Which three IEM's covers it all?
Sep 26, 2012 at 11:35 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 25

AudioDwebe

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The proliferation of all things headphone related over the last several years absolutely blows my mind.  It seems there are new players getting into the game each and every month, making it confusing even for folks who've been 'round these neck of the woods for more than a minute about potential purchases.  Added to the mix is the tidal wave of fanboyism which, in my opinion, makes those looking in from the outside more skeptical than anything else. 
 
Needless to say, it can all get very confusing.  I can't imagine how overwhelmed I'd feel if I just happened onto this site for the first time looking for some info on a Bose or Beats or other listening gear familiar to the masses.  Personally, I sometimes feel that the headphone community is blowing past me, as I don't spend as much time here as I once used to.  I'm like that elderly gentleman holding up the slow lane of the headphone world.
 
So out of curiosity, if AudioDwebe, who is an ecclectic musical listener, wants to pick up three (and only three) IEM's that would cover all genres of music in the here and now (fall 2012) with IEM's currently available, which three would you recommend and why?  All music would come from an iPod Touch without an amp, and CIEM's need not apply.
 
A real plus to the recommendations would be if you personally have experience with the IEM's that you suggest. 
 
Thanks.
 
Sep 26, 2012 at 11:41 AM Post #2 of 25

tinyman392

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Do you have a price range for these IEMs?  Before I suggest jumping the route of a 600 dollar IEM + 300/400 dollar IEM XD  
 
Sep 26, 2012 at 1:13 PM Post #3 of 25

gnarlsagan

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For me:
 
1. Vsonic GR07 mkII for bass. 
 
2. DBA-02 for treble focus with a slight bass lift. 
 
3. Etymotic ER6 or ER4S for reference. 
 
Sep 26, 2012 at 1:23 PM Post #4 of 25

psygeist

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V shaped(something like TF10). Treble head (DBA02, GC). Mid Centered (RE262). Neutral/Analytical (RE272/A161P). Balanced (e-Q5). Intimate (FI-BA-SB). Relaxed (like Tandem).
 
Too many criteria to cover all your bases. Otherwise a balanced IEM is good enough.
 
Personally I prefer RE272 + Stepdance combo. FI-BA-SB for intimate presentation or while playing Battlefield 3.
 
Sep 26, 2012 at 1:51 PM Post #5 of 25

AudioDwebe

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Quote:
Do you have a price range for these IEMs?  Before I suggest jumping the route of a 600 dollar IEM + 300/400 dollar IEM XD  

No monetary limit.  As I stated, this is a "curiosity" thing for me.  I've got several IEM's at the moment with which I'm fairly happy, I think.  Well, one's not going anywhere but the others may.
 
And I don't think uber expensive IEM's will get many recommendations. 
 
I just want to know what head-fi'ers think are the three solid performers that would allow someone to be content, whether it's because a given IEM has stood the test of time or if there's a new kid on the block that's kicking butt left and right.
 
Sep 26, 2012 at 2:08 PM Post #6 of 25

fuzzyash

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the heir audio 4ai and 3ai from what ive read
tons of reviews out there already and the prices are pretty competitve for what they compete against and what they're capable of
 
Sep 26, 2012 at 4:54 PM Post #8 of 25

tinyman392

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Quote:
No monetary limit.  As I stated, this is a "curiosity" thing for me.  I've got several IEM's at the moment with which I'm fairly happy, I think.  Well, one's not going anywhere but the others may.
 
And I don't think uber expensive IEM's will get many recommendations. 
 
I just want to know what head-fi'ers think are the three solid performers that would allow someone to be content, whether it's because a given IEM has stood the test of time or if there's a new kid on the block that's kicking butt left and right.

 
Ah, gotcha.  
 
But 3 to cover everything.  I honestly think you need a total of 2 minimum (a v-shape with fun, strong, deep bass and a farily neutral/flat sig).  If needed, you can add a warm sig (v-shape minus the treble).  That said, my three choices for the best that will cover everything: Phonak PFE232 (for a fun v-shaped sound), Etymotic ER4 (or HiFiMan RE272; both based on what I've read) for analytical/neutral listening, and UE900 (or Heir Audio 4.Ai from what I've read) for a warmer sound.  Again, that last one is optional.  The first two will cover every genre in my mind.  The last one if you don't like heavy treble XD  
 
Sep 26, 2012 at 5:06 PM Post #9 of 25

planx

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Quote:
 
Ah, gotcha.  
 
But 3 to cover everything.  I honestly think you need a total of 2 minimum (a v-shape with fun, strong, deep bass and a farily neutral/flat sig).  If needed, you can add a warm sig (v-shape minus the treble).  That said, my three choices for the best that will cover everything: Phonak PFE232 (for a fun v-shaped sound), Etymotic ER4 (or HiFiMan RE272; both based on what I've read) for analytical/neutral listening, and UE900 (or Heir Audio 4.Ai from what I've read) for a warmer sound.  Again, that last one is optional.  The first two will cover every genre in my mind.  The last one if you don't like heavy treble XD  

 
Well I'd be shot. Exact same recommendations as me, minus the UE900 and Heir 4.Ai
 
EDIT: Great minds think alike 
wink.gif

 
Oct 3, 2012 at 4:46 PM Post #13 of 25

Techno Kid

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Since I really don't like to spend more than $300 on IEM's the 3 that cover it all for me are the e-Q5, RE262 and R-50.  The e-Q5 is balanced, fun with good bass (not bass head bass but enough for most imo), RE262 is the vocal specialist and the R-50 is the analytical one of the bunch yet has a touch of warmth that some of the other TWFK IEM's don't (they sound almost the same as the GR01).  I like though's 3 so much and think they cover everything enough that I've sold off pretty much all my other IEM's except the Heaven IV and the GR07 which I'm about to put up for sale.
 
I have defiantly been one of the fanboys you mentioned and proud of it 
bigsmile_face.gif
 seriously though I'm just really passionate about ones that I feel are have great SQ for a good price because I've compared most of the one I've bought with a friends W4 and the 3 I mentioned all hold their own very well next to it.  The days of having to spend $400 to get top-tier sound are long gone.
 
Oct 4, 2012 at 11:09 AM Post #14 of 25

AudioDwebe

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Quote:
 The days of having to spend $400 to get top-tier sound are long gone.

You're probably right.
 
Personally, I've had this "three IEM" mindset for quite a while (although there have been times where I've had many more IEM's at one time) based simply on the fact that I tend to listen critically (not much at all anymore), on-the-move (work environement/out and about), and a general purpose, all-in-one type of a listen.  I'm not saying a particular IEM couldn't fit into all three categories at any given time (or mood), but generally, I've kind of stuck with this (maybe somewhat narrrow or close-minded) thinking.
 
Or, quite possibly, this mindset is something that got ingrained in me without even realizing it from spending so many hours here for so many years.  Something I've absorbed from the many experienced head-fi'ers in the past that I'm somehow taking credit for because I don't recall ever not having this opionion.  Mind you, I've only been a member for six years here, but have been in audio for well over thirty so...who knows.
 
Currently, the three IEM's that I have are the CK10's for the analytical side, the MG7's for on-the-go (who couldn't use an extra bass boost to get the body in motion?) and the E-Q7 for the all-around, I still can't quite put my finger on the sound quality, general purpose listen.  The CK10's are a staple in my diet; diggin' the MG7's, but the Ortofon?  I'm still undecided.  Sometimes, I think it's a fantastic performer while at others, it seems to mid-rangey to me.  It's funny.  If I put them on expecting to really enjoy them, I do, and think they're fantastic.  If I put them on thinking all the while I may not enjoy them, they sound like a turd in my ear.  It's like they reflect my mood...how weird is that (or, more accurately, how weird am I)?
 

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