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In ear monitors verses Headphones, which offer better isolation?, [moved from Listening Tests]
Soulster
post Jun 3 2012, 23:45
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Title says it all. I'm wondering if there are any studies done showing which works better, IEM or over the ear closed headphones?

This question has popped up on some DJ forums I frequent, and so far I haven't found any good studies on the subject.

Thanks in advance for your input.

-Edit, also hopefully this is the right sub forum to post in, sorry if it isn't, but I am looking for listening and db studies on the subject. Thanks again.

This post has been edited by Soulster: Jun 3 2012, 23:47
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DigitalMan
post Jun 4 2012, 00:18
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Hard to generalize to all IEM/or closed ear headphones...probably better to talk specific models.

I have Etymotic ER4 (http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/er4.html) which has, per their site:

35 dB - 42 dB noise isolation highest of any earphones or headsets on the market today

Their sound quality is very good as well (based on the frequency response curves and the specs posted on the site - also note their explanation of perceived response vs. raw driver measured response. Etymotic tunes for flat perceived response); have had them 15+ years and never disappoint. Great for noisy environments, but lousy for activities like sports, etc. due to the mechanical transmission of noise for footfalls during running, rubbing on the cords, etc.

This post has been edited by DigitalMan: Jun 4 2012, 00:20


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extrabigmehdi
post Jun 4 2012, 01:45
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Well the sennheiser IEM "audiophile" range (IE6 IE7 IE8 IE60 IE80) have the reputation to offer much less isolation than other IEM in the market.
There's also the dj headphone hd25-1 II , that have the reputation of offering "top" isolation compared to other closed headphone in the market.
Well, I have both the senn IE7 , and the hd25, and I can tell you that the senn IE7 still beats the hd25 in isolation.
So it's almost a no brainer, if you want more isolation, get an IEM.

Note: I've discarded noise cancelling headphones , but you are paying lot, for a solution that deteriorate sound quality. And they don't cancel every kind of noise, people mostly use them on planes.

Second note: you can compare how headphone are isolating, by looking at measurements ("isolation response") at headroom website.

See for instance



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Takla
post Jun 4 2012, 03:35
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I have several examples of both and if isolation is of overriding importance then there is no substitute for IEM with dense, fat foam tips jammed down your lugholes. This will block just about anything that arrives at your ears via the air. Probably a pair of ear defenders as worn by armed forces people on aircraft carrier decks will do as well but buying a pair with built-in speakers of decent sound quality might prove difficult. I live by a phenomenally busy and noisy road, right between a bus stop and a set of traffic lights, with a post office depot and a railway station and big car park around the corner. Outside my window 5 and a half days a week it's the starting grid of the diesel grand prix formula one winner takes all death match final round. In the summer when not having all the windows open means being boiled alive I use Shure SE215 IEMs for listening and a pair of closed back full size headphones over them. The closed back 'phones aren't connected, they just help kill a few more decibels. I've tried all kinds of different tips and nothing beats compressed dense foam which has expanded to fill your ear canals. Triple flange silicone is almost as good but distinctly less comfortable and is more likely to irritate/inflame your ear canals. If I was in a DJ environment with high impact bass I'd be looking at IEMs under industrial ear defenders, or shooting some motherfuckers to set an example.
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Ed Seedhouse
post Jun 4 2012, 17:54
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The most expensive solution would be the best IE monitors combined with a pair of noise cancellers. I must confess to have chosen this path, silly me (although I cannot claim that my two year old IE8's are still the best Inner Ear monitors and they were, even new, not the best noise blockers).

Right now, leaving aside huge bulky airplane pilot phones, the BOSE Quietcomfort 15's are, according to measurement I have seen, the best pure noise cancellers on the market on the and the sound is, well, tolerable, which I would not say of any previous BOSE equipment I have heard. Take out their cords and use them just as sound cancellers while adding in your choice of the best IE monitors you can afford. Together they cancel or block out different frequency ranges and combine for the best overall experience when on the noisy road, at least in my experience.

If you want the best sound along with the best overall sound blocking a combination is the way to go. If your pocketbook won't handle this then try both types and pick the ones that work best for you. The BOSE sound is good enough (IMO) that I often don't bother with the IE's but then I am often listening to a ham radio or a police scanner, where sound quality sucks anyway. But I can tolerate the Boses fairly well, even with classical music played over an iPod, but the extra quality and noise blocking from the IE8's worn under them is often worth the added bother.

This post has been edited by Ed Seedhouse: Jun 4 2012, 18:02


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skamp
post Jun 4 2012, 18:20
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I love my Bose QuietComfort 15s. I have a hard time finding portable headphones that sound as good. They block out the noise from streets, trains and airplanes enough that I can't make it out while listening to music. I can't stand IEMs, and the few I tried (which weren't exceptional in any way) blocked less noise. I'd love to try custom molds, though, they're supposedly the best in that area.


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extrabigmehdi
post Jun 5 2012, 00:15
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QUOTE (skamp @ Jun 4 2012, 17:20) *
I love my Bose QuietComfort 15s. I have a hard time finding portable headphones that sound as good.


The bose QuietComfort are usually recommended at head-fi, only if you want absolutely the noise cancelling feature, but otherwise look elsewhere.
The only time I heard a bose product, was a demo of speakers in a store , and this left me an unforgettable negative impression.
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Soulster
post Jun 5 2012, 02:22
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Well i was hoping for comparative studies of many makes and models.

extrabigmehdi mentions hd25-1 II, but those are on the ear, not over the ear, so I would assume their isolation would not be as good as over the ear types. Nor would I consider noise cancelations types.

After thinking about it further I can see how IEM's, especially molded ones probably provide better isolation than over the ear cans, but I can also see why Can's are more popular than IEM's for DJ'ing - I think durability and practicality are big factors, I could see IEM's being a hassle to take out to check dance floor levels, and probably more likely to snag on things like mixer knobs, etc.

Still though it would be nice to find a good study comparing isolation of different IEM's and over the ear headphones. If anyone knows of any, please share!

This post has been edited by Soulster: Jun 5 2012, 02:24
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extrabigmehdi
post Jun 5 2012, 02:57
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QUOTE (Soulster @ Jun 5 2012, 01:22) *
extrabigmehdi mentions hd25-1 II, but those are on the ear, not over the ear, so I would assume their isolation would not be as good as over the ear types.

The hd25-1 II apply lot of clamping force on your head, hence the isolation.
I will then mention the srh940, that are over the ear, and closed, and I found that the hd25-1 II offers more isolation.


QUOTE (Soulster @ Jun 5 2012, 01:22) *
but I can also see why Can's are more popular than IEM's for DJ'ing - I think durability and practicality are big factors

I'd say practicality , you can remove/put fast your headphone. I imagine that a DJ would look dumb, if each time he try to get a good seal with iems.
There's the fashion too. And finally, I'm not sure a DJ need good isolation to work. The dj headphone "monster beats pro" offers poor isolation.

This post has been edited by extrabigmehdi: Jun 5 2012, 02:58
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skamp
post Jun 5 2012, 09:26
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QUOTE (extrabigmehdi @ Jun 5 2012, 01:15) *
The bose QuietComfort are usually recommended at head-fi, only if you want absolutely the noise cancelling feature, but otherwise look elsewhere.


You mean they're never recommended at head-fi ("zomg overpriced garbage"). After a couple of conflicting experiences of mine (and other reasons), I no longer trust head-fi sheeple. Actually, I find headphones too subjective to buy them on recommendations alone anymore. The only way to shop for headphones is to try them out whenever possible - bring your portable player!


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probedb
post Jun 5 2012, 11:27
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It depends on the tips as well, my Westone UM3x with COmply tips are great...I think custom molds are even better when they fit perfectly smile.gif
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extrabigmehdi
post Jun 5 2012, 13:40
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QUOTE (skamp @ Jun 5 2012, 08:26) *
QUOTE (extrabigmehdi @ Jun 5 2012, 01:15) *
The bose QuietComfort are usually recommended at head-fi, only if you want absolutely the noise cancelling feature, but otherwise look elsewhere.


You mean they're never recommended at head-fi ("zomg overpriced garbage"). After a couple of conflicting experiences of mine (and other reasons),


No the bose QuietComfort are the least bashed Bose product, and get rare recommendations for people looking for Noise Cancelling, especially on plane. Look at which headphone appears on top of listing, for people wanting noise cancelling:
http://www.head-fi.org/products/category/noise-canceling

As I said, I heard once a Bose speaker, and I understand that someone would like this, but this has nothing to do with high fidelity, and this is an insult to anyone looking for serious music listening.

QUOTE
I no longer trust head-fi sheeple. Actually, I find headphones too subjective to buy them on recommendations alone anymore. The only way to shop for headphones is to try them out whenever possible - bring your portable player!


Yeah, taste matter more than recommendations from "sheeple". But I still find head-fi useful to a certain extent.
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Martel
post Jun 5 2012, 17:52
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QUOTE (Ed Seedhouse @ Jun 4 2012, 18:54) *
The most expensive solution would be the best IE monitors combined with a pair of noise cancellers.
Do you mean like putting on the IEMs (connected to the source), then putting the noise cancelling ones over those (no source, just N/C)? smile.gif


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stephan_g
post Jun 6 2012, 22:04
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QUOTE (Martel @ Jun 5 2012, 17:52) *
QUOTE (Ed Seedhouse @ Jun 4 2012, 18:54) *
The most expensive solution would be the best IE monitors combined with a pair of noise cancellers.
Do you mean like putting on the IEMs (connected to the source), then putting the noise cancelling ones over those (no source, just N/C)? smile.gif

That's exactly how it was meant, AFAICS.

A less fancy version might use ordinary earmuffs instead (Peltor, whatever). With some IEMs of the well-isolating kind (see dfkt's ginormous table, Headroom/InnerFidelity data etc.), that ought to be "lawnmower-proof", too.
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