Custom In-Ear Monitors Reviews List


Custom In-Ear Monitors (CIEMs), as the name implies, are customized earphones that provide improved sound quality, noise isolation, and comfort. They can be seen on TV in the ears of musicians, hosts, commentators, and more, and in our readers ears! The below interactive list covers reviews of many makes and models with features, ratings, performance, and sound signature. Filter it, sort it, and click on the product that is most appealing. We will be happy to answer questions to help you make the right selection for your needs.


Additional information can be found below the table, including a comments section.




Manufacturer ModelClick on the model link for the full review Base priceBase price; shipping, artwork, and other options extra Country of manufactureCountry where the CIEM is manufactured; companies may have sales offices in other countries Driver typeType of drivers used; hybrid type is a combination of balanced armature(s) and dynamic driver(s) Shell TypeShell material Detachable CableCan the cable be removed, and if so, is it standard. A "Yes" indicates the connectors are standard. # of driversThe total number of drivers in each shell. # of ways*Number of ways the frequency spectrum is divided; one more than the number of crossover points Sonic TraitsSonic characteristics Fit & FinishHow well the finish is on the shell and artwork, if there is any as well as attention to detail Accessory ScoreQuantity and quality of accessories; a score of 5 represents an included case and cleaning tool, which is average CableCable performance IsolationLevel of isolation; a score of 5 is average for an acrylic shell Overall ScoreThe average of multiple technical performance categories including transparency, coherence, instrument detail levels, resolution, dynamics, soundstage, imaging, clarity, and note atteck/decay (PRAT). Notes
Spiral Ear SE 5-way Ultimate $1740 Poland Balanced Armature Silicone Yes/Recessed 5 5 Transparent, natural, reference, powerful, accurate 5 7 6 10 100 N/A
Lear LCM BD4.2 $1400 Hong Kong Hybrid Acrylic Yes 6 3 Natural, spacious, bass adjustment, detailed 6 9 7 5 99.1 N/A
Spiral Ear SE 5-way Reference $1650 Poland Balanced Armature Silicone Yes/recessed 5 5 Organic, Rich, Resolving, Clear, Dynamic, Warm, Transparent, Coherent, Reference 5 7 6 10 98.2 N/A
Hidition NT-6 + Whiplash Hybrid V3 $1750 Korea Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes/protruding 6 4 Analytical, Resolving, Liquid, Detailed, Clear, Dynamic, Reference, Bright, Transparent, Coherent 10 3 5 6 98.1 N/A
Hidition NT-6 pro $1250 Korea Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes/protruding 6 5 Analytical, Resolving, Liquid, Detailed, Clear, Dynamic, Reference, Bright, Transparent, Fast, 3D, Coherent, Bass enhanced 7 3 5 6 96.6 N/A
Hidition Viento-R $1100 Korea Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 4 4 Natural, brighter than neutral, clean, clear, accurate, detailed 6 3 5 4.5 95.7 N/A
Custom Art Harmony 8 Pro $1150 Poland Balanced Armature Silicone Yes 8 3 Open, airy, 3D, detailed, dynamic, natural, slightly bright 10 7 5.5 9 94.4 N/A
Unique Melody Platform Pure | PP6 $2280 China Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 6 3 Variable, Enhanced bass, Spacious, 3D, Rich, Clear, Coherent, Transparent, Liquid 9 3 5 5 94.0 External DAC and active crossover box
Hidition NT-6 $1200 Korea Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes/protruding 6 4 Analytical, Resolving, Detailed, Fast, Clear, Dynamic, Reference, Bright, Transparent, Coherent 10 3 5 6 93.0 N/A
Fit Ear PS-5 $1650 USA Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes/propriatary 5 3 Sensitive, Warm, Enhanced bass, Mid-forward, 3D, Rich, Resolving 6 4 5 5 92.7 N/A
Ultimate Ears Personal Reference Monitor $1999 USA Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes/protruding 5 3 Variable, Organic, Resolving, Rich, Dynamic, Spacious, 3D, Transparent, Coherent 8 10 7 6 90.2 You tune the sound before you buy
M-Fidelity SA-43 $1050 Norway Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 4 3 Variable, Spacious, 3D, Warm, Enhanced bass, Laid-back, Coherent, Transparent 6 9 5 9 86.9 Switches to change bass and presence; shells filled with silicone
Earsonics EM4 $1200 France Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes/recessed 4 3 Organic, Warm, 3D, Mid-Forward, Rich, Dynamic, Transparent, Airy 7 5 5 8 85.4 Solid acrylic shell
EarSonics S-EM6 $1099 France Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 6 3 Mid-centric, 3D soundstage, organic, rich, warm, transparent, coherent 7 7 5 3 84.6 N/A
Audeze LCD-2 $950 USA Planar Magnetic Wood Yes N/A N/A Organic, Mid-forward, Rich, Warm, Transparent, Coherent, Resolving 8 10 6 N/A 84.5 N/A
Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 $850 Germany Dynamic Metal No 1 1 Bright, Spacious, Wide, Detailed, Fast, Laid-back 10 5 8 0.5 83.4 N/A
Rooth LS8 $1030 China Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes/recessed 8 4 Liquid, Bright, Wide, Warm, Enhanced bass, 3D, Detailed, Dynamic, Resolving, Clear 8 1 5 5 83.0 N/A
ACS T1 Live! $1200 UK Balanced Armature Silicone Yes/propriatary 3 3 Organic, Warm, 3D, Stage, Airy, Transparent, Coherent 6 8 4 9 82.8 Built in microphones for ambient
Heir Audio 8.A $1200 China Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 8 4 Organic, Warm, 3D, Mid-Forward, Rich, Dynamic, Transparent, Coherent 10 7 7 6 81.6 N/A
Perfect Seal Fusion 11 $499 USA Hybrid Silicone Yes 2 2 Slight V-shape, adjustable bass, smooth, natural tonality 5 5 5 7 81.6 N/A
Rhines Custom Monitors Stage 3 $1150 Germany Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 3 2 Bass enhanced, Bright, 3D, Airy, Warm, Clear 10 9 7 7.5 81.4 N/A
EarSonics Velvet $749 France Balanced Armature Plastic Yes 3 3 Tunable, warm, mid-centric 9 8 9 4 81.3 N/A
Dream Earz AUD-8X $865 USA Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 8 4 Mid-Forward, Dynamic, Spacious, Thick, Warm, Detailed 5 5 5 6.5 79.5 N/A
Lime Ears LE3/LE3B/LE3SW $750 Poland Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 3 3 LE3: Reference style sound; LE3B: Warm, stage sound, enhanced bass 7 9 4 5 76.2 N/A
Lear LCM-5 $900 Hong Kong Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 5 3 Variable, Reference, Transparent, Coherent, Clear, 3D 9 6 4 5 76.1 Optional adapter for true reference sound
Fit Ear To Go! 334 $1600 Japan Balanced Armature Plastic Yes/propriatary 3 4 Enhanced bass, 3D, Mid-forward, Rich, Organic, Warm, Coherent, Transparent 9 N/A 5 4 76.0 N/A
JH Audio JH16 Pro $1149 USA Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 8 3 Enhanced bass, Detailed, Bright, Wide, Warm, Analytical 6 5 5 5 75.9 N/A
Ambient Acoustics AM4 pro $499 Ukraine Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 4 3 Bright, Deep, 3D, Stage, Clear, Analytical, Detailed 6 5 3 6 72.4 N/A
Ultimate Ears In-Ear Reference Monitor $999 USA Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes/protruding 3 3 Bright, Reference, Analytical, Detailed, Spacious, Clear 7 10 7 6 70.6 N/A
AKG K3003 $1300 Austria Hybrid Stainless Steel No 3 3 Variable, Enhanced bass, Clear, Transparent, Detailed 10 10 4 2.5 70.5 N/A
Wan Xuan (Beat Audio) wx i9pro $619 China Dynamic Acrylic Yes/propriatary 1 1 Dynamic, 3D, Rich, Thick, Coherent, Deep 5 5 1 4 69.8 N/A
Dream Earz AUD-5X $565 USA Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 5 4 Dynamic, 3D, Rich, Mid-forward, Thick, Transparent, Detailed 5 5 5 6 68.5 N/A
DUNU DC4 $499 China Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 4 4 Transparent, Coherent, 3D, Detailed, Warm, Stage, Liquid 8 5 4 5 68.4 N/A
Alclair Reference Monitor $399 USA Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 3 2 Warm, Bright, Reference, Laid-back, Clear 4 5 5 5 64.1 N/A
ProGuard P2+1 $500 United Kingdom Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 3 2 Mid-forward, warm, powerful, relaxed treble, 3D 5 5 6 5 63.2 N/A
Thousand Sound TS842 $540 China Hybrid Acrylic Yes 2 2 Dynamic, Analytical, Mid-recessed, Bright, Detailed 9 1 2 4 62.5 N/A
Earsonics EM3 Pro $1000 France Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes/recessed 3 3 Up-close, 3D, Rich, Thick, Warm, Enhanced bass 2 5 5 7 61.5 Solid acrylic shell
Ultrasone Pro750 $225 Dynamic Plastic Yes 1 1 Bright, Analytical, Detailed, Enhanced bass, Clear 5 N/A N/A 1 61.4 N/A
M-Fidelity SA-12 $600 Norway Balanced Armature Acrylic No 2 2 Analytical, 3D, Clear, Coherent, Transparent 6 9 4 8 61.3 Canal only option; shells filled with silicone
EarSonics SM64 $479 France Balanced Armature Plastic Yes 3 3 Organic, coherent, resolving, rich, balanced, smooth 9 6 5 3.5 60.7 N/A
InEarz IE-P250 $295 USA Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 2 2 Slight V-shape, clear, forward 7 5 5 5 60.6 N/A
AKG K550 $300 Dynamic Metal No 1 1 Bright, Detailed, Clear 10 N/A N/A 1.5 60.5 N/A
Perfect Seal SportBud Silver $250 USA Balanced Armature Acrylic w/soft canal No 2 2 Dynamic & exciting; bass enhanced; forward; 3D 7 5 6 5 58.8 N/A
EarPower EP-10 Plus $1000 Italy Hybrid Plastic No 3 3 Thick, Warm, Enhanced bass, Spacious, Laid-back 3 3 2 1 58.7 N/A
Minerva Mi-3 $521 UK Balanced Armature Silicone No 3 3 Laid-back, Mid-forward, Liquid, Warm, Rich, Thick 5 7 3 7 57.4 N/A
Sennheiser HD600 $315 Germany Dynamic Plastic Yes 1 1 Organic, Clear, Spacious 5 N/A 5 N/A 57.4 N/A
AKG K701 $300 Dynamic Metal No 1 1 Bright, Spacious, Wide, Detailed, Fast, Laid-back 10 N/A N/A N/A 57.0 N/A
Fabs Fabs Fabulous Earphones $600 Germany Balanced Armature Acrylic No 3 2 Reference, Coherent, Clear, Dry 4 3 2 2 55.4 Half shell
Minerva Mi-Artist Pro $780 United Kingdom Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 2 2 Consumer sound, slight V shape, dynamic 5 6 7 5 55.2 N/A
Custom Art Music One $275 Poland Balanced Armature Silicone Yes 1 1 Warm, mid-forward, smooth, musical 5 8 7 5 53.6 N/A
Aurisonics AS-1b $599 USA Dynamic Plastic Yes/recessed 1 1 Up-close, 3D, Rich, Thick, Warm 8 8 5 6 53.5 Adjustable bass port and ambient
Earsonics SM3 $300 France Balanced Armature Plastic Yes 3 3 Warm, Mid-forward, Thick, Rich, Organic, Dynamic, Resolving 5 5 3 4 51.8 N/A
Kozee Infinity X3 $620 USA Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 3 2 Mid-forward, Enhanced bass, Bright 4 2 5 5 49.7 Many people have had custom service issues
Sony EX-1000 $499 Dynamic Plastic Yes/propriatary 1 1 Bright, Laid-back, Clear, Fast, Spacious 6 N/A 6 1 49.0 N/A
Audio Technica CK10 $280 Japan Balanced Armature Plastic No 2 1 Bright, Fast, Mid-forward, Up-Close, 3D, Analytical 3 5 8 4 42.5 N/A
Ultimate Ears Triple-fi 10 reshelled by Kozee $270 USA Balanced Armature Acrylic Yes 3 2 Enhanced bass, Wide, Bright, Warm, Dynamic, Detailed 5 5 5 5 41.0 N/A
Ultimate Ears Triple-fi 10 $180 USA Balanced Armature Plastic Yes 3 2 Enhanced bass, Wide, Bright, Warm, Dynamic, Detailed 4 9 2 2 37.8 N/A
ProGuard Custom Fleximonitors Mark 2 $395 UK Balanced Armature Silicone No N/A N/A N/A 7 7 4.5 3.5 34.8 N/A
Etymotic ER4S $299 USA Balanced Armature Plastic Yes/propriatary 1 1 Analytical, Clear, Neutral, Fast 5 N/A 5 5 34.4 N/A
Future Sonic Atrio MG7 $180 USA Dynamic Plastic No 1 1 Enhanced bass 6 N/A 5 3.5 24.6 N/A
ABOUT CUSTOM IN-EAR MONITORS

Also known as ear monitors for musicians, in-ear monitor system, and molded in ear monitors to name a few, as the name implies, CIEMs are custom fitted to each individual’s ear size and tuned with each ear in mind. Due to the improved fit and precise tuning, the level of sound quality typically achieved is higher than that of a non-customized earphone.  Add that most CIEMs use higher quality drivers, and the sound quality becomes much more impressive.

Isolation is also improved, typically adding a few dB to isolation numbers compared with universal fit in-ears, even with foam ear tips.  Cables are typically worn over-the-ear and most CIEMs offer a detachable cable system, which is difficult to see on stage when clear or hidden in hair. Due to their custom fit, they are extremely comfortable for long-term use when a proper fit is achieved.  See the Custom In-Ear Fit Guide for more information.

HOW TO USE THE LIST

This interactive list displays CIEMs based on features, ratings, performance, and sound signature, not review date. In the world of audio, new doesn’t necessarily mean better! Filter the results to find the best results for your situation.  Reviews on THL include comparisons, often on subsequent pages of the review, to help you understand the sound and how it compares.  We recommend buying based on sound signature (how the CIEM sounds), not the highest score in the price range. For more info as to why, please read The Best Headphone.

NOT SURE WHAT TO GET?

All of the information can be overwhelming.  If you have questions, please ask, but we do ask that you at least read some of the reviews/articles.  We are here to help!

99 Comments

  1. Harry on

    Hi Joe

    How do you compare the Shure SE846 with Sensaphonics “full shell” custom sleeves with other custom in-ear from this list?

    I’m a guitar player and looking for new IEMs for stage use. I’m considering the SE846 (with custom sleeves) or the M-Fidelity SA-43.

    Thanks

    • average_joe on

      Hi Harry, unfortunately, I have never made a direct comparison between the two, but in my experience with custom sleeves, they marginally improve the sound and isolation of the IEM. Based on characteristics, the SE846 will present instrument details more front and center while the SA-43 will provide a smoother, more coherent sound, and provide better isolation. Hope that helps.

      Cheers,
      Joe

  2. James on

    Hi Joe,

    Have you heard the KSE1500’s? If so, what are your thoughts on them compared to the SE-5 Way Ultimates?

    James

    • average_joe on

      Hi James, I have not, so unfortunately, I can’t comment. Cheers, Joe

  3. Rolin on

    Hey Joe,

    I am looking into getting a new pair on CIEM’s. I have had 1964’s V3s and I felt like the bass response was lacking. I am looking into going with either Alclairs (RSM) or Perfect-seal (Fusion 11’s or PS4’s). You rated the Fusion 11’s very high, but Michael from Perfect-Seal said he feels like the PS4s might be the same sound quality with maybe a little more punch. And as far as the Alclairs, the RSM seems like a very good ear and they seem like a great, well-established company, but the price would be about $150 more. Do you have any thoughts that may help as I am trying to make a better decision than I made with the V3’s? Thanks!

    • average_joe on

      Hi Rolin, sorry for the delayed response. I would agree the PS4 may have a bit more punch (dynamics), but the Fusion11 has an organic, musical, spaciousness that is reminiscent of more expensive monitors while the PS4 sounds more traditional based off a PS4 Mike sent me for evaluation. The PS4 isn’t lacking in bass, nor is the RSM (and I haven’t heard the new, improved version personally, but the older version was very good), but the Fusion11 bass is different, more authoritative, powerful, and capable except in speed and detail.

      What sound signature/sound qualities are you specifically looking for, and/or what other IEMs/headphones have you preferred?

      Cheers,

      Joe

  4. Luke on

    Hi Joe,

    Is there any recommendation of aftermarket upgrade cables that goes well with the aaw a3h pro?

    • average_joe on

      Hi Luke, unfortunately I have not paired any aftermarket cables with the a3h pro. Hopefully others that have can share their experience. Cheers, Joe

  5. James on

    Hi Joe,

    It’s me James again. The SE-5 Way Ultimate are still the IEM’s I’m looking to buy. I’m just curious to know if there will be any high end IEM’s releasing soon or later this year. I don’t want to buy them yet in case there is something new coming out that might be better. Thanks for the advice. Have a nice weekend!

    Best regards,

    James

    • average_joe on

      Hi James,

      The CIEM world is constantly moving, but just because something new is coming out doesn’t mean it will be better. If you want the sound signature of the SE5U, there are few alternatives with similar, but still different sound signatures, and of those, there is nothing I know of that will challenge. Hope that helps.

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • James on

        Thanks for the reply Joe. That really helped a lot and knowing that the SE-5 has supremacy over other IEM’s with similar signatures is good to know.

        Best,

        James

  6. Nick on

    Hey Joe!
    What a great comprehensive list! I’m looking to pull the trigger on my first pair of ciems and am looking at the Lear LCM-BD4.2s.
    Are they ‘that’ good?!
    Are they a more ‘musical’, less neutral experience than the UERR?
    I have around £1000($1400) to spend and want them purely for musical pleasure not as a studio monitor.

  7. James on

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the list and review. I am looking into buying the SE 5-Way Ultimate. What AMP & DAC would you recommend? Also willing to spend on a cable if needed.

    • average_joe on

      Hi James,

      Anything with excellent spacial qualities. The DX100 is exceptional, but no longer available, and the DX80 may be a worthy replacement, but I haven’t yet heard it. The Astell and Kern AK’s are also good overall from a portability standpoint. From my computer I typically use the ADL X1, but there is a slight bit of hiss, although I get used to it rather quickly. If you want a powerful desktop unit with no hiss the Oppo HA-1 is an exceptional choice.

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • James on

        Hi Joe,

        Thanks for the response. I will definitely look into the DX100 or the A&K’s for the portable DAP. Also, with regards to the SE 5-Way Ultimate, I’m currently using the HD 650 with Crack/Speedball. I was hoping to get a top of the line IEM that resembles the sound signature of that Headphone/AMP combination but of course want it sounding better. The HD 650 w/ Crack/Speedball gives me good sound stage, clarity, a linear/natural sound. Do the SE 5-Way Ultimate fit into that category and do they sound more amazing? 🙂

        Best regards,

        James

        • average_joe on

          Hi James,

          Let me start by saying the SE5U sounds different as headphones and IEMs just sound different. Headphones are more spacious due to the physics, but IEMs bring out more detail and have better imaging, but the SE5U does get better and closer to headphones with better sources. That is not saying the SE5U way outperforms the HD650, but it depends on perspective, preferences, and use case. While I haven’t heard the Crack/Speedball, the SE5U is similar to the HD650 in many sound reproduction characteristics, so it should be good upgrade.

          The DX100 is no longer available, just the DX80 which I will be able to try soon. As far as overkill, I don’t believe there is any source that is overkill for the SE5U since it keeps getting better with better as the sources improve. Let me know if you have any other questions.

          Cheers,
          Joe

          • James on

            Hi Joe,

            Sorry for the very late reply. I read your reply and I’ve been meaning to say thank you but I totally forgot. I appreciate your feedback on them. I understand they will be different from headphones. The main thing is that I wanted the best portable in-ears so I think I probably found the right one. It will be a while before I save enough but I’m sure they will be worth the wait. Thanks again! Have a great week.

            Best regards,

            James

            • average_joe on

              Hi James,

              No problem. The SE5U is deserving of the top spot on my chart!

              I do now have the DX80 and am very impressed by it as it is closer to the DX100 than the DX90, which is a good thing! It also sounds more detailed than the ADL X1 as USB DAC, but it has a more forward presentation (at least out of the box).

              Cheers,

              Joe

      • James on

        One more thing. Is the A&K AK380 overkill for the SE-5 Ultimate? Also, take your time responding. No need for answers right away. 🙂

  8. Rick Sanchez on

    I have an ak120 ii with the shure se846 and now i want to get some custom iem’s. With the ak120 and a 1500 dollar budget what would you say would be my best bet. I like alternative rock and electronic music mostly. Thanks so much for the guide

    • average_joe on

      Hi Rick, sorry for the delayed response. Coming from the se846 I would recommend EarSonics or Advanced AcousticWerkes, which will have a familiar sound signature but better coherence and overall sound. The EM32 is quite good, and I would imagine the EM6 is as well based on the S-EM6. The AAW AHMorph W500 is also an excellent choice, and the variable bass is will allow tuning the sound to your liking similarly to the Shure.

      Cheers,
      Joe

  9. Dan on

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks a lot for the great effort you put into this list. It’s really helpful for me to get an orientation about what CIEMs may be most appropriate for my use.

    I have two questions: have you tried the noble audio Kaiser 10? I read pretty positive feedback about it. If yes, where would they fit into your list?

    I am an audiophile who is listening to a broad range of music: mainly rock (70s 80s), but as well classic and electro. For that reason I would love a full and powerful, but nonetheless clean sound. Could you recommend me some in ears from your list?

    Thanks!

    • average_joe on

      Hi Dan, thanks for reading!

      I have not tried the K10, but jelt has, and his review can be found here. As mentioned in previous comments, at the top-end, it if more about sound signature than sound quality, which it seems like you understand. I trust jelt’s rating as we agree with the sound, but our ratings may be slightly different due to different weight on various characteristics.

      It does seem like the K10 would be a good choice, as would the SE5U, LCM BD4.2, and AHMorph W500 but it depends on what characteristics you value most, and how you like your presentation. All of those fit the “full and powerful” with different variations on that flavor. For example, the SE5U is quite transparent, so it will change depending on how the track is mastered while the BD4.2 will give ample space, but isn’t the best when it comes to intimate space, and the W500 gets the intimate space down, but isn’t going to convey the size and space of the BD4.2. I will let jelt expand on the K10. Others such as the EM32 are great if you want a more mid-centric sound.

      Let me know your preferences and if you have any additional questions.

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • Dan on

        Hi Joe,

        Thank you very much. I did a lot of testing these days in various hifi stores and was simply overwhelmed by the fitear 335, with the tube upgrade to SR. They were unbelievable. I missed a bit the base when I listened to the Lear 4.2 and unfortunately the Kaiser 10 gave me a sharp and painful sound with high vocals (I suffer from chronically tinnitus). Now the huge task I have to deal with is finding the right portable audio source. It would be very helpful if you had suggestions on that. I understand that this is a very complex task, and different IEM sound differently with each player. But in that hifi store the players for testing were te AK 380 which are way off the chart in terms of pricing (my opinion). Can you give me a suggestion for some players I may want to take into consideration? I read a lot of positive feedback about the Hifiman 901s and 802. How about alternatives, that sound amazing? The budget is up to 1500 USD.

        Thank you so much!
        Best regards,
        Dan

        • average_joe on

          Hi Dan,

          Sorry for the delayed response. Based on history with iBasso products and from what others have told me, the DX80 may be a great sounding DAP that punches above it’s cost. Other than that, the lower cost AKs may fit the bill. As far as Hifiman, I like the options they offer, but they tend to be warmer and in my opinion are an ideal match for the 335 type sound signature. Also, the UI isn’t as intuitive as the iBasso or AK units I have used.

          Cheers,

          Joe

  10. Siri on

    How about 1964 ears new A12 , s (ADEL version) ?

  11. M on

    Could someone with experience with the future Sonics mg 6 pro in ears comment on the quality and their impressions vs. the above mentioned list of other custom IEs out there? I’m a violinist so I enjoy a nuanced acoustic quality to sound (but don’t need any bleed, sealed off is better for loud environments). Thank you!

    • average_joe on

      Hi M, I have heard a Future Sonic mg9 pro demo unit twice and talked with 3 different owners to form an opinion. They sound thick, rich, and bass-centric, giving up clarity of balanced armature CIEMs above. I could compare them closest in sound signature with the Aurisonics AS-1b above. It all depends on what you are used to and what you are looking for. Being that you are a violinist, a good neutral balanced armature CIEM will allow you to hear more of the nuances with better accuracy. If you don’t mind exotic, the Rooth LS-6 and Hidition NT-6 are exceptional choices for detail retrieval and the EarSonics EM32 is another great choice.

      Let me know more specifics and I may be able to offer additional info to help you choose.

      Cheers,

      Joe

  12. Leigh on

    Hi Joe! I appreciate you trying to help everyone and wonder if you can help me.

    I sing in a loud, 10 piece wedding band (rock, pop, R&B, disco, sometimes with tracks) and we are usually stuffed in a corner or in front of a wall. It’s always very loud and I stand in front of the horn section.

    We have 3 lead singers and we do a lot of high harmonies. It seems we are always fighting with the stage volume. The other two singers (one male, one female) have bright voices and mine is more mid-tone. I sometimes have the sound guy take down my mids and lows so I can blend better.

    The other female singer and I need to buy custom IEMs and we are looking to spend $300-$500. (The male singer already has some Future Sonics.) I’ve been looking at 1964 V2 and V3, JH5, AlienEars CFR3 (but read some bad reviews), Alclairs, and countless others and I don’t know what to look for so I need help. I don’t know if we want forward mids, bright highs, neutral, balanced, warm, V shaped sound or what. I don’t know if frequency response or impendance matters. We just want to be able to hear our three vocals better. I almost went with the 1964s but heard that they have loud bass, and I don’t know if that is good or bad for us.

    thanks for any insight!

    • average_joe on

      Hi Leigh,

      True, there are many options out there and it is difficult to decide what is best. For female singers a clear, neutral CIEM typically makes for the best option, and high bass output shouldn’t be a focus. While the JH5, Alclair Reference, and 1964 V3 all sound different, they would all be good choices. The Perfect Seal PS4 is also a good choice and I find Perfect Seal offers quite good value.

      Hopefully, this will help you pick one of the 4:
      JH5: JH Audio is a well-known company that works with rock stars and has the brand power in the market.
      V3: Warmer and smoother with a good, musical performance.
      Reference: Is a bit clearer and more neutral than the V3, and Marc the owner of Alclair is an awesome guy that wants to make sure his customers are happy.
      PS4: Excellent value with a relatively balanced sound and overall performance that is a bit higher than the rest.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      Cheers,
      Joe

      P.S. What does the Future Sonics owner think of them?

  13. Orian Raz on

    Could you further respond to my question about ADUT?
    Could you please link me to a negative review you posted on a CIEM? just for curiosity

    • average_joe on

      No experience with ADUT. As far as negative review, I typically won’t review a product that is really bad and take the approach of recommending the good. But, with that said there are some reviews where I was not overly impressed, at least with the performance vs. price such as the Aurisonics AS-1b and Heir Audio 8.A. But, depending on a person’s needs, either of those could be a fit as the sound signature is very important, and IMO more so than performance.

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • Orian Raz on

        ty

  14. Orian Raz on

    Hi Joe. I just found out there is an Israeli (where i live) company making CIEMs called ADUT. their price is rather cheap 175$.
    Any chance u’ve had any experience with them?

    I’m currently planning on buying perfect seal fusion 11 because they rate highest in you isolation chart with respect to the skyrocketing budget of the ones above 7 (still high though)

  15. Bryant on

    Hi Joe,

    I’m looking to buy my first pair of CIEM’s but am operating on a relatively tight budget (500-800), having just splurged on an AK120. I currently use a pair of Shure SE425’s which I love to death, and will probably want to get a significant sound upgrade (which I’m not sure I can with this budget). Do you have any recommendations in this price range that suit rock music/electronic (Daft Punk / the XX ) kind of sound? Or am I too wistful on finding value in this category and should look to spend abit more on getting an upgrade on sound?

    Once again, thanks for this incredibly detailed list! Kept me up all night!

    Bryant

    • average_joe on

      Hi Bryant, seems like you would want to stay with a similar sound to the 425, which means a forward midrange. Given that, the closest match is the Dream Earz AUD-5X and the ProGuard P2+1, Minerva Mi-Performer Pro, and Lime Ears LE3SW have similarities. The AUD-5X is more focused on bringing out the details while the other three have a bit more relaxed sound in their own ways. None are as mid-forward as the 425, and the only CIEM I know of that fits that bill is the EarSonics EM3 Pro.

      If you provide the characteristics that you like from the 425, I may be able to make some other recommendations and discuss pro’s/cons.

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • Bryant on

        Hey joe! Thanks for the quick and really detailed reply! I really like the sound separation on my 425’s, but am also hoping to get a CIEM that has a real bright sound especially for the mids, I was looking at the alclair reference, but I also do want to get something that’s a significant upgrade to my 425’s instead of just a slight improvement

        • average_joe on

          Hi Bryant, the Alclair Reference doesn’t have the “bright” mids, which I call mid-forward. Shure products are pretty much the most mid-forward products I have heard and while I haven’t heard anything but the top of the line from them, the EarWerkz (now Empire Ears) line is very mid-forward with oodles of detail, so that is going to be a good bet. I would talk with Jack about his lineup, and feel free to ask any additional questions here.

          Cheers,

          Joe

  16. AA on

    Hello

    Thanks for being so helpful and for this informative article!

    I am a pop music singer songwriter.

    I performing with bands or various sizes depending on the show, a mix of live musicians and samples/tracks.

    I have a fairly soft voice (lyric soprano).

    I would like my custom IEM to not come out/protrude out of the ear as well and lay flat on my ears.

    Can you recommend me the best professional custom IEM for pop singers songwriters as myself?

    Do you know what IEM Beyonce, Adele, Rihanna and Sam Smith uses?

    I am looking for something professional for my long term career.

    Thanks alot for your help.

    I truly appreciate it!

    • average_joe on

      Hi AA, glad you found this helpful.

      Let me start by answering the question about what musicians use, and more specifically, top musicians. Jerry Harvey, sound engineer for Van Halen, Kiss, Mötley Crüe and more, started Ultimate Ears for the purpose of making custom IEMs for musicians. While he is credited with being the first, I have read others made CIEMs previously, but not for musicians from my understanding. Being the first company marketing high-end CIEMs to musicians along with his status, UE enjoyed great success. Competitors sprung up, many from the hearing aid market, but UE still enjoyed a healthy lead. Jerry sold UE to Logitech and later started Jerry Harvey Audio.

      JH Audio used Jerry’s clout to bring in top musicians along with a better top of the line product than UEs (JH13 vs. UE18). But, being the best at marketing doesn’t mean they are the best at tuning great sounding CIEMs. I am not saying they are bad, and in fact they are quite good, but priced at a premium for the performance in my listening experience. And, they know how to please musicians.

      I could recommend the JH13 and JH5, depending on your price range, but others such as the Alclair RSM and Hidition Viento-R are excellent alternatives if you are looking for more value. UE has a huge network, so if you travel worldwide, they can take care of you where ever you go and the UE 7 Pro would make a good choice. ACS is also another option, but their monitors are a bit warmer and smoother. The Spiral Ear SE5 Ultimate is the most tonally accurate monitor I have heard, combined with amazing capability, but if it would fit in your ears, chances are it wouldn’t sit flush.

      If you want to provide more details about what is important to you in a monitor I can help narrow it down further.

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • AA on

        Hi Joe

        Thanks so much for this.

        Sure, do you have an email we can communicate further at?

        • average_joe on

          If you don’t mind, please provide the info here so other readers can benefit from the discussion.

          Thanks!
          Joe

          • AA on

            Hi Joe

            No problem!

            Firstly thanks alot for all these information. You have been incredibly helpful! Thank you.

            Amongst all the models you mentioned, would you be able to narrow down which ones are best for pop singer songwriter who performs with full band or live musicians with tracks? I guess my top concerns are to help a singer give his/her best live performance so the music needs to sound very energetic, very clear, very detailed of all instruments and tracks, esp for the lead vocals – I would want to hear a very accurate, very clear and very detailed sound of my lead vocals.

            My music is a fusion of pop and world music so I have live musicians as well as tracks, including world music instruments in my live band, which range between a 3 to 8 piece band with tracks so the IEM need to be very accurate, detailed while giving me the energy I need to connected to my music on stage for performance.

            I would like the IEM to not stick out of my ear as well.

            Other than this, would you by any chance know what professional pop singers are using by any chance eg. Beyonce, Rihanna, Sting, Maxwell?

            Once again thank you so much for your help and I apologize for having so many questions!

            Thanks Joe!

            • average_joe on

              Hi AA, thanks for the questions. Of those listed I would recommend the JH13 if you are in the US and they make their monitors flush. Rhianna is a JH Audio customer and here is their published client list. Let me know if you have any other questions.

              Cheers,

              Joe

              • AA on

                Thank you Joe!

                • average_joe on

                  Happy to help! Please let us know what you get and how they perform for you.

                  • AA on

                    Hi Joe I tried a few models and decided to go with Fitear 334 model. Thanks once again for all your help!

                    • average_joe on

                      Hi AA, have you received them yet, and if so, what do you think? Out of curiosity where did you purchase them from and why did you decide to go with a universal vs. custom?

                      Cheers,

                      Joe

                    • AA on

                      Hi Joe

                      It is a custom in ear. I purchased them from Malaysia. I have not received it yet as it will take several months.

                      Hope that helps!

                    • average_joe on

                      Ah, I was thinking the To Go version. Fit Ear makes some nice products; did you audition them first? Can you share the name of the store? Cheers, Joe

                    • AA on

                      Yes I did test them out. The name of the store is Jaben. Hope that helps!

  17. JT on

    Hi, I’m new to CIEM’s. I am about to make a purchase in the near future and ran across the Westone ES60. I’m wondering why I didn’t see it anywhere on your list.

    • average_joe on

      Hi JT, welcome to the wonderful world of CIEMs! The Westone ES60 is one of the newer of the Westone CIEMs but shares characteristics of the ES50, which used to be the ES5 meaning it has a warmer sound. I have not heard the ES60, but from my understanding, it has a bit more top-end air than the ES50.

      I can’t review every CIEM, and in my listening (as well as others I trust), it wasn’t a top technical performer for the price. That isn’t to say it is bad, or won’t be enjoyable, and if you like Westone sound, the ES60 is a natural progression up the ladder.

      What qualities are you looking for in a CIEM and what is your budget?

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • jt on

        Thanks for responding AJ. I have never had the CIEM experience. I am diving in head first, so any CIEM is probably going to have far better sound quality than anything I’ve experienced. I am an avid listener of mostly hip-hop, alternative rock, and jazz. I don’t really have a budget ceiling, but want the money to be well spent (that’s how I found your posts….thanks again by the way). I found the Westone ES60 doing similar research. I’m going to use the CIEM’s mostly with a samsung cell phone. Do you think I’m going to need a portable amplifier to pair with the CEIM’s (let’s say if I chose the Hidition NT6 + whiplash).

        • average_joe on

          From my experience, using phones as a source leaves a lot of performance on the table, especially for high-end CIEMs. When you first get a new CIEM, the jump may make the phone sound OK, but if you use a DAC/amp such as the ADL X1 that works with phones, the sound quality will improve. But, with that said, in my experience there are still gains to be made with a high-end player; you wouldn’t put cheap tires on a Ferrari!

          Do you think the Hidition sound fits your preference? What are your sound preferences? When it comes to the high-end CIEMs, they all perform at very high levels that work with all genres, so genre matching doesn’t matter like it does with lower cost IEMs. Some brief sound descriptions follow:
          Hidition products will bring out the details in your music
          The ES60 has a warmer, more relaxed sound
          The LCM BD4.2 has a balance to it (although you can make it a bass monster) with a large spatial presentation
          The AHMorph W500 is similar to the LCM BD4.2, but with a more mid-forward presentation
          The EarSonics EM32 has a lushness with a mid-centric touch that is great for emphasizing vocals and the midrange
          The Spiral Ear SE5U is a chameleon in that it is transparent to the source and the music track, having the ability to adjust the sound signature based on the recording.

          I recommend reading several reviews and see what you think best fits your preferences and then let me know if you have questions.

          Cheers,

          Joe

  18. nicketh on

    heya joe!
    I’m in for my first foray into CIEMs and I wanted to poke you for your opinion on what I ought to get ^^
    My budget: ~$1000

    My favorite genres: indie rock and indie electronic- especially when I really like the vocalist’s voice or there is a good guitar melody

    My IEM experience: Monster turbines -> future sonic atrio mg5 -> heir audio 4.ai.
    Basically I’ve been going through a lot of bass tuned UIEMs even though I’m not sure that my music tastes really match with that. If I were following my pattern I would go for the 1964 V8 or V6 Stage but I think I ought to try something matching more to my music taste (which I presume would go better with something more mid-focused). I have noticed, though, that I am kind of annoyed when the texture of the bass isn’t there when comparing other headphones to my heir 4.ai’s. Another stipulation is that I don’t want anything analytical-I just want to have something that’s fun to listen to.

    The CIEMs I was thinking about getting were the EarSonics EM6 or maybe the Harmony 8 Pro since you recommended it so highly.

    Feel free to correct me on anything if you think I’ve made any wrong assumptions 🙂

    • average_joe on

      Hi nicketh, welcome to the world of CIEMs!

      First, since the first two IEMs you listed are dynamics vs. a multi-BA, it is understandable that there will be a significant difference in bass detail levels, but that isn’t to say the 4.a is the be-all-end-all in that department, but merely showing the difference in presentations of driver types at various price points. More expensive CIEMs with dynamic bass drivers manage to excel in level of detail.

      The EM6 is a good, fun option that will highlight vocals and guitar melody.
      The EM32 is another option that has a bit better clarity. As far as the bass goes, here is an excerpt from my not yet published EM32 review:
      “Bass: The EarSonics EM32 bass is capable of communicating emotion through deep bass note sustainment while still providing a high level of quality. Bass quantity from deep bass through upper bass relatively linear, with a slight increase in quantity as the frequency drops. While the quality is good, it isn’t quite to the level of CIEMs with multiple drivers in the bass region, or the latest crop of hybrids. However, it doesn’t perform poorly as it takes performance a step up and offers the best bass quality in the EarSonics lineup. Bass recreation will satisfy bass fans, especially those without 8+ driver CIEMs for comparison. While not overly warm, there is a warmth and richness to the presentation in EarSonics tradition while not disturbing the rest of the spectrum. At no time did I wish there was more bass, nor did I think it was overdone, and the sustainment capability is superior to competitors such as the Hidition Viento-R, Custom Art Harmony 8 Pro, and Rhines Custom Monitors Stage 3, but the first two are more detailed. Overall, the EM32 bass is excellent and the best EarSonics has offered.”

      The Harmony 8 Pro doesn’t fit the “fun” and non-analytical, but the non-pro version may work. Another option is the AAW AHMorph W500, which is similar to the Lear LCM BD4.2, but with a mid-forward presentation, a bit less of an analytical presentation, and a bit less brightness. It is fun and very capable while emphasizing the midrange, plus you can adjust the level of bass to your preference.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • nicketh on

        The AAW AHMorph W500 looks great but their authorized seller in North America (musicteck.com) seems to not have them in their lineup any more 🙁 do you know if I can order in the US from null-audio or any other resellers?

        • nicketh on

          nevermind! You just need to email them to get the order details
          Thanks a ton! Looks like I will be getting the AAW AHMorph W500 😀

          • average_joe on

            Nice, let us know what you think when they arrive.

  19. Orian Raz on

    Hello Joe. I have a medical issue that makes me extremely sensitive to screeching noises (like when a train breaks). I’ve been recommended to buy custom made earphones.
    I am not an audiophile but i do like good music and want good bass. need headphones with resistance to smartphone/laptop and most of all I NEED THE BEST NOISE ISOLATION SO I DON’T HEAR HIGH PITCHED NOISES. i have 0 knowledge on this world and nobody to ask and am desperate for an objective opinion from someone who isn’t selling me goods. Could you recommend me a company to contact (I’ve been recommended to contact perfect seal but I’ve seen they aren’t ranked well on your list).
    *I live in Israel but i don’t mind ordering from abroad. I don’t have much money but this is very important to me so i’m willing to spend (i don’t know what is considered normal budget here)

    • average_joe on

      Hi Orian, thanks for your question and sorry to hear about your situation. Silicone isolates better than acrylic, if just by a bit, and longer canals (musician’s fit) isolate better than regular fit, but are more difficult to insert and remove.

      Considering the high-pitched noise issue, it seems you would prefer a warmer sound signature. If cost was no object, the Spiral Ear 5-way Ultimate (not yet on the chart, but it would be at the top) would be an excellent choice. The EarSonics EM6 (the custom version, not the S-EM6 listed above) would also make a good choice, and the acrylic shell can be filled to increase isolation, but it is also priced high. The Custom Art Harmony 8 is also another silicone option, but also carries a high price tag.

      Considering cost, the Perfect Seal Fusion 11 is an exceptional options. While it isn’t on the chart yet, it scores around an 81.6 overall, so you can use that for comparison. Whatever you decide to get, make sure you let the manufacturer know and request a musician’s fit. Ear impressions will also be paramount to make sure you get a proper fit. Reading the CIEM fit guide and DIY Self Impression article for a better understanding of how to get good ear impressions.

      Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any additional questions and please keep us updated on your decision.

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • Orian Raz on

        tyvm. i’m probably gonna get the perfect seal 11. 500$ is very high budget for me (there will probably be some shipping extra and stuff).
        I assume the people who buy 1.5k headphones are expert musicians. I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a good 200$ headphones and 1.5k$ ones. XD

      • Orian Raz on

        how would you rate the perfect seal fusion 11 in the isolation chart?

        • average_joe on

          It depends on the ports used, as they are interchangeable and will change the amount of bass. They range from better than a standard acrylic shell (7) worst case to very good (9). Mine shells are quite large, so there is a lot of silicone to block outside sound.

  20. Iver Erling Årva on

    Where are all the ACS models? Encore, Evolve and Evoke Studio and Live! Surely, these very able CIEM performers deserve to be in the list?

    • average_joe on

      The ACS T1 Live! model is in the list; however I have not yet heard the others, therefore they aren’t in the list. I like the Live! and it is excellent for musicians (which is why it is recommended in the Musican’s Buyer’s Guide), but there are plenty of options out there. Have you heard all of the ACS lineup, and in customized form?

      • Iver Erling Årva on

        I now have the ACS Encore Live! Customs, which are the current top model from ACS Custom and lists for $1160 I think. I have only had Shure IEMs before, and that was the E5c and the SE846 models. Great IEMs, especially the SE846, and they blew me away when I first got them. I then got the ACS Encores as part of a personal stage monitoring system, and WOW! They are so good! Although I got them for on stage use, I keep using them when listening to music in bed at home. They give such a deep, rich, open and pleasent sound picture that listening to them is something I look forward to every time. They have 5 elements in each plug.

        ACS Custom is, as far as I know, UK’s top manufacturer of CIEMs and their products are used by e.g. BBC Radio, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Depeche Mode, JessieJ and Level42 to mention a few.

  21. Gideon on

    Hi,

    First of all I would like to say what an excellent web site you have! And your reviews are excellent.

    Secondly I was wondering if you could help me; I have been trying to work out the characteristics of my Sony mdr ex700 headphones which are still going strong after over 5 years.
    I appreciate that nothing lasts for ever, so I have been looking around for potential replacements. I went to the CANJAM2015 show in London and tried many, many headphones but only two really stood out for me and that was the JHA Roxanne’s and Fostex TH900. Both are a lot of money, so I though before taking the plunge I would continue to look around.

    I saw the review of the Linear LCM BD4.2 and thought these would be a good (expensive) replacement for the Sony’s, what do you think?

    I should have mentioned, my DAP is a COWON Plenue 1 which I absolutely love!

    Regards

    Gideon

    • average_joe on

      Hi Gideon,

      Thanks for reading the reviews! If you like the Roxanne, the LCM BD4.2 is going to have the same “wow” factor but with a more spacious overall sound. While it isn’t yet in the chart, the Spiral Ear SE5 Ultimate is a top performer and scores higher than the BD4.2, it just depends on what you want. The BD4.2 is more spacious, but the SE5U is more accurate and detailed. The BD4.2 is closer to the sound of the Sony while the SE5U is closer to the Roxanne sound. Let me know if you have additional questions.

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • gideonmorley on

        Hi Joe,

        Thanks for your reply. I am hoping there will be another CANJAM in London because after reading all the reviews on this site, I think I know what to “look” for in a headphone now(ish!).
        I do like detail but also warm bass and I really do not like fuzziness. My “indoor” hifi is a Marantz gold signature Cd and Amplifier which gives me the exact sound I like.
        So I need to find a CIEM that sits between the BD4.2 and Roxanne!
        My Cowon Plenue 1 does sound very “analoguey” not to dissimilar to my old Yamaha tape deck, so a slightly brighter headphone may work better than my current sony’s.
        Perhaps I should plan another holiday in the USA and time it right for a headphone show!!

        Thanks again for taking the time and trouble to reply to me.

        Regards

        Gideon

        • Gideon on

          Hi again!

          Well I have taken the plunge and ordered universal Heir audio 10A in the black friday’s sale. The reviews said they have a U shaped sound, so I am hoping they have the sound I like!

          Have you had much experience with Heir audio IEM’s?

          Regards

          Gideon

  22. Edmond on

    Hi Joe,

    Have you heard both the Alclair Reference and RSM? If so can you do a comparison of them. Is the RSM just an essentially improved Reference or another beast entirely?

    Thanks,

    Edmond

    • average_joe on

      Hi Edmond,

      Yes, I have heard both a while ago. The RSM is an improved Reference, with a more refined sound and better capability, besting the Reference in every way!

      Cheers,

      Joe

  23. Ezekiel_77 on

    Hi Joe, after auditioning the JH13 I was hooked and made the purchase. Thanks for you help in that matter. Now Massdrop is offering the Harmony 8 Pro for a very reasonable price. Would you be able to compare this with the JH13/16? I heard many good things about its treble and soundstage, but this one I won’t be able to audition. I also found the 16 to be too bassy. Thanks again.

    • average_joe on

      I don’t have the JH13, just auditioned it, and turned my old JH16 into the UM24, which has much less bass than the JH16. The H8P does not have a lot of bass weight, but capability is exceptional. If you want “neutral” bass, the H8P would be a good choice. Joker has both the JH13 and H8P, so he is the ideal person to ask.

      Cheers,

      Joe

  24. Ezekiel_77 on

    Hi average_joe, I follow this site religiously and always look forward to new reviews. A lot of my IEMs are bought based on this site. Now I’m ready to get my first CIEM, hope you can make a recommendation for me.

    I’m looking for one with
    1) detailed, clear treble (not rolled-off)
    2) upfront, prominent vocals (no recessed mids)
    3) deep bass extension with just enough quantity (some punch and rumble but not too much)
    4) wide soundstage, average separation is fine

    Using the FiiO X5ii, no amp. Listen to rock, pop, acoustic, vocals, jazz.
    Looking at JH13/16, 1964 Ears V6S/V8, Noble K10, Earwerkz Legend R, UM Merlin, CTM 500.
    Budget below $1500.

    Thanks in advance, and keep up the reviews. It’s always pleasant reading.

    • average_joe on

      HI Ezekiel_77, thanks for being a loyal reader!

      You have listed some great heavy-hitters, although I don’t have the majority of those.

      Here are my thoughts:
      JH13: it has been a while since I heard it, but I think it may fit, although the midrange isn’t too upfront front from my recollection.
      JH16: bass isn’t neutral
      V6/V8: joker would be able to answer much better than I.
      K10: from reading jelt’s review, the treble may be OK, maybe not. They sound good…
      Legend-R: it is forward, but the upper midrange is more prominent than the treble resulting in less of bright feel.
      Merlin: I think the Miracle or UM24 (remolded JH13 or 16) would be your choice, not Merlin.
      CTM500: again, joker would be the one to advise on that CIEM, or jelt for the CT-6E.

      My additions:
      Hidition Viento-R: This fits 1, 3, and 4 to a tee, but I am not sure it will be your flavor for #2 (but then I am not sure the JH13 will be either)
      Custom Art Harmon 8 Pro: Similar to the Viento-R, but a bit brighter, with less warmth, and more detail.

      Let me know your favorite headphones, or at least a sound you would like to replicate, which should help.

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • Ezekiel_77 on

        Thanks for the reply. All I have are UIEMs. I’m in a transition phase, sold most of my old earphones for various reasons (DN-1000 too mid-recessed, HA-FXT-90 vocals too “metallic”, ATH-IM03 a bit too flat-sounding), so I am left with:
        1) ATH-CKR10: Excellent bass amount and punch, great mids but not enough treble sparkle
        2) GR07: Great all-rounder, has treble sparkle but details not as good as the CKR10
        3) Havi B3P1: Good neutrality and details, lacks a bit of bass.

        So the perfect earphones for now would be… CKR10 with treble sparkle I guess?
        I will be getting the FLC8 next week (Joker’s influence again) hopefully that can keep me satisfied for awhile.
        So I’m going to look out for the JH13, Legend-R, Miracle, Viento-R and H8P. Will contact Jelt and Joker for more help.
        I live in Malaysia, the brands that I can audition are JH, 1964, CTM and Vision Ears (over here they are promoting VE5 and 6 heavily).

        Thanks again!

  25. George on

    Hello Joe, I am a first time CIEM buyer still in the process of deciding which IEM to pick and need some guidance. Can you give me a recommendation? Im leaning heavily towards Lear LCM-5 or Hier 5.a. Hidition would definitely be a possibility but its price is a bit of turn off compared to others

    • George on

      As I read more and more about Hidition it seems like it is one of the best actually for the type of sound I’m going for also I truly appreciate your reviews here on the website this is quite a huge subject that requires a lot of background knowledge and experience in the field of sound with a lot of $$$$$ that I’m not willing to spend on products that don’t suit my needs which of-course makes it difficult to decide on a worthy investment without proper knowledge as I am a newbie to CIEMs.

      • average_joe on

        Hi George, thanks for reading. Yes, Hidition products are excellent overall and at the top of the “bright/analytical” sound signature in my experience. We do understand that spending $1K+ on a CIEM is a big investment, especially since they don’t have the same return policy as products bought from amazon, or in fact any return policy typically. Buying to the sound signature and listening needs is so important!

        I recommend taking your time deciding what is best for you from a price and product standpoint, and feel free to ask as many questions as you want until you are comfortable with your decision.

        Cheers,

        Joe

  26. Nirmaljit on

    Hi average joe
    Could review aaw a2h and also make a compsrission chart for under 300$ ciem.?
    It woul pretty helpful for those (like me) who wants to enter customs for the first time..

    • average_joe on

      I can’t review the a2h since I only have a demo unit. There are very few sub-$300 CIEMs, and I have a over $1K backlog of reviews I am working on…

  27. Nick on

    G’day,

    Loving your in-depth reviews, although I noticed there isn’t a review on the Noble K10’s. Is there a reason for this? Unless I’m blind and can’t see it.

    Cheers.

    • average_joe on

      Hi Nick, thanks for reading. Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to review everything. I would be happy to put the K10 up against the rest, but at this point I am not in the position to spend for one of the Wizard’s beautiful creations. I have talked with some K10 owners I trust and have a good understanding of where it may fall.

      Cheers,

      Joe

  28. Sam Spicer on

    This is an unbelievable thorough review list of all the great IEM options out there. This must have taken you awhile to create but I for one thank you for your effort. The filters on the chart make it very easy to use.

  29. James on

    Any review of the new ACS Encore Studio Custom or ACS Encore Live Custom pending? ACS appear to have improved upon their previous T1 Live offering.

    • average_joe on

      I am working on reviews for the EarSonics Velvet & EM32, Spiral Ear SE5 Ultimate, and Legend-R among some others, but not the new ACS products. Once my backlog is cleared I will see I can get ahold of a set. What are you looking for specifically from a sound and product perspective?

      Cheers, Joe

  30. Pingback: Custom In-Ear Monitors information & discussion thread - Page 23 - www.hardwarezone.com.sg

  31. Xing on

    Hi Joe,

    No updates on the review of the alclair RSM? Been looking forward to it for a while, hahhs, been considering them abit..

    Thanks!

    • average_joe on

      Hi Xing, I have not heard the updated RSM and don’t have it on my list for upcoming reviews (and am quite booked with my review queue). When I did hear it, it was very good for the price, but the treble was a bit on the sharper side, which I believe was improved for the current version.

      Cheers,

      Joe

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