Most comfortable / low fatigue earbuds / IEMs?
Oct 1, 2007 at 9:23 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

sonance

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I'm looking for a new pair of headphones - something very compact like IEMs or earbuds, but they need to be wearable / listenable for a few hours a day while at work, so I want aurally low fatigue headphones (not harsh) and also physically comfortable headphones. In the past I've had issues with IEMs and gave away my Etys ER4S (found them harsh as well.) They felt very uncomfortable in my ears after a while. Yes I tried all the different tips including foamies. Pushing them in deep enough to get good sound caused me pain / discomfort / fatigue relatively quickly.

I don't really need the isolation, but I need something without a headband as my outer ears and entire head gets physically fatigued from listening to RS-1 / 650s after a while. This is while working in a relatively quiet office. Soundwise - I like both the Senns and the Grados. I listen to the DT-880s on my 2nd PC / ext DAC based home system, Balanced 650s on my primary music system and cycle the HD600 / RS1 / DT880s at work.

I tried Sony e888lp earbuds which are very light in the bass. I was originally OK with this but I want higher end earphones. As you can see from my ety experience I am somewhat wary of IEMs now.

Could anyone make some recommendations, given these priorities:

- Low fatigue sound (shouldn't feel 'harsh' or tiresome after a short while)
- High physical comfort factor
- No headband (earbuds or IEMs, I suppose)
- Nice even tonal range (mids, lows, highs)

I am flexible on cost and amplification requirements. I will buy a new portable / desktop headphone amp for use at work if I have to - using a Tomahawk right now.

It's been a while since I bought a pair of headphones now - almost two years. I've been reasonably happy with my collection and waiting to upgrade my entire system before I bought new headphones. As a result I haven't been reading head-fi as much anymore, until now.

For reference I have a pair of balanced Sennheiser 650s / with a zu balanced cable as my primary cans, RS-1s, DT-880s and some other lesser cans (SR225s, HD600, HD595s, K501s.)
 
Oct 1, 2007 at 9:30 PM Post #2 of 14

htbyron

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I can't give any advice from personal experience, but I've been intrigued recently by the Yuin PK1 (earbuds) and the jays q-JAYS (small IEMs with different tips than the Ety). The comfort issue is entirely a personal thing, so I suspect you will have to try them to see if they work for you.
 
Oct 1, 2007 at 9:39 PM Post #3 of 14

sonance

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How deep in the ear do the q-jays go? I understand some IEMs have to go very deep and others only go in partially. I'm more afraid of IEMs that go in deep and require a deep / excellent seal for decent bass.
 
Oct 1, 2007 at 10:19 PM Post #5 of 14

gnychis

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I consider E500's *extremely* comfortable. They literally mold right in your ear... though they're not custom molded
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Seriously though, my iM716's I could not wear for over an hour without getting ear discomfort, which from what I understand are basically rebranded Etys. Since I've gotten my E500's about 3 months ago, I've found I can wear them for 5+ hours straight and not feel discomfort.

Also, the Shure foam tips increased comfort AND isolation for me. Maybe sure you try all of the tip sizes if you get the E500's, they came default with the large tip I think, which I found discomfort using... I switched to a small and it was bliss.

read any E500 sound reviews and you'll learn these things are no joke. They've got a great sound stage, awesome bass extension and impact, and have very balanced mids and highs in my opinion.

I still prefer my HD650's any day over them in terms of sound, but I have yet to hear a better IEM than the E500's and unlike the HD650's, you can wear them out in public and not feel like a creeper.
 
Oct 2, 2007 at 2:33 AM Post #7 of 14

Logman

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I have the PK1's and the E500's. Both sound terrific in their own way. My choice usually comes down to the environment I will be using them in. If it is reasonably quiet and/or I want to be able to turn off my player and immediately be able to talk to someone, I go with the PK1's. If I want sound isolation or no one is going to bother me, I go with the E500's. My wife calls them "every husbands dream" since I can't hear a word she is saying when I have them in.
etysmile.gif
 
Oct 2, 2007 at 4:22 AM Post #9 of 14

ozz

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its probably going to be hard to state that one is the most comfortable
due to the fact ears are almost like finger prints no two the same so
what fits for one may not another best bet is to try several of the
brands mentioned and find a happy compromise.
 
Oct 2, 2007 at 8:47 AM Post #10 of 14

shigzeo

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i have to vote for the m5 atrio from futuresonics. i had um2, er4s and listened to e500 quite a bit. if you have reaction to balanced armatures, then i recommend the atrio.

i am one of those who found the um2 to be harsh as well as e500, so i am in a minority, but we do exist. any balanced armature gives me immediate tinnitus, that is why i switched. the um2 and e500 are for me like the hd600, nice but just too fatiguing.

atrio m5 is a bit darker but extends futher and has excellent bass that is not too energetic and may apply closer to the sound of the hd650.
 
Oct 2, 2007 at 1:47 PM Post #11 of 14

hockey_magnet

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They seem almost weightless compared to my Shure E3c, or E4c. Definitely not harsh - I find the sound pretty well balanced with excellent base BUT with any non custom IEM you really need to experiment a lot with different tips to find the ones that are best for you different tips =different sound and comfort - The Shure fit kits are excellent for that - The UM2's come with Comply's which I find quite comfortable but a little dull compared the the Shure soft flex
 
Oct 2, 2007 at 5:14 PM Post #12 of 14

tstarn06

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Atrios with Shure tips (black "olives") are very comfy for an IEM, and absolutely no fatigue. No amp needed either.

PK1s are ear buds in style only. Sound more like real headphones, and I absolutely love them for specific listening situations (no need for sound iso). They do require an amp, but a $60 Penguin will do the trick on the bottom end. You can really save money and try a pair of PK3s, which are $38 shipped, which I believe sound as good as the PK2s. Again, ear buds do not hurt my ears, so I find them the most comfy non over the ear phones I own. If, like Prozakk, ear buds bother you, then don't get the Yuins.

Either way, you can't go wrong in my view in terms of non-fatiguing portable phones. They have different sound sigs, but I like both of them equally.

Of course, for the cost of E500s, you can get both the Atrios and the PK1s, with a little change for coffee (or that amp).
 
Oct 2, 2007 at 5:25 PM Post #13 of 14

ENT

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Shure yellow foamies, I think, are the most comfy tips, I can wear them for hours and not get fatigued. I've had the black foamies for a few days and they are also growing on me.
 
Jan 4, 2011 at 8:45 PM Post #14 of 14

Scythels

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Warning: recommendation of a Bose product incoming!
Bose IE2s:
 
Price: $99.99
 
Sound: Excellent bass, fairly good highs, somewhat muffled/distorted mids. 
 
Overall Opinion: The price is somewhat unjustified, as Bose used their (trademarked?) crappy build materials but they do sound good for the price.  The new StayHear tip design is stupidly comfortable, extremely stable, and a very shallow insert.  I listen on average to 7 hours of  music each day with them without becoming fatigued, and they're the most comfortable pair of headphones I've ever owned.  You can find better sound quality for less (such as the Klipcher [or however you spell that] S4s).  Though those buds seal, and should have better quality.  This brings me to my next point: they do not seal, and offer no noise isolation. 
 
*StayHear tip pros and cons
 
Pros:
**Comfortable as all hell
**very stable, near impossible to knock out
**Easy to take out with practice (read: not in your first 10 times wearing them)
 
Cons:
**Tips don't seal (by design, they can't)
**Bose product
 
Sound producing specs: Single-driver (technically two, but afaik they're classified as single-driver)? per hybrid bud/IEM EDIT: They're triport, actually.  I'm no expert so I don't know exactly what that means.
*the IEM part (shallow-insert) is responsible for bass and lower mids. 
*Near the "wings" of the StayHear tips there are ports that push out highs and upper mids. 
 
Conclusion:  Decent buy for the money, be gentle with them, Bose made; nuff said.  Pretty darn good sound quality, but my 14 year old ears are pretty untrained, to say the least. 
 

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