Earbuds/Flathead Discussion

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by shotgunshane, Oct 18, 2016.

  1. Metro

    Metro Friend

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    I've had a longtime interest (decades, really) in flathead earbuds. It is my favorite mode of personal listening because they are more comfortable for me than IEMs and headphones.

    Among those I've owned, my favorite is the Yinman 600. It has detailed but smooth treble and good bass (for an earbud). It is 600 ohm impedance with low sensitivity, and requires desktop amp levels of power for good performance. I actually need to turn up the volume control higher than I do for my HD6XX full size headphones!

    I have the original Yinman 600 from a few years ago, with MMCX connectors and reddish wood body. Discussions on Head-Fi say that the current version has a non-detachable cable and black body. However, vendors on AliExpress have continued to list it with pictures of the original MMCX version. You can ask vendors to send you pictures of the version they are actually shipping. Because of the non-detachable cable, you might also consider requesting a balanced connector (no extra charge) for flexibility, and use an adapter if necessary.
     
  2. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    IEM's with 600ohm?! Dang i would like to just take a (not so) quick listen to those.
     
  3. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Do you consider this Yinman dark in treble? And are upper mids laid back/recessed? I’ve been considering this one but haven’t tried it yet, as I’m concerned it will be too polite or too dark.

    My understanding is that the fixed cable version is the only version now. The MMCX has been long discontinued yet the pictures persist on the 2 or 3 listings on Aliexpress. I also understand that Yinman is updating some models later this year. The 150 ohm model will be the first, possible this month or so.
     
  4. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

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    As @shotgunshane said, "earbuds" are the non-sealing / open type of earphones. The Vmoda Metallos you had belong to the sealing / isolating type of earphones, aka "IEMs". There are significant acoustic differences between open and sealing earphones, so first and foremost, you might want to consider which type of TWS you're looking for. And if the answer is IEMs, you'll probably get more useful replies if you post your question in the IEM thread.
     
  5. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

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    Those are earbuds, 600 ohms would hardly make any sense with IEMs. With flathead earbuds it's different, because part of the bass they radiate is lost and doesn't reach your ear canal. So they need higher sound pressure to compensate for that, which usually involves higher distortion.

    However, by making the voice coil wire thinner and longer, you can create a stronger magnetic field and keep (bass) distortion low. This is the main advantage of high impedance earbuds over low impedance ones, but you don't really need such high impedance with IEMs.
     
  6. JellyRhino

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    I also own the Yinman 600 (the latest iteration without mmcx connectors). Tonality wise, they are close to my HD650 (kiss-modded). There is slightly less upper mids on the Yinman, but I think it's because there is no 5kHz peak like on the HD650. I really like the balance between lower mids and upper mids on the Yinman 600. Treble or bass quantity is very close to the HD650. The HD650 has better plankton, but I think the Yinman has very good technicalities. The headstage is actually wider on the Yinman and I like that they feel more open because of this. I would say the timbre on the HD650 is a bit better overall. Bass quality is not the best feature of the Yinman 600, a bit worse than the HD650, but it is definitely not a deal breaker. I really really like the Yinman 600.
     
  7. Metro

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    I listen primarily to classical music and my speakers are Harbeth P3-ESR XD. Compared to the Harbeths, the Yinman 600 isn't dark and there is some recess in the upper mids, but acoustic instruments and voice are very natural sounding. I'm using the headphone output from a Soekris 1541 dac/amp which may not be driving them to their full potential, and they still sound great.
    I have the HD6XX and I do find the Yinman to have a similar character.
     
  8. WoodyLuvr

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    Earbud not IEM. There is even higher impedance available currently! The 700ΩBery (~680Ω @ ~90 dB/mW) TGXEar Totem (TGXEAR EARBUDS TIMELINE)
     
  9. WoodyLuvr

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  10. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Rikubuds Alter Rider 3
    https://rikubuds.com/

    MSRP: 100 euro plus 10 to 15 euro for worldwide shipping. This translates to $126 at the time of my purchase.

    IMG_0791.jpeg

    The Riku alter rider 3 is mostly neutral in presentation and perhaps a bit on the more relaxed side. It has a slight deep bass boost but just what you’d want in a neutral and natural frequency response. Treble has decently lower treble (5-6k) sparkle but lacks air to my ears. Lower mids are well represented; male vocals have natural weight. But upper mids (2-4k) are just way too relaxed for me. They lack bite and attack . Female vocals lack energy and rock guitars are flat/boring to me. I also think this lack of upper mids hurts resolution as well.

    All that being said, there is great promise with this shell. The fit is phenomenal for an earbud. Best fit of any I’ve tried by a long shot. These are his 3rd generation shell. Gen 1 was MX500 and Gen 2 was a custom shell from Valphonics. Gen 3 is his new custom shell he designed and had 3d printed. It still holds the same size driver as previous generations but has shaved off excess size, which also makes them super light weight too. The fit is excellent and really locks in, as much as an earbud can. This results in really good deep bass response and no worries about it falling out when moving around.

    Even though the AR3 didn’t meet my expectations/preferences, this gen 3 shell has me interested in future gen 3 models. Right now AR3 is the only gen 3 release. I’ll probably try one again, once he gets to his “Grand” model releases.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2023
  11. Claritas

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    Interesting, very interesting. Thank you.

    I really like the FR on Aurisonics Rockets. The upper mids are only +5 (not, say, +12), and the treble rolls off consistently at a lower incline than we usually think of as neutral. What I don't enjoy of the Rockets is that they sound congested compared with the CFA BA IEM of your choice. (I happen to prefer the Jupiter; the upper mids are even lower and the treble is also rolled off.)

    How does the Alter Rider 3 sound relative to the Rockets, especially in FR, but also in congestion/separation?
     
  12. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Its been ages since I heard the rockets but I remember them being a fairly warm and pleasant iem that was perhaps a bit light on technical performance. I think the AR3 would be less warm/thick in the lower midrange with a bit better separation and a bit better lower treble sparkle.
     
  13. M3NTAL

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    I had the itch to try earbuds again and somehow DUNU was reading my mind. They released what looked/looks like a very nice product for its price and many included accessories. (Alpha 3)

    First day - I shoved them deep in my ear - they sounded pretty rad (porta-pro with way less roll-off at the bottom, but a downward tilt overall)

    Learned that wasn't the way and re-evaluated.

    With certain music and in a good environment, they are an interesting proposition to keep production of this style of headphone alive. Once production became more advanced and intricate, I think we lost that style of headphone. We found out a seal can give you the full sound you are after.

    My best impressions, as I mentioned, Koss on-ear. You gain technical abilities with the DUNU, but lose on my preference tonally. I think I believe in something like 32hz-32Khz, 20hz-20Khz should be a -3db point for headphones to shoot for. Probably not those exact numbers, but you get where I'm coming from. There is just a loss of that capability with an earbud.

    Last thing - my ears are 'learning' to wear them - if you are a C-i.e.m. wearer - you know what I mean. They leave a ghost pain that you have to get used to without even wearing them. Interferes with comfort on other headphones I'm swapping out.

    I don't think these are for general consumers. I think they probably had specific goal on getting the most out of what physics will allow - that goal being good in timbre and resolution at $75.00

    I don't notice huge changes in sound with the different foams, but I'm sure other ears might different.

    I don't think I'll be trying to scratch this itch again.
     
  14. shotgunshane

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    Regarding fit, I don't think there should really be any pain to get used to (unless you have a pretty small concha area, then of course all bets are off). From my time getting reacquainted with flatheads, I discovered some of my early discomfort was due to trying to fit them too far into my ear; IEM habits die hard. I was constantly fiddling with them and irritating my ear. Once I finally figured out how to properly fit them, all discomfort went away, and fitting was fast and simple.

    Your tragus and antitragus are really the only things that are going to hold the flathead in place against your ear where the concha and helical crus meet (had to look these terms up). The rest is just hovering over your ear canal. Some get very snug fit due to their tragus and antitragus, some will have to live with varying degrees of looser fit (this affects bass levels).

    TGXear supplies the following info in their packaging on how to fit flatheads. I'd seen the pictures before but it wasn't until I read the extra text that the entire thing fell into place for me and I quit struggling with fit. Hopefully this can help you and others:

    IMG_0795.jpeg

    I've been considering picking up the Dune Alpha 3. Too bad Augmentin doesn't work them any longer. The new social media guy for Dunu has never reached out to me/SBAF at all about loaner tours.
     
  15. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Holy shit that just unlocked earbuds for me

    Okay, armed with this new knowledge I ordered a Dunu Alpha 3. My gold standard at the moment for IEMs is the IE600. I’m very curious to compare, because the 600s sound shockingly open and spacious for an IEM.
     
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  16. philipmorgan

    philipmorgan Member of the month

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    Pls do report back w/impressions. My slide into valuefi land has me very curious about flatheads, and I love stuff that I can just enjoy music on without fiddling or exotic source gear, etc.
     
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  17. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    If you struggle to replace the foam covers and are prone to ripping them (especially thinner ones), this video shows the best way to install them in my experience. Basically lay the foam cover upside down on the Flathead and roll the edges on, flipping the cover inside out. It’s so much easier in my experience!

     
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  18. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    To my ears the Dunu Alpha 3’s are decidedly meh. They do fit well, and absolutely need the full ear foams to sound correct. They do have that out of your head sound to them that no IEM can replicate, but that’s not unique to the Alphas specifically.

    The mids are nice, with a little warmth and male vocals come across really well. Subbass is non-existent, and the midbass has little to no impact. Resolution also felt lacking, especially in micro details. For $80 it’s not the worst earphone in the world but it didn’t entice me to listen very much, nor did it entice me to dip my toe deeper into the earbud waters. These will be going back.
     
  19. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Blur OFC MX300 aPs
    300Ω (1 of 1 Limited Edition)

    IMG_0801.jpeg

    I recently traded my Alter Rider 3 for this one-off Blur flathead. No idea what it cost brand new. Cable is flexible and thin but 4.4mm plug is a bit heavy for such a thin cable. Otherwise no complaints on this simple build.

    The Blur is decidedly V shaped. Focus is on mid bas and lower treble (4-6k). Bass has pretty good texture and is the highlight of the tuning. While boosted, it is not overpowering and in fact I would like a bit more deep/sub bass to help round out the bottom end.

    Vocals take a back seat but are fairly clear. Male vocals sound a better than female, which can sound a hair veiled at times. Even though the upper midrange is laid back, there is still good bite and attack thanks to the extra lower treble energy. This is a dual edged sword, as there can be a little accentuated vocal sibilance, but it's fairly benign for the most part. After the lower treble bump, middle and upper treble is pretty reserved/pleasant, but lacking air and extension.

    Overall the signature does well with my guitar driven rock dominated library, much moreso than the Alter Rider 3 but staging and resolution do take a step back comparatively. The Blur is below average in staging width, and sounds downright narrow compared to something like the TGXear Serratus, but redeems itself with a solid sense of depth.
     
  20. M3NTAL

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    I'm having similar thoughts as merrick.

    I'm debating on offering them as a trade here or just an offering to the SBAF gods. The foams I've used couldn't possibly be passed on. Another downfall of these things (IMO short foam lifespan) I hate that I really want to like these. There are moments that they sounds great, but it is when I have a very specific eat fit that last about 0.5 seconds.

    Looking at some of the other offerings - these are right there with FiiO as best looking earbuds (IMO again)
     

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