Good isolating IEMs for £100 or less?

Discussion in 'Ask The Experts' started by Andunemir, Oct 28, 2012.

  1. Andunemir

    Andunemir New Member

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    Hi everybody,

    I'm looking to buy a decent pair of in-ear isolating headphones to be used with my iPod and my laptops. I used to be faithful to the Sennheiser CX series but the build quality of the last models I got started feeling a bit questionable (replaced my old pair with a new one because of a faulty cable connection and in less than a year I had the same problem). So I decided to move on and I got a pair of Phonak Audeo PFE 012 and although I think the sound is great I have a big problem with them: I can't find the way to make them fit properly. I've tried all combinations of tips but there's just no use. I don't know if my ear canals are unusually large or greasy, but there's no way of keeping the seal tight so the surround and the quality of the bass just disappear, especially outdoors. I don't know if my memory betrays me but I didn't have such problems with the Sennheisers. I don't know if it's because they have the largest silicone tips I've seen or because they're heavier on the bass and compensated. But, yeah, I miss having a proper surround system that works even in the rush hour of the morning commute. And, yeah, I do like the woozy vibration of my bass. If the thunderstorm becomes drizzle I'm not happy.

    Are there any IEM out there for around £100 that would work or should I just move on to over-the-head HiFi headphones?

    Thanks!
     
  2. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    Comply tips (T-130 for the Phonaks) may solve your problems with fit and isolation very cheaply. It is hard to recommend a headphone for fit and isolation as everyones ears are different. Try the comply tips as if they work the problem is solved and you know you can buy any Comply supported earphone in future and get along with the fit and isolation.
     
  3. Andunemir

    Andunemir New Member

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    Done it already. I've tried 4 different types of sleeves. The closer I get to a decent fit is with the black olives of Shure but in a day they're soaked and slippery already.

    That's why I was asking more for something that could be done on the earphone end to compensate or to know which ones have the largest silicone tips which would be less affected by sweat and grease (my old Sennheiser CX series seemed to fit both categories).
     
  4. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    Custom Sleeves are worth a try. They give better isolation, normally improve your earphones a little (as the sleeves are made to closer tolerances of where the earphone should be accurately positioned to give the best sound) and are more comfortable for long periods of time.

    Having a genuinely flush fit to the ear I have never experienced any sweat related problems. I have to admit that you made me giggle when you said you hoped your ear canals are not unusually greasy!:)I'm sure this cannot be the case, Your ear may be shaped so it is allowing sweat to travel towards the entrance to the ear canal. In that case a perfect fit may be the only longterm solution.

    There are down sides though. Fistly they are quite pricey! Secondly they take about 3 - 5 weeks to make, thirdly they are likely to only fit one earphone, so you are stuck with your choice of earphone from then on. The last, but not least, consideration is that they are likely to only fit you for 4 years as your ears grow throughout your life.

    Custom Earphone Sleeves for Standard Earphones
    £119.95 - Including the audiology and impressions.

    If none of the above bothers you then Custom Sleeves are great.:)
     
  5. Andunemir

    Andunemir New Member

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    I had thought about it because a few of my friends are musicians and they have them for their monitors but the price is seriously steep. If that's basically the same money I'd be willing to pay for the headphones themselves paying that for the sleeves is a bit too much. Especially consiering they wouldn't last forever and might only match particular headphones.

    How are the Sennheiser IE60? I know those sleeves used to fit me in the good old days and the bass pulls me in that direction. I'd have never moved away from Sennheiser if it wasn't for the faulty cables of the CX, to be honest...
     
  6. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    IE60 are quite nice - a little expensive as they are a smooth and not really detailed dynamic driver at a price point which is full of balanced armatures. No replaceable cable, unfortunate as that may have clinched it for you. IE60 have the same size and shaped sound tubes as CX series Sennheiser, they're probably a little longer actually so that might help. You also get a better selection of tips than in the CX Series.
     
  7. Andunemir

    Andunemir New Member

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    The thing is if all those supposedly better earphones don't fit me then they're not better and definitely not balanced, that's the issue. I have my Audeo PFE 012 that I'm sure are great value for money for most people but after spending quite a lot of money on sleeves I've just managed to make them acceptable. If I need to spend 100 pounds to make them fit with the custom ones then they go from 90 to 200 pounds. The 120 of the IE60 then might start being good value for money if I don't need to spend any more money.

    Regarding the cable I really don't mind if it can't be replaced or not as long as it doesn't break in the first place. That's one of the really good things I see with the Phonaks, they have very good cabling. Annoying, because it's quite stiff, but there's not a single weak spot. A small pull on the latest CX series I got and it was gone. The cables of the IE60 look better but they still look like that Y-connection wouldn't survive an encounter with my zipper (the one on the jacket, I mean, obviously).

    And regarding the tips I really don't need that much selection either (I've never understood the concept of the flanged earphones for starters, my ear canals are weird but definitely not shaped like an inverted Christmas tree), just the largest, widest thing I can fit in there. I have my old Sennheiser ones and only the Shure black olives are comparable in diameter but not quite. If I could fit them with the Phonaks that would be the problem solved. It's not a question of design, just making the L into an XL. I think I'll end up cutting a piece of sponge. Definitely cheaper than the Shure foam sleeves...
     
  8. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    If you can widen the central hole of one of the Shure Olives a little you could get these to fit the phonak. The Phonak nozzle is very slightly wider than the Shure, if you could heat a metal tool which was very slightly thinner than the Phonak nozzle diameter you could widen the core very slightly - it could also all end in disaster though:)
     
  9. Andunemir

    Andunemir New Member

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    No, no, the Shure olives I can fit. It's the Sennheiser ones I can't because the Sennheiser nozzle is much wider than the Phonak. The Sennheiser sleeves are wider than the olives, and because they're silicone they don't get soaked. That's why they're the ones that would probably solve the problem. At least in the past they were ok...
     
  10. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    I've got mixed up there. I don't think it is worth trying to alter the Sennheiser tips, looks like I'm about out of suggestions. The obvious alternative is an on-ear headphone but they are so much less easy to transport, even the smaller ones.
     
  11. Andunemir

    Andunemir New Member

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    I know, I'm a complicated character. I have my old Stantons that I use at home but I'm not going to walk around with that. Not practical or sensible.

    So nothing on the earphones side that can compensate for the lack of fit the sleeves?
     
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