IEM general discussion thread

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by Griffon, Nov 1, 2015.

  1. YMO

    YMO Scatologically ribald obsessive

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    OG Solaris was not a side grade from the OG Andromeda. Current Solaris is in theory not a sidegrade from the 2020 Andromeda, but for some it might be since 2020 Andromeda is darker in tuning than the current Solaris.
     
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  2. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    If you like the OG Andromeda tonality and laid back midrange but want better sub bass and improved overall technicalities, like layering and imaging, without sacrificing staging, a Solaris is probably the right way to go.

    The newest Andromeda could be seen as a slight upgrade as well, as it does improve on OG technical performance but it’s darker sounding overall, so you’re giving up the OG treble sparkle, plus it doesn’t sound quite as grand.

    The OG Solaris is the Solaris version I’m partial to, as it is grander overall with significantly better layering and imaging, as well as stage height and depth over OG Andromeda. However OG Andromeda does feel wider with a bit better overall tonality. The OG Solaris is the one to get if you are a staging junky.

    If you want improved overall tonality and are willing to sacrifice a little of the OG Solaris grandeur, then the abalone Solaris SE is the one to get. Both Solaris versions will improve on the Andromeda deep bass performance.

    An alternative to the Solaris is the Soranik Bastille series. I’m assuming both are still made. Both were excellent with a slight preference for the Signature version. We have a thread with some tour impressions a while back:
    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...ons-and-discussion-2.10684/page-2#post-344619
     
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  3. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    Thanks, all, for the feedback. Current playing around with amplification, trying the CTH with the Andromeda and iSine 20 as soon as I get the proper connectors.

    Is there a current go-to desktop amp or all-in-one for IEM use? I'm guessing the Andromeda will hiss with the CTH, though maybe I can get an IEM Match in, too.
     
  4. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    The Drop THX 789 is excellent with all iems but particularly is if they have balanced armatures and/or are super sensitive. So it’s great with Campfire Audio iems.

    I also really like the RME ADI-2 Pro as a single box solution for iems. It’s what use along with the Pi2AES for wireless connectivity.

    The IEMatch is worth exploring with OG Andromeda. It will make it a bit leaner and tighter in its setting with highest OI. On its lowest OI setting it’s good for maintaining its normal warm, down-sloping signature but with hiss eliminated on noisy amps.
     
  5. Tchoupitoulas

    Tchoupitoulas Friend

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    If that's the Massdrop CTH, be careful with the Andromeda. The manual recommends turning the amp on or off with the transducers plugged into the amp. There's a really loud pop with the sensitive Andromeda when doing this.
     
  6. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    The Massdrop CTH does not go well with IEMs unless they're reasonably insensitive pairs like the Etymotic ER2XR, haha.

    Concerns over the amp blooping the IEMs out of existence during startup or shutdown aside, there's a great deal of hiss out of the CA Solaris that renders them effectively unusable. That said, the Solaris also exhibits a slight, albeit still somewhat noticeable, level of hiss with the Apple USB-C to 3.5mm dongle as well; they really are just that sensitive IMO.

    Just going off memory of demoing the Andromeda several times in the past, but while I was VERY interested in picking a Solaris up from first listen (their sound signature and overall technical prowess really work for me), the Andromeda was less compelling. That said, I still ended up a bit teary-eyed during my first demo of the Andros years ago, though that could just as easily have been my choice of music (Jeff Buckley- Grace); the voicing of the Andro does well with more tender arrangements I feel, whereas the Solaris isn't afraid to kick you in the teeth with its low end response.
     
  7. Tekker

    Tekker Acquaintance

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    Anyone knows an IEM similar to Final Audio E3000/E5000 but with less 1-4khz range or smoother transient edge impact?

    Price around $70
     
  8. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    Thanks for the heads up @Tchoupitoulas I just tried the CTH and did the usual thing of jacking in/out with the power on and the volume down. Hopefully, I didn't do any damage to anything.

    @Lyander Yeah, nothing I tried was really up to much with the CTH. Andromedas hiss quite a bit. iSine 20 show heightened bass and density, but are mostly a muddy mess. Aurisonic Rockets and JVCs okay but weirdly bleached out through the CTH. Something sounded wrong. Possibly I was getting a bad connection through the adapter plug, as it was cutting in and out a little, but I can't imagine that was it.

    I think the CTH is probably just all around too noisy and really no better than the iFi Nano Black Label. I can hear some potential for improvement through a full-size amp, but I don't think the CTH will help.


    Might explore what Soerkis has to offer in an all-in-one. Would look into the THX amp but seems harder to come by in the UK.

    Edit: Hmm, I can get the Monolith THX AAA here maybe. And some kind of SMSL amps with THX design or something. Don't know how similar those are to the 789...
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2022
  9. 7seven

    7seven Acquaintance

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    Anyone have a suggestion for a good, similar priced alternative to the IE 300?

    I got a pair of them, not a big fan, primary issues being they are too bright/peaky for my taste and that it's both difficult to get a consistent seal with them and difficult to even tell when you have a good seal.

    Also, there is something I don't like about the sound that is hard to describe... "clean" but too flat? overdamped? lifeless?
    Im just nit picking though, got them on sale would be really happy if weren't for above issues, build quality is really good too.
    Just want something warmer/laidback and ideally a bit more involving.

    edit: Chose the ER2SE. It's on sale, more suitable FR, well liked, not a whole lot of options anyway...
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2022
  10. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    Well, in an effort to see if I can maximize the OG Andromeda and iSine 20 while suitcase living, I'm getting in a couple THX-based amps. The Drop 789 and the Monolith 888 aren't easy to come by here in the UK, so, despite being semi-allergic to Chi-Fi, I'm going to try the FiiO K9 (AIO) and the SMSL SH-9. In theory, both should sound very similar to the Drop and Monolith amps (??). I went with the older AK4449-based K9, to maybe warm things up a bit from dead-flat, which is what I'm expecting from these units.

    If neither of these do the trick, I might revisit the RME, which I heard a while back and basically liked. I'm also driving a pair of Focal Elex here, so a bit of grunt might be good, and presumably the FiiO and SMSL have a bit more power.

    EDIT: I realize, of course, the Elex and most IEMs are pretty sensitive, but am experimenting with what it's like to have a fair bit of reserve power (hopefully quiet) and maybe I'll add some other planars into the mix along the way.

    Also, getting in a couple of cheap balanced cables to see if that helps with IEM joy.

    The last year or so I've been trying not to strand myself in mid-fi, mostly out of a desire to declutter my life of a bunch of boxes. But this is a temporary living situation, so a pricy amp just to maximize IEMs doesn't necessarily seem right either.

    Either way, Chi-Fi here we come and will report back next week.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2022
  11. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    Initial testing with SMSL-SH-9 is mostly positive. As reported elsewhere, these THX amps seem to do really well with IEMs. Better, anyway, than the Nano Black Label and definitely better than the CTH, which is too noisy, it seems, and maybe shows some wonky impedance matching with in-ears.

    So far, SH-9 is giving the JVC FDX some added bass heft, width, and clarity. Seems to improve the Andromeda (OG) frequency response, too, as in I'm finally getting more bass and a better sense of a bottom-up presentation. I'm also hearing less of the upper-mid wonkiness I've been getting through the Nano.

    iSine 20 also seemed to respond well to the SH-9, but I need to figure out a new way to apply the Audeze/Roon EQ pre-set, as I'm currently having trouble with some digital front-end stuff. But, so far, the iSine sound pretty good. I expected they'd benefit the most from additional power.

    Other notes on this cheap THX amp:

    --very black black ground
    --solid build quality
    --decent, if unnecessary display
    --smaller than expected, could be a solid "transportable"
    --less bright sounding than I expected
    --in fact, I'd call this a slightly dark-tilting amp

    As @rhythmdevils has reported (I think), THX amps maybe a little bland with full-size HPs. I'm testing Focal Elex single-ended (I don't think this is a true differential amp anyway), and it's pretty solid. Better than the CTH, IMO, for an even-handed listen with, again, more of a bass-focus/bottom-up feeling.

    But, thus far, I feel a slight lack of engagement with the Elex. This amp doesn't seem to sparkle for whatever reason. And transients on the Elex feel just a little soft.

    That said, I'm streaming Tidal/Qobuz via my phone and the Nano Black label's DAC, so that could be the dark/slightly soft tilt. I've got an iFi Neo Stream hopefully incoming soon, and that's meant to be neutral to slightly bright.

    But thus far, good little amp for IEMs. And small enough to throw in a suitcase.
     
  12. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    Question: Any consistent benefit to running IEMs balanced? Extra power seems unnecessary? Maybe better channel separation?

    I ask b/c I also have the FiiO K9 here, and I believe that *is* a fully balanced THX amp. It also has a handy 4.4mm balanced HP output. So I'm tempted to try it. But, on the other hand, if I don't have to open up a new unit, just to later send it back to Amazon, that seems better karmically somehow.
     
  13. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Balanced is overkill for iems, particularly super sensitive multi-armature iems. You may lose significant range of volume. Single dynamics might scale with it, and handle it much better, but I personally don’t bother with balanced, unless an SE out is poor.
     
  14. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    Yes, balanced is overkill for most amp/IEM combos, but(!), with Jot2 I found it didn't hiss a bit with Andro and Solaris while running balanced (in and out). SE out isn't the most pleasant listening experience due to hiss. Granted, the volume control is nearly worthless in that use case, but at least Jot2 has got a nice pot and I've experienced no channel imbalance that early in the travel.
     
  15. CEE TEE

    CEE TEE MOT: NITSCH

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    An exception to thinking balanced for IEMs is the Cavalli Liquid Carbon. Alex designed that originally for IEMs and to be balanced only (he didn't want to put the SE out on the amp). He needed a balanced topology to be able to use the low noise components he wanted.

    I was truly surprised comparing the SE to the BAL out of the Massdrop Liquid Carbon with Noble K10. If you have this amp, try the balanced output with IEMs...
     
  16. 7seven

    7seven Acquaintance

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    Balanced and SE is probably something to listen and see for yourself, there are operational differences that may or may not contribute to difference in sound depending on the particular circuits.

    Balanced does allow greater peak power but this factor is basically irrelevant for IEMs unless the goal is deafness.

    With balanced the load is shared between 2 amps instead of one. For a given headphone SPL, each amp-half delivers half the power (good) into half the impedance (not good) compared to SE.
    Though some amps just sound better pushing more power for whatever reason.

    Taking a step further back, when operating in Class A a balanced amp will present a balanced load to the power supply, so it draws constant current and there is no modulation of supply current as with SE, also a good thing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2022
  17. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    There's a new version of the Letshuoer S12: Letshuoer S12 Pro. Structural changes are redesigned venting, a new internal 'rear acoustic chamber' to "make channel matching more consistent" (wut?), and new nozzle filters; other changes are a modular cable with swappable 3.5SE and 2.5 & 4.4 balanced connectors, and a nice blue colour.

    Despite the acoustic design changes, Baskingshark at Headphonesty detects little or no audible difference from the OG S12 and suggests owners of the original won't benefit from this new one.

    The price is lower than the OG, currently $160 from Letshuoer and HiFiGo, and - deal - $119 at Drop (est. shipping not until December 2 though).
     
  18. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    They sound different, I have both here, the S-12 Pro is tuned lower with more bass and less treble. However, once modded I find the original S-12 to have more potential. I'm not sure why. Could be the nature of my mods which are different for each model due to the different tuning.

    If I were getting one to listen to stock I would definitely get the Pro model, it's more neutral. But for my modding purposes, the S-12 is better.

    Of course the S-12 has huge unit to unit variation so if the Pro does too, my S-12 Pro could just be a warmer sounding unit.

    Very frustrating that Letshouer can't get more unit to unit consistency with such an incredible little driver.
     
  19. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    Yeah, I was a bit surprised by the reviewer's statement that he heard no real difference, especially in the treble given the new front filter and your and others' experiences after applying tape.

    Tuned lower, modular cable and lower price => Pro for sure.
     
  20. imackler

    imackler Key Lime Pie Infected Aberdeen Wings Spy

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    Hey all! I'm looking for a replacement cable for my Ultimate Ears UE4 Pro. (It's the connection used after 2010). There are stock cables here but I'm looking for a budget one that doesn't have a memory wire. Do you have any recommendations?
     

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