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Need info/advice; my context: If other headphone gear enthusiasts knew my sound signature preferences, they would probably consider me a massive basshead. I just got a Unique Melody Merlin V1 secondhand reshelled earlier this year, looking at these FIBAE ME as an upgrade. Dead stock, the Merlins were VERY spiky in the treble, at the edge of my treble tolerance even when driven by a <1 ohm source, completely unlistenable out of cell phone jack with higher output impedance than 1ohm. I had to mod the Merlins by increasing the damper value on the twin TWFK units from 1000 to 2200 ohms, but even after that I still have to pEQ out a 5dB spike at 7.5kHz to smooth out sibilance. Even with the dynamic bass driver and the mods, the Merlin does not have the visceral bass impact of my much cheaper LZ A4, also a hybrid IEM. What I mean by this is that even when the Merlins have more measureable output, detail, and texture in the bass, they lack the guttural weight of the LZ A4 bass 1/2
2/2 Given my context, I have some questions about the FIBAE ME:
1) I'm assuming that the FIBAE does not use TWFKs or have their characteristic mid-treble spikiness around 6-8kHz. Can you confirm this? I am very sensitive to treble spikes in this region.
2) Are the bass drivers vented?
3) Given that the FIBAE uses BA woofers, how does their weight and viscerality compare to typical dynamic woofers in terms of pure air mass being moved, not bass output level? I'm sure the decay will be quick yet still natural, but I'm talking about the feeling of your ear canals rumbling and vibrating, which is not directly correlated to sub-bass *once you get to basshead quantities* in my experience, it's more about the amount of air being moved.
[Ignore 4 and 5 if you can provide a frequency response plot, even a sketched one would suffice, though a software generated one would be amazing]
4) What are the relative levels of subbass, midbass, and upper bass? Is the bass boost in the shape of one or two low-pass shelf filters? If so, can you provide approximate frequencies and dB boost levels of the so-called bass boost filters?
5) Is there a upper-mid/lower treble lift relative to the lower mids?
I look forward to your answers and hope that they can help out other potential buyers who are still on the fence like me!
Well I still do have my very own UM Merlin v1 so I guess I could weight in a little bit (although, now from memory, I can provide the direct comparison if few hours when I get back home).
1) It doesn't use TWFK per se, but it does have similar driver which is used for highest highs only (>6kHz). There's very very small spike around 8kHz (which is +2.5-3dB relative to 2kHz peak), so it shouldn't be bothersome. Merlins have much greater spike in lower range (around +10dB at 5.5kHz). I would say the output you get with 2200 filter is still greater than this of FIBAE ME. What I can also add is that while UM Merlin has 5kHz peak the ME has deep (quite typical for our tuning) meaning that most of the sibilance and harshness are kept away, while maintaing highs presence/airiness thanks to the shift to higher frequencies.
2) Yes, they are
3) I would say it's as close to dynamic as it can be - for example at CanJam Singapore we got few people saying that if they didn't know it's all BA they would say it's dynamic driver (Jude of Head-fi.org included). Still I think the UM Merlin has better ability to move more air in the ear canal, though.
4) The highest output of sub-bass centers around 30Hz and it's +10dB relative to 1kHz. 100Hz is +7dB; 200Hz is +5dB; 500Hz is +1dB
The output is closer to 1st order LPF
5) Yes, 1.8-4kHz output is approximately between +6-8dBs
That said, since MEs are BAs you might find it lacking in saturation and long decay of dynamic driver, if you are massive basshead.
I should be able to get back to you with direct comparison is few hours.
Thanks so much for the quick and helpful reply, and if you could give a direct comparison to the Merlins, that would be amazing!
Alright! Just had a chance for a listen. I'll put it in bullet points to keep it simple
- UM Merlin are really bright compared to FIBAE ME.
- UM Merlin highs are sibilant at times while FIBAEs are not. The texture in Merlin is lacking, but the initial cymbal bite energy is better. I'd say the highs of Merlin are like you typically get from aluminum dome tweeter in floor speakers, the FIBAEs are more like silk dome.
- Mids - brighter on UMs, but lacking in tonality, lower male vocals especially are not saturated enough. FIBAE ME is more warm
- Finally bass - surprisingly to me UM Merlins have less bass! (yes, I still have perfect fit on those after 7yeras). The bass in FIBAE rumbles lower with more authority - it's warmer, fuller bodied and has both more sub-bass and more mid-bass response. UM Merlin have an edge in "springiness" of the bass, I think its attack is faster.
- Sound stage - Merlin sounds more open and airy, have slightly better positioning
- Resolution - FIBAE are better as, Merlins get more congested in highs
- Coherence - this is where Merlins are losing big time. Being hybrid the Dynamic Driver sounds disjointed form the midrange - while it creates an effect of really open/big sound stage, it's just very apparent
Hope that helps you!
Thanks again for a very helpful reply! I have some difficult decisions to make tonight before the drop ends...
Ended up caving in and joined the drop with only 15 minutes left to spare, because apparently I like to live dangerously...
But seriously, your quick and helpful replies were what made the difference when agonizing over and finalizing my decision to buy, and I can't wait to start this journey of getting a custom IEM built. Oh, and as always, RIP wallet, you had a good run while it lasted ;)
Thanks for participating! Appreciate it and I really hope you will like FIBAE ME!