fatigue that I find quite addictive.

    Bass. Yes, these things go low. On some tracks they rumble. Continuing with the theme of clarity however, the low end doesn’t swallow up the mids which I think is an important point to emphasize. These live up to the name: a UERM type frequency response PLUS satisfying sub bass. At this point I’m still trying to work out just how the low end compares to some other IEMs like the Shure SE846, specifically in terms of texture. It’s definitely not amorphous though; these don’t do the wub wub wub thing. Again, mercifully.

    My gut (and what I’ve been hearing from others) tells me that fans of the UERM and Etymotic type of signatures will enjoy the Plus. Especially if you’ve ever found yourself liking that type of sound but wishing there was a bit more “meat” to it.

    ALSO. I just wanted to clear up some confusion: these are made by Massdrop. They aren’t being made by the bucketload by a factory across the globe and being branded Massdrop. CEE TEE was telling me the story of how they came to be, and I could really sense the pride in his words. These are made by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. As corny as it sounds in this day and age, these are indeed a labor of love. This is a realization of a dream CEE TEE and others have had since the early days of the UERM. Which isn’t to say they didn’t have help. They consulted different companies, but interestingly enough none of these companies are in the personal audio industry. Go figure.

    Edit: most of my listening is done with Sony Walkman DAPs, which I collect because I’m a weirdo. Out of the ZX2 they sound brilliant. But they also sound brilliant straight from my iPad. I’ve also tried them with a Leckerton amp, but I don’t feel they really needed it. These aren’t that picky from my experience.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  9. mochill
    Two iems I want MD plus and shozy star II
  10. SHAMuuu
    Thanks for the info. I did dive into the older threads and remember your r10/th900 acquisition. I think it was you anyway, the avatar n all. That is why I asked :p Very interesting choices, though, also saddened to hear about the jaw situation. Best wishes on that, so you can get some longer hours with full size. :D
  11. Mimouille
    Impressive, both you and Shotgunshane raving about these?You showing up here to talk about these? Either this is an elaborate social experiment in creating hype or these really are awesome :D I will order out of shear curiosity.
  12. FlyingWing
    The MD Plus is super-intriguing, thank you for announcing these gems to the general public.
    I am wondering if, since Massdrop produces these by themselves; could there possibly be a shorter window of time than usual with MD when one hits the "order" button on the 10th. of October?
  13. shotgunshane Contributor
    Just be aware the signature from the midrange up is more akin to a UERM or Etymotic ER4 variant than anything else. It's kind of a perfected ER4XR with much better clarity and transparency and a super comfy fit. I know you like things a little richer and thicker, in general, than I do, so I just wanted to make sure you knew. I think @MuppetFace likes things a little richer, perhaps a bit more euphonic, than me too and she loves these.
  14. mochill
    I think I'll love these
  15. Mimouille
    Thanks for the heads up, my tastes are open, especially that this won't be my only pair...plus the financial risk is limited.
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