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Author Topic: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?  (Read 4256 times)

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Offline groovon

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Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« on: October 07, 2015, 07:50:57 PM »
I just started looking at IEMs in the range $199 to $299. So far Westone UM20 and Sennheiser IE80 seem to stand out in reviews. Shure maybe not so much. I'm amazed at the sheer number of different brands.

My main motivation is for portability and lower profile/visibility, not necessarily expecting superior sound over regular headphones. Having zero experience with quality 'ear buds' I have no idea what to expect--whether I'll be blown away, insufficiently impressed...or just find them too uncomfortable.

I thought of just trying a decent cheaper pair (Westone UM 10s, perhaps) to see how they feel. Whichever I pick, I'll have to go primarily on user recommendations. So, if you have any tips...

thanks
Dave

Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2015, 12:33:01 AM »
I can't help with specific makes & models in your budget, as I still use my lowly ER-6s.  I found generic in-ear 'phones incredibly uncomfortable in a short period of time due to my quite narrow and sharp-bending ear canal.  But I can, however, vouch for the supreme comfort of my custom molds.  They made a huge difference for me comfort-wise.  They may or may not for you, won't know until you try.
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Offline groovon

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2015, 01:09:51 AM »
I can't help with specific makes & models in your budget, as I still use my lowly ER-6s.  I found generic in-ear 'phones incredibly uncomfortable in a short period of time due to my quite narrow and sharp-bending ear canal.  But I can, however, vouch for the supreme comfort of my custom molds.  They made a huge difference for me comfort-wise.  They may or may not for you, won't know until you try.

Thanks Brian. Just to be clear, I'd be perfectly happy to spend less, but at this point it's a bit confusing as to what's being offered. There's a pretty staggering price range of different models within any given brand.
I'll probably just bite the bullet and try some out once I've read a few more reviews...

thanks again
Dave

Offline OOK

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2015, 07:14:58 AM »
There are so many variables when picking a headphone.  I learned to start with what type of sound signature I like which closely related to freq response (at least in my experience).  I tend to review them now in my quest when I find it time to purchase a set....

Inner Fidelity Headphone Data Base (click here) is a great place to start... They have everything from fullsize to inear.  Some of the newer model may not yet be on there... but there is enough to choose from..

I hope this helps.. peace OOK
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2015, 09:21:37 AM »
Agreed.  And as Brian mentioned, proper fit is key.  Not just for comfort, but for a properly balanced response and good isolation from environmental noise.  If not going the custom mold route, try all the various flange and foam options available to find what works best for your ears.  In my own experience, flanged silicone tips are easier to insert and remove quickly, but do not provide nearly the same seal as expanding foam tips- usually translating to reduced bass response and more external noise leakage.  What works best for me for Etymotic ER-4s is making my own foam tips by using a leather punch on my prefered type of disposable foam ear-plugs.
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Offline groovon

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2015, 11:58:04 AM »
There are so many variables when picking a headphone.  I learned to start with what type of sound signature I like which closely related to freq response (at least in my experience).  I tend to review them now in my quest when I find it time to purchase a set....

Inner Fidelity Headphone Data Base (click here) is a great place to start... They have everything from fullsize to inear.  Some of the newer model may not yet be on there... but there is enough to choose from..

I hope this helps.. peace OOK

Wow, great link--and thanks for the feedback.

Dave

Offline groovon

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2015, 03:26:27 PM »
Agreed.  And as Brian mentioned, proper fit is key.  Not just for comfort, but for a properly balanced response and good isolation from environmental noise.  If not going the custom mold route, try all the various flange and foam options available to find what works best for your ears.  In my own experience, flanged silicone tips are easier to insert and remove quickly, but do not provide nearly the same seal as expanding foam tips- usually translating to reduced bass response and more external noise leakage.  What works best for me for Etymotic ER-4s is making my own foam tips by using a leather punch on my prefered type of disposable foam ear-plugs.

Thanks Gut. Cool idea w/ the foam plugs.

 Might try the Westone UM Pro 10s. They get decent reviews for being clean and accurate, though for bass extension I wonder if I hoping for too much in a single-driver design. Also tricky is the different expectations between 'monitor' use vs for 'music listening',  differentiation I don't see much discussion about. Comments on the headphone geek forums are interesting, but seem too subjective, 'youthful'...and, er...geeky  ;D

Dave
 

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2015, 04:31:23 PM »
Monitor use puts a very strong emphasizes on the isolation which can be achieved from environmental noise.

Good tight-fitting in-ears go along way towards maximizing isolation as much as is reasonably possible.  If you want to "stack the deck" to make things as good as possible for monitoring, don a pair of ear-protectors over them (or even your MDR-V6s, not plugged in) for increased isolation when you really need to listen closely.  Looks funny, but it works.

For music listening, isolation can be useful at times, but is far less critical.  The very best music listening cans are open backed, blocking out no environmental noise at all.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline groovon

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2015, 06:10:37 PM »
Monitor use puts a very strong emphasizes on the isolation which can be achieved from environmental noise.

Good tight-fitting in-ears go along way towards maximizing isolation as much as is reasonably possible.  If you want to "stack the deck" to make things as good as possible for monitoring, don a pair of ear-protectors over them (or even your MDR-V6s, not plugged in) for increased isolation when you really need to listen closely.  Looks funny, but it works.

For music listening, isolation can be useful at times, but is far less critical.  The very best music listening cans are open backed, blocking out no environmental noise at all.

With Westones, what I understand so far is that the UM Pro series are designed to be 'flat response', for monitoring, while the 'W' series is said somehow to have a 'wider soundstage', for general music listening. No doubt there are some overlapping characteristics (e.g. I imagine the 'flat' curve might be preferable for some kinds of music.) With either of these, the outside isolation factor would be identical.

PS--Just grabbed a discounted set of Westone UM Pro10s. Will see how they pan out...

Dave
« Last Edit: October 08, 2015, 06:41:48 PM by groovon »

Offline raymonda

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2015, 08:42:23 PM »
The best budget iem  are think sound ms1.

Offline groovon

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2015, 10:04:19 PM »
For anybody interested, I found this description of the difference between the two basic Westone IEM models:

"The W series, including the W40 (4BAs) are made for music listening consumers so the sound signature is more general population. The targeted freq. are the ones that studio recordings usually boost to please listeners. The UM series are the original expertise of westone, they are made as true monitors for musicians, this means better live reproduction, better low frequencies to reduce crowd noise, and most importantly less fatigue by rolling out extended high freq. This makes the sound signature different than hi fi sounds general population likes, and the W series was issued to address the complains of general listeners who bought the UM series and critisized them as if the are aimed to general hi fi. Summary is W series is more enjoyable by most music lovers, clearer high freq, yet more fatiguing than UMs. UMs have in my opinion a bolder sound signature for people who like to be surprised by their music listening, listen for longer periods, and prefer certain guitar driven music. I enjoy the UM series for rock blues jazz stuff more than Ws."

Dave

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2015, 06:38:28 AM »
I am a huge, huge fan of Westones so maybe I can actually contribute something here. At some point, I have owned the UM1, UM1 Corsica Edition (same thing as the regular UM1), W20, UM3x, and W40. There are some pretty massive sound differences among them so you should know which ones you may like before purchasing them. I keep coming back to them because of Westone's outstanding customer service and the comfort level of the various models. Westone's in-service warranty service is fantastic, and they will repair anything for a fairly reasonable cost out of warranty. The one knock that I have found on their earphones is their durability. One earphone usually goes out on them after a year or two. The W models are made in China and the UM ones are made in the U.S. so that may have something to do with it. If you can take care of them, they are the best earphones for the money. If you take them to the gym, I would highly recommend that you purchase the Westone "Monitor Saver" for $10, which is a plastic container that has a pod of silica gel on the bottom and does a good job of taking care of sweat and moisture.

UM1: I used these as my knockaround and gym earphones for several years. Very accurate with a great midrange, but no low bass of which to speak. It's not a fit issue; the earphones do not really extend below 40 hz, and I suspect they start rolling off earlier than that. As a result, they can be thin and sound a bit harsh. When I bought my first pair almost 10 years ago, they were the best value in the $100 range; now, I believe that they may have been surpassed by some other models by different manufacturers. Still, if you are a midrange junkie, you can't go wrong.

W20: These sounded great, except for one major problem: They kept breaking with one channel going out each time. When they worked, the fundamental sound signature was like the UM1, but with (very tightly controlled) bass this time and a smoother overall sound signature. A great buy for the price and one that I would wholeheartedly recommend except for the durability issues. After sending them back for repairs twice and them breaking twice, Westone generously upgraded me to the...

UM3x: I love, love, love these earphones. Huge, warm, all-enveloping bass with a butter-smooth midrange. The treble, while present, is recessed a bit due to the mammoth gobs of low-frequency energy. The thing about the bass on these earphones is that it is not really accentuated in the sound signature. It is just present, like a boulder or an elephant. I listen to a lot of hip-hop and jazz, and these were great for those types of music because the bass is powerful, but not punching you in the face like a pair of Beats. The soundstage is very tightly defined with clear limits as to width and height with great imaging so you can clearly define each instrument and where it is placed. These earphones are just a lot of fun and work well with all types of music. After six years of dutiful service, they gave up the ghost when I was in the airport and was about to go on an intercontinental flight, so I ran to the shop in the airport and picked up a set of...

W40: These are truly reference-caliber earphones and are the best ones that I own. They have everything: refined, smooth presentation, incredibly well-integrated drivers, seemingly limitless bass and treble extension, and pinpoint soundstaging. The airport store let me compare these versus the Shure 535 SE and I preferred the Westones because of their superior driver integration. I read some reviews that said that this model does not have a very engaging presentation, but I want the music to be engaging and the headphone to reflect exactly what is playing. For that reason, the W40 is the best in my view. Yes, they cost a small fortune ($500), but I fully expect them to last the rest of my life. The other thing that is interesting about this model are the detachable cords so if an earpiece goes out (something that has happened with almost every other Westone that I have owned), I can try to replace the cable instead of send the earphones back.

My recommendation would be to get the W20. They are a clear improvement over the UM10 (and, I suspect the W10), and offer much of the benefit of the higher-end Westone models for a fraction of the cost. Westones are the most comfortable earphones that I have ever had and their profile would be what you like. I would also recommend ordering from a retailer like Earphone Solutions that offers an extra year of warranty service for a two-year warranty if you order from them. That way, you will have the comfort that you need if anything goes wrong. Also see if the W20 has detachable cables like the W40; that is another feature that can come in handy.
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Offline groovon

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2015, 12:15:54 PM »
Hi jlykos--
Thanks for such an informative post. This is all new to me, so first trial will be with the UM Pro10s (which I paid less than $120 for). Depending on who you read, they are rated from good to excellent, soundwise, and will at least give me a feel for what to expect. I admit I have a huge aversion to blowing 3-400+ bucks or more right off the bat, but if IEMs work out for me, I'll no doubt get over it.

Apparently a really good no-brainer IEM is the EE Electronics M6 Pro, for only $50. It has a similar size and style to the Westones, but instead of a 'balanced armature' it uses a traditional single dynamic driver and has a somewhat different sound signature, so may offer a useful contrast to help me evaluate things. I ordered a set, and I think those and UM Pro 10s should give me an affordable starting point.

BTW, did you ever get your UM3x's repaired? They can be found used, and I wonder, if they're as good as you say, it might be worth buying a used set and sending them in to get refurbished(?)

thanks again
Dave
« Last Edit: October 10, 2015, 12:35:58 PM by groovon »

Offline jlykos

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2015, 06:29:12 AM »
BTW, did you ever get your UM3x's repaired? They can be found used, and I wonder, if they're as good as you say, it might be worth buying a used set and sending them in to get refurbished(?)

I have not had them repaired yet, but I may do so when I am back in the U.S. Westone has charged me around $60 for repairs in the past, but I don't know how much the UM3x would cost for a repair, as they are more complicated than the UM10 due to the multiple drivers and crossovers used.
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Offline groovon

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2015, 11:53:33 AM »
BTW, did you ever get your UM3x's repaired? They can be found used, and I wonder, if they're as good as you say, it might be worth buying a used set and sending them in to get refurbished(?)

I have not had them repaired yet, but I may do so when I am back in the U.S. Westone has charged me around $60 for repairs in the past, but I don't know how much the UM3x would cost for a repair, as they are more complicated than the UM10 due to the multiple drivers and crossovers used.

So maybe not such a great idea to buy a used/out of warranty set then. The more I read, the more I get the impression these things often have a limited lifespan. BTW is the UM Pro3 supposedly equivalent to UM3x?


Offline jlykos

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Re: Going from MDR-V6s to decent In-Ear Monitors?
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2015, 07:05:20 PM »
BTW is the UM Pro3 supposedly equivalent to UM3x?

I would think that they are at least similar if not the same. You may want to check some reviews on Head Fi to see if anybody has determined this.
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