need help choosing great sounding pro earphones!
Jul 2, 2008 at 5:39 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

marcnyc

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Hello,
I am an audio engineer based in NY.
I listen through reference monitors 90% of the time and when I do use headphones I use a pair of Grado.
I never owned an iPod because I don't like the sound of mp3s but I am buying the new iPhone 3G and so now I too will be listening to music (probably WAV files :wink:) on my way to the studio and around town.
I also sometimes do sessions in other recording studios where I don't know the speakers and the room and so I would like to be able to use a pair of earbuds to have a reference point and possibly to mix with them, if they are truthful enough.
I am not looking for a pair of mobile phone buds with the mic and the answer button, I am looking for a really really good pair of earphones.
I just started researching so I am sure I don't know all the brands.
I considered Ultimate Ears, Etymotics and Shure but I am willing to consider other brands.
My criteria are:
- great sound!
- flat truthful response, so I can use them to have a reference when mixing
- great isolation, so I can use them without turning them up and killing my hearing
- no more than $500, ideally around $300
I am very undecided on whether I should get a dual driver, triple driver or what... I never tried the Etymotics or Ultimate Ears but I did try a pair of shure (don't remember the model) which were about 200-300 and I was happy with the isolation, although the seemed a touch dark (but i was listening to an mp3 on an ipod).
I would greatly appreciate if you could guide me in the choice as there seem to be way too many choices!
Thank you so much for your help.
 
Jul 2, 2008 at 5:48 AM Post #2 of 17

ClieOS

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Ety's freq. resp. is as flat as it can be on a pair of IEM, but it doesn't sound particular musical for most people as it is very analytical and cold sounding.

Any chance you want to try a pair of custom molded IEM? LiveWires (recently seen on American Idols) and FreQ are both with in your budget.
 
Jul 2, 2008 at 11:14 AM Post #3 of 17

poo

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I think Etymotic would possible be the best way to go for your application. The main reason I suggest them is that to my ears, Etys allow you to hear the 'sounds within the sound' moreso that other IEMs I have tried, and also allocate a space to clearly distinguish each instrument. If you want to focus on a particular instrument whilst still hearing the others, it is easy to do. If you need to hear slight varience in tone from a bass or chello within a song (for example), I find Etys seem to allow you to do so. I guess that is how I would try to explain what I mean by their being analytical.

That isn't to say that their sound will necessarily provide the 'flat truthful response' you request - that might mean something a little different to you than it does me, and I'm sure your ears and mine will disagree on what 'flat' or 'truthful' are anyway.

In terms of isolation, my experience is that they are the best. The supplied grey 'foams' provide the best isolation for me, but Shure Olives also fit Etys without modification, will last far longer, and provide only slightly less isolation for me.

Etymotics certainly fall within budget - you might be best to buy a pair within the forum, then if they aren't what you had hoped for you can resell with minimal loss.

Hope you find something suitable - would be great if you can get back to us once you buy something and have used it for a while and let us know what you think and why.
 
Jul 2, 2008 at 2:02 PM Post #4 of 17

marcnyc

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Interesting. So you guys would all recommend the Ety's over the UE's?
I looked at the Ety's: would you recommend the 6i or the ER-6? By looking at their site I notice that:
the 6i go from 50 to 16 while the er6 go from 20 to 16 (which is better)
the 6i are 16ohm while the er6 are 48ohm (which seems a lot, no?)
the 6i are "louder" and more bass heavy than the er6
the er6 have 32dB of isolation which is greater than the 26dB of UE's
the er6 are claimed to be used for mixing
I would almost lean towards the er6, when compared to the 6i, but the er6 cost less and I am inclined to think that the more you pay the better the product, wrong approach?
What do you guys think?
 
Jul 2, 2008 at 3:10 PM Post #5 of 17

ClieOS

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If you have an amp, ER6 can sound better than ER6i. ER6i was developed because people complained their source (i.e. ipod) are not capable of driving ER6 to a sufficient volume, therefore Ety makes ER6 more sensitive thus we have ER6i now.

If you are getting the Ety, than I'll recommend getting ER4P instead of the 6 series. ER4P is much more refined than both ER6 and 6i.
 
Jul 2, 2008 at 4:17 PM Post #7 of 17

tonyfiore75

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If there's one thing you'll learn here it's that everyone has their personal preferences as far as sound signature goes. You have your ETY fanboys, your SHURE fanboys and your UE fanboys (like me) amongst others. They all have their own distinct flavor. Etys are known for their neutrality, for example, but have some complaints regarding their lack of bass.

Once you decide what kind of sound you're looking for it'll make your decision a lot easier. Or, you can just try a few pairs out and return the ones you don't like (within 30 days generally).

Being that you mentioned "flat truthful response" Etys may indeed be your best bet.

Anyway, I am also work in NYC and if you need any suggestions re: where to purchase or if you need to see an audiologist just give me a holler.

Good luck!

-TF
 
Jul 2, 2008 at 4:28 PM Post #9 of 17

ClieOS

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If your idea of better is based on how analytical the sound is, than there is no doubt Ety is the champ. However, analytical doesn't always means music will sound great in your ears. Most people will prefer a warmer sounding, much more musical IEM like UE or Shure. Ultimately, your listening preference dictates what is better for you.

For me, I like the treble and detail of Ety, vocal of SA6, overall balance sound of Triple.fi 10, bass punch of q-Iays, and the smoothness of RE1. By that saying, I have yet to find an IEM that sounds perfect to me.
 
Jul 3, 2008 at 7:25 AM Post #12 of 17

poo

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ClieOS /img/forum/go_quote.gif
If your idea of better is based on how analytical the sound is, than there is no doubt Ety is the champ. However, analytical doesn't always means music will sound great in your ears. Most people will prefer a warmer sounding, much more musical IEM like UE or Shure. Ultimately, your listening preference dictates what is better for you.


Yeah i'd more or less agree with that.

From a personal preference point of view, I would prefer to listen to UE... but that wasn't the question asked.
 
Jul 3, 2008 at 12:38 PM Post #13 of 17

steviebee

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For your application, I agree with Ety as yr choice (ER-4P, with an S cable if you intend to amp) - if you do go the Ety route, x2 on straight to ER-4. And if youare used to a more reference-type sound, I really don't think you'll find the ER-4 'cold' or 'icy'. In fact, to my ears it delivers a superbly musical presentation with a very deep & clear bass,detailed mids and treble clarity - only bettered in my experience (so caveat -I haven't heard every IEM out there) by the UE Triple Fi 10, which is more coloured but in a winningly addictive fashion - both of these IEMs easily overtake the Shure SE530 IMHO.

But if you have the resources, consider customs by all means!
 
Jul 3, 2008 at 2:14 PM Post #14 of 17

marcnyc

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Thanks for your help...
I was considering the Shure SE530's because I had seen them for less but if you guys all think that UE and ETY are better I'll have to decide between those two.

How do the UE Super.fi 5 Pro compare to the ETY ER4P?

Thanks
Marc
 
Jul 4, 2008 at 4:42 AM Post #15 of 17

ok computer

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What about the ety er4b maybe?

From their site:

ER•4B (Binaural) earphones are for the binaural recording enthusiast. The ER•4B is an ideal earphone for use with material that has not been equalized for loudspeaker playback. It was developed from the ER-1 earphone that is referenced to a flat diffuse field and used primarily for speech reception research, where the goal is to produce the same frequency response at the eardrum as would be produced in the live situation.
 

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