Go Back   Android Forums > Android Discussion > Android Accessories

test: Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old March 19th, 2014, 11:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
Senior Member
Thread Author (OP)
 
twister6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 1,751
 
Device(s): Fascinate, Droid X, Nexus 7, Note 2, S5
Carrier: V

Thanks: 140
Thanked 802 Times in 419 Posts
Default Review of Audio Technica ATH-IM03 in-ear monitors w/lots of pics!!!

This is a review of Audio Technica ATH-IM03 in-ear monitors. ATH-IM03 SonicPro™ In-Ear Monitor Headphones || Audio-Technica US

While being very impressed with a quality of ATH-IM02 IEMs, I ended my review of IM02 with a comment about hoping to review ATH-IM03 and compare it to IM02. Thanks to Audio-Technica (US) this wish came true, and now I would like to share with you another amazing product from the new line of ATH-IM0x in-ear monitors. Their model numbering is based on a number of Balanced Armature (BA) drivers used in each design, from a single driver (IM01) all the way to quad driver (IM04). While IM02 has 2 drivers (woofer and mid-high), one would expect that IM03 with 3 drivers (woofer, mid, and treble) will be an enhancement to IM02 with more details in upper frequencies, but instead Audio Technica delivered another masterpiece with a different sound signature. So let's take a closer look at what I've found (and due to similarities, some of the write up was recycled from IM02).

As always, I start with a packaging of the product, and here Audio Technica never disappoints. Beside high quality images, full list of included accessories, and spec in both Japanese and English, it also included an internal component breakdown to show you in details every piece of the design. I find such presentation to be very educational. When it comes to accessories, IM03 included 3 pairs of silicone eartips, one pair of Comply foam tips, and a quality storage case. Though I don't consider cables to be an accessory, the new IM line of AT headphones now feature detachable cables which can be replaced in case of failure. As we all know a cable failure is very common with headphones, so being able to replace these is a big bonus. Here, AT decided to use 2 pin connector which is key-shaped to be attached in only one way with a very secure snap. To assist with behind the ear fitment, the only way these could be worn, there is a memory wire portion right after the connector to form a secure and comfortable loop. The same goes for the headphone earpieces itself, I found the design to have an ergonomic shape with a very comfortable fitment inside of my ear. I do have to note that with addition driver, IM03 housing became larger in comparison to IM02.

Doesn't happen often, but I was actually very pleased with a storage case included with these headphones since it has a generous rectangular shape to fit headphones with cables without a need to bend pre-shaped memory wires. Nothing is more annoying than spending time re-shaping the wire every time you take it out of the storage case when it's too small. As a matter of fact, IM03 case was a little bit bigger in comparison to IM02. The wire itself is very high quality, almost reminding me of electrical appliance shielded wires, but obviously thinner and more flexible. There is also a chin slider after the y-splitter to enhance behind the ear fitment. At the end of the wire you have 90 degree gold plated 3.5mm connector. There is no in-line remote/mic, but since this cable is replaceable I hope they will offer it in a future.

No matter how great headphones look or how comfortable they fit, the sound quality is still the most important factor. In my previous review of IM02, I found those to be one of the best analytical headphones I ever tested, though I was left craving for a little more bass. Though I expected IM03 with an additional BA driver to be an improvement over IM02, I also wanted to find out if the price difference will justify that step up. What I didn't realize is that IM03 will have it's own unique sound signature - a naturally balanced headphones with an amazing level of details across entire frequency range. Starting with lows, the sound extends all the way down to sub-bass level and you can really hear sub-woofer pumping. It's not bloated or exaggerated, but a very smooth textured layer right underneath of rounded warm mid-bass. Though mid-bass has it's punch, it was more on a relaxed smoother side. The quantity of bass was simply perfect to enjoy every style of music, especially if you like EDM, pop, rock, or hiphop. Without a doubt the bass in IM03 was one of the bigger improvements over IM02, but it was also partially due to changes in mids to enhance this perception. With mids, IM03 approach was not as analytical and upfront as in IM02, but it still had an amazing amount of details and it was very well balanced in relationship to lows and highs without any hint of being recessed. To my ears, the high quality of upper mids was especially hearable in a natural delivery of vocals, making me realize how unnatural it sounds with a lot of other headphones. The same with treble, it had a nice sparkle without a hint of harshness or sibilance, and together with upper mids was just a pleasure to listen to over extended period of time. I don't think I ever experienced such a perfectly balanced natural full body sound across lows/mids/highs with any in-ear or over-ear headphones I reviewed in the past. And on top of that, the width and depth of soundstage was simply mind blowing. I noticed that with IM02 as well, but an enhanced bass quantity added a new depth to this dimension. Furthermore, I found IM03 to be more forgiving while listening to lesser quality mp3 files, and I had no issue driving it directly from any of my audio sources (even my "noisy" laptop). No amplification was required.

Overall, I found Audio Technica ATH-IM03 to be one incredible pair of headphones. Beside an excellent build quality and comfortable fit, they have one of the best natural balanced sound signatures I heard in a very long time. Every company tries to come up with their own interpretation of a sound, and they often focus on mids/highs or lows/highs. Here with IM03, Audio Technica sound engineers were able to accomplish a balance of all three without any compromises and with a level of details like no other triple or quad driver set of IEMs I have tested before. Regarding cost difference of IM03 over IM02, I can fully justify it for my taste with additional bass quantity and a more balanced midrange for extended listening pleasure. I also want to bring to everyone's attention that within next few weeks these headphones (IM0x models) will be available from US authorized dealers. Though these already available on Amazon as an import from Japan, Audio Technica US can only honor their 2 year warranty on units purchased from authorized US re-sellers.

Here are the pictures.















































ATH-IM02 next to ATH-IM03


Advertisements
__________________
If you find my post helpful, please hit Thanks!

Complete List of all smartphone and tablet Accessory and Gadget REVIEWS by Twister => HERE
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~
twister6 is offline  
Reply With Quote
sponsored links
Old July 22nd, 2014, 09:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
Senior Member
Thread Author (OP)
 
twister6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 1,751
 
Device(s): Fascinate, Droid X, Nexus 7, Note 2, S5
Carrier: V

Thanks: 140
Thanked 802 Times in 419 Posts
Default Lunashops replacement cable for ATH-IM series headphones

This is a review of Lunashops replacement cable for ATH-IMxy series of IEMs. USD$40.00 - Earphone Cable For audio-technica ATH-IM50 ATH-IM70 ATH-IM01 ATH-IM02 ATH-IM03 ATH-IM04 - lunashops online shop

A lot of factors can contribute to sound quality improvement of your headphones. Beside selecting a higher quality source, both audio file and audio player, for example choosing the right eartip is probably one of the most popular mods. Some people experiment with wire up or down fitment or even go to an extreme of modifying earpieces with removal of filters or covering the vent. If you are fortunate to have a pair of headphones with a removable cable - you have another way to improve your sound, to fine tune it's characteristics. Until now, those who purchased recently introduced Audio-Technica ATH-IM series (IM01/02/03/04/50/70) had only a few pricey replacement choices due to unique 2-pin connector used in the design of that cable which is not as common as a standard MMCX connector. Fortunately, Lunashops introduced a series of replacement cables (Product search_Lunashops Online Shop - Hifi Earphone Cable DIY Center) ranging from $18 to $40 where $18-$20 ones are designed as a replacement with a more flexible design without annoying stiff memory wire and one even with in-line mic/remote for smartphone control. The more expensive one at $40 is designed not just as a replacement but actually as an enhancement where a more premium silver plated wire material is used to improve sound quality of your ATH headphones. That is a cable I would like to focus on in my review and to share with you what I found.

I have a number of MMCX replacement cables from Lunashops already, and was always pleased with their build quality, though those were $20 models which usually arrived in a generic packaging. This premium model arrived in a neat looking tin can with a clear top display screen, and cable was secured in a small plastic zip bag and cushioned by foam lining inside of the tin can. Out of the box, I was very pleased with a soft clear shielding of the cable and twisted pair of silver plated cables which looks to me like two twisted pairs before y-splitter followed by all 4 wires twisted together after the y-splitter. Y-splitter itself is plastic and somewhat transparent, followed by a clear plastic chin slider. The 3.5mm connector is straight, has a clear strain relief, can be un-screwed to reveal the wire connection, and it's gold plated with a typical TRS (Tip - left, Ring - right, Sleeve - ground) wiring which I verified with multimeter to be connected properly to L/R earpiece connector. Also, for those who are curious, while comparing the wire resistance between original cable and this replacement, I found the value to go down from 0.9 ohm in original cable to 0.6 ohm in replacement - most likely due to silver plating which also improves conductivity of the signal. Furthermore, I measured this replacement cable to be 1.27m long in comparison to a stock 1.2m cable.

Going back to the 2-pin connector header, the one used in Lunashops replacement model is not color coded with Red for "right" side, but it has a very clear L and R letter marking and also a small bump on L side, though it's not really necessary since ATH-IM series asymmetrical design prevents from flipping the sides. Connector itself has a very snappy lock fitment with an identical feel to the original connector. Testing with both IM03 and IM50 models showed a great comfort improvement in fitment over the ear. With original cables it was a major PITA to shape the wire and after putting it back in the case for storage to start all over again re-shaping when you take headphones out again. Now the wire, which is also relatively tangle free, goes easily over the ear and with a help of chin slider feels comfortable and stays secure in place. I found this to be a significant improvement over the stock cable. You can also use silicone earhook guides if necessary.

Of course, the big question is about sound improvement. There is no question about it, you will definitely going to hear the difference. It's not just a subtle improvement, but actually noticeable. I'm sure different people will hear different level of improvement since our hearing sensitivity is not the same, but it will put a smile on your face in either way. IM03/IM50 sound is great to begin with, but with addition of this replacement cable the sound became brighter with more sparkle and improved details across the entire frequency range. This brightness is well controlled without becoming sibilant, and overall gives a better definition to a sound. The most noticeable improvement is probably in low frequency region. I found the attack of the mid-bass punch to be a bit sharper and sub-bass gaining a new level of rumbling texture. Actually, speaking of sub-bass, I found this improvement to be more enjoyable with IM03 but not as much with IM50 where even with original cable it was already pushing the envelope. Also, microphonics was down to minimum. It's all a matter of personal preference and type of music you are listening to, but in my opinion - this replacement cable is definitely a worthy investment for either models of ATH-IM series headphones. Overall, for my own personal taste, this replacement cable will be staying permanently with ATH-IM03.

Here are the pictures.



































twister6 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Reply


Go Back   Android Forums > Android Discussion > Android Accessories
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:36 AM.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.