Separate names with a comma.
I ordered a balanced cable for mine, I'll see what difference it makes.
Upon arrival I was just curious while the M300's were running in through the GO2, which of course turned into hours of unplanned listening!!
First to come to attention was definitely the fast, tight and deep bass; while upper midrange and treble were veiled. That quickly gave way to the complete instrumental separation, full orchestras and big bands alike! I learnt new parts in music I have long owned; I now think I could transcribe all the charts. More over due to the planar speed, microdynamics and temporal phrasing of each part is very obvious. Which is to say, the artistry of every musician is highlighted from within the ensemble. No the cable is not ideal, but I was too absorbed in the music to care.
Vocals were full-bodied and solidly centred from the start, the veiling receded as the hours went by. Female vocals and percussion gradually regained their natural extension; macrodynamics expanded to a live sound range. The sound signature still has not stabilised after 9 hours; I shall revisit the same tracks later on.
I am not sure a lot of prospective buyers have the right mindset: M300's are about introducing planar tech to new market segments, much more so than the iSines can at their higher price points. MP's business model is not to compete with the likes of Audeze on absolute quality (Hello LCDi4!). At $150 though it will be a real struggle to find a higher resolving set of 'phones. In the meantime I shall no longer touch my old HD595's; my ears can now breathe rather than bake.
I have decided a balanced cable is in order.
Out of the box, these have an intimidating size. These nozzles are intended for gorillas. I also feel like the ear hooks are required just to keep them in ear, but with them they feel like they're not going anywhere without taking my ear with them. I haven't tried the earlocks yet, so those might suit me better. I suspect I have fairly small ear canals, so that could be why they feel dauntingly large. For now, I ended up going with squeezing my favorite Hifiman bi-flange tips on, so I've made sure I achieved proper seal even with this huge nozzle. Also, I found it amusing I could easily slide my IE800 case into the included case, so double protection for that one if I wanted it.
Vocals out of the box are reasonably forward and close vs what I've been listening to, and not at all heavy on bass, so pretty well balanced. These are not for bassheads, that's for sure. Don't take this as an indication of lacking any bass. With some EQ applied, they have a pleasant rumble in the sub-bass I've grown to miss listening to earbuds as much as I do. I don't hear any indications of piercing treble yet, but not listening to a good test track for that. Not going to say further for now as it's too early to tell.
I concur with the microphonic cable, but had a nice braided cable lying around that saw no use, so it's a good fit for my needs. I have an inexpensive balanced cable to try later, but for now I'd rather enjoy what I'm hearing now that I have the microphonics settled.
I will say for me, this one will have issues with comfort. I may be able to get an album or two out of it before discomfort takes over, so keep that in mind if you have typical comfort issues with IEMs like I do. In my case the nozzle's just too big for my left ear for real comfort. As it is, I'm thinking I may need to find tri-flanges that extend fairly far out to see about getting a more comfortable fit. Spinfits may help as well in this regard.
Edit: I'm a little afraid these will be like the Martin Logan Mikros 90 for me, where I loved the sound, but those damn headphones were like a vise that sought to destroy my ears, so had to sell the lovely sounding gorgeous little cans. Keep in mind though that it's still quite initial, and I'll see if I can find tips that'll love this problem. Already looking at a huge pair of bi-flanges from Hifiman that might solve the issue.
This is my main question right now...cost to sound quality comparison. That's the issue with this hobby...have to buy to try.
Anyone in Portland getting a pair?
I know Monoprice has a great return policy which is why I purchased them. I knew going in that if I didn't like them, I could return them.
What kind of sound signature are you looking for?
Well the SW3's I have are pretty ideal but the mids are a tad more recessed than I'd like (female vocals could be forward) and the treble can be a bit shrill sometimes (S's in vocals hiss sort of thing) but.
So I'd say I LOVE bass but more so the quality and extension then quantity. And this is more just because I feel that if the song has the bass then it was meant to be heard. Not a "basshead" by any means but I appreciate it, for sure. The SW3's with the 11mm dynamic can pump out subwoofer like bass...really amazing.
Mids I love because I enjoy vocal music a lot, especially female vocals. Clear and crisp and forward. Same with the highs but to an extent. Hearing isn't the best so highs aren't that great for me to begin with but I suppose that why I like mine a bit elevated so I can better hear them. I hear these M300's seem a bit dark but detailed, which is nice.
And yes you are correct about the return policy. I just hate being one of those "I bought them simply to test them before possibly returning them" types I suppose. Do what you gotta do though I suppose!
If I'm not mistaken, Audeze uses the Cipher cable to essentially linearize the iSine's signature. Somewhere within the DAC/AMP this is done, not sure how. On top of that, the option of using an EQ (in-app) is provided to further adjust sound. I know this doesn't quite answer your question, but it can give some insight.
I'm not sure how the Monoprice compare, it looks quite intriguing though.
As I understand, the Cipher cable has a built-in fixed parametric EQ in the iSine cipher cable to start with. (This is separate from the simple graphical EQ you can adjust in their iOS app.)
Some users consider the EQ totally necessary for the iSine to sound good, others think it sounds fine without it. Audeze has helpfully provided info and EQ presets to help folks replicate the Cipher cable's EQ if they aren't on iOS devices. I have no idea whether the M300 is close enough to the iSine for that specific EQ to be helpful, however.
I remember having to EQ it heavily to make it sound acceptable. I really didn't like the stock sound. I did find a screenshot I took after EQing (with the CIPHER cable) the iSINE10 trying to fix the sound to my preference.
M300 has quite screwed up frequency response as well. I hear similar honky mids to recessed upper mids like my isine20 without cipher cable but with less clarity. Isine20 with cipher cable sounds miles better than m300. Heck even my modded $15 bw-es1 sounds way better. This without heavy EQ is almost non listenable for me (classical music lover). I will return the m300.
It's a shame it doesn't suit your music, but I can't say I'm surprised that the iSine20 with cipher sounds better.
At roughly 3x-4x the cost (4x with cipher cable), so is it truly a fair comparison?
Also, for those people not using iDevices, all the sonic improvements (or skewing depending on your perspective) of the cipher cable are really not relevant. I realize that it's an iWorld, but not everyone lives cocooned inside the iUniverse. Not germane to this thread entirely, but I've read recommendations in various threads authored under the assumption that EVERYONE uses iDevices for their audio listening because, well, why wouldn't you? What's wrong with you?!
Well even at $150, I cannot recommend the M300 to anyone unless you are willing to EQ the hell out of it.
Semi good news is that I feel it has low THD like isine, meaning you can apply quite a bit of EQ before it starts to distort and degrade SQ
personally I cut 5db @1khz, -1db @2khz, +3db at 4khz, +2dbs @8khz, bass is good as is.
WOW! Equalization on these makes a huge difference - might I add these respond very well to equalization. With a schiit-ton of equalization (given they're comfortable for you), I would highly recommend these (for the price). Their resolution really comes through when the treble and upper midrange are brought up. I just spent 20 minutes playing with the 15-band equalizer in Equalizer APO. With the quick changes I made below, it would actually be an IEM I could really recommend. With a lot more fine tweeking, I'm sure these could sound truly excellent.
+11? Dang...I mean...what does that mean though? Couldn't a lot of headphones sound a lot better with EQ. I've always wanted my headphones to sound as good as they can WITHOUT it.
Makes me wonder if the Cypher cable would work with the M300...though my LG V10 wouldn't care.