IEM general discussion thread

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by Griffon, Nov 1, 2015.

  1. Kernel Kurtz

    Kernel Kurtz Friend

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    Quick question. Now that I have a DAP I can finally better appreciate the sound from my budget IEMs (and can also appreciate how bad the cell phone as a source actually was). I have a planar (Timeless) and a DD (FDX1), and would like to pick up a balanced armature design for comparison. So what would be a good choice for a budget, say under $300, BA IEM?

    At some point I may want to spring for a higher end pair, but first I would like to better understand the pros and cons of the different designs. Suggestions are welcome, TIA!
     
  2. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    It's a 1-DD + 4 BA hybrid rather than an all-BA, but I liked the Moondrop Blessing 2 (Dusk variant). There are some impressions of both variants in the Moondrop thread, and a couple of Dusks for sale on CAM at the moment.

    See also on CAM a 2019 Andromeda, a bit over your budget but pretty well priced.

    If you want to borrow an older pair to get an idea of the BA sound, I could send you my UE900s (4-BA) to listen to for a while (and perhaps buy if you end up liking them :D ).
     
  3. Kernel Kurtz

    Kernel Kurtz Friend

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    Thanks. The Blessing looks to be pretty well liked. The Andromeda seems to be one of the crowd favorites around here, and, well, pretty much everywhere else really (and I trust the reviewers on this site a lot). I kind of already figured that would be the one to shoot for if I like the BA sound.

    That said, that is a pretty good deal on CAM, thanks for the heads up. In an act of spontaneity I just went ahead and bought them. I figure if I don't like them they will probably be easy enough to re-sell.

    Thus concludes my audio spending for 2022 LOL. Cheers!
     
  4. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    I see you just pulled the trigger on some Andros, which I don't think you'll be disappointed with. But just to add another suggestion for anyone else with a similar request, I was going to suggest the Drop (actually, Massdrop) Plus universal IEMs. To me these are unsung heros of unobtrusive, even, only-sins-of-omission type of neutral BA IEMs for dirt cheap, especially as I've cycled through much more expensive IEMs.
     
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  5. Kernel Kurtz

    Kernel Kurtz Friend

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    Thanks bud, your thoughts are surely appreciated. Massdrop Plus was actually on the very top of my handwritten list of entry level BAs here on my desk while I was researching before I asked for suggestions. I'm super impressed with these Drop HA-FDX1s now as well as the other headphones I've gotten from Drop, the HD6xx and definitely enjoying my HE5xx, but the Plus are not in stock. I signed up for the "let me know when you have them" list, but I guess I should cancel that now. I'm just not that patient :(

    Cheers!
     
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  6. Dash

    Dash Friend

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    I have had good luck with open box pairs from eBay. Just make sure they have a return policy in case of defect.
     
  7. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    Would've suggested MD+ myself, particularly after getting a great deal on a pair here from @Tchoupitoulas , and yes, they should be near top-of-list for anybody wanting a multi-BA set under $300 - but thought the Kernel was after something immediately available.
     
  8. Stuff Jones

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    I visited an e-earphone store in Japan recently. They let you try anything so its a lot of fun for those of us who follow HF but don't churn through gear like some folks do. I came with my modest but trusty Hiby RS2 and Dunu Zen Pros to use as reference points and demoed all IEMs and sources with them. Many of the IEMs only had 3.5 SE plugs, so my modest RS2 output power might not have done them justice. Below are some impressions from quick listening sessions.

    DD IEMs
    • Acoustune HS2000MX - Transformer looking replaceable chamber DD IEM. Kind of a Zen Pro plus sound wise. Wider and more resolving, but I thought I heard slightly dry/thin upper mids. Very open design, which defeats the purpose of an IEM for me. My favorite IEM I heard there, open design aside.
    • Acoustune HS1790TI - similar sounding to 2000MX, but less resolving and wide. Also an open design.
    • Sennheiser IE 900 - WTF. Listened for literally 10 seconds before not being able to handle the x-acto knife like upper mids.
    • Final Audio A8000 - Beryllium driver DD. Super technical, but hot upper mids. Pass.
    • JVC FW10000 - Great JVC wood timbre with better resolution than the other JVC woodies. No sub-bass. Open design. Hot upper mids. Can JVC please make a technically capable well tuned wood IEM?
    • Moondrop Illumination - Well tuned but struck me as a DD IEM trying to be all polite and boring like a BA IEM. Not as resolving or dynamic as the Zen Pro.
    • Technics TZ700 - Tiny overlooked DD IEM. Similar technicalities tier as the Zen Pro, but a bit bassier and smoother with somewhat less revealing and textured mids. Better for popular music but worse for acoustic. Isolate really well for a DD and are comfortable. Overpriced at MSRP of 1200 but tempted to pick up a used pair for about half that in Japan.
    BA/Hybrids
    • Audio 64 U12T - All BA well tuned all arounder. Didn't hear weaknesses besides being BA and thus a bit dull with limited texture, timbre and dynamics.
    • Sony Z1R - Captivating sense of space/staging for an IEM - probably the best I've heard. Not as bad mids as expected, but the bass is overbearing. Huge.
    • UM Mest MKII - First time hearing an EST IEM. Cymbals sounded fake - whispy and plastic. But I understand they need some juice so maybe my modest source didn't do them justice.
    • FIR Neon - Bassy, hybrid sounding (disjointed) hybrid. Meh.
    DAPs
    • Shanling M6 Ultra - Punchy and warm. Kind of chunky for what's considered a mid sized DAP these days. Sounded a bit bass boosted. Mids were a little hard/digital sounding coming from my R2R source and going to another R2R source.
    • Hiby RS8 - Holy crap. If I wouldn't feel guilty about throwing around 3K on an audio toy I'd buy one. Very natural and unfatiguing sound with great dense timbre, but also very technically capable, punchy and not dull. Conveys spatial cues/ambience convincingly, maybe because its very detailed but not in your face? Even with my modest Zen Pros, the upgrade over my RS2 was huge. More transportable than portable.
    • Hiby RS6 - Sweet natural mids but a bit polite sounding even compared with the RS2. Good for late night jazz listening, vocals and the like.
    • Sony WM1ZM2 - Syrupy DSP and not natural sound to me. Couldn't check the Japanese settings to make sure all that Sony stuff was off.
    • Cayin n8ii - Impressive. Great dynamics and imaging, but on the thinner side. Timbre not as good as the RS8. I could see some preferring it to the RS8 if they don't value timbre as much or prefer neutral to natural. Also more transportable than portable.
    Dongles
    • Ifi Go Bar - Somewhat similar sounding to the M6 Ultra, but less powerful/punchy. Nice all arounder that's not digital sounding but also quite technically capable. An upgrade over the RU6, unless you absolutely need that R2R sound.
    • Ifi Go Bar Gold - Special sound. Liquid and warm, but also resolving in an unassuming way. For example you can hear instrument decay better than the Go Bar standard. Maybe that's a result of the power filtering and shielding upgrades? Tempted to pick up a used one. @iFi audio, any thoughts on making a less blingy (and expensive) non limited edition version (please)?
    • Questyle M15 - Really nice sounding. Maybe a little more open and less bassy and punchy than the Go Bar. No physical volume buttons though.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 1, 2022
  9. luckybaer

    luckybaer Friend

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    Have you tried foam tips with the Timeless?
     
  10. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    Campfire Audio Trifecta - Initial Impressions

    The Trifecta is a triple DD from Campfire Audio. My set arrived via FedEx a few days ago, purchased with my own money from Bloom Audio. Following are some preliminary thoughts and impressions.

    I have been a CFA fanboy since my recent entry into this hobby in 2019 and a not insignificant number of my favorite IEMs are CFA releases. Campfire is a company that has always marched to the beat of its own drum, eschewing both popular trends and historic norms in their quest to explore varied and unique sonic territories. This approach has brought them a good degree of astonished admiration but has also made them soemthing of a black sheep in the portable audio world. To be honest I'd sort of lost sight of Campfire by the beginning of 2022 as pretty much all of 2021 whoosed by without a single truly memorable release from them. By about spring of this year I'd started to wonder to myself if maybe CFA's heyday was over. It turns out nothing could have been further from the truth. First saw the arrival of the Supermoon in April then later the Trifecta (along with 3 other IEMs teased) in May. The Supermoon intrigued me right away beause after owning the Timeless at the tail end of 2021 I'd been craving a more robust planar IEM experience. Then came the announcement of the Trifecta out of the blue (literally and figuratevely) in May. The IEM itself looked like nothing else I'd ever seen and was clearly the most oppulent release Campfire had ever released or aspired to. Initial reports were mixed at best, including a number of so-so reports from CanJam London. I had thought that maybe Campfire had a bit of a misfire on their hands, a fear that was mitigated somewhat when I attained the Supermoon in June and fell head over heals in love with it.

    Fortunately I managed to secure a demo of Trifecta on the show floor at CanJam SoCal. My notes from that weekend:

    "Trifecta impressed me immediately with it’s massive ballsy sound, wonderful coherence, solid resolution and beautiful dynamic & analogue timbre. This is a sound that completely embraces you with warmth and depth and takes you for a ride. Unlike CFA’s previous DD only units that suffered from some combination of veiled mids, metallic treble, overdone bass or crap extension—the Trifecta, in my brief time with it, gets things a lot more right. Bear in mind that I’m a bass & lower mids fiend, as that is what a lot of my library is, and I don’t listen to a lot of female vocals or vocal centric music in general. I went back to the table 4 times over the two days and gave the Trifecta a good once over and continued to find it utterly compelling with the only false note being treble that is a touch aggressive (but nicely extended and never metallic) at times…but never to the point that I hit skip. CFA’s house sound has always existed along two prongs. You have the highly technical with a dash of fun sound of the Andromeda, Holocene, Ara and Supermoon, and then you have the more hair on the beast & what I characterize as a “balls deep in dynamic swagger” type sound that Ken Ball has been obviously been passionate about for years but never quite perfected until now. The three DDs in the Trifecta, positioned as they are, act as so many matches whose intensity increases exponentially when they are brought together give the illusion that one is listening to a full size single DD headphone. Single DD and single driver enthusiasts should give the Trifecta a serious look. Approach it with an open mind, you may be very pleasantly surprised."

    The Trifecta impressed me sufficiently that I started saving for it right away in September, resolved to purchase one as soon as I could. This day came last week when I placed an order with Bloom. My set arrived via FedEx on Tuesday and I have been listening to it intermittently for the last few days.

    [​IMG]

    Trifecta pictured (above) with its display case and my Eletech Victoria cable.

    So was it love at first listen (again)? Surprisingly, not quite. At first blush the bass was a touch overwhelming (but very high quality) and the mids & highs, while never seeming veiled, seemed a little incoherent and distinct from the bass. Fortunately this didn't last, and the sound has been getting better and better for me, opening up more and more with each successive listening session. I attiribute the aformentioned experience to brain burn in, but YMMV.

    At the most basic level the Campfire Trifecta is an unapologetially fun, dynamic IEM with a beautifly analogue and bodied sound-- it is an incarnation of pure listening pleasure. This is not an IEM after analytic perfection, no one aiming for perfect neutrality, balance or some sense of "what the artist intended". The Trifecta uses a finessed pickaxe and powerful bass response to mine into the soul your music and move you to joy. People familar with CFA's releases along these lines (in particular the Vega and Alas) should have some sense of what they're getting here-- though I emphasize that the sound in this case has been sufficiently refined, polished and expanded (as one would expect with 3 DDs) a befitting its oppulent cost. I have experience with most of CFA's DD offerings and the Trifecta manages to stay true to the same genreal gestalt of those IEMs while being refined to the point that it avoids their pitfalls. This set by its very bombastic nature will not be for everyone but lovers of pure DD driven sound are well advised to at least take a look...but try before you buy, ideally for an extended demo. There is a lot to be taken in here and short cursory demo will not be enough.

    The signature of Trifecta is defined first and foremost by its bass response. I came across a very insightful post on another forum which posited that on average different types of tuning profiles are more preferred in different parts of the world. American manufacturers tend to tune around the bass (think Campfire or Audeze), European manufacturers around the mids (think Vision Ears, Lime Ears, Sennheiser) and Asian companies tend to be more fixated on well articulated highs (think Elysian or Hifiman). I'm not claming that this distinction is absolute as there are people with a full range of preferences in all countries in the world....but I do think there is a core of truth in there somewhere. The Campfire Trifecta is an epitome of a bass centric "North American" tuning. It's quite a contrast coming from something like the Elysian Gaea, or Annihilator, IEMs that are super well articulated, finessed and well defined up top...with the bass response playing a decidedly background role. The Trifecta is an inverse of this-- it is a masterpiece of bass-- a cornucopia of thundering, bodied power that emerges radiantly in well defined, well articulated layers from the stygian depths of fathomless space within the soundscape. I have never heard such well articulated, well defined larger than life layering in a bass response before-- it's positively breathtaking and endlessly captivating. I have come to believe that the variety of tuning you're dealing with is far less important than how well executed it is. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

    Midrange

    Mids on Trifecta, while playing second fiddle to the bass, are pretty damn good. A particular highlight for me are horn, piano and string timbre (see Donald Byrd - Duke's Mixture)-- instrumental timbre generally is spectacular on the Trifecta . This is especially noticeable coming from the Supermoon. One point to note is that this is not a vocal centric IEM. Vocals are decent enough, though sometimes they sound a touch recessed (Morissey, The Loop) or have a touch too much energy (CCR, Proud Mary). For the most part though vocals range from fine to great however if you're someone who needs seductive breathy romantic vocals, centred vocals then this may not be the IEM or you.

    Highs

    Along with the mids the highs on Trifecta are secondary to the bass. I was not expecting BA or Planar level articulation and resolution in the highs as you're not going to get that from a 10mm DD in an IEM tuned around the bass...but I find he highs on Trifecta to be pretty decent for the most part. I have heard some say that Trifecta struggles with cymbals, and this is not an area I'm particularly fixated on, but they sounded alright to me on Brubeck's "3 to get ready" whwere the cymbals ring with a nice decay and beautiful timbre. Using Supermoon as a reference point in something like Caravan from the Whiplash soundtrack, Trifecta loses it a little but during the catharsis of cymbal strikes at the end but it does pretty well for the most part. The highs are straddling on sharp at times but I don't see this as a fault-- it's a tuning choice that aids in staging and brings energy to the signature. That said this will be an area where cable/tip/source synergy will be of massive importance. I tried my Eletech Victoria on Trifecta because I love the aesthetics but unfortunately this cable adds a bit too much energy to the top end on Trifecta and I would say the synergy is not the best so for now I'm stickig with the stock cable.

    Technicals

    If there's one thing single DD IEMs are not known for it is robust technical chops-- were this not so I'm guessing we never would have bothered looking beyond DDs for IEM drivers. I will say that while Trifecta is not a technical resolution or imaging monster it does bring a sufficiently heavy dose of its own technical secret sauce to the table. It is, as been rightly noted, the most unapologetically pure Campfire Audio expression ever.

    The staging of the Trifecta is massive and spherically holographic with the sound seemingly emanating from centre of bass driven goodness. This is quite possibly the most massive stage I've ever heard in an IEM. Head Fi user @JS27 made the following brilliant observation:

    "[Trifecta] sounds like the best possible audio endpoint you could dream in 1993. It tells it's story with very analog - dynamic driver - organic pre-2010 R2R hallmarks. It will sound wooly and bleedy to those that worship at the alter of Our Lady of Balanced Armature...It does not reverberate from the silent, inky void where Planars ferry their magnetic souls. It is a wonderous, enveloping, swirling, resolving cloud of 2022-level special effects on top of the simple, warm, organic heart of the DD sound. This is a dream from Hi-Fi future as dared to be imagined by 1979."

    As someone who spent much of his childhood in he 70s and 80s immersed in his father's record collection and 2-channel system I can't help but think that my experiences as young age set a bassline for my tastes and preference that I have been chasing ever since and that the voicing of and vision behind the Trifecta has really struck a nerve with me for this reason.

    While the Campfire Trifecta is not the most highly resolving set ever the resolution is pretty spectacular once you settle into the sound and the whole signature basks in the glow of a bodied analogue warmth that lends the whole sound an intoxiating appeal and emotional pull. I also found the layerying and imaging of the Trifecta to be deceptively great. Check out Fleetwood Mac's Tusk for an example of this brilliant layering-- there is a tangible sense of layering, air and depth to the staging here that is quite unique in my experience.

    It has been a great first couple days with the Trifecta and I am looking forward to getting to know this IEM further.

    2053D409-C7C7-4698-A98F-E51E245E082D.JPEG

    For those interested here is Trifecta's FR:

    Trifecta.jpg
     
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  11. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    The Technics TZ700 are a super normal sounding and imminently listenable DD IEM. They do well with all my music, if not extraordinarily well with any of it. They are touch north of neutral bass wise, and lack some treble extension but otherwise don't do much wrong. Tuning wise they sound similar to my MD Plus. They have capable though not excellent resolution - probably a tick behind the Dunu Zen Pros in mids resolution. Unlike other DDs I've heard in the 1k price range however, they aren't peaky in the upper mids/lower treble. All in all, they're the best combination of broad appeal tuning and good technicalities in a DD I've heard.

    I wonder if they could be a candidate for Drop co-production? They've been out for several years but haven't made it big outside of Japan. If Drop could get the price in the 500-600 dollar range, they'd be a steal for those of us preferring DD sound. I could easily see them being an FDX1 kind of hit and a nice upgrade for FDX1 owners too.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2022
  12. great_uq

    great_uq New

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    I want to ask some advice here. I use and love the combo of CA Andromeda and Sony ZX2 with sound adjustment off. The andro is OG CK Blue version with standard litz cable and unknown silicone tips (don't remember the brand, maybe spinfit, it has clear silicone tip and orange nozzle).
    For years the combo was my sole favorite and almost become endgame until recently I wanting an upgrade to more practical setup. The combo still doing great but I want more non source dependent IEM that can work well with (if any) any source (mostly portable). So the option that I want to explore are (ranked from most favored):
    1. An IEM upgrade that at least as good as the sound coming from the andro+zx2 combo of every aspects. It would be better if it better in one or several aspects.
    2. A DAP upgrade that give the same or better results with Andromeda as it with ZX2. It will be better if it has streaming capability and snappy UI. My ZX2 feel slow compared to current phone or DAP and cant install apple music (although not priority sometime I just want to listen some music that not on my offline library and I dont have other streaming service subscription)
    3. Upgrade both DAP and IEM for the same or better quality. DAP still needs to have apple music streaming capability.
    For above options I think my preference for better quality is maybe better technicalities as for tuning I prefer similar tuning.
    For budget I cant for now how many as I want to explore all options first. With current situation on portable audio world its hard to narrow down all options effectively.
    Many thanks for any advice
     
  13. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    A couple of possible options-
    • Try iFi Audio’s IEMatch. It’s about $60 and on the HIGH setting it is 2.5 ohms. This will get you close to the tonal frequency response of Andromeda out of the ZX2 but on any source.
    • If you want to stay with the Andromeda and Campfire sound in general, the newest Andromeda (2020?) would be an option. Its tonality is a darker version of the OG with better separation and imaging but not as spacious sounding It is much less susceptible to minor output impedance differences, so more easily usable across devices, while maintaining the same sound.
     
  14. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    @great_uq , if you can wait a bit you might be able to demo the new Sony NW-A306 with your Andromedas. Hard to say at this stage how it'd sound compared to the ZX2, but at $350 and with the likelihood that it'll have a similar output impedance (2-3 Ohms) as other Sonys (I haven't seen that spec for this new model yet) you might get similar tonal balance, at least.

    Early reports on the NW-A306 indicate it'll run Android 12 and have access to the Google Play Store so installing streaming apps including Apple Music should be possible. See eg here.

    BTW the tips you're using, if size M, are possibly Spinfit CP145.

    Edit 13 Feb 2023: early experiences of the NW-A306 in the wild point to a frequency response fault (whether intentional or not is yet unknown) - see here and here. Best to avoid this one unless/until it's rectified.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2023
  15. 7seven

    7seven Acquaintance

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    Bought a pair of IE 200s... not usually one to buy new releases but had good a feeling about them and price is low enough to take a chance.

    Gotta say I am extremely pleased after a couple day with them.
    I think they could have easily gotten away with calling these an IE 400, charging $300 and marketing it as IE 300 replacement+upgrade. Obviously very good they didn't.

    IE 300 felt like it had a lot of potential but was tuned in a way that highlighted the worst aspects of driver (while also being a really bad tuning for me preferentially), I got it for €120 and still ended up selling it because the flaws were just too great to bear.
    IE 200 feels like the opposite, it is a leaner tuning that I still find really enjoyable because of this, cant detect any overbearing peaks in the upper end or is it so smooth I don't even notice them. IE 300 was pretty smooth with a couple bad spots but I still don't think it was this smooth.

    The biggest improvement is that the IE 200 sounds open and alive, weird congestion and compression of IE 300 virtually gone. Bass feels condensed down - less presence, more weight or impact...
    The bass is thumpy and 'clean' although almost in an unnatural way, basically same flavour as IE 300 but more refined, I find it really satisfying on IE 200, probably because it doesn't completely dominate.
    Imaging is really superb, probably better than IE 300 but I suspect that's down to the tuning differences.

    Out-resolves the IE 300 without a doubt.

    Its abilities are really highlighted with vocals.

    One thing that feels better than any headphone I've heard before is the sense of dynamic range or I guess what people call a 'black background' , that is there remains of a strong sense of emptiness between notes, even at the highest volume, when normally you will hear sort of 'noise floor' between transients/notes, like the decay is too slow at the very lowest levels (has a tail).
    This seems to be where the super clean sound comes from.

    Part of the good feeling about IE 200 was its 18 ohm impedance, like IE 600 and IE 900.
    At 16 ohm I don't believe IE 300 could ever have been using the same driver, hard to believe they are using them in $150 IE 200 but would not be surprised, possibly drivers that did not meet IE600 distortion or response specs?

    I noticed some people complaining about the cable, aesthetically it is pretty 'cheap' .... has a weird chemical smell, uses a loose piece of plastic tubing for that adjustable bit at your neck, even for DIY cable this would look so shitty and doesnt even work very well, really a very strange thing to see on high-ish end sennheiser product. Don't use those things so don't really care.

    Also uses some heat shrink for the y split, reeks of cheapness but I don't really mind it, its keep cable lighter, slimmer, more flexible, cabling itself seem durable enough and microphonics low enough and high in frequency , but braiding makes it bumpy which tends generate more microphonics when rubbing on stuff... would I prefer the 'prettier', more durable yet functionally worse IE 300 cable and higher price tag? probably not tbh.

    I liked the IE 300 a lot less over time, so prepared for the same with IE 200.
    Saying that I clearly recall was playing with tips and tip position on day one with the IE 300 due to some dissatisfaction with sound, still zero desire or need to do this with IE 200.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2023
  16. 7seven

    7seven Acquaintance

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    To follow up,

    The IE 200 does not need to sound lean if you block the hole on the nozzle as some have already been exploring.
    It becomes virtually neutral with boosted low bass and a slight, desirable lift in treble. I was concerned this hole contributed to good sound somehow, it did not, just a welcomed bass boost with a more rumbly quality.

    With foam tips signature starts to become warmish even.
    Both tips sound good... not needing a certain tip to 'fix' something is nice, because usually it is a poor fix.
    The silicone tips sound better and they were probably tuned around them, foams tips are just inherently muddier sounding to me.

    WIth the IE 300 I had tried doubling up the foams inside tips, it brought down treble a hair (not close to enough).
    For IE 200 I'm more inclined to try the opposite, no foams, as they did add a very slight haziness.

    I do hear the IE 200 struggling sometimes... bass interfering with mids.... mids sounding slightly blurred... it not prevalent often, nor severe, not 'a problem', especially at this price, only I can hear what might be gained with the IE 600/900.

    Its weakest area is dynamics and scale (everything sounding miniaturised), this may be just be a natural characteristic of a 7mm driver.
    Whether it be headphones, iems or speakers, larger drivers always tend to have a bigger and more dynamic sound.
    Likewise smaller drivers tend to sound more delicate and refined on top.
    The trade-offs are remarkably linear, no 'ideal' really size exists.

    Hopefully a 10mm (or larger) version of these IE drivers is created for a more dynamic flavour
     
  17. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I’ve been looking for an upgrade to the 7Hz Timeless. My personal preference is for DD IEMs because as good as the Timeless is, I think planar IEMs really are in their infancy and I’d like to wait until they’re more mature before fully investing in them.

    Researching the current landscape of DD IEMs, the Zen Pro still looms large and the ie600 has come up lately as a strong contender in the space. I found a deal on a used pair of ie600s and went for them. I had been warned that these were V-shaped and some people even found them sibilant. I had also been warned about the stock silicon tips, that that are so thin it’s practically impossible to get a good seal.

    The warnings about the stock silicon tips were dead on—Do not pass go, do not collect $200. I don’t know how Sennheiser chose these but they are the absolute worst silicon tips I’ve ever used. Nearly impossible to get a good seal, and without a good seal the ie600s sound like you’re hearing the music from a tin can on a string. So tip rolling was an immediate necessity.

    The obvious alternative are the foam tips also included in the box. These do offer a seal but whatever they do to the FR, there is too much treble energy. I never heard it as harsh or sibilant, but things like cymbals were more prominent in the mix than vocals. Also with these tips there was very little mid bass and that combined with an upper mid emphasis left them feeling thin and lacking body.

    I tried Symbio tips next and these quelled some of the issues but the tips themselves wouldn’t stay on the nozzles and would stick in my ear when I removed the ear pieces.

    On a whim I tried a pair of Campfire Audio foam tips and…holy shit! This completely balanced out the FR. The excess treble energy was tamed, leaving the high end with a gorgeous sparkle that doesn’t overshadow the mids. The bass is still more sub-bass focused than mid-bass focused, but the lower mids have been brought up so there is more body in the mids too. The lack of mid-bass contributes to an incredible sense of clarity and the treble gives a wonderful sense of air.

    This may sound crazy, but with these tips the ie600 sounds like a DD Andromeda. I can pinpoint each musician in space and hone in on small details just like with the Andromeda. The high end sparkle is also reminiscent of the original Andromeda, and the sound is smooth and fast.

    I also got an original pair of Campfire Vegas and these now feel like complementary IEMs—Vega has more of a mid-bass focus and while not as clear seems to be more resolving. Vega has grit while ie600 is clean. Vega is perfect for Grateful Dead in 1972, ie600 perfect for Grateful Dead in 1990.

    I just ordered two more sets of these tips.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2023
  18. wormcycle

    wormcycle Friend

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    I could not find the TWS thread so here it is: TWS JLab GO Air - "perfection" for now $23 on Amazon, I got it for $14 a year ago.

    I lost my earFun, found since then, and I was looking for cheap TWS to take on the bike, listen to podcast while BBQing etc. No I was not thinking about sound quality, and I was prepared for all kind of problems. For what I wanted them they are perfect
    1. BT connectivity is instant, never fails to connect and never drops. The distance is app 10 meters
    2. Speech clarity is very good
    3. Receiving and ending calls with one tap is reliable and , unlike for example Samsung buds, is impossible to get it wrong
    4. Fit and comfort for me is perfect. I feel them in my ear that's it. Can wear them for hours and no matter if I shake my head , lay down whatever I cannot drop them.
    5. Now the best part: maybe because they are so small but they are completely impervious to wind. I was riding bike close to 20 m/h into 10 m/h headwind and I could hear a podcast in my right ear with the same clarity as if I was on a sofa.
    6. The box is small with attached USB but as a power bank pretty efficient. I honestly do not know how long they last but enough for what I need. 4 hours I think was max I used them and it was 60% left.
    If you want to make calls or listen to podcast during any kind of physical activity I can recommend them 100%. That is a very enthusiastic review but for the purpose JLab GO Air is exactly what I needed.
     

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    Last edited: Mar 4, 2023
  19. Claud

    Claud Living the ORFAS dream

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    I have several of the IEMs you mention. You should try the CA Supermoon.
     
  20. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Out of my price range, unfortunately. Gotta wait for the trickle down tech.
     

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