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Vision Ears and Rhines Custom Monitors (formerly Compact Monitors)

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  1. Mimouille
    not yet. It is a holiday now in China so I ship them Monday to spkrs01 then everyone gets a week. In the meantime I will listen to the 3 and 4 as much as I can.
  2. lieberstanley
    This review, however, makes me more interested in the SE5. I heard this model before and seemly a great sounding one. I know it's from Poland, it's made of silicone (very few breeds exist in the market), the components inside are huge and complicated, and the owner insists not to ship outside of the EU. And your review reveals its of (or above) the same level (price wise also) with the Stage 4, which makes me even itchy...:D
  3. Mimouille
    Well the SE5 is my darling, but you have to be sure as there is almost no possibility to sell it, so check out the thread for info.
  4. lieberstanley
    Thanks for the info. I'll go and check it out.
  5. H20Fidelity Contributor

    Thank you!  They will give more reach than I thought. 
  6. Ultrazino
    That really depends. Based on my impressions of Stage 4, I felt like the extra amount of bass and highs is cornering me. So personally I think it's a negative trait but the design is meant to improve extension in both directions and Stage 4 is supposed to be the flagship.
    I shuffled through my collection to see which of the two works best for me. The Stage 3 is really versatile and it can push vocals back (Michael Jackson - Dangerous) or put them in the front row (Michael Jackson - Thriller) - it really depends on the recording and mixing. Every track was a new experience for me. The Stage 4 will always push vocals back.
    Rhines Customs told me that most hifi-customers purchase the Stage 4 and Caesar's Palace (distributor in Hongkong) confirmed this. But I would not underestimate the percentage of "hifi-customers" that blindly follow "costs more, must be better".
    If the Stage 4 was tuned exactly like Stage 3, I am not sure if people could tell the difference. (Or the other way around: Maybe use some "3D effect" or "MP3 enhancer" to get close to Stage 4 when using a Stage 3. [​IMG] )
    Since this is the ex-Compact Monitors thread, I know that Compact Monitors experimented with silicone customs in the past but they came to the conclusion that durability is inferior and the product would need much more maintenance and it will still skim after a while. This might be different for us (clean IEM geeks with careful handling) but it makes a lot of sense for on-stage performers.
  7. lieberstanley

    Thanks for sharing.

    I believe everybody here agrees that the preference for sound is personal. We all hold different aesthetics toward music. It is absolutely normal that our perceptions toward the Stage 4 would vary.

    However, I just can't help thinking that maybe it's because of the sources, which no doubt would make huge differences, that have caused this contradictory perceptions. For I don't find the Stage 4 to be "v-shaped" when paired with AK120. As far as I know, the most typical "v-shaped" IEM is probably the UE Triple fi 10. Stage 4's presentation is absolutely not like the TF10.

    Like what I've shared earlier in this thread, though the vocal is not presented up-close, it's neither distant. But in a proper scale, which some of us might reckon not close enough or not immersive enough. It all depends on personal preference. The evidences are when I listened to those famous vocal albums, e.g., "Live In Paris" by Diana Krall, "The Famous Blue Raincoat" by Jennifer Warnes, "Unplugged" by Eric Clapton, or "Come Away with Me" by Norah Jones, etc.,you name it, the vocals were presented well structured, contoured, and really penetrating. No signs of recessed mids at all.

    However, I do find with some recordings, e.g., "Thriller" by Michael Jackson (that is really a good example of a not-so-prominent-vocal recording), "Breaking Silence" by Janis Ian, the vocal can be just of the same strength as the accompanies. Yet, this modest way of presenting vocal, in my opinion, is true to the recording. I've heard these recording on some really good audiophile stereo sets (including my own not-so-high-end stereo set), and the vocals of these recordings were more or less rendered not so prominently.

    So, there, I totally agree with you that it varies track by track. And I truly find the Stage 4 is quite flat in its frequency response (personal feeling, not lab result, of course). A least, my current set up gives me approximately the same sonic experiences as that of my stereo set up. (I've listed my stereo set up in my profile)

    Assuming your source is FiiO X3, maybe, I say maybe, it's the reason for the a little bit flooding bass or the recessed mids of the Stage 4. Yet, I am still happy that the Stage 3 got along well with your X3. After all, a set up that gives you the most fun is a good set up.

    Giving the fact the Stage 4 is the flagship, there is no reason to engineer it as "v-shaped", whichi is generally regarded as a negative trait, as per your opinion. Therefore, I've written to Marcel, the owner of the Vision Ears, asking him about his point of view toward the sound traits of the Stage 4, and also what were the reference set up for them to fine-tune the sound along the way. (I would bet it's probably the feedback of their musician customers...) So far no response yet. I will definitely update if I hear from him.

    By the way, do not underestimate those audiophiles in HK. They may be the most picky customers (sonic performance wise) on this planet. They would not spend a dime on those inferior products even if they are the flagship. The headphone shops in HK have probably the largest collection of branded or non-branded IEMs, overheaders, etc,. They would spend a whole day in the shops just to find out the best. If you can read Chinese, you can search their forums, then you'll know.

  8. Mimouille
    I think the Stage 4 is clearly not flat. I do not know about v shaped, but the bass is boosted for sure to my ears. It is well done though, so I like it.
  9. spkrs01
    I pretty much concur with everything that you have written, and heard the demo Stage 4 very very similar to you....
    I think perception of correct sonic presentation varies from country to country....the Stage 4 has a very modern German high end sound such as from the "modern" Burmester, Analog Domain, Tidal, Cessaro, Trinity Electronic Design who are all making great waves in uBer audiophile land.
    Especially for German high end, the sonics have changed from a highly detailed, treble happy signature a la HD800 to a more full sounding, rich resolving signature, and one that the Stage 4, for me follows.........................
  10. Mimouille
    @Lieber...I have already asked Marcel about the tuning of the Stage 4 and posted the answer in the first post.
  11. lieberstanley

    The Germans must have done something right, or they inhere some mysterious abilities to produce these amazing equipment. They are the dominant force in the audiophile market nowadays.
  12. lieberstanley

    Yeah, I've read it. I totally concur his statement. That's why I reckon it's flat--no obvious peaks or drops throughout the spectrum. Of course, that's my perception.

    What interests me the most is that--what are their original set up for tuning the Stage series? Then, there might be a chance for us to listen to the true "Stage" sound, and such set up will be a very good reference for the users to establish the whole system with the Stage series at the center.

    Good job for sharing the correspondence with the manufacturers anyway!

  13. Ultrazino
    I agree, it will be the sources. In case of sensitive multi-BA designs, the AK120 is suboptimal. CIEMs are designed to be used on stage and require a high sensitivity for high volume. So sources of on-stage performers have a very low output impedance - as does the FiiO X3, but not the AK120:
    RMAA of AK120 with UE TF10. Source: Markus Kraus (Bad_Robot, Hifi-Forum.de)
  14. lieberstanley

    Thanks for the information provided. I have seen similar graphs these days. I need to admit that these tests are of certain significance, but do not reflect the final perception of a specific individual, given the fact there are still other variables involved, anatomic difference,for example.

    Judging from this graph, instead of a drop off, actually there is a little swell in the mids (especially covering the human vocal bandwidth, approx. 60 Hz-1kHz). The lower department is relatively constant. Yet, the highs roll off quickly. So, theoretically, when paired with AK120, the TF 10 should sound very linear for the bass and sub bass, substantial mids (vocal), and dark, unresolved highs.

    Is that so?

    I don't know. I don't have a TF10 at hand. And I know it's not that simple. You know it's not that simple. The frequency response for a realtime playback is dynamic. Does the line still look as illustrated? I am not sure.

    This graph does reflect that AK120 is not perfect (no DAP is!). It had its flaws. The 3 ohm output impedance is the notorious one. Yet, how does it interact with those IEMs or headphone? I don't know. Some are satisfactory, the others not. That's why I always audition the gears before I buy. So far, the 3 ohm doesn't seem to affect the Stage 4's performance. I am curious also what does the freq. response chart of this combo look like?

    Honestly, I do not at all look down upon the X3. It's a capable DAP. But how does it interact with the Stage 4? I will arrange that in the near future. But I know it's gonna be different from the AK120.

    The other thing that I am sure of is that the Stage 4 is not designed as v-shaped out of the factory. Quoted below is the reply from Marcel, the managing director of the VE.

    "Hi Stanley,

    I´m fine thank you!

    I don´t know if there is a precise definition of a v-shaped sound signature, but I think it´s mostly used for a sound that puts great emphasis to the bass and highs. This necessarily means that the mids are not so present. This description does´t fit to the actual sound of the Stage 4, because it´s sound signature is very balanced in a wide range and only the very lows and the very high frequencies are pushed.

    Hope this helps you

    Best Regards


    Schoenen und Karimpour GbR
    Luxemburger Str. 51
    D-50674 Köln"
  15. hilosxdd
    One thing I need to clarify , does VE customs sound the same as Rhines Customs (as of now) ? Sorry if I missed out on earlier pages :frowning2:

    Mimouille , did Marcel or Felix mentioned anything about the difference/similarity in their products in terms of sound-wise , when you were emailing both of them ? :)
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