IMR Acoustics R1 Impressions and Modifications

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by E_Schaaf, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio (Thread Judge Code-6 District)

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    IMR R1 -

    [​IMG]

    Build Quality
    • The R1 doesn't look and feel as nice in person as it looks in the pictures. I was expecting more heft like I felt with the CF Atlas.
    • A matte finish would have been nicer, discoloration happens quickly and they look plastic-y up close.
    • The nozzles don't always thread perfectly with the body and can sometimes pop out when you pull the IEMs out of your ears. Annoying.
    Features
    • Open vs closed doesn't seem to change anything.
    • All of the included nozzles suck in terms of tonality. The ones with more bass have a sucked out midrange and hashy mid-treble. The ones with less bass feel lean and peaky up top. Yuck.
    Fit / Ergonomics
    • None of the stock tips give me a good seal. For some reason even my comply's don't want to seal well, even though I seal just fine with them on my Fourte and Rockets.
    • The cable socket sits at a right angle compared to normal 2-pin cables. Because it's recessed, I can't use any of my other 2-pin cables either. WTF.
    • The cable wants to spread outward from my head when I'm wearing it, which looks and feels awkward. It's also inflexible and cannot be turned in any direction without problems and resistance. I hate this cable. It's awful.
    • For some reason one of the pairs of foam tips included with my old IE80 seemed to fit my ears with these, even though they don't fit my ears on any other IEM. Weird but it works, so problem solved. No issues with driver flex.
    Sound
    • Unmodded I really don't like these in any configuration of nozzles and tips. Treble always feels ringy and bright, there's a weird fucky midrange response regardless of nozzles (your choice between only lower mids and no mid-mids or upper mids, OR only upper mids and no lower mids), and it's difficult to hear anything aside from bass with most of the nozzles either.
    • Modded, however, I really like the sound you can pull out of these. It's clear the 13mm Be DD is quite dynamically capable, and the ceramic transducer can actually put out quite a bit of detail and information without being overly sparkly.
    • For my mods, I settled with the blue nozzles (as they give the best control of the bass and come empty, which gave me an opportunity to experiment with damping and filters).
    • I cut a tiny square of stiff felt (not enough to cover the entire bore) and put it in the nozzle using the back side of a sewing needle. Then, a tiny square of once-folded teabag (also not enough to cover the entire bore), and then a twice-folded wad of surgical mask filter.
    • Sounds like a lot of damping, yes, but the result is a signature that's quite similar to my modded Fourte, but a bit less V-shaped (more midbass, more upper mids, less top octave and a half). Not quite as much extension in the treble, and spatialization is not quite as precise, but comparable both in dynamics and stage width. I've tried over 20 different damping configurations since I got these in earlier this week, and I think I'm pretty much settled on this one.
    • Still a shitload of quality bass, but I'm a closeted basshead, and it ultimately bleeds less into the mids than the Atlas or Vega did and generally sounds better to my ears. On some stuff I prefer these to my Fourtes too.
    Conclusions
    • Wouldn't recommend them stock at all at ANY price.
    • Impressed only by the sonics (modded) of this IEM - everything else about it is a nuisance.
    • Won't complain at the price I paid given sonic performance with mods ($175).
    • I'm keeping them. Really hope I can find an alternative cable though.
    Associated gear was Shanling M0, Mojo, and a bunch of desktop gear. The R1's actually scale quite a bit, particularly with dynamics and smoothness in the treble. I love the sound with these out of the Phonitor 2 I have at my desk right now.

    Happy to share pictures of my modding procedure if there's interest.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  2. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    @E_Schaaf might be worth starting a dedicated impression and modding thread. I’ll experiment with alcohol swabs in the blue nozzles this weekend. So far the original R1 in any stock configuration is superior to the Zenith version, which has strong resonances. Much moreso than the OG R1.

    Edit: new thread started

    adding my quotes from the loaner thread:
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  3. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    Can we open a new Thread about both and move these messages? Would be easier for people to find the info.

    Just some thoughts, unlike @E_Schaaf i liked these from the get-go but i do understand his reasoning but the thing is... i "cheated" a little since i'm using my PM6 filters and not the ones that came with the OG as i didn't like them as much, the damping material is different.The ones that i sent with the OGs are from the PM6.

    Another, very important, thing to mention is that you probably got V1. It was a silent review, that's what i believe at least, but i got a pair and then i talked with Bob from IMR about the threads not being perfect, specially on the right side, discoloration and the right side ringed. I got a new pair and voilá.

    I have so many filters that i could mod all of them, which is something i'm still opening to do but it will make it easier to try some recommendations. Ohhh modding galore.

    Doesn't matter what tips i use, because of my very small canals, only comply are usable, it's something that i got used to now and that drops some of the things you are mentioning, although it brings others.

    Like many i have several cables, from more expensive to cheaper and the ones i like the most, by a significant margin, are actually one of the cheapest ones that i bought from ebay and to be honest they are my overall favourites for 0.78:

    [​IMG]

    I really enjoy my OGs and that's why i sold my Dunus.

    Edit - the open/close mechanism doesn't seem to change as much as i hoped though. I think the holes should be bigger.
     
  4. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    While the difference in vent open or closed on the OG is a small difference, I definitely prefer open to closed.
     
  5. TurbinoZ100000

    TurbinoZ100000 Acquaintance

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    My short impressions I posted earlier on Head-fi, non-Zenith version. Do note that I'm a bassboi and fairly sensitive to treble, especially upper treble. I mainly used the black filter for the short time I had these.

    PROS
    • Bass = AMAZING. Probably the best I've heard out of any IEM or headphone even. There's just so much of it and it's such good quality as well.
    • Soundstage is very good.
    • Imaging is very good, sound is super clean (due to the scooped mids).
    • Comfortable, but I have big ears... pretty much everything is comfortable for me.
    • I love how they look, I'm a sucker for utilitarian design.
    • Nozzles are easy to use and change sound a fair amount.
    CONS
    • Mids are just bad. Anything below upper mids are completely scooped out which, like mentioned, makes the sound very clean, but also clinical, cold and boring. The upper mids have two massive spikes in them making everything sounds shrill, unnatural and bright. No filters completely remove this characteristic. Copper filter gets closest, but kills treble as well.
    • Treble is fairly good quality, there's just too ****ing much of it. Bit metallic sounding.
    • Cable sucks but at least it feels pretty rugged.
    Probably 3/5. Not for me. Maybe if I listened exclusively to EDM, hip/hop, pop, etc. But I don't.
     
  6. La Cenric

    La Cenric Friend

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  7. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    Although i really enjoy the OG (with PM6 filter) reading @TurbinoZ100000 impressions i have to say that the cables are one of the worst i tried, talking about this price point. Sturdy yes but that memory is brutal.
     
  8. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Today I broke out the digital calipers I recently picked up and proceeded to James444 alcohol swab mod the empty blue nozzles provided with the Zenith. First attempt was with strips 6mm x 16mm. On the OG R1 - Pretty good!
    (There’s no helping the Zenith. Seriously.)

    Modded OG sounds fairly balanced when compared to the slightly more V shaped Simgot EN700 Pro I have on hand. It has a lively, undamped sound; really fun with rock-n-roll. With the filters provided there can be a little too much housing resonance but alcohol swab mod seems to tone it down a good bit. Seriously, these IMR iems sound like there’s little to no damping in the shell.

    The specialized black filters, provided by Walderstorm, sound a good bit more V shaped to my ears. The 16mm length seems to be a lucky first try b/c I don’t feel inclined to try longer strips, which would just tame the treble even more and give the perception of more bass. Anything less would begin to sound too resonant. I’ll leave the 6mm x 16mm strips in the blue nozzles for the other tour members.

    All that modded goodness goes out the window with the Zenith. It just sound bad- like someone mail ordered parts from a JC Whitney catalog, tossed em together and viola! Zenith achieved.

    I would say the older, discontinued R1 is certainly worth picking up used, on the cheap, for modding. Probably will need a new cable, if the Zenith cable is any indication, to save your sanity from that unruly, rubbery nightmare. I do wish the housings were a tad heavier with a more premium feel; they look better in pictures than in person and are surprisingly light.

    Thanks for the listen @Walderstorm!
     
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  9. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio (Thread Judge Code-6 District)

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    Right now my mod on the blue nozzles (starting earside and going backwards) consists of a tiny square of stiff non-adhesive felt that covers about 80% of the nozzle opening, a perforated paper-like layer of the same size, and a twice-folded teabag or surgical mask liner on either side (so a 4-ply 1/6" square, stuffed as uniformly as possible). They ring quite a bit on top but with the additional materials it is actually quite smooth and doesn't glare too much.

    On the black nozzles you can just stuff a load of teabag in there for a true basshead presentation with a dash of extra sparkle on top. The bass here is truly incredible, addictive, ridiculously slamming for an IEM. Not as tight as my Fourte but definitely way more thicc in a fun way.
     
  10. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Some parting IRM OG (R1) thoughts:
    @E_Schaaf ‘s filters modded blue filter arrived. His blues are really good. I’m torn between the blues with alcohol swab mod and these. The alcohol swab modded are livelier, more forward. Those from E_Schaaf sound more damped, with more solid bass. I think at home or in the office, I prefer the livelier alcohol swab mod- rock guitars have really good crunch and bite. But for on the go, the E_Schaaf modded set is preferred as there is just too much bass loss with the others in noisier environs. These 2 mods are pretty much a necessity with the IMR; I don't think any of the stock filters are any good. However, even with the mods, there is still this 'grayness' about the sound output that is perhaps a byproduct of housing resonance or lack of overall internal damping.
     
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  11. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio (Thread Judge Code-6 District)

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    Thanks for your impressions @shotgunshane . I definitely tuned them with the types of music I listen to most in mind - electronic instrumentals in particular, which tend to be mixed overly hot in the upper midrange on up, especially considering my preferred listening level which is a touch louder than it probably should be. Not to mention I only really listen to the IMRs at the gym, where the extra bass is nice.

    I'm sure for acoustics, vocals, and 'real' instruments it would be nice to have a more forward upper-midrange like I have on my Rockets, and I'm glad to hear this is achievable with the simple swab mod.

    Frankly this is why I'm glad the IMRs have multiple nozzles - not because they sound good as-is, but because you can empty any of them and mod each to a particular response and swap em out depending on where you listen.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
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  12. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    Agreed, too bad I don't think the zeniths have a "salvation mod", which I think mainly derives from the open/close mechanism.

    Have you considered widening the holes of the mechanism on yours @E_Schaaf ?

    Another thought is that I have to use comply so I wonder how much extra bass I will get with them + your MOD.
     
  13. Kunlun

    Kunlun cat-alyzes cat-aclysmic cat-erwauling - Friend

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    I'm sending these to @La Cenric and I wanted to share some brief impressions for the R1 Zenith, which retails for about $635.

    This is not the OG version.

    I used the blue filters (which are supposed to be the most neutral).

    First, the bass vents have been re-designed and they are not done well. There isn't a way to fine tune the size of the opening and they are easy to dislodge from whatever they are set. The loaner set had one earpiece's vent fully open and the other fully closed, as a case in point (or a little prank, hi Shotgunshane!). I cracked the vent open a tiny bit. Bass gets full, open sounding, and smeared with the vent overly open.

    Cable is rubbery ass and I'd recommend changing it.

    I used a apex glacier amp with my old ipod 5.5 with wolfson chip. Out of a phone expect less detail and control.

    I listen medium loud to a range of music styles from classical and world to pop to metal.

    With the set-up as I described it, which is a bit best case scenario, at least for me, the Zenith is pretty good.

    Overall, a punchy sound with clear, slightly sharp transients. Detail is good, soundstage is open without being artificial (most cues come from the recording, but a vented shell can help, as it does here).

    Bass is full, extended and powerful. The vent can be closed to keep it down a little, but cracked open a tiny bit is the sweet spot for a bassy but well textured sound. It's decently fast, pop and rap benefit from the bass foundation.

    The midrange is clear, men's and women's easily cut through the bass. Timbre is good, transients are sharp rather than smoothed, which seems characteristic of the driver. That is likely part of why detail appears good, but the driver also has some resolution. There's a little congestion in the lower mids-ish, and some V-shape, but with my set-up and blue filter the midrange isn't sucked out. The Zenith excels with rock, but classical is very good as well.

    Treble is quite good with the set-up I have, cymbals and chimes and violins are all very good. That little sharpness of transients likely means that with other filters that the Zenith may be too sharp and/or have weird resonances, but here it's good, accurately showing sharpness in music recorded that way, but not adding it overmuch.

    Overall, in spite of some build and cable issues, these are good midrange iems that have the potential to be an iem in a properly driven portable set up. A lot of modding potential, as people have mentioned with the previous generation.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
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