Toranku's Thoughts and Reviews (and target EQ filters!)
Aug 30, 2019 at 3:33 PM Post #586 of 1,534

Extrasensory

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I had decided to sell my M9 before I saw this thread. Now I am indecisive...

They are that good? Personally, I found them to be too warm (dark) on some songs. I would like to have something really neutral (not warm or bright).

They can't attract me in long listening sessions. They sound great only when I am fresh and have not listened to anything before ATM. They sound exceptional only if I am very needy for music. I can't listen to them all the day as I'll become bored and uninterested quickly. This could be the WOW factor you were talking about or it could be my own problem/preference.

I also need something that has wider sound stage. Sometimes I felt like the sound is too intimate for me and I was uncomfortable.

Any suggestions or recommendations on IEM I should get or stay with? I have tried the FiiO M11 which made the sound less warm but the sound signature went completely opposite. Vocals were forward and lows were far behind, not the Sony-like sound that I am familiar with. The only matching I found optimal was the Cayin N6ii which made the sound fuller depite the warmth. Unfortunately, it is not in my budget. So, I am selling my M9 because I couldn't find any source that I like, also.
 
Aug 31, 2019 at 9:35 AM Post #587 of 1,534

toranku

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I had decided to sell my M9 before I saw this thread. Now I am indecisive...

They are that good? Personally, I found them to be too warm (dark) on some songs. I would like to have something really neutral (not warm or bright).

They can't attract me in long listening sessions. They sound great only when I am fresh and have not listened to anything before ATM. They sound exceptional only if I am very needy for music. I can't listen to them all the day as I'll become bored and uninterested quickly. This could be the WOW factor you were talking about or it could be my own problem/preference.

I also need something that has wider sound stage. Sometimes I felt like the sound is too intimate for me and I was uncomfortable.

Any suggestions or recommendations on IEM I should get or stay with? I have tried the FiiO M11 which made the sound less warm but the sound signature went completely opposite. Vocals were forward and lows were far behind, not the Sony-like sound that I am familiar with. The only matching I found optimal was the Cayin N6ii which made the sound fuller depite the warmth. Unfortunately, it is not in my budget. So, I am selling my M9 because I couldn't find any source that I like, also.

Audio is pretty personal. What I find to be impressive might be average to others, since everyone hears differently. The M9 does lack the dynamics and visceral impact so I can see why you find it boring. I personally enjoy the warmth of the m9 since I am a fan of warmer iems due to the "naturalness" in the sound.

If you don't like the m9, I suggest you get rid of it. No use keeping something you're half hearted about. I've been on the fence about buying m9 too - but I don't know if I will get bored of it even though I find its spatial capabilities highly impressive.

Re: "neutral" iems, maybe try out the qdc 8sh/vx if you get the chance to. They're what I think of when people refer to a fun neutral (perhaps with a bass boost). Perhaps the InEar PP8 too but some may find its tone to be too sterile and boring.
 
Aug 31, 2019 at 10:42 PM Post #588 of 1,534

pithyginger63

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I had decided to sell my M9 before I saw this thread. Now I am indecisive...

They are that good? Personally, I found them to be too warm (dark) on some songs. I would like to have something really neutral (not warm or bright).

They can't attract me in long listening sessions. They sound great only when I am fresh and have not listened to anything before ATM. They sound exceptional only if I am very needy for music. I can't listen to them all the day as I'll become bored and uninterested quickly. This could be the WOW factor you were talking about or it could be my own problem/preference.

I also need something that has wider sound stage. Sometimes I felt like the sound is too intimate for me and I was uncomfortable.

Any suggestions or recommendations on IEM I should get or stay with? I have tried the FiiO M11 which made the sound less warm but the sound signature went completely opposite. Vocals were forward and lows were far behind, not the Sony-like sound that I am familiar with. The only matching I found optimal was the Cayin N6ii which made the sound fuller depite the warmth. Unfortunately, it is not in my budget. So, I am selling my M9 because I couldn't find any source that I like, also.
I recommend trying out a silver cable if you want to be more engaged
 
Sep 1, 2019 at 11:26 AM Post #589 of 1,534

redrol

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Any time I find an iem flatish and not exciting enough, I usually turn it up quite a bit. Due to the Fletcher Muchen curve this usually fixes tonal problems.
Does the M9 respond well to being cranked?
 
Sep 2, 2019 at 2:34 AM Post #590 of 1,534

buonassi

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M7 and M9 are monitoring tools, or so they're marketed as such. I absolutely love the tonality of the M7 - the FR balance is superb - but yeah, it's a bit 'boring' - and my left ear isn't happy with the fit.
 
Sep 3, 2019 at 6:46 PM Post #591 of 1,534

Extrasensory

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Audio is pretty personal. What I find to be impressive might be average to others, since everyone hears differently. The M9 does lack the dynamics and visceral impact so I can see why you find it boring. I personally enjoy the warmth of the m9 since I am a fan of warmer iems due to the "naturalness" in the sound.

If you don't like the m9, I suggest you get rid of it. No use keeping something you're half hearted about. I've been on the fence about buying m9 too - but I don't know if I will get bored of it even though I find its spatial capabilities highly impressive.

Re: "neutral" iems, maybe try out the qdc 8sh/vx if you get the chance to. They're what I think of when people refer to a fun neutral (perhaps with a bass boost). Perhaps the InEar PP8 too but some may find its tone to be too sterile and boring.
Thanks for the reply!

The Anole VX have been my dream IEMs since I demoed them 2 months ago. They sounded musical, natural and full of excitement without warmth in the tonality. The stage width was also pretty impressive. They created an oval sound stage out of my Galaxy S10+. If I wanted to have that kind of stage on the M9, I would have to pair with something like WM1a or N6ii balanced only. The only thing that my M9 did better was treble energy. The VX sounded more neutral in every sound frequency though.

If I want to purchase a new pair of IEMs, that will definitely be the Anole VX. Because I perceive it as clear 1 or 2 steps up from the M9.

Unfortunately, the price is too expensive for me. I will save up and wait untill the right time comes.
 
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Sep 7, 2019 at 12:22 PM Post #592 of 1,534

toranku

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I've been asked quite a number of times as to what I liked best. Thought I'd throw down some IEMs that I enjoy a fair bit. Keep in mind that this is my personal opinion and this list can and will change over time. Some of the factors that help evaluate are "timbre", "tonal balance", "transient response/clarity" and "technicalities". The order is not a ranking.

Empire Ears Odin
Empire Ears' newest flagship strays away from their typical house sound that often lends itself to a lot of bass bloat. The bass shelf is kept cleaner which reduces a lot of midbass bloating and bleed. The character of the Odin is bass boosted but kept neutral in the entire midrange and treble. A slightly warm, bassier sound with tonally good mids. The dynamism of the Odin keeps itself sounding realistic and fun; and in particular finds itself incredibly suited for rendering mainstream modern pop (i.e Carly Rae Jepsen & Dua Lipa) music amazing. Big, audible bass lines with great impact without "dirtying" up the midrange too far.

However where the Odin does slightly stumble is with detail in sacrifice of a fun, bassier sound. The highs of the Odin are a tad dark too - I could definitely use more treble. Perhaps the relaxed treble tuning (in contrast to its forward bass) bottlenecks the detail behind its sound. Another qualm is that the upper midrange can get a bit too honky and forward at times. If not, an overall good tonal balance.

The technical ability of the Odin is really quite solid as well and I have no qualms with the soundstage and imaging. You'll get used to the tactile bass-first approach quickly. Naturally the Odin finds itself quickly on my personal favourites.

Etymotic ER2 Series
When the brand "Etymotic" is mentioned, some would associate the brand with terms such as "clinical" and "sterile". I personally think this holds true for the ER3 and ER4 series. The tuning on the 3 and 4 lacks warmth and exhibit what I refer to as "BA timbre". I find that BA lacks that natural body and decay of DDs and instead can sound grainier and leaner. However when it comes to the ER2, I think that Etymotic has done a great job to change this preconception. The DDs used in the ER2 have a very smooth and pleasing response, as if it was rid of any peaks. The ER2 has a much more natural timbre (and tone) to my ears with its elevated bass response and depth in the sound.

I've had chats and discussions with some audio friends of mine regarding what defines resolution. Some claim that ER4 still offers better "resolution" over the smoother ER2. Some say that the grain in the ER3/4 is texture and is what defines resolution. Yada yada. For me, the ER2 is able to reproduce transients as clean, if not cleaner than the ER4. It does so in a smooth, very natural way. Take for example, the resonance in the low keys of the piano. The ER2 presents those lines/resonances in a bodied expression whereas ER4 has greater emphasis on the initial attack. Which type of presentation is better is up to the individual to decide. I think resolution is quite an all-encompassing term. It's a mixture of factors such as transient response and timbre imo.

If not, the ER2 is not as bright in the 8-10k region which makes it a more relaxing and laid back listen. Makes the ER4 sound a bit peaky, heh. I do also feel that ER2 extends much better in the mid to upper treble region where it does cymbal decay very nicely. I do think that if the ER2 had more brightness in the 8-10k region like the ER4, it would be a very very good curve.

Last point about the ER2 is that the driver packs some serious speed. It doesn't sound congested despite the typical "etymotic soundstage". Everything layers properly as it should. I think it's the fastest DD I've heard to date in an IEM. Overall, just a very good IEM. XR or SE...I think I would suggest most to spring for SE as XR can be a bit too dark sounding with its bass boost. SE has better overall balance but XR's clean subbass lift helps the bass to roar.

I do think it can be a bit ridiculous to put the ER2 next to all the top dogs - but hey this is just a list of personal favourites. The ER2 excels in the areas it is supposed to. Which is why I like it.

qdc 8SL/Gemini
The reason why I didn't include the Anole VX is because the VX has a further lift in the lower-mid treble region which makes it a bit harsh and aggressive to listen to in an extended period of time. 8SL/Gemini strikes a better balance in the FR for me. Both of them offer a great soundstage, fantastic level of separation/layering, cleanly reproduced transients free of smearing and great extension on both ends. The 8SH has a further lift in the 1-2k region but I find that this lift made vocals a bit too shrill and unnatural sounding since 8SH's vocals are not as warm too. If not, the 8SL/Gemini sports decent bass - has the speed and attack to make it an engaging listen.

However in certain tracks, the bass of the 8SL/Gemini can sound a tad hollow and "BA-like". If not I feel that the both are very well tuned with solid technicalities and decent enough tonal balance.

64 Audio U12t
It took me a while to warm up to this one. Previously I did not include it due to the recession in the treble frequencies causing it to sound a bit restrained with hi instruments. It also has an annoying peak somewhere between 12-14khz that could randomly show up in some tracks and give off that relentlessly zingy sound when uncalled for.

Tip rolling does do this one well. There can be a specific tip that may reduce said peak for the u12t. Other than that, it's something of a set that you just put on and...enjoy. The bass response is good and perhaps due to the reduced treble, it makes for a more relaxed, sit-back-and-enjoy listen.

Moondrop Variations
The Variations is a simple, incredibly effective IEM design. Bass is well defined with a tiiiiiinge too much midbass but otherwise already very very very much ahead of most competition in terms of cleanliness and nuance in its bass. Midrange is thin. This may be a dealbreaker for some. Personally I am ok but I would second guess the tonal balance when outdoors. It sounds great in a quiet environment.

The upper treble is handled by ESTs which to my surprise..worked. It isn't the most exaggerated response but it's there, and it's well extended. In some sense it's done in a subtle but pretty refined way.

On a technical level due to the overall smoothness of the IEM (free of peaks and dips), the lack of peaks may come across as a bit technically held back compared to the top dogs. Other than that, a really effective design keeping things simple.

changelog:
22 Dec 19: Replaced PP8 with NT6.
29 Mar 20: Added Dawn.
20 August 20: Replaced IER-M9 & NT6 with Odin & CE6
19 July 21: Removed Fearless Dawn, Shure KSE1200/1500, Craft Ears CE6, PEARS SH3. Added: 64 U12t and Moondrop Variations
 
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Sep 7, 2019 at 12:44 PM Post #593 of 1,534

OverlordRush

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3. qdc 8SL/Gemini
The reason why I didn't include the Anole VX is because the VX has a further lift in the lower-mid treble region which makes it a bit harsh and aggressive to listen to in an extended period of time. 8SL/Gemini strikes a better balance in the FR for me. Both of them offer a great soundstage, fantastic level of separation/layering, cleanly reproduced transients free of smearing and great extension on both ends. The 8SH has a further lift in the 1-2k region but I find that this lift made vocals a bit too shrill and unnatural sounding since 8SH's vocals are not as warm too. If not, the 8SL/Gemini sports decent bass - has the speed and attack to make it an engaging listen.

However in certain tracks, the bass of the 8SL/Gemini can sound a tad hollow and "BA-like". If not I feel that the both are very well tuned with solid technicalities and decent enough tonal balance.

Earlet!
 
Sep 8, 2019 at 4:30 AM Post #594 of 1,534

bukumurah

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I had decided to sell my M9 before I saw this thread. Now I am indecisive...

They are that good? Personally, I found them to be too warm (dark) on some songs. I would like to have something really neutral (not warm or bright).

They can't attract me in long listening sessions. They sound great only when I am fresh and have not listened to anything before ATM. They sound exceptional only if I am very needy for music. I can't listen to them all the day as I'll become bored and uninterested quickly. This could be the WOW factor you were talking about or it could be my own problem/preference.

I also need something that has wider sound stage. Sometimes I felt like the sound is too intimate for me and I was uncomfortable.

Any suggestions or recommendations on IEM I should get or stay with? I have tried the FiiO M11 which made the sound less warm but the sound signature went completely opposite. Vocals were forward and lows were far behind, not the Sony-like sound that I am familiar with. The only matching I found optimal was the Cayin N6ii which made the sound fuller depite the warmth. Unfortunately, it is not in my budget. So, I am selling my M9 because I couldn't find any source that I like, also.

Try using spc (silver plated copper) cables with the M9 to add more bling to the top-end and bottom-end.. that's what I do with my PP8 and they become quite exciting to listen to now.. just don't expect a night and day difference.. cables can only tweak so much..

Oh and thanks @toranku for mentioning the PP8.. it's been a while since anyone talked about those.. i think most people forgot they exist already.. lol
 
Sep 8, 2019 at 5:27 AM Post #595 of 1,534

1Q84

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Hi @toranku any chance you would be reviewing Audiosense T800 and Fearless Audio Roland? Thanks!
 
Sep 8, 2019 at 11:27 AM Post #596 of 1,534

Colors

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I've been asked quite a number of times as to what I liked best. Thought I'd throw down some IEMs that I enjoy a fair bit. Keep in mind that this is my personal opinion and this list can and will change over time. Some of the factors that help evaluate are "timbre", "tonal balance", "transient response/clarity" and "technicalities". The order is not a ranking.

1. Sony IER-M9
For me, the IER-M9 proves itself to be the king of imaging. The M9's strongest asset is how it handles spatial cues - it's able to correctly portray a sense of a "3D" soundstage where I can accurately tell and gauge the distance between instruments. In addition, the M9 has a great deal of balance in its frequency response. I don't feel that any set of frequencies overwhelm each other. The music sounds very balanced and I hear everything. It also has great extension on both ends - providing deep subbass rumble and very well extended highs. Notes are always well separated from each other and the M9 simply refuses to congest no matter what tracks are thrown at it.

The biggest weakness of the M9 would be its slight lack of dynamics. I wouldn't go as far as to say it sounds dead or like a wall of sound. I think it's just that the lower treble is very much tamed which leads it to sound more relaxed. Personally its never sharp, harsh or sibilant. I would even go as far as to say that the M9's transients are a tad blunted, especially with its woofers.

A problem I find with the M9's woofer is that it sounds "slow" next to a typical BA bass setup. The woofer does not sound traditionally BA and instead has a more bodied decay. However the attack is a bit flabby/bloomy which makes the woofer sound a bit lazy and slow sounding. Outside of that, the M9 naturally lands in my list as the strongest contender with spatial cues and soundstage.

2. Etymotic ER2 Series
When the brand "Etymotic" is mentioned, some would associate the brand with terms such as "clinical" and "sterile". I personally think this holds true for the ER3 and ER4 series. The tuning on the 3 and 4 lacks warmth and exhibit what I refer to as "BA timbre". I find that BA lacks that natural body and decay of DDs and instead can sound grainier and leaner. However when it comes to the ER2, I think that Etymotic has done a great job to change this preconception. The DDs used in the ER2 have a very smooth and pleasing response, as if it was rid of any peaks. The ER2 has a much more natural timbre (and tone) to my ears with its elevated bass response and depth in the sound.

I've had chats and discussions with some audio friends of mine regarding what defines resolution. Some claim that ER4 still offers better "resolution" over the smoother ER2. Some say that the grain in the ER3/4 is texture and is what defines resolution. Yada yada. For me, the ER2 is able to reproduce transients as clean, if not cleaner than the ER4. It does so in a smooth, very natural way. Take for example, the resonance in the low keys of the piano. The ER2 presents those lines/resonances in a bodied expression whereas ER4 has greater emphasis on the initial attack. Which type of presentation is better is up to the individual to decide. I think resolution is quite an all-encompassing term. It's a mixture of factors such as transient response and timbre imo.

If not, the ER2 is not as bright in the 8-10k region which makes it a more relaxing and laid back listen. Makes the ER4 sound a bit peaky, heh. I do also feel that ER2 extends much better in the mid to upper treble region where it does cymbal decay very nicely. I do think that if the ER2 had more brightness in the 8-10k region like the ER4, it would be a very very good curve.

Last point about the ER2 is that the driver packs some serious speed. It doesn't sound congested despite the typical "etymotic soundstage". Everything layers properly as it should. I think it's the fastest DD I've heard to date in an IEM. Overall, just a very good IEM. XR or SE...I think I would suggest most to spring for SE as XR can be a bit too dark sounding with its bass boost. SE has better overall balance but XR's clean subbass lift helps the bass to roar.

I do think it can be a bit ridiculous to put the ER2 next to all the top dogs - but hey this is just a list of personal favourites. The ER2 excels in the areas it is supposed to. Which is why I like it.

3. qdc 8SL/Gemini
The reason why I didn't include the Anole VX is because the VX has a further lift in the lower-mid treble region which makes it a bit harsh and aggressive to listen to in an extended period of time. 8SL/Gemini strikes a better balance in the FR for me. Both of them offer a great soundstage, fantastic level of separation/layering, cleanly reproduced transients free of smearing and great extension on both ends. The 8SH has a further lift in the 1-2k region but I find that this lift made vocals a bit too shrill and unnatural sounding since 8SH's vocals are not as warm too. If not, the 8SL/Gemini sports decent bass - has the speed and attack to make it an engaging listen.

However in certain tracks, the bass of the 8SL/Gemini can sound a tad hollow and "BA-like". If not I feel that the both are very well tuned with solid technicalities and decent enough tonal balance.

4. Shure KSE1200/1500
A friend once shared an analogy with me - "hearing the KSE is like putting on your glasses in the morning". I think this holds true. The KSE is a detail monster - it sounds like 4K resolution where you're coming from 1080p. It's just so damn clear (PLEASE USE FOAM TIPS btw). It captures every resonance, every naunce in the track. It's cliche to say, but I do hear things I've never heard before with the KSE. The resolution and detail it provides is simply outstanding and sits at the very top in that category. Add that with it's crazy speed and it also never congests. Just so damn fast. It does have a small-ish soundstage but it won't matter because the music is flashing past by in HD.

The KSE's weakness would be it's tonal balance. Has this peak at 2k which makes vocals sound a bit unnatural. It does put electric guitars forward in the mix though. Other than that, I find the bass well extended (if it isn't well extended then the fit is definitely a bit off) and has a lift to provide some warmth. Treble has that great sizzling decay with immense speed and clarity.

5. InEar Prophile 8
Sterile and clinical sounding. Some say it lacks dynamics but imo its fine in that aspect. The PP8 is one of those IEMs that does spatial cues and imaging well. Just sounds boring due to its lack of warmth in its tonal tonal balance. Another weakness would be its lack of treble extension in the top end. If not, the entire FR is well balanced like the M9.

6. FiR M3 Universal
Perhaps the biggest "?" in this list. I say so halfheartedly because I have no idea if the customs will end up sounding remotely like the Universal. The universal has a very straightforward, bass boosted + neutral type of signature with a good emphasis on tonal accuracy in the midrange. Treble is well extended, reminding me a bit of the cymbal decay in the M9. Lower treble is perhaps a bit dipped to prevent fatigue.

Why I also label it as a "?" is because I think it can sound great if the amount of bass is toned down. One of the problems with FiR's DD is that I find the size of the image of the bass is much bigger than the mid and highs. If FiR can tone down on the bass and focus on improving the tightness in the DD, I would love this a lot.

M9 transparency is next lvl.
 
Sep 8, 2019 at 11:50 AM Post #597 of 1,534

toranku

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Try using spc (silver plated copper) cables with the M9 to add more bling to the top-end and bottom-end.. that's what I do with my PP8 and they become quite exciting to listen to now.. just don't expect a night and day difference.. cables can only tweak so much..

Oh and thanks @toranku for mentioning the PP8.. it's been a while since anyone talked about those.. i think most people forgot they exist already.. lol

PP8 is not an easy sell. When I last worked at the audio store, some people would come in and ask for something neutral. So the usual recommendation I give is the PP8. But usually when they hear it, they say it's good, but sounds really boring. It's definitely not for everyone. I think the PP8 barely makes it to my list - it something I think is pretty great but I personally wouldn't buy.

Hi @toranku any chance you would be reviewing Audiosense T800 and Fearless Audio Roland? Thanks!

The audiosense is a bit difficult unless someone has the t800 and let me hear it. If not your typical chifi doesnt get picked up by distributors/dealers and trying to get a listen is tough. Here in Singapore where there are so many things to try, blind buying into an IEM based on headfi buzz and hype is redundant.

The Roland still hasn't reached stores. I really want to hear it. But it always seems delayed. Not sure what's up.
 
Sep 8, 2019 at 12:07 PM Post #598 of 1,534

1Q84

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PP8 is not an easy sell. When I last worked at the audio store, some people would come in and ask for something neutral. So the usual recommendation I give is the PP8. But usually when they hear it, they say it's good, but sounds really boring. It's definitely not for everyone. I think the PP8 barely makes it to my list - it something I think is pretty great but I personally wouldn't buy.



The audiosense is a bit difficult unless someone has the t800 and let me hear it. If not your typical chifi doesnt get picked up by distributors/dealers and trying to get a listen is tough. Here in Singapore where there are so many things to try, blind buying into an IEM based on headfi buzz and hype is redundant.

The Roland still hasn't reached stores. I really want to hear it. But it always seems delayed. Not sure what's up.
Audiosense's customer service is one of the best I have encountered in my whole life, including even those with real stores, they are better than most real stores salesperson IMO.

I think you can contact their Aliexpress store and link them to this review thread and ask them if you can demo their T800 for review. They just ship thru HK, so Singapore is very near and really manageable.

Also hope you get a hands on those Rolands now that the HK situation has improved, I heard that affected the sourcing for some of the drivers.
Best of luck on your future reviews!
 
Sep 8, 2019 at 1:46 PM Post #599 of 1,534

Extrasensory

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Try using spc (silver plated copper) cables with the M9 to add more bling to the top-end and bottom-end.. that's what I do with my PP8 and they become quite exciting to listen to now.. just don't expect a night and day difference.. cables can only tweak so much..

Oh and thanks @toranku for mentioning the PP8.. it's been a while since anyone talked about those.. i think most people forgot they exist already.. lol

Yeah I knew a silver cable would be a good solution. But I used to try FiiO 2.5D with Ibasso DC01 and I wasn't pleased with the result. Probably the source was too weak. Anyway, the stock cable is silver plated copper.

I really liked the Cayin N6ii tough. It gave M9 the dynamics that was missing. I have heard some people who own the PP8 love it too.
 
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Sep 14, 2019 at 12:52 PM Post #600 of 1,534

toranku

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First Impressions: FiR M5 (Old Tuning) Gen 2

This was the tuning before the supposed final tuning.

Neutral with perhaps a very slightly boosted bass tuning. Great tonal accuracy and sports fantastic levels of resolution. Treble is well extended, capturing fine detail when the sticks contact the cymbals and the cymbal's shimmer and decay. The treble is quite even to my ears which very little IEMs do properly.

Midrange tone shows a hint of recessesion in the lower mids. If not the balance between uppermids and low mids is not bad. The midrange has nice coherency to the DD bass that is tuned to be neutral - fast and yet still well extended into the subbass, exhibiting good dynamics and clearly defined basslines.

Only drawback is the staging which is a bit small, but things layer excellently. Lower mids are a tad recessed but it isn't a problem imo. I think this is really what the Erlkonig should have been. Sounds dynamic and just...great. I'm not sure why FiR retuned this. Going down as one of my favourite iems.
 
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