Need IEM recommendations for operatic vocal tracks
Feb 18, 2020 at 1:14 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 19

AspettiSignore

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New to headfi and would love some recommendations. I don’t really have a price range so suggesting endgame IEMs is also welcomed.
What I’m looking for is something that’s suited for operatic vocals, mainly the baritone and tenor voices. I had a a pair of SE535 and the vocal was quite intimate, but everything else sounded a bit too thin. The shell of the 535 finally cracked recently after many years of uses, and I was having connection issues on and off, so I thought to find myself a replacement for the 535.
 
Feb 19, 2020 at 4:35 AM Post #2 of 19

surfgeorge

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I have been watching your thread to see what's coming up, but since noone seems to have an answer I will chime in with my experience.
I've been building my collection over the past years and besides other people, Crinacle's information has been very helpful.
www.crinacle.com

His ranking table lists the Empire Ears Phantom as specifically good for male vocals and the frequency response of that IEM confirms my recommendation I'd give based on my own collection, the Astell & Kern T8iE (MKII).
For male vocals it seems to be better to have less of a "Pinna Gain" boost around the 2-4kHz range, and the T8iE combines that with excellent clarity and detail. Bass is boosted, but subjectively I find it much less boosted than the frequency response makes it look like. It's not in any way overshadowing the midrange, just gives a clear and warmer foundation.

Another IEM that comes to mind, but one I have only heard briefly, would be the classic Campfire Andromeda.

In either case I'd consider buying used. T8iE should be available around €/$500.

Other IEMs that might fit your need are the Sony IER M7 and M9 models but I'd read about them, I don't have enough time with them to say more than that the M9 really stood out of a a bunch of IEMs I tested.

Edit:
Spent a little time to give Pavarotti a listen through my 2 daily drivers and as expected the T8iE is the better choice, bringing the vocals out more clearly and more foreward. Due to the excellent soundstage of the T8iE the voices are still not up close and intimate, but that is how they are recorded.
I suppose the EE Phantom or the JH Roxeanne that Crincale mentions might be even more focused on the lower mids, but the T8iE is doing a beautiful job as well, and if the voice is foreward in the recording, it also comes out like that with a touch of warmth, great clarity, detail and free of harshness.
At half the price the FD02 is good too but does not have the level of clarity, transparency or soundstage, and is a bit smoothed over.
 
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Feb 19, 2020 at 11:35 AM Post #3 of 19

AspettiSignore

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I have been watching your thread to see what's coming up, but since noone seems to have an answer I will chime in with my experience.
I've been building my collection over the past years and besides other people, Crinacle's information has been very helpful.
www.crinacle.com

His ranking table lists the Empire Ears Phantom as specifically good for male vocals and the frequency response of that IEM confirms my recommendation I'd give based on my own collection, the Astell & Kern T8iE (MKII).
For male vocals it seems to be better to have less of a "Pinna Gain" boost around the 2-4kHz range, and the T8iE combines that with excellent clarity and detail. Bass is boosted, but subjectively I find it much less boosted than the frequency response makes it look like. It's not in any way overshadowing the midrange, just gives a clear and warmer foundation.

Another IEM that comes to mind, but one I have only heard briefly, would be the classic Campfire Andromeda.

In either case I'd consider buying used. T8iE should be available around €/$500.

Other IEMs that might fit your need are the Sony IER M7 and M9 models but I'd read about them, I don't have enough time with them to say more than that the M9 really stood out of a a bunch of IEMs I tested.

Edit:
Spent a little time to give Pavarotti a listen through my 2 daily drivers and as expected the T8iE is the better choice, bringing the vocals out more clearly and more foreward. Due to the excellent soundstage of the T8iE the voices are still not up close and intimate, but that is how they are recorded.
I suppose the EE Phantom or the JH Roxeanne that Crincale mentions might be even more focused on the lower mids, but the T8iE is doing a beautiful job as well, and if the voice is foreward in the recording, it also comes out like that with a touch of warmth, great clarity, detail and free of harshness.
At half the price the FD02 is good too but does not have the level of clarity, transparency or soundstage, and is a bit smoothed over.

Just when I thought nobody was gonna reply haha.

I was also looking at Crinacle's ranking list recently as a reference and it's indeed quite helpful. As for your suggestions, I've never heard the T8iE, but I do own a pair of Xelento, which, according to Crinacle, has a more pronounced treble. I usually find myself listening to my pop tracks with the Xelento because of its boosted bass and treble which produces a very energetic feeling. However, when it comes to operatic male voices, the Xelento seems to be pushing the vocal further into the background, blending with the orchestra. So I guess what I'm really looking for is something more mid-centric (forwarded vocal?), but achieving so without sacrificing too many of the other frequencies.

I think the JH Roxeanne caught my attention now that you mentioned it. Gonna read more about it before making any further decisions. Thank you for your comment :)
 
Feb 19, 2020 at 3:23 PM Post #4 of 19

surfgeorge

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Just when I thought nobody was gonna reply haha.

I was also looking at Crinacle's ranking list recently as a reference and it's indeed quite helpful. As for your suggestions, I've never heard the T8iE, but I do own a pair of Xelento, which, according to Crinacle, has a more pronounced treble. I usually find myself listening to my pop tracks with the Xelento because of its boosted bass and treble which produces a very energetic feeling. However, when it comes to operatic male voices, the Xelento seems to be pushing the vocal further into the background, blending with the orchestra. So I guess what I'm really looking for is something more mid-centric (forwarded vocal?), but achieving so without sacrificing too many of the other frequencies.

I think the JH Roxeanne caught my attention now that you mentioned it. Gonna read more about it before making any further decisions. Thank you for your comment :)

if you have the Xelento it makes absolutely no sense to consider the T8iE, even if the AK has a little less treble and might put vocals a tad more foreward.

But I read in the EX1000 thread a comment that vocals are one of the strengths of the e1k, so I got it out and gave it a listen with Pavarotti.
Damn, yes, they are good with vocals! They are not warm, but have another level of clarity, detail and ”naturalness” that’s a significant step above the T8iE. It feels like a veil is lifted and the sound stage gets more focused. Positioning is excellent.
I only recently got them and find them incredibly detailed, clean, clear and realistic with acoustic Jazz, but in some situations they are a bit little sharp in the definition of the upper frequencies. I have been using them only with Classic and Jazz, but wow, the clarity works REALLY well with vocals too! If you have a chance to get a good pair at a good price I think they are cheap and exceptional enough that they should find a place in a good IEM collection.
 
Feb 25, 2020 at 1:00 AM Post #5 of 19

surfgeorge

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Did you make a choice or narrow down your search?

Your question re-kindled my interest in getting a BA IEM and I found some information that might be useful for you.
Crinacle and Toranku answer questions in their thread, especially if you are looking at a few options and describing clearly what you are looking for.
Also the FitEar 334 comes up a lot as “the best for vocals” and the cheaper QDC 4SS as sharing some of the 334’s strengths but more neutral and extended.
I found a used 4SS and should be receiving it in about a week.
Will report.
 
Feb 25, 2020 at 11:59 AM Post #6 of 19

crysalis115

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Hi there, I recently tried out the Campfire Andromeda's at CanJam (and separately in a quiet audio store), in both cases found them to be excellent for vocals and instrument separation and fitted well for isolation. I would recommend auditioning them if you can with some of the other IEMs you have shortlisted. Good luck & let us know what you go for!
 
Feb 26, 2020 at 12:00 AM Post #8 of 19

AspettiSignore

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I can suggest you the Noble Audio Kaiser Encore with 10 balanced armature drivers. It is really good !
Emmm I've never heard of this IEM before, will look into it. Thank you for your suggestion!
 
Feb 26, 2020 at 12:11 AM Post #9 of 19

AspettiSignore

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Hi there, I recently tried out the Campfire Andromeda's at CanJam (and separately in a quiet audio store), in both cases found them to be excellent for vocals and instrument separation and fitted well for isolation. I would recommend auditioning them if you can with some of the other IEMs you have shortlisted. Good luck & let us know what you go for!
Yeah, the Andromeda is really lovely. It sounds phenomenal, so much so that I got myself a pair a few months back. But I guess I'm just getting greedy and want to hear something that tops the Andromeda.
 
Feb 26, 2020 at 12:33 AM Post #10 of 19

AspettiSignore

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Did you make a choice or narrow down your search?

Your question re-kindled my interest in getting a BA IEM and I found some information that might be useful for you.
Crinacle and Toranku answer questions in their thread, especially if you are looking at a few options and describing clearly what you are looking for.
Also the FitEar 334 comes up a lot as “the best for vocals” and the cheaper QDC 4SS as sharing some of the 334’s strengths but more neutral and extended.
I found a used 4SS and should be receiving it in about a week.
Will report.
Oh my, making a decision is very very difficult so I'm still searching.

Now that you mention it, I'll probably ask Crinacle and Toranku for some suggestions; should be getting some more good advice.
The FitEar 334 seems to be pretty rare these days. I did find out that e-earphones (Largest earphone retailer in Japan) still had limited stock of the 334 priced at roughly $1030 + shipping/fees, so it can get pretty expensive with import duties and all. I'll wait for your report on the 4SS! Thanks!
 
Feb 26, 2020 at 8:20 AM Post #11 of 19

surfgeorge

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Oh my, making a decision is very very difficult so I'm still searching.

Now that you mention it, I'll probably ask Crinacle and Toranku for some suggestions; should be getting some more good advice.
The FitEar 334 seems to be pretty rare these days. I did find out that e-earphones (Largest earphone retailer in Japan) still had limited stock of the 334 priced at roughly $1030 + shipping/fees, so it can get pretty expensive with import duties and all. I'll wait for your report on the 4SS! Thanks!
Yeah, the Andromeda is really lovely. It sounds phenomenal, so much so that I got myself a pair a few months back. But I guess I'm just getting greedy and want to hear something that tops the Andromeda.

If you already have the Andromeda - what would you expect from an IEM to sound better with opera in comparison to the Andromeda?
I saw Crinacle and especially Toranku answer questions if they are clear and narrowly focused, like "I want this kind of sound characteristics and am looking at those options...."
The more precise the question the higher the chance to get an answer :)
 
Apr 16, 2020 at 1:19 AM Post #12 of 19

surfgeorge

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@AspettiSignore
Did you come to a conclusion?
This discussion led to me buying a pair of QDC 4SS and Sony IER-M9, which was both not planned at all!
I have had the 4SS for maybe 6 weeks and described my impressions in the QDC thread here: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/qdc-discussion-and-impressions-thread.804170/post-15510251
I still agree with all I have written there, but feel like I got to like it even a bit more. I now naturally grab it many times, and love the combination of detail and neutrality.

I will have to wait for another couple of weeks to receive my IER-M9 because of the Covid situation
 
Apr 16, 2020 at 11:32 AM Post #13 of 19

SilverEars

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New to headfi and would love some recommendations. I don’t really have a price range so suggesting endgame IEMs is also welcomed.
What I’m looking for is something that’s suited for operatic vocals, mainly the baritone and tenor voices. I had a a pair of SE535 and the vocal was quite intimate, but everything else sounded a bit too thin. The shell of the 535 finally cracked recently after many years of uses, and I was having connection issues on and off, so I thought to find myself a replacement for the 535.
If you are into vocals go with Moondrop iems. Avoid EE Phantom like a plague.
 
Apr 16, 2020 at 8:36 PM Post #14 of 19

AspettiSignore

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@AspettiSignore
Did you come to a conclusion?
This discussion led to me buying a pair of QDC 4SS and Sony IER-M9, which was both not planned at all!
I have had the 4SS for maybe 6 weeks and described my impressions in the QDC thread here: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/qdc-discussion-and-impressions-thread.804170/post-15510251
I still agree with all I have written there, but feel like I got to like it even a bit more. I now naturally grab it many times, and love the combination of detail and neutrality.

I will have to wait for another couple of weeks to receive my IER-M9 because of the Covid situation
Hello again,

Things are going a little bit crazy lately but I did come across an IEM that grabbed my attention. I'm not sure if you've heard of it, or anyone really, but it's called the FAudio Major, a product of a Hong Kong company. It's a single DD IEM with a warm signature. Discussion around this IEM is scarce on this forum, but the guy I get aftermarket cables from has a pair and recommends them. Anyways, I shall be receiving my pair some time next week, will report back.
 
Apr 16, 2020 at 8:57 PM Post #15 of 19

AspettiSignore

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If you are into vocals go with Moondrop iems. Avoid EE Phantom like a plague.
I don't think I've heard of this brand before, which one of their products are you listening to?
 

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