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Recommend IEM’s for gigs (upgrade from Shure SE215)


dickiefunk
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Hi,

 

I’ve been using a pair of Shure SE215 IEM’s over the past few years at gigs but have recently lost them and need a replacement. The 215’s have been fine but I’m interested in getting something better. The Shure SE535’s are a consideration but as they have been around for 12+ years I’m wondering if there is anything better than these around  £300?

 

What would you recommend?

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I like my Westone AM Pro 30s. They are ported to allow stage volume at -15dB. I usually just have keyboards and vocals in my mix and can hear drums, bass and guitars at a comfortable level. I use a Rolls PM55P headphone amp that has a limiter from protection from volume spikes. Another option is this passive limiter.

 

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aka âmisterdregsâ

 

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Westone AM Pro 30 IEMs

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I think I posted in the Recent Purchase thread my experience with $50 chi-fi 5-driver IEMs.  TL:DR they are way better than they have any right to be.  Too good and too cheap to pass up.  I now go back and forth between them (when I want bass) and my Westone AM Pro 30s (when I want ambient).

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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4 hours ago, cphollis said:

I think I posted in the Recent Purchase thread my experience with $50 chi-fi 5-driver IEMs.  TL:DR they are way better than they have any right to be.  Too good and too cheap to pass up.  I now go back and forth between them (when I want bass) and my Westone AM Pro 30s (when I want ambient).


Wow a 5 driver IEM for $50!? Sounds too good to be true. However, there are a LOT of good reviews on these! 
I am very interested to know how these compare to the Shure SE215’s and SE535’s.

 

 

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I’ve been doing some quite a bit of reading it would appear these are quite an improvement in audio quality over the Shure SE215’s! A lot of users have commented that the audio quality can be improved by upgrading the cable to an 8 core model and getting better tips.

I noticed that they also make a 6 and 8 driver model which looks very promising.

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Another Westone fan here.  I got a $300 US pair a  couple of years ago, on sale for $190.   They include a replaceable cable, and came with a fairly comprehensive set of inserts for small-to-large ears, in both isolation and  passthrough configurations.  300 pounds should get a very nice set indeed.

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PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361

 

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Wow, thought maybe a couple of these posts were me :)  I have used my 215s for hundreds of gigs now and am thinking about an upgrade.  I have recently started using a Rolls pm55P as well, have researched several Westone models, and also own 5-driver KZ models.

I'm surprised more "get customs" advice hasn't appeared.  I did that a few years back, and found that I couldn't sing with mine.  However, many people find that customs are the way to go, so perhaps I somehow got a bad fit or pair.   I also don't find them particularly comfortable, they are very bulky.

As far as my chi-fi earbuds:  I don't care for the sound.   They work, and they are currently the pair I keep in my backup gear case, but the sound is too bright and harsh for my taste.  I've tried a number of tips as I thought perhaps the seal wasn't good but it didn't help.   Also, the cord that came with it was basically braided fishing line, which tangles constantly and easily.  So I upgraded the cord to a thicker one that doesn't tangle; that's 20-30 bucks of extra expense.   As with customs, I'm going against the grain here as I read a LOT of good reviews before I bought them.  It's odd that I'd think something was "too bright" considering I know I've lost a bit of high end on my hearing.

I'm debating the Westone AM vs UM series.  Right now Sweetwater and other spots have a sale on UM Pro 50s, and I've seen the AM Pros on sale as well.  We don't have any stage amps anymore, just acoustic drums, but those can be plenty loud if I happen to be right next to them.   I'm leaning toward the 25db down of the UMs.

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1 hour ago, Stokely said:

Wow, thought maybe a couple of these posts were me :)  I have used my 215s for hundreds of gigs now and am thinking about an upgrade.  I have recently started using a Rolls pm55P as well, have researched several Westone models, and also own 5-driver KZ models.

I'm surprised more "get customs" advice hasn't appeared.  I did that a few years back, and found that I couldn't sing with mine.  However, many people find that customs are the way to go, so perhaps I somehow got a bad fit or pair.   I also don't find them particularly comfortable, they are very bulky.

As far as my chi-fi earbuds:  I don't care for the sound.   They work, and they are currently the pair I keep in my backup gear case, but the sound is too bright and harsh for my taste.  I've tried a number of tips as I thought perhaps the seal wasn't good but it didn't help.   Also, the cord that came with it was basically braided fishing line, which tangles constantly and easily.  So I upgraded the cord to a thicker one that doesn't tangle; that's 20-30 bucks of extra expense.   As with customs, I'm going against the grain here as I read a LOT of good reviews before I bought them.  It's odd that I'd think something was "too bright" considering I know I've lost a bit of high end on my hearing.

I'm debating the Westone AM vs UM series.  Right now Sweetwater and other spots have a sale on UM Pro 50s, and I've seen the AM Pros on sale as well.  We don't have any stage amps anymore, just acoustic drums, but those can be plenty loud if I happen to be right next to them.   I'm leaning toward the 25db down of the UMs.


Which 5 driver KZ models have you tried? Apparently the latest ZS10 Pro is a noticeable improvement over the previous 5 driver models. Also, they make 6 and 8 driver models now.

I did consider Westone but my colleagues all prefer the Shure SE535’s. One of them picked up the SE535’s direct from Shure for £179 which is a great price but when I looked at the website it said £379. Perhaps there was a special offer on?

 

The SE215’s I had were actually pretty good. I did find they lacked a little depth of bass and detail. Also, the soundstage could be better but useable for a live gig. 
 

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1 hour ago, Stokely said:

I'm debating the Westone AM vs UM series.  Right now Sweetwater and other spots have a sale on UM Pro 50s, and I've seen the AM Pros on sale as well.  We don't have any stage amps anymore, just acoustic drums, but those can be plenty loud if I happen to be right next to them.   I'm leaning toward the 25db down of the UMs.

FWIW, I have the Westone AM Pro 30s and set up right next to the drummer on the hi-hat side.  I need to turn up the hi hat in my monitor mix to sufficiently hear it.  I did get custom earmolds which greatly improved the seal.

Nord Stage 3 HA88, Nord Stage 3 Compact, Casio CT-S1, Radial Key Largo, Westone AM Pro 30, Rolls PM55P, K&M 18880 + 18881, Bose S1 Pro, JBL 305p MKII, Zoom Q2n-4K

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1 hour ago, dickiefunk said:


Which 5 driver KZ models have you tried? Apparently the latest ZS10 Pro is a noticeable improvement over the previous 5 driver models. Also, they make 6 and 8 driver models now.

I did consider Westone but my colleagues all prefer the Shure SE535’s. One of them picked up the SE535’s direct from Shure for £179 which is a great price but when I looked at the website it said £379. Perhaps there was a special offer on?

 

The SE215’s I had were actually pretty good. I did find they lacked a little depth of bass and detail. Also, the soundstage could be better but useable for a live gig. 
 


I have the ZS10 pro iirc, at the time I bought them there was a six driver available but I read some comments and reviews that they were pretty bulky.   Everyone seemed to love the ones I got, including a friend of mine that bought right after me.  So I might just be the oddball here :)   Other than the tangle-ridden cable they don't seem cheap and they do work, I just prefer the 215s over them sound-wise.  They have a brash harshness to them that fatigues my ears over the course of a gig (I think I used them for 5 or 6 gigs before going back to the 215s).

Shure seems to be more expensive than Westone, driver to driver for what it's worth, but I'd be getting whatever I get on sale in any case.   I would agree with your assessment with the 215s.  They work, they don't sound fantastic but then you have to consider the source (often a mono monitor mix).  The only issues I have had was fixed by a new cable, I had a crackle on one side and the visible copper inside the clear wires was turning a lovely shade of mottled plague green :D 

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On 3/14/2022 at 9:52 AM, Stokely said:

As far as my chi-fi earbuds:  I don't care for the sound.   They work, and they are currently the pair I keep in my backup gear case, but the sound is too bright and harsh for my taste.  

Same here, not my preferred sound either, but for $50 I can ride the EQ a bit.  They also seem to get better as they get broken in with maybe 20 hours of use, or I just stopped noticing.  Either way, I'm still using my Westone AM Pro 30s as I like that for gigging.  Rehearsals, jams, couch, etc. -- they're fine for me.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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