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A bit of an unusual question here... While all source I listen to are well encoded, I do not listen to lossless. Additionally these would mostly be for traveling (flight, trains)/walking around, not for desktop listening.
I do have an AudioQuest Dragonfly Red I use before plugging any IEMs into my phone, or nice DAC/amp to use at home or in the office if I ever get to that.
I have uneven ears and finding the right tips on IEMs is a pain in the ass. Additionally my ears aren't too keen on IEMs in general vs. other phones with drivers further away from the ears.
I was wondering whether a CIEM with a) better fit b) better resolution c) better seal would be a solution for me in this case.
I had been curious about the FIBAE2, and the FIBAE ME seems well-priced but I worry it would be 'too' resolving for MP3s/Spotify Extreme (note that with Schiit Jotunheim + Sennheiser HD650s, I cannot tell the difference between Spotify high quality and the same song in FLAC).
I listen mostly to extreme Metal genres, so note separation, in particular in the bass and mids, is critical. Treble cannot be fatiguing.
Does it seem like CIEMs in general, and the FIBAE ME more specifically would be a good solution for me? Asking to those with similar experiences :)
This has been my IEM journey so far. Maybe some things will help you. The ME is my first CIEM and the reason I went with a CIEM is similar to you...I could not find universals that would fit properly. Tips were always too small, or would frequently break seal, and what I ended up settling on was the Shure SE535 with their large foam tips. I travel a lot for business (70%+ of the year) and isolation was one of the most important things for me. When I get on the plane and the engines fire up I'm inserting my IEMs. When I'm in my hotel room, I've got my IEMs in. I've had my ME's for a little over a week and though I haven't had a chance to see how they work when flying the isolation compared to universals has, simply said, met my expectations. The fit CustomArt came up with from my molds (done by an audiologist familiar with making IEM molds) is near perfect. I liked what CA did enough that I'm going to have them do some custom tips for my Sennheiser IE80s, which I never got any good use out of because of their most awful housing design; oh geez is it bad but when they fit they were great.
As far as sound goes, I would definitely say I need to know the lower end of the spectrum is there. I'm always in the mood for bass. I can't detail what I hear like some people do, I just know what sounds good to me and it needs to be very warm. I want to hear the bass guitar and especially the kick drum (I listen mostly to metal, reggae, and EDM genres). I want that double kick to be a main character, and not supporting. I want the bass of that 808 to wow me. Being I'm in my 40's my top end is probably around 16k and I have some minor tinnitus, but I'm still sensitive to the higher frequencies. This means that "V shaped" signatures have never wowed me. I have a pair of the Fostex TH-x00, which people call V shaped, and they've never impressed me. I always take what others say with a grain of salt when they say headphones or IEMs are bass heavy. I've heard that too many times and been disappointed too many times. So yeah, I'm probably a closet basshead.
As far as sources... For streaming I listen to Pandora at the standard rate. Typically right out of my laptop. If I'm going to listen to some high quality encodes (FLAC or MP3 320-192k) then I'll use a JDS Labs C5D as my DAC-amp. When my chosen head gear doesn't have the bass I need the C5D and its bass boost would easily fix that; impressively so and it was one of my best buys. When I'm on the go I use a Fiio X3 2nd gen, which replaced an Ipod Touch. I've been meaning to try something else because it gets no where near the warmth I want, and the EQ has been pretty bad for tweaking the low end. I can use the C5D with it but when I'm hustling around airport terminals I don't want to deal with being tethered to that sandwich. Lastly, these ME's WILL bring out terrible mastering. That's a real important note to make with good quality audio gear. There are some albums that there's nothing you can; you have to EQ them to get the instruments YOU want to hear to come to life.
Now my point of this wall of text is that in my search for IEMs with bass and great isolation the ME's have met my needs. One of these days I may try the Noble Dulce Bass to see how they compare but with what I have now I see no reason to rush or pay more than $1000 US again. When you buy a new set of cans or IEMs and it makes you want to re-listen to your library just to experience it with a new sound you know you've got a winner.
Sorry for the blog entry. For a TL;DR just read the paragraph above!
Thanks for your questions.
Let's start with shape - generally speaking large number of our customers come to us with that exact problem - their ears are different - some times drastically different not only in canal but also in concha altogether. Custom molding solve this issue. Falling out earphones are no longer a problem, the IEM locks itself in place and should stay there until you remove them :)
Quality of files - you should definitely hear difference in files, then again if you are using spotify on highest quality you should be fine. For example I use spotify a lot too and while I do hear some difference between flac files of the same track the difference is negligible and if you are in busy environment (metro, bus) I don't pay attention to that.
I listen to metalcore, hardcore, prog on daily basis. The FIBAE MEs have some heavy bass which isn't the fastest in the world but in my opinion it does well in metal. It's been tested with some heavy tracks during tuning process to make sure it copes with speedy drums and low tuned strings. If you would accept say IE80 IEM for metal, then FIBAE ME will do just as well if not better, as typically BAs have faster transient response than dynamic drivers.
Thanks all :) Indeed my thought pattern follows most of what both of you said, it's nice to have good company!
I've had no luck finding any place around here open in weekends that'll do ear impressions; I'll keep on looking and join the drop if I do find one!