IEMs with good soundstage

Hello Everyone,
I am new to our community so please forgive my lack of technical knowledge and experience when I post a question.:relaxed:
I am enjoying my new AKG K7XX phones. They present an open, airy wide and up front soundstage. I am also using the Monk+ iems and find they have the same qualities with a little more warmth signature. In some ways, I find the $10 (US) Monks more satisfying than the AKGs.
After a month or reading headphone and iem reviews here and elsewhere, I often see detailed comments about the bass/mid/treble responses but often sometimes lacking soundstage commentary.

I am currently curious about iems < $100 that exceed especially in soundstage presentation with good depth and separation. At the same time, I want the music to be lively and engaging. Any suggestions?

I have ordered 4 inexpensive Chinese iems from Aliexpress and will comment when they arrive.
Thanks,
John

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Super happy with my Tin T2 Pro, but they need the vent mod (small piece of tape covering the vent adjacent to the nozzle) to preserve low end info.

Just keep in mind that most, if not all, IEMs in this price bracket won’t share the same sense of stage width as the K7XX or Monks. Not a negative; just learn to appreciate them for what they are.

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Thanks Neo_styles. I have read the Tin 2 and 3 reviews. Do you (or anyone else) think the T2 Pro has a better soundstage than the T3?

Here is a list of iems ordered from aliexpress:

YINCROW RW-9, TRN V20 DD+BA Hybrid, HEADROOM MS16 and UiiSii HM7.

Because I like the VE Monk Plus sound, I am beginning to think buds that are in the ear but not in the ear canal may provide a more open soundstage.
I

If a holographic headstage is high on your list save up for a pair of Perfect Seal AR6 custom IEMs at $950.

I like the Tin Audio T2 and T3, but the BQEYZ KB100 (PenonAudio is the sole seller last I knew) has most of the same features with better low end and a bit more controlled treble. At the $50 price point, the KB100 is an easy recommendation. Another one worth considering at nearly the same price is the Yinyoo V2 - also a well made, slightly more energetic than neutral signature with good stage depth.

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Hello,

my wife has a set of meze 12 classics. they are definitely in the warmer lively range. v shape sound signature to slightly warm. they have a pretty good sound stage and separation for sub $100 iem’s.
I havent listened to them enough nor do i have enough experience with IEM’s to compare to much. ive owned a set of ie 80’s, ie 800’s and listened to all of the audio 64 line up pretty extensively.
That being said for under $100 general listening IEM’s id be happy with the 12 classics.

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Thanks for all the recommendations.

@allegro, maybe the AR6 one day but I am still on a smaller budget!

@AudioFool, I like the way you are thinking. I just ordered 5 different inexpensive iems. A few times I almost got the T3s due to the proliferation of reviews about them. The BQEYZ KB100 is now on the radar.

@Jvincent3, my music preference is evolving (hopefully in a good way).I am starting to appreciate a warmer slightly V shaped sound reproduction but soundstage width and depth, tonal accuracy and precise imaging are a priority…all for under a hundred bucks! The Meze 12 classics have good reviews elsewhere so they will go on the bucket list.

John

That’s what credit cards are for:) It is amazing how much money most of us waste. If you get Starbucks every morning you are spending more per year than the AR6 would cost you. Good luck with your quest!

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:grin::grin::grin: I am already scheming and maneuvering the cards!
Seriously, I do want to get some higher-end iems soon.
Thanks for the laugh!
John

I think you have to be careful with looking at increasingly expensive gear as at some point you reach the threshold where you no longer feel it was worth the difference in price when compared with lower priced models.

Think of it like drag racing. The cost to decrease the quarter-mile time goes up as the times go down and the faster you go, the more you pay for smaller and smaller gains. Reducing a 16 second car to 10 seconds might take $100k, reducing a 10 second car to 9 might take $100K again and reducing a 9 second car to 8 might take $300K. In audio, the same holds true and the higher up the scale you go, the more you are paying for increasingly smaller amounts of change.

To some, that is worth chasing, others find a happy middle ground where they like the sound and keep a bit more money in their pockets.

I fall into the later camp, there are seriously good products out there that don’t cost thousands and with a little diligence you can create a really good listening setup for $1k

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Good analogy @AudioFool.
Even at my early stage of diving into this endeavor, I am already aware of the diminishing returns syndrome and chasing the rainbows.
Thanks for the good advise.

Great analogy indeed! There’s a part of me that remains skeptical about any improvements past a certain price point, just because ultra high end products don’t always provide a coherent explanation of what the designer did to actually make it sound better. With dragsters, there are clear improvements that can be made to the fundamentals, be it reducing weight, improving grip or increasing power. All of these fundamentals are objectively measurable and the final result (acceleration) is measurable too. With IEMs, headphones and source gear, the picture is much murkier. A lot of the claims regarding more expensive products revolve around things like resolution for which there are no commonly accepted measures.

For those things that can be measured, like frequency response, distortion and group delay (oddly not reported all that often), I’ve found that mid-priced stuff generally outperforms the cheapest stuff, but after a certain point there aren’t significant gains to be made. In fact, some of the most expensive equipment produce sub-par distortion measurements and odd frequency responses, so you can’t really argue that it’s better from a purely objective standpoint.

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Thanks guys for the input.
I am still searching for the holy grail of iems with a holographic and deep soundstage for a hundred bucks!..well maybe 300 bucks if I sweet talk my wife for the big 65th birthday in September.
John

Hey guys, I was browsing the Ultra Cheap thread and found this quote from Nimweth:

"Soundstage

The ZS7 had a superb soundstage and stereo imaging. Listening to “The Watchers” from Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Equinoxe Infinity” my ears were assailed from all sides by electronic effects, synth washes, percussion beats and lead synths, producing a jaw-dropping experience! Recorded ambience was also excellent, with instrumental positioning being precise and well-rendered. “Enchanted Forest” from Jeff Clarkson’s electronic album “Peace and Quiet” had a holographic soundstage with nature sounds and electronic percussion accompanying the synth strings and electronic woodwind leads. The sense of space and movement was remarkable and created a magical atmosphere. The positioning of instruments of the orchestra in Holst’s “Saturn” in a recording by the Vienna Symphony under Herbert von Karajan was very impressive, with each orchestral section occupying its correct place in the beautifully spacious stereo image."

(Bold type was my empasis)
A shout out to Nimweth!:smiley::smiley::smiley:

The KZ ZS7 cost $50 US. I am ready to trigger the buy button.

Comments?
John

I have the ZS7 and find it quite enjoyable for the money. It does lack a bit of low treble and the rise in the high mids is a little overdone and uneven, but it’s all correctable with EQ.

I find the stock silicon tips to be too hard and like using Spinfit CP100 tips with these.

Here’s a simple EQ profile that works well enough for me.

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I started my quest to find budget iems with good soundstage characteristics. I now have a little more “critical listening” experience thanks to this thread, Ways to Learn / Teach to Be a Better Listener.
I am learning that a “good soundstage” has several factors for consideration. I am beginning to realize that the width of sound is not the only factor. I am now listening for the depth airiness and height of the stage and if the music is perceived to have an external presence and not just inside my head. For more intimate music, the depth and height seem more important. Also, I am discovering separation and the precise location of instruments and vocals is important to my listening experience. It is quite a juggling act to tune all these characteristics in one pair of iems!
I am thankful for this forum and other members that share a passion for good music.
So, with my new soundstage, version 1.01 clarification, are there any other recommendations?:smiley:
John

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Thanks for the ZS7 insight. I ordered the Spinfits 100L tips today!
I am beginng to think EQ is our friend!

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I’ve found this to be fairly dependent on frequency response. Stuff with a bass hump (around 200 Hz) seems to suffer in that department, unless the bass hump is accompanied by overcooked highs. If you have headphones that you generally like but find the separation lacking, try a 1Q or 2Q cut around 200 Hz. Go too far and things can start sounding a bit hollow, but a little bit can go a long way.

If you look at the Harman target for over ears and IEMs, you’ll see a gently rising response from 200 Hz on up. While I’m not a complete devotee to the Harman target (especially on IEMs), I do find that their curve from 200 Hz up to 1 KHz suits my tastes very well and strikes a good balance between sounding “open” and leaving instruments and voices with enough body to sound natural.

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You’ll likely enjoy the RW-9. From what I hear it’s a refined version of the Yincrow X6. The TRN V20 are an okay pair as well, but I sold mine in a bundle. Wasn’t my cup of tea. Capable pair of IEMs, though.

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