Out of the loop, happy to be back (after some recommendations, hopefully)
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laerm

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Hey all --
 
I have been out of the loop here for several years as I went back to college and new audio gear was definitely not in the budget...but now that I've graduated and found a good job, hey, let the insanity begin!

 
I had a pair of ER-4p's for a few years in the early 2000s, and I was happy with them, but they got sold in the finance-books adventure. I replaced them with JVC marshmallows (modded according to head-fi spec) and was relatively pleased with them. (Value-wise, at least, they're certainly hard to beat.) Now, though, time for new stuff. I've done some research -- wait, scratch that. Ljokerl's amazing review thread did the research for me; all I did was read it. Beer's on me, friend.
After reading that thread, here are the ones I am initally interested in.
 
  • Audio-Technica ATH-CK10
  • Audio-Technica ATH-CK90 Pro
  • Fischer DBA2
  • Head-Direct HiFiMan RE252
  • Audio Phonak PFE 122
  • Radius HP-TWF11R Pro "DDM"
 
If anyone has half an idea or so on any of these, I'd like to hear it. (I realize the two ATs are dissimilar, but Ljokerl's reviews were intriguing.) Also, after looking at my priorities in listening, if you think something else is good for me, I'd love to hear about it:
 
  • wide/deep soundfield
  • detail
  • isolation
  • highs
  • bass
  • midrange
 
My hearing's shot over 13K, so highs are more important than anything else, and personal preference is bass over midrange -- I mostly listen to minimal electronic/ambient/techno (with world music and a little rock), so the bass means something, along with a deep, detailed soundfield. Accuracy is, I suppose, not as big a deal to me anymore. My listening habits (when I would be using the IEMs, anyway) tend to be train, office, bed. I also have big ears, so anything that's tough on smaller ears won't bother me.
Price range is up to $300, I'd say.
 
I don't have an amp yet (next purchase!) so something that needs an amp would be less favored. Similarly, I'll be listening with my iPhone or J River Media Center, so at least I've got one nice audiophile source.

 
Thanks very much, everyone. Hopefully I can contribute something back soon enough.
 
Micah
 
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a_recording

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I have a few of the options you've listed (and some you haven't) and listen to quite a lot of electronic. I can tell you that while the DDM is one of my favourites out of my collection, with a pretty amazing sound field, amazing reproduction of acoustic instruments, the treble is quite recessed and isolation is basically a no go. Considering you do listen to quite a lot of non-natural instruments, they definitely wouldn't be my first choice, though they are the best value for money I think from your choices.
 
I don't particularly like the RE252's, even after I went to the trouble of making them into DIY custom molded earphones hehe. They do have a lot of fans here though. I find its soundstage a little two-dimensional, and bass roll-off is too early for me.
 
The 90Pro I think is a great choice for electronic music, comfortable and isolating with the right tips. Because its an armature phone, it has a really clean, round and whole note to the notes - particularly electronic pure tones. Not much sparkle for treble, but I think its a easy to live with sound as a result. Soundstage is quite nice as well.
 
However, I'm going to suggest something which isn't on your list, which is the Final Audio Design FI-BA-A1's (and also you should look at the SM3's, which aren't on joker's list yet either). It has all the clean, wholeness to the tone that the 90Pros do, but with richer mids, a substantial amount more bass, and thanks to the moving armature design, physically move a lot more air in the ear, so that they have bass, decay and timbre which is a bit more like the DDM's. So its a wonderful mix of all worlds. Isolation isn't fantastic, but it isn't horrible either, (between the 90Pro and the DDM) and I can really recommend them. You can read about'em here: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/510267/final-audio-s-new-fi-ba-sb-and-fi-ba-a1-balanced-armature-earphones/45
 
And welcome back to the forum

 
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Bennyboy71


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Of the shortlist you've suggested, I've had the CK10 and Radius DDMs, and currently have the RE252.
 
The fit of the CK10 and its sibilance really destroyed these for me.  I have what I would consider perfect ears for iems - never really had any issues with 99% of any I've tried and usually the stock medium tips work great.  But  - excuse the grossness - I ended up with scabs in my ears from the CK10 shells poking away annoyingly, and even when I could stand listening for more than half an hour at a time (alcohol helped numb the pain!), the treble focus of the phones was too much for me.  Clarity and soundstage were top notch, but there was too much top end to accurately render vocals and percussion for my liking - quite a few songs ruined by those sssssss sounds.  Bass pretty poor too, I reckon.
 
The DDMs, on the other hand, are bass beasts, but not in a smeary overhwelming way.  Sounds paradoxical, I know, but somehow the mids stay distinct from the lower bass frequencies and are pretty in your face and naturally organic and warm sounding. Great with acoustic and vocally-driven music, as well as being pounding enough with electronic tracks to satisfy.  Not huge amounts of treble though, so sparkle is not their forte. Soundstage is pretty impressive in width with the DDMs, although they are quite fit dependent and their ergonomics and aesthetics are just plain bizarre so are a real 'Marmite' type iem.
 
Which leaves the RE252.  For me, they fit like peaches and are by far the most comfortable and easy to wear phones I've ever tried. So a tick there.  Soundstage is impressively wide, and I don't subscribe to the view that they lack depth - these are the closest to over the ear phones in an iem that I've yet to hear.  SQ wise, I love, love, love them - clarity is the best I've encountered from a dynamic phone and is wanting for nothing when it comes to rendering the heft and texture of instruments and vocals, across all frequencies.  These are supremely balanced phones and I'd be hard pressed to find negatives. Others might say they lack bass, but thats totally not my experience - bass is better than with any balanced armature I've tried, including top tier giants like the SM3, since it has that dynamic resonance that BA phones struggle to replicate. But I'm not a basshead, so your mileage might do the varying thing - if there is a drop off, I don't care and don't detect it.  So yeah, sound and fit wise I have zero complaints, and when you factor in the cost (got mine second hand but virtually mint for c.£110), these are a killer value for money.
 
Just my thoughts.
 
 
 
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laerm

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Hi fellas -- Thanks very much for the tips and welcome back.
I will see if I can find RE252s and Final Sound As either here or at a local dealer in Chicago this weekend before I order in from a shop. I'll report back with my findings when I have them in hand. Micah
 
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