Neutral and Reference sounding IEMs?
May 14, 2020 at 3:07 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

DAPpower

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Hey folks, so I have tried several IEMs recently, Campfire Audio Solaris SE, Audio 64 U18 and others.

I finally decided that I wanted a IEM with a very neutral and reference tuning. Do you guys have any recommendations? I'm looking to spend $1000-$1800

So far I have heard people mentioning the Noble Katana IEMs and the Meze Rai Penta, I'm curious to see any opinions on these two.
 
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May 14, 2020 at 8:42 PM Post #4 of 12

ryanjsoo

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I think it's worth evaluating what you didn't like about the models you tried and looking at reviews that have comparisons to the models you're familiar with. See if you can find something with a sound more in-line with your preferences. I've been told the U18 is quite reference-ish, some would also consider the Solaris to be ball-park neutral/balanced. So these are loose terms.

I'd look into the Custom Art Fibae 7 and Moondrop S8. Campfire Audio's new Ara supposedly carries a reference tuning but we'll have to wait on impressions of that one. Generally, their BA offerings are a bit more balanced than their dynamic/hybrid models, the Solaris is an exception, that said.
 
May 14, 2020 at 8:59 PM Post #5 of 12

DAPpower

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I think it's worth evaluating what you didn't like about the models you tried and looking at reviews that have comparisons to the models you're familiar with. See if you can find something with a sound more in-line with your preferences. I've been told the U18 is quite reference-ish, some would also consider the Solaris to be ball-park neutral/balanced. So these are loose terms.

I'd look into the Custom Art Fibae 7 and Moondrop S8. Campfire Audio's new Ara supposedly carries a reference tuning but we'll have to wait on impressions of that one. Generally, their BA offerings are a bit more balanced than their dynamic/hybrid models, the Solaris is an exception, that said.


Thanks! Yes I'm also interested in seeing reading the impressions of the new CA Ara.

The reasons I didn't like the Solaris was because it sounded like it had too much bass. The sound was full and detailed but it sounded muddy in my ears. The weight of the acoustic chamber body was also too heavy and they kept wriggling loose in my ear.
 
May 14, 2020 at 9:37 PM Post #6 of 12

ryanjsoo

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Thanks! Yes I'm also interested in seeing reading the impressions of the new CA Ara.

The reasons I didn't like the Solaris was because it sounded like it had too much bass. The sound was full and detailed but it sounded muddy in my ears. The weight of the acoustic chamber body was also too heavy and they kept wriggling loose in my ear.

I can see that personally, the Solaris, despite not heaving heaps of bass overall, does have a very energetic sub-bass and it is quite pressurised too. Not all DD are like this, the Rai Penta for example, is quite linear and smooth in its delivery. But there, I do not think it showcases perfect overall balance. The lower-treble detail region especially is laid-back so you will find it a lot smoother than Solaris. Still a very nice sound if you want something warm, laid-back and coherent, it certainly gets plenty of ear time with me :)
 
May 27, 2020 at 8:14 PM Post #7 of 12

IEMusic

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Hey folks, so I have tried several IEMs recently, Campfire Audio Solaris SE, Audio 64 U18 and others.

I finally decided that I wanted a IEM with a very neutral and reference tuning. Do you guys have any recommendations? I'm looking to spend $1000-$1800

So far I have heard people mentioning the Noble Katana IEMs and the Meze Rai Penta, I'm curious to see any opinions on these two.

Just to clarify, do you mean balanced (which is not neutral, just not heavily skewed) or a true neutral tuning?

If you mean truly neutral, the ones that come to mind are the Etymotic ER4SR, the Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered, the InEar Prophile-8, as noted above (it’s versatile also), the Fearless S6 Pro (NOT Rui). Hidition has some very well respected IEMs, and some are neutral, Hidition Viento? I don’t know exactly which ones. You will probably have some struggles getting a new Hidition IEM from S. Korea though, language barrier, etc.

Just my opinion, but while Harman tuned IEM’s are balanced. I don’t consider them neutral. I also think most people would not consider any of the 64 Audio IEMs to be truly neutral, and certainly not the Campfire Audio Solaris SE, Meze Rai Penta, or the Noble Katana. That doesn’t mean they don’t sound great though.
 
May 27, 2020 at 8:43 PM Post #8 of 12

DAPpower

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Just to clarify, do you mean balanced (which is not neutral, just not heavily skewed) or a true neutral tuning?

If you mean truly neutral, the ones that come to mind are the Etymotic ER4SR, the Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered, the InEar Prophile-8, as noted above (it’s versatile also), the Fearless S6 Pro (NOT Rui). Hidition has some very well respected IEMs, and some are neutral, Hidition Viento? I don’t know exactly which ones. You will probably have some struggles getting a new Hidition IEM from S. Korea though, language barrier, etc.

Just my opinion, but while Harman tuned IEM’s are balanced. I don’t consider them neutral. I also think most people would not consider any of the 64 Audio IEMs to be truly neutral, and certainly not the Campfire Audio Solaris SE, Meze Rai Penta, or the Noble Katana. That doesn’t mean they don’t sound great though.

It's hard to describe the sound signature I was looking for, basically I wanted an IEM that wasn't too fatiguing to listen to and was somewhat "balanced" like my DAP (SP1000) was, a more realistic neutral sound sig that didn't put an extra emphasis on certain frequencies.
 
May 27, 2020 at 9:05 PM Post #9 of 12

IEMusic

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It's hard to describe the sound signature I was looking for, basically I wanted an IEM that wasn't too fatiguing to listen to and was somewhat "balanced" like my DAP (SP1000) was, a more realistic neutral sound sig that didn't put an extra emphasis on certain frequencies.

I recommend getting either the Etymotic ER4SR (if you don’t mind deep insertion IEMs, and don’t mind an intimate sound stage) or the Fearless S6 Pro (more traditional IEM). You could get the Etymotic on Amazon, to try them and make sure you like them. I think either of these would give you a true neutral/reference tuning, w/o being fatiguing, and for a great value. The ER4SR typically is $300 on Amazon, but I’ve found them as low as $220, sold by Amazon themselves.

If you‘re hesitant to use a multi-flange tip, there are other options.
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/etymotic-ear-tip-options.930440/
 
May 27, 2020 at 9:15 PM Post #10 of 12

DAPpower

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I recommend getting either the Etymotic ER4SR (if you don’t mind deep insertion IEMs, and don’t mind an intimate sound stage) or the Fearless S6 Pro (more traditional IEM). You could get the Etymotic on Amazon, to try them and make sure you like them. I think either of these would give you a true neutral/reference tuning, w/o being fatiguing, and for a great value. The ER4SR typically is $300 on Amazon, but I’ve found them as low as $220, sold by Amazon themselves.

If you‘re hesitant to use a multi-flange tip, there are other options.
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/etymotic-ear-tip-options.930440/

Thanks a lot for the great recommendations, I will most definitely give the ones you mentioned a look!
 
May 27, 2020 at 11:56 PM Post #11 of 12

DAPpower

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I recommend getting either the Etymotic ER4SR (if you don’t mind deep insertion IEMs, and don’t mind an intimate sound stage) or the Fearless S6 Pro (more traditional IEM). You could get the Etymotic on Amazon, to try them and make sure you like them. I think either of these would give you a true neutral/reference tuning, w/o being fatiguing, and for a great value. The ER4SR typically is $300 on Amazon, but I’ve found them as low as $220, sold by Amazon themselves.

If you‘re hesitant to use a multi-flange tip, there are other options.
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/etymotic-ear-tip-options.930440/

Looks like I will give the Fearless Audio S6 Pro a try, I don't see too many reviews or videos on the Pro version, only the Rui. If they are neutral but still very detailed, I would be very happy with them.

I was thinking about the ER4SR but they look really scary lol.
 
May 28, 2020 at 6:35 AM Post #12 of 12

IEMusic

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Looks like I will give the Fearless Audio S6 Pro a try, I don't see too many reviews or videos on the Pro version, only the Rui. If they are neutral but still very detailed, I would be very happy with them.

I was thinking about the ER4SR but they look really scary lol.
Over time, people usually get used to the deep insertion fit of the Etymotics, and they provide stellar isolation. There are plenty of other ear tip options as well, but you are not along in being apprehensive about them.
 

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