Need an unlimited budget transducer recommendation (If you are a kinda lava owner, would be even more helpful)

I joined this hobby like 2 years ago with some chi-fi 100-200$ iems. They last me for not that long period of time, and i decided to dive deeper and find good option. Now, im out of all my headphones and iems, brain storming my self and doing ton of research to find something. I finally got the chance to demo some good options recently, but it didnt do my choice easier. I mean, im still not sure if i want to go for iems or open backs, cuz im not sure about my sound preference. I will write some quick impressions about every single one. Main thoughts will be emphasized.

First impressions

SA6 : Male vocals sounded thin as expected. Orechestral and classical felt kinda of neutural, which i dont like especially with violin. I wish classical presentation to be more emotional. Technicalities were crap i assume, i shouldve strain my ears to hear the separition (i felt dissapointed the most in that department thorough out the whole listening session with all iems, but we will talk about this later). Treble was not rly exemplary from what i remember.
U12T : Here it is, the most well known iem. I was kinda disspointed for first 10 minutes, cuz difference weren’t that huge as reviewrs describe it. Then i started noticing out of head stage and A LOT of details. Orechestral was flatter then sa6, but idk which 1 of these i like more, it might be u12t cuz of more midbass presence and details, again im not sure. Treble was done better definetly. Vocals were better. The experience with u12t i can describe as very detailed and pleasent. Positional imaging was really good most likely due to a lot of details.
Andromeda 2020 : I immediatly liked the shining side of this and it’s definetly vocals for me. This track blew my mind by the vocal presentation. Since then i’ve started to think that i prefer more mid bass and lower mids. Treble was cool, better than u12t. In the beginning i was thinking “bass is fine, i love this iem” and after 2 hours or so, i was tired of listening that bass response idk why. It was sharp and felt like that its not there kinda of. I was thinking that i definetly need that flat subbass glide into mid-bass and mids. Stage felt on par, or maybe tiny bit smaller than u12t, but its probably placebo. Positional imaging was worse than with u12t.
UM MEST MK2 : Firstable, i compared vocals to andro. They sounded so natural pleasent and flat, but it felt like i need just tiny a bit more of andro’s presence and that would be ideal. For overall music i’ve probably liked this more than any other. DD’s bass is insanly good. I enjoyed mest mk2 in that department, but it felt like the same story as with vocals. For example on this track low frequency effcets from the beggining feels rly deep and fun to listen to, but also somewhat gently. I wish it to has a bit more intension, slam or kick idk how you would call this. Then I thought, that i need a bit more amount bass in FR graph than mest mk2 provides. Stage is on par with andro 2020, same with positional imaging.
IER-M9 : I was able to listen to this iem only for 30 mins. So, I cant say much about it. Bass was like quantity is there, but fun of mest is gone. Soundstage is narrower than all except sa6. Positional imaging is where these iems shines, i could easily pin-point where exactly is something located on stage. Top 1 Positional imaging for me.

Hypothetical prefences

For the short reference: I need a transducer that has sufficient amount of sub-bass transient into mid bass and lower mids without any cut out (not basshead!); more emotions on classical music than any of iems i demod; vocal presentation something in between andromeda 2020 and mest mk2; good positional imaging (very important); im not sure about treble and gain region, but 9khz peak is good i guess.
I mostly prefer iems for their portability, but my ears didnt like chi-fi iems in terms of seal and after 12 hours of them being in my ears, my ear canal starts heart a lot, as well as outer ear (different story for all demod iems). But i dont care about it, if sound signature isnt for me. If there are any headphones with that kinda of sound and no iems ofc i will buy headphones. I mostly prefer string instruments, but also like synthesizer or keyboard, piano, drums and etc. I also play games and watch films a lot, so i dont care too much about big ass sound stage to hear every single peace of sound. I just want to be able to positionally pin-point where everything is. For iems i assume 3-4khz peak or presence makes positional imaging to be really good, but not sure if im 100% right about that region. My favorite treble from all demod iems is probably mest mk2, not by much, but im sure it might be just placebo. Maybe I should look for open backs if i dont hear as much difference as how ppl talk about it idk? I have done a lot of research, but havent found any better options than Shueor EJ07M Kinda Lava, MEST Indigo and Elysian X (maybe?). The last one is discontinued anyway.

I’m highly considering KL, its almost the same amount of midbass and lower mids with ier-m9. It has DD for bass and treble doesnt look wonky, but im not sure about positional imaging; if it provides required emotions for violin and overall classical music. Maybe I should shut my mouth up and just get indigo (one of vendors in my country has this in stock). I watched HBB’s review on indigo and he said that, vocals are better than in mk2. I’m out of research so please help me with my choice.

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Paging @hawaiibadboy since he’s one of the few people here that has experience with all three of your potential endgames.

I have the MEST mkII and a resin KL, so I can give some insight; I agree that the mkII treble is about perfect for me, but while the lowend is solid, it can leave me wanting for more. I think the KL fills that gap very nicely with more mid/subbass prominence of similar quality. The vocals are more prominent with the KL to my ears than the mkII, but it is in no way overdone or shouty. As far as the imaging and soundstage, I have yet to hear something that matches the mkII overall but the whole EJ07 lineup (OG, M and KL) are all at least 90% of the way there to my ears. Basically as good as it gets in an IEM. The caveat on my KL is that it’s a resin version, so it may not match up 1:1 with the tuning of the normal version (I have yet to have it measured), so there’s that to consider on top of any potential differences in our ears or hearing (I have mild hearing loss, can only hear up to ~17.5khz in treble). I wish you good luck in your search, and if nothing else, there have been some used KL floating around used on here and r/AVexchange as of late, so you may be able to get one and, if it doesn’t live up to expectations, resell it for close to what you paid.


Thanks for your reply, where i can see your future KL measurements? And 1 last thing, how you would compare mk2 and kl in terms of accurasy of positional imaging specifically?

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I don’t have any measurements for my KL as I don’t have a rig (sorry if that wasn’t clear earlier); I may get them measured at some point when I lend them out for sample/review. In terms of positional accuracy, I honestly think that the KL matches the mkII; where they differ is that the mkII has a slightly better sense of depth/3D surround sense in soundstage presentation, which could be due to the Bone Conduction driver, the upper treble, or even placebo (It’s what I hear when I A/B them though). Keep in mind that this is a VERY small difference to my ears, but just enough to notice.

If you live in the EU, I can measure them for you

I’m in the US (WI specifically), but I may send them your way at some point if I don’t get them measured over here at some point. For me, it’s more of a curiosity than anything, as I still love them no matter how they measure.

Would love to do a retake on MMk2. Let me know if you ever need, we can figure something out :metal:

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I’m with you on this. I had both on hand for a little and had come to this as one of the notes on my conclusions. Unfortunately I kept my notes really simple at the time other then a few key things. One of the other things I wrote was straight to the point,”Sounded great but, not worth the extra cost over the Lava.” Of course for some it may be though.


Subtonic Storm

Is this available already? Where i can see the graph?

They should become available this year. Haven’t seen the graph yet, but seems the most interesting TOTL currently announced.

From all those IEMs I only have heared the U12t and I own the Mest Mk2. When researching the Mest Mk2, pretty much everyone who heared both the Mest and the Sony IER Z1R prefered the Sony.

Since price doesn’t seem to play a role for you: have you considered the Sony?

I have small ear canals, so i am afraid of z1r’s fit. If fit wasnt a thing i would probably buy this iem.

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