Top-tier, universal IEM that is actually neutral
May 28, 2015 at 1:30 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

karljs

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I am in the market for some universal IEMs in the range of $1000 or less.  My main criteria is that they are neutral sounding with good clarity, imaging, and treble extension.  I primarily listen to classical and acoustic stuff, occasionally some rock.  I really want to hear those high violin notes sparkle and be able to place them in the orchestra.  I like bass too, but extension and control are much more important than quantity.  Detachable cables and a good warranty are a huge plus.
 
I want IEMs mostly for the isolation.  I have AKG K550s that I use at the office which I am satisfied with, but even with a closed back they don't keep sound in/out as well as I (and my neighbors) would prefer.  At home I use my HD800s nearly every day and I absolutely love them.  While I know that IEMs will probably never reproduce that width in the sound, the relatively flat sound signature is very appealing to me.
 
Please don't tell me to just get customs.  I understand that many of the nicest IEMs are custom-only, but I'm simply not prepared to invest in something that has basically zero resale value.
 
I've auditioned the Shure SE846 and Sennheiser IE800---chosen only because these were available, not because I thought they would be perfect fits---and didn't care for either.  The Shures were lovely in the mids but a hair too boomy and lacked that special something in the treble even with the bright filters.  The Sennheisers, while very fun, were a bit too v-shaped for my taste.
 
May 28, 2015 at 10:53 AM Post #2 of 4

Claritas

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Noble 4 and 6 can be said to represent two competing notions of neutrality:

4 sounds closer to the older sense of neutral "reference" (think HD800 FR)
6 sounds closer to more-current thinking about target curves (think Focal FR)

Best luck!
 
May 28, 2015 at 12:44 PM Post #3 of 4

karljs

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Thanks for the recommendation.  Just based on the reviews I've read now it sounds like the Noble 6 would not fit the bill all that well, but the Noble 4 might.  It's backordered on Noble's website, possibly in anticipation of their new line.  I guess while I do my research I'll keep an eye on their newest offerings.
 
My initial search led me to think the AKG K3000 might be a good choice but I'm pretty skeptical of having non-detachable cables, especially with a remote wired in.  It seems to have been a point of failure for others in the past.  Can anyone comment on that?  Or perhaps their sound signature with respect to the type of music I listen to?
 
Jun 13, 2015 at 12:07 AM Post #4 of 4

takato14

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Hell, probably.
Etymotic ER-4S is very close to neutral and has extremely good isolation and resolving capability. Got mine for $220 new as well, so it won't break the bank.
 
Though, you implied that "special something in the treble" was important, and they lack it... so idk. 
 
EDIT: Actually, no. This thing is definitely not neutral. Very slightly "n" shaped, methinks. FR drops off after 3kHz, with a few small peaks that stand out, so it sounds crisp but still dull and "dead"... plus a slight bump at 2kHz and bass rolloff. There's also slight "congestion" to the sound I can't get over -- probably excessive even order distortion.
 
Still, hard to beat at $300, and impossible to beat for isolation...
 

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