Ultimate Ears UE-10 vs. Westone ES3X
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pila405

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Hey, i have big problem, i dont know at which IEM to choose.
i mostly listen to classical music [orchestral, piano solos, chamber]. i like natural, neutral, transperent, cohesive and well balanced sound with no colouration. i also care about the soundstage - i like it realistic [not too big but no too small, not too deep but not too shallow] well imaged/pinpoint. i also care about comfort and isolation, which i guess will be very close. and, almost forger, i love sound which reaaach of details, more is better!

i like crispy clear highs with no sibilance, but also not recessed with good expansion. i like smooth, detailed and well pronouced mids. and solid, tight and fast bass [but not many of it - not "boomy-boomy"].

so, please, give me your advice and when you choose at some IEM tell me where it goes beyound the another one.


thank you all!
 
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I was considering a UE11 vs ES3X thread, but maybe this will give me some idea as well.
 
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pila405

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i dont think that i will like the UE11 because as many ppl said, they too much bass for my opinion. and as HPA said, the ES3X should be much more balance and flat with huge soundstage.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by pila405 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
i dont think that i will like the UE11 because as many ppl said, they too much bass for my opinion. and as HPA said, the ES3X should be much more balance and flat with huge soundstage.



Agreed....I want a custom to mimic the Phonaks....Livewires/Es3x/Ue10 seems to be my debate.
 
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I use both the Livewires and UE-11 Pro regularly, and have a few suggestions.

pila405, the LW will meet your desired sound signature to a large extent. The highs are very, very well presented with absolutely no sibilance. Bass extension is there, and there's bass without boominess (but without much impact compared to some IEMs).

The Livewires scale very nicely when better cables are used. I had a chance to review the Livewires recabled with Crystal Cable Piccolo cables, and the improvement was ridiculously good. I talked about it on a different forum:
The Crystal Cable Piccolo cable for LiveWires IEMs - A Review

I mostly disagree with the idea that the UE-11 is too bass-heavy. The LW's sound reminds me of listening to a CD, the UE-11 feels like I'm at the live concert (especially for rock). It feels warmer than the LW without loss of detail, and is a lot more 'fun'. While it is technically an improvement over the LW in most ways, it may not have the sound signature you are looking for.

If you're listening to chamber/piano music, the UE-11 will not be boomy because there is nothing to boom. Massive Attack is another story. The UE-11 will not add what is not there, just emphasize a deep bass presence and provide impact if the recording allows it. But, because of the thicker midrange and stronger bass presence, it might distract you from paying attention to the highs.

Of the universal IEMs I've heard, the LW reminds me of Etymotics, while the UE-11 reminds me of the Westone 3 or Atrio.

However, since you mentioned soundstage, let me say that if soundstage is really important to you, IEMs custom or universal might not be ideal. Universal IEMs provide comfort and fit (for most people), isolation (but so do Etys with triflanges) and detail, but can't compete with well-implemented full-sized headphones when it comes to soundstage (e.g. properly amped K701).

If you're after an expansive 3D acoustic space, you'll find that IEMs still sound more "in your head" than full-sized headphones.

If UE or LW are going to be at CanJam, you can try out their universal fit customs to see if the sound signature fits you.

Consider getting an Etymotic ER4 or LW for portable use, then with money left from your UE-11 budget, you could get a K701 & amp for home use.
 
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digihead

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I need some more time with the ES3x to give you a solid answer.

I can say that I think the UE10 are more neutral, although I have always had a tough with that designation. The highs on the U10 probably align better with what you want., although they will show sibilance all day long if there is even a hint of it on the recording as they are brutally revealing of source material. I don’t consider the UE10’s smooth, unless I am pairing them with the SR-71A and an iMod and then they sound wonderful as that combo adds some much needed smoothness and a hint of warmth that really benefits the sound.

The concept of natural and yet neutral is a bit of a mystery. The ES3x is much more natural sounding with dare I say an organic sound to them. The ES3x is also much more forgiving. In addition, the mids on the ES3x are more of what you are looking for vs. the UE10.

Both have solid, tight and fast bass. There is probably more bass presence with the ES3x, although it is very well done and not as prevalent as the UE11. The UE10’s have the ability to hit the bass where I can literally feel it in my body. Quite a sensation but it is definitely there.

Comfort…both are custom so hopefully comfort shouldn’t be an issue. However, for me, the comfort of the ES3x is far superior as I can wear them for hours on end and literally forget I have them in my ears. I have a perfect fit with the UE10 and I can say that I still notice them in my ears.
Both benefit from an amp and scale equally well.

I have been really fascinated with the ES3x sound. The UE10’s took forever for me to warm up to, however I have grown to appreciate them over the last year or so.

I really don’t listen to classical so I can’t help you with specifics there.
I wonder if you could listen to the Triple Fi and the Westone 3 to get an idea of the house sound of UE and Westone and use that to help guide your decision?
 
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pila405

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thank you very much for the answer.

about the fit, for how long the fit stays tight/prefect?

what do you say about the soundstage and imaging abilities of both iems? and what about the details?

which one will be overall better for my needs?
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by pila405 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
thank you very much for the answer.

about the fit, for how long the fit stays tight/prefect?

what do you say about the soundstage and imaging abilities of both iems? and what about the details?

which one will be overall better for my needs?



The fit of a good custom IEM will remain sealed for as long as you have it in your ear. To me, it is more comfortable to wear the ES3x for longer periods of time.

Soundstaging on both is excellent, along with the details.

Mids are better on the ES3x but the highs are clearer on the UE10.

I personally enjoy the ES3x sound more than the UE10, mainly due to the natural sound of the ES3x vs. the more analytical sound of the UE10. Also, the likelihood of hearing sibilance with the UE10 is much higher.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by digihead /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The fit of a good custom IEM will remain sealed for as long as you have it in your ear. To me, it is more comfortable to wear the ES3x for longer periods of time.

Soundstaging on both is excellent, along with the details.

Mids are better on the ES3x but the highs are clearer on the UE10.

I personally enjoy the ES3x sound more than the UE10, mainly due to the natural sound of the ES3x vs. the more analytical sound of the UE10. Also, the likelihood of hearing sibilance with the UE10 is much higher.



Awesome! How are you liking the ES3x vs. the UE11?
 
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Excellent posts in here.

I love the "natural" sound of the ES3X, and can't stop listening. This is just what I have been looking for in an IEM for the past 2 years. They are a definite step up from the Livewires and Westone 3 - combining the best of both into a detailed but not analytical sounding powerful and smooth IEM.

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f103/w...6/#post5432706
 
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pila405

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how coloured sound can be natural? maybe it feels funnier and nicer, maybe more engaging, but this is not exacly what that was recorded.

and i search for the ultimate iem to deliver the exact sound - no colouration, 100% transperent.
 
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I don't know if the query above was direct to me, but I'll add some to it.

Natural to me mean sounds "like I'm there". What else could it mean? In that sense of the words, then analytical to me sounds more sterile or clinical, which is NOT what the ES3X are. ES3X sounds NATURAL, i.e. realistic timbre and tone with the presence and energy of the real performance, all the micro-details to replicate the acoustic environment, and with a balanced and appropriate frequency response. If natural is more fun because it's more accurate, that doesn't mean it's colored or that it isn't 100% transparent.

I spent another 5 hours with the ES3X yesterday. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that If I was told that I had to sell EVERY dynamic and electrostatic headphone that I have on hand, except for being allowed to keep one, the ES3X would be the keeper. I listed all the faults with each dynamic and electrostatic that I own in the review that I linked above. Yet I am still unable to find fault with the ES3X other than while the "headstage" is fantastic and precise, like ANY IEM the out of head "soundstage" is smaller than the best full size cans (yet better than any other IEM I have owned).
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by pila405 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
how coloured sound can be natural? maybe it feels funnier and nicer, maybe more engaging, but this is not exacly what that was recorded.

and i search for the ultimate iem to deliver the exact sound - no colouration, 100% transperent.



The UE10 are the most transparent custom IEM I have heard. Essentially void of coloration in their sound. Although this may be a sound that some seek out, I for one do not. Coloration is often referred to as a bad thing. I don't want overly colored music, however an audio life void of color in my experience isn't realistic either.

I attribute the UE10 lack of coloration to what gives their more cold and analytical sound. If they had even a hint of warmth, there would be coloration. If they were more of a fun musical, engaging IEM then there would be some coloration associated with that.

I guess to a certain degree I am a slower study in the audio jargon and what it means when I am listening to music vs. many others here on the forum. It took me a long time to realize that analytical sound essentially translated into me catching myself spending more time analyzing the sound and critiquing the performance and playing of the musicians vs. essentially just kicking back and enjoying the music. In essence, this type of analytical listening is what happens when I listen to the UE10, vs. simply being immersed in and enjoying the music and emotion that accompanies it which is what happens when I listen to the ES3x (and the UE11 as well.)

If I were to hold you to the letter of the law on what you're asking for in terms of sound, I would say get the UE10, although be careful...you might just get what you're asking for.

Lack of any coloration means there isn't the ability to help out a bad recording or to smooth out some rough or harsh sound in the recording. If it is sibiliant on the original, it will be sibiliant on the UE10.

This may sound to some to be harsh on the ES3x, not at all. I absolutely love their sound. I have spent the majority of my listening time with the ES3x since I got them and have only plugged in some others to do a quick comparison, as I am doing now listening to the UE10.

The 'natural' sound of the ES3x as Headphone Addict mentions is absolutely captivating. The musicians sound like there are there in the room with you, playing for you vs .listening to a recording. The imaging is almost holographic in its presentation, with a very 3D effect to the sound. The weight of the sound and each of its images is also spot on. It also has a wonderful sense of space, soundstaging and emotion that comes across in its presentation.

However, as I mentioned, based solely on your stated desires, I would say get the UE10.

Making a reccommendation on any custom IEM is always something I have struggled with simply due to the fact that it is often a one shot deal, you can't return them, can't listen to them in advance, etc. My advice on getting a custom IEM is to always do as much research up front as possible. Make a decision and once the decision is made, kick back and enjoy your purchase.

Once you get to the upper tier of custom IEM (ES3x, UE10, UE11, etc) then it is really splitting hairs on sound differences. They are all incredible and if I wasn't a freaked out head-fi'er dying to know what each of them sound like then I'd be happy owning any of them (and I would include the UE5c and Westone ES2 in that group as well.)

Really there are clearly differences between all of the custom IEMs that are the most apparent immediately after switching between them. Once you spend time acclimating yourself to the sound of any of the custom IEM then the differences are much harder to distinguish as their particular sound and experience tends to sweep you away with the music.

I was listening to Garcia/Grisman 'So What' this morning when I woke up using the ES3x (5.5g iMod, ALO Jumbo Cryo/silver dipped gold LOD, RSA p-51, ES3x) and switched over to the UE10 to compare. Immediately, the UE10's highs sounded more present, the body and weight of the images thinned out and the sound overall took on a less engaging presence although commanded attention from the performance itself. After listening for several minutes, the differences between the two melted away and the music took over once again.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by digihead /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The UE10 are the most transparent custom IEM I have heard. Essentially void of coloration in their sound. Although this may be a sound that some seek out, I for one do not. Coloration is often referred to as a bad thing. I don't want overly colored music, however an audio life void of color in my experience isn't realistic either.

I attribute the UE10 lack of coloration to what gives their more cold and analytical sound. If they had even a hint of warmth, there would be coloration. If they were more of a fun musical, engaging IEM then there would be some coloration associated with that.

I guess to a certain degree I am a slower study in the audio jargon and what it means when I am listening to music vs. many others here on the forum. It took me a long time to realize that analytical sound essentially translated into me catching myself spending more time analyzing the sound and critiquing the performance and playing of the musicians vs. essentially just kicking back and enjoying the music. In essence, this type of analytical listening is what happens when I listen to the UE10, vs. simply being immersed in and enjoying the music and emotion that accompanies it which is what happens when I listen to the ES3x (and the UE11 as well.)

If I were to hold you to the letter of the law on what you're asking for in terms of sound, I would say get the UE10, although be careful...you might just get what you're asking for.

Lack of any coloration means there isn't the ability to help out a bad recording or to smooth out some rough or harsh sound in the recording. If it is sibiliant on the original, it will be sibiliant on the UE10.

This may sound to some to be harsh on the ES3x, not at all. I absolutely love their sound. I have spent the majority of my listening time with the ES3x since I got them and have only plugged in some others to do a quick comparison, as I am doing now listening to the UE10.

The 'natural' sound of the ES3x as Headphone Addict mentions is absolutely captivating. The musicians sound like there are there in the room with you, playing for you vs .listening to a recording. The imaging is almost holographic in its presentation, with a very 3D effect to the sound. The weight of the sound and each of its images is also spot on. It also has a wonderful sense of space, soundstaging and emotion that comes across in its presentation.

However, as I mentioned, based solely on your stated desires, I would say get the UE10.

Making a reccommendation on any custom IEM is always something I have struggled with simply due to the fact that it is often a one shot deal, you can't return them, can't listen to them in advance, etc. My advice on getting a custom IEM is to always do as much research up front as possible. Make a decision and once the decision is made, kick back and enjoy your purchase.

Once you get to the upper tier of custom IEM (ES3x, UE10, UE11, etc) then it is really splitting hairs on sound differences. They are all incredible and if I wasn't a freaked out head-fi'er dying to know what each of them sound like then I'd be happy owning any of them (and I would include the UE5c and Westone ES2 in that group as well.)

Really there are clearly differences between all of the custom IEMs that are the most apparent immediately after switching between them. Once you spend time acclimating yourself to the sound of any of the custom IEM then the differences are much harder to distinguish as their particular sound and experience tends to sweep you away with the music.

I was listening to Garcia/Grisman 'So What' this morning when I woke up using the ES3x (5.5g iMod, ALO Jumbo Cryo/silver dipped gold LOD, RSA p-51, ES3x) and switched over to the UE10 to compare. Immediately, the UE10's highs sounded more present, the body and weight of the images thinned out and the sound overall took on a less engaging presence although commanded attention from the performance itself. After listening for several minutes, the differences between the two melted away and the music took over once again.



very good post - I would just like to add that in my eyes if I use your definition of colored or not, then all live musical performances are colored (when you are sitting there listening to the actual band or real instruments play) because the actual performance is fun and engaging too.

When am at a performance and I can reach out an touch the cello or the piano or drums, and then I hear a recording that gives me the same musical experience as if I were really there, then I call it natural and uncolored.

Maybe I tend to think of analytical as being too dry, as well as fitting your definition about causing one to pick apart and analyze the musical parts; but I think of colored as altering the sound from what it should sound like, and therefore I do not like to call the ES3X "colored".
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict /img/forum/go_quote.gif
very good post - I would just like to add that in my eyes if I use your definition of colored or not, then all live musical performances are colored (when you are sitting there listening to the actual band or real instruments play) because the actual performance is fun and engaging too. ....


Ah, that's where I misunderstood from the beginning... To me (and maybe some other classical listeners and players as well), all big-venue amped performances are indeed colored.

I believe when you listen to vocals, you're looking for a live performance, in-concert sound... whereas I look for an in-studio sound, or at least before the sound is amped to the audience.
Similarly, when you listen to strings, maybe you're looking for an amped instrument sound, whereas I look for an acoustic instrument sound, the one that mimics how I hear it when I play in the group myself.
A bit like Shure vs Etymotic, in my limited IEM experience. (And when my Westone 3 arrives, I'd know where the Westone 3 stands in this area)

Now it all clears up
 
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