Old 12-09-2010, 04:45 PM
bmasseur bmasseur is offline
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Default Advice on which in-ear monitors to choose

From what I can tell there are two main competing companies when it comes to in-ear monitors: Sennheiser and Shure. I'm looking to drop between $200 and $400 on some nice in-ear monitors and wanted to make sure I get the best bang for my buck. I've checked out a few local music stores for information on in-ear monitors but none of their audio experts have too much experience with them and referred me to some online sources.

My main use for the monitors at the moment would be for listening to music; however I do have an electric drum kit and plan to do some recording (with the kit and other instruments) in the near future. I was talking to a friend of mine who is a drummer about headphones and he recommended going for monitors just the same. Maybe someone here can let me know if this is actually a good idea?

The sound isolation is a big deal for me, and I understand in-ear monitors are designed to replace stage monitors for live performance, so when I'm about to drop a much as $400 on a new pair of headphones I want to make sure I'll be getting the best sound quality for the type of music I listen to. I don't care for a lot of electronic music with big bassy sounds, I listen to music made mostly with real instruments and prefer a good balance and clarity to what I'm listening to, rather than being overblown with bass.

I was able to find a little information from Shure's website with regards to their SE series of monitors. Ranging from the SE X15, X25 and X35 the number before the 5 represents the number of audio drivers in each monitor (the 2 being a woofer and tweeter, the 3 being a tweeter and 2 woofers). What I can't seem to get a feel for is if any of the in-ear monitors offered by Sennheiser are more than a single driver. In this case, is it possible for them to sound better than the Shure's with multiple drivers? I know Sennheiser is a much higher quality name in audio, but in this particular case I'm unsure as to where to buy the best sounding monitors? If anyone can offer some advice or point me in the direction of further research I'd be very happy for your help.
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:51 PM
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dfkt dfkt is offline
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There are LOTS more companies than Sennheiser and Shure, many of which make better products (especially Shure are no good unless you go for the SE530/535). Here's a good start:
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:05 PM
bmasseur bmasseur is offline
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During my research I have used the Top Tier IEM charts on head-fi and another IEM chart on this website, but I haven't been able to find any other charts like them. If anyone could link me to to some it would be appreciated.

I heard from someone that "It takes a fair amount of time for your ears to get sufficiently used to this level of fidelity to make it really worthwhile to invest in (say) ER-4 Etys over mc3 or hf5 Etys." I was wondering if anyone could offer some input on this subject? It could make a huge impact on my decision of which IEM to buy.

I am currently considering the following 4 models (in this order):

Etymotics ER-4p ($225)/Earsonics SM3 ($360)
Phonak Audeo PFE ($140)
Monster Turbine Gold Pro ($250) - I've heard reports that the bass may be a little over-power and am going to do further research on this model

I was recommended Etmotics ER-4p by a lot of other forums, and they seem like a pretty good model for their price.
Comparatively, the SM3 is reported as one of the best models under the $400 mark and got pretty much flawless reviews. My only concern is the cost. Both are said to offer excellent balance, clarity and dynamics.

Phonak Audeo PFE is made by a swiss hearing aid company but reviewed a being one of the most balanced IEMs out there, the only problem was that some listeners reported a lack in bass (this was consistent in all reviews).

Lastly, the Turbine Gold Pro IEM was reviewed very well on head-fi's chart and in many reviews (specifically a better buy for a better price than the Beats by Dre headphones); however as aforementioned they might be over-powering in the bass. All of your opinions and advice are appreciated. Thanks for reading.
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Old 12-29-2010, 04:56 PM
joesuburb joesuburb is offline
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Posts: 6

Here is my little adventure with IEMs over the years. I've owned a bunch of Shure's Generally the 310 line which is mid-line or some variant at the same pricepoint. I lost about 5 pairs of these over the years. I finally lost a pair while traveling and bought a pair of Sennheiser IE8s. I hated the IE8s, but then discovered it was just the terrible tips that came with the IE8s. It was a long quest to find a tip that worked for me, then they were clearly better than the Shure's, but to be fair, it was mid level Shures versus top level Sennheisers. The point of this is that I just took for granted how comfortable and good a seal I got with my Shures. The Shures have a small nozzle so they can have more tip. I think that is a big part of it.

I then fell into a couple of free Monster IEMs. I got the Golds and the Coppers. I don't really like the golds, myself, but I could see someone preferring it. For me, the bass invaded the mids and it just wasn't for me. Now, I really liked the Coppers, but in reality they have a huge thumping bass boost. Really fun, and I would say the best universal I've ever had the chance to listen to. One problem is that while the tips that come with the Monsters are great, because of the weight and general shape of them I would fidget with them a lot. They would lose the seal, go in too deep, etc. Not uncomfortable, but I just hate thinking about them.

I also got a pair of Ultimate Ears in-ear Reference Monitor Customs. I love them. Some people will think they lack bass, but flat is my style. The most wonderful thing about them is that they disappear in my ears. I never think about them. I never fidget with them. If you are going to be drumming I would focus on that a bit more.

I'd highly recommend trying the low end Ultimate Ears Customs or JH Audio. They start at $399 plus like $50 for impressions. Seriously, I love them.
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Old 12-29-2010, 08:55 PM
bmasseur bmasseur is offline
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thanks for the recommendation on the monster turbines, and I think the Ultimate Ears and JH5s are just a litte out of my price range...

I also took a look at the Ultimate Ear Triple Fi 10s at $180, I heard good things but was wondering what kind of issues they might have with clarity or transparency? Thanks for the advice.
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:48 PM
joesuburb joesuburb is offline
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Posts: 6

Oddly enough, I have a pair of TF10's from the super mega deal. I got two pairs, one for my niece and one I figured I'd keep kicking around. I just briefly listened to them and to be honest. I have since lost my coppers so I can not AB compare them, but I would say that I like both of them very much. The TF10's are a bit large. But at the same time, the memory cable helps keep them planted on your ears. Plus, I'm not a huge fan of the Monsters cable. It doesn't lay flat on my ears. It sort of pops up. If you happen to be in the greater Los Angeles area I can let you listen to them.

Again, my preference for IEM's is a flat signature. But, I could see some people preferring the coppers, some people preferring the TF10s. I spent a freaking $1000 on my customs, but I really do think the smart buy are the low end customs.

***slight update***
I got my ass off the sofa and spent all of 5 minutes listening to the TF10's just now. For me at least, they are very comfortable but I could see wee little people not liking them. The memory cable did in fact keep them planted. But to be honest the last time I listened to them was when I just got my IERMs and well, I'm now an elitist asshat and suggest that everyone spends $1000 on earphones, haha. I'm not as impressed with them as I was before I got used to my IERMs. But, it's all perspective. From a value perspective I'd probably go TF10>Copper, but I dont think either is a bad decision.

Last edited by joesuburb; 12-29-2010 at 10:07 PM.
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:14 PM
Xinz Xinz is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Singapore
Posts: 336

Clarity and accuracy wise, consider Westone 3, Westone UM3X, Earsonics SM3.

The 3 above have little bass but Phonak Audeo PFE has NO bass(IMO)

The triple-fi 10 might be the best for your drums considering it is the one of those with big soundstage and not to forget, the BEST bass I've heard from earphones
See if you audition Fischer Audio DBA-02, they sound similar to the triple-fi 10 for its lower cost

A note for isolation for universals, you can get different ear tips to alter the earphones to your comfort/isolation. They do affect bit of the sound also
I have my C2!!!
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