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View Full Discussion I’ve been testing the EDC3s heavily for a few days now. Massdrop has already set the bar extremely high when it comes to bang-for-your-buck headphones, so my expectations were already twice as high as they probably should have been going into testing. The EDC3s are currently $99 on Massdrop, and I was already expecting some stiff competition in the $150-$250 range from them. I must say, I wasn’t disappointed. Before getting to deep into the actual review, here are some things to note:
Gear Used During Testing:
· Shanling M2s
· Fiio X3 · Mojo Chord
· Schiit Valhalla 2
· Google Pixel 2
· Pro-Ject Carbon Esprit
Other Gear Referenced:
· Nu Force EDC IEMs
· Shure SE215 IEMs
Playlist Used For Testing Across Devices:
· Joanna Newsome – Go Long
· Boris – Blackout
· Mulatu Astatke – The Way To Nice
· Hans Zimmer – No Time For Caution
· Ratatat – El Pico
· Thelonious Monk – Monk’s Dream
· Pavement – Grounded
· Earl Scruggs – Flint Hill Special
· Between The Buried and Me – Prequel to the Sequel
· Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)
· The Beatles – Strawberry Fields Forever
· Ryan Gustafson – Hard Drugs and Long Relationships
· Elliott Smith – Alameda
· Om – Thebes
· Tom Waits – Dirt In The Ground
· Southern Nights – Glen Campbell
Obviously, the audio files I used were higher quality than you’ll get from streaming, but if you wanted to listen to the playlist here is a link: https://8tracks.com/livingspeedbump/audio-gear-testing
So, let me just jump right into the soundscape and overall sound qualities of the EDC3’s. Midrange is king here, and the real shining start of the EDC3s. Unlike so many headphones on the market with a v-shaped sound signature (boosted bass and treble with cut mids), the EDC3s are much more neutral with well-defined and exceptionally smooth mids, giving the EDC3s a very warm sound overall. Vocals are incredibly pleasing and really stand out. To many people that are just used to cheaper consumer headphones (which tend to have the v-shaped sound signature), the EDC3s may require an adjustment period. The bass is present and just slightly boosted, but not exaggerated. Highs are the weakest aspect sonically of the EDC3s, being just airy enough not to get lost in the mix. This definitely isn’t the end of the world, while very clear and present highs are great for some genres and situations, it isn’t ideal for every day listening with multiple devices.
When it came do differences in sound from different sources, there weren’t really any surprises. I’ve seen a few questions about how well these pair directly with phones, and I had no issues at all driving them directly from my Pixel 2.
I walk 2 miles to and from work daily, and get a lot of on-the-go listening in. I have the Fiio X3 paired with the Mojo Chord for days I want to use over-ear headphones, and use the Shanling for IEMs, generally. The biggest difference, of course, was due to the Chord, which really helped bring the EDC3s to life.
I tested the EDC3s with my Xbox One controller as well to test the microphone. After a few hours of Rainbow Six and Rocket league my friends said there was no issues with the way I sounded, though the audio wasn’t as clear as they were used to with my Cloud II’s. This was to be expected though. I love having the option of a braided cable, or a cable with the in-line microphone and controls. If I was using my phone for listening on the go, I would absolutely make use of the cable with the in-line mic, but I ended up just using the braided cable. I do wear glasses, and the cable gave me no discomfort.
The EDC3s are very well built, and I had no doubts that they will stand up against daily use if treated correctly. The accessories are all nice to have, especially the included cables and tips.
Overall, the EDC3s are another very solid collaborative offering from Massdrop and Nu Force. They perform well out of their price range and provide a much different experience that many other IEMs in the same price range. If you have any questions feel free to ask me and I will answer to the best of my ability!
Hey, good to see you in the audio side of the pool. Could you give your impressions from A/B testing the EDC3 against the EDC. As a person who will be owning both, I'm curious which conditions you think either pair excels over the other. Which would you think makes the better podcast IEMs, for example?
What exactly is the point in something like a Shanling M2s, vs just using a phone or an iPod or something?
First off, thanks for the very detailed review! I know that I will love these too, just like my Nuforce EDC and Primo 8 IEM's!
If you could please do me a favor and listen to the recording that I made on NYE and tell me how these sound with the link below, I'd GREATLY appreciate it 😎👍
Lotus NYE Recording with Schoeps mk4 mics>Sound Devices Mixpre6 recorder! These are the 24/96 FLACs FWIW 😉😇🎧
This is a multi thousand dollar Recording rig, so I'd really appreciate a quick listen with your review pair of the EDC3's 👍😀
Well, I have a new Sony NW-A35 Walkman and comparing it to my Google Pixel 1 phone, the difference is night and day IMO! The Sony NW-A35 has a much nicer amplifier section and DAC conversion, as well as a lower output impedance, and it can easily Drive my Primo 8 IEM's without a HP Amp, like my FiiO E11k! But I'm listening to lower level Recordings of live shows that I record personally, and they're not compressed to hell and back like normal albums are!
I NEED my FiiO E11k HP Amp if I'm listening to my recordings with the original EDC's, since they have a rather low sensitivity of 90db. However I can push my Primo 8 IEM's without the FiiO E11K HP Amp, since they have a MUCH higher sensitivity of 118db.
But as far as listening to regular albums and music, you probably don't need a HP Amp at all!
Oh and my Sony NW-A35 Walkman can playback the high resolution 24bit FLACs that I make myself, and can even handle DSD files up to 11MHz. My Google Pixel 1 phone doesn't have much storage, nor can it be expanded with a Micro SD Card, so listening through my phone is only capable of streaming mp3's!
If you plan on listening to mp3's and that's it, then your phone will probably do everything you need it to. However, if you plan on listening to high resolution files in 24bit Quality, then I'd definitely recommend getting a DAP like my Sony NW-A35 Walkman, or the Shanling M2 like the reviewer above is listening through 😉
Hope that helps you understand the difference between the two (phone vs. dedicated DAP)👍🎧
Well, I think the EDC3's would be better for listening to voice/podcast for sure. The more present midrange makes for a more natural sounding experience. The EDCs are definitely "fun" if you really want to feel the bass a bit more. They work great for things like metal, electronic, and pop, but definitely are lackluster for folk, jazz, and classical in my opinion.
Google Pixel 2 doesn't have and SD card slot, so very limited music can be put on the phone. And since that is the case I just would rather keep the space open for pictures. I also like using my phone as little as possible, just a distraction in so many ways. Finally, I'm not using my phone battery all day to listen to music.
Having a dedicated audio player = more storage for music (Shanling has 128GB on it currently), arguably better sound, and great battery life. (It also has a 3.5mm headphone jack, unlike my phone). It is so tiny that it's not annoying to have in my pocket all day either.
I could definitely go on about getting better sound from a DAP over a Phone, but that really all depends on the model. It can go from a slight difference to night and day difference in quality .
Sounds pretty good.
The EDCs, in this case, sounded slightly better to me. The cut mids helped cut some of the audience background noise from being so present. The boosted bass fit the music as well.
But the EDC3s definitely made it seem like you were actually at the show a bit more thanks TO the mids being more front and center.
Definitely just preference which one you'd like best though.
Huge thanks for listening to that for me bro 😎👍 MUCH appreciated!
Like I said, I already have the Nuforce EDC and Primo 8 IEM's, and both are a little bit lean in the low-end. However, I prefer detail and resolution slightly more than explosive bass, so I will definitely be grabbing a pair of the EDC3's as soon as they're dropped again, and hopefully on a daily drop like the original EDC's have been!
I always have my trusty old Monster iSport Victory (totally beat up and still kicking somehow lol) and Skullcandy (even more beatup than the iSport Victory's) earbuds if I want more bass than resolution! And since I upgraded to the Comply tips for both of those as well, they sound MUCH better than they ever did with silicone tips, at least in my opinion! But those don't sound anywhere close to the EDC's and especially the Primo 8's FWIW 😉
One of these days when I hit the lottery or get a massive inheritance (yeah right haha) I'll be saving up for some Westone W80's ($1,500) or something similar, and I can hopefully quit buying IEM's! However, as of right now, I'm straight hooked on grabbing more and more IEM's, and it might take me 20 more years to get Exactly what I want, just like my live recording rigs that I have now!
So please leave your wallet at the door LoL 😁 I really hope that these get on a daily drop, and without the knowledge of you fine folks on Massdrop, I wouldn't know half of what I do now about IEM's in general! I came to this site a couple of years ago, but just bought my first "real" IEM's this past December with the original EDC's! So thanks again for all of your help, and I hope that everyone enjoys their EDC3's!
If someone gets their EDC3's and DOESN'T like or care for them, please get ahold of me at: (email@example.com) and I'll gladly take them off of you for a fair price!
Thanks again livingspeedbump😎
I'm totally new to high-res sound. I'm done with mp3s. Will these EDC3s pair well with the other upcoming Drop i.e. the
xDuoo Nano D3 Digital Audio Player ($74.99), as an entry level combo, until I know more about what I'm doing ? Or will I be unhappy, or just marginally impressed ? If you can suggest a better bang-for-the-dollar, I'd love the hear about it.
I like the idea of stressing some mid-range for once, rather than flabby-bass and hissy-treble that appeals to a younger crowd, or the easily impressed.
Thank you for your input.
IMO, yes that's a great beginner setup and should definitely make you happier than listening to mp3's with your phone 😉
I don't know the xduoo nano d3 specs, but I'll always recommend a dedicated DAP over a phone (mostly anyway), and the EDC's and Primo 8's that I own are amazing for the price! I haven't heard the EDC3's personally yet, but if they sound half as good as the original EDC's do, then you'll definitely be a happy customer!
Thanks. Will I also need a DAC ( Dragonfly perhaps) as well ?
You shouldn't but that's your call! I listen to my Sony NW-A35 Walkman directly into my Primo 8 IEM's, and I would just start out with the xduoo nano d3 and IEM's and go from there! If you get those two things and you need a DAC/HP Amp, then grab one. But for listening to normal music, I doubt that you'll need one!
I do highly recommend the Comply size 100 memory foam tips though. $20 for a 3-pack is totally worth it IMO. I prefer the Isolation+ Large size tips with Waxguard personally! Much better than any silicone tips IMO, and even better than the foam tips that come with the EDC and EDC3 IEM's!
Here's a link to the Comply Isolation+ tips FWIW 😎
So I will say, when getting into high-res audio, the BIGGEST change you will ever have is going from the regular consumer grade stuff (cheap headphones or speakers from computer/phone, streaming or low quality audio files) to entry grade audiophile gear.
After that big leap, you'll be paying exponentially more for exponentially less in terms of audio quality. Is it worth it? I can't ever say one way or another, but I think there is a sweet spot for everyone.
One thing to keep in mind is that I believe it is of the utmost importance to scale up as you go, this way you KNOW the difference in sound every step of the way. If you jump straight to a 20k audio setup, you won't know what you missed in between, and perhaps even missed a setup that you would appreciate the sound of better for less.
So in regards to these paired with something like the XDuoo I think it would be a good pairing for what it sounds like you want. Jazz, classical, classic rock, vocal-centric tunes will really shine.
When you get these/or a new setup in place I'd strongly recommend you just spending time in a quiet comfortable place just listening to tunes without distractions and really get to know the sound and see what you like/dont like. This way if you think "hm, I would like a little more air in the treble" or "I really like mids in front" you'll have direction should you ever want to add gear to your arsenal, instead of just buying what "is hot" at the time. Listen for a few days, first impressions generally aren't truth when it comes to audio.
Finally, Id recommend buying one of your favorite albums that you have listened to over and over at the highest resolution your player can play, and A/B it with an MP3 version of the album to really hear a difference and that it is enjoyable enough to warrant the cost.
Don't buy gear/audio stuff for anyone else but yourself. You don't have to impress anyone. Whatever sound YOU end up liking is the sound and gear that is right for you :D
These will work just fine with a phone or PC's built in soundcard!
If you WANT to upgrade for sound quality that is a different story. Personally I think a good $100-$150 DAC is generally all most people will ever need. The Dragonfly would be a good one to pair though. It is generally a good rule of thumb to have gear that is all within the same price range if you want to get the best bang for your buck.
Having a crazy expensive DAC with cheap headphones won't do the DAC justice, and having a cheap DAC with super high end headphones will not showcase the headphones to their full potential, etc.
Cool post, I'll def check out these tips!
Not needed but it can introduce finer qualities in your music depending on source and files used. These are fairly sensitive at 16 ohms but not as bad as Shure 846 or CA Andromeda's at ~9-12 ohms. The Dragonfly is a solid piece of kit but may not be the best match for low impedance IEMs. I use an iFi nano BL to feed my 846s since the output is under 1 ohm and they pair very well with no hiss and a perfectly black noise floor. Rarely do I ever go near/above 12 o'clock on the dial before things are uncomfortably loud.
Good post! I am definitely not super familiar with cheaper DACs currently on the market.
Yup, the nano BL is a new release of it's much more powerful/capable brother the micro BL (also 2.5x the price). It has a 'psuedo' balanced circuit on it that cuts crosstalk by half even when using its SE output. For it's size and portability, it can pump out some power for medium-sized cans and powers the likes of my HE-4XX without maxing out the dial. Not to mention, it supports all boutique file formats and MQA through Tidal. Really, for <$200 and highly portable, I have yet to find a comparable piece of kit that beats this thing currently.
Thanks for the input and the Comply link. I see two products; the Isolation 100 ($20), and for a few dollars more, the Isolation - Custom QuietOn Tips. ($23). I've bookmarked the site, for later investigation when time permits. If I read your note correctly, the cheaper ones should be adequate ?
I'll take your advice and not buy a DAC/HP Amp. straight away. I can always add things later and evaluate as I go along !! Makes sense.
I'm a little worried about the highs. Are you sure it's enough not to lose them in the mix? It seems since 9Khz frequency the sound pressure level fades out till -20dB in the analysis of the frequency response wave (20Hz-20Khz). I'm afraid it could affect seriously the crispness of the music. I'm mostly listening to 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s music. Also, electronica. Could you explain me more details about the treble, please? Does it sound more like a Sony WH-1000XM2 pair of headphones, wired or wireless? Also a last favour: could you listen to Hotel California by The Eagles and tell me about the detail and crispness of the instruments? That'll give me an idea of how they approximately perform. Try using a mobile phone this time. Mine is a Moto G3. I have no money for a DAP, for that reason I'm asking if you could try the edc3 with an ordinary mobile phone, similar to the Moto G3. It could be a Google Pixel 2 or similiar how i said. I'd be very appreciated!
Hmm, I don't see the isolation Custom quiet on tips anywhere on the Comply website and didn't even know that they made them until I just saw your post!
No matter which Comply tips that you end up getting, I highly recommend the Waxguard version since it keeps wax and debris from entering the TINY sound nozzle of the IEM's, especially the Nuforce, Westone and Shure IEM's which have the smallest nozzles of any IEM's. For the few dollars more that they cost, they're totally worth it IMO 😎👍
I was always told that a system is only as good as its weakest link. I mentioned dragonfly just as an example, and someone gave it a fantastic review. Tks.
It's incredible the amount of products that are available on-line. I had no idea there are separate tips available for additional purchase ! I'll review the Waxguard option you mentioned. Thanks. I also picked up the x MEE Audio Pinnacle Px IEMs . They come with Comply tips, so I'll be able to evaluate and purchase additional tips for my other IEMs . And $20 is a small price to pay for a product that may turn out to be really good.
If you're new to tip-rolling, I would check out the other types out there as well. Spinfits, Spiral Dots, Star Tips, Shure foam olives and double/triple flanges. They're typically readily available online and come in a mixed pack so you get a set of each to try and see what you prefer before buying in bulk.
I recommend Star tips and triple flanges (which can be trimmed to a double flange) personally as they give me the best isolation and comfort over an 8 hour period. Be careful with foam as different densities can effect the sound depending on the earphone.
Tip-Rolling eh. There is an actual name. It doesn't seem to end; like going down the rabbit hole, with your credit card. This mixed pack seems the best way to proceed for someone new like myself. And I'll definitely check out Star Tips / Triple Flanges.
I was told once that the best way to isolate noise / improve sound was through an electronic circuit. I imaging it's like white noise. But this way is benign and adjustable.
Well, these are more passive noise-cancelling means. With the proper tip and seal, it can mitigate a lot of outside noise so you're not getting any outside disturbance and can enjoy your tunes with a lower volume. Much like over-ears and their seal can affect the sound if they don't seat properly on your head (I wear glasses and have long hair so it's always a pain).
Cost-wise, silicon is your best bet as they last damn near forever without losing shape. The Star Tips are my face since they come in longer lengths like a flange and the typical short stub: https://www.amazon.com/Westone-Silicone-Universal-Replacement-Eartips/dp/B00DD2BZRY?th=1. Also, a pack of foam and silicone is $15 which you really can't beat for testing stuff out.
Shure triple flanges don't last as long before they start losing their shape but I find them very comfortable for long periods of time. A 6-pack is only $7 and enough to last me at least 3-6 months. They can also be trimmed to be a double flange if you find the triple to be too long. Really great value.
Shure also makes yellow foam that's pretty good for working out which I tend to use when I'm biking: https://www.amazon.com/Shure-EAYLF1-10-Sleeves-Included-Earphones/dp/B001O3TZ3K/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1520438893&sr=1-1&keywords=shure+yellow+foam. I can't wear them for as long due to the pressure they put on my ear canal but they have a very snug fit for when you're active and a different foam that's better at moisture wicking compared to the standard foam.
That's the word I was looking for passive not benign, although the latter sounded good at the time. At an audio store they demo(d) a couple electronic alternatives, that negated concerns concerning fit, comfort, custom fit. They sounded good, if one was on the subway, or a plane, but I heard that sort of system in a very open layout government building once and I thought my ears were plugged. From what I've been told, I don't think there's anything better than a great custom fit (after lots trial and error).
Oh , and I understand your delema regarding hair and glasses !
Well if you're looking for sound, comfort AND a great isolation, then look no further than these Nuforce, Westone and Shure IEM's. They all have a very similar shape and size overall, as well as having the smallest size nozzles out of any IEM's (size 100 nozzles FWIW). I have been strictly using the Comply Isolation+ and Comfort+ tips, and with the size 100 nozzles and the Isolation+ tips, I am experiencing an extremely comfortable fit and seal. I seriously almost forget that they're in my ears at all!
But the upgrade bug hit me already and I threw down on a pair of Westone UM Pro 30 IEM's last night, hoping that they have a TAD more low-end than the Primo 8's do! I'll probably end up keeping the Primo 8 and EDC IEM's regardless though, since they have amazing bang for your buck!
I hope you enjoy your EDC3's emember556, whenever they actually show up LoL 😁
Very good advice concerning the different tips available these days! EVERYONE'S ears and ear canals are different, and everyone prefers something different in the end!
But concerning wearing glasses and the over-the-ear type of IEM's, I wear my glasses all of the time with my Primo 8 and EDC IEM's, and they never give me any issues or problems like that! In fact I prefer those to the cable straight down method since it keeps them locked in place much better, and I have zero issues taking my glasses on and off!
However, I shaved off my LONG hair back in 2000 (old Phishhead right here lol) so I can't comment about that. But I'd think that the over-the-ear type IEM's would be better for that too since your IEM's are locked into place better and you can let your hair do whatever it wants to haha 👍 But like I said, EVERYONE is different!
Yeah, headphones with ANC (active noise cancelling) use some sort of white noise to block out certain frequencies in the environment. Personally, I've never enjoyed them with that mode enabled as it's audible to me and always sounds odd and artificial. Passive NC has worked for me well over a decade and even with planes and city noise, block out everything ... almost to a detriment for my own safety at times.
Thanks! Any comparisons/similarities with other earphones? I'm cross shopping these, the Primo 8s, UE900s and Brainwavz B400. Use a Pinnacle P1/PX currently and enjoyed a HD600 demo if that helps :)
Can you compare these to the Etymotic ER3(XR/SE) or ER4(XR/SE)? Or any other Etys? Thanks.