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Most detailed, accurate, clear, neutral IEMs

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  1. tinyman392
    The question becomes, how do we define accurate then...  Accuracy deals with how well does it reproduce what it is playing, true?  So what happens if the music it's playing wasn't mastered properly, compressed like most are.  It won't sound natural by any means because it was mastered unnaturally.  Can we call that IEM accurate if it tries to change this (make something that actually is unnatural natural)?  An accurate IEM, IMO, will reproduce what it's being fed.  If it's fed garbage, you'll get garbage out.  If it's fed quality, it'll reproduce quality.  If it's fed something that is mastered properly (and will sound natural), it'll sound natural. 
    With the W4R BTW, I did find the treble a little edgy and slightly sibilant at times due to the spike at the 10 kHz.  It's a very natural IEM, I don't consider it neutral or accurate (to what it's playing). On the other hand, it does help many poorly mastered tracks tremendously and make them sound a lot more natural, less fatiguing, more musical. 
  2. Spyro
    I think you are WAAY overthinking this.  Do you really think that musicians think this way?
    I would say overwhelmingly no, they do not.  They are striving for a cd that produces exactly what they are playing and hearing in that audible live setting.  Is there any other way???  A "loud" or "hot" cd comes across pretty obvious.  Forget about whether it was mastered properly or is compressed.  Which IEM sounds closest to that of a live studio performance?  That should be all we are striving for.
  3. tinyman392
    According to this: http://dr.loudness-war.info/
    The answer is yes, overwhelmingly so, and it's unfortunate.  They're getting better, but still nowhere near where it used to be.  So unfortunately, we can't just ignore how it was mastered.  Just look at the albums that were released this year...  Over half of them are still mastered loud, extremely loud. A lot of the well-mastered ones are re-releases of older tunes in digital format.  For modern music, loud is the direction to go unfortunately :/ 
    The tides are turning, more albums are beginning to be mastered properly, but that's one of the reasons why these "natural" IEMs sound natural, they're reducing the impact of compression in a few ways.
  4. Spyro
    I dont listen to pop music.  I suppose that is the worst offending group and I suppose most singers (because they are singers not artists) have no clue whatsoever about audio and what it should or shouldn't sound like.
      Neat website link!  I mainly listen to contemporary jazz.  I punched several of my favorites in and they all came up with grades between 12-18.
    So are you saying that artist will spend thousands of hours crafting an album thrying to get the perfect sound.....only to have it recorded and mastered like dogcrap and the band is okay with that and has it released that way?  I guess I am really out of touch understanding these things.  Makes no sense.
  5. tinyman392
    Pop, rock, alternative, country, rap...  Most modern music hits low for this score unfortunately :/ 
    And yes, much of the time the band is OK with it...  Take a look at these statements made by 2 members of Metallica about Death Magnetic...  Which was mastered poorly:
    The reason for doing this is still the same, to make the album louder.  It's sad and disappointing. 
  6. proedros
    hey Spyro , try and find vinyl rips , people spend tons of money on **** products like HDTracks when there are way better sonic versions out there for free

    finding the truly great rips by those ripping people ( i won't say names but if anyone is member in some vinyl rips blogs he knows who i am talking about) and upgrading from the 10$ sony buds to 200-300$ iems were the 2 best choices for my music happiness

    also listening to real,inspired,intelligent music and not crappy '****ty' music like 50cent/Gaga/Beyonce etc also helps a lot [​IMG] 
  7. milford30
    Just go listen to a pair of say ATH-im50 or a pair or shure846, or whichever others recommend that has good slam/impact, play around with the eq in the 50hz region, then come back tell me you don't HEAR the difference in impact between that and your er4/re272.
    Not amplified does not imply that the bass and sub bass does not exist in the recording. 
    I disagree on the it's ONLY felt part, pointing to actual listening experience above. 
    Having the sound of the drum scaled down in volume does not imply the impact goes away suddenly, it also gets scaled, it is all sound waves we are talking about.
    Please explain why if the recording is compressed you lose drum impact and depth, many people can't tell the difference between flac and 320k... Also reflections are recorded no matter how many microphones you use, waves interfere... Your basically saying it's impossible to record a loud echo of a guy yelling in a jungle with one microphone but somehow you can with 2.....
    You can't say something is artificially boosting just because the neutral iems you are lacking in this area, just go listen and forget about your graphs, just because graphs are the best representation the industry uses, but it doesn't mean it's any good. ALSO this assumes you can record this sub bass in the first place, which you seem to disagree with.....
    Where is this proof of you can't feel (i agree with hear) impact under 80db? I'm not asking for completely the same, just as close as possible
    Lastly I agree with Spyro, I DON'T CARE what voodoo magic they pull, as long as i can sit there with iem #1, and have it sound closer to a set of drums then iem#2 then iem#1 is more accurate than iem#2 in the drums department! If it's not in the recording, no matter what they do, they can't fake it! A warm sound can only mask badly mastered song, not change the notes, same as a bright iem seem to have more details in the mids too.
    There is no good way of measuring this objectively! the dummy head test has huge problems i pointed out before.
    Yes sitting there with a pair of iems to compare what you hear from a drum is a SUBJECTIVE matter! Show me a better way of comparing if the iem is natural in a objective way and i'll take that!
    EDIT: If you still don't believe this impact exists, feel free to click into the Shure 846 trend and tell them that, see how many people disagree with you. Sure you're missing the frequencies passing through your body, it doesn't mean your ears don't hear it too!
  8. SilverEars
    Have you guys seen a graph of an iem with pretty stable response beyond 10K?  Graph that doesn't drop drastically, but keeps up pretty well to average human hearing limit of around 17K?  Although, I heard up to 14k is all you need.
  9. milford30
    The most accurate way we can determine if iem x is neutral is by the ears, unless you can provide me with a way to measure it absolutely objectively ( given the flaws i mentioned with the dummy head measurement method, which you seem to agree with in your last paragraph)
    I'm not saying the only way to change the tuning is to add drivers, but for every single driver iem that has been mentioned, there is another multi drive that can do better in either the highs, mids, lows, which implies there is no evidence that this single driver that is more neutral than multi driver iems exists. Since tinyman says this neutral iem exists, the burden of proof is on him.
  10. Spyro
    To expound on what Milford30 said:
    Tinyman.....I believe you stated several pages back that "W4 and W40 measured the same."
    Not sure if you measured it or pulled that shady data from another source but it is grossly incorrect.  As has been mentioned by many posters the W40 has more bass than W4.  Mentioned by basically everyone that has owned both.  It's no placebo and I estimated it at a whopping 20% increase.  While I completely ignore charts, graphs and specs, I'd be shocked that THAT big of a change is unmeasurable?  Perhaps a clarification is needed there.
    Gonna ramble here for a moment......
    As many here know, W3 was my favorite universal for a long time.  I certainly knew it was anything but neutral but I was a sucker for a big, weighty bassy IEM that also had decent treble extension and a HUGE soundstage.  Throw in the 3-way crossover and it was groundbreaking stuff.  Very fun IEM that did a lot right (except the mid-bass hump).  ZERO distortion at ear-splitting volumes....yea, I like that.  :)
    Over time and upon comparing to other IEM's I realized that W3 has sort of an artificial sound to it.  Hard to explain but it just does.  And of course the distant midrange is not great for vocals by any means.
    W4 sounds more organic...more real. Smooth....refined.  Yet, that treble extends fabulously!  CERTAINLY Westone was 100% fully aware about softening the lower midrange.  Perhaps they realized if they DIDN'T do that, you would end up with a very strident splashy sounding IEM.  As I mentioned earlier I tend to listen a bit loud and after 20-30 minutes I have to take ER4's out of my ears.  This is what Westone realizes and I am guessing they said, "rather than NOT extending the treble (like Shure), lets fully extend it but damper another frequency so it doesn't come across fatiguing in any way."  This makes the overall sound sig warm and lush....totally intentional, no doubt.
    Then of course W40 does everything W4 does....Westone could have "corrected" the lower midrange cloud....but kept it fully intact and added 20% more bass so it makes me think there is no mistake or bad design or flaw.  It's a very well thought out sound sig.  Personally....at $400 level and the SQ you are getting I think it's a steal.  But, of course, its preference too.
  11. Spyro
    Well exactly.   I am mainly a BA driver guy but have had a couple dynamics.   IE8 was pretty bad  as far as being veiled and cloudy sounding (but had great bass and a big full sound).  RE272 was the opposite.  Made ER4 sound like Monster Turbines or FX-700's as far as the lower registers go.  Completely bassless.
    For IEM's, BA's do it better and it takes 3 or more drivers to pull it off right.  Not knowledgeable enough about dynamics but no single driver BA can provide dominating representation of bass treble and midrange all in one package.  That IEM does not exist.
    Mulitiple drivers will always be a better option.  A great example is the old Shure E4 IEM.  Outstanding IEM.  I had 3 pairs over a 3 year period and absolutely loved them.  But when SE530 came out it was undeniably a whole new ballgame and whole new level.
  12. milford30
    Ok, may I ask how you know this 'unnatural' music sounds like? do you have anything physical to compare it to? or is it just what's coming out of what you thought were neutral iems? My basis depends upon real instruments, and yours depends on what may or may not be neutral iems?
    Hence your notion of neutral is highly subjective with no basis
  13. tinyman392
    Firstly, you're thinking of the wrong type of compression.  There are two types of compression, only one is done inside of the studio and it's called dynamic range compression, it's done before anything is released (and it'll effect both lossy and lossless).  The way it works is that it takes the soft sounds of a recording and amplifies them (this is done in the studio, after the recording).  This, in turn, makes the track louder, but compresses the dynamic range.  Since your kicks and snares are generally the loudest part of the recording (without compression), when the record company compresses it for release, the volume level of those instruments become softer (and everything else becomes louder, in turn, this makes everything brighter).  This is why artificially boosting those regions makes the song sound more natural, more realistic, it's compensating for something that was done, but not reproducing what it is being fed directly.  Most modern songs use compression, and it became quite popular in the 90's. 
    With that said, the job of a neutral, accurate speaker is to reproduce what it's given, not what it should be given.  So if it's given a compressed track, it will sound bright, and dull because it is bright and dull.  Don't blame the headphones, blame the track it's playing (black the record label and the artist).  A natural sounding headphone will reproduce and essentially compensate for this in a way by bumping the lows and controlling the highs (the signature of just about every headphone you've mentioned (in the bass region) to try to compensate for this.  This is why it is generally a preferred sound for a lot of people, including audiophiles (myself included). 
    So I'm not claiming impact doesn't exist, it definitely does, however, the track doesn't have it because it's essentially been removed to make the track (as a whole) louder. 
    So I still beg the question, if a headphone makes drums sound more like drums, even if the track itself doesn't have drums sounding like drums, is that headphone more accurate?  I understand your reasoning, but do accept mine as well.  Compression is a real thing, and you cannot assume it doesn't exist. 
    I honestly have no clue where you got the notion where you can't feel impact under 80 dB...  My statement is that any noise over 80 dB causes your ears to tense up (as a protective mechanism) and changes your hearing curve drastically.  Again, I refer you to this article: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/loud-music-sucks 
    Your basis depends on the actual instrument, good...  However, you're comparing it to something that has been compressed and distorted which is why neutral IEMs don't work for you.
    So you want to hear what you hear in real life (no problem with that), but the recording itself isn't representative of that, so you choose a pair of headphones/IEMs to try to replicate it.  You've chosen a natural headphone/IEM which matches the Olive-Welti compensation (preferred compensation among most audiophiles).  It has a correlation with what happens with compression in general. 
    The idea of neutral, flat after diffuse field compensation, actually isn't subjective, neither is free field.  Both attempt to recreate what sound reflections occur when sound reflects from your ears, head, etc matched with a flat loudspeaker.  There is a direct definition of neutral that was scientifically generated.  More information here:
    1. http://north-america.beyerdynamic.com/service/faqs.html (search for diffuse field)
    2. http://www.head-fi.org/t/19259/what-is-diffuse-field-equalization
    The above is actually why the Dummy Head is a good source of information in terms of measurements. 
    Some notes about dynamic range compression:
    1. It was originally started in the 90's when record labels had a war to make their albums louder than the competition.  Louder albums catch the ear more, but are less musical in general.  And if you haven't noticed (you will), destroys the musical notion of, well, music.
    2. It's been ongoing, dubbed the loudness wars, and still exists today.  The tides are slowly turning after 25 years of battle, but records are still being released to little to no dynamic range (Metallica's, and RHCP's, most recent albums are proof of this, they sound horrible).
    3. The artist isn't against it, in an interview with some of Metallica's band members, they preferred the compressed sound to the uncompressed for some reason.
    4. The sound engineers and record masterers are against it, it ruins music and they hate the idea of doing it. 
    Examples of dynamic range compression:
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v6ML2DsBfA - Listen for the drums...  The kicks just aren't strong after volume matching and wimpy.  Snares as well.
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEFyNdB13vg&list=PL107CE66B5EDA0F8B - Listen for the low notes in general.  The first version is compressed, second is not.
    3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EScPiP2QjXM&list=PL107CE66B5EDA0F8B - Dani California is more obvious (to me, but there's a difference in both).  They play Hump De Bump and Dani California (in that order)
    4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRyIACDCc1I&list=PL107CE66B5EDA0F8B - Metallica
    You can search for others (or keep going through the playlist). Do note that effects of compression may vary from track to track. As a general rule of thumb, the more complex the music, the more obvious the differences will be. Also, the compressed music is unnatural, and distorted, in nature. 
    With that said, if you feed a neutral IEM compressed music, it will sound compressed (bright, fatiguing, and dull in the bass).  If you feed a neutral IEM uncompressed music, it won't sound as bad as many put it.  Actually, with uncompressed music, any headphone will sound better (not just neutral). 
    Some personal words.  I personally do not prefer a dead neutral IEM.  That's because the majority of my music is modern (post '00s) and most of it is compressed and a warm over neutral signature (my personal preference) does sound better with them.  But if someone asks for an accurate, neutral headphone, I won't recommend a natural one because it fails at being accurate and neutral (to the source).  Since they used that words neutral and accurate, I assume they know what they are looking for, something that will reproduce exactly what its fed.  Feed it garbage, and it'll play garbage, feed it quality, it'll play quality.  This is the reason why they tend to be unforgiven and regarded to as cold. 
    EDIT: Please do note that I'm not saying that you don't know what you're hearing.  I truly believe that what you are hearing with the bassier headphones is more realistic to you (more natural) because it probably is.  The above is trying to explain why that fact is true.  It also explains why this is all of question of preference for a certain sound signature.  The OP asked for something that was neutral and accurate (assuming accurate to the source, nothing will be universally accurate to what we hear, above infers that without spelling it out specifically). 
  14. proedros
    tinyman392 , 2 words for you my friend(seeing you like music sounding nice and not compressed) - great post btw , this loudness war indeed SUCKS

    vinyl rips.
    tinyman392 likes this.
  15. higbvuyb
    Probe microphone at eardrum level.
    The burden of proof is on you for making this statement. I don't think you can fulfil your burden of proof considering that you're making a blanket statement of superiority rather than a subjective personal one.
    tinyman392 likes this.
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