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

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

  1. james444

    james444 Friend

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    Pioneer CH3T quick impressions:

    Only a few days into the New Year and here's a first nice surprise. I ordered these because I've been pretty impressed by their CH9 model some time ago. So I was curious what Pioneer had to offer for a mere $30.

    Turns out, pretty much...

    [​IMG]


    These are very small IEMs and should fit most ears. I can even lie on the side with these without discomfort. Stock tips are great, so you don't need 3rd party tips to improve sound / fit. Cable is ok, moderately microphonic when worn downwards, so better wear it over-ears. (In any case, far less springy than the Hifi Walker cable). Like many budget IEMs, they lack a chin slider, so just use the included twist tie to make your own.

    On to sound: at first listen the signature reminded me a bit of the UERM, so I put them up against those on my measurement rig (green = UERM, blue = CH3):

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, bass and most of the mids are pretty close. The huge 12kHz spike is (partly) due to coupler resonance, as I don't hear such a pronounced emphasis with a sine sweep and my own ears. Anyway, no big deal, since you can easily damp the highs with a strip of micropore tape across the nozzle. Here's the FR with a strip that covers about 80% of the nozzle:

    [​IMG]


    And here's with a strip that covers about 90%. As you can see, it's easy to lower the high range to your preferred level:

    [​IMG]

    Personally, I settled for 80% and like that signature quite a bit. It's on the warm side of neutral and rather non-fatiguing / forgiving (helped by the dip in the sibilance range), but still retains enough detail to not sound sound veiled in my book.

    Imaging is surprisingly decent, they do sound much larger than they look and offer a nice coherent soundstage with classical orchestral music.

    Channel matching is damn good too, on my (modded) pair:

    [​IMG]

    Overall, I'm pleasantly surprised by these and, dare I say it, like them even better than the Pioneer CH9.

    First budget IEM recommendation of 2019! :)
     
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  2. BenignScrambler

    BenignScrambler Rando

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    Yup. Can't complain about these. Find they're a nice mix of qualities from two similar products I quite enjoy; Final E2000 and JVC HA-FXH30. Will have to check out your micropore mod.
     
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  3. Augmentin

    Augmentin Acquaintance

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    I'm personally kind of curious about these: http://inair-audio.com/

    They don't look all that mod-friendly, but I can imagine them being quite comfortable.
     
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  4. jafnvaegi

    jafnvaegi Friend

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    I think I saw mention of the brand somewhere previously the but design of the M360 is very interesting to say the least!
     
  5. sunnygsm

    sunnygsm Rando

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    What IEM's would be recommended for someone that was looking for an upgrade below $500? I have the Massdrop Noble X's and after a fair bit of time with them, I don't love them. I don't know if it's the mediocre fit or that I just don't like the sound signature much. For reference, I enjoy my HD600s and do like my mids to be fairly prominent. Intend to use the headphones directly from a phone (Pixel 3).
     
  6. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    I'm pleased to see you recommend something cheap for which the required modifications aren't potentially fatal. ;)

    Canadians, these are available today at Visions for $28. Yesterday they were $24, tomorrow who knows...
     
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  7. Brause

    Brause Rando

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    I was less lucky with my first pair. Got a second one on order. Apart from the blatant channel imbalance, I didn't record that 11 kHz peak at all.

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Brause

    Brause Rando

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    Yes, not great, as the midrange is too recessed. The cheaper and identical looking ATR has a more balanced tuning and is actually quite a decent iem.
     
  9. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    A few here that like the HD600/650 had good luck with the single armature Campifre Orion. I haven’t kept up of CA is still making this model or not. I know it would come up time to time in their warehouse deals.

    Edit: Forgot to mention the Sony 7550. Its more for indoor use, as it picks up wind noise.

    Also, not exactly HD600 type signature but check out the JVC FD01 mod thread. If you’re willing to do some simple reversable mods, this is one of the best bang for bucks under $500.
     
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  10. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    I’ll be visiting Manilla soon. Anyone know if there are some good audio stores for portable audio there?

    Edit: got my answer: Egghead in Makati
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
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  11. Soups

    Soups Sadomasochistic cat

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    Just wanted to add another data point for the Pioneer CH3T's. Picked one up after reading @james444's recommendation for a measly $22 shipped on Amazon.com. Sadly looks like I got in before prices went back up. Anyhow, I've tried a few of James' other mod friendly recs (HifiWalker A1, Blitzwolf ES-1) and although I enjoyed both, the CH3T is my favorite thus far both in terms of modded & unmodded performance.

    Straight out of the box, I appreciated the neutral-slightly-bright sound, and they paired great with my Shanling M0. Modded, which removes the treble edge, these are a real budget gem. Bass is present enough for my tastes, but as the FR already indicates, these won't impress the bassheads. EDIT: bass appears to scale with source/amp - e.g. these have very nice slam and thiccness with Liquid Platinum.

    I'd be curious to see distortion measurements on these, to see how that graphene tech correlates to what I perceive as fantastic clarity (for a sub-$30 iem). They seem to be OK resolving, as I'm only missing some of the detail that I'm used to (from unfair to compare open headphones). They also seem to be a bit power hungry, but boy do they sound awesome and hiss-free being fed from my Liquid Platinum, which is a pleasant surprise. So, get some micropore and a pair of CH3T's for a great budget IEM start to the year.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
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  12. james444

    james444 Friend

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    See my PM reply - I don't trust my distortion measurements (noisy laptop, subpar environment), so I'll leave that task to the more experienced folks around here.
     
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  13. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Thanks to the awesome and kick ass SBAF loaner program, I got to find out what all the rage is about with Solaris. I believe our loaner tour overlord, @Vansen, has run this set in the requisite 2 billion hours to form legitimate impressions.

    Solaris vs Andromeda
    Source- Mezzo Soprano modded AK120
    Tips - Andromeda: Mee Audio dual flange silicone; Solaris: single flange Ortofon silicone
    Now that the legalese is out of the way, lets get to it.


    Metallica - Eye of the Beholder

    This is my favorite Metallica song. I love the lyrics, the raw emotion; it has killer guitars and driving drums. Kicks have more impact and natural decay on Solaris, but it’s not remotely slow or plodding. Andromeda bass is decidedly quicker with less texture, less realism in direct comparison. Solaris bass texturing is more tactile and lifelike. Guitars and vocals sound more separated and layered from each other on Solaris. Sense of space from front to back is significantly more noticeable. Whereas Andromeda sounds more flat dimensionally, it does sounds wider from left to right. Solaris vocals are much more upfront and intimate- projected in front of the band. Andromeda vocals are further away, placed more inline with the band. While Solaris vocal are more in front, there’s more room for everything to breath. While not as wide sounding there’s just simply more space. Andromeda gives more of a wall of sound to guitars and Solaris has just a hint of hollowness upon first switch over. Both seem to have similarly quick transients but overall Solaris sounds cleaner. Treble on both is also very similar here; cymbals have similar timbre and realism. Overall the Solaris is significantly more involving for me.


    Halestorm - Here’s to Us

    The Etymotic ER4S is always my benchmark for transparency and energy in Lzzy Hale’s voice. I always come back to this song, hoping to feel those same chills. Both Solaris and Andromeda lack the transparency and energy in her voice that I so fondly remember with the Ety. Harmonics are slightly muted/blunted on both but perhaps a hair more on the Solaris with it’s slight hollow effect that I quickly adjust too immediately after switching. Again, in direct comparison, Andromeda sounds much more flat dimensionally but wider left to right and perhaps a bit more raw and emotional. Drums on Solaris are obviously more palpable; other instruments are just more realistic and placement is more 3 dimensional. Solaris amazes with its un-IEM-like staging and its better resolution and micro-detailing.


    Radney Foster - Half of My Mistakes

    Radney is one of my favorite singer/songwriters. I use many of his songs to see how easy it is for me to get lost in the lyrics, feel some chills and tugs at the heart strings. Solaris easily sounds more transparent and clear here. Radney’s vocals are slightly fuller, richer and noticeably more intimate. This time the slight hollowness shows in the tonality of the tambourines, which doesn’t sound quite right; the Andromeda tonality here sounds more accurate. While I prefer the overall tonality of Andromeda, the more realistic weight to Radney’s voice, along with the improved separation and clarity, more easily bring me chills when he says, “…half of my mistakes… God, I wouldn’t change a thing.”


    Odds and Ends

    Solaris fits me pretty well but funnily enough, I do find Andromeda a little more comfortable. I really like the feel of the new super litz cable. It has a little less memory effect down the length of the cable than the original litz on Andromeda. The jury is out on the memory wire section over the ears. It’s thinner on the old litz and is easier for me to manipulate when wearing glasses. But once I have Solaris situated it’s fine, even with glasses. Aside from that, I’d be very happy with this cable on any of my iems. Not sure why the Solaris leather case is so big. It’s useless to me; I much prefer my Andromeda case.


    Apart from Andromeda and Orion, I haven’t much liked any of the other models from Campfire (ok, Polaris wasn’t so bad), so I really kind of came in to Solaris expecting to be let down. I’m happy to say my fears were dissuaded. Overall I think the Solaris is a definite step up from Andromeda but it still has it’s issues/idiosyncrasies like anything else. Had I never heard Solaris, I would continue to be completely happy with my Andromeda. Now… well, now I’m contemplating selling to fund Solaris.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  14. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    oh yeah, forgot to add: Solaris is going up on the list and kick the Tia Forte out of it.
     
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  15. Brause

    Brause Rando

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    Also interesting to see how the Solaris and Andromeda handle dense instrumentations with natural sounds from strings and wind instruments, e.g. a symphony orchestra. And complex jazz arrangements.
     
  16. Brause

    Brause Rando

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    Here the measurements of my CH3 (raw). Bass rolls off a bit early. They appear to be very tip sensitive: the included tips are very thin and flimsy and the sound was rather crowded in the midrange. Replacing them with the thicker-walled Tennmak wide-bores opened up the image and added richness and volume, but also made the bass a bit boomier. They sound impressive now.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  17. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I dug out the fancy box of ex1k tips and tried the SS tips. At full insertion shout and treble spikes are reduced, but they don't have enough give and are too uncomfortable.

    The MEE P1 tips that are the same as the PX tips @deafdoorknob is using are out of stock on the MEE website.
    https://www.meeaudio.com/TS6-CMB-P1-GY/
    But I bought these from Amazon and the large 3-flange seems to be the same size.
    https://www.amazon.com/MEE-audio-Eartips-various-TS6-CMB-35-BK/dp/B018A0UAYC

    I initially inserted them as far as I could and the tonality of the upper-mids and treble was toned down and very pleasant. But they were too uncomfortable to wear like that. Backing them out a couple of mm while maintaining a good seal gave almost as much reduction and feels about the same as my Etys with large 3-flange tips. I now only need one strip of Micropore covering about half of the bore to get them where I like.

    These are the tips on the MEE website (Large Triple-Flange) if you don't want to order the whole combo set, though it doesn't work out that much cheaper unless you're buying 3 pairs.
    https://www.meeaudio.com/standard-35mm-eartips/

    Edit: If your earholes are small, then maybe the Small Triple-Flange will work for you.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  18. Nordpol Anton

    Nordpol Anton Rando

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    How would you compare the Solaris‘ sound to the PP8? Are there any similarities or would you prefer the one over the other?
     
  19. james444

    james444 Friend

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    Yeah, just like the UERM bass. Sufficient extension for most music, but probably not well-suited for bassheads. Being DDs, they do pack a bit more punch than the UERM though, despite FR-graphs looking almost identical in bass.
     
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  20. Brause

    Brause Rando

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    Actually, I quite like the bass: not too little, not too much...just right. You can beef it up a bit with narrow-bore tips but that would be too much bass for me.

    As to the offensive treble peak(s)...which I didn't measure but think I am hearing: covered up 80% of the nozzles with micropore tape as describe above - but it doesn't make any obviously noticeable difference for me...I didn't bother re-measuring. Sound is just fine.

    I really like the CH3 and am getting ready to give some of my self-purchased budget multis to charity - not needed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019

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