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Ear phones

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by lmu2002, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. lmu2002

    lmu2002 Active Member

    I'm looking for a decent pair of ear phones for commuting purposes: I like to listen to my recent mixes while relaxing on a train. I just bought a pair of Klipsch S4 but have to take them back as I didn't like the highs of them (they were very good up to about 5kHz, but above that just metallic sizzle that colours the sound badly).

    Has anyone got any recommendations? I spend more than an hour a day listening to them so price is not really an issue. Currently I'm using a cheap pair of Sonys which are ok but now I want to upgrade. My normal listening setup includes Blue Sky and Tannoy speakers and also Grado SR80 headphones.
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    My custom molded 3-driver IEM earbuds should be here in the next week or so. (They take a few weeks to make.) I'll let you know how I like them. They got rave reviews from some head-fi forums, and some of those folks have got a serious hi-fi addiction. So I'll be anxious to see how they sound. The company is experiencing some growing pains, but there were a lot more good reviews than bad. I decided to roll the dice.

    Something like that would good for commuting, because it would block out about 20 - 25dB of the outside world. The custom molds give you a better seal and result in much better bass response.

    I've been using custom molded earplugs to block out stage volume for years, but this will be my very experiment with an in-ear-monitor.

    If you decide to invest in customs, I hope you meant what you said about price not being an issue.

    If you're interested I can hook you up with a link to the head-fi forums.
  3. jrod9900

    jrod9900 Active Member

    I got the Weston UM2 (dual driver) earbuds 2 years ago for use with my in-ear monitors for live performances. All I can say it WOW. Like dvdhawk said, they will cancel all the noise out from trains, planes, etc...

    However, when I listed to commercial music through an iPod or other device, I hear things with so much clarity and detail, I usually hear things that I never even new existed in the mixes.

    Transfer that ability to your (or my) mixes, and it gives you a great option for references. After you mix on your personal monitors, transport through these, and I can get a realistic image of what it sounds like.

    Good part, only about $250 and very comfortable.
  4. lmu2002

    lmu2002 Active Member

    Thanks mates!
    I decided to update my player first and see what that brings along. At least it brings along noise cancelling earphones that should be interesting. I think I will look at the suggested earphones as soon as I receive the player and see how it's like and what kind of earphones it deserves.

    This is what I ordered:

    Sony NWZX1050B X Series 16GB MP4 Walkman with WIFI
  5. lmu2002

    lmu2002 Active Member

    I've been happily using the Walkman now for couple of weeks. It's perfect for the purpose. The noise cancelling works nicely in trains. The upper range is easier on ear than the Klipsch or Sennheisers I've tried. Good enough I would say. If only the Walkman had a phone included...
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Thanks for bumping this back up lmu. I forgot that I promised an update on the custom molded IEM. It seems like you're where you want to be, but if anyone else was interested here's the update:

    My 3-driver custom molded IEMs arrived a few weeks ago and I've been very impressed.

    They are very comfortable and the isolation factor is excellent, mostly because of the fit of the mold. Even before you start playing music, they provide significantly more attenuation than my ER-15 plugs. Put the slightest bit of music through them and the outside world is virtually inaudible.

    Sonically, very nice. Very musical. They have very smooth response that doesn't sound hyped anywhere in the audio spectrum. They sound more like studio reference monitors than anything else. I'm hearing things in mixes of very familiar songs that I'd never noticed before. And the bass response is especially 'reference-like', in that it's full and natural without sounding artificially enhanced like most earbuds/earphones and even some expensive headphones tend to do. If you like brain-rattling boomy low end, it's not in their nature - you'll have to EQ that in for yourself. I like the way they sound without any EQ.

    I've listened to pre-recorded music and a live band monitor mix through them and was very satisfied with what I heard. As one of my weekly jobs, I was mixing FOH for a live band that has an Aviom personal monitor system. So I could dial up as much of any vocal or instrument as I wanted and/or the FOH mix and decided that as a lifelong musician - I could get used to that very quickly. Most generic fit IEM earbuds leave the musicians, bass players and drummers especially, wanting more lows. I don't play drums, so I can't say first-hand, but I guaranty I'd have no trouble at all playing guitar, bass, or keys with these in-ears. I would expect a drummer would be just as happy, but I can't speak for them. I've played guitar before with rubber/foam gasket-fit type $100 earbuds, and it was OK - but not completely satisfying sonically-speaking. It was like, "ok I can hear everything because there's a small speaker blaring in my ear." But the combination of the seal and the drivers in the custom-molds delivered much more satisfying bass response with clarity and power to spare at a lower volume. But what might be the main advantage, it's more like being in a listening environment - as opposed to being in a room with a small speaker in your ear.

    If anything they are too sensitive, with the volume on my iPod one click above OFF they are loud enough for me (but I'm not into high-volume listening - hence the ER15's). With the Aviom personal mixer I had plenty of control and plenty of volume at less than 50%.

    I've been reluctant to dive into the world of IEM - mostly due to the cost. It seemed like a lot of money ($300-$1200) to gamble that I'd like them. But the timing was right at the end of the summer, so I went ahead and took the plunge. I had already done a lot of research, and the company I went with (Alien Ears) is a lot less expensive than the other guys - so it seemed to be worth a shot. Head-fi people who know alot more about these things than I do - tell me the driver components are the same as what is being used in the more pricey brands of IEM. With the translucent molds you can see the part numbers on the drivers etc.

    The only thing I was disappointed in, was that they did not look anything like the custom color / graphics combination I sent with my order. They still looked nice, but were a different color combination than what I was expecting. I mentioned that in a subsequent email with the guy who runs the place, and he insisted I send them back so they could redo them at no charge. So, although it's unforunate they need redone - hats off to them for going the extra mile - he won't be happy until they fit / sound / look perfect.

    So that's my update.

    ** and for the record, these are just my observations about custom-mold IEMs in general. I have no vested interest in this product - this not an ad for something I sell. I paid retail just like everybody else, and thought others considering laying out their cash might find it useful. If you want to compare brand-X IEM to brand-Z IEM, there are much better web-forums for that specific purpose.

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