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.
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.
Walkman NWZ-E438F/LG P999 (Voodoo)/Clip+ 4GB (Rockboxed) || Senn CX300/AT CKM55/MEE M6/Brainwavz Proalpha/Maximo iM-590/MEE A151/AT CKM50/Koss TBSE1
Turn down the volume when playing music. Your ears will thank you.
Last edited by mbamg; 11-24-2011 at 01:09 PM.
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