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Massdrop Plus Universal IEMs

Massdrop Plus Universal IEMs

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Hitting the Balance Point… ­
Which one? As many as possible!

Happy Path: My personal history is that I rediscovered headphone listening in 2009, organized local meets, became the Ultimate Ears Ambassador to Head-Fi.org for a time, and now I get to work with audiophile gear every day at Massdrop.

Not-Very-Audiophile Confession: What led me to Head-fi.org was spotting a cool-looking pair of shiny headphones on someone at an airport in Japan and wanting to buy a pair.

I never did find out what that exact pair of headphones was, but I did find a great new headphone. My next super audiophile move was to…buy some HiFiMAN RE-0 in-ear monitors. Loved them but yanked too hard on the cable and lost the left channel. Shopping around for a replacement, I decided to try for extra bass since some people thought the RE-0 were a bit “bass-light”. (Bass insecurity is a thing.) I proceeded to overdo it by buying the Sennheiser IE8 (clublife) and then vowed to go for a neutral monitor. Not too bright, not too bassy, can I find “just right”???

Everyone who knows me in the community knows that I am a big Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor (UERM) fan. I got one of the first pairs as soon as they released and still love them to this day. Many of us think that sound signature is one of the very best and if you had to choose just one headphone or IEM, that would easily be a top 5 pick. The UERM signature plus some sub-bass is fairly viewed as a vision for the “perfect” reference monitor. But would that be the “perfect listening monitor” for most people? Many of us UERM owners have the desire for a complimentary IEM. One that is a bit more lush in the low end in addition to extending lower.

We started this project with the goal of making the perfect reference monitor. We started with a base tuning similar to the Etymotic ER4SR and Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor. Then we looked to add the sub-bass extension. And we really wanted to keep the price to $299.99 so it would be affordable to more people. After a year and a half of experimenting, we got to the point where we achieved elevated but flat bass from the upper bass to the sub-bass with a very clear, flat, and connected midrange (except for a nice little dip in the annoying sibilance region and an extra bump in the presence region to balance the bass).

We’re all at the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival in Colorado right now, where Jude Mansilla from Head-fi.org has organized a big CanJam event. As soon as possible, we’ll get some graphs up on the page. The graphs will show elements of today’s best monitors in the Plus frequency response and the sound has been subjectively described as very musical, clear and fun, with no annoying peaks. It’s a lot of sound, but I can turn ‘em up and not get fatigued. There’s rumble while watching movies but super clear dialog.

This balance of driver characteristics, price, performance, technicalities, flat response, fun sound, and frequency range extension made us freeze this design. If you HAD to only pick only one in-ear monitor or headphone, we hope this would be in your top picks…at any price.
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Hey CEE_TEE, I already got a pair of these on the first drop (awesome job), but can you share with us if you guys are currently developing anything else? Not asking specifics....
CEE_TEE
I just joined the drop last night and the order is about to ship. The balanced cable was sold out and was a really good price. Will I be able to purchase that in the near future separately?
It sounds a bit veiled to me. It's just not what I'm used to. Anything I can do about it? I can't even seem to EQ it to how I like it.

For reference, I'm used to a DT990 sound sig.

Edit: managed to apply enough of a treble bump to start enjoying it. I'm also probably getting more used to the sound sig. Personally the iEMatch makes enough of a difference to me to prefer listening to it with one, it cleans up the bass coming out of my OnePlus 5 on the ultra setting.

All the default tips hurt my ear so I picked up some medium spiral dots which have been really comfy. I would want to try comply on this one day but I only have 200 and it's a struggle putting anything on with the large diameter.

The only thing I might complain about is the looks, it's pretty ugly but it's nice that it isn't crazy flashy. Maybe if the female connector port was more uniform to the housing and maybe even a faceplate with "MD+" using the Massdrop font would be cool.
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I hate muddy bass so the ones I've mentioned definitely have great bass quality with varying quantities.
GR07X is mostly neutral but with a slight v-shaped tendency and has great extension on both ends, especially sub-bass (I like sub-bass).
F9 Pro is also pretty similar to the GR07X but with more treble and less extension on the bass end.
I don't remember the Sonys that much but the EX1000 is brighter than 7550 and both have great bass especially with some mods and EQ.
SoundMagic E80 also has great bass quality and extension (but not as good in quality as the GR07x) with slightly better presentation of mids, still pretty neutral tho.
desutruction
Woops just realized I mixed up model numbers for acoustune. The treblehead one is HS1503 AL.
I somehow lost the left vented driver. Does anyone know how or where I could find a replacement?
The 2.5mm TRRS balanced cable is sold out for now,
how do I get one outside of Massdrop
or how do I buy one from Massdrop when it is available again?
I'm getting a significant and annoying popping / clicking noise, similar to driver flex (which I know shouldn't be occurring with BA drivers), out of the left-side drivers during insertion and removal from my ears. The sound occurs even with slight adjustments while it is in my ear (and I've played with it enough to know it's coming from within the housing and not the tips). Not sure if this is a problem/defect with my unit, if anyone can chime in?
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Hey, thanks for responding. I don't think it's related to the cable, as the same popping noise happens whether the cable is plugged in or not.

I've contacted support and (awesome as always) they offered to replace them. Hopefully the next set won't have this issue.
k186
Great news! Hope you get a working unit with the replacement.
Fellow massdroppers, help me out on this. I cannot decide whether I want to the MD+ or spurge and get the CA Andromeda. I listen to mainly EDM, so I like the fact that the MD+ has more bass. However I heard the CA Andromeda's treble is much better too. I just cannot decide...
uniengine
Some redditor has both and compared them https://www.reddit.com/r/headphones/comments/85swi1/massdrop_plus_review_comparison_to_andromeda/
uniengine
Personally, I like them more than when I demoed the Andros. The Andros are just too cold/lean for my listening taste. Not to mention the ergonomics of the IEM themselves is somewhat iffy. While they do have lovely shimmer and a very holographic soundstage, unless those 2 things are absolutely needed for you, I think the MD+ is a much better buy especially for the cost. Mind you, the MD+ is picky with output impedance but not nearly as much as the Andro. Plus, the MD+ has some really good sub-bass rumble that surprises you and really adds something to my music genres that the Andro lacked. Note, I vastly prefer the Vega (oh so thick and dynamic sounding) over the Andro just for context.
Anybody experienced both MD+ and CustomArt FIBAE 3? How do they compare?
I have a NFB 11.28 with 2 ohm output impedance. Considering the 1/8th rule and these having 10 ohm impedance, does it mean these won't sound good with my setup?
XrN1
I'm also interested to know. I have the nfb-11.38. My MD+ is still on the way.
I have an iPhone 8 and I was wondering if using the 9 dollar lightning port converter would cause a drop in audio quality in comparison to just plugging them straight into a headphone jack. I am asking this as I am on the fence as to whether I should pick these up or the iSINE 10.
BubberDucky
Having used one with my iPhone 7 plus with a HD6XX I can say it sounds good, the downside is that the adapter itself feels flimsy.
XrN1
Thanks so much!