Portable headphones/IEMs with Isolation sub-£150
Mar 24, 2008 at 8:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 31


100+ Head-Fier
Jul 13, 2007
Hello everybody.

I'm looking for a pair of portable headphones or IEMs to use on the commute to work/school on noisy buses etc. Therefore isolation is a must.

I also want whatever I get to be reasonably comfortable. If I get IEMs, in particular, I want a pair which are easy to insert and remove. I guess this rules out the use of foamies and IEMs such as the Super fi 3s. Another thing: I don't want any IEMs which have the over-the-ear cable, as I believe "normal" cables will make for easier insertion/removal.

At the very most, I might spend up to £150 on these. However, this is only because the Sennheiser HD-25s (which is one option I'm considering) cost £140 here in the UK. Ideally I don't really want to spend more than £80 on a pair of IEMs.

Whatever I get, it'll either be used directly out of my iPod Nano's headphone out or through my Corda Move if necessary.

Here's what I'm looking for:
- Portability
- Durability
- Isolation
- Comfort
- Ease of insertion (IEMs)
- UK availability

Here's what I'm not looking for:
- Over-ear cable
- IEMs which require foamies to sound good
- Ugly headphones (remember, these are to be used outside!)
- Anything too expensive
- Second hand 'phones

Possible options I've considered so far:
- Sennheiser HD-25 (£140)
- Etymotic ER-4P (£140)
- Etymotic ER-6i (£65)
- Q-JAYS (£130)
- D-JAYS (£70)
- Audio Technica CK7 (£70)
- Denon AH-C551 (£70)
- Denon AH-C700 (£70)
- Denon AH-C751 (£130)
- Atrio M5 (£95)

Thank you in advance, I look forward to your advice.
Mar 25, 2008 at 12:34 AM Post #2 of 31
I don't know the exchange rate between £ and dollars but livewires (custom in ears) has a cable that goes over the ear, or can be rotated so it goes down the front.
The sound quality is amazing. And they look nice. =]

The er6i and the er4p are also attractive in ears.
again i don't know UK prices.
Mar 25, 2008 at 10:28 AM Post #3 of 31
I'd consider the Sleek Audio SA-6. I paid about 120 quid for them. Very decent indeed. I use them more than my Etymotics now, although the Etys will never be parted with.

Also, the Sennheiser HD25 you mentioned are great too!
Mar 25, 2008 at 11:22 AM Post #4 of 31
Thank you for the suggestions, guys.

I hadn't really considered Livewires or the SA6s. I don't think either can be purchased in the UK, though. Also, seeing as they're quite expensive I'd be reluctant to import them from the US as I may be charged quite a lot for import charges. Just out of interest though, how much would Livewires/SA6s cost in the US, because I suppose I could get them shipped to the UK.

Can anyone tell me the difference between the ER6 and ER6i, and also the ER-4P and ER-4S please?
Mar 25, 2008 at 9:45 PM Post #5 of 31
This thread has already fallen back a few pages so I just thought I'd do a little BUMP.
Mar 25, 2008 at 10:12 PM Post #6 of 31
ER-6i. Or ER-4P if you want to spend more money (online averages around $170 US).

But don't use the triflanges or the supplied foamies. Use the Shure black tips (the so-called "olives").

The olives aren't like regular foamies; they're washable like sleeves, and you can insert them easily (without compressing) like sleeves, but they isolate and have the comfort level of foamies.

If you're like me and have problems with cable microphonics, a quick and easy mod for either Etymotic IEM is to wrap a small length of electrical tape around the individual wires leading to the drivers to hold them still. This prevents them from bouncing and smacking against clothing, hair, earrings and themselves.

I did this recently and it has greatly reduced the cable thump to such an incredible degree that I'm really enjoying them much more than I did before. And it doesn't make them any harder to put on.

Edit: Difference between Etymotic IEMs.

The ER-6 are the "old" model; they're less sensitive than the ER-6i and don't sound as good right out of a DAP's headphone out. Otherwise very similar to the ER-6i.

The ER-4S are the original ER-4, they have a moderate impedance (100 ohms) and need to be amped to sound good or loud enough. The ER-4P are the "portable" model designed to be used right out of a player's headphone out. They have a much lower impedance (27 ohms) and have a bit of a low frequency boost above the ER-4S.

The ER-4S needs an amp, but the ER-4P sounds better with one even though it's not required.
Mar 25, 2008 at 10:44 PM Post #7 of 31
Thank you so much, synaesthetic; that's really helped!

I'm shying away from the ER-4Ps as they're about £140 here in the UK. Do you think they're worth it compared to the ER6is which I've found for £60?

Also, are these the tips you're referring to?

What's wrong with those supplied with the ER6is, just out of interest? Oh, and thank you for the information about the cable mod to prevent microphonics, that will be very usefull!
Mar 25, 2008 at 10:55 PM Post #8 of 31
Yes, those are the tips. I hate buying stuff on eBay though. =/ I think I can con Guitar Center into ordering the black olives tips for me though.

The problem with the tips the ER-6i comes with, well, the triflange tips are unwearable to me. They're really painful. And the included foamies are too long, so the earphone sticks out and has no bass.

The Shure tips really add more low-end punch to the ER6i and make them oh-so-comfortable.

And I think the ER-4P would be more worth it if you could get it for cheaper. I'm not sure what exchange rates are right now with the dollar in such terrible shape, but I'm guessing 140 GBP is quite a bit more than $170 USD which is what Amazon has the ER-4P at.
Mar 25, 2008 at 11:00 PM Post #9 of 31
don't forget the JAYS!! especially the q-JAY is easy to insert/take out and has a very good seal. And the sound incredeable. And mayby this amp can help, because it makes talking to people possible without taking your inear's out. something like the push-to-hear thing from shure.

Also a very cheap in-ear with a (for the price) impressive sound is found here, for only 10 euro's (7,80 GBP). Mayby not what you're looking for, but telling it anyhow just to be complete
Mar 26, 2008 at 12:13 AM Post #10 of 31
I just updated my original post with more headphones and prices. Thank you for reminding me about the JAYS, Jelle Schrijver.

The thing is, I think ebay will be my only source for these tips as I can't find anywhere in the UK that sell them. I guess I could get them from Amazon.com, then have them shipped to the UK. That might end up being more expensive, though.

With the addition of the D-JAYS and Q-JAYS to my list of viable options, are the ER6is still the way to go? Also bear in mind the prices of these 'phones in the UK, as some are a lot more expensive here than in the US and may not be worth getting.

Thanks again for all your help.
Mar 26, 2008 at 1:07 AM Post #11 of 31
Wow, sorry about the prices in UK. ER-6i is a very nice IEM. It was my first and i still listen to them everyday. Very detailed in terms of SQ. It seems though on your price list ER-6i is the worst in terms of price conversion. In states they can be had for $75; for simplicity i always just convert 1 GBP to 2$ (I think it's actually 1.89...); so you are getting massively ripped off. But ER-6i are good IEMs!

With those prices, i'd buy ER-4p when visiting the states, or on ebay. 140GBP is almost $300!
Mar 26, 2008 at 10:21 AM Post #12 of 31
have a look over at one of the sponser of head-fi. There I found the best deal.
Mar 26, 2008 at 11:04 AM Post #13 of 31
Thank you, but the trouble with buying overseas and getting them shipped to the UK is that I'll probably have to pay some quite hefty import charges. Plus it'll make returns/repairs or what have you all the more complicated.

I think I'd just rather buy from somewhere in the UK, or possibly Europe. There prices are pretty ridiculous though aren't they!

So, if I were to buy from the UK, which would be the best value?
Mar 26, 2008 at 11:26 AM Post #14 of 31
Online, iheadphones.co.uk is a good candidate or advancedmp3players -both are excellent stores.

For Shure olives, the choice is surely Ebay seller Idealsound -based in US but wonderful prices & free shipping worldwide! Pretty fast too. You can buy olives from Shure UK, but heavy on your wallet...
Mar 26, 2008 at 12:58 PM Post #15 of 31
I've just updated my original post with a poll and other 'phones I'm now considering.

Here's a new list:
- Sennheiser HD-25 (£140)
- Etymotic ER-4P (£140)
- Q-JAYS (£130)
- Denon AH-C751 (£130)

- Atrio M5 (£95)
- D-JAYS (£70)
- Audio Technica CK7 (£70)
- Denon AH-C551 (£70)
- Denon AH-C700 (£70)
- Etymotic ER-6i (£65)

I've split them up into 2 (well, 3) price bands. Are there any here I should remove from the list (for example, are the C700s better than the C551s or vice-versa)?

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