Audio Random IEM / Headphone Rants


esanthosh

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Though it was not my intention, seems like James444 has caused a small stir on head-fi by linking to my post ;)

Anyways, I have weighed in my options between getting a refund, getting a universal and sticking with 4C. After communicating with Brannan, I see no reason to lose faith in Noble Audio at this point. There are definite perks in sticking with 4C in that they are going out of the way (not just with me, with everyone affected) to makeup for lost time. Worst case, I will receive the CIEM a little late. But I am willing to wait as I'd rather have a well finished product that I can use for a long time than something that's done in a hurry. I will, of course, keep you all updated.
 

abhi_jollyguy

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As soon as I put it inside my ears, I realized that I need much better source now. Nationite Nanite N2 is not justifying it's SQ I believe but still better than the RE-400 and EPH-100 for sure.[DOUBLEPOST=1389972582][/DOUBLEPOST]Key points on SM64's sound are:

1. Soundstage
2. Instrument separation
3. Deeper and tighter bass
4. Vocals
5. More refined sound than EPH-100 and RE-400.
6. EarSonics seems to tuned it's bass just like dynamic driver.
 
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guptaji

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I bought 2 IEMs from the xmas/black friday deals last year.
Here is the first one:
photo 1.JPG
photo 2.JPG

I was on the lookout for a pair of good-quality IEMs after I decided to give away my TF-10s and my trusted Nuforce NE-6 gave up on me. I bought these purely based on the reviews online and had never had a chance to hear them or anything else from the Westone line-up. Almost everyone raved about them, about their quality highs and deep and extending bass.

My impressions of the Westone 3 so far:

1. The mids are extremely recessed and the vocals sound really subdued
2. The bass tended to be boomy on some of the tracks I listened to and seemed the veil the overall sound signature
3. The highs were sibilant at times
4. The cable is one of the best I have seen: no microphonics, well-built and very light weight
5. with the right tips, they are extremely comfortable
(Source: iphone 5S, 320 kbps and FLAC files; Music: classic rock and rock n roll primarily – Led Zep, Doors, The Stone Roses, Floyd etc.)


Overall, I am just really disappointed with my purchase. I was expecting sound quality that would blow me away. Over the past few days, I’ve been tinkering with the EQ settings on some iOS apps and the results have been better but still not what I expected. Another concern have been the tips: only the smallest silicon tips are comfortable for my ears. Everything else is too uncomfortable to wear beyond 10-15 mins. (Lack of a comfortable fit was the reason I gave up my TF-10s)

In hindsight, my puny Nuforce sounded much better, clear vocals, punchy bass but not overpowering and the guitar solos sounded like a dream on them.

I do not know whether its my source that is inadequate or whether it’s the tips or something else that I am not doing right: the bottom-line is that I am not happy with these..!
 
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krisballa

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^ Thank you for the impressions. Thought of ordering the Westone 3 on black friday sale, but @esanthosh suggested to wait for your impressions. Glad I have not bought these :)
 

FaH33m

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wow ! @esanthosh , Those Noble IEMs look pure wicked and beautiful .Let's hope they sound perfectly as per your taste and requirements since that's all that matters. :D

Congrats . Always knew you would jump onto CIEMs sooner or later .. though took much longer than I had expected .heheh
 
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esanthosh

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Random thoughts on Noble 4C
  • I am more relieved than excited. Have been feeling a bit too antsy the past few days. Hope to sleep well tonight.
  • The package felt very light weight. Though the UPS outer packing wasn't disturbed, I first checked the package contents to ensure that everything is in place. Thankfully, everything was.
  • The Pelican case was kind of hard to open the first time. I am so used to the easy zipper cases.
  • I wasn't that greatly impressed by the first looks. In the sun light, face plate sort of looked grayish. The shell and the canal looked much better than in the picture. Looking closely again, the translucent face plate is kind of cool, though it doesn't give the vibe as in the photos. It looks good inside my ears though - sedate, calm ear ornament :p
  • I had a hard time with my first insertion of the IEM and the subsequent removal. Have figured it out after the second time. It still takes an ungodly amount of time (meaning a few good seconds more) compared to universals.
  • Thankfully, fit is great. The right ear needed a bit more twisting to get in. It's slightly weird to have these things deeper into the ear. It takes a few minutes to get used to. Guess a few days of usage would remove this weirdness.
  • The best thing for me so far is the isolation. Due to my weird ear and canal shapes, I never had any IEM isolate this much. This feeling of being completely cut off from the world is excellent. I wouldn't dare to wear it outside though. May be I should have gone for customs sooner.
  • Usually, I have a hard time using IEMs just after I eat (feels a bit nauseous). But, Noble 4C does not pose any such issues.
  • I have walked a bit, tried to talk a bit, changed postures while typing this post. Seal remains good. That is the thing I was most worried about. Since my ear canals expand and contract a large extent, I don't think I'll experiment eating with 4C in my ears just yet.
  • -----
  • Very early days to write anything in detail about the sound. My first words that popped into my head was 'Hifiman sound'.
  • I am listening at -38 to -43 in Rockboxed Clip+ depending on the recording. Kind of like FX700 levels.
  • The sound is neutral and smooth overall. Nothing stands out, which is a very good thing in my book. Usually, I prefer IEMs that tick least things in the faults column. So far, in 15 minutes, I haven't found anything glaring that jumps out at me - everything is there, just in the right amount.
  • I think this is likely the most balanced IEM I have ever owned. Most 'balanced' IEMs sacrifice bass or give a slight push to some ranges. In 4C, so far, I have not felt anything that feels pushed or pulled.
  • I have not used any IEM in the past 10 days or so. So, it's kind of hard to say for sure. But, 4C's clarity feels like something that could set it apart.
  • If you are looking for 'excitement' in bass, guess you should look elsewhere. Bass is not great in quantity, but it does not make sacrifices like RE272 or SE535 and does not feel lacking in sub-bass like RE-400. The low end is neither anemic nor prominent - clean and let's say 'healthy' and natural, not just plenty. It loses out a bit in the lowest regions though. The rumble is 'felt' a slight bit, but not head 'drilling' like it can be with some dynamic IEMs.
  • The mid range has excellent clarity and transparency. I'd say the mid range on 4C is enjoyable, neither forward nor recessed, a healthy note weight which is not thick or thin (either of which can affect transparency and naturalness).
  • Treble is pretty smooth, detailed without any glaring faults (read: ear piercing peaks) and has decent amount of sparkle. I can't say it is as 'sparkling' as some universals tend to be, but at least, it does not have that metallic timbre some of them (CK10, TF10) have.
  • The presentation is very good - airy, spacious. I haven't had issues with imaging so far.
  • In the time it took me to write the post, 4C has grown on me. I have switched through Massive Attack, Eva Cassidy, Evoken, Isis, Gorguts, Summoning, Altar of Plagues, Eye of Solitude. I am yet to try Jazz and Classical. So far, I haven't felt anything where 4C was 'out of place'.
  • Forget the price I paid. Most of it is due to the 'custom' part of the CIEM. Let's say it's a $450 IEM like Noble 4 universal. Would I have paid that much for the SQ I have heard so far? Gladly. Initially, I didn't feel like it was in a different league compared to universals or anything. But, after spending some time, I feel that since it does not have anything 'excessive' or 'lacking' for my tastes and hasn't bored me yet and I am beginning to listen to the music than the IEM, it is at least a notch ahead of my good IEMs. Is it 'worth' the large amount I paid? I don't know. If 4C gets great use and I am listening to music without complaining this or that, I wouldn't think back on the price I paid.
  • I will provisionally place it at #1 for now and will change it, if need be, after proper comparisons a few days / weeks down the line.
  • --------
  • Did I hear things I 'haven't heard before'? Somewhat. 4C is so clean sounding that it helps me focus on things I'd have not paid attention to otherwise. It has the requisite combination of resolution, clarity, separation and smooth frequency response that brings out some tiny nuances that I have failed to notice with other IEMs.
  • Are Customs better than universals? Certainly in terms of fit, seal, isolation, personalization and requiring absolutely no tip rolling. In terms of SQ, it would be ludicrous to base this on one CIEM and a few universals I have heard.
  • Was it worth the effort? Personally, yes! It's a different experience which I wanted to know about and I have. That long waiting period and numerous unexpected interruptions did make me nervous. But the wait was worth it.
  • Would I now dump all my universals? I don't think I will sell EX1000 or FX700 yet. Not until I've used 4C exclusively for a week or two, go back to them and feel it's far superior and the only IEM I will ever need.
Now that I have completed my obligation to write something about 4C, I will go back to music listening :p

Update @ 23:00 - This is the longest time I have spent with an IEM in weeks. Listening to Opeth's 'Ghost Reveries' after a very long time (Actually I was Opeth free for many months now). It's a pleasure so far with 4C. Many IEMs usually sound so congested with Opeth that I feel like I am peeling off layers in the recording precisely for the first time.

Update @ 23:30 - Left keeps cutting off randomly while still inside my ear (thrice in 3+ hrs). Adjusting the memory wire part to a particular position revives it. Hope it's just a cable issue.
 
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kenpachiroks

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@esanthosh

Congratulations mate! The anointed one finally arrives.
Seems like it might be the be-all and end-all of your neutral needs.

Does it supersede that magic EX1000 bass?
Have you only tried it with the Clip+?
Do both earpieces feel the same(fit)?
Not as shiny as you expected? :p
What does acrylic feel like? How tough does it feel?
Any long session fit fatigue?
Is the clarity that ear bleedingly spectacular?
............

Please ignore all the questions above and enjoy listening to those those gems.

................ for a few weeks until we begin Operation Eswarus4CReview4us
 
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esanthosh

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I just sent a PM to Brannan. Even on just the suspicion that cable could be faulty, they are ready to send a replacement first thing on Monday (from US, since entire China is closed for CNY). That is what I wanted in the CIEM company - a great customer service that has not faltered so far :)

Here be answers

Does it supersede that magic EX1000 bass?
I don't think so. I have so far not heard any BA IEM that matches dynamics in bass. 4C sounds clean and detailed in the bass region, but the emotional connect was far better with EX1000, at least going by memory.

Have you only tried it with the Clip+?
Yes. My original plan was to try it for a while with Clip+ and then switch the sources and see how it sounds. I was also considering Laptop -> UHA6S to use as the source when writing down the above post. However, I ended up listening more to music, which is certainly not a bad thing.

Do both earpieces feel the same(fit)?
Yes! My ears are asymmetrical both in and out. When I saw the difference in face plate shapes in the photo, I looked in the mirror, but could not tell any difference. But, that close-up photo actually exaggerates the difference between the pointy end of my left and the rounded end of my right ears :p. It is due to this difference in shape that I've found many flush sitting IEMs like SE535 or SM3 slightly difficult to fit in the left ear. I'd say that even though 4C takes a little more time than universals to insert, the actual maneuvering required to get that 'good fit and seal' is less than SE535 i.e., Most of the effort with 4C goes towards guiding the canals in, after that it's a simple twist, whereas SE535 required lot of twists to find that right combination of insertion depth and fit. May be, just may be, I should stick with customs (I only wish I was richer) :p

Not as shiny as you expected? :p
Yeah! I thought it would blow me away in person. The build quality (smooth finish), the translucent face plate that allows me a peek into those little things inside and the silver mystic swirl are all as I asked them to be - Nothing shiny, something calm and quiet to look at. But, the combination of the wires and the silver mystic swirl in the photo made me think of something with a slight brownish tinge and rainbows inside. Turns out that it is just my eyes that were fooling me :p

What does acrylic feel like? How tough does it feel?
The first time you insert them into the ears, you are sure to feel them. I would say they are far more comfortable than SE535 (or SM3 v1 with it's edges) on the outside. I do not feel them at all once I manage to insert them. I did feel them slightly inside the canals even after an hour. It does not feel like some solid rocky, heavy thing inside the ears, more like an unwelcome intrusion that your ear canals are informing the brain about (still better than Etyrapic's tri-flanges deep fit). I am guessing in a few days, this slight feeling that there is something inside your ears will subside or fade away as the ear canals get 'burnt in' to the feeling.

Any long session fit fatigue?
No! By the 3rd or the 4th hour, most universals which are not straight barrels tend to feel burdensome. But, with 4C, I used it somewhere between 4-5 hours straight last night, but did not feel any fatigue. May be first day luck? I hope to figure out over the course of the next few days.

I usually get slight itch or irritation in the ears after prolonged use of universals, which I did not get this morning with the 4C.

Is the clarity that ear bleedingly spectacular?
If I have to take a chance and quote from memory (which you all know I am quite uncertain about), 4C feels like at least a tiny bit of a step up from CK10. I am still not certain how I can compare this CIEM with universals considering how long it takes to insert and remove them (enough time for audio memory to get a bit fogged). I will try that sometime later.

................ for a few weeks until we begin Operation Eswarus4CReview4us
Best of luck with your operation :p
 

kenpachiroks

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That's some impressive CC by Noble.
------
Thank you for the answers............holding back more questions:locktopic:
Impressive little clip+. :)
Aren't the BAs in the Music Two vented? I wonder if that improves the bass dynamics.


Our
modus operandi is to ask you all these questions, then collate the answers into a review........ (cue evil laugh crescendo)
 

esanthosh

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Thank you for the answers............holding back more questions:locktopic:
No need to hold back the questions. As long as I can reply to them, I do not mind.

Impressive little clip+. :)
From Project86's review, 4C is supposed to scale up well with better sources. I am hoping to try them with UHA6S later today and may be DacMini CX later on. If I am not entirely broke, I'd get a X5 later this year.

Aren't the BAs in the Music Two vented? I wonder if that improves the bass dynamics.
Yes! Music Two has vented BA. The bass response in Music Two is supposed to have a slightly longer decay with good depth. But, as far as I know, bass timbre and note decay would still be better in the case of dynamics.
Our modus operandi is to ask you all these questions, then collate the answers into a review........ (cue evil laugh crescendo)
As long as I am not asked to write a 5000 word review, it's fine with me :p.

The thing is a good review does not come from me. I can still fill a basic template with description of just about any IEM in a few hours (fit, isolation, microphonics, bass, mids, treble, sound stage). But, a good review evolves from the IEM, it's ability to impact your emotions, the subtleties you notice over a period of time and how close it gets to act as a transparent window between you and the music. For that to happen, the IEM should perform above my threshold of tolerance (no niggling this or that that takes my mind off music). The second requirement is longer, normal listening hours without the pressure of 'doing' a review. If I don't give it time to sink in and I don't 'feel' it, reviews come out as a boring, going through the motions exercise. Some of my wordy reviews come out when I have time without pressure (GR07 or even the recent SE535LTD-J though in the latter case, I had to make-up a lot for my audio lingo amnesia with some workarounds).

Updated @ 09:30: I like how 4C handles the dense, brutal, depressing sound of Primitive Man and makes it listenable. This is the farthest I've made with 'Scorn'. Since 4C splits and layers everything without ever sounding congested, the music doesn't feel as burdensome as my previous attempts to get past the 3:00 mark on the first track.

Updated @ 10:20: While CK10 was blatantly 'microscope' like in examining details, I much prefer the smoother handling of 4C. The focus is a bit more on the lower mid range, which makes longer listening sessions across genres much easier.
 
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