• New Patreon Tier and Early Access Content available. If you would like to support AVForums, we now have a new Patreon Tier which gives you access to selected news, reviews and articles before they are available to the public. Read more.

Neutral Mid Range IEM Recommendations?

mjm2705

Established Member
I've been using B&W C5's as my IEMs for about a year now and have loved their bass heavy coloured sound via my iPod Classic ... Especially when fed with decent recordings (320k mp3 / Alac).

However I'm working more from home these days and listening to music via my iMac > Audioquest Dragonfly DAC > Grado SR80s (mostly lossless Alac) and therefore getting more and more exposure to a very neutral sound.

When switching to the C5's ... Things now sound very bass heavy and sometimes muddy in comparison ... Even my Bose QC15 seem bass light in comparison!

So, looking for some recommendations to replace the C5's with something more neutral than still provide portability and isolation ... Not planning to up the budget too much and therefore targeting £150 to £200.

Obvious solution may be the Shure SE425's however I have previous with these and have returned 3 pairs where the right bud failed ... This may be due to a fault in the iPod control replacement cable I bought to go with my SE215s, not sure ... but worth noting that I need iPod controls with the IEMs.

Any thoughts on options? Would the Sony XBA-4ip be an option?
 

Hillskill

Moderator/Games Reviewer
I'm in a similar hunt. Have you considered Sennheisers IE8i? Must admit that I don't know whether the IE8i colour sound particularly but I understand they have very well regarded bass performance. At this price point there doesn't seem to be much choice if you want iPhone controls and integrated mic (a must for me). I'm close to pulling the trigger on a pair for myself along with a set of custom moulds. Wanted customs for years!
 

Steve160k

Standard Member
Musical Fidelity EB50 - neutral with excellent clarity. £149. Read the review on this site.
I have been using these for the last 15 months - highly recommended.
 

mjm2705

Established Member
I've taken a punt on the EB50's based on reviews here and other sites that I've read today. Sourced them online for a shade under £100 + delivery and they should arrive tomorrow.

First impressions to follow ...
 

Steve160k

Standard Member
Good choice, they are excellent value, and at £100 a steal for the way they perform. Despite some opinions they do have a run in period, so give it a good few hours as they sound better the more hours they are used, but make sure you get a good seal, or bass will be lacking. Get that right though, and they are fantastic, with great clarity, and give off there best on vocals/acoustics. Heather Nova/Sade/Celine Dion etc sounds sublime.
 

mjm2705

Established Member
Received the EB-50's late yesterday and have spent a few hours going through the usual ritual that accompanies new headphones ie:

- plug them in, insert in ears with pre-fitted tips

- be disappointed

- try lots of other tips from the packaging (this takes some time with the EB-50s as there are lots of them supplied!)

- be less disappointed

- search the iPod for all the stuff that should tell you if these are any good or not ... this normally consists of tracks with bass ... the very thing that I wanted less of from my current B&W C5's :facepalm:

- try tips from C5s that fitted well ... oooohh, that's better

- plug into iMac, leave in desk drawer overnight playing Aphex Twin (back to that bass requirements again!)

- start a work day at the desk with EB-50s plugged into iPod via Fiio E9i, forget about hoping they sound good and just get some work done

So far, Sharon Van Etten's "Are we There", Beck's "Morning Phase" and Peter Murphy's "Lion" are all sounding good to me ... really good!

The bass 'fog' of the B&Ws is gone ... the overall depth is also gone but I wanted something neutral and these sound pretty flat to me ... tick!

Top end doesn't sound overly bright but I'm sure (probably imagination) that there is some detail that I haven't heard before on some tracks.

Jury currently out on the mids but its early days ... needs some burn in time and by that I probably mean my ears / brain, not the BA drivers :D

Will check back in after a few days but so far, so good ... at a shade under £100 :thumbsup:
 

mjm2705

Established Member
OK ... a couple of weeks of using the EB50's and have to say that these are exactly what I was looking for ... exactly! :D

Clear shift from the bass heavy B&Ws but makes regular switching from Grado's SR80 listening at the home desk much easier. Clean & precise delivery with deep bass response there when its supposed to be ... and only then.

Lots of recommendations for these referred to their reproduction of female vocals and I see where this comes from but I'm a huge fan of instrumental post-rock for listening to in the office and anyone familiar with Mogwai in particular will understand the dynamic range challenges and need to recreate across a wide audio spectrum (vocals aside) ... the EB50s have opened up several of the Mogwai albums via an iPod run via an Fiio E9i amp!

I have stuck with the large tips that came with my B&W C5s ... they seal really well and are good for hours of listening.

I'm sure there are rivals out there but given I paid a shade under £100 (rrp £150) ... any comparable rivals will no doubt cost a shed load more!

Earphone dilemma sorted ... I am now focusing on a vinyl renaissance and have just bought my first turntable in almost 30 years ... a whole new source of audio heaven (and hell) opens up!!!
 
Last edited:

The latest video from AVForums

Is 8K TV dead? Philips OLED+907, Pioneer LX505 AVR plus B&W 700 S3 Reviews & Visit + AV/HiFi News
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom