Natural sounding CIEM recommendation in the $1,000 range?
Apr 6, 2017 at 2:28 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

DougofTheAbaci

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I'm in the market for a new CIEM but I'm a little out of the loop on who's got the best offerings these days. I was hoping the good people in the Head-Fi community could recommend a CIEM to fit my needs.

In general I like a more natural sounding headphone. I like good bass but only when it was intended to be there. Clarity and sound stage are very important to me as well. I'd also be more interested in focusing on something that's less fatiguing as I'll be wearing these at work and on the go, so that's hours of listening every day. In terms of music, I listen to just about everything. Mostly variations of rock, jazz, and classical (mostly in the form of movie scores) but I have a lot of random stuff in my music collection so whatever I end up with has to be a bit of an all-rounder.

And while it might seem rather silly I'd also prefer buying from an American company. Mostly this is due to the added cost of import fees and the annoyance of having to deal with international shipping any time something goes wrong.

As for headphones that others might know to get an idea of my ideal sound signature, I currently own some Hifiman HE-500's and Audeze LDC-2's. I bounce back and forth between them at home, depending on whether I want something that's a bit less fatiguing but still really fun sound of the LCD-2's or if I want that amazing clarity and super wide sound stage of the HE-500's. I think the closest I've ever gotten to my perfect sound signature was a pair of JH Audio JH13 Pro's I used to own.

A couple headphones I'm currently considering:

JH Audio 13 Pro v2: A tad more than I'd want to spend but it's predecessor was borderline perfect to my ears. However, that new cable makes me nervous. It looks bigger than the standard cable (which tends to be a problem for me ergonomically) and a non-standard cable means I'm stuck with the stock one since no one seems to offer a third-party option.

Noble Django or Savanna: I don't know much about these two but I currently have a pair of Noble Savants (universals) that I quite like. Honestly, my biggest complaint about the universals is comfort compared to customs.

Empire Ears Spartan: A company I don't know much about but this sounds like a pretty neutral sound signature and in my intended price range.

Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered: I've heard great things but I'll be honest, the lack of customization on the design makes me a little fussy. Granted all I want is a solid piano black CIEM but I can't even get that option!

Any other CIEMs I haven't listed and should take a look at? 64 Audio was on my list but I know very little about them and they don't seem to be a very commonly recommended company. As I said I'm looking to stick in the $1,000 range (no matter now sexy those Noble Prestige models look).
 
Apr 6, 2017 at 10:49 PM Post #2 of 8

ranfan

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If you like Savant, then I'd recommend getting the Noble Sage. It's better, more refined version of the Savant. Django is pretty good too, both Django and Sage are good all-rounder. Sage being the cheaper, yet sound better for me.

I'd recommend the Noble Sage for the value, and EE Spartan for the sound quality. I like Spartan a lot, but back then I couldn't afford it so I got the EE Supra. Vocals on the Supra are superb. And the Spartan is an even more complete version of it, having better bass, mids, and treble. Spartan is pretty neutral but with a good deep bass, giving some warmth in the overall presentation. Soundstage is pretty big as well, because the mids and treble all are layered well by their respective drivers. You can even get the ADEL version, which is good for releasing ear pressure. It makes the sound more open and transparent, soundstage bigger, but with a sacrifice in bass.

Another US company that I'd recommend is, '64 Audio'. They have a similar technology with ADEL called 'apex' (Air Pressure Exchange).

tl;dr SPARTAN
 
Apr 7, 2017 at 12:05 AM Post #3 of 8

Raketen

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In general I like a more natural sounding headphone. I like good bass but only when it was intended to be there. Clarity and sound stage are very important to me as well. I'd also be more interested in focusing on something that's less fatiguing as I'll be wearing these at work and on the go, so that's hours of listening every day.

Empire Ears Spartan: A company I don't know much about but this sounds like a pretty neutral sound signature and in my intended price range

Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered: I've heard great things but I'll be honest, the lack of customization on the design makes me a little fussy. Granted all I want is a solid piano black CIEM but I can't even get that option!


Suggest trying Spartan at a meet or something before considering them. I don't rec Spartan, but for my first/only CIEM dealing with EE was overall good experience.

FYI, on the UE Pro RR website you can now customize at least the faceplate color.
 
Apr 7, 2017 at 12:21 AM Post #4 of 8

DougofTheAbaci

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Another US company that I'd recommend is, '64 Audio'. They have a similar technology with ADEL called 'apex' (Air Pressure Exchange).


Yeah, they were on my list but as I said I've not heard a lot about them. Oddly enough my company has an office in Portland so I could always go in next time I'm in the area. As for the Noble Sage it appears to be universal only and I explicitly don't want universals.

Suggest trying Spartan at a meet or something before considering them. Others seem to hear it differently but personally find the treble tuning odd (sort of "artificially extended" reminds me of Audio Technica m70x if you have heard that) and fatiguing for long listening. The bass is well done for BA though and as my first/only CIEM dealing with EE was overall a good experience.

FYI, on the UE Pro RR website you can now customize at least the faceplate color.


Yeah, I think the Head-Fi meetup is coming to SF at some point this summer. I'm debating just waiting and walking around the vendors booths to audition some headphones.

And yeah, UE Pro RR can do black faceplates which is kind of nice. But I have my heart set on solid black if I can manage it. For the money I'm looking to spend I kind of don't want to compromise but if it comes down to sound vs. aesthetics black faceplates and clear canals isn't the worst thing in the world.
 
Apr 7, 2017 at 12:33 AM Post #5 of 8

ranfan

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Yeah, they were on my list but as I said I've not heard a lot about them. Oddly enough my company has an office in Portland so I could always go in next time I'm in the area. As for the Noble Sage it appears to be universal only and I explicitly don't want universals.
Yeah, I think the Head-Fi meetup is coming to SF at some point this summer. I'm debating just waiting and walking around the vendors booths to audition some headphones.

And yeah, UE Pro RR can do black faceplates which is kind of nice. But I have my heart set on solid black if I can manage it. For the money I'm looking to spend I kind of don't want to compromise but if it comes down to sound vs. aesthetics black faceplates and clear canals isn't the worst thing in the world.


Sorry, I didn't know Sage is only universal. In that case, Django would be an option, but a more expensive one.

Best way of knowing is trying them out yourselves.

What kind of playlist are you listening?
 
Apr 7, 2017 at 8:08 AM Post #6 of 8

daulagiri

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Custom Art Harmony 8.2. Or if u dont mind darker sound, AAW W500.

I've mixed feeling about JH13v2. Feels a bit thin for my taste. JH16v2 way better, but perhaps also way above your budget.

UERR will obviously the best if you'll use it for production, but sounds a bit boring for general listening :grin:.
 
Apr 8, 2017 at 3:04 AM Post #8 of 8

DougofTheAbaci

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What kind of playlist are you listening?


I really do listen to everything. Lately it's been a combination of The Pogues (recently got back into them), some lo-fi hip-hop, some Punch Brothers, half a dozen different scores (TV and movies)... Often I just put my iTunes library (mostly 16/44 lossless but a growing chunk of 24/96) on random for any track I've rated 4-5 stars.

Custom Art Harmony 8.2


That's a brand I keep hearing about a lot. It is intriguing but they're at a slight disadvantage in the listings for me due to being a non-US company. If it wasn't for the import duties (which sucks) and the fact that international repairs are problematic by default (already been bit by Heir Audio on that one) it just makes me less enthused about going international. Despite the fact that I've had a few of Noble's products and really liked them (for example).

Reading about the CA Harmony 8.2 it does sound like a compelling CIEM. Everything about the reviews I read sounds great but the part about lacking highs has me concerned. Is it "lacking" highs in the same what that they LCD-2's roll off a bit on the highs? I like that at times as it's less fatiguing. But then, I do also like that brighter high of the HE-500 at times, too.

I've mixed feeling about JH13v2. Feels a bit thin for my taste.


When I was looking for CIEMs last time (and ended up buying the 13pro's) it was in the top 5 greatest CIEMs in pretty much everyone's list. The fact that I don't see the 13v2 kind of anywhere makes me concerned, yeah. That and that cable... I get why they did it but it should have been a 2-pin or some other standard connector.
 

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