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

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

  1. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Started to listen to my Andros for the first time since March, now it had a Channel imbalance issue. Left side is too low volume while Right side is normal. Swap some cables and setups, same deal. Just ship it back to CA for their review. Looks like the Left MMCX Connector doesn't hold as tight anymore....
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2020
  2. dncnexus

    dncnexus Friend

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    Damn rip sorry to hear that boss, hopefully they can get it sorted out!
     
  3. Augmentin

    Augmentin MOT - DUNU IEM Company

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    After a 1 year wait (almost to the day I preordered them), I finally received my NuraLoop wireless earphones. For those of you who don't know, the Loop is the sophomore effort from Australian startup Nura, which released the funky looking Nura headphones a few years ago. The Nura Loop was supposed to be their more affordable, less odd, TWS competitor (it's not really TWS, as there's a cable connecting the two sides), but boasted the same adaptive hearing equalization technology as well as variable ANC.

    Nura's main claim to fame is that it uses evoked otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) of the ear to test your hearing and EQs the headphones to your personal hearing sensitivity. OAEs have historically been used by the medical community for newborn hearing function screening (you can't ask a newborn whether he/she hears a pure tone at 4 kHz) by using short bursts of tones to elicit either a passive or active cochlear response. Think of these distortion product OAEs (DPOAE) and/or transient evoked OAEs (TEOAE) as essentially the basilar membrane's version of an echo. OAEs can diagnose conditions related to the perilymph and endolymph, and inner/outer hair cell function.

    For these reasons, I've been geeking out on the application of OAEs in headphone technology ever since Nura debuted their headphones (in 2016? In our private correspondence, @shotgunshane has heard me fangirl over this thing more than once) --- to me, it's an ingenious method of performing automatic EQ. I recall reading from somewhere that Nura utilizes both DPOAE and TEOAE results (in my experience listening to the testing sequence on the Nura, I find this to be true) to maximize the sensitivity/specificity of results, and to bypass effects of the stapedius reflex, so the OAE system utilized by Nura seems to be fairly robust.

    Ergonomically, I find the NuraLoop to be fairly comfortable. The housings are on the large size, but nothing especially unwieldly compared to what we folks in this hobby deal with on a day to day basis. I wish the ear hooks were more flexible. I'm not really a wireless kind of guy; I'm happy going wired into my BTR5. I had a pair of TRN BT20S and stopped using them after a couple of months because they were pretty ho-hum with comfort. These feel stiff, but nothing's particularly uncomfortable. The ear tips are fairly comfortable though. They have an oval shape and have a good soft silicone feel. Normal medium-sized tips fit me decently.

    Out of the box, 'Neutral Mode', or unequalized mode, sounds okay-ish. Bass isn't overly loose and not overdone. There's a bit of blunting of the upper midrange, leading to less than stellar presence/clarity, but there's nothing overly problematic to the sound like I've heard with many TWS headsets. Heck, I think there will actually be people who prefer Neutral Mode to Personalized Mode.

    The 'personalization' process is mostly a painless process. It's a bunch of bleeps and bloops (the transient bursts of sound made to evoke OAEs). There are two modes that are used, and it does seem that they don't test anything above 8 kHz. This makes some sense, as the test sensitivity/specificity goes down (though not as much as it does for frequencies <500 Hz), but also because ear simulators are not all that accurate above 8 kHz (the new B&K 5128 is yet to be proven accurate, though it is promising).

    After turning on Personalized Mode, I noticed that the EQ effect was mostly turning down the central midrange, turning up the upper midrange, and certain spots in the lower treble. It's a boost in clarity, with less vocal body, and more pronounced imaging effects. This is all to be expected with the kind of EQ effect they put on. I don't hear much of any EQ applied to the upper treble or sub-bass.

    I mostly listened with Immersion Mode off, because it's just a bass boost EQ. While Immersion mode is a decently implemented bass boost EQ (I can imagine turning up Immersion at the gym), there's an adequate level of bass with it off for neutralheads.

    Yeah, I'm not gonna talk about "technicalities", i.e. transient response, soundstage, blah blah blah. The driver inside is perfectly fine (8.5 mm graphene-coated or something? I didn't do much research), but it's not gonna blow people away. The Nura is all about a pleasant tonal balance, and I believe it achieves that for the most part.

    At retail price ($199), I think the NuraLoop is a competitive item. It's got decent ANC and good battery life with decent call quality. The general sound signature is personalizable, which is better than competing products. For the quarter or so of the population with mild sensorineural hearing loss, this is a great product to use because it'll correct left/right balance issues. The general sound signature, after personalization is still mild enough and pleasant for long listens. It's not an overbaked Harman target. To my ears, it's more enjoyable than the Galaxy Buds I tried (have not tried the Plus version), and a little bit more enjoyable than the Cambridge Melomania 1 (which was previously my favorite TWS). I have not tried the AirPods Pro nor the 1000XM3. Sure, it's not truly wireless, but IMHO TWS is overrated. It's too easy to drop one earpiece on the ground. I actually like this tethered design. For the 30% off price that I got it at (was one of the first pre-order fillers), it's basically a no-brainer. My hope is that Nura provides an "Expert Mode" for trained listeners like us. We can adjust the personalization according to personal tastes and play with EQ.

    Pros
    • Good battery life (versus AirPods Pro)
    • Decent ANC (but still with some low level hiss)
    • Decent call quality
    • SQ with everything off (no EQ, no ANC) sounds perfectly acceptable (warn/neutral-ish)
    Cons
    • Ear hooks are on the stiffer side
    • Touch sensitive controls are slightly too sensitive
    • OAE test doesn't seem to work above 8 kHz
    • Immersion Mode is just a bass boost EQ, doesn't seem to be a Fletcher-Munson compensation
     
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  4. rott

    rott Secretly hates other millenials - Friend

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    Complete IEM noob. I would generally be using either straight out of an iDevice possibly with some dinky mobile DAC/amp (still have an old HRT microStreamer or could spring for an AQ DragonFly), so would something in the range of Massdrop Plus, Dunu DK-2001 or DK-3001 Pro lose much of their strength/value if not using a DAP or desktop amp?

    Between the Massdrop Plus and the Dunu pair, which provides the "best" balance of natural timbre/tone, not anemic but not boosted bass, crisp but not fatiguing treble, and wide imaging? Or is there a better choice with those criteria when using a modest mobile source (so they don't sound anemic)?
     
  5. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    JVC HA-FDX1 is available on Drop again. Choice of tonality filters for treble to your taste, natural timbre, good imaging and staging, not anemic out of a phone but will scale with source. Physically heavy, but that can be ameliorated by cabling over the ears if necessary.

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...jvc-ha-fdx1-dd-iem-the-second-coming-of.8169/
     
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  6. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    I haven’t heard the DK3001 Pro but from what I’ve read, it’s the easiest to like in their lineup. The DK2001 is firmly on the bassier side.

    The Drop Plus meets most your criteria but will definitely have armature timbre, which is not comparable to dynamic driver timbre.

    Gotta agree with Biodegraded and say go for the FDX1. It can be a hair shouty but is otherwise very natural sounding and fairly neutralish. Best of all you can use the empty 3rd nozzle to mod yourself.

    For the most part, you are largely just trading side-grades on all these various dongle style dac/amps. Unless the impedance differences some of them have (like AQ) positively impact an armature or hybrid based in-ear, they’re not worth the extra dough and hassle over the Apple dongle in my experience; unless of course you want to get wireless with bluetooth receivers or go a little bigger into something like a Mojo. Sometimes the simplest is the most gratifying.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
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  7. rott

    rott Secretly hates other millenials - Friend

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    Thank you both, pulled the trigger on the FDX1. If that doesn't work out, well I'll just stick with the EarPods and my big boy cans.
     
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  8. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    idevice, I'd forgotten that likely means you will need some sort of dongle. I concur with the suggestion above, start with the apple one. I got one a couple of weeks back and have to agree with the general opinion, they're very good regardless of price . I still like the dragonfly black I've had for a few years now for a different sound, darker and relaxing - but hear the $10 apple first and you could well decide that nothing else is necessary (it's not amp power the JVCs need, it's that they're transparent to source).
     
  9. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    The JVCs might be the only real IEMs that you ever need. If you really like it and you think you wanna to upgrade, more/less $$$.
     
  10. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Friend

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    JVC sounds excellent! They however keep on popping out of my ears. Currently using the stock tips.
    What tips do people use with them?
     
  11. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Symbios always work for me to keep FDX1 and other troublesome-to-fit IEMs in place, including Noble X. They're the tips that keep on gripping, without the drawbacks of full foamies.
    https://symbioeartips.com/
     
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  12. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Stock tips are rock solid for me; almost feel non-existent for tips. However, if you have some old Sony MH1 tips, give those a try. The narrower bore seems to add a hint of nice warmth and the silicone is grippy.
     
  13. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Friend

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    I have now found that with smaller tips that I regularly use, I get a good deal. Tried the Symbios, but they also pop out. I think this has to do with the size of the nozzle and my earcanal. In this case getting a deeper fit with smaller tips give me better results.
     
  14. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    If they're just a bit too big, try this.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
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  15. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    Are the JVC FDX1 still close enough to the TOTL neutral-ish DDs that its not worth spending more if you're looking for a DD IEM?

    I still find hybrids (the two I've heard) somewhat incoherent, and BA timbre is BA timbre. So despite the fact that all the TOTL IEMs use hybrid or all BAs and have significant technical advantages, I think I still prefer DD. Maybe the Ara will change that, but in any case it would be nice to have more TOTL-ish DD options.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
  16. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    I would suppose it depends on your tuning preference. There’s not a lot of neutrally tuned single dynamics. FDX1 is going to be the only one you don’t need to mod that I’ve heard.

    @james444 has heard more can maybe chime in. He’s modded the FAudio Passion to success but I’ve yet to hear that one. He also posted some very good impressions of the Dunu Luna over on HF. I’m on that tour and should hear it in a few weeks but it’s quite price restrictive.
     
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  17. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    And I think @pure5152 has a Dunu Luna and one of the channel's broke if I remember.
     
  18. imackler

    imackler Key Lime Pie Infected Aberdeen Wings Spy

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    I haven't heard any TOTL dynamic iems... but the price is so far from TOTL price, I'd recommend it. I'm thoroughly enjoying my pair. Definitely one of my favorite iems ever. And definitely does neutral-ish well.
     
  19. imackler

    imackler Key Lime Pie Infected Aberdeen Wings Spy

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    @shotgunshane So... If you were to jump in your wayback machine, does the Orion do anything special that the UE4 doesn't? I'm getting the sense that mids and bass may be similar, but treble better on the UE4? Tempted by the Orion, but trying to convince myself I don't "need" to try it. I imagine it's been a while since you've heard either...
     
  20. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    The Dunu Luna and Acoustune 1695ti are the first two that come to mind in terms of what's on the market right now. I'm also secretly hoping that Campfire will one day release a single DD with a more balanced tuning.
     
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