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Trying to decide which IEMs to buy...

  1. apendleton
    So my venerable Sennheiser CX300 IEMs died, this week, and I'm now looking to replace them, probably with something a little nicer (though I was pretty happy with those), and possibly with something with a microphone, so I can use it for cellphone calls. I listen to a lot of things, but a fair bit of classical, and particularly early music, stuff, which tends to have lots of complex, tight harmonic stuff going on, which makes me pretty concerned with detail. Bass is less important... I'm not anti-bass, but don't really listen to any hip hop or reggae, or anything like that. My budget is somewhere in the $80-$120 range, though I could do more for the perfect set if necessary.
    I've considered and read reviews for all of these:
    1. Klipsch S4: everyone seems to rave about these. Only downside is that apparently, the version with the microphone (the S4i) doesn't seem to work well with Android phones, of which I have one.
    2. Etymotics hf2: again, these things get high marks, and are supposed to be very detailed. Slightly on the spendy side, though, and some people say that even though the flat response on these is more accurate, people accustomed to other makers' equipment, which tends to be bass-ier these days, find these to feel boring, or like they're missing something. Haven't used them, so no idea if that's valid.
    3. Shure SE115m: reviews say these sound good, but maybe have the opposite problem of the Etys: very bassy, to the point that they sacrifice clarity in exchange for boosting the bass.
    4. Ultimate Ears super.fi 5vi: supposed to have great sound, but there are complaints about build quality, and Amazon is full of people saying they fell apart after two months and it was impossible to get anyone on the phone to replace them.
    5. and, I guess, Sennheiser mm70ip: this would basically be my fallback, since I was generally a fan of my old Sennheisers, which just broke. I actually tried one model down from these, the mm50, thinking it was just the cx300 plus a microphone, but was disappointed in them when they arrived (noticeably inferior sound to the cx300, felt muddy and distant in comparison). I think, though, that maybe the mm70s would be better, and it seems like Sennheiser is usually in line with my feelings about balance and so forth. Still, almost nothing seems to have been written about these.
    Anyhow, not sure where to go from here, since I haven't actually used any of these. Help?

  2. maxnight1189
    Wow, its really creepy how similar our situations are.  My Custom-2's died this week so now Im out looking for replacements.  I too listen to a fair bit of classical music, alot of it early, but also alot of minimalistic stuff (Reich, Adams, etc).  Anyway, Im also looking for something in the $100ish range, though I hadnt looked at any of the ones you mentioned other than the S4's.
    I have found generally good things about some other ones you might want to consider though:
    >Image X5/X10(i) - Maybe alittle pricey and possible chord issues (seems to be a thing with Klipsch :frowning2: ) but theyre supposed to sound really good.
    >Etyo ER6i - dont know many details but in general people have liked them.
    >IE6 or IE7 - found them on amazon for ~$150.  I saw one review that hated them, but they also hated the Custom-2's which were relatively nice IMO.  And other people have liked them so I dont know.
    >t-Jays and/or q-jays - found a (very) few reviews that really liked them but no one else seemed to have heard of them.
    In my experience the Custom line is pretty nice so that might be something to consider too.  I think they're out of production now so you might be able to find them cheaper than MSRP.  Just beware the chord issues that come with the Klipsch name...
    Sorry, that if didnt really help you all that much.  Hopefully everyone else will be more useful.
    -Andrew (<--- I told you the similarities were creepy)
  3. apendleton
    Haha, yeah, looks like we're hovering around the same territory.
    My sense is that the x5 is the next level up from the s4 in class, and probably a bit more expensive than I was looking for (the s4 can be had for about $90, whereas the x5 seems to go for about $160 or so).
    Conversely, for the Etymotics, the hf2 is the +microphone version of the hf5, which is the next level up from the er6i.  The hf5 sells for about $120, it looks like, and many reviews seem to suggest that it's markedly better-sounding than the er6i, with a similar balance, so I'm thinking if I end up going with that brand, I'll probably spring for the hf-something ones.
    Not familiar with the others, but will look into them (haha, just what I need: more options...)
  4. maxnight1189
    Upon more research it appears the q-Jays are around $200 so I guess those are out.
    Check out this (MASSIVE) thread:
  5. Marcus_C
    If you need a microphone the beyer mmx100 is worth a look, otherwise the best of your original 5 (haven't heard the sf.5) is the hf2, very light on the bass from what you'll be used to but detail is exceptional. I wouldn't describe the se115 as super bassy, just super average. Alternatively. If you've found Joker's comparison thread, in the list in about the 8th post, there are indications which of the iem's have microphone versions. Phonak pfe is always popular but I haven't heard it so can't recommend it.
    From the second post: I can't recommend the ie6 or er6i, the ie6 is too bassy and muddy considering it's price, the er6i I haven't owned for a long time but i'd be surprised if it still stacks up well at your price range. The others I haven't heard.
  6. Fimbulvetr
    Hey so I'm new here, but I have owned the S4 and TF10, as well as briefly trying the RE0 so I might be able to help you a bit.
    My S4s are currently broken but I used them for ~half a year so this is I recall about them.
    The S4 has a pretty strong V shaped signature and really emphasizes bass. I hear the CX300 is also pretty bassy, so this may be a plus for you. For me it was overwhelming until I EQed it, but it was pretty enjoyable after that. The mids were quite recessed; significantly more than my TF10 and some songs just didn't sound good with it IMO. The highs were pretty good, but aren't as analytical as they could be and they aren't exceptional at instrument separation (compared to TF10 and RE0). However, this isn't to say they're bad at detail; I felt the S4 had better detail than my PX100; a popular portable headphone.
    As for soundstage, the S4 has a pretty narrow one, so avoid it if you don't like that. Personally I was okay with it but you can probably get better for the price. Comfort-wise, the S4 is pretty awesome; the eartips fit really well into your ears and I could wear them for hours and hours without any problems. It's also a small IEM so it doesnt stick out and looks pretty good IMO.
    I think if you can get them for 60$ or less, it'll be worth it; otherwise I hear there are many better options for the price, as in Joker's IEM thread.
    As for the X5; I would definitely not buy this IEM; in the comparison threads I read, the RE0 (80$) was equal to if not better than the X5.
    Now I can't say I have much personal experience with the RE0, but it is extremely popular here. From what I can tell, it is well liked because it is extremely detailed, excellent at instrument separation, can hit extremely high and low frequencies, and is hands down the best IEM at its price point if you like how it sounds. When I compared the RE0 briefly to my S4, it clearly destroyed the S4 in highs, mids, detail, and instrument separation. The flaws are that it doesn't have much bass quantity, may sound boring, and some say the build quality isn't that great.
    However, if you're willing to spend 150$, you can get the Triple fi 10 (TF10), a triple balanced armature (BA) driver IEM (triple driver BA in ears are top of the line in ears). Keep in mind that triple driver IEMs are usually ~300$, but amazon recently had a 95$ deal on these, so they're a sick deal right now.
    The Image S4 and Super fi 5 vi are no match for the TF10 soundwise, and though I haven't tried the Shure SE 115, the TF10 competes against the highest end Shure model, the 400-500$ SE530/535 so I doubt the SE115 can compete.
    Personally, I really like the TF10; its picks out details of the music very well, has very nice highs and lows, has a large soundstage, and makes music pretty exciting, unlike the RE0. Soundwise, I don't think the TF10 has any major flaws, but some people do complain about the mids being recessed. I do agree that the mids are recessed, but only slightly, which isn't a problem for me.
    The TF10 is a large IEM though, so it does stick out noticeably out of your ears, and the cables for it are terrible (all stock UE cables are terrible). However, the TF10 also has removable cables and you can replace the stock cable with something much better quite easily. It is pretty comfortable as well and comes with a very nice carrying case and a bunch of accessories.
    Other IEMs that I think you might like based on Joker's IEM thread are the Soundmagic PL50 (55$), the Fisher Audio Silver Bullet (67.50$), or the Fisher Audio DBA-02 (160$, but top tier)
  7. Mkubota1 Contributor

    Totally agree with you on the SQ of the TF10s.  The cable- there are two kinds.  The silver boxed TF10s have a thinner flat-black cable with a straight connector- I think this is the more 'fragile' one that people report will break prematurely.  The black boxed TF10s have a shinny thicker cable with a sturdy right angle connector.  At first when I took this cable out of the box I was horrified.  It was stiffer than a cheap extension cord and horrifically ugly with it's cheap plastic shine.  But after using it for a while and keeping it either straight or coiled up for storage (in about a 4" spiral), the cable flattens out so that it doesn't have those hairpin kinks.  I've actually found that I like this cable and the right angle connector.
  8. apendleton
    The TF10 does look really nice, but I can't find the with-mic version for less than $200, which is probably more than I feel like paying, at this point.

    I also spent some time reading through the monster comparison thread. Even more options! Ugh. From my original list of IEMs to consider, I guess I'm probably axing the Shure set (everyone seems to think they're really blah), and adding the Phonak PFE122, of which I wasn't even aware, before, but that people seem to praise pretty highly, and possibly one of the Fischer sets (again, never heard of them before today), and maybe one of the Monster Turbine ones?

    Anyhow, hopefully I can actually come to a decision in the next day or two. Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

  9. Mkubota1 Contributor


    It must be noted that the TF10s are 'artificially' priced low because of the $95 Amazon promo during Xmas.  We all have different tastes in what we like, but no one will argue that these belong with IEMs in the $300-$400 range (Shure 535s, Westone 3s, Monster Coppers, etc.).  Anyway, that said- you can get the TF10s without the mic and buy the mic cable from UE for $20 from their site.  That should still keep you under $200 and you'll have a spare cable!
  10. Fimbulvetr


    I wouldn't add the PFE w/ mic as its 160$ while a TF10 is 150$, and the cable with mic is 20$. The PFE's sound quality is also supposedly similar to the much cheaper RE0. And personally I wanted to buy the PFE at one point but comparison threads I read generally said they were a step down compared to triple driver IEMs.  I wouldn't go for the turbines as I've heard build quality problems with those (at least for the pro golds and coppers) and you can probably get better for the price.
    @Mkubota1, a guy I know bought the black box amazon TF10s on black friday, but his cable's already done. I'm not sure he got the L-shaped jack though.
    @ TS, again superior cables like the Westone/Null audio ones can easily remedy the problem so don't count out the TF10s just because of the cable.

  11. Mkubota1 Contributor
    He certainly wouldn't be the first this has happened to.  I'm curious to see how people with broken cables are treating them.  I've never ever had a cable from anything go bad on me except when I crashed on my mountain bike.  To be fair, I generally use these when I am sitting or relatively stationary.  I use these mostly at home or in the office so I'm not winding them up everyday.  When I do wind them, I keep the memory wire shaped so I am not re-bending them every time I put them on.  And I am super careful with most everything I own.  I can see on the thinner of the two cables (straight plug) how the tip of the memory wire can damage the actual signal wire over time- like after a few hundred bendings.  The shiny cable seems like it may use a different material for the memory portion, and overall the cable jacket and plug look more durable.  Also, I just assumed out of a small sample that the packaging correlates with the cable- it might not.
  12. maxnight1189
    Hey, so how do people feel about the Denon AH-C710's?  Ive found a few posts (like this guy here: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/535312/denon-ah-c710-review-comparison-to-the-751-s-a-lot-of-pictures-videos) but not many comparing them to other sets. Thoughts?
    Also, could anybody describe the differences between the Custom-2's and the SW-Xcape's (and the Denons) for me?   I was relatively happy with my Customs so I kinda wanna know how the ones Im considering compare (especially since, apparently, the Custom-2's arent well-liked).  Ive read Joker's thread and all but Im still not sure.  One thing I really liked about them was the added dimension they brought to music (I suppose thats the "soundstage"), atleast compared to my previous Bose In-Ears.  I think it would be nice to have an even better (larger?) one but maybe they already have a good one for their price, and trying to improve upon it is going to push me too high up the price ladder.  Im relatively fond of bass too, but I was pretty happy with what I got from the Customs so I dont want to overdo it.  Theres the bit about BA vs. Dynamic prejudice too.
    Anyway, the TF10's sound awesome but I havent been about to find them (even without mic) for less than $150 and I would prefer to stay a little closer to $100.  Otherwise I would have just ordered the DBA-02's by now and been done with it!

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