Since buying my latest MP3 player, I've been having a hell of a time finding nice buds. I've tried a boatload of different ones too with a ton of varying results in a lot of price ranges. I'm a middle-aged guy with a significant mid-range hearing loss from military service so I am thinking my hearing needs are way different than a lot of people when it comes to what sounds good. I'm also limited because I don't want to spend more than $150 and I only want to buy locally so I can just take them back if I don't like them vs. have to deal with buying online and then shipping them back. I have further discovered that I cannot really tolerate nearly ANY in-ear canal-type IEM because no matter how comfortable they are purported to be, they bother me within an hour's listening time.
So here's my rundown so far, not necessarily in order:
Bose TriPort Over-ear - love these and still have them. Super comfortable, lightweight and sound good to me. Downside is it makes my ears sweat a little bit.
Bose TriPort On-ear - liked the design and short, modular cable as I carry my player in my shirt pocket at work. Sound was pretty good, almost as good as the full-sized one's above but not quite. Downside - way too expensive. If these had been a hundred bucks I probably would have kept these too.
Shure SE210's - did not like the sound at all and could not find comfortable tips. Very expensive for me and not worth it. Back they went.
Shure SE110's - sounded better to me than the 210's but still not comfortable. Better price but back they went.
Bose TriPort In-Ear - I really liked the sound of these and found them very, very comfortable as they are not ear-canal phones but rather sit in the 'bowl' of the ear. But they weren't stable enough. The slightest movement or tug on the cord and the bud shifts and you lose sound - back they went.
Phillips SH9500 Turbo Bass - I really liked these too. The bass is admittedly a little too heavy but comfort wise they really shined. I could wear these the longest. I also really liked the cord design although it's very thin. I like the short modular cord that goes around the back of your neck. They were very stable. These were the cheapest ones to date but they went back too because the bass drowned out the mids and with a mid-range hearing loss already, I really need some mids. But I might pick these up again just to have some buds until I find that nirvana pair. I have read, I think here, that the mids will come out more as the buds burn in a little and at $30 I can afford to keep them as a backup if I ever do find that perfect set.
Creative Zen Aurvana - this was my nirvana set of buds, at least sound-wise. Price point was right and the sound to me was perfect. Bass could have been a little better but I can always EQ that up a bit. But in the end these bothered my ears also. I found that in addition to the canal sensitivity, I also don't like the sound isolating buds because when I move at work and the cord is tugged a little bit, it creates a pressure, or more accurately a vacuum, that is both uncomfortable and distorts the sound. - They are going back today.
I'm running out of options for local buy. I've got a Best Buy, a Circuit City, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. The local Tweeter had next to nothing - very dissappointing. After hanging out at Head-fi forum there's lots of new names in buds but nothing I can find locally. It's all online stuff, I guess.
I'd really like to try the V-Moda Vibes but can't find those locally. Also, the ones you mentioned, the iM716's, get a lot kudo's at head-fi, but I can't find them. And if they are ear-canal isolation phones than they would likely end up bothering me.
So for now it's going to be the Bose TriPort Over-Ears (and I'll just have to sweat!) and then Phillips SH9500's if I pick up another pair. There's the Creative EP6xx's (can't remember the exact model number) and I also saw a set of Denon's as well as the Sony's that I haven't tried yet. So I guess some more experimentation is at hand. It was fun for a while but now it's just getting frustrating.
You are right, everyone has different ears, different tastes and needs. I'd love to try out some higher-end Shures like the SE530's but I doubt they would be any more comfortable and the price is rediculous. And you can only get so much fidelity out of MP3 players anyway so I can't see spending more than my price point of $150.
If anyone has any other locally-sold suggestions I'd love to hear them.
I have no experience with anything other than these which I have owned or borrowed at one point or another).I summarized this in another thread:
**Shure E2c: not really hifi sound (huge treble roll off, boomy bass)
**Shure E4c: overly forward midrange.Nice bass and treble.
**Etymotic ER4p: where's the bass Not true to the music IMO.
**Etymotic ER-6i: very nice sounding as well.Slightly different house sound from the ER4p.Also very enjoyable but the bass was even weaker than the ER4p.
**But to date the iM716 is the best IEM I have heard unamped,I almost couldn't notice the difference between the E4C and the im716 .The im716 at $80 represents one of the best values among the IEM offerings.
Unfortunately, everyone has different ears.And to be honest,I'm not sure noise canceling headphones are true noise canceling, they might just filter the noise (they don't claim to do it 100%)