Newbie question on IEM for classical music listening
Jul 20, 2008 at 2:30 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

Lex2

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First of all let me just say that I have almost zero experience with IEMs and am only starting to appreciate these little devices that you can stick in your ears. I listen to classical music almost exclusively, at home and with two cans namely the HD650 and the HD595. The former for those periods when I prefer a wider and farther soundstage (the "muffled" sound seems more bearable for prolonged periods of listening without sacrificing detail) and the latter for those times when a particular piece of music (e.g. a Paganini violin concerto) seems to warrant it. Suffice to say, I love both these headphones, and will not trade them for anything else.

About a few weeks ago, on a whim and also out of curiosity, I bought a pair of UE Super.fi 5 Pros for quite a bargain. Took them back home, followed the instructions about how to put them on, and started playing one of my Sibelius CDs (lossless compression) on a newly purchased iPod (forgive me for being behind the times on this one). The comfort was there, the sound isolation was as promised, but the sound came across to me as being too "bright", to the point of being almost painful after a while. The phones sounded clinical, almost flat, and lacked a certain character that I can get with my "normal" cans. Maybe it's just my ears, or perhaps I just need to get used to these phones, but I didn't quite like the sound signature. After three weeks of listening to it, I decided that things haven't really improved.

Which brings me to my newbie question (apologies if this sounds ridiculous): Are there any IEMs out there that would have a similar sound signature to an HD650, or a HD595 for that matter? Something warm, appropriate for classical, with the proper soundstage, not too bright, not tinny, just luscious and would envelop one with a three dimensional slightly-out-of-your-head experience? Or is this just wishful thinking? If anyone who like to share their experiences (particularly classical music listeners) if would be much appreciated. I have read through the archives and the Shure E530, the Triple.fi 10, and the Etymotic ER4P seems to be getting a lot of good feedback. My budget is about USD500, so can't really afford one of those custom-made jobs costing upwards of a grand.

Thanks.

Lex
 
Jul 20, 2008 at 10:01 PM Post #2 of 17

audionewbie

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Hmm, i was going to make a similar thread but i will just look at this one and see if anything comes. i recently bought some cheap sony IEM to get an idea of how they feel and whilst i can bear that, the sound is terrible compared to my 595's and if i could get something similar sounding that would be great, really need some iem's with decent bass.

hell just something even remotely balanced would be nice.

hope the OP doesn't mind me riding shotgun on this thread.
 
Jul 20, 2008 at 10:43 PM Post #3 of 17

JayG30

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I'm also new to IEM's, so I'm not going to pretend to be the most knowledgable person to try and answer your question. Never the less, I'll attempt to help a bit. The UE Super.fi 5 Pros are a dual balanced armatures design. These configurations tend to be more analytical (bright?) and lack bass that gives a much more smooth/warm/etc. presentation that I think compares more the the Sennheiser's. This design seems to be favored by the hearing aid companies.

Now dynamic drivers I think tend to favor that warm sound more and almost always produce more bass. A good test might be to try out some Future Sonics Atrio IEM's and see how you feel about them. You might find they are closer to what you want. Matching the quality of those Sennheiser's will be tough though.

I'm sure other people will have better advice for you. I was looking for something similar to you (I hate bright speakers) and was told to check out the Atrio's. Future Sonic has been making dynamic driver IEM's for a long time.
 
Jul 20, 2008 at 11:16 PM Post #4 of 17

babya

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Sony's EX85/90 are fine in bass levels-at least that's what I prefer.

Tried any Denon's? Heard on other sites they're quite good.
 
Jul 20, 2008 at 11:47 PM Post #6 of 17

jordanross

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The Triple.fi's are a different beast from the Super.fi's since they have the three driver setup. I quite enjoy these little guys. They are leaps and bounds ahead of the Super.fi's I tried at a friends house. Very smooth , yet crisp, sound. They can handle pretty much handle anything I throw at them. I know this wasn't much help but I thought i'd throw my two cents in.
 
Jul 20, 2008 at 11:48 PM Post #7 of 17

episiarch

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Does it need to be an IEM? The Yuin PK1 earbud has a sound that I think is along the lines you're looking for - a little to the warm side of neutral, and not too bright - and just amazing sound quality (it looks like an ordinary earbud, but it sounds as though there's a full-sized headphone in there).

The PK1 is well within your budget - $160 or so - but it is not very efficient and really needs an amp to play from your iPod. Very good amps can be had for $150 or less.

Re the IEM candidates, though I personally am a huge Etymotic fan, I would tend to discourage their use by anyone who finds the UE5 too bright and wants more of an HD650ish sound signature. You sound more like a Shure SE530 user to me.
 
Jul 21, 2008 at 12:01 AM Post #8 of 17

JayG30

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Quote:

Originally Posted by episiarch /img/forum/go_quote.gif
You sound more like a Shure SE530 user to me.


This was the other IEM I was recommended to look at along with the Atrio's. To bad there both to expensive for me. lol
 
Jul 21, 2008 at 1:03 PM Post #9 of 17

DARKHAVEN

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For classical music and fitting your taste of the Super.Fi 5s, I would highly recommend a Shure set. Shure has a rolled off treble that takes some of the harshness out and balances out the sound (to my ears) better than some of the more analytical-sounding IEMs (your Super.Fi and Etys in particular). But the real reason to go with Shure for classical is the expansive soundstage. Shure is particularly strong at presenting an airy, open soundstage, close to the HD600s I used to have (for a canalphone, let's not get crazy). I have the SE530s and they are fantastic for classical, in my opinion. If you can't afford the SE530s (they can be gotten for $280 on eBay, by the way, a HELL of a deal), consider the SE420s. The SE420s step down to a dual armature instead of the triple in the 530s, but they are excellent and preserve that soundstage (along with the roll-off).
 
Jul 21, 2008 at 4:04 PM Post #11 of 17

Tone Def

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JayG30 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'm also new to IEM's, so I'm not going to pretend to be the most knowledgable person to try and answer your question. Never the less, I'll attempt to help a bit. The UE Super.fi 5 Pros are a dual balanced armatures design. These configurations tend to be more analytical (bright?) and lack bass that gives a much more smooth/warm/etc. presentation that I think compares more the the Sennheiser's. This design seems to be favored by the hearing aid companies.


Yep, my UE's sound somewhat similar to the 595's. The only thing about the 595's is that it sounds more "airy," more open. Don't know how much of this can be ascribed to the "IEMs vs. Cans" factor. The UE's also edge ahead in the bass department but then the 595's aren't exactly bass monsters.

Cheers
 
Jul 21, 2008 at 7:40 PM Post #12 of 17

DARKHAVEN

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As I said earlier, to my ears, the Shures are much closer to the characteristic, open Sennheiser sound than the Ultimate Ears.
 
Jul 21, 2008 at 7:43 PM Post #13 of 17

Tone Def

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^Can't really argue with you since I've not heard the shures.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Jul 22, 2008 at 6:27 AM Post #14 of 17

erasmus

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Though they don't seem to be the IEMs you're looking for, the Etymotic ER-4Ps are the phones that got me into listening to classical music. The brightness and rich mids and highs bring out every bit of detail, nuance, and tone. The word "transparent" describes them really well. Instruments really sound realistic with a good recording and seperation is great.

I actually find the soundstage to be very good. It is different though. All sounds are very well seperated and localized, but overall everything still takes place within your head. So, it's a detailed soundstage but very miniaturized. I find the in-the-head feeling to give a very intimate experience that's unlike full-sized headphones.

The big problem (looking at your desire for warmth) is that these aren't bass-oriented phones. This means that mids and highs are placed far forward of the low registers. That being said, bass is still very good and to my taste. The extension is great and the sound is tight and detailed (not one-note). It's just lacking in the weight and "oomf" that many full-sized phones provide (sometimes too amply). If there's bass, you'll hear it. You'll hear all of it, but it's not emphasized in any way and not a visceral experience. You can EQ without distortion, but it doesn't really get there. I've found exception to this shortcoming though with songs that _really_ have humongous, extreme amounts of bass (eg. daft punk, subwoofer test tracks, etc.). Fantastic impact and body. So, I dunno. Maybe, the ER-4Ps are just neutral, rather than overemphasizing bass? Or maybe I've just become used to their sound, having never heard any of the true "basshead" cans. :p


...
I listen to them out of my cowon d2, ampless. (an ibasso d2 boa is on the way though)
For Sennheisers, I've only had extensive experience with my PX100s, my brother's HD565s, and, for a short time, a friend's HD600s.
Have not heard other comparable IEMs. (UE Super.Fi5, Triple-Fis, Shure SE530s, etc.)
So take my observations with that in mind.
 
Jul 22, 2008 at 6:48 AM Post #15 of 17

momentary_lapse

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I always thought I was a bass kind of guy. IN fact i started with shure e2c then ue super fi.3 then bose in ear , then atrio m5 (all for bass) and now victor fx500.. i think aprt from the shur to the UE. i have been raising the bar each time and thankfully without much of an increase in cost.

the victor fx500 sounds to me the best of what you would need.. it has a tight loud bass which you can rock to and at the same time it doesnt have an overly warm sound which is what the atrio's have.. it reprodces highes really well and the bass is tight and present..

now im not an expert at all.. but after 3 yrs of these phones i believe the victor will pbly suit your needs.. if u need warmer and bassier go with atrio.. but i dont think there is a need to spend more unless u are a real hardcore professional
 

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