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  1. #1
    AR Newbie Registered Member
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    Looking to buy high end earphones. suggestions

    Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum and need some help. Im looking into buying some high end earphones I can use to listen to my iPhone. Since I am a musician, I also plan to use them as personal monitors and on stage or when recording. I'm new to the audio world as far as quality goes.So far my searching brought me across the ultimate ears triple.fi 10 pro and the shure se530pth. I've read that they're both really good earphones, I read in iLounge (some forum for apple stuff) that the shures might be a bit better. What do you guys think?I'm on a strict 500$ budget...

    All replies appreciated.... Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I have the V-Moda Vibes and am extremely happy with them. For the price (you can usually find them for under $100) they cant be beat!

    here is a good review on them

  3. #3
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    Do a search for Livewires, a custom IEM that should run a bit over 300usd....

  4. #4
    Stereo value > car value texlle's Avatar
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    If you're going to be using them for monitoring as well, I would definitely go with a set of headphones that are an open-air design rather than a set that seal out ambient noise. In my experience, they just sound more natural and really bring musicality into the equation.

    In the past I've had a set of Koss open air ($40 studio headphones) and they were good, very durable; the sound was extremely bass heavy but it took a lot of juice to get them to distort which I thought was impressive. I had a pair of Sennheiser HD 477 ($50 from circuit city) which were very comfortable and had warm mids and detailed highs with a good soundstage very had fairly muddy low-end. One of the minijacks that plug into the cans failed on me after about 2 years, but I still have them. I had pair of Bose Tri-ports which are probably have the worst build quality of any headphones on the market. After grabbing them by the cans and stretching the headband ever so slightly go put them around your head, the plasic on the inside of the headband near the metal length adjustments will break after about a year and you either have to tape them or use zip ties to get them to fit your head. One of the diaphragms also went after about a year. Before all that, the sound was mediocre...very detailled highs with well controlled bass. In addition to that, the smooth leatherette earcups were those phones' only redeeming factors. I just stepped on them about a week ago (only time I've ever abused any audio equipment) and they're officially shot.

    I have a pair of Grado SR80s on order that should be arriving at my local mom and pop hifi store later this week. I auditioned the SR125s on an Arcam FMJ amp and my god....I almost felt as if I was listening to a pair of $5000 speakers. Tight bass, shimmering highs, and the most luscious mids I've heard on a pair of phones. Soundstage was very wide with spot-on imaging. I know my SR80's won't have quite the detail and tonality of the 125's but I've read nothing but rave reviews for the 80's and for $95, they seem to be the best bang for the buck.
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  5. #5
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    I'll second the Livewires. $249 shipped, plus you spend $15 on ear impressions at a hearing aid store and mail them off to them. www.livewiresforyou.com

    They are custom monitors, two driver, neutral and balanced, clear and detailed, with excellent isolation. I listen to mine more than my SE530's (which I am now having turned into customs - a long story for later).

    They are used by professional musicians, and most recently the Jimmy Kimmel Show and Hannah Montanna show.

  6. #6
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    Check out etymotic. I have owned two different models of these and both were a great bargain.

  7. #7
    nightflier
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    For in-ears, I would second the etymotics. I own the mid level shures and etymotics, and the latter were more detailed and dynamic to my ears.

    That said, if you're serious about sound, the in-ear is a bit of a compromise. An open, on or over-the ear can would be better. I've found when talking with musicians and sound engineers on a budget, they tend to favor the Grados because they are more forward than the Sennheisers. I guess as a musician you would want to be on stage and not in front of it, so that's probably the reason.

    Of the many Grado models out there, I've spent quite some time trying to find the one I liked best. IMO, the best bang-for-the-buck, under $500 is the SR225. The 60 and 80 are fine, but they don't give me the detail and depth I look for. I spent quite a bit of time deciding between the 125 and 225 and while the 125 is brighter and more forward, it lacks the weight that the 225 brings to the music, w/o giving up any detail. The 325i is the next model up and I owned a pair for several years, but they are substantially heavier than the 225 and frankly don't do much more for me except maybe in the bass. They are also more expensive, uncomfortable, and metalic sounding (compared to the higher-end models). I know that sounds cliche, but there is something to that wood in the RS2 and RS1, but I could not bring myself to spend that much more for a slight improvement in sound, at least to my ears. I probably should have bought the 225s, but that's all in the past.

    So what did I end up with? Well, after raving about the 325i for so long, I actually found something I like better: the AKG 701. I know, my Grado membership was duly revoked, I was shunned at Grado parties, and I was promptly dropped from the mailing list. Just kidding. The AKGs are not as bright or forward sounding, 'tis true, but they offer an excellent balance between the Grado on-stage sound and the back-of-the-auditorium Sennheiser sound. And they also don't give up anything in the detail, stage-depth, and dynamics department. Stereo imaging is still spot on, and for the first time in years I can wear my headphones for longer than two record sides without getting a headache.

    So that's my 2 cents: in-ear, go with Etymotic, on the ear, go with Grado SR225, over the ear: AKG701. All of these can be had for well under $500.

  8. #8
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    Did only a couple of us pay attention to " Since I am a musician, I also plan to use them as personal monitors and on stage or when recording"?

    What likely will work best for that is a good neutral IEM or small closed phones, since they can be used portable as well. You want something that can feed you the mic signal while blocking the live music, so you know the mix and different instrument balance/proportions are right.

    The Livewires are neutral and detailed, with great isolation, and more bass than the Etymotic, but Etymotic would be okay. The ER6i are fairly accurate but lacking in bass as well - I can only enjoy them with a bass boosting amplifier. The most neutral Shure I had was the E4c (I've had E2c, SE310, E4c, E500 and SE530 - only still have the SE530) - I like the Livewires the most of all the above.

    Also, a small closed headphone like Sennheiser HD25 (but NOT the crappy PX200) that can also be portable. AKG also makes a good closed portable phone AKG 271. Or, consider the Beyerdynamic DT 250-80 which isolates better than the DT231 - the DT231 is very light and portable and sounds nice, but doesn't isolate well.

    I recommend these based on my experience and others. If open phones are okay, then I stand down...

    Larry

  9. #9
    Stereo value > car value texlle's Avatar
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    So closed design is better for monitoring?
    Dynaudio Audience 42
    Conrad-Johnson PV14
    Sonographe SA-250
    Music Hall CD 25.2
    Musical Fidelity V3 series- X-LPS phono preamp, X-DAC, X-PSU
    Rega RP1 w/ performance pack
    Pure i-20 iPod dock
    -----------------------------
    B&W DM603s2- B&W LCR60s3- B&W DM302
    Velodyne CT-120 12" sub
    Rotel RSX-1055
    Arcam CD73T
    Samsung LN46C630 46" LCD
    Denon DBP-1611 bluray
    -----------------------------
    KEF K120- Jolida JD202a- Cambridge Audio D300 cdp- T500 tuner

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by texlle
    So closed design is better for monitoring?
    IF you are going to be monitoring live music for mixing board, or as the musician, in-ear monitors or closed headphones will be best. In the studio, the musicians will usually use closed over the ear monitors, but the guys at the mixing board can and will use anything they like, including near field monitor speakers (sound proofed from musicians).

    Many musicians, from days of old, used their stage monitors to hear what the music sounded like (while staying behind the main stacks that sent music to the audience), but this left them with hearing loss and tinnitus.

    With custom IN ear monitors, they can now block the dangerously loud outside sounds and hear the mixed music at lower volume levels. The guys at the live sound board will often use closed over the ear monitors, which are too bulky for the musician on stage (except sometimes the drummer).

    Livewires are used by Musicians all over the place, most recently the Jimmy Kimmel Show band, and Hannah Montana's people too.

    Larry

  11. #11
    rockin' the mid-fi audio_dude's Avatar
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    Man, I've got a pair of Grade SR-60s...amazing things for the price.

    I was lucky enough to be able to listen to the RS-1 and GS-1000 models... and I was absolutely speechless...

    My god, I didn't even know audio could sound that good. Hopefully someday I'll have the money for a pair...and the money for all the equipment needed to keep them happy
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  12. #12
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    V-Moda's are GARBAGE!!! Guaranteed to fail in WEEKS!!!

    Unless you've money to burn, don't waste your time with V-Moda products, particularly the Vibes or Vibe Duos.

    I went through several pair within a few months and the drivers (mine were on the right) failed like clockwork. EVEN THE SALESMAN I RETURNED THEM TO WAS ON HIS 2ND PAIR. When you try to return them, they'll only offer a repair or replacement. NO REFUNDS!! So, you're stuck with earbuds that, while, yes, they sound OK out of the box, will fail...GUARANTEED.

    I then went round and round with their brass about their lousy business model and how I, and many, many others, am amazed that they're still in business. In our correspondence, V-MODA ACKNOWLEDGED THE ENGINEERING FLAW, but refused to refund the $100 bones. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that they're a front for the mob.

    Bottom line: Don't waste your time and/or money. V-Moda's durability is the stuff of legends, notoriously horrible. Research it yourself. Google V-Moda +"failed driver." DON'T BUY V-MODA!! YOU'LL BE SORRY!!!

  13. #13
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    Nando821, well, what about Sennheiser CX 95 Style ?
    Here they have score 10 out of 10 based on reviews from 14 sources in 5 countries.
    Hovewer I'm not sure about their price, but I think it is no more than hundred dollars..

  14. #14
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    Nando821 doesn't live here anymore.

  15. #15
    Forum Regular captjamo's Avatar
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    I test drove my friends SE530's for a day and they were noticeably more detailed across the spectrum than my SE420's which I really really like. I use them with my 8 gig nano. The 530's might even have been slightly more comfortable. I'm going to do a back and forth comparison and will let ya'll know my impressions. So far, the SE530's are the best in-ear phones I've listened to, very composed, very smooth.

  16. #16
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    Lightbulb

    Nando821, well

  17. #17
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    EDIT: Didn't notice your budget. For other people looking for cheap phones, this may be it. For high end I would say HD600s, but I havn't compared them to much high end phones and they may not really be suitable for your use.

    The best value for the money you can find as far as I know is the Koss KSC75. Don't be fooled by it's looks and price. These headphones perform better than most other phones up to $ 100. The bass is strong, deep and not booming. Mids are clear and detailed and highs are excellent too. I know what I'm talking about, I own HD600's, and although you can't compare the two, the Koss's are amazing for the price (only $19.99).

    At least give them a trie. It won't break your bank account.
    Last edited by makruiten; 08-29-2008 at 02:59 AM.
    Martijn Kruiten

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nando821
    Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum and need some help. Im looking into buying some high end earphones I can use to listen to my iPhone. Since I am a musician, I also plan to use them as personal monitors and on stage or when recording. I'm new to the audio world as far as quality goes.So far my searching brought me across the ultimate ears triple.fi 10 pro and the shure se530pth. I've read that they're both really good earphones, I read in iLounge (some forum for apple stuff) that the shures might be a bit better. What do you guys think?I'm on a strict 500$ budget...

    All replies appreciated.... Thanks!
    You have done remarkable research but let me add to the list with:

    Westone UM2
    Sleek Audio SA6
    Klipsch Custom-3 & Image X10

    The Westone have a better midrange punch and overall better clarity and soundstaging. But you really can't go wrong with any of the ones listed. The UE Triples will need the Jabada mod extensions, which are nozzle extensions that allow the sleeve to go further into the ear canal, to seal well and be comfortable to wear as most people find their shape unbecoming of a comfortable fit.

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