: In Canal Headphones?


Adrian.
Apr 24th, 2008, 08:33 AM
I am fed up with my iPod headphones and want to upgrade. I don't think I listen to my music too loudly, I have set a limit on my ipod to about 3/4 of factory settings and listen to that at about 3/4 of the way. So about half volume. My ears though, after a while will start to hurt a little bit and not from the fit of the headphone. I certainly do not want to be deaf by the time I am 50 and want to upgrade to a better and wiser option.

I have heard that in ear canal headphones are better because they seal out sound and so you can listen to your music at a much lower volume and get a good effect. Is this true? Or does the fact that it sits so near your ear drum cancel out any of those benefits?

I really want something that is ultra portable. I hate the neckband headphones and the big clunky DJ style ones and I feel sort of out of options here.

Anyone use in ear canal phones and find them not damaging of their hearing? Experiences with them etc?

thanks so much

HowEver
Apr 24th, 2008, 10:02 AM
I use the in-ear Apple version, far preferring these to bud design and sound.

But I'd say it's a barn door/horse thing with respect to hearing damage if you've been listening to earbuds at half volume for a period of time.

cowasaki
Apr 24th, 2008, 10:28 AM
I use Skull Candy smokin buds. They have a crazy warranty.

The ability to limit "outside" noise is not only good for the enjoyment of your music but also for saving your hearing. It is my understanding that if you are listening to music and you can also hear other things such as people talking, trains, cars etc then you must combine all the noise to get a true decibel rating. This would usually be higher then the noise level of in canal headphones that limit noise.

I'm not an audiologist though. I would go to a university clinic (cheap) once in a while to have them test your hearing.

The Doug
Apr 24th, 2008, 10:56 AM
I use the in-ear Apple version, far preferring these to bud design and sound.

Ditto here. Some people hate the Apple In-Ear headphones, this person is quite happy with them.

I'm on my second pair now - the first set broke after two years of daily use, which is pretty good I'd say. What I noticed when I got my second pair is that Apple redesigned / reshaped the silicone caps. It's a subtle change but they fit better and seem less prone to slippage than the first generation.

cowasaki
Apr 24th, 2008, 11:12 AM
FYI, the skull candy smokin buds are "in-ear" earphones.

StageDive
Apr 24th, 2008, 11:41 AM
I used a pair of Griffin In Ear Headphones, and the cord always frayed near the jack where It connected to the ipod, with every pair I got. So now I'm just sticking with the headphones that came with my new nano, but I might upgrade to the in ear pair from apple later on...

hayesk
Apr 24th, 2008, 11:51 AM
I thought about in-ear earphones, but then whenever I use my iPod, I am interrupted frequently - the in-ear ones are more cumbersome to put in and take out a lot, so I just use Sennheiser MX-400 buds.

ernestworthing
Apr 24th, 2008, 12:04 PM
I have a pair of Shure E2Cs. They're pricey but they are leaps and bounds better than lower-end canal phones....

You can pick up a pair for US$70 down south.

My iPod plays at 50% volume and I can still pick up orchestral details in a song. People complain that the E2Cs have a weak bass, but I didn't find that to be the case because:
1) I don't listen to bassy music.
2) I do listen to some R&B. If you put it on properly (i.e. ensure a good seal), the bass comes out nicely. It's all about the seal.

Adrian.
Apr 24th, 2008, 12:24 PM
are these any good?

Future Shop: Accessories: Headphones: JVC In-Ear Headphone (HA-FX66-B) - Black (http://www.futureshop.ca/catalog/proddetail.asp?logon=&langid=EN&sku_id=0665000FS10094944&catid=23933)

TheBat
Apr 24th, 2008, 01:49 PM
You will never regret buying these! (http://www.amazon.com/Shure-SE530-Sound-Isolating-Earphones/dp/B000O8ENQK/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1209055593&sr=8-1). That is, if you can lighten your wallet lots.

Moscool
Apr 24th, 2008, 03:09 PM
The only way to listen at a lower volume is to use noise cancelling headphones (as opposed to noise isolating). These come in two types: over the ear 'cans' and in ear. You start by checking the noise reduction level. Typical is 12dB at 150-200Hz (medium rumble/aircraft noise). I have had a Sony NR set for 7 years now: fantastic!

Unfortunately, it is coming to the end of its life and I am looking for a replacement, so far without success...

- The current generation of cans are much larger than my Sonys and none has the same clever folding mechanism (including current Sonys)

- The in-ear noise cancelling headphones can be not cancelling at all: they count the insulation of being in-ear as part of the -12dB calculation so some are basically pretty ineffectual (I tried some JVCs last week that were pretty useless)

-The problem is compounded by the fact that most shops will not let try on in-ear designs so you have to purchase them and get a refund if you don't like them. A pain.

I have been looking for reviews of in-ear noise cancelling sets so far without success. Anyone has recommendations?

One last thing: you can pick up very good NC cans for about $200 (Philips are impressive). Forget about overpriced Bose, they don't sound that good and they don't function in the 'off' position. Most in-ear designs seem to be in the $100-150 range. Nothing costing $30 is likely to cut the mustard.

5andman
Apr 24th, 2008, 05:57 PM
I have a pair of Shure E2Cs. They're pricey but they are leaps and bounds better than lower-end canal phones....

You can pick up a pair for US$70 down south.

My iPod plays at 50% volume and I can still pick up orchestral details in a song. People complain that the E2Cs have a weak bass, but I didn't find that to be the case because:
1) I don't listen to bassy music.
2) I do listen to some R&B. If you put it on properly (i.e. ensure a good seal), the bass comes out nicely. It's all about the seal.

I've been using Shure for the last 2-3 years and I love them. Great range. I listen to everything from Jazz, Rock and Soul.

850
Apr 24th, 2008, 07:09 PM
These are gorgeous headphones!!

Denon Canada | AH-C751 (http://ca.denon.com/ProductDetails/3171.asp)

Please do me a favor though, whichever pair you decide to purchase exercise caution and common sense when using the in ears because hearing is something you can never get back. Other then that enjoy your iPod!

Cheers!

Adrian.
Apr 24th, 2008, 11:16 PM
I know it is something I don't want to wreck. It's like going blind. I enjoy music but I want a product that will not damage my hearing. I am convinced that the standard Apple headphones are bad.

Silv
Apr 25th, 2008, 01:21 AM
I know it is something I don't want to wreck. It's like going blind. I enjoy music but I want a product that will not damage my hearing. I am convinced that the standard Apple headphones are bad.

I use Etymotic ER6i's, and I listen to my iPod at maybe 35% volume?

Much better than the iPod earphones. Their customer service rocks as well, I called asking about where I can find the silicon isolators, they sent me 6 pairs free of charge.

Etymotic Research, Inc. - ER•6i Isolator Earphones (http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/er6i.aspx)

They're pricey.. bought them for $150, and imho, worth every penny.

Adrian.
Apr 25th, 2008, 01:26 AM
I saw these at futureshop. Shcoked me how much these little things cost.


Are the clip on outer ear headphones any better for the ear and how are they sound wise? Anybody?

maximusbibicus
Apr 25th, 2008, 03:05 AM
Another Shure fan here. I have the E3c's. Very pricey, but i got them for $70 when Compusmart closed down. What a deal!

The bass isn't as crisp as i'd like but overall they are sensational.

Moscool
Apr 25th, 2008, 04:04 AM
Are the clip on outer ear headphones any better for the ear and how are they sound wise? Anybody?

The clip only serves a comfort purpose. Again they are designed between over the ear (in this case 'open' cans) and in the ear. The in ear designs can be better shaped to follow the direction of the ear canal, that is in anatomic terms oblique/down/inside. The Sonys, Philips and B&O all follow this principle.

Although they are fine in relatively quiet environments, they are not noise isolating at all and therefore will not suit your purpose of playing at lower volumes.

If I were you I would find a way to do a three way comparison between:

- Noise cancelling cans (Sony, Philips, Senheiser)
- Noise cancelling in-ear designs (Sony)
- Non noise cancelling tight fit isolating in-ear designs (Sure, Ei6, other pro brands)

And I wouldn't touch anything under $100. The sweet spot is probably $150-$200.

fjnmusic
Apr 25th, 2008, 04:15 AM
I am fed up with my iPod headphones and want to upgrade. I don't think I listen to my music too loudly, I have set a limit on my ipod to about 3/4 of factory settings and listen to that at about 3/4 of the way. So about half volume. My ears though, after a while will start to hurt a little bit and not from the fit of the headphone. I certainly do not want to be deaf by the time I am 50 and want to upgrade to a better and wiser option.

I have heard that in ear canal headphones are better because they seal out sound and so you can listen to your music at a much lower volume and get a good effect. Is this true? Or does the fact that it sits so near your ear drum cancel out any of those benefits?

I really want something that is ultra portable. I hate the neckband headphones and the big clunky DJ style ones and I feel sort of out of options here.

Anyone use in ear canal phones and find them not damaging of their hearing? Experiences with them etc?

thanks so much

Hate the buds. The closer the sound source is to your eardrum, the more damage is done I believe. That would negate both ear buds and in ear canal phones as healthy options. Personally, I prefer the cheapy $10-20 on the ear variety with foam pads, preferably fold up. It's the sound pressure levels you have to worry about, and the closer the source, the more potential damage. To each their own.

Adrian.
Apr 25th, 2008, 09:39 AM
I think I might just get some bose wrap arounds. They are noise cancelling and are far away fromthe ear drum.

hayesk
Apr 25th, 2008, 09:47 AM
Hate the buds. The closer the sound source is to your eardrum, the more damage is done I believe.

That's not true unless it was at the same volume. You wouldn't listen to buds and in-canal earphones at the same volume.

Adrian.
Apr 25th, 2008, 09:48 AM
I am so confuzzled.

Moscool
Apr 25th, 2008, 09:51 AM
Adrian, don't do it!

Boses are really poor value for money and not that great in absolute terms. The distance to the eardrum is a red herring: what counts is the acoustic pressure (you can check the dB characteristics for each model). Any headphone can do damage, it is up to you to keep the levels down! (I should know, I have mild deafness due to lots of headphone heavy metal in my time + some seriously loud rock concerts... The ONLY way to protect your hearing is to limit the amount of pressure needed to get you to enjoy the music. This means noise cancelling or excellent noise insulation. Hence my previous post.

crawford
Apr 25th, 2008, 09:59 AM
Personally I haven't been impressed with the sound quality from any of the noise-cancelling headphones that I have tried. Yes, they cancel out the outside noise and allow you to listen to music at a lower volume, but in my opinion, they all compromise the quality of the sound.

I would second the Shure and Etymotic recommendations. The lower-end Shures are a little light on the bass, but not that bad.

Of course, all this assumes that the sound quality of the music on your ipod is decent ;)

Adrian.
Apr 25th, 2008, 10:32 AM
Ok...maybe I wil pick up a pair of shures then. There must be a model for about 80 bucks.

Thanks so much guys!

Moscool
Apr 25th, 2008, 10:59 AM
Personally I haven't been impressed with the sound quality from any of the noise-cancelling headphones that I have tried. Yes, they cancel out the outside noise and allow you to listen to music at a lower volume, but in my opinion, they all compromise the quality of the sound.

Question from this end:

- How comfortable are they? I am concerned that I will feel in-ear pressure with them

- How good are they with loud train noise? So far I have found that only NC headphones dealt with that adequately. I don't remember how loud the Toronto TTC is, but the London tube is LOUD...

PS: I would agree with your take on so so quality of NC headphones but the peace... bliss!

gordguide
Apr 25th, 2008, 12:49 PM
I'm completely happy with the Etymotic 4's I have owned for two years now.

Etymotic also sells a version of their in-ears that can be custom formed to your ear canal for comfort. You need to arrange a visit with an audiologist (who normally deals with medical deafness issues) and perhaps that would be a good time to ask a professional any questions you might have about hearing damage issues.

I understand it's about an $80 visit, but I would guess that could vary widely depending on where you live since it's a medical services cost.

In fact, the in-ear industry began as a medical product. Later, Etymotic pioneered the audio grade models, originally sold to musicians as stage monitor replacements ... bands such as the Rolling Stones have been using them for a decade.

They were taken somewhat by surprise as musicians and engineers began using them for iPods, a product that didn't exist when they were first conceived, followed by audiophiles before the general public became aware of them at last.

It's only in the last 3 years or so that models specifically made for iPods have been developed, by a number of firms, most of whom are not medical firms.

One of the areas Etymotic addressed with the iPod versions is volume. Earlier versions were very efficient ... the eventually began to include an accessory plug that reduced the volume a large amount, because the power available from an iPod combined with the efficiency of the ones designed for pro music use meant they played VERY loud except at low (like 2 or 3 on a scale of 10) volume settings.

The attenuator plug allowed the fuller range of an iPod's volume setting to be used safely. Current models made for mp3 players by a number of manufacturers are typically more closely matched with the iPod's audio power and impedance to not require the accessory.

The Etymotic's still tend to be capable of playing very loud as their technology uses 2 drivers per bud**; essentially a woofer and tweeter rather than a full-range driver. That is part of secret to their appeal to pros and those who demand the most accurate sound. For technical reasons, a 2 driver device can play twice as loud provided certain design considerations allow configuring it that way.

The Shure's are also well regarded by pros and audiophiles; I'm not familiar with the others. There seem to be quite a few manufacturers offering them now. Personally, I would be a bit wary of new entrants as this is a marriage of audio and medical technology, but if you shop carefully you should be OK.

" ... The closer the sound source is to your eardrum, the more damage is done I believe. ..." -fjnmusic

" ... The distance to the eardrum is a red herring: what counts is the acoustic pressure (you can check the dB characteristics for each model). ..." -moscool

It's the acoustic sound pressure that determines loudness, and therefore, potential for hearing damage, with any source of sound (not just music from speakers or headphones). Distance to the eardrum is the technical means by which they make more efficient drivers; ie less power = higher sound pressure at close distance versus more power = equal SPL at further difference. There are many other factors that affect SPL as well; distance is just one.

However, before we sweep distance aside completely it might be worth mentioning that the short distance to your eardrum that in-ear devices allow means that if something does go wrong (eg you accidently hit play with a high volume setting and efficient, in-ear drivers) very high SPL can develop in the small, closed area that is created by the seal of good in-ear drivers. There's nowhere else for the sound to go. Extra care must be taken with in-ear devices, regardless of the source.


** Check Etymotic's specs with any models you might be looking at; there are new models available since I got mine. There could be less expensive models with single drivers available by now.

crawford
Apr 25th, 2008, 12:59 PM
Question from this end:

- How comfortable are they? I am concerned that I will feel in-ear pressure with them

- How good are they with loud train noise? So far I have found that only NC headphones dealt with that adequately. I don't remember how loud the Toronto TTC is, but the London tube is LOUD...

PS: I would agree with your take on so so quality of NC headphones but the peace... bliss!

In my experience, the amount of sound isolation and comfort (and even sound quality) depends on the fit. Most in-ear headphones supply a few different sizes of foam and/or plastic attachments so that you can get the optimal fit. I have medium-sized foam sleeves on my Shures, and I find them to be very comfortable.

Of course, the problem is that you can't really try them out in the store... that's a little gross!

Also, I don't want all external sound to be blocked out... I don't mind a little ambient noise in the background, especially when I'm walking around traffic or on the train platform. I find that total sound isolation is a little disconcerting!

And we haven't pointed out another side benefits of this kind of earphone design -- less sound leaking out of the earphones means that they don't annoy the person sitting beside you. If I'm not listening to my iPod on the bus, I sure as hell don't want to be listening to someone else's!

TheBat
Apr 25th, 2008, 01:12 PM
I find that total sound isolation is a little disconcerting!

One never gets total sound isolation. Even though my Shure's attenuate outside sounds (by a around 20dB), I still hear them (Yes, I listen at low, low volumes). I want to hear the traffic when walking...

Macaholic
Apr 25th, 2008, 03:33 PM
I use Etymotic ER6i buds and they are just fantastic. Clean, flat frequency response. Clarity to hear things in your music you may never have heard before. Except for those wanting artificial MEGA-BASS these things are a dream -- and you can trust their reproduction. The description at this HONEST headphone reseller says it all (http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-manufacturer/etymotic-research/etymotic-er-6i-white.php) (they had a description for a product on their site that went something like, "We think these cans are **** but people ask for them").

Having said that, I've not listened to buds twice their price and only listened to Shure buds once very briefly, but the ER6i buds NEVER get a bad review, are right in the nice sweet spot of price/performance, and usually (if not always) edge out the Shures in reviews. I'm a professional composer and I know what I hear.

The only downside I see with them -- with any in-ear buds that use these tips -- is that the rubber flange inserts can get a little fatiguing after a few hours and the foam ones can get grimy and it's a hassle to keep them clean -- no matter how clean you keep your ears and fingers. The most comfortable ones I have used were the Sonys with the smooth rubber sleeve (http://i8.ebayimg.com/04/i/000/b5/44/915b_2.JPG). If Etymotic used those they'd be perfect! But the key to using any in-ear is that the seal has to be solid between your canal and the bud. They have to be inserted properly (http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/epinsertvideo.aspx). THAT is when in-ears work properly.

Macaholic
Apr 25th, 2008, 03:40 PM
Good info, with ratings sorted by "value rating":

Ear Canal Headphone - HeadRoom - Right Between Your Ears (http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-headphone-type/in-ear-monitor-type/?ob=valueRating&dir=DESC)

Notice how the Etymotic ER6i dukes it out with earbuds well over twice their price.

Silv
Apr 25th, 2008, 04:15 PM
Good info, with ratings sorted by "value rating":

Ear Canal Headphone - HeadRoom - Right Between Your Ears (http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-headphone-type/in-ear-monitor-type/?ob=valueRating&dir=DESC)

Notice how the Etymotic ER6i dukes it out with earbuds well over twice their price.

Thanks, I've been looking all over for that link to post here.. for some reason I was looking at Headroom.com instead of headphone.com!

That's the comparison list I used when I bought my ER6i's. The Gramophone in Edmonton had them for about $100.

Sitting Bull
Apr 25th, 2008, 07:13 PM
Hi Everybody,
I might have to start another post for this question as there is already 4 pages and the traffic has probably slowed to a trickle, but I will try .
I just bought my wife her first iPod for her birthday, the problem that she has is with the ear phones. She is a very tiny, and I mean a tiny woman, and has very small ears. The ear phones that came with the iPod, the buds are to big for her to insert into her ears. Can you recommend something small that would work for her? something that would work for a small child kind of thing. As it stands now she cant use what she has.
Thanks
S.B.

I will repost in the iPod section

Silv
Apr 25th, 2008, 07:22 PM
Try the Etymotic ER6i's. The silicon isolators will change shape to fit any size ear canal.

HowEver
Apr 25th, 2008, 07:44 PM
Apple's in-ear headphones are great, and come with 3 sets of covers to accommodate different ear sizes.

mc3251
Apr 26th, 2008, 10:27 AM
I just went through a whole process of trying to find a headphone solution that would work for me. I wanted in canal because they are so small and they seal, but frankly (and I tried several of the more expensive varieties) I found them to be both uncomfortable and lacking bass. This was weird because I kept reading about the great bass on the Shures, on the etymotics, etc, etc.

I bought Sennheisser PX100s. These are folding headphones with foam pads. They weigh nothing and are the most comfortable headphones I've ever used. I love the sound quality and the the fact that they fold up really small and come with a cool little case adds a lot of value for me.

KardnalForgotHisPassword
Apr 26th, 2008, 11:16 AM
I had a pair of Etymotic ER6i's that I loved, before they were stolen. my only complaint about them was that they were a little light on the base. I wound up replacing them with a pair of Ultimate Ears Superfi 5 Pro's, which are just as fantastic in every way, and then some.

(The UE's have a more well rounded sound, and I find the build quality to be better. As well, the cable detaches from the ear buds, so that if you ever break the cable, you can replace it for $30, instead of having to replace the whole rig.)

The nice thing about in-ear buds, vs noise canceling cans, is that I can fold up my ear buds and put them in small pouch/tin, and then into my pocket, and forget about them. The over the ear kind don't travel as nicely.

mojoprofilms
Apr 26th, 2008, 03:44 PM
The Shure's at the Apple Store now are quite good - in-ears that have foam plugs so they expand to your ear. I'm pretty happy with it and the noise blockage is much better than with the Apple in-ears. Though the Apple's did have better base, but I use the "rock" equalizer setting for all my music and it seems to compensate enough.

Sitting Bull
Apr 26th, 2008, 06:31 PM
I bought a set of JVC with three adapters S,M and L. The small set is still to big for her and she cant seem to get them in far enough to get good sound.
We have tried a couple of sets now and they are all to big. She is such a tiny woman with small ears . Almost like the size of a 12yr old girls ears.
Any more suggestions would be great. At this point quality is not the main criteria but rather getting them to fit. She does not want anything that will go over the head . must be an in ear type .
Thanks
S.B.

Commodus
Apr 26th, 2008, 06:33 PM
I'm using Shure E2Cs - or rather, their mid-cycle refresh (SCL2, I think). They provide good sound, though they haven't been the cheapest. I'd avoid their replacements, the SE110s, however: I hear the quality isn't great.

You can also look into the Etymotic ER-6i if you want something at a similar price. V-Moda's Vibe and Vibe Duo earphones are also supposed to be tremendous for the money, but a bit more bass-heavy than the Shure/Etymotic/etc. offerings. All of them have multiple sizes of tips, so you're going to find something comfortable.

The ER-6i has the smallest earpiece, if you have to settle on one.

The drawbacks of in-canal buds like these is what you'd expect: they block out exterior sound. That makes them dangerous if you're not used to looking both ways when you cross the street, and potentially annoying to friends who try to say hello while you're still listening. Some people are also annoyed by the sound of clothes rustling against the cord, though I've never found it a significant problem myself.

staples57
Apr 26th, 2008, 07:35 PM
I use the Griffin in-ear adapters attached to the ear-buds that came with my iPod.
Works great... only $15

Cheers!

Macaholic
Apr 26th, 2008, 11:27 PM
I use the Griffin in-ear adapters attached to the ear-buds that came with my iPod.
Works great... only $15

Cheers!

Not in my opinion. I found them horrible.

mc3251, as for your post about hearing that Etymotics have "great bass" but they may not be such to your ears, I think that what makes bass "great" can vary significantly among tastes. For example, I don't think that Etymotics are "bass heavy" or even "warm" or "puffy"; they're clear, clean and balanced. What I consider to be "great bass" is where it is in balance with the rest of the frequency spectrum.

As an example, here are frequency response tests results of the Etymotics versus the stock Apple buds, the excellent Grado Labs over-the-ear headphones, and a pair of Koss headphones. The closer any line is to "zero" showing frequency response, the more accurate reflection of what the artist/producer/engineer intended -- assuming their music was mixed on accurate speakers of course. Even if the didn't, the Etymotics won't add much of their own "colour" to a mix, and THAt is what speakers and headphones should do:

http://graphs.headphone.com/graphCompare.php?graphType=0&graphID[]=303&graphID[]=153&graphID[]=183&graphID[]=477

That's one excellent, flat line on the Etymotics, there. :cool:

mc3251
Apr 27th, 2008, 09:03 AM
Macholic,
I take your point. It's hard to argue with the numbers-they are what they are. What this really proves to me is that where technology interfaces directly with the person-speakers, headphones, displays, keyboards, mice-the numbers are one thing and the subjective preference is another.
I should have been clearer perhaps, that my opinion was based totally on how my experience of the 'phones compared to the public information provided on them.

This makes buying earbuds or in canal phones tricky because many dealers won't take them back, based on "hygiene". This situation is why I bought what I bought from Future Shop-they take them back.

Thanks for the labs....very interesting....
/michael

Macaholic
Apr 27th, 2008, 09:38 AM
Macholic,
I take your point. It's hard to argue with the numbers-they are what they are. What this really proves to me is that where technology interfaces directly with the person-speakers, headphones, displays, keyboards, mice-the numbers are one thing and the subjective preference is another.

Absolutely. :)

Adrian.
Apr 27th, 2008, 10:42 AM
I was over in the states yesterday shopping with my girlfriend and I was in Marshalls (Winners type thing) and I saw a pair of iLuv (?) in ear headphones. Really just like the Apple in ear jobs. They were ten bucks so I snatched a pair. I can definitely play music lower and hear it well. It does not 100% block noise but they sort of act like ear plugs so it does help. I find the quality absolutely wretched. Very bland sound. I suppose they will work for now while I am on the hunt.


cheers

mc3251
Apr 27th, 2008, 01:30 PM
I've been thinking about the bass response question, and I just can't get how (whatever the numbers say), little tiny speakers can deliver good bass. I'm not someone who loves hearing the cars go by with the subwoofers, believe me, but for some music I want to feel the bass. It seems to me that the lower registers require more air to be moved around to be convincing, and I just can't understand how that can happen from a speaker the size of a gnat's ass.

Is the perceived sound quality from tiny phones as good as from the great big high end cans? There just has to be a difference, or recording studio engineers would be using i/c earphones.

Not being argumentative, honestly, I just find this somewhat counterintuitive.

Macaholic
Apr 27th, 2008, 09:48 PM
"Counterintuitive"? What sounds, other than a jet engine or an earthquake, naturally generate "killer bass" frequencies? Accentuated bass is unnatural (not saying "bad", just saying artificial). Another thought: after all we've talked about, are you lead to believe that audio professionals strive for sound that's tinny? No way. But honestly, consider these scenarios:

A live orchestra, in concert...

and watching Star Wars Revenge of the Sith in a theatre.

Now, which scenario will have the most natural bass presence?

Pros and "audiophiles" want a sound stage that is neutral, speakers that don't colour the sound (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_monitor#Monitor_vs_Hi-Fi_speakers). The pros need it to express their music accurately and to create a mix that will "work" across a variety of sound reproduction scenarios or speakers, and the audiophiles want it so they can accurately hear how recording was meant to sound by the artist. Does that make another person's desire to add colour to the bass frequencies of what they listen to wrong? Nah. If it works for ya, then more power to ya.

One's person garbage is another one's gold. If someone wants artificially enhanced low-end, then don't get Etymotics. If they want to hear close to what the artist intended, however, then consider Etymotics -- even for hip-hop.

I just listened to:

"Feel It" Black Eyed Peas.
A remix of Janet Jackson's "Throb"
"Signs", Snoop Dog
"Why Don't We Fall In Love", Amerie (lots of that old TB-303 bass (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_TB-303) in that)
"Got The Love", Average White Band -- vintage 1970's Funk/R&B. Toooootally different mix from the new stuff. Totally different low-end -- and that is the funk that inspires artists today (they even sample their complete mixes, two bars at a time).
Then, I listened to some Mozart.

On the Etymotics, all the above tracks had a different character to their low end. That's a crucial factor, the result being that the headphones don't impose characteristics on the music. And the hip-hop I listened to had great bass: punchy, and warm. "Present". My head was certainly filled with low-end. With these buds properly inserted they work beautifully -- and hey, the white ER6i (which I have) even have a liiiiiittle more low end than the original ER6. And the more expensive ER4 buds? Man, someday I will buy those as they have been described in reviews as "mind altering". Even the 6i buds reveal things in music you may not have heard before. But if you've been hooked on artificial low-end it'll take a little while to "adjust to reality" so to speak.

Not buying Etymotics doesn't make you wrong. Them not being your cup of tea doesn't make them bad.

Macaholic
Apr 27th, 2008, 10:19 PM
Heh. After I posted I ran a frequency comparison between the ER6 and the ER4s.

http://graphs.headphone.com/graphCompare.php?graphType=0&graphID[]=477&graphID[]=471

It's interesting to see that minor difference in low-end between them -- and the Er6i has a tad more low-end still.

The description at the online store for both the ER6i (http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-manufacturer/etymotic-research/etymotic-er-6i-white.php) and the ER4 (http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-headphone-type/in-ear-monitor-type/etymotic-er-4s.php) are interesting.

The ER4:
"funk-loving listeners who enjoy a big full bass presence might find the Ety sound signature a tad lean in the bottom-end for their tastes."

ER6i:
Although the ER6i are naturally very lean in the bass response for bass-lovin' listeners...

So not the same big bass like DJ headphones, let's say, such as the ones compared here:
http://graphs.headphone.com/graphCompare.php?graphType=0&graphID[]=471&graphID[]=399&graphID[]=189&graphID[]=195

But hey just listening to Christina Milian's "Dip It Low" as I type, the TB-303 bass is nice, full-sounding and "hummy". It's holding court but NOT blowing away the other frequencies -- and I can CLEARY hear it as being between 11 and 1 o'clock in the stereo field of this song's mix, and then I can also clearly hear a more coarse analog sound play the same bass line (well, somewhat simplified from the TB-303) and this other sound is totally at 9 and 3 o'clock. I wonder if bass-pumped headphones would be able to present these details?

Anyway, get what floats your boat, baby! :)

mc3251
Apr 28th, 2008, 11:16 AM
Macaholic,
I am learning a lot and very much enjoying this conversation. You've obviously got a lot of passion for this topic. I am remembering when I owned a set of JBL Century 100s (which was the consumer version of the L100, marketed because so many JBL employees were buying L100s for home use-or at least so the story goes). I loved those speakers, but I still had friends who sneered at them and said they were "coloured". My feeling was that I loved how they sounded TO MY EARS, which at the end of the day is all that really mattered, at least to me.

My "counterintuitive" remark was not meant to be disparaging. When you look at audiophile speaker systems, there is a point at which size matters. At least according to what I'm hearing from people who are supposed to be experts, you can only shrink speaker size so much at which point low mids and low frequencies just can't be delivered.

Still, you are showing frequency response curves that suggest this is false-it can't get much better than the numbers for the etymotics. This leads me to wonder-what would the frequency response curve for studio monitors and headphones look like? If they are essentially the same then they should sound identical, right? In fact though, they don't-so there are obviously other factors at play. For example, what makes one set of speakers or headphones image so well, so convincingly, while others don't. Also, if a set of headphones show a spike at the mid high to high frequency ranges...what is the effect of that on the listener's perception of the low frequencies?

Anyway, I totally agree that whatever works for a person is good, but as I have said I am learning much about this topic, which works for me in another way.

thanks for taking the time to respond, and my apologies to anyone else on this thread who is bored to tears...

/michael

Moscool
Apr 28th, 2008, 11:37 AM
Frequency responses are really hard to read in isolation but work well when doing A/B comparisons. For instance you would think that the following speakers are pretty poor: graph (http://www.quadesl.com/graphics/quadGraphics/quad63_frequencyresponse.jpg). However, they are my Quads and frankly, I do not know of a better, more neutral speaker at any price (provided you can live with the relatively early bass cutoff).

I guess that in earphones you get rid of all the reflections and the need for imaging (that's all done in your head, there is no sweet spot with headphones), so you need a much flatter frequency response.

Ultimately, people who prefer non acoustic music will want more bass. Also remember that some CDs are monitored for specific output devices (e.g. boom boxes) that have a specific distortion. My advice is to take a reference track that you like and to use it for all your testing. Mine has been Lou Reed's 'Walk on the Wild Side' for the last 20 years...

Macaholic
Apr 28th, 2008, 11:38 AM
I agree totally that speakers and headphones possessing identical frequency response (somewhat of an extreme stretch given driver size as you've pointed out before) will sound very different due to the room -- or head -- they're playing in/into.

I guess my last point on this is that the original poster of this thread is looking for:

1) sound that can deliver at low volume -- in-earbuds deliver. The Etymotics cut ambient noise by at least 20dB, changing the listener's sound-stage, completely.
2) better fit -- in-earbuds deliver
3) ultra portable, no headbands or clunky "DJ" headphones (as he put it) -- again, the in-earbuds deliver.

So, of all the buds out there the Etymotic ER6i buds offer stunning sound at a reasonable cost. They're my "desert island" earbuds, all the way! :clap:

Moscool
Apr 28th, 2008, 11:42 AM
Now, this may be a non audiophile comment but... Any earbuds out there with volume control? I find my iTouch hard work in this dpt...

8127972
May 3rd, 2008, 09:09 PM
I recently just switched to the Sony MDR-EX52LP at The Source. They have great bass and sound great in the other ranges as well. Cost me $60.

Adrian.
May 3rd, 2008, 10:11 PM
Now, this may be a non audiophile comment but... Any earbuds out there with volume control? I find my iTouch hard work in this dpt...

The smaller the in-cable control module is the better. I just got some with volume control and I find it is so heavy that it sways and then pulls the ear phones right out. Most annoying thing when walking.

nick24
May 29th, 2008, 12:28 PM
I recently just switched to the Sony MDR-EX52LP at The Source. They have great bass and sound great in the other ranges as well. Cost me $60.

I have had - I'm not joking here - about 6 pairs of these headphones (including earlier versions with a similar product code). However, the reason why I've had six, is that over time, the lead becomes ever so slightly detached from the headphone itself, losing some of the volume from one of the units, making stereo listening very difficult, and very, very annoying. Ironically enough, this happened to me yesterday - and I'm about to return them for pair number 7 today. Either that or I'm going to invest in another brand. The Etymotics look interesting.