Need to establish IEM baseline
Feb 23, 2021 at 7:42 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

NWcherokee

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So I am looking at getting my first pair of 'real' IEM's and wanted just a bit of advice to get started. What should I look at around $100 mark (good round number but not set) that would be considered the universal value standard similar to the 58x or 6xx (or similar example) in headphones? I figure once I get something and use it for a while then I can establish a personal baseline and understand reviews better since I will then know what I want going forward. I have many amps/dacs and regular headphones but I have never even listened to a decent IEM and there just seem to be so many options with positive feedback.

Edit: Looking for wired if that helps.
 
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Feb 23, 2021 at 8:19 PM Post #2 of 8

Jitu13

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So I am looking at getting my first pair on 'real' IEM's and wanted just a bit of advice to get started. What should I look at around $100 mark (good round number but not set) that would be considered the universal value standard similar to the 58x or 6xx (or similar example) in headphones? I figure once I get something and use it for a while then I can establish a personal baseline and understand reviews better since I will then know what I want going forward. I have many amps/dacs and regular headphones but I have never even listened to a decent IEM and there just seem to be so many options with positive feedback.

Edit: Looking for wired if that helps.
I am worst one to give you advice as I am new to this field myself, but it's not entirely bad that I comment. Atleast you have a bump for your post (so treat it as such)! 😅 Personally I am getting a ER4SR/XR next month, so that I have a reference iem to compare with reviews around. They go for $129 in adorama atm. You can also get yourself a blon, as many reviewer actually use it to compare with their review iem.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 8:30 PM Post #3 of 8

Jitu13

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Also another bump for you. You may also want to try a KZ iem, as many have them in this forum. That way you can get a comparison from forum veterans atleast. Right now, ZAX seems to be the best one to get, or you can get the zs10 pro as that's the old one so most have them (I don't recommend it though, get the zax).
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 9:57 PM Post #4 of 8

unifutomaki

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So I am looking at getting my first pair of 'real' IEM's and wanted just a bit of advice to get started. What should I look at around $100 mark (good round number but not set) that would be considered the universal value standard similar to the 58x or 6xx (or similar example) in headphones? I figure once I get something and use it for a while then I can establish a personal baseline and understand reviews better since I will then know what I want going forward. I have many amps/dacs and regular headphones but I have never even listened to a decent IEM and there just seem to be so many options with positive feedback.

Edit: Looking for wired if that helps.

Moondrop Starfield comes to mind, or you could spend half that and get the KZ ZAX. Both are what I'd consider "safe" recommendations.
 
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Feb 23, 2021 at 11:13 PM Post #5 of 8

Redcarmoose

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So I am looking at getting my first pair of 'real' IEM's and wanted just a bit of advice to get started. What should I look at around $100 mark (good round number but not set) that would be considered the universal value standard similar to the 58x or 6xx (or similar example) in headphones? I figure once I get something and use it for a while then I can establish a personal baseline and understand reviews better since I will then know what I want going forward. I have many amps/dacs and regular headphones but I have never even listened to a decent IEM and there just seem to be so many options with positive feedback.

Edit: Looking for wired if that helps.
That is the greatest question. It’s a very broad subject and covers a lot of ground. In simple words.........Head-Fi and finding your preference in sound signature is a learning curve at best.

That’s not to say you couldn’t just buy a popular sold IEM and hit pay dirt right off. Typically though many of us have found even two different sound signatures or more. There can be a freedom where you are able to like more than one sound signature but need to spend a day using the new (different) IEM in your collection before you can cross over to judge it as 100% natural again. Many members will even rotate one different IEM in their collection into use every four days.

Probably best to think about what style of sound in purchases you have made that they contain. Meaning you can start to generalize sound personalities. You can also follow people who have the same “taste” as you do in sound and have found happiness in the end.

There has never been a better time as far as IEM choice and IEM value offered. It’s so very different from 12 years ago, it’s not even funny!

All of us have been on this same learning curve and it’s a big part of the adventure and makes getting success all the more rewarding! Sorry I don’t know of IEMs having that particular Sennheiser sound?

You could also post this question in the Sennheiser (full-size) threads.......asking what IEM replicates the Sennheiser sound the best.

Good luck!

This thread example is fully outdated but may offer clues?

https://www.head-fi.org/threads/hd600-in-the-form-of-an-iem-with-very-good-isolation.649046/
 
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Feb 23, 2021 at 11:21 PM Post #6 of 8

baskingshark

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So I am looking at getting my first pair of 'real' IEM's and wanted just a bit of advice to get started. What should I look at around $100 mark (good round number but not set) that would be considered the universal value standard similar to the 58x or 6xx (or similar example) in headphones? I figure once I get something and use it for a while then I can establish a personal baseline and understand reviews better since I will then know what I want going forward. I have many amps/dacs and regular headphones but I have never even listened to a decent IEM and there just seem to be so many options with positive feedback.

Edit: Looking for wired if that helps.

It is kind of an apples to oranges comparison to compare IEMs to headphones. IEMs in general will lose to headphones in soundstage. IEMs are more portable and generally have better isolation/seal (and hence subbass), say compared to some open backed headphones.

FWIW, an IEM I found to have the sennheiser type tonality (not talking about technicalities like soundstage) would be the Audiosense DT200. Worth reading about that set, but it is north of $100 USD.

I would advise that instead of jumping into the $100 region, u should try some budget type IEMs, maybe get a couple for sub $50 USD and see if u like them, then upgrade from there. Would be risky to jump into the $100 segment (which is considered lower midfi tier) and if you don't like the set, it would be money down the drain. U can try getting 2 sets, one a single dynamic driver type like the BLON BL-03 and one a multi driver/hybrid type like the KZ ZAX/KZ ZS10 Pro. These different driver types bring different pros and cons: At the budget segment, the dynamic driver types tend to have better timbre/tonality, though may have poorer technicalities. The multi driver/hybrids tend to have better technicalities, but may have timbre/crossover/coherency issues. So they can suit different music genres and preferences.
 
Feb 24, 2021 at 12:12 AM Post #7 of 8

go_vtec

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... that would be considered the universal value standard similar to the 58x or 6xx (or similar example) in headphones? I
Unlike the world of headphones with HD58x or 6xx, IEMs are more diversified and you won't find a solid consensus like HD6xx. There are sort of three main classes in IEMs, balanced armatures only (one or more), one dynamic driver design (also called single DD), or more modern hybrid IEMs that utilized two or more of different types of drivers (like dynamic for bass, armature for mids and highs, and sometimes electro-statics for ultra highs in a singe IEM).

If you are mostly listening to classical/jass, Ety ER4SR or ER4XR (slightly more bassier than ER4SR) represent one of the best single armature drive at around $130. However when you start listening more modern and recent popsongs these won't sound any full or as dynamic as dynamic driver or hybrid design.

Moondrop Starfield is a good single dynamic driver that costs around $110 which sounds fairly spacious and nice for its price. Shure's SE215 can also be bought for around $56 on sale with a bluetooth cable, but you can also add a MMCX cable as an added cost to have both wireless/wired headphones. If you really want warm and slightly recessed sound on a dynamic driver based IEM, Final Audio E-series, can be really good.

If you want the reference hybrid sounds under $500, many folks here will refer you to Moondrop Blessings 2 or its cousin Blessings 2 Dusk (more bassier with slightly less bright treble). They are many hybrids but good highend hybrids can cost significantly more than most of headphones.

If you care for only multiple balanced armature, you can try some Westone (slightly old school) or some Shure lines, but they do not represent the good values for money unless you get them for 50% off or even cheaper in a used market. Final Audio B-series is often referenced by many folks and multiple balanced armature or hybrid designs, especially in Asian market. If you have more $$$, you can easily spend more than $1K for Empire Audio multiple drivers IEMs or even fancier hybrid models for substantially more money. If you live in Portland, OR, you live where Campfire Audio makes some really cool and pricey IEMs.

There are just some samples of what you may want to consider when you want to understand a reference IEM sound since it will be a daunting task for a newbie without able to sit in a listening room to try out multiple IEMs in one spot. IEMs also do get updated much faster with the new models than headphones. Senn HD600 has been around for nearly two decades so that people had more opportunity to hear them as oppose to you won't find an IEM that is over a couple of years old in most of the cases. I think Ety ER-series is probably oldest (several years old), then Shure (nearly the same). Westone is also a old legend, but most of their w-lines were slightly re-tuned about two years ago. A newer hybrid designs and multiple driver designs have been significantly change the average prices of these IEM markets and you will see some from $50 to over few thousand in high end IEMs.

If you want the best sounding IEMs around under $500 (actual price is $310), Moondrop Blessings 2 Dusk will be nearly top of most of IEM users' list here in Head-fi. If you want a single dynamic driver and airy presentation at around $100, Moondrop Starfield is a great choice. If you truly desire a classical reference sound, so that you can related to many Head-fi folks here, then Ety ER4SR or XR is a must at $130.

However, if you were to ask for a good sounding IEM and you budget, then describe what you want want in sound quality use Senn HD6xx as a reference, say you want more bassier, more mids, more v-shaped, or less bright in overall tone, you will have a much better chance of finding what you are looking for. Most IEMs won't match headphones in soundstage or dynamics without spending substantially more money, but folks here will eventually guide you through your journey. Good luck!
 
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Feb 24, 2021 at 12:41 PM Post #8 of 8

NWcherokee

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Thank you folks for taking the time to provide constructive feedback (and more!) to my question. Of course, in doing so I now have even more information to consider (and thus more questions) but I feel like I have some semblance of an educated direction to follow now, which is what I was really looking for. I will take some time to look into the many suggested models, choose which one seems right for me and begin my journey from there. Cheers!
 

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