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neilmistry's picture
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To go cheap or expensive
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I currently own a pair of Beyerdynamic DTX101's which I use on my daily train commute as well as in the office.  I really like their sound, their noise isolation abilities and the fact that they don't leak sound.

This week, when removing the right earbud, I felt the plastic part that holds the silicon tip come away from the metal housing.  I'm always very careful with them (never use them in the gym, keep them in the supplied pouch when not in use) so it's disappointing that this has happened again - I say 'again' as the current pair were a replacement for a previous pair where exactly the same thing happened.  Clearly the glue they use just isn't strong enough!  A couple of drops of superglue has fixed the problem for now, but I fear that the left side may go soon.  On my last pair, both sides needed the superglue treatment before one side eventually cut out completely, hence the replacement (under warranty).

So my dilema is this: do I go for some cheaper buds that may not sound as good, but when they do eventually fail, not worry too much about it; or do I pay a lot more and hope that by spending extra, the build quality will be better and that they last longer, as well as hopefully hearing a sound improvement.  Having read some mixed reviews regarding the build quality of the soundmagic buds I was decided to go for some RHA buds (WHF 5 star winners) but when I went to Selfridges in Birmingham (listed as a retailer) I discovered they no longer sell any electronics.  A wandered past Superfi and Richer Sounds didn't really inspire either!

There seems to be so many buds around, a lot of them 'fashion' ones which just don't interest me.  So does anyone have any  recommendations?  I would say I'm willing to pay up to about £100 and prefer sound and build quality over fashion/looks/names.

Thanks

Neil

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RE: To go cheap or expensive

If you can find somewhere with a pair of Shures from the new range (the 215, 315, 425, 535 all have the same cable and overall build, just the earpieces change very slightly in shape to accommodate the different number and type of drivers), I think you will be very impressed. The £75 SE215 shares the same build quality as the £300+ SE535. I've been through loads of ~£40 earphones, and they are a definite step up in quality, as you would expect.

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RE: To go cheap or expensive

I commute and use my phones a lot, I have the Shure 4 series and my wife has the the 2 series.  I have had mine for 3 years and they are stil going very strong, the cable is nice and thick and the sound is top notch, plus they block sound and do not leak.

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RE: To go cheap or expensive

Thanks for the replies.  It looks like the Shures seem popular.  I once bought a pair of the SE115's based on a WHF 5* rating and other very favourable comments.  However, I didn't get on well with the fittings - nothing seemed to give me a firm and secure fit, so without that, I found the sound very 'thin' and generally disappointing.

 

I appreciate that getting the fit right is crucial.  Do the other models use the same fittings as the SE115's or do they different ones?  I found the silicon tips to be too hard and the smallest ones were too small, and the medium ones too big and hurt.  Maybe I should have persevered with the foam ones, but again, I just couldn't find one that worked for me.

 

If I did go for a pair of the SE215's, should be I be concerned with the top end sounding a bit limited?  I like dance music, plus a mixture of pop/indie/down-tempo electronic.

 

The SE425's certainly look good on paper, but perhaps a bit above budget, although I've not myself one (always a bit dangerous, I know!).

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RE: To go cheap or expensive

I think the tips are the same across the entire range (315 and up also come with triple flange and yellow foamies too). The 215 and up all fit with the cable over the ear, secured with memory wire built into the cable, and the earpieces fit flush with the ear (i.e. you could sleep on your side with the earphone still in). Whether or not you'd get on with the fit though, only you'd be able to tell.

With regards to sound, I have heard the 215,315,425 (very briefly) and 535.

In my opinion, the 215 and 535 are similar, as are the 315 and 425. The 315 and 425 are quite bass light, so probably not suited to your music. The 215 don't have a lot of sparkle, but they do sound quite full and natural. Can sound like cymbals and the like sound muffled a bit. However, for the money, I'm very happy with them. The 535 are, well, absolutely stunning.

Unfortunately, earphones seem to be a very personal thing, so what whether you would like the 215's sound entirely, I don't know.

If you were looking at the 425, I would look at the Westone 3 instead. Their sound signature I think would be what you're looking for (slightly V shaped), whereas the shures are the opposite (prominent mids).

Not sure if i've helped or confused you more.

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RE: To go cheap or expensive

I've tried about a dozen IEM at different prices and IMO Westone's are some of the best around. They sound great with good isolation and are the most comfortable that I've tried (comfort and sound isolation are two very important attributes with IEM's).

Hi-Fi - Yamaha RX-V667 > AVI DM5 > AVI subwoofer

Head-Fi - Epiphany Acoustics EHP-O2Di > Sennheisser HD700

Portable - Sony NWZ-A847 > Westone UM3x

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RE: To go cheap or expensive

Based on the recommendations, I read a few reviews and wasn't convinced by the Shures.  I've bought a pair in the past (5 star rated by WHF and lots of buyer reviews) but didn't like them.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money to only end up with a sound I wasn't totally happy with, so in the end I decided on a pair of Soundmagic E10's.  They do go through a lot with daily use when commuting and in the office, and even though I look after them carefully, earbuds only have a certain life, so won't be as upset losing a £30 pair compaired with a £200 pair.

 

With the money I've saved on the earbuds, I might treat myself to a pair of B&W P3's!

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RE: To go cheap or expensive

Most earphones come with a 2-3 year warranty anyway and you can get the removable cable version just in case. As somebody said Westone are pretty good. I had the UM3X and the Shure se535 and preferred the UM3X. It's too late now as you already bought a pair but maybe you'll want to uprgade in the future.

 

 

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RE: To go cheap or expensive

Gutting when they fail isn't it?

My view, is still go for quality over price. 6 months from now, you'll miss the sound quality. I bought a pair of gym-proof earphones a couple of weeks back (don't want to abuse my Klipsch and custom gels whilst on the cross trainer) and was pleasantly surprised by the sound quality and fit. The isolation is pretty good - keeps out the dum,schh,dum,schh of the gym music - and all for a little over £20, however when I get back to my desk and put my everyday 'phones in it always brings a smile to my face.

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RE: To go cheap or expensive

Since commuting on the train to Birmingham I have pourchased a pair of Yamaha EPH-100's(£79.95), I must say they are excellent value for money(IMO) and I wouldn' t be without them........I am however lusting after a pair of Sennheiser IE80's! :)!

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RE: To go cheap or expensive

Well, the Soundmagics arrived today and I have to say I'm very impressed.  After trying out several different tips, I went back to the ones they were shipped with.  Good sound isolation, nice deep (but not overpowering bass), clear mids and dare I say it, better highs than my Beyerdynamics.  Build quality doesn't seem as good, but mustn't complain.  It will be interesting to see how long they last.  I hope they won't be a false economy.

I'm keen to try the new B&W P3's, but wonder about they isolation and how much sound they leak.

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RE: To go cheap or expensive

Whilst the SoundMagic's are very good, I still have the urge to go for something a bit more special.

I've seen the Westone 2 IEMs and wondered what people's opinions are.  I've read some excellent reviews, but I'm just a bit concerned that with them being BAs they won't produce enough bass.  I listen to electronic music (dance and down-tempo) as well as some pop/indie.  Although I like dance music, I'm not after anything excessively bassy, but something that still has a decent amount of weight.  Ideally I want something balanced (I don't want ear-splitting treble just as much as I don't want booming bass), so would the Westone 2's be a suitable choice? I can't justify spending the extra for the Westone 3's. 

It's just so hard picking IEM's since there's no way to audition them!

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