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  #1  
Old 11-24-2011, 12:06 PM
mbamg mbamg is offline
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Default Need IEM recommendations, has some experience with IEMs

I realize that asking people for recommendations or advice when you generally have no idea what you're capable of experiencing or what you're looking for isn't a very productive process. Thus up until now I've held off on asking people to recommend IEMs and earbuds that fit my personal taste and my reasoning for buying earphones have ranged from spur of the moment to evaluations of recommendations in different reviews.

Having finally listened to enough different IEMs and read enough reviews to gain some insight into different aspects of sound reproduction, I thought that I would ask the more experienced people to give me a recommendation based on my experiences with what I already have. Of course, if there's something about my IEMs that I haven't noticed it'd be great if someone would point it out.

IEMs:

Sennheiser CX300: Decent amount of bass, but mids were slightly muddy and treble was just terrible compared to all my other IEMs (except the MDR-EX33 whose left earbud doesn't function anymore). Treble extension is pretty bad, and the bass feels bloated. They aren't exactly 'fast', either. Decent isolation, and ranks second when it comes to comfort.

Audio-Technica CKM55: Bought these to replace the CX300s on a whim, (made no research before making the purchase), and was thoroughly disappointed. They seem to have a more 'mainstream' sound (something low-end Japanese IEMs seem to have) and do somewhat remind me of the MDR-EX33s - with a lot more bass. They are however probably the most neutral IEMs I have. Vocals tend to be overshadowed by instrumentation at lower volumes, which has sometimes forced me to turn up the volume. Turning up the volume seems to just make everything sound like a mess (it's not mushy or muddled, it's just a lack of clarity and separation). Instrumental separation is better than the CX300s, but not significantly. Sounds a little bit distant. Isolation is much worse than the CX300, and the least comfortable IEM that I have.

Meelec M6: My first IEM that had a bright sound signature along with sibilance, and it was not a pleasant experience. I've also found them quite "cold". I bought these to explore a different part of the sound spectrum, but was annoyed by the overshadowing of vocals whenever there was a good amount of instrumentation, which it shares with the CKM55. However, the difference is that for the M6 turning up the volume does little to alleviate the problem. Combined with the sibilance it makes music pretty painful. Instrumental separation is still mediocre. With stock earbuds isolation was mediocre, but after purchasing the Sony Hybrid tips it's become second-place. Second-last when it comes to comfort.

Brainwavz Proalpha: Bought these to explore the lower end of the spectrum. Warmest IEMs I have so far. Tighter, more punchy bass than the CX300, and clarity across the spectrum is decent. Mids generally sound fine to my ears, but the treble lack extension (as expected, since these IEMs aren't exactly made for the treble lover). As described in a thread on Head Fi, I have found them to be the "fastest" out of what I have, and separation is probably the best out of what I have so far (I don't feel like I'm lost when I'm trying to search for specific sounds). Most comfortable IEMs, with isolation slightly better than the CX300s.

Maximo iM-590: My 'newest' IEM (bought this used off a member on the classified forum). It's the most aggressive and forward IEM I have, but has the best clarity across the spectrum. The sibilance is the strongest, and I can understand why the seller sold it off. They are also quite "cold". The bass-extension is second only to the Proalphas. Instrumental separation is second-best (though IMO the Proalpha is leagues ahead of all my other IEMs when it comes to that). It has the best isolation out of all my IEMs, and it comes third in terms of comfort.

How I feel about these IEMs:

Clarity (overall): iM-590, Proalpha, M6, CKM55, CX300

Warmth (warm to cold): Proalpha, CX300, CKM55, M6, iM-590

Treble Extension: iM-590, CKM55, M6, Proalpha/CX300 (tied)

Mid Extension: N/A (hard to tell for now)

Bass Extension: Proalpha, iM-590, M6, CKM55, CX300,

Speed: Proalpha, iM-590, M6, CKM55, CX300

Separation: Proalpha, iM-590, M6, CKM55, CX300

Soundstage: N/A (hard to tell for now)

Isolation: iM-590, M6, Proalpha, CX300, CKM55

Comfort: Proalpha, CX300, iM-590, M6, CKM55

Budget:
<= $50 CDN

Genres:
J-Pop, J-Rock, Mando-pop, Mando-rock (but willing to expand genres)

Sound Source:
Sony Walkman

Primary Location of Use: Home, outside

Preferences: Better clarity and extension in the trebles with decent mids and bass, better instrumental separation, no noticeable sibilance, vocals less likely to be overshadowed by instruments but also less aggressive and forward, slightly warmer than neutral, decent isolation, average comfort (at least).

What I have not experienced (or have not recognized): Soundstage, humps

Well, that's all I have to say for now. Also, I know it's long (and not necessarily accurate), but please read through this post before giving me any recommendations.
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Turn down the volume when playing music. Your ears will thank you.

Last edited by mbamg; 11-24-2011 at 02:09 PM.
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  #2  
Old 11-24-2011, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbamg View Post
... please read through this post before giving me any recommendations.
I did and didn't notice you mention a price range, where you live/shop/buy from, your source, media you listen to, etc. etc. ... This way others here can give you some recommendations. You might want to look at this post and edit your first post with additional info.
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  #3  
Old 11-24-2011, 02:10 PM
mbamg mbamg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkGood View Post
I did and didn't notice you mention a price range, where you live/shop/buy from, your source, media you listen to, etc. etc. ... This way others here can give you some recommendations. You might want to look at this post and edit your first post with additional info.
Updated.
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Turn down the volume when playing music. Your ears will thank you.
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  #4  
Old 11-24-2011, 02:33 PM
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If you can find the A151s for $47.00 or under I’d recommend them, if not them look here.
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Old 11-24-2011, 03:36 PM
JK98 JK98 is offline
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Have you tried changing the tips on your iems? A tighter fit will give more bass and better isolation. I have also read about people buying an earwax removal kit and experiencing better hearing after cleaning out earwax from their ears. One needs to buy a kit that is safe though. It is also probably not good to clean out earwax from the ears too often(after a while you should clean out the earwax from your iems).
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  #6  
Old 11-24-2011, 04:14 PM
mbamg mbamg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkGood View Post
If you can find the A151s for $47.00 or under I’d recommend them, if not them look here.
Thanks for the recommendation. I've found them for $40 US (not including shipping) on Amazon. I'm still looking for more recommendations though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JK98 View Post
Have you tried changing the tips on your iems? A tighter fit will give more bass and better isolation. I have also read about people buying an earwax removal kit and experiencing better hearing after cleaning out earwax from their ears. One needs to buy a kit that is safe though. It is also probably not good to clean out earwax from the ears too often(after a while you should clean out the earwax from your iems).
I have. The Meelec M6 are much more comfortable with the Sony Hybrids, and the CKM55s isolate better and are slightly more comfortable with the CX300 tips. The iM-590s don't work well with other tips. The Proalpha's eartips are just right, and they fit inside my right ear perfectly (something that I've found problematic ever since I got the MDR-EX33s - nothing seemed to have the perfect fit for my right ear).

I don't really think that earwax is really interfering with my listening experience, as I do clean my tips every week and my ears occasionally.
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Turn down the volume when playing music. Your ears will thank you.

Last edited by mbamg; 11-24-2011 at 04:24 PM.
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  #7  
Old 11-24-2011, 08:52 PM
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I would second the A151, but would note a few things (and suggest reading Walkgood's review for more). Let me try and add it to your list based on the IEMs I have owned (iM-590, M6, CX300).

Quote:
Clarity (overall): A151, iM-590, Proalpha, M6, CKM55, CX300

Warmth (warm to cold): Proalpha, A51, CX300, CKM55, M6, iM-590

Treble Extension: iM-590, A151, CKM55, M6, Proalpha/CX300 (tied)

Mid Extension: N/A (hard to tell for now)

Bass Extension: Proalpha, iM-590, M6, CKM55, CX300, A151

Speed: A151, Proalpha, iM-590, M6, CKM55, CX300

Separation: Proalpha, A151, iM-590, M6, CKM55, CX300

Soundstage: N/A (hard to tell for now)

Isolation: A151 iM-590, M6, Proalpha, CX300, CKM55

Comfort: Proalpha, CX300, iM-590, M6, CKM55 (My comfort list differs considerably from yours so not comment.)
Those are just rough ideas and not exact, but it should give you an idea of what to expect from the A151. Most notably would be the bass extension which is limited because it is a single BA. However, the BA kills in speed. Same with clarity, although the clarity is not quite as in your face as the cold the iM-590 since it is a fairly warm IEM. The treble is just tiny bit recessed and never harsh. The mids are a little on the forward side, but not overpowering. Of those IEM I would say it is closest to a cross between the CX300 and iM-590.

Apart from the A151, I might suggest the MEElectronics CW31. I seen them as low as $20 US. They are very natural sounding. I would say they are like a warmer version of the iM-590. The bass is about the same, the mids warmer and not forward, and the treble is slightly recessed and dull instead of forward and bright.

Edit: I always liked the hybrids on the iM-590, much more comfortable than stock for me.
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  #8  
Old 11-24-2011, 10:23 PM
mbamg mbamg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cnhardwick View Post
I would second the A151, but would note a few things (and suggest reading Walkgood's review for more). Let me try and add it to your list based on the IEMs I have owned (iM-590, M6, CX300).



Those are just rough ideas and not exact, but it should give you an idea of what to expect from the A151. Most notably would be the bass extension which is limited because it is a single BA. However, the BA kills in speed. Same with clarity, although the clarity is not quite as in your face as the cold the iM-590 since it is a fairly warm IEM. The treble is just tiny bit recessed and never harsh. The mids are a little on the forward side, but not overpowering. Of those IEM I would say it is closest to a cross between the CX300 and iM-590.

Apart from the A151, I might suggest the MEElectronics CW31. I seen them as low as $20 US. They are very natural sounding. I would say they are like a warmer version of the iM-590. The bass is about the same, the mids warmer and not forward, and the treble is slightly recessed and dull instead of forward and bright.

Edit: I always liked the hybrids on the iM-590, much more comfortable than stock for me.
I found a promotion at Meeelec that has the lottery for $20 (http://www.meelec.com/MEE_MEE_What_p...e-mee-what.htm). Are there any IEMs that would fit my preferences?

I completely forgot about detail and texture when I wrote this thread and from this one review that I've read the CW31 doesn't seem to do very well in that regard. Are the A151 or CW31's sound signatures a noticeable "improvement" over what I have now, or are the differences very slight?

I'll take a look at Walkgood's review. Coincidentally, the A151 was something I had in mind before I made this thread.
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Turn down the volume when playing music. Your ears will thank you.

Last edited by mbamg; 11-24-2011 at 10:46 PM.
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  #9  
Old 11-25-2011, 09:59 AM
cnhardwick cnhardwick is offline
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The CW31 is more of a side-grade than an upgrade. The A151 would be an improvement. The big difference with the A151 is that is a BA rather than a dynamic, which will make a noticeable difference, although not always in good ways. (Trading extension for speed, clarity and detail.)

EDIT: The CC51 is the only one in the MEE What? promotion that might be what you are looking for.
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  #10  
Old 11-25-2011, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbamg View Post
... I've found them for $40 US (not including shipping) on Amazon ...
I stand corrected at $40.00 and below they're a great deal, also they give you the opportunity to try BA's compared to your dynamic drivers. On another note I haven't tried the CC51s that cnhardwick recommends but I've read a lot of good things about them.
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  #11  
Old 11-25-2011, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkGood View Post
I stand corrected at $40.00 and below they're a great deal, also they give you the opportunity to try BA's compared to your dynamic drivers. On another note I haven't tried the CC51s that cnhardwick recommends but I've read a lot of good things about them.
Just for clarification, I did not mean to recommend the CC51, just answer the OP's question regarding the MEE sale and if any of the IEM's would be an improvement. While the sound quality of the CC51 is comparable to the A151, the build quality is lacking. I would get the A151 since they are roughly the same price and the A151 has decent built quality and a much better cable.

As for the other IEM's in the sale, the M31 you reviewed I take it was not bad, but probably not an improvement over what the OP already owns. Same with the M21 and SP51 based on other's reviews. I owned the M11+ and would say it sounds like a refined M6 without the recessed mids and harsh highs. Again, not really an improvement, leaving the CC51 as the only one that would probably be worth it for the OP.
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  #12  
Old 11-25-2011, 10:34 PM
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Altogether with shipping and import tariffs the A151's from Amazon cost $60.37 US, which is a bit too much IMHO. However, amazon.ca starts at $93.31 CDN. Do you know of any Canadian websites that sell the A151 for a decent price?
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Turn down the volume when playing music. Your ears will thank you.
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  #13  
Old 11-25-2011, 11:35 PM
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Maybe from MEElec.com direct? They have then for $74.99 right now, but I expect they will be highly discounted between now and Christmas. Last year they had a 20 days of sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas and one day they discounted their most expensive model at the time the M11+ from its $69.99 MSRP all the way down to $21.99 from what I recall. I would expect similar blowout deals this year too. I mean it is just a guess, but I think it a pretty safe one. Not sure if helps any with the shipping though since it is still coming from the US.
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  #14  
Old 11-26-2011, 12:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cnhardwick View Post
Maybe from MEElec.com direct? They have then for $74.99 right now, but I expect they will be highly discounted between now and Christmas. Last year they had a 20 days of sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas and one day they discounted their most expensive model at the time the M11+ from its $69.99 MSRP all the way down to $21.99 from what I recall. I would expect similar blowout deals this year too. I mean it is just a guess, but I think it a pretty safe one. Not sure if helps any with the shipping though since it is still coming from the US.
Sounds great. I'll be sure to check Meelec's website for deals in the coming week or so.
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Turn down the volume when playing music. Your ears will thank you.
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  #15  
Old 11-26-2011, 09:11 AM
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Heads up, the A151 is going on sell at Amazon at 8:15 AM PST. Given that they are already on sale for $40 it might be good.
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  #16  
Old 11-26-2011, 11:30 AM
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Heads up, the A151 is going on sell at Amazon at 8:15 AM PST. Given that they are already on sale for $40 it might be good.
Only $6 off... and I'm #51 on the wait list. Thanks for the heads up though.

Edit: Well, $53.26 US in total - guess I'll wait for Meelec to hold another promotion.
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Turn down the volume when playing music. Your ears will thank you.

Last edited by mbamg; 11-26-2011 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 11-26-2011, 11:34 AM
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I see them here on amazon for $33.99 with free super saver shipping, hard to beat that deal, certainly worth it IMHO.
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  #18  
Old 11-26-2011, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
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I see them here on amazon for $33.99 with free super saver shipping, hard to beat that deal, certainly worth it IMHO.
Sadly the import tariffs and shipping fees cost almost $20 alone. I live in Canada so the super saver shipping doesn't apply.
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Old 11-26-2011, 12:07 PM
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mbamg I didn't notice, but hopefully someone else can benefit from the amazon deal. If you're dead set on them, keep your eyes on MEE's site as they do ship international and sometimes they have great deals too (as stated by cnhardwick already).
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  #20  
Old 11-26-2011, 02:05 PM
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mbamg I didn't notice, but hopefully someone else can benefit from the amazon deal. If you're dead set on them, keep your eyes on MEE's site as they do ship international and sometimes they have great deals too (as stated by cnhardwick already).
Thanks for the help. Hmm if I get someone to buy it in the US and ship it to me in Canada how much would that cost?
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