UM1 first impressions, or Curse You Head-FI!
Mar 21, 2006 at 5:05 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

JeffS

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 1, 2003
Posts
725
Likes
0
I just received a pair of UM1's and I'm not sure how I like them yet.
Part of me actually likes them, and that is why I'm a little concerned.

Allow me to explain:

I'm an Etymotic fan. I love my er-6i's. I've listened to the er-4p and
hoped that my 6is would break, so I could justify the upgrade. I can tell you
now, that although they look fragile, they aren't. Needless to say, I'm still
loving my 6is.

I figure this makes me more of a detail fan. I like the tight controlled bass, the
crisp accurate details, and hearing absolutely everything.

At the recent Chicago Head-Fi meet, I was one of the lucky door prize winners, and
got to take home a pair of UM1's. Thank you Westone, your donation will be put to
good use, and critical review.

When I plug in my UM1s the only thing I hear is muffled mud. I think wow, this is lousy
but at least it didn't cost me anything. There's more bass, but it kind of reminds me of my
old Sony EX-70s. I do find them more comfortable though, and figure, maybe they serve a purpose.

Amp to the rescue:
I plug my UM1s into my Xin SuperMini-3 and fire up the Karma. Hey, these are sounding better,
but not much resolution, and just kinda off. I add in the 75ohm resistance switch, and it made
a major difference. Though now, the bass seemed to go away a bit. So, I set the jumpers for
bass boost, and things are shaping up. We're still not quite there though. One more jumper, crossfeed.
Ok, now we've got a winner. This is now a setup I can listen to comfortably. It's not my Etys,
but for casual listening, it might work. Time will tell.

But wait, I think to myself. It seems I really need to doctor these things up to make them
sound good. Maybe I should just sell'em and stock up on ety tips and filters. Hmmm...
Nope, I think I'll burn'em in instead.

So, about 20 hours of unattended listening at what would be uncomfortable volumes had they
been in my ears, and I pop them back in my player. Now I like them. They aren't bad straight
out of the headphone jack, and even better through the amp. Damnit, I like the UM1s. It's not
the classic Ety sound that I love, but there is something oddly inviting about these things.

Now I'm upset. These are actually pretty decent, but more over, I'm now thinking if these
are good, maybe the UM2s would be even better. But what about the accuracy? I can hear the guitar
but not the individual pluck of the string. I do miss that, I really do. A background drumstick tapping
on the rim of the snare, becomes a ticking. I KNOW what it is, but I can't hear it clearly. Yet
for some reason, I kinda like the new sound. What happened to me?

Curse You Head-Fi!

I was all set in my IEM ways. I was going to get custom tips for my etys, when a friend convinced
me that spening more on tips than for the phones was crazy. I thanked him for the advice, and
quickly decided he was right, I should get Sensas 2x-s instead. Problem solved! This of course would
be the last pair of IEMs i'd need, and I could be happy, having reached the end of the road.

Now, I have to question which sound signature I like better. Can I get the best of both worlds?
Should I grab some UM2s? Will they give back the detail that I lost? Should I venture down the Shure
road? If I get UM-56s, I can use those on Westone and Shure IEMs. I was ready to be done with the eternal
search for the happy sound, and now I'm back at the beginning.


-Jeff
 
Mar 21, 2006 at 6:56 PM Post #2 of 16

harrydog

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 17, 2003
Posts
38
Likes
0
I really can't help you out here but I do know that the UM1 wasn't for me. I kept them for a couple of weeks before returning them just yesterday. They didn't have the clarity and detail that I like. No matter what I did, they still had a slight veil which kept me from enjoying them. From everything I've heard, the UM2 is better, but still very similar to the UM1, so you're not going to get the detail you may be looking for with them.
I ordered the ER4P which I should have done in the first place.
 
Mar 21, 2006 at 7:10 PM Post #3 of 16

Jahn

Headphoneus Supremus Prolificus
Joined
Jul 2, 2004
Posts
21,332
Likes
32
Welcome to the team. You are Cursed.
 
Mar 21, 2006 at 7:22 PM Post #4 of 16

JeffS

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 1, 2003
Posts
725
Likes
0
Thanks Jahn,

I never felt cursed until now. I considered my addiction, I mean hobby, to be well under control. Now, it's starting to bug me...

I just want a laid back, analytical, detailed, crisp, warm, fun sound. Is that so much to ask from an IEM? Is it really????

-Jeff
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 4:48 AM Post #5 of 16

asap2006

Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 3, 2006
Posts
88
Likes
0
Hey Jeff, I got my UM1s and am now starting to notice the lack of detail...muddy sound. The thing is, with the foam tips, the sound is no longer muddy, but quite balanced. With the triflanges the sound is pretty muffled to me.

So my question is what tips were you using with your UM1s and what tips with your er6is?

I'm thinking of getting a piar of er6is to compare with since my main goal is neutral, accurate sound.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 5:56 PM Post #6 of 16

JeffS

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 1, 2003
Posts
725
Likes
0
With the UM1s I use the large comply tips. They provide the best sound, so far. With the ER-6i, I recommend the tri-flange tips. If you can get a good seal with them, it's the best possible sound, isolation, and bass.

When I listen to both side by side, the difference between the two phones is noticable, and I like each for different reasons. The er-6is will sound great out of just about any source you throw at them. I do think they opened up a little bit with an amp, but it's really optional. I thought the UM1s sounded very muddy until I amped them and found the right tweaks.

Since you found the balanced sound with the UM1s, you really won't gain much adding the 6i to your lineup. You will get neutral, natural, accurate, detailed sound from the 6i, and that's what makes them so great. Since you don't have the 6is yet, take the next step, and buy the 4p or 4s. 6is only run about 80-100 and 4ps go for about 180-200. Spend the extra hundred.

having the 6is, it's hard to justify upgrading, but if you really want detailed, revealing phones, er-4ps.

-Jeff
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 7:32 PM Post #7 of 16

asap2006

Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 3, 2006
Posts
88
Likes
0
Thanks Jeff,

I kind of jumped the gun on the UM1 being balanced...it is more so with the comply tips, but not enough for me, still too much treble rolloff causing a muddy sound. I can eq to make it better, but it's still annoying to me.

I asked this in another thread, but what are your thoughts on the er6, not the er6i. That's supposed to be near the accuracy of the er4. I know that an amp plays a role in this, but even with a DAP wouldn't the er6 be closer to the er4 than the er6i? My DAP would be a good one, the monolith premium or iaudio u3.

Others have suggested to get the er6i since I won't be amping it, but if accuracy/neutrality is what I'm looking for would you still say the same? Bass isn't really a concern for me, mids and highs are much more important.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 8:29 PM Post #8 of 16

Jimothy

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 26, 2004
Posts
338
Likes
10
I modded shure triflanges into biflanges, as many have, and it took a ton of mud out of the sound. It's night and day. It seems the foam muffles everything.

Of course, I haven't owned any other IEMs, so I don't know how they compare to Etys.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 8:49 PM Post #9 of 16

catscratch

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 29, 2004
Posts
3,858
Likes
349
You're not going to find warmth and detail in an IEM until you hit customs, or get the Stax SR-001, which isn't an IEM and doesn't isolate in the first place
icon10.gif
But hey, it's fairly portable.

I think that you have three options as far as an upgrade goes.

The first is to go for a custom. That will probably give you what you want. It will cost an arm and a leg, made more dear by the fact that you can't resell them. You'll also have to gamble on sound signature, though it does sound like Sensaphonics are what you need, or maybe the ACS T2i, or possibly the Westone ES2 (it's warm and Ety-like).

But, the problem with customs is the impending arrival of the E500. If it is as good as the customs, then it will make a custom IEM a waste for us high-end users since we won't be throwing all resale value out of the window with the E500. So, your second option is to wait until the E500 comes out.

Your third option is to get the SR-001 MkII. It will give you the sound you want and then some, and it won't break the bank while doing it. I like it more than my customs in some ways, though not in all. But, the problem here is that it doesn't isolate at all, isn't all that comfortable, and although it's quite portable, it necessitates that you carry spare batteries around with it, since the amp goes through a pair of AA's in about 4 hours (but you could get more life with rechargeables).

Your choice
tongue.gif


P.S. the are no compromise-free options on the portable front. I know, I've looked long and hard and spent literally thousands. The closest you'll ever get is a MicroAmp/MicroDAC with an iHP-120/140 and a pair of full-size cans. If you consider this portable, then, well... kudos to you. Don't let the snickering behind your back distract you.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 9:35 PM Post #10 of 16

JeffS

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 1, 2003
Posts
725
Likes
0
Just a quick followup regarding the e500 vs. customs.

The e500 is going to list at $500, and even though street price will be lower eventually, at the beginning, I doubt we'll see much of a drop. Custom ear tips from Sensaphonics cost $150. Translation: customized e500s (best of both worlds) would come in at $650

The Westone ES2 is $650.

Just some food for thought.

-Jeff
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 9:43 PM Post #11 of 16

catscratch

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 29, 2004
Posts
3,858
Likes
349
You have to consider the true cost-to-own for any headphone as opposed to a sticker price. When you buy a custom, you're out of it's asking price, period. With a universal-fit, you can resell it and only lose 20% or so of your money, or you can buy used and resell it with zero loss (though when the E500 comes out, we might see a drop in high-end universal-fit IEM prices).

The ES2 at $650 is more expensive than any universal-fit/custom sleeve combo at $650, IMO.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 5:00 AM Post #14 of 16

thestumper

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 31, 2006
Posts
49
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by JeffS
I just want a laid back, analytical, detailed, crisp, warm, fun sound. Is that so much to ask from an IEM? Is it really????

-Jeff



Actually, in my opinion, yes. You usually get some combination of those things, but typically not all in one. It sounds like what you want is a balance. Balance = compromise in one or more of those areas. Extremely analytical, crisp, detailed sound is usually the contradiction to warm, laid back, and fun. To much detail/analytic presentation can be harsh - to much of a warm and laid back sound can be muddy/veiled (sp?). Some people really dig listening at these extremes, but for many, a good balance is preferred. Especially under $200. In reality, any single driver IEM is compromised. Some are better than others. Once you get to dual drivers, the compromises become less significant and you tend to get better balance. I can't wait to hear a tripple...

I had the UM1's and I liked them for what they were - a $100 single-driver IEM. Once I got the right seal, they were very enjoyable and easy to listen to. However, the rebate on the dual-driver SuperFi 5 Pro's was too tempting, and I ended up with them as my keepers. They offer a really nice balance for me; good detail across the range, but not so much as to become shrill or harsh. I find them very "musical", which is totally subjective, but thats how they soudn to me. I could have found better detail or more warmth at or above the price point (normally $200) but these were the perfect compromise/balance in the end.

I suggest you try the SF5P's, along with others that are mentioned here. There aren't really any bad choices - just different preferences among them.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 2:31 PM Post #15 of 16

JeffS

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 1, 2003
Posts
725
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by thestumper
Actually, in my opinion, yes. You usually get some combination of those things, but typically not all in one.


Ok, I was being a bit sarcastic looking for "everything" in one pair of headphones. Maybe I should have put a smiley after it, but I did think it was obvious. My mistake.


Actually I think the final step is going to lead to customs later this year. It's really down to choosing ES2 or 2X-S.

-Jeff
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top