Never thought it would be this hard: UM1 vs. S.fi 5 vs E4C
Mar 13, 2006 at 4:56 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

luc0

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Well friends, I've been sitting here literally for 3.5 hours trying to decide which IEM's to get. Here's what I've come up with and I know you guys have to read threads like these 20 times a day, so bear with me.

First a little background info: I'm coming from Shure E2C's which were my first pair of IEM's. They sounded great compared to stock buds I had before. However they weren't very comfortable because of the thick, stiff cord which is now damaged beyond repair in only 6 months. And I know there are better sounding buds out there. Anyway here's what almost 6 hours total in research has gotten me, hopefully it might help other people in the market as well. My music tastes are almost always guitar heavy rock/alternative ie: Smashing Pumpkins, White Stripes etc. Lots of Frank Zappa which is often full orchestra.

Oh and one more point, I will NOT be getting an amp. I hate carrying crap in my pocket as it is, I don't need an amp in there as well. I know they add a lot but it's just not practicle for me since 90% of the time I will use my new headphones it will be on the go.

1. Westone UM1: PROS: Superb comfort, well built with exellent flexible braided cable (this is huge for me since how badly the Shure cable has fared, its far too stiff and splits if bent at a sharp angle), low profile when they're in the ear, better sound with Shure triple flange tips. CONS: Well balanced sound but a little muddy especially with the comply tips. Looking for a definate sound upgrade from the E2C's, unfortunately I expect the UM1's will leave something to be desired. Price in Canadian dollars: $124 (additional $15 for triple flange tips)

2. Ultimate Ears Super. fi 5 Pro: I know it's a completely unfair comparison but it's a battle of comfort/durability vs. sound. The lower price, better comfort and better cord put the UM1's above the Super.fi's so far. I do not want to spend 200+ on headphones only for the cord to last 5 months because of how hard I am on them. The cord is replaceable but only available directly from UE and the total price for shipping to Canada will be more than the cords themselves are worth for a total of $55 dollars plus whatever customs fee's. PROS: Dual drivers, Sound quality should blow the UM1's and the E2C's out of the water. CONS: Not as comfortable as the Westones, and again, I predict the cable will deteriorate quickly since how hard I am on them at work especially. Price in CDN: $235

3. Shure E4C's: Two weeks ago this would have been #1. But now seeing how much better the cable design on the UM1 is, they've dropped to third. I still fear the stiff, unflexible cable the Shures have. PROS: Better sound quality than the UM1's, most definately. Comes with quite a few more tips than the Westones or UE's, and my favorite tip with the E2C's were the small clear plastics, which the E4C's come with as well. CONS: Crappy cable, not as comfortable as the UM1's, most people say the Super.fi 5 pro's are much better sounding. Price in CDN: $168

Notable exceptions: Ety ER6i, ER4p/s: I'm sorry, they're just too ugly for me, I didn't even consider them. I think the sound is more detail less balance which I'm not into.
Shure E3C: High high detail, not much bass response. Not the type of sound I like. I listen for long extended periods and do not want to get fatigued.
Super.fi 5 EB: Most say only good if you're a total and utter bass whore.

Anyway I guess I'm still looking for some perspective on this, I want to make the right decision. Please feel free to correct me any misconceptions I have, or anything I've left out.

I think what I really need to do is find an audio shop where I can demo my top 3 buds. Anyone know of any stores like this in the Toronto/Guelph area?

And I hope anyone else thats finding it very difficult to come to a similar decision on this will come in here and express their thoughts.

I WISH I WISH I WISH I WISH THE UM2's were 100 dollars less than they are
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Maybe I should wait for my birthday and split on a pair of UM2's with my parents or something. I can't wait till August though
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Thanks all.
 
Mar 13, 2006 at 5:18 PM Post #2 of 14

spinali

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You have an interesting set of priorities, but I might suggest that you reconsider juggling them a bit more.

Why not get the one the sounds the best, and then demand that the maker replace it if it goes wrong? Westone and Shure are said to be excellent in this capacity, though I don't know as much about UE. My intent isn't to dishonor your reasoning, but rather to suggest that you'll probably be much happier in the long run with great sound. Otherwise, buy a cheap clamshell container and treat your IEM with care. You may be stretching the cable issue out of proportion.

Also, I'm not sure if it's a matter of which has a "better" sound as which has the sound you really like, and your desire to try them out beforehand is a great idea. Why not "purchase" only from a vendor that has a no-questions return guarantee? Don't settle for anything less than what you want.
 
Mar 13, 2006 at 5:41 PM Post #3 of 14

Spyro

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LucO....Perhaps you made error on description of E3C. Lack of high end detail is usually a main complaint with these as they are somewhat veiled up there but the midrange is outstanding and the bass is "adequate." But for reference they WILL have more detail than E2's (but not as much bass).

I do not think that UM-1's are much of an upgrade from E2's in sound but they are definitely more comfortable.

Can anyone fill me in on the Shure cable "problem"(?). I had been using E2's for a couple years for working out sweating all over them and the cable looks like the day I bought it. How does something that robust deteriorate unless it's being abused? I thought the cheesy and weak looking braided cables look far inferior to the Shure cable but maybe I am wrong?
 
Mar 13, 2006 at 6:04 PM Post #6 of 14

luc0

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Sorry I accidentaly put the USD price of $109 as CDN, it should say $126, and that is from marcopolo. In fact Ebay is the only place I've looked for IEM's however I'm calling around Toronto today, I'll let you know what I find. FYI Marcopolo has the Shure triple flanges for $15. They do not have a storefront where we could test out different phones however.

About the Shure wires: As far as I know I am the only one thats had this problem, but it's made me quite sour since I only got these last fall. As I mentioned I think the cables are so thick that, when they get bent at a sharp angle they split. I've tested this by bending it slowly with my fingers and I notice some cracking and if I went any further I can tell it would split. I wear these at work all the time, and I'm very mobile at work lugging bags and boxes, turning my head, etc. so I think I need maximum flexibility which the UM1's seem to offer. I wonder, am I the only one that passes my headphone wires under my clothing to keep them out of the way? Maybe this is putting strain on them. I must be doing something wrong because there are multiple splits on each cable. Unless theres some sort of freak defect going on with just my pair, doubt it though.

I'm still going to see about warranty replacement, but rather than use those and wreck them again in a few months I'm thinking I should go for an upgrade and sell the new E2C's I get. Marcopolo.ca offered me $50 trade in for a new set of E2C's btw, but I could probably get more off ebay.
 
Mar 13, 2006 at 6:06 PM Post #7 of 14

luc0

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Quote:

Originally Posted by xtr3me
well, seing the um1s there kind of surprises me. It'd be expected that the um2s where there, since the um1s are more like the e3c and super.fi3, and the um2s like the e4c and super.fi5.


The UM2's are just to far out of my price range, whereas the Super.fi 5 pro's are only about 30 dollars out of my price range. I still worry about durability though since I'm apparently brutal on my headphone cords.
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Mar 13, 2006 at 8:01 PM Post #11 of 14

B-side J

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Quote:

Originally Posted by vagarach
$168 CDN for the e4c's is an absolute bargain.


uh YEAH..I'd like to know the same thing! I think he means the E3c's though. I got mine for $139 CAD
 
Mar 13, 2006 at 8:09 PM Post #12 of 14

CuriousVoiger

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Haven’t tried any of these IEM’s but the sensible choice seems the super.fi5; since the UM2's are not feasible ATM and the E4C's are more expensive...
If cable damage is the case get a new one in August heh
You want to try the UM1 – get the UM1. you want an upgrade from the E2C – don’t get the UM1.

Just my logical thinking…
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