shotgunshane’s IEM (custom and universal) recommendations, favorites and classics

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by shotgunshane, Jun 7, 2016.

  1. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Only way to test the balanced outputs on the THX and LCX is with that adapter. I haven’t done any testing yet, new cable and adapters just came today; just been using single ended until now. I have other balanced portable devices to use the Dunu adapters with as well.
     
  2. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    That make sense. Honestly I just been using a 4.4mm > 1/4 adapter since I personally didn't find a benefit of using 4-Pin Input for IEMs. For $400 I do believe this might be the only IEM amp you will ever need.
     
  3. FlySweep

    FlySweep Friend

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    @shotgunshane thoughts on how the FDX pairs w/ the THX amp? How does the FDX scale?
     
  4. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Where the FDX1 improves, on both desktop amps, is bass punch and control. There is noticeably more punch and control compared to portable sources. Slightly moreso with the THX amp than LCX. Bass is the best part of the THX.

    The only small portable device that gets close in bass with the FDX1 is the Shanling UP4. However that’s only when in ‘dual dac’ mode, (this mode works on both SE and balanced) which is apparently is a high current mode.

    I’m wondering if it’s this extra current that really makes dynamic driver iems sing. Low impedances crave more current.
     
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  5. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    Maybe, I just got my FDX1 pair today and I noticed slightly more bass slam with THX than using ZX2 or WM1A. I'm using the green nozzles after doing the rubber band color adjustments (green/blue rubber bands were on the wrong nozzles).
     
  6. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Review of the Dunu DK-2001 MSRP $299.
    Unit provided for free from Dunu.

    The overall tuning of the DK-2001 is a moderate V shape signature. Bass is pleasantly elevated with a deep bass tilt. It’s surprisingly fast and nimble, even with the deeper bass lift. Perhaps as a result of the beryllium coating? On a desktop amp, it really has nice slam and texture. The midrange isn’t lean or thick but overall slightly pushed back with some warmth. Surprisingly many vocals don’t sound pushed back very far. It’s clear and defined with no overt problem areas. Treble is front and center, the attention getter- it’s about as elevated as the bass and gives a very sparkly presentation. While it tends to accentuate sibilance a bit, I’ve not found it to be piercing or hot. It’s not really an airy brightness, being more lifted in lower treble; there’s still a good bit of weight to the treble. Overall treble timbre is pretty decent but lingers a little too long, resonating and robbing it of some realism. Its a fun and exciting tuning that lends itself really well to low volume listening; high volume listeners, on the other hand, for some material may find it a bit fatiguing for long listening sessions; although hip hop and rap is that much more fun cranked.

    Comparisons using Mojo > THX AAA 789

    Vs Drop Plus


    The first obvious difference, immediately upon switching, is that the DK-2001 has more deep bass quantity and greater treble presence. The Plus sounds more linear and balanced, albeit noticeably thinner as well. The Plus extends plenty deep but doesn’t have the more palpable bass presentation. It’s faster, leaner and doesn’t present bass texturing as forward. Plus vocals are more forward in the presentation but not necessarily clearer. Female vocals, in particular, are more intimate on the Plus. Treble can sound fairly similar between the two at time, with the DK-2001 being overall a bit brighter and more prone to sibilance.

    Vs JVC FDX1

    The FDX1 sounds much more neutral compared to the DK-2001, which is both bassier and brighter than the FDX1 by a good margin. Both have great bass extension, but the DK-2001 has greater quantity and more forward bass texturing. While the FDX1 midrange is more forward in presentation, the DK2001 just sounds more forward and as a whole and vocals surprisingly don’t sound sound that much further back in comparison. And while in isolation the DK-2001 treble is certainly greater in quantity, it doesn’t necessarily come across that much brighter than the FDX1 at times, due to it’s balance with it’s boosted bass.

    Vs Simgot EN700 Pro

    While both have an enthusiastically boosted bass, the DK-2001 bass is faster, cleaner and much better defined; it’s clearly playing on another level. The EN700 Pro bass is a little soft and hazy in comparison. With regards to the midrange, both are behind the bass and treble but the recession is more noticeable in the EN700 Pro, particularly with female vocals. The Simgot midrange presentation is more akin to a laid back stage monitor presentation. The DK-2001 lower treble is more present for a noticeably brighter signature. While the EN700 Pro can sound crisp at times, it’s definitely smoother and easier going than the upfront Dunu.

    I don’t recommend many v-shaped or sigs but this one that just clears my requirements to be recommend. Priced at $299 MSRP, the DK2001 is 3 BA 1 DD hybrid. It comes with the great Dunu DUW-02 modular quick-connect cable, however the connectors at the IEM housings are custom shaped for the DK2001 and not really made to use on other IEMS like the retail DUW-02 is made for. The supplied Dunu tips are abundant and pretty decent, if a bit on the hard/firm side. The orange ones look pretty cool/retro with the orange shells. I found old Sony MH1 tips to be the best for me, narrow bore and much more supple than the Dunu tips. Check out the Dunu site for more detailed specs, accessories, etc: https://www.dunu-topsound.com/dk-2001
     
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  7. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    After considering a bunch of different iems in various price brackets i decided to not go full out for my first iem. So i figured around 500 bucks would be good. And after checking the various options the only one that appealed to me was the Sony IER-M7. Should have them next week, had to import them since they're not available in Europe.

    @shotgunshane During my searches i saw you expressed interest in the M7/M9, did you have chance to hear them yet?
    Curious about your impressions :)
     
  8. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    No, I never got a chance to hear them. Looking forward to reading your thoughts.
     
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  9. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    Will do!
     
  10. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    So had some time with the M7 and overall i’m quite happy with it. It’s easy to listen to all day with a slightly dark tuning that lets you just focus on the music. Honestly nothing stands out frequency wise, certainly nothing that will assault your ears at least.
    There is some slight coloration in the upper mids and lower treble but it’s tastefully done, vocals are really good on this with good texture and details. Definitely the star of the show imo.
    As for the treble it is extended enough and never grating or harsh, cymbals sound just right with enough shimmer.
    Bass is nicely textured and extended but lacks a bit in heft. Guess this is the BA bass people are talking about. Still acceptable given the other strengths.
    Headstage is actually quite good and I’m impressed with the depth it’s able to pull off. A slight tendency to the the 3 blob effect but again more than acceptable. Air is good and spacious.

    As for fitment none of the included tips really worked for me. The ones that fit, the ML and M hybrid silicone tips had crazy bone conduction that give me a headache when walking. That got fixed with some Comply T-200 tips. I used Tyll’s method to insert them and i don’t notice any treble roll off or muddying so that was good.

    Cable microphonics are pretty much non existant even without using a clip. Really high quality cable i must say.

    Overall presentation and packaging is really good.

    Gear used is the apple lighting dongle at first but that died after a week. Then i got Dragonfly cobalt and that one synergises really well with the M7. No nasty ESS sabre glare or overly sharpness just right imo. Probably more durable as well though fitment with the apple CCK adapter is a bit shit, it cut out a few times because there is a wiggle when connected to the dragonfly. I made a small paper shim and put it on the usb plug and it’s now solid.

    Still have to make an adapter cable so i can try it on my big headphone rig. I reckon it will be even better since these M7 do seem to scale.

    Unless you’re a v-shape fanatic this is highly recommended and a steal at 500 bucks.
     
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  11. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    based on the experience of @shotgunshane, immediately ordered myself two of these cables (CA Solaris and Drop JVC HA-FDX1) and both arrived quickly earlier this week. build quality seems perfect, and the connector options are nice although I wish they had a 3.5 TRRS balanced option, as the only unit I have with 4.4 balanced is the Hip-Dac.

    not going to guess at burn in or sonic characteristics of this cable, yet based on ergonomics alone this will become my everyday cable it looks like.....
    cheers to the IEM Wizard for this great recommendation!
     
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  12. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    I have a giant confession I need to make guys. @shotgunshane might be aware of this......

    I haven't touched my Andros ever since getting the HA-FDX1.

    The more I listen to it, the more I fully understand/appreciate the appeal of DDs over BAs. Don't get me wrong, Andros on a tech level is better than the FDX1. However, the FDX1 sounds more "right" to my ears. I think maybe the BAs is just pulling too much information than a DD?

    Quite scary that @james444 madness got us something crazy on the value end.
     
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  13. sidq

    sidq Acquaintance

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    What is everyone's favourite bluetooth "system" for the FDX1? I've tried it with the TRN 20S but felt like it wanted more power. Now I'm looking at the fiio BTR5 (how do you mount it comfortably when just wearing a shirt? Routed to waistband?) and the new FIIO neckband thing which looks reasonable.
     
  14. pure5152

    pure5152 Friend

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    Yep, totally agree here, DDs just sound "right" to me too. I think it may be that dynamic drivers have better cohesion (there's no need to handle crossover/deal with interference), and also they have more bass slam in my experience. I also sold my andros and ended up buying a DUNU LUNA after extensive audition (will sell my FDX1 too, mainly for usability reasons -- too heavy for me to use regularly. They sound great technically and are a terrific value, but just uncomfortable for me, also were a bit too lean for my personal tastes).
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2020
  15. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    I would love a rec for a similarly priced (and level of quality) 2 Pin cable if anyone has one...
     
  16. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Dunu sells a 2 pin version. They are special order, so takes a couple of weeks extra. Same price. Buy direct here: https://www.dunu-topsound.com/product-page/duw-02-cable
     
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  17. Brause

    Brause Almost "Made"

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    The $79 Tanchjim Blues is another great one for bed/sleep. Built well...and just the size of a bean, these sit flush in the ear and don't stick out at all.

    Tonality is neutral with some brightness added by that 2.5 kHz peak. Wide soundstage, fantastic speech intelligibility, very good resolution.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    I'm going to add my first TWS iem to the list: PowerBeats Pro

    Retail is $250 but can often be found on sale for $200, which is what I paid. I bought these several months ago, after much consideration, due to my dissatisfaction of using wired in-ears for exercise.
    • Wires suck when you are hot and sweaty, which I am 99% of the time in Florida
    • The little bluetooth over-ear hook receivers like the TRN and Fiio don't fit well and pull the iems at an odd angle or even out of the ear. They are also comparatively slow to put on your ears.
    • Any sealed iem sucks for power walking (or running), as footfalls are amplified to annoying levels. So much so I have to turn up volume louder.
    The PowerBeats Pro (PBP) is kind of a hybrid of in-ear and earbud. Fit and isolation (lack thereof) reminds me of Phiaton PS210. Basically it seals with a tip like a typical in-ear but the back side is heavily vented, greatly reducing isolation and giving the open feeling of an earbud. Footfalls are almost non-existent, however a lot of outside noise is audible. This is a double edged sword of sorts; it's great for being out and about b/c you can stay more aware of your surroundings but then a lawn maintenance crew can temporarily drown out your music.

    Fit is extremely shallow. It may take a good bit of tip rolling to get the right fit. The large stock tips work perfectly for me (I normally use medium or ML tips on regular iems). To be sure, I tried a lot of other tips and could not get the same comfort and seal as with the large stock tips. The best thing about the fit are the built in ear hooks. The fit is rock solid and does not move no matter how sweaty and active I am, whereas Apple AirPods move all over the place when exercising and building up a sweat. Supposedly the ear hooks are somewhat moldable but I haven't tried to move them, since fit is so good for me out of the box.

    The case is on the slightly large size. I can put it in my back pocket, and do when I go on my break walks at the office. But when I'm going on a really long walk at home, I'll leave the case at home. Battery life is far superior to AirPods (double the battery life if I recall right) and of course the case keeps them juiced up.

    Controls are really good. There is a volume rocker on both earpieces and you can use either/or. The logo on the outside fo the housing acts as the pause/play, answer/hangup button. It can also skip songs with a dual press. It's all simple and intuitive, particular good when on the go/exercising.

    Keep in mind, all my impressions are from listening on the go, as this is where the set is at its best. Soundwise, the tuning is reminiscent of the Moondrop Kanas Pro and the Tanchjim Oxygen. While I found both of those sets to sound a little thin of note and lacking mid bass slam, I don't find that issue on the PBP. It's a hair richer sounding but is by no means warm or thick. Bass is surprisingly good. Its sub bass extension is really good, as well as mid bass impact. And even on the go with outside noise, I never find it lacking. At home, in a quiet environ, it can lean a hair on the warm side, so this is probably why it's so balanced on the go. Its midrange is very clear and open sounding. Leaning neither thick nor thin, though I could see some wishing for more lower-mid weight. Midrange transparency is pretty darn good. Treble is its weak area. While there is certainly more sparkle and extension than the original AirPods, its treble timbre is a little plasticky sounding. On the go it never really bothers me but in a quite environment, it is an annoyance. The Oxygen and especially the Kanas Pro have significantly better treble timbre and realism. It never comes across as bright or sharp, just a bit off on timbre. Staging is just average and a bit upfront but doesn't sound boxy, due to its open nature. On the go, in my walk routine, the sound is pleasant, engaging and simply enjoyable.
    Measurements can be found at RTINGS: https://www.rtings.com/headphones/reviews/beats/powerbeats-pro-truly-wireless
     
  19. MrNick218

    MrNick218 Rando

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    Hey everyone. I'm trying to find an upgrade to my it03.

    I tried the FDX1 and the highs were very tinny, grainy and sharp while the bass was anemic at best. I promptly sent them back (Drop's service was amazing). I also did not burn them in and found out I could have had a defective pair.

    I moved on to try the ISN H40. Amazing soudstage, but pretty much a colossal failure on every other front. Sibilance galore, bass bloom into every song, regardless of genre. Totally fell for the headfi hype.

    I'm about to just pull the trigger on the it03 again, but I wanted to see if anyone had opinions on a decent upgrade in the same price range.

    Love the U shape and bass quantity of the it03, but it doesn't quite slam fast/hard enough. I like the mids a lot for clarity but would like a tad more note weight. Highs are just fine to my ears. Soundstage is amazing for imaging but would really like a more 3D presentation/larger stage.

    Any recommendations?
     
  20. Brause

    Brause Almost "Made"

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    [​IMG]

    Modding Your Internal Hardware: How To Remove Upper-Midrange Peaks With Audiophile Olive Oil



    THE PROBLEM

    What? Audiophile olive oil? Who has not had the disappointing experience of unboxing a long expected earphone and then be shocked by an overly harsh and hard sound perception. Such hardness is typically introduced by peaks between 2 and 4 kHz, the most sensitive frequency segment for the human ear. Or not? It has been established that Asian provocative ears are less sensitive to shrillness and shoutiness, in fact such sonic liveliness is deemed desirable [our article on nasty peaks]. Western ears are more cautious towards uberrepresented frequencies, but the western markets are negligibly small in comparison so that Chi-Fi tuners frequently do not offer special consideration. European and North American customers have no choice but deploy either (reversible) modding techniques or add third-party devices.


    We have discussed on our blog before that the cheapest way of altering sound in an earphone is changing the stock tips [our article on eartips]. Narrow-bore tips typically yield a deeper, tubier soundstage, whereas wide-bores attenuate bass and reveal treble. The second cheapest way of changing sound is (reversible) modding [our reversible modding principles]. Micropore tape over nozzles can work wonders with that peaky upper end. If you are a lawyer or heart surgeon, or another rich twit, you may try your luck with pricey cables or calm the sound of your expensive however aggressive earphone with the distant memory of your pleasant unboxing experience.

    But have you ever considered not altering the external hardware, i.e. earphones, but rather manipulating the internal hardware, i.e. your very own ear canals? Humans manipulate their hardware all the time for all sorts of purposes, from working out in the gym for fitness, through seeking healthy improvements by medications or supplements, even plastic surgery, to doping in professional sports.


    THE SOLUTION

    Researchers at the “Max Planck Institut für Strömungsforschung” in Germany have discovered an amazingly simple way of smoothing perceived sound by smoothing your ear canals to minimize internal distortion and resonance. To achieve this, the researchers first shaved the accessible frontal part of the ear canal and then lubricated the inner walls. In order to achieve maximum smoothness, the lubricant has to be of a favourable viscosity.


    [​IMG]
    The smoothening effect of audiophile olive oil is reflected by the frequently response.

    Viscosity is defined as a measure of the internal friction, that is the resistance of a liquid against being moved/deformed. According to the researchers, the viscosity of the fluid in the ear has to be just right so that the thin film covering the ear canal does not tear when the earpieces are inserted. Dr. Schnuckelbein, who was leading the team of the Max Plank Institute, told audioreviews.org that olive oil fulfills all these requirements. But hold it, not any cheap olive oil does the job. The one that works best comes from the Argana valley in Morocco and from various locations of Tunesia.


    PROFESSIONAL TESTIMONIES

    Other reviewers confirm my positive experience. The Crinch reports that the lubrication of the olive oil put his graph tool into an endless spin. The Audiotool found the oil useful for removing rust from himself, and the ant-eater uses it for frying up his dinner, too. Not sure how the Contraceptionst deployed it but primate audio failed to superimpose graphs of different earphones after too generous an application…they simply slipped off each other. Alaskan good girl bad girl (AGGBG) eventually even smoothened out her foul language with the oil so that Discord were forced to rename themselves to Concord. Co-blogger KopyOkaty, finally, was very successful in restoring his hearing and recover from his moderate deafness. Only Dead-Fi remained dead, even with the finest audiophile olive oil.


    CONCLUDING REMARKS

    In summary, audiophile olive oil is way more effective and versatile than snake oil for improving one’s listening pleasure. Applied together with hard liquor, it creates a sensation of optimistic listening, promotes expectation bias, and it has been proven as a good tool against buyer’s remorse. Last but not least it is is much cheaper than snake oil, too. You can order a 10 ml bottle of audiophile olive oil from us for only $49.99; worldwide shipping and a free pipette included. Hey, after all, we have to start making some money.

    And since we can’t do this every day, our special offer will expire on 2nd April 2020.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2020
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