December 24, 2010

Listening to IEMs: My simple belief system

I am not born with golden ears. It took me a full 6-8 months and thousands of Indian Rupees to "get" the basic things about sound signature. It was an obsession that often was on the edge of addiction. I'd read somebody saying "forward mids" and I'd buy a headphone to understand what forward and mids are. Somebody says "Hippo VB does sub-bass well" and within weeks, I was listening to it understanding what was mid-bass, sub-bass etc., The more I read, the more intrigued I got, the more I bought. Of course, this is not possible or feasible for everybody. So, these are a few simple things I have come to understand:

  1. Unless you have experienced higher end IEMs, you simply cannot tell apart. All things from the cheap $5 ear phones to the $500 IEM produce the same music. What differentiates them is how they present the music.
  2. The most essential thing to do is Know Thyself. What do you prefer? What type of music you listen to? Does it require more bass? Do you like sharper treble or smoothened out, rolled off treble? How important are vocals to you? It takes some experimentation in buying a few low priced IEMs to figure out, if you are not clear. But knowing these things will save a lot of money in wasteful purchases in the long run.
  3. Some IEMs are instantly likable, but boring over time. Some take days, weeks, months to get used to, but are keepers. Never judge an IEM before your brain has a chance to adjust to it's signature.