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Objectivist friendly and wallet friendly IEM?

typericey

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#1
TL'DR: Don't know anything about IEMs. Please suggest a neutral/accurate one that's around US$150-200.

Long version: I'm looking for an "everyday carry" IEM for when I'm traveling, commuting, etc. Not familiar with the IEM realm but I do know that headphones in general should not measure flat. But I need an accurate and neutral one with the least coloration. My benchmark for headphones is the HD6XX. If I can get an IEM that sounds like the HD6XX that would be good enough.

I plan to use it to listen to Spotify with my Samsung S8 (upgrading to S10 soon) and an AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt. I know that AQ isn't an objectivist darling but the Cobalt seems to be the best out there for my purpose: an uber portable DAC/amp to drive $200 IEMs for Spotify playback. I've used having a cigarette carton sized DAP in the past but it's just too bulky and cumbersome. Now I just want to listen with my phone.

The Etymotic ER3SE ($179) seems to fit my requirements, but I haven't tried one out. Darko raved about the Campfire Audio Comet ($200) but are they neutral?
 
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#2
Bundle earphone in s8 or s10 isn't so bad in technical perspective. It will sound quite neutral with some adjustment on bass.
Or I recommend Bose soundtrue ultra and samsung u flex. They both have similar tone balance to hd6xx.
 

Blumlein 88

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#3
I've been looking at this one myself. $149. Don't have them yet so can't say what they are like.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XUQB9P...colid=YZ61BTNRR8RL&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

Of course I also am considering some in ear microphones for the same price for experimenting with binaural recording. Hmmmmm, not sure which I should do. But those PSB M4U 4's have gotten some good reviews and are worth considering. Paul Barton designed them and the Room Feel is similar to the Harman headphone research.
 

JohnYang1997

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#4
cheaper than er3se: er2se
even cheaper: moondrop spaceship
I know the designer of the spaceship and it's highly influenced by etymotic. It's actually their third attempt for micro dd iem. Previous ones are crescent and aria. spaceship is cheaper and much better.
And don't buy campfire.
 

Bamboszek

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#5
I bought FiiO FA1 recently and I love them. They are really comfy and it is easy to get proper seal even with silicone eartips. For me, sound quality is more than enough for portable listening. Pretty balanced tonality I'd say. I'm using them with Apple USB-C headphone adapter and android phone which drives them perfectly. As far I know they use Knowles balanced armature driver very similar to one used in Etymotic ER4XR.
 

JohnYang1997

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#6
I bought FiiO FA1 recently and I love them. They are really comfy and it is easy to get proper seal even with silicone eartips. For me, sound quality is more than enough for portable listening. Pretty balanced tonality I'd say. I'm using them with Apple USB-C headphone adapter and android phone which drives them perfectly. As far I know they use Knowles balanced armature driver very similar to one used in Etymotic ER4XR.
Driver doesn't really matter much. We need to look at the final product. The measurement of fa1 showed mid bass hump and recessed 3khz. And shallow inserting balanced armature drivers just don't easily have flat and extended high frequency response. It's certainly not as bad as some of the other iems but objective speaking it's quite colored.
 

Bamboszek

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#9
Driver doesn't really matter much. We need to look at the final product. The measurement of fa1 showed mid bass hump and recessed 3khz. And shallow inserting balanced armature drivers just don't easily have flat and extended high frequency response. It's certainly not as bad as some of the other iems but objective speaking it's quite colored.
Didn't seen FH1 measurements but IMHO for portable headphones/IEMs target response should be a bit different. Personally, I prefer a bit more of low frequencies in portable gear. What objectively and subjectively sounds flat in home not necessary sounds best in tram and vice versa. It is reflected in some headphones like Sennheiser Momentum. I can agree that Etymotics are great. I had HF3 and they were amazing, cable/construction was a bit fragile tho and I've replaced them with vivo XE800 / Ulitimate Ears UE700. After solid 5 years, cable in my UE700 got stiff and I recently bought FiiO FH1 which I'm really happy with. I aslo had Hifimans RE-400 but fit wasn't great and I didn't liked driver flex. Otherwise, really decent IEMs.
BTW deep application isn't for everyone. For me, Etymotics were uncomfortable, unless used with Shure foam tips.
 

JohnYang1997

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#10
Didn't seen FH1 measurements but IMHO for portable headphones/IEMs target response should be a bit different. Personally, I prefer a bit more of low frequencies in portable gear. What objectively and subjectively sounds flat in home not necessary sounds best in tram and vice versa. It is reflected in some headphones like Sennheiser Momentum. I can agree that Etymotics are great. I had HF3 and they were amazing, cable/construction was a bit fragile tho and I've replaced them with vivo XE800 / Ulitimate Ears UE700. After solid 5 years, cable in my UE700 got stiff and I recently bought FiiO FH1 which I'm really happy with. I aslo had Hifimans RE-400 but fit wasn't great and I didn't liked driver flex. Otherwise, really decent IEMs.
BTW deep application isn't for everyone. For me, Etymotics were uncomfortable, unless used with Shure foam tips.
Well. I see what you are saying. And mostly I do agree. But that's a little bit complex and you actually touched quite a lot different points in very few sentences.
Perception of bass is indeed less outdoor, so that's why isolation is important. And there are xr versions of er2 3 4. Adding more bass to the earphones will in long term reduce the perception of bass even more so that's not exactly what we want.
Hf3 is mid centric unless adding ptos adapter to being up some highs. The connection to the driver is indeed a bit weak.
There are other earphones that pursue similar goal as etymotic but with shallow insertion. Moondrop is doing it. Also Tanchijim has cora and oxygen both are really good. Cora has nice bass emphasis with mostly accurate mids and highs. Oxygen is more balanced than cora.
Foam tips for er4(or similar), it's still needed to insert deeply idk were you insert deeply or not. But that's quite important. Olive is pretty close to the triflange when inserted deeply.
The preference of sound is independent to what we perceive flat. In fact, it needs to be trained to be able to hear what's flat what's not.
Fa1 is indeed ok. It's just that this thread has objective in the title so I couldn't recommend it.
 
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typericey

typericey

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Thread Starter #11
Thanks for the replies. Lots to be learned here and lots of headphones mentioned that I need to research on.

@JohnYang1997 just curious: why did you dismiss Campfire Audio?
 

Veri

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#13
I think JohnYang especially means their crazy prices. They are cable builders gone kilobuck IEMs. Overhyped all over head-fi et al.

Andro is not bad but its very high price is far from warranted (what's new in this scene right?). I also heard Solaris and didn't even like its sound... I honestly think they got lucky they even got andromeda right, have they made any decent IEM besides it?
 

JohnYang1997

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#14
I think JohnYang especially means their crazy prices. They are cable builders gone kilobuck IEMs. Overhyped all over head-fi et al.

Andro is not bad but its very high price is far from warranted (what's new in this scene right...). I also heard Solaris and didn't even like its sound ... I honestly think they got lucky even get andromeda right, have they made any decent IEM besides it?
I feel like Andromeda has weird mids tho. According to measurements there is hardly any 3k hump. The balance of lows and highs is probably why there are still many people like it.
 

Veri

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#15
I feel like Andromeda has weird mids tho. According to measurements there is hardly any 3k hump. The balance of lows and highs is probably why there are still many people like it.
Have you heard Solaris? Andro mids are silky compared to it..... the one I heard might have been simply especially bad though, there are rumours of very bad unit variance with Solaris which is another big fault towards Campfire audio in my book :/
 

JohnYang1997

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#16
Have you heard Solaris? Andro mids are silky compared to it..... the one I heard might have been simply especially bad though, there are rumours of very bad unit variance with Solaris which is another big fault towards Campfire audio in my book :/
I only personally heard Vega and Andromeda in 2016 I believe or 2017. Since then, I never listened to alo/campfire iems again.
According to measurements there is a peak at 2khz and after 2khz there is a drop, making the sound harsh and even more weird. And I haven't seen any alo iem that measures any good. Oh including their overear closed back headphones. That thing sounds just like Vega.:facepalm:
 

Tks

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#17
Sennheiser IE 40 Pro

For sound quality they seem okay. And possibly amazing if you are able to EQ some of the treble past 10k where there is a spike.

Thinking about getting these myself (been using KZ ZSN's I've been happy with, but want to try something new).
 

JohnYang1997

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#18
Sennheiser IE 40 Pro

For sound quality they seem okay. And possibly amazing if you are able to EQ some of the treble past 10k where there is a spike.

Thinking about getting these myself (been using KZ ZSN's I've been happy with, but want to try something new).
Not really. You should read the raw frequency response instead of the one with target applied.
This is what it actually sounds like.
https://m.blog.naver.com/PostView.nhn?blogId=gre_nada&logNo=221407076973&categoryNo=100&proxyReferer=&proxyReferer=https://www.google.com/
The distortion is really good tho. It should take eq reasonably well too.
 

JJB70

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#20
Depending on your phone you may not need a separate DAC. I use a Sony Xperia Xz premium and find that the DAC is transparent and the headphone output also pretty much transparent. The only criticism is that the output is a bit anaemic thanks to hearing protection regs. On more modern models without a headphone jack some of the USB dongles are fine.
An alternative is to go wireless. For wired IEMs I use Etymotic ER4 SR. They are a bit above your budget but not so much.
 

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