shotgunshane’s IEM (custom and universal) recommendations, favorites and classics

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by shotgunshane, Jun 7, 2016.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Any specifics? You should try to post some impressions here on SBAF instead of dropping links to your impressions on HF and elsewhere.
     
  2. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    It’s been so long, hard to say with any definitive authority but if memory serves, the UE4 is more neutral/linear overall. Orion probably has rounder and slightly warmer bass. I would also think Orion a bit more sparkly but not as well extended to top. Also, Orion has a middle mids bump that I remember occasionally sounding nasaly. I can’t imagine it being better than the UE but just a sidegrade, slightly different flavor of a similarish tuning.
     
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  3. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    Can we get @zach915m and @KenBall (no longer a member?) to sit in a room together till they bang out an IEM Auteur?
     
  4. imackler

    imackler Key Lime Pie Infected Aberdeen Wings Spy

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    Thanks for the attempt at time travel! I know it's tough if it's been a while, but that helps me think things through.
     
  5. pure5152

    pure5152 Friend

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    Just want to clarify this: I think the driver got misaligned from sudden pressure because I shoved the iem into my ear too deep and fast initially when I was quickly trying different tips for the best fit. Dunu customer service (specifically tom, thank you for your help and patience) helped walk me through how to fix things (basically put it in your ear and pull it out really fast), and I haven’t had any channel issues after the first day. I love the IEM and don’t want to suggest it’s brittle or faulty, as that would be a bad misunderstanding.

    I really should write up some Luna impressions finally in a regular thread. There’s so much I like about this iem: it’s very light weight (welcome improvement from the fdx1 and andromeda), and the accessories are top notch, with the cable being especially good (I tried a super litz and it was noticeably less resolving and microphonics than the Luna stock cable, not to mention the swappable tips). Compared to andromeda from memory, the Luna has a smoother overall frequency response, extremely good mids and treble resolution, and better dynamics, especially micro. I’ll try comparing with fdx1 specifically, but I felt the Luna was more warm/natural than the fdx1, which was a little analytical sounding for me (not to mention uncomfortable due to heavier weight).

    Maybe the one con is that getting a good fit for the best sound is finicky (If you don’t get it right, the vocals can sound a bit nasally and resolution/soundstage drops) - I use the spin fit tips and prefer a shallower fit.

    Enough of my rambling (again, should post full review later). Just wanted to show I actually do love this IEM, contrary to any initial grumpiness I posted on my profile, and highly recommend this IEM. I think that channel dropout I mentioned shouldn’t be a problem unless you are constantly putting in/pulling out the lunas in quick succession.

    I really wish DUNU would get a loaner going for the Luna, as I feel a lot of people here would like it. I actually suggested it to Tom months ago, and he said he was open to it - I think it got postponed due to initial production delays, but everything should be fine now?
     
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    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
  6. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    Thank you for the encouragement. I actually haven't heard either the Luna or the 1695ti...but based on favourable impressions I've read on HF and elsewhere they sound like good options to consider for someone looking for a single DD with a more balanced/less v-shaped presentation. Regarding sharing my impressions here directly rather than via links in my sig... well, to be perfectly honest (though now that I'm writing it out it seems a little silly) I guess still find this place a little intimidating at times. When I wrote that "4 Way Shootout" post I actually really wanted to share it here directly but I held off on doing so partly because I feared it wasn't up to the standards of the community but also because I wasn't sure if the membership here would be interested in a lengthy post like that from someone who is not really a known quantity. I would be happy to post further impressions in the future.
     
  7. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Campfire Ara has been added to the list. Full review coming later today.
     
  8. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Campfire Audio Ara Review


    Cosmetic Stuffs:

    I’ve always like CA housing design: it has a timeless industrial appeal. The Ara titanium shells look stately and elegant (a huge plus in my book). Ara has pretty long nozzles, particularly when you compare it to Andromeda OG. They make me think of long black gloves or maybe tall black boots. These longer nozzles really aid me in getting an easier, more comfortable fit; and fit is surprisingly very comfortable to me. It also allows me to get a little deeper fit if I desire.

    I’m not sure what CA calls this new stock cable, but I really dig it. It’s soft, pliable and has zero memory; no kinks or tangles here. If it will stay this way long term, this will be a huge improvement. I was always a fan of the OG Andromeda cable and this seems to be an improvement on that one. Whereas the Solaris OG stock cable is horrendous. It’s become hard and kinky over time. Having a cable that disappears in use is really important to my enjoyment factor and CA hit a home run here. The Sony M9/Z1R cables are probably the only ones I like more.

    The cork case is pretty nice. It looks good; has plenty of space and is lined with a soft fuzzy material. While probably more environmentally favorable, I prefer the leather version that came with the Andromeda OG. The rectangular shape is easier to zip and just looks better.


    Important Sound Stuffs:


    Vs Andromeda OG
    Source: iPhone Dongle
    Andromeda with MeeAudio dual-flange tips and Ara with Final E tips
    Similar volume levels between the two, so it doesn’t require constant changing of volume when switching.

    First and foremost, Ara is much cleaner and clearer sounding. If you’ve not noticed the slight haze of the Andromeda, it is most noticeable in direct comparison to Ara. Where Andromeda sounds like a downward sloping U shape, Ara sounds more neutral with perhaps a hint of W shape. The warmth of the Andromeda on the less than 1 ohm Apple dongle is very apparent.

    Andromeda extends just as deep as Ara in bass, however the bass texture of Ara is significantly better. It sounds tighter, cleaner, and more detailed down low, which translates to a more realistic timbre than Andromeda’s slower, fuzzy decay.

    While male vocals cary similar enough weight and presence, there is a fairly large difference in female vocals. Ara presents them more accurately, with more upper midrange energy. Andromeda’s female vocals are deeper, more chesty sounding, lacking the realistic energy heard on Ara. This is also noticeable with distortion rock guitars. Ara has more bite, more crunch, and faster transients. Where the Ara sounds clear, transparent and pinpoint, Andromeda sounds more ethereal and a little hazy.

    Both Andromeda and Ara have a lot of sparkle, however Ara seems to put more emphasis on lower treble compared to Andromeda’s middle treble tilt. In this regard, Ara tends to throw some treble detail in your face a bit and Andromeda gives you a little more room to take it in. On tracks that have a lot of sibilance, Ara definitely gives me more cringe moments, slightly exacerbating it at times and sounding harder. Whereas its more manageable with Andromeda here. It’s important to note, though, that Ara has much longer nozzles, allowing you get deeper fit if desired, which can mitigate this to some degree, particularly with a size down in Final E tips. With Andromeda’s super short nozzles, you are stuck with a fairly shallow fit, and why I opt for dual-flange tips. At the end of the day, Ara’s treble sounds a little weightier and Andromeda’s a little airier.


    Vs Andromeda OG (round 2)
    Modius > THX AAA 789
    IEMatch at High setting for Andromeda (2.7 ohms)
    Andromeda with MeeAudio dual-flange tips and Ara with Final E tips

    For this Andromeda/Ara comparison, I used the IEMatch on Andromeda but not Ara. Balanced connections were used for Modius into the THX 789, however only 3.5mm single ended stock Campfire Audio iem cables were used. Using the IEMatch with Andromeda means lots of volume change between the two.

    With the IEMath, Andromeda becomes more linear/neutral; the inherent, ethereal warmth is dropped but bass extension remains. Upper midrange is slightly more filled in, which results in less haze and slightly brighter and clearer presentation. Andromeda sound more pinpoint and precise in this setup, closing the gap of the previous differences considerably.

    In this setup configuration, Ara sounds just a bit bassier in deep/sub bass. While both bass presentations are now on the cleaner side, Ara is still able to produce better defined and satisfying textures. Notes on Ara sound just slightly richer, now that Andromeda has leaned out quite a bit. The filled in upper midrange on Andromeda helps bring similar energy and clarity to female vocals. Treble differences still remain but are a bit less noticeable with the more filled in upper midrange on Andromeda. Overall I’d say Andromeda went from being warmer, hazier and more ethereal than Ara, to a little leaner and brighter than Ara. Regardless of configuration, Ara maintains an advantage in resolution and low level microdynamics. Nuances, textures and other low level detail are more recognizable, yet Ara maintains a wholly more natural tonality. While Ara sounds taller and slightly more 3 dimensional, Andromeda sounds wider with a little less upfront presentation.


    Vs Solaris OG
    Modius > THX AAA 789
    Solaris with Ortofon tips and Ara with Final E tips

    For this Solaris/Ara comparison, balanced connections were used for Modius into the THX 789. However, only 3.5mm single ended iem cables were used. Stock for Ara and the Dunu DUW-02 for Solaris (because I hate the Solaris stock cable; it’s become stiff, kinky and memory laden).

    My first impression upon switching from Ara to Solaris is: Damn! Ara’s bass does not give up much to the dynamic driver of the Solaris. It’s that impressive for armature bass. That being said, Solaris bass is little bolder, a little richer, it lingers longer and has a more real feeling of moving air. Palpable; Solaris is just simply more palpable in bass, but Ara certainly holds its own impressively well here and really sounds just as natural.

    Solaris has a slightly warm tilt that is noticeable against the more neutral sounding Ara. Ara is clearer, more transparent, giving the Solaris a very, very slight feeling of stuffiness in direct comparison. Male vocals on Solaris have a bit more heft and weight and again seem more neutrally weighted on Ara. Female vocals are interesting in that Ara presents them a bit clearer with more upper mid energy but Solaris presents them more forward, closer to the listener without sounding chesty or abnormally deep.

    Treble, on the Solaris, while sparkly in its own right, is softer and thinner in presentation; Ara transients are faster and treble is weighter/fuller with better realistic timbre, but is also harder. Ara treble demands more attention than the more reserved Solaris; likely this is due to the Solaris lower treble dip. The Ara soundscape almost keeps up in width and height to Solaris but doesn’t have it’s depth, nor it’s layering. Solaris has the uncanny ability to place vocals front and center, clearly defined in space from the other instruments.


    Conclusionary Stuffs:

    Overall Ara is a significant evolutionary update to the Campfire Audio lineup. Being the most neutral, it easily holds more appeal to me. It’s impressively natural sounding and it’s bass is a significant leap forward for armature timbre in my estimation. It’s clarity, transparency and resolution are top notch. My main criticism would be in the lower treble. It can be a little hard and fatiguing, particularly at louder listening levels. But this is by no means a deal breaker, as I would certainly love to add Ara to my collection. Ken’s Kung Fu is good.
     
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  9. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Moondrop SSR is supposedly going to be available tomorrow. Crin was able measure one, pre-release, and I’m not sure I’m all that interested after seeing it compared to Ety’s, which is supposed to be its inspiration. A peak that high at 3k is probably going to sound a good bit brighter and leaner than The comparable Ety.

    graph.png
     
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  10. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    What's the deal with the HA-FW01 woodies JVC on Drop?
     
  11. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    Great timbre but overly warm.
     
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  12. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

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    As @shotgunshane said, neutrally tuned single dynamics are quite rare. And I still think that the JVC FDX1 is not only close enough, but actually better in that regard than TOTLs like the Vega, Xelento and IE800S.

    That said, I've been on the HF Luna Tour recently and the Dunu Luna is the first TOTL DD I've come across that I consider superior to the FDX1. Here are the Links to my impressions:
    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/dunu-luna-impressions-and-discussion.923958/post-15644929
    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/dunu-luna-impressions-and-discussion.923958/post-15649844
    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/dunu-luna-impressions-and-discussion.923958/post-15654794
    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/dunu-luna-impressions-and-discussion.923958/post-15656327

    However, it's worth noting that the Luna's tuning in the upper mids is quite similar to the white nozzle FDX1 (or stock FD01), which means there's a marked emphasis around 5kHz:

    (DF-compensated; red = Luna, black = FDX1 white nozzle, blue = FDX1 reference nozzle)
    [​IMG]

    To my ears, this sounded a bit too shouty and aggressive with my test tracks, so I proposed a simple damping mod to lower that peak a bit and bring the Luna closer to the FDX1's reference signature.

    Apart from that, I feel the Luna surpasses the FDX1 in several aspects, like better textured bass, slightly better mids resolution, slightly better instrument separation and layering, and an impressively three-dimensional soundstage. It's not head and shoulders better, but the sum of all aspects makes it clearly an overall better IEM in my book.

    But make no mistake, those who don't like the FDX1's upper mids forwardness won't probably be happy with the Luna either.


    This is where my modded FAudio Passion comes in, which I consider a sidegrade to the FDX1 in technical ability, however with a cleaner mids-to-treble transition and an overall ever so slightly downsloping and more monitor-like sound signature:

    (DF-compensated; red = FAudio Passion modded, black / blue / green = FDX1 different nozzles)
    [​IMG]

    That's the measurement of a unit I sent to @shotgunshane more than a month ago, since I thought he might like it. But unfortunately, probably due to the corona-induced chaos, it got stuck somewhere in transit. So we can only hope that it's not lost for good and he'll still be able to hear it at some point.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  13. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    @james444 - Have you tried the Acoustune or Dita DD offerings?
     
  14. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

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    No, I haven't. Their offerings aren't easy to audition when you live in Europe. I've looked at Crin's graphs though and there seem to be a lot of different models, in part with wildly different sound signatures. Don't know what to make of that, tbh.
     
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  15. Crinacle

    Crinacle Friend

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    Yeah I'm a little busy with other stuff at the moment, but you'd be right. SSR is a no from me.
     
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  16. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    That’s too bad. Seems like a seriously missed opportunity by Moondrop.
     
  17. Brause

    Brause Facebook Friend

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    May I respectfully disagree...the world is once again not black and white.

    What I like about the SSR:
    1. Super low end and great transition upper bass/lower midrange
    2. Greatly overall fluidity
    3. Great haptic...small shells, comfortable
    4. No upgrades necessary: everything works just fine

    What I dislike:
    1. The ole' boosted upper midrange...sigh
    2. Stage is rather flat and dynamics could be livelier

    After all, this is a $40 iem, it features an original (!!!) and great ergonomic design (does not stick out of the ear, you can use them in bed), and it has a liquid presentation. Sure, Moondrop, like most other Chi-Fi manufacturers, do not want want to depart from their boosted upper midrange, as this is desired by the Asian markets...which are MUCH bigger for them than the Western ones.

    DISCLAIMER: I am very sensitive to the 2-4 kHz region and have used more 3M micropore in my life than Calgary's Foothills Hospital. I have often criticized CHi-Fi manufacturers for exaggerating their upper midrange...lately, I have given TRN heck for "icepicking" our ears with their VX model. BUT...

    OK, that 3K peak: it looks deterring but it doesn't sound as it looks. The SSR are not as sterile or analytical as the Tin Hifi T2, their low end is actually superb imo. In fact, I prefer the SSR's low MUCH over the KPE's, and also over the Starfield's: the SSR's upper bass does not paint over the lover midrange and therefore does not push it into the back. And the SSRs have nothing in common with the "anemic" Etys either. Measuring does not replace listening. With a warm source such as the ifi hip dac, the SSR even get some colour. So far, I have taped off most of james444 's offerings with 3M micropore tape (as suggested), but not the SSR.

    Please, friends, don't listen to the graph, listen to the actual earphone before judging it (ears make graphs redundant).

    But what the SSR stands for is Moondrop's evolution away from Harman-Kardon neutral towards Diffuse-Field neutral, and therefore further away from the classic budget V-shape.

    Therefore, Moondrop did not miss an opportunity, they created one imo.

    As the Germans say:" one swallow does not make a summer". Stay tuned for the many qualified opinions that will be cropping up soon...and test my word on the "superb low end".
     
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    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  18. Crinacle

    Crinacle Friend

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    I don't know what you're implying, but my impressions are based on listening to the IEM.
     
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  19. Brause

    Brause Facebook Friend

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    The word "No" as a full review minimizes the information conveyed and funnels it into a "believe" system. A bit more info would be useful for the attentive and knowledgeable readers of this forum.
     
  20. Crinacle

    Crinacle Friend

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    I was expressing a casual opinion. I don't recall ever touting that as a "full review"...
     
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