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Tanchjim Origin IEM Review

Rate this IEM:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 11 7.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 52 34.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 80 53.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 8 5.3%

  • Total voters
    151

SteveL

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OK, anecdote, worth what you paid for it. Look at Amir's review of the OG Salnotes Zero. It absolutely hugs the target except for a little overshoot around 4-5 kHz. That IEM is virtually perfect for me out of the box- except that I like the sound even better with a 2 dB cut at 4 kHz, which brings it even closer to the target. And as I've said before, my external reference is live classical music- I want a known high quality source like the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall to sound convincingly like what I hear in concert halls (a more direct comparison is recordings on the Cleveland Orchestra's own label and Adella streaming app with what I hear in my excellent subscription seat in Severance Hall). And that's what I get to an almost spooky degree from the Salnotes. Maybe the Harman target is "shouty" with some pop recordings- I wouldn't know, or care. All I can tell you is that it surely is nothing of the kind with well-recorded classical music. (And while we all have different ear canals I have no reason to think that mine are particularly unusual.)
 

taotone

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At risk of putting my foot in it...

@taotone I never really understand this line of argument which has been brought up before. I think if @amirm was misinterpreting the research then those behind the research itself wouldn't be referencing his measurements.

I'm also always interested to know what not "completely ignoring how poor the current state of the science is when it comes to IEM and headphone measurements" would actually look like in practice? So Amir is quite single-minded in his use of the Harman targets... well it makes the reviews extremely consistent and even if not perfect (which he has never claimed it is) it still is the best we have right now. He's very up front about this - to the point of driving some people round the bends apparently.

"Dr Toole in interviews is obviously embarrassed that you are misusing his research so badly." That sounds like a very spicy point if you have a source?

More to the point of the video by @Resolve , I actually found it very interesting and not sure I recognize the agenda that others are seeing in it. I don't think the questions he brings up necessarily have to be seen as antithetical to the work Amir does. Just because it doesn't provide any answers doesn't mean it's not relevant or raise any good points, though the title is expectedly click-baity as is the way on YouTube.

My current view is that there are 2 sensible approaches being taken (discounting throwing crap and seeing if it sticks): aiming for Harman, as with the Zero and other IEMs reviewed here, or trying to average out the expected variances in ear canal effects etc. to make a sound that will sound less bad for more people. It looks like this is what Sennheiser do with their recent IEMs as a few are close to Harman for large portions of their frequency response but have a big dip in the mid-range as if they have decided this bit sounds particularly bad when very far off the mark. I'm not convinced this is a great approach as ear canal effects can be so extreme above 1kHz that other diversions impacting preference might override this, but who knows.

In future I expect there will be a single target as Amir and many of us hope for, but there will be a methodology for compensating for individual in-ear differences. Since we don't have this yet I'm not sure what could possibly be better than what Amir is doing right now.

n.b. what I'm referencing above:

View attachment 354433

from https://danishsoundcluster.dk/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Olive_DSD_2022.pdf
The variance in ear canal, insertion depth, tips used, listening volume, etc. mean the reliability and repeatability at the eardrum for an individual has such a wide variance that the confidence level and applicability of such a general curve is not very high.

Samsung is clearly targeting Harman since they own Harman, so Galaxy Buds of various iterations, JBL headphones, etc. are all Harman tuned, but they simply do not sound particularly that much better than other headphones/earphones. The data is simply in the fact that they have not dominated the market and pushed all the other players out of the game.

There are MANY other research-based commercial target curves based on other proprietary/closed preference research.

Sony, Apple, Google, Huawei, Sennheiser, as well as the dozens of smaller manufacturers all have their own research and produce their products aimed at different market segments - people like Beats headphones despite their horrible adherence to anything even close to Harman. It's not logical to say scoff at those people who love Beats products either - that is a misapplication of the Harman research; you can't have it both ways. The research is preference based and the target is a commercial target: the main point of the target is to help sell headphones/earphones, so the Beats target is every bit as valid as the Harman target.

Many companies are working hard to try to build something a lot more DSP customised, we can infer having had little success with such blunt target curves when it comes to IEMS. Sony, Sennheiser, Denon are have "personalised" hearing profiles in their mobile app software. If we assume that their R&D departments are not utterly ignorant of the publicly available research then we can speculate this is because the variance is so high that they are finding individual customisation to be a more fruitful approach.

Squiglink has thousands of measurements performed by at least 50 review sources (all of whom have in excess of 50 sets reviewed - many in the hundreds), add Crinacle's database of over 1000 measurements just by himself, and compare to Amir's unshakeable self-confidence that he is the only true source of wisdom for the 16 IEMs that he has measured. For goodness' sake I have 16 sets of IEMs in my possession right now and I am only a very casual hobbyist.

There is obvious utility in having a single target on a standardised measurement rig as a reference point so that individuals who care about such things can get a reasonable idea if the earphone has a reasonable chance of sounding good to them (fit, tips, etc aside), but we pretty much have that now with the Harman target . I'm not sure why you think a single target is desirable or achievable as a commercial production target? Surely this condemns people whose preference or anatomy makes such adherence in production unsuitable to forced EQ and a bland uniformity of product? We don't have that for any other commercial consumer goods product line.
 

SteveL

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The variance in ear canal, insertion depth, tips used, listening volume, etc. mean the reliability and repeatability at the eardrum for an individual has such a wide variance that the confidence level and applicability of such a general curve is not very high.

Samsung is clearly targeting Harman since they own Harman, so Galaxy Buds of various iterations, JBL headphones, etc. are all Harman tuned, but they simply do not sound particularly that much better than other headphones/earphones. The data is simply in the fact that they have not dominated the market and pushed all the other players out of the game.

There are MANY other research-based commercial target curves based on other proprietary/closed preference research.

Sony, Apple, Google, Huawei, Sennheiser, as well as the dozens of smaller manufacturers all have their own research and produce their products aimed at different market segments - people like Beats headphones despite their horrible adherence to anything even close to Harman. It's not logical to say scoff at those people who love Beats products either - that is a misapplication of the Harman research; you can't have it both ways. The research is preference based and the target is a commercial target: the main point of the target is to help sell headphones/earphones, so the Beats target is every bit as valid as the Harman target.

Many companies are working hard to try to build something a lot more DSP customised, we can infer having had little success with such blunt target curves when it comes to IEMS. Sony, Sennheiser, Denon are have "personalised" hearing profiles in their mobile app software. If we assume that their R&D departments are not utterly ignorant of the publicly available research then we can speculate this is because the variance is so high that they are finding individual customisation to be a more fruitful approach.

Squiglink has thousands of measurements performed by at least 50 review sources (all of whom have in excess of 50 sets reviewed - many in the hundreds), add Crinacle's database of over 1000 measurements just by himself, and compare to Amir's unshakeable self-confidence that he is the only true source of wisdom for the 16 IEMs that he has measured. For goodness' sake I have 16 sets of IEMs in my possession right now and I am only a very casual hobbyist.

There is obvious utility in having a single target on a standardised measurement rig as a reference point so that individuals who care about such things can get a reasonable idea if the earphone has a reasonable chance of sounding good to them (fit, tips, etc aside), but we pretty much have that now with the Harman target . I'm not sure why you think a single target is desirable or achievable as a commercial production target? Surely this condemns people whose preference or anatomy makes such adherence in production unsuitable to forced EQ and a bland uniformity of product? We don't have that for any other commercial consumer goods product line.
If you don't like the FR of an IEM you can EQ it to taste as long as it has low distortion (and that's exactly what Sean Olive recommends). But starting out close to some approximate but widely recognized target actually makes that much, much easier compared to the Wild West days when many IEMs and headphones, even quite pricey ones, had absolutely bizarre frequency response. And it makes no sense at all to complain about "forced EQ"- EQ apps, and now cables/dongles for those unfortunate iPhone victims, are readily available and should be used as a matter of course precisely because ear canals differ and no manufacturer can precisely control the FR at your eardrum.
 
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SteveL

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Also transducers (and all audio equipment) are not musical instruments and are not supposed to have "flavors", they're supposed to accurately reproduce the signal fed into them. That's kind of what ASR is all about.
 

markanini

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The variance in ear canal, insertion depth, tips used, listening volume, etc. mean the reliability and repeatability at the eardrum for an individual has such a wide variance that the confidence level and applicability of such a general curve is not very high.

Samsung is clearly targeting Harman since they own Harman, so Galaxy Buds of various iterations, JBL headphones, etc. are all Harman tuned, but they simply do not sound particularly that much better than other headphones/earphones. The data is simply in the fact that they have not dominated the market and pushed all the other players out of the game.

There are MANY other research-based commercial target curves based on other proprietary/closed preference research.

Sony, Apple, Google, Huawei, Sennheiser, as well as the dozens of smaller manufacturers all have their own research and produce their products aimed at different market segments - people like Beats headphones despite their horrible adherence to anything even close to Harman. It's not logical to say scoff at those people who love Beats products either - that is a misapplication of the Harman research; you can't have it both ways. The research is preference based and the target is a commercial target: the main point of the target is to help sell headphones/earphones, so the Beats target is every bit as valid as the Harman target.

Many companies are working hard to try to build something a lot more DSP customised, we can infer having had little success with such blunt target curves when it comes to IEMS. Sony, Sennheiser, Denon are have "personalised" hearing profiles in their mobile app software. If we assume that their R&D departments are not utterly ignorant of the publicly available research then we can speculate this is because the variance is so high that they are finding individual customisation to be a more fruitful approach.

Squiglink has thousands of measurements performed by at least 50 review sources (all of whom have in excess of 50 sets reviewed - many in the hundreds), add Crinacle's database of over 1000 measurements just by himself, and compare to Amir's unshakeable self-confidence that he is the only true source of wisdom for the 16 IEMs that he has measured. For goodness' sake I have 16 sets of IEMs in my possession right now and I am only a very casual hobbyist.

There is obvious utility in having a single target on a standardised measurement rig as a reference point so that individuals who care about such things can get a reasonable idea if the earphone has a reasonable chance of sounding good to them (fit, tips, etc aside), but we pretty much have that now with the Harman target . I'm not sure why you think a single target is desirable or achievable as a commercial production target? Surely this condemns people whose preference or anatomy makes such adherence in production unsuitable to forced EQ and a bland uniformity of product? We don't have that for any other commercial consumer goods product line.
Your comments would be worth much more with accompanying data. Many points that I can agree with, althought if Harman target was made for commercial purposes, yet compliance to their target is not noteworthy and different manufacturers targets diverge, then how does that upp?

Have you seen how many JBL and Samsung IEMs diverge from Harman IE graphed. Have you seen how Moondrop and Tanchjims share a target that diverge? Would this not change your conclusions?
 

Chromatischism

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OK, anecdote, worth what you paid for it. Look at Amir's review of the OG Salnotes Zero.
I am currently listening to a recording of the Zero 2 through a coupler--as in, hearing what is being graphed--and it unsurprisingly sounds like the graph. It's thin but bassy at the same time, because the mids take a back seat. I'll see if I can find one for the original 7Hz Zero.
 

staticV3

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I am currently listening to a recording of the Zero 2 through a coupler--as in, hearing what is being graphed--and it unsurprisingly sounds like the graph. It's thin but bassy at the same time, because the mids take a back seat. I'll see if I can find one for the original 7Hz Zero.
Forgive me for asking, but that sounds like a very dodgy methodology.

Whose recording? How, if at all, is it compensated, and which IEM are you using to listen to it?
 

deadkrillin

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The variance in ear canal, insertion depth, tips used, listening volume, etc. mean the reliability and repeatability at the eardrum for an individual has such a wide variance that the confidence level and applicability of such a general curve is not very high.
I think this is an underrepresented viewpoint in many IEM reviews, unfortunately. Harman being the best publicly-available listener preference research we have doesn't mean we should ignore these very real sources of variability between listeners, these are simply questions that Harman's published IEM research—in their limited time and scope—didn't seek to answer. Unfortunately due to the IE research being unpublished for the most part, we don't have any information on how listener preferences vary in the area where anatomical/volume length variance would have the largest effects (treble).
Sony, Apple, Google, Huawei, Sennheiser, as well as the dozens of smaller manufacturers all have their own research and produce their products aimed at different market segments - people like Beats headphones despite their horrible adherence to anything even close to Harman.
Speaking further to the point of Harman's published work being scarce, I think it's unfortunate that Harman has a bit of a monopoly on the discussion around well-controlled and tested listener preference of insert earphones when firms like Apple probably have enough data in that regard to serve as a more statistically-significant foil to Harman's results. We'll just never see it posted or discussed publicly, unfortunately.

Many companies are working hard to try to build something a lot more DSP customised, we can infer having had little success with such blunt target curves when it comes to IEMS. Sony, Sennheiser, Denon are have "personalised" hearing profiles in their mobile app software. If we assume that their R&D departments are not utterly ignorant of the publicly available research then we can speculate this is because the variance is so high that they are finding individual customisation to be a more fruitful approach.
Indeed, and Sony, Sennheiser and Apple's IEMs all have something in common: The "target response" they aim for with their most popular TWS IEMs is meaningfully more elevated in the bass and low midrange than any of Harman's IEM targets dictates should be preferred.
Even Harman's own most-current premium TWS IEM offering (Galaxy Buds 2 Pro) deviates from the Harman IE target in this respect, shown below—normalized at a two-octave range centered at 800 Hz.

4 TWS IEMs on 5128.png


Of course, none of this changes that the results of the research are what they are, but it does kind of explain why there may be an ever-growing "anti-Harman contingent" across our community.

If the measured results of the 5128 are indeed more human-like (and there are a few papers—including this one from Samsung—that seem to indicate this may be the case) then listeners using the Harman IE Target could be getting a more treble-focused sound signature than they would with eg. Harman's AE/OE 2018 Target. This is a bit odd to me given Harman's first published IEM study indicated that listeners preferred the opposite—a more bass-focused sound signature in their IEMs compared to AE/OE headphones.
 

Art of sound

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I think this is an underrepresented viewpoint in many IEM reviews, unfortunately. Harman being the best publicly-available listener preference research we have doesn't mean we should ignore these very real sources of variability between listeners, these are simply questions that Harman's published IEM research—in their limited time and scope—didn't seek to answer. Unfortunately due to the IE research being unpublished for the most part, we don't have any information on how listener preferences vary in the area where anatomical/volume length variance would have the largest effects (treble).

Speaking further to the point of Harman's published work being scarce, I think it's unfortunate that Harman has a bit of a monopoly on the discussion around well-controlled and tested listener preference of insert earphones when firms like Apple probably have enough data in that regard to serve as a more statistically-significant foil to Harman's results. We'll just never see it posted or discussed publicly, unfortunately.


Indeed, and Sony, Sennheiser and Apple's IEMs all have something in common: The "target response" they aim for with their most popular TWS IEMs is meaningfully more elevated in the bass and low midrange than any of Harman's IEM targets dictates should be preferred.
Even Harman's own most-current premium TWS IEM offering (Galaxy Buds 2 Pro) deviates from the Harman IE target in this respect, shown below—normalized at a two-octave range centered at 800 Hz.

View attachment 354643

Of course, none of this changes that the results of the research are what they are, but it does kind of explain why there may be an ever-growing "anti-Harman contingent" across our community.

If the measured results of the 5128 are indeed more human-like (and there are a few papers—including this one from Samsung—that seem to indicate this may be the case) then listeners using the Harman IE Target could be getting a more treble-focused sound signature than they would with eg. Harman's AE/OE 2018 Target. This is a bit odd to me given Harman's first published IEM study indicated that listeners preferred the opposite—a more bass-focused sound signature in their IEMs compared to AE/OE headphones.
apparently the IE study didn't let them adjust treble preferences to begin with.

Sean olive mentioned a while ago that they are developing a new target for iem's. I was hoping this would clear out the 2019 IE curve once and for all and we'll know if the IEF curve is neutral for most listeners. however as amir mentioned its better to EQ to your taste starting with the measurements. Transducers and how they work with each other in tuning also plays a decent effect (~20% preference) on the preference imo but id like to see them study this. people who reviewed IE900 say its the best quality bass they've ever heard. Id like to hear that one.
 
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MacClintock

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The variance in ear canal, insertion depth, tips used, listening volume, etc. mean the reliability and repeatability at the eardrum for an individual has such a wide variance that the confidence level and applicability of such a general curve is not very high.

Samsung is clearly targeting Harman since they own Harman, so Galaxy Buds of various iterations, JBL headphones, etc. are all Harman tuned, but they simply do not sound particularly that much better than other headphones/earphones. The data is simply in the fact that they have not dominated the market and pushed all the other players out of the game.
Well, I do think they do, the latest galaxy buds, the AKG N400 and several others.
There are MANY other research-based commercial target curves based on other proprietary/closed preference research.

Sony, Apple, Google, Huawei, Sennheiser, as well as the dozens of smaller manufacturers all have their own research and produce their products aimed at different market segments - people like Beats headphones despite their horrible adherence to anything even close to Harman. It's not logical to say scoff at those people who love Beats products either - that is a misapplication of the Harman research; you can't have it both ways. The research is preference based and the target is a commercial target: the main point of the target is to help sell headphones/earphones, so the Beats target is every bit as valid as the Harman target.
Sony and Apple headphones sound, for the most part, strange and wonky, Sennheiser had already before the Harman research one of the most Harman headphones (at least above 500 Hz) out with the HD650/600.
Squiglink has thousands of measurements performed by at least 50 review sources (all of whom have in excess of 50 sets reviewed - many in the hundreds), add Crinacle's database of over 1000 measurements just by himself, and compare to Amir's unshakeable self-confidence that he is the only true source of wisdom for the 16 IEMs that he has measured. For goodness' sake I have 16 sets of IEMs in my possession right now and I am only a very casual hobbyist.
Most of these measurements were performed on cheap clone couplers without any calibration by people not knowing what they are doing.
 
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markanini

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Just sharing some resources to anybody who wants to get to the bottom of Harman IE compliance of Harman subsidiaries, and competing brands. Links to measurements made with "real" Gras couplers:

No spoilers :)

I'll also add that there are good data-based reasons to view the inaccuracies of "clone" coupler as having a smaller impact in the grand scheme of things. To quote jaakkopasanen, author of AutoEq:

Lastly, you might wonder why the bunny ears around "real" and "clone"? Because the couplers discussed are IEC 60318-4 standard couplers. Ernest use use of "real" and "clone" is more or less just pandering.
 
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Chromatischism

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Forgive me for asking, but that sounds like a very dodgy methodology.

Whose recording? How, if at all, is it compensated, and which IEM are you using to listen to it?
I knew someone would jump on that :)

I am using my resonance-free baseline, in my signature. In other words, something that is completely balanced to my ears.

Frequency response is all relative, so you can still hear the differences with any IEM, but neutral is always best.

Anyway, here are the ones that sound best to me. Better than the Salnotes Zero 1 & 2 and better than the Tanchjim Origin. If you're really interested in the recordings, message me. In no order:

AFUL Performer 5
Kinera Nanna 2.1 Z-Tune Edition
Thieaudio Monarch MKII
Thieaudio Hype 2


I think that's a solid group. But for obvious reasons, I have no way to compare them to my current IEMs.

Honorable mentions

Sennheiser IE200
Binary × Gizaudio Chopin
Moondrop Blessing 2: Dusk
Kiwi Ears Quintet
Mangird Tea 2
Truthear × Crinacle Zero: Red
Truthear Hexa
Moondrop Variations
TANGZU WU × HBB Heyday

Feel free to completely disregard this post. Peace...
 
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staticV3

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I knew someone would jump on that :)

I am using my resonance-free baseline, in my signature. In other words, something that is completely balanced to my ears.

Frequency response is all relative, so you can still hear the differences with any IEM, but neutral is always best.

Anyway, here are the ones that sound best to me. Better than the Salnotes Zero 1 & 2 and better than the Tanchjim Origin. If you're really interested in the recordings, message me. In no order:

Moondrop Blessing 2: Dusk
AFUL Performer 5
Kinera Nanna 2.1 Z-Tune Edition
Sennheiser IE200
Binary × Gizaudio Chopin

I think that's a very solid group of 5. But for obvious reasons, I have no way to compare them to my current IEMs.

Honorable mentions:

Mangird Tea 2
Thieaudio Monarch MKII
Truthear × Crinacle Zero: Red
Truthear Hexa
Moondrop Variations
TANGZU WU × HBB Heyday

Feel free to completely disregard this post :peace:.
Very nice, but that didn't answer any of my questions.

Please, if your way of demoing the Zero 2 consisted of a YouTube video with the IEM playing music into a coupler, then for heaven's sake, don't take it seriously.

There are perfectly viable methods of demoing an IEM's tonality using a different IEM, but music recorded with a coupler really isn't one of them.
 

Art of sound

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I would love to know the sales numbers for all of these "boutique" iems and headphones. There is so much self-seriousness involved, thanks in large parts to the narcissism engendered by youtube channels, with everyone throwing out their own target curves, belittling each other, and never really doing their own homework.

I wonder if Harman/JBL just laughs at all of this.

Screenshot 2024-03-07 at 9.34.08 AM.png
 

Chromatischism

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Very nice, but that didn't answer any of my questions.

Please, if your way of demoing the Zero 2 consisted of a YouTube video with the IEM playing music into a coupler, then for heaven's sake, don't take it seriously.

There are perfectly viable methods of demoing an IEM's tonality using a different IEM, but music recorded with a coupler really isn't one of them.
Again, it's not meant to be an authoritative listen. But you can hear the relative differences. Think about it, you need to put together a short list. If you can't trust what's going into the measurements, then you shouldn't trust the measurements, either. Then what do you do? Back to square one. It's not like I ended up with a list that's out of touch with reality. Look into those names.
 
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Art of sound

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I don't. :) I watched it and it presents completely wrong approach here, debating difference in targets that matter not in practice. It also seems to want to put down IEMs since they don't do much testing of them.
they actually do test a lot of iems. maybe not nearly enough as other independent reviewers. not very diverse imo, they could do a lot better. its in their forum. they're just bad at including these in the reviews section of their website. anyhow
The video talks about how iem's bypass the pinna entirely and that makes it more inconsistent to the listener including the insertion depth at 8k vs headphones measurements where the treble is captured more consistently in the measurements vs what the listeners hear.

 

staticV3

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Again, it's not meant to be an authoritative listen. But you can hear the relative differences. Think about it, you need to put together a short list. If you can't trust what's going into the measurements, then you shouldn't trust the measurements, either. Then what do you do? Back to square one. It's not like I ended up with a list that's out of touch with reality. Look into those names.
I trust the measurements (the right ones).

There are certainly ways to use them to get a valuable insight into an IEM's tonality, without owning it.

The IEM playing music into a coupler is not one of them. Not even a little.
 

Chromatischism

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I trust the measurements (the right ones).

There are certainly ways to use them to get a valuable insight into an IEM's tonality, without owning it.

The IEM playing music into a coupler is not one of them. Not even a little.
Well it's the same coupler that's producing the measurement. Why trust it one way, and not the other? To suggest one is adequate, is to suggest the same for both.
 

staticV3

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Well it's the same coupler that's producing the measurement. Why trust it one way, and not the other? To suggest one is adequate, is to suggest the same for both.
If the recording were compensated for the coupler's DF response as well as the response difference between your IEM and the IEM in question, then it would work.

But listening to an uncompensated coupler recording is a fundamentally flawed approach that can only result in false conclusions.

It works for measurement microphones and speakers, sure, but not for IEMs and IEM couplers.

For them, you need to take a different approach.

That is, find measurements of both the target IEM and your listening IEM (ideally 5128), calculate the response difference, and apply the difference as EQ to your music.

Then you can actually demo the tonality.
 

Chromatischism

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If the recording were compensated for the coupler's DF response as well as the response difference between your IEM and the IEM in question, then it would work.

But listening to an uncompensated coupler recording is a fundamentally flawed approach that can only result in false conclusions.

It works for measurement microphones and speakers, sure, but not for IEMs and IEM couplers.

For them, you need to take a different approach.

That is, find measurements of both the target IEM and your listening IEM (ideally 5128), calculate the response difference, and apply the difference as EQ to your music.

Then you can actually demo the tonality.
While that would make for a nice demo, I am not trying to get perfect sound from these demos, nor is the author claiming that you will. It is clearly about the relative differences, as I said before. Which, you can hear, and are valid, because they are all done using the same equipment. And actually it comes across better than you are expecting.
 
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