Newbie, need help narrowing down IEM options
May 4, 2019 at 4:09 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

mcantar

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Hi guys!
As the title says. My headphones (Bose SoundTrue Ultra... yeah, I know) are on their last leg with the cable insulation having separated, and I'm looking for an upgrade.
Just starting to learn about driver types, impedance, etc... think I have a decent grasp on the basics, but as with everything the more you learn the more you realize how much deeper the rabbit hole goes.

Some conversations on reddit have helped me narrow it down to 3 contenders, but I'm having trouble deciding.
I have it down to:
- Shure SE535
- FiiO FH5
- Westone W30

Basic requirements are:
- Decent noise isolation (loud environment).
- Good wearability/fatigue (used for 8+ hrs a day).
- Easy to drive (running off Galaxy S8 without a DAC).
- MMCX cables.

Used for a very wide variety of music.. metal, EDM/dub, R&B, and some more gentle stuff. Along the lines of Slipknot, The Bloody Beetroots, Eminem, Jack Johnson.
So being balanced and well-performing across the board is more important to me than having super heavy bass or some other specific quality.

The 535's ebay prices aren't too far off from the Amazon prices for the other two, but even so I have concerns about actually seeing any benefit from stepping up to that tier given the source I'm using.
On a similar note, I've seen mention that balanced drivers may not be a good option without a DAC which really just leaves the FH5's.

Any advice here would be greatly appreciated.
 
May 4, 2019 at 10:37 PM Post #5 of 14

serman005

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Yeah, but have not personally heard it, so OP will have to do some reading. It's a dual BA, so be sure the bass is adequate. Not sure what the top end of the budget is but he/she could also be looking at the Polaris, a totally different design, depending on what signature they like and how much they want to spend. I also like the iBasso IT04 in this general range--it is terrific, IMO. Happy with iBasso customer service and build quality.
 
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May 4, 2019 at 11:04 PM Post #6 of 14

mcantar

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Some people find it hard to get a good fit or have decent isolation with the FH5's so you might want to try it out first :)

Yeah, I've seen that mentioned. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any audio stores in my area that might carry it (searching around just brings up home audio places that want to sell me a stereo system). Though I suppose if I order them off Amazon I can always return them if I don't like them.

You might also take a look at the Campfire line and see what you think. They have a couple in your general sort of price range that could potentially fit for you.

Yeah, but have not personally heard it, so you will have to do some reading. It's a dual BA, so be sure the bass is adequate for you. Not sure what the top end of the budget is but you could also be looking at the Polaris, a totally different design, depending on what signature you like and how much you want to spend. I also like the iBasso IT04 in this general range--it is terrific, IMO. Happy with iBasso customer service and build quality.

I did take a look at the IO's and wasn't able to find any reviews of them. Looking at the specs they didn't seem to offer much that the W30's don't, and there were lots of reviews for the W30's to give me a decent impression of them, so between the two the latter won out. That's not to say I wouldn't be open to trying them out, just my decision process up to this point.

As for budget... I probably should have made note of that in the OP. I'd like to stay at/under $300ish USD, but will spend a bit more if it's really worth it. The money isn't the limiting factor, more that I'm under the impression that I won't see much benefit in sound quality going above that tier, given that I'm just driving them off a phone (and with streaming apps at that, not true lossless). Of course I'd be happy to be wrong there.
 
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May 4, 2019 at 11:10 PM Post #7 of 14

bgmurph

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Yeah, I've seen that mentioned. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any audio stores in my area that might carry it (searching around just brings up home audio places that want to sell me a stereo system). Though I suppose if I order them off Amazon I can always return them if I don't like them.





I did take a look at the IO's and wasn't able to find any reviews of them. Looking at the specs they didn't seem to offer much that the W30's don't, and there were lots of reviews for the W30's to give me a decent impression of them, so between the two the latter won out. That's not to say I wouldn't be open to trying them out, just my decision process up to this point.

As for budget... I probably should have made note of that in the OP. I'd like to stay at/under $300ish USD, but will spend a bit more if it's really worth it. The money isn't the limiting factor, more that I'm under the impression that I won't see much benefit in sound quality going above that tier, given that I'm just driving them off a phone (and with streaming apps at that, not true lossless). Of course I'd be happy to be wrong there.
 
May 5, 2019 at 11:59 AM Post #10 of 14

bgmurph

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Older iPod into older head amp. My iPod will drive them, but not as well as the head amp. All of that equipment is older and no longer made, so a newer phone would probably be better than the iPod, and I used the dac in the iPod to the Headamp so the dac/amp combo in a newer phone should also be better.
 
May 5, 2019 at 12:26 PM Post #11 of 14

Ainhart

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May 5, 2019 at 12:55 PM Post #13 of 14

mcantar

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Alright, I've just ordered the FH5's... supposedly will arrive by 9pm tonight, but I've learned to not trust Amazon's "same day delivery." Will give them a good test drive and send back if necessary.
If I do keep them, I'll need to find a good mic/remote cable for them, so any suggestions there would be great. I really like the Null Audio Arete series, but they don't seem to offer the curved MMCX terminals that the FH5 uses.
 
May 6, 2019 at 6:14 PM Post #14 of 14

mcantar

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Arrived last night, played around with eartips and then some minor EQ settings. Funny enough I liked the double flange silicone tips hiding inside the soft case more than all of the different tips in the foam tray.

Had them in for about 8hrs today. Little bit less bassy than I was hoping for, little bit on the sharp/bright side of things, but overall I think we have a keeper here.
Just gotta figure out a cable. Ordered some probably-crap ~$30 cable off Amazon for the meantime that should arrive tomorrow, still waiting to hear anything back from Null.
 

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