what are some top tier universal iems these days?
Apr 23, 2013 at 1:07 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 26

danielghofrani

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Hey guys, 
I am thinking about upgrading from Shure SE535.
I listen to a lot of classical and opera. I need an IEM with good soundstage and seperation.
the reason I don't want to venture to customs is because:
1- they seem quite expensive
2- the added costs of impressions and shipping, refit issues
3- they need remolding every few years. I have had my 535s for 2 years now. 
 
 
I heard the Etymotic flagship is good for classical music but I am not sure. I am thinking about westone as well. any others to consider?
 
Thanks
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 1:14 AM Post #2 of 26

mtthefirst

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You might want to look into these three.
 
AKG K3003
Final Audio Design Piano Forte X
Fitear ToGo 334
 
Those uiems are probably current top tier with an expensive price tag (all above 1000$).
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 2:17 AM Post #3 of 26

Ultrazino

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Quote:
the reason I don't want to venture to customs is because:
1- they seem quite expensive
2- the added costs of impressions and shipping, refit issues
3- they need remolding every few years. I have had my 535s for 2 years now.

 
You should definitely look into this. The StageDiver 3 is the best IEM I have heard so far. It's a custom monitor fit into the biggest universal housing possible. An ergonomic and comfortable demo, you could say.
It is identical to the full custom LivePro 3.
Completely made in Germany, really amazing build and comfort.
 
The sound is relatively flat with no presence peak or sibilance, but it has a slight subbass elevation to further boast its immense soundstage. The StageDiver 2 costs considerably less, but amazed me with a really neutral sound. You might even prefer it.
 
Other than that, here are some universals that I easily prefer to the Shure:
Fischer Amps FA-3E, Logitech Ultimate Ears UE900, Westone 4 and probably EarSonics SM64 will go on that list, but I didn't hear the last one yet.
(I don't think you'd like the UE900, though.)
 
I haven't heard the Etymotic but I'd be surprised if they could challenge the SD2. The SD2 has the biggest soundstage I have yet heard in a neutral, fully closed IEM. It is a custom monitor, after all.
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 10:28 AM Post #6 of 26

truckdriver

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I'm in a similar position as the threadstarter. I've had a Shure flagship IEM for 9 years or so. It appears the way forward (without losing something in the midrange) is not easy to find, at least for me. I want a true upgrade in every aspect. Joker once praised the mids of an IEM in a review but added (and I paraphrase) “Shure owners probably won't be impressed”. That seems to be the theme so far in my search.
 
I've recently auditioned and returned the UE900 and SM64. They are nice IEMs in their own right. I couldn't be truly fair to the UE900 because I didn't have isolating tips for it. The UE900's soundstage was not deep (to my ears) using my sources. I used my Shure tips on the SM64 and it was just not quite up to the task of equaling (let alone besting) the SE535. So the search continues....Next up, sometime tomorrow, I should be recieving the Ultrasone IQ (we shall see).
 
I have my eye on the ASG-2, the Heir 5.0, and now the UM 3DD. However, I feel (in my readings here) that the Fit Ear TG!334 is THE universal IEM upgrade for the SE535. It's the one universal that has consensus praise for it's mids. Consensus is important when I won't be able to personally audition this IEM before taking a (very expensive) leap.
 
The problem with the TG!334 is the nozzle is huge and it has some of the same characteristics that plague CIEMs (for me). It's from a small company far far away. It's a build-to-order product with back-orders (so who knows when you'll get yours). Once you receive it, there's no turning back (no returns, no refund). If it doesn't fit or workout for some reason, I have to try to sell a $1300+ IEM. I'm already convinced that I'll have to purchase a custom sleeve for the TG!334 because I'm pretty sure it won't fit. That would make it a hybrid custom. That "plan" is on the backburner as a last resort.
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 12:08 PM Post #7 of 26

Mimouille

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It is hard for me to get a right fit with iems because I have huge canals. Buy the 334, despite being big, were an easy fit for me. No issue there. The mids are indeed awesome. I dislike the slow decaying bass, as I find it sound less tight and refined than on the 1plus2 or even Heir 5.0. But some people love it. It remains an awesome iem and quite resellable. I prefer the 1plus2 though. Asg3 would be a bigger risk as few know what it sounds like.
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 12:29 PM Post #9 of 26

danielghofrani

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Thank you for the replies, the StageDriver seems interesting and I sent an Email to them since I am not sure about their availability around here. 
 
westone 4r might be worth a try but im worried my ear wax will clog it up real soon (which has been a problem for me. one of the reason the etymotics were attractive to me is because you can change the filter. looks like the StageDriver also allows you to change the filter which is good. 
 
the Miracles are customs and they are a bit over my budget as well. 
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 1:13 PM Post #10 of 26

truckdriver

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First things first (for me), I'm going to check out the Ultrasone IQ I should be receiving tomorrow. If there's a reason to continue looking, it will likely be the ASG-2. It is less risky for me because Nashville, Tennesse (Aurisonics home base in the U.S.) is only 200 miles from me. When Aurisonics gets its stock up, I'm certain I can try before I buy.
 
I too am not considering customs at the moment. If I were, I'd be a Merlin man rather than Miracle. I'd be JH16 rather than JH13. At the top of my list would be the Spiral Ear 5-way. But again, I'm not interesting in a cumbersome buying experience.
 
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 3:25 PM Post #11 of 26

Spyro

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SE535 IS a top universal.  NOTHING is better, only different.  So if there is something about SE535 you don't care for you may able to find something different but to find something generally "better."  It's not out there.
 
Customs is the next logical upgrade.  And they DON'T need to be re-fitted every few years.  They should NEVER have to be re-fitted unless you lost or gained a very significant amount of weight.
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 4:00 PM Post #12 of 26

danielghofrani

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Quote:
SE535 IS a top universal.  NOTHING is better, only different.  So if there is something about SE535 you don't care for you may able to find something different but to find something generally "better."  It's not out there.

 
well that is disappointing. 
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 4:29 PM Post #13 of 26

Ultrazino

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In case of the SE535 many will argue that different might be better, though. As in more neutral, less fatiguing and better extension. (I will also claim some universals have better resolution, but I will have a hard time to prove that as it is only based from my memory when I did a big comparison with other IEMs.)
But I've seen in another thread that Spyro does not like to discuss that topic or has a different perception, so in his case, the SE535 is really the best.
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 5:45 PM Post #14 of 26

Mooses9

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A cable upgrade for the 535 can change the sound dramatically depending on the source materials. Ive found cable upgrades for the 535. To make a huge differejce forthe better. I personally like pure silver
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 5:54 PM Post #15 of 26

truckdriver

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I generally agree that the SE535 is indeed a top universal and other similarly priced universals are primarily side-grades. The 535 is mellow and non-strident. It is of course a BA based universal which means tips and insertion play a big role in the way it sounds. I can say with 9 years of (near daily) certainty that anyone who thinks the Shure flagship is too bright and fatiguing has been using the wrong tips with an improper seal. Or, the supplied tips simply don't work for your ear-shape.
 
You often can't tell people they had an improper seal. Nine years ago, I thought the Shure E5 was way too bright and sibilant. Then one day (as my triple-flanges got softer and filled the gaps from all angles, I had an ah-hah moment. I thought to myself; “so this is what they were talking about on Headroom”. To this day, I still use the truck noise to gauge my seal. Sometimes I have to rotate the tip (on the nozzle) especially on the left side to get a proper seal.
 
As far as clarity is concerned (to me) the SE535 is not good with my iPod Touch 3G or iPhone (original) which is connected to my Onkyo system (at present). The iPhone sounds good on the Onkyo, I wondered why. Then one day I read thru the Onkyo manual. I ran across the part where it said that the Onkyo reciever takes the sound digitally from the Apple DAPs for a cleaner sound. It would seem that true clarity is exposing the reality of the source.
 
 

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