Home / Guides / Buyer's Guides / 2015 In-Ear Earphone Buyer’s Guide by Sound Signature

2015 In-Ear Earphone Buyer’s Guide by Sound Signature

If you have an idea of the type of sound you prefer, all that’s left is to decide on a budget and pick out your ideal earphone. However, the earphone market is huge and encompasses everything from dollar-store buds to $2000 custom-fit monitors. Differences between them abound, but neither price nor brand name guarantee that you’re getting the very best performance for your needs.

We’ve tested over 300 earphones from all around the world in order to find the best values for every preference and budget. For this guide we confined our selections to sets currently available in the US, whether through a US-based or global retailers. Besides sound quality, we considered factors such as construction quality, comfort, and convenience, holding pricier models to a higher standard.

In addition to considering your preferred sound signature and desired functionality – whether it is high noise isolation or an inline microphone for headset use – consider the audio source you plan to use. While most dedicated mp3 players sound pretty good, other sources such as smartphones and computers may not pair well with sensitive earphones. It may be safer to select an earphone with lower sensitivity and higher impedance – these sets will be less prone to revealing noise and more forgiving of the high output impedance of subpar sources. If you have to choose between upgrading your source and headphones, going for the headphones will maximize your sound quality per dollar, but keep in mind that higher-end sets will need a decent source to shine.

This guide covers 4 basic sound signature types: basshead, warm and smooth, V-shaped, and balanced. These groupings were created to give a basic understanding of the different types of sound signatures available but all earphones, even those in same group, will differ in audio performance. The goal is to be able to better understand your preferences through contrast so you can find the best sound for you.

Lastly, keep in mind the importance of a good fit with your earphones. Most in-ears were designed to maintain a tight seal with the ear canal and their sound quality will suffer tremendously with a poor fit. Check out our earphone fit guide for info on how to wear your in-ear headphones.

Note: this page contains affiliate links. Using them does not cost you anything and supports this site by letting retailers know that we help their customers make buying decisions. All affiliate revenue will be used to make improvements to The Headphone List. See our Legal Disclaimer for more info.


These earphones are for fans of heavy bass and typically place bass impact, depth, and power above all else. Because heavily enhanced mid-bass often results in bloated, boomy sound, we focused on finding earphones that provide deep, rumbling sub-bass. Outside of the lower frequencies they can be balanced or emphasize treble for a v-shaped sound.

Below $50




JVC HA-FX101 ($14) – JVC’s enhanced-bass “Xtreme Xplosives” earphones are a bargain find for the bass-obsessed, combining plentiful bass with prominent, somewhat harsh treble. The overall sound is competent, if slightly unrefined compared to pricier sets, but two things are certain – the low end is sure to please bass fans and the sound is excellent for the price. It comes in several colors and a version with a built-in microphone and remote, the FR201, is also available. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) |  Manufacturer’s Page

Nuforce NE-600X

Nuforce NE-600X

Nuforce NE-600X ($15)
 Drawing on the tuning of the company’s higher-end models, the NE-600X from California-based Nuforce delivers a bass-heavy sound without sacrificing overall performance. Coupled with the recent price drop, this makes it one of the best values around not only for fans of big bass, but all casual listeners in need of an inexpensive earphone. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com)  | Manufacturer’s Page

NarMoo S1

NarMoo S1


NarMoo S1 ($33) –  The S1 is a dual dynamic driver earphone with separate 10- and 6mm dynamic drivers in each earpiece. The 10mm acts as a subwoofer, delivering powerful bass. The overall sound signature is smooth and full-bodied, avoiding the recessed midrange and rolled-off treble so many entry-level bass-heavy earphones suffer from and delivering better clarity compared to the RHA MA350, my previous recommendation in this segment. The housings are on the large side, but very solidly built and comfortable except in small ears. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) / (NarMoo.com - use coupon code “THL”) | Manufacturer’s page


Retired: RHA MA350, PADACS Aksent PD114 



Velodyne vPulse

Velodyne vPulse

Velodyne vPulse ($60) – The first ever earphone from the subwoofer experts at Velodyne, the vPulse is a full-featured headset with solid sound quality. It delivers a subwoofer-like emphasis on deep bass, smooth treble, and better clarity compared to entry-level basshead earphones. Tangle-free flat cables and comfortable angled-nozzle housings further set this mid-range headset apart from the competition. The vPulse also features an inline microphone and 3-button remote. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page

HiSoundAudio Wooduo2

HiSoundAudio Wooduo2

HiSoundAudio Wooduo 2 ($80)
 – Though HiSoundAudio is better-known for their high-end mp3 players and amplifiers, the company has actually been manufacturing earphones just as long. The Wooduo 2 is HiSound’s idea of a proper basshead earphone, one that produces the lowest frequencies without any drop-off or distortion. In addition to some of the most powerful subbass on the market, the Wooduo 2 offers surprisingly good clarity and prominent, well-extended treble. Complete with a unique – if a bit gaudy – aesthetic, the Wooduo 2 is an all-around competent basshead delight. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) / (ebay.com) / (mp4nation.net)Manufacturer’s Page

Over $100

Retired: Future Sonics Atrio MG7 

Warm and smooth

These earphones are characterized by moderately enhanced bass and level, sometimes laid-back treble. Emphasis on the mid-bass region typically gives them a characteristically rich, full-bodied sound.

Below $50


Xiaomi Piston 2

Xiaomi Piston 2

Xiaomi Piston 2 ($25) – The second-generation Piston earphones from Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi make the perfect budget headset for the smartphone crowd, combining a 3-button Android remote and warm, full-bodied sound with plentiful bass. While higher-end earphones can point out where the audio quality of the Piston 2 falls slightly short, in the age of internet radio this really may be all the performance many users need. With so few full-featured Android headsets on the market, the Xiaomi Piston 2 is a must-have for any Android user. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com)(ebay.com) | Manufacturer’s Page


Dunu Trident

Dunu Trident

Dunu Trident ($25) – This unique-looking earphone showcases great attention to detail – its packaging, build quality, and design are all worthy of a higher price tag. While the Sony MH1C, SteelSeries Flux, and even Xiaomi Piston 2 all sound clearer and more refined, the Trident impresses with a warm and smooth signature that’s easy to enjoy and difficult to dislike. With a conventional cable, the Trident is also easier to live with every day than the MH1C and its packaging makes it a superior gift. Read full review

Buy (ebay.com) / (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page

Sony MH1C

Sony MH1C


Sony MH1C ($31) – Sony’s diminutive smartphone headset can commonly be found well below its retail price, but even at the full $80 MSRP the MH1C is a good deal solely for its superb audio quality. The earphone provides a warm, enhanced-bass sound with surprisingly good clarity and treble presence. The small size and soft eartips ensure long-term comfort, with the only downsides being the asymmetric flat cable and remote designed for Sony Xperia phones (it still has limited Apple and Android functionality) Read full review

Buy (ebay.com) / (amazon.com)Manufacturer’s Page



SteelSeries Flux In-Ear

SteelSeries Flux In-Ear

SteelSeries Flux In-Ear ($50) - The first-ever in-ear model from gaming peripheral manufacturer SteelSeries took me completely by surprise with audio quality that easily puts it among the very best earphones in its class. It’s a great all-rounder with a warm tonal character, punchy and extended bass, good treble energy, and excellent clarity. The small, comfortable form factor, good noise isolation, and an inline microphone and single-button remote make these one of the best values in portable audio. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page

Fidue A63

Fidue A63

Fidue A63 ($60) – Fidue is one of the newest manufacturers on this list, but the team behind their IEMs is anything but inexperienced. The A63 is the company’s very first mid-range earphone, but it ticks pretty much all the boxes for sound quality. Solid bass impact and strong midrange presence are complemented by an uncongested soundstage and treble that is neither harsh nor sibilant. I like the construction, as well. The only downside is that the sharp edges of the housings necessitate some fiddling to find a truly comfortable fit, especially for those with small outer ears – a small concession, but it takes away slightly from what is otherwise an outstanding product. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) / (ebay.com) / (mp4nation.net)| Manufacturer’s Page


Shure SE215

Shure SE215

Shure SE215 ($99) – Shure has been a serious presence in the professional in-ear monitor market for more than a decade, and it certainly shows in the refinement of their entry-level model. The SE215 is ergonomic, highly-isolating, and boasts a detachable, user-replaceable cable. The sound of the SE215 is smooth, with enhanced bass and relaxed treble. The dynamic microdriver also delivers impressive clarity and detail. It may not be a sonic upgrade to the Sony MH1C, but with durability and other considerations factored in, the SE215 delivers almost too much performance for the price. An optional mic+remote cable for the SE215 is available. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page

Retired: HiSoundAudio Crystal

Over $100




RHA MA750 / MA750i ($120) - Scottish audio manufacturer RHA scores another hit with the flagship MA750 monitors, which combine a warm and lush sound, spacious presentation, and good bass presence. The MA750 is less bassy compared to the pricier Yamaha EPH-100 and has more presence in the lower treble for a somewhat v-shaped sound, but otherwise is just as competent. Construction quality is extremely impressive, with stainless steel housings and thick cabling. The earphones should be comfortable for most listeners thanks to the over-the-ear fit and molded earhooks, and isolate surprisingly well. The MA750i model adds a mic and 3-button Apple remote. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page

Yamaha EPH-100

Yamaha EPH-100

Yamaha EPH-100 ($130)
– Yamaha’s flagship earphone provides big sound in a small package, based around a dynamic microdriver wrapped in a compact, comfortable, and well-built aluminum shell. Noise isolation is outstanding and the sound quality is great as well, with strong bass, lush mids, and smooth – albeit slightly docile – treble. Add a dynamic presentation and impressive stereo imaging, and the EPH-100 is easily one of the best-performing earphones in its price class. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page


Enhanced bass and treble make for an exciting, v-shaped sound with these earphones, providing a lively sonic experience typically reminiscent of the “Rock” setting on many equalizers. Due to the way the human loudness contour works, at lower volumes a mild v-shape can actually present a fairly balanced experience.

Philips SHE3590

Philips SHE3590

Below $50


Philips SHE3580 / SHE3590 ($10) – These bargain-bin miracles may look like the average dollar-store in-ears but their sound tells a completely different story. With excellent presence across the frequency spectrum, enhanced bass, and crisp, clean treble, the sound of the Philips is worth much more than what you pay. Small and comfortable, they come in several color combinations and are the perfect small gift for music fans of all ages.

Buy (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page

Soundmagic E10

Soundmagic E10

Soundmagic E10 ($35)
– Though not quite as clear and resolving as the Philips SHE3580, the E10 is a great all-around alternative with less bass emphasis, smoother treble, and a wider and airier sound. A headset version with mic and 3-button remote, the E10M, is also available. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) / (mp4nation.net)| Manufacturer’s Page


VSonic VSD3S

VSonic VSD3S

VSonic VSD3S ($45 – $55) – VSonic’s followup to the excellent VSD1S model, the VSD3S offers an accurate, yet energetic sound with good bass impact, fantastic clarity, and a spacious soundstage, achieving a large portion of the performance of VSonic’s highly-regarded GR07 model at a fraction of the price. The ergonomic design is worn over-the-ear and closely mimics higher-end models from the likes of Shure and Westone. Both fixed and detachable-cable versions are available, but considering that replacement cables are not readily found, I would go with the fixed. Unlike most other audiophile earphones, the VSD3S is available in a bunch of funky colors, too Read full review

Buy detachable cable version: (lendmeurears.com) / (ebay.com) / (amazon.com)
Buy fixed cable version: (amazon.com) / (lendmeurears.com)

Retired: VSonic GR02 Bass Edition, VSonic VSD1/VSD1S





JVC HA-FXT90 ($78) – This Japan import is chock-full of technology, combining two dynamic drivers – a carbon-coated tweeter and a carbon nanotube woofer – in a single housing. The sound of the FXT90 is balanced in an aggressive sort of way, with the intimate midrange giving up only a bit of emphasis to the prominent bass and sparkly treble. The performance is strengthened by good timbre and a nicely layered presentation, making these JVCs one of the best deals in portable audio. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) / (ebay.com) | Manufacturer’s Page

ThinkSound MS01

ThinkSound MS01

Thinksound MS01 ($100)
– Thinksound’s formula has always been beautiful in its simplicity – combine one part enhanced bass with one part clarity, add stylish, well-crafted housings made from renewable materials, and package it all with great attention to detail. The MS01 remains true to the formula, delivering a warmer sound compared to the MOE-SS01 with the upmarket look and feel of all Thinksound earphones. Plus, the company’s commitment to being “Green” is sure to score bonus points in some circles. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page


Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear

Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear

Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear ($100) - The Momentum In-Ear follows in the footsteps of the on- and over-ear Momentum headphones with its stylsh design, comfortable, lightweight construction, and impressive audio performance. Its sound is v-shaped and slightly warm overall tone thanks to a generous amount of bass enhancement. The midrange is mildly recessed while the top end carries a high level of energy for a textbook V-shaped sound signature. The Momentum in-ear is available in both iOS and Android versions with full-featured 3-button remotes. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com)  / (amazon.co.uk) / (amazon.ca) / (amazon.de) / (amazon.fr) | Manufacturer’s Page


Retired: Astrotec AM-800, MOE-SS01

Dunu DN-1000

Dunu DN-1000

Over $100


DUNU DN-1000 ($190 – $210) - The DN-1000 is a hybrid earphone – that is, it combines a dynamic driver acting as a subwoofer with a dual balanced armature handling the mids and highs. It has superb bass – deep and hard-hitting, with almost no bloat – as well as outstanding clarity.  Its V-shaped signature makes it especially great for modern music – EDM, pop, and so on – and the excellent construction and good noise isolation, though typical for DUNU, still stand out among other $200 IEMs. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com)(ebay.com) / (mp4nation.net) | Manufacturer’s Page


DUNU DN-2000

DUNU DN-2000

DUNU DN-2000 ($280 – $315) – On top of their similar aesthetics and construction, the DN-1000 and DN-2000 are both triple-driver “hybrid” earphones with V-shaped sound tuning. The sound of the pricier DN-2000 is not a direct upgrade over the DN-1000, but rather a slightly more balanced and refined alternative with a bit less bass, a more spacious and airy soundstage, less recessed mids contributing to better vocal clarity, and treble that is a touch smoother. All in all, I consistently preferred the DN-2000, but the differences are subtle enough that some users– hip-hop and EDM listeners, for example – may not see much benefit from the pricier DN-2000 or even find the bassier, slightly more v-shaped DN-1000 preferable. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) / (ebay.com) / (mp4nation.net) / (CTC Audio) | Manufacturer’s Page



Emphasizing no particular area of the frequency spectrum, balanced headphones provide the most clear and accurate sound. Typically neutral to slightly bright in tone, balanced sets can also be slightly mid-centric when the bass and treble both roll off at the limits.

Below $50


Etymotic Ety-Kids

Etymotic Ety-Kids 3

Etymotic Research ETY-Kids ($39) – Etymotic’s entry-level model promotes hearing safety with a combination of immense noise isolation and volume-limiting impedance. The earphones are also well-built and stay true to the Etymotic brand with sound that is clear, accurate, and neutral, though for some listeners perhaps lacking in desired bass presence. A headset version with microphone and 3-button remote is also available. Volume-limiting design aside, the ETY-Kids are a great option for the budget-minded audiophile. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page

Brainwavz M1

Brainwavz M1

Brainwavz M1 ($45)
– Of the many entry-level earphones offered by Hong Kong-based Brainwavz, the original M1 still stands out with its smooth and natural sound. There’s no bass boost here – just a balanced signature with a mild focus on the midrange and very smooth and pleasant treble. On top of all that, the small size, comfortable form factor, and complete accessory kit all make the M1 a user-friendly all-rounder perfect for first-time earphone users. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) / (mp4nation.net)| Manufacturer’s Page


Retired: VSonic VC02



Ostry KC06

Ostry KC06

Ostry KC06 ($58 – $70) – The KC06 doesn’t really belong in the “balanced” category in the sense that its tuning is not strictly neutral, but it is an excellent-sounding earphone that’s even more out of place elsewhere. It has slightly enhanced bass with some sub-bass roll-off, forward and very clear mids, sparkly treble, and a soundstage that’s wide and airy for an in-ear earphone. Next to higher-end sets, the KC06 lacks some bass extension, soundstage depth, and imaging ability, but for the price it is very hard to fault. The metal construction is good and the shallow-fit form factor with off-center strain reliefs is comfortable in the ear. One caveat is the high sensitivity, which means hiss can be audible and low volumes can be hard to dial in with sources not designed for sensitive IEMs. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) / (ebay.com) / (lendmeurears) / (mp4nation)

HiFiMan RE-400

HiFiMan RE-400

HiFiMan RE-400 ($79)
– The folks at HiFiMan have been perfecting the accurate dynamic-driver earphone for the better part of a decade, and the latest iteration offers a very balanced, slightly mid-focused sound with a hint of warmth, providing a noticeable step up in performance from even the best entry-level models. With its comfortable form factor, good noise isolation, and respectable build quality, the RE-400 is very difficult to fault on any front. Versions with microphone and remote for iOS and Android are also available. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page


Philips Fidelio S1

Philips Fidelio S1

Philips Fidelio S1 ($90) – Philips’ new flagship earphones are well-built, well-accessorized, and reasonably priced. Offering a flat and level signature with a bump across the bass range, the S1 also features tangle-resistant cabling and a built-in microphone and remote. The semi-open design makes them great in situations where the higher noise isolation of most other high-end earphones is undesirable—and a great choice for those who don’t like the more intrusive fit of most other IEMs.  Read full review at InnerFidelity

Buy (ebay.com) / (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page


Retired: MEElectronics A161P

Over $100


VSonic GR07 Classic

VSonic GR07 Classic

VSonic GR07 Classic ($99) / GR07 Bass Edition ($130) – VSonic’s dynamic-driver flagship has been popular on the portable Hi-Fi scene for four years thanks to its ergonomic housings, adjustable nozzles, and bio-cellulose dynamic drivers that offer excellent consistency across audio sources and produce sound that’s quite neutral, yet not lean or lacking in bass. There are more of both highs and lows compared to the HiFiMan RE-400 and Etymotic HF5, but the GR07 is still pretty darn balanced, and plenty great-sounding. The latest “Classic” version is available in 3 colors and priced at $99 (Note: if you see a blue, maroon, or silver GR07 listed as a GR07 mkII or any other variant at a higher price, you’re overpaying). Those looking for a little more bass will enjoy the equally capable GR07 Bass Edition. Read full review: VSonic GR07 / VSonic GR07 Bass Edition. Read impressions of the GR07 Classic here.

Buy GR07 Classic (amazon.com) in bluemaroon, or silver / ebay.com / lendmeurears | Buy GR07 Bass Edition (amazon.com) / (ebay.com)

Etymotic Research HF5

Etymotic Research HF5

Etymotic Research HF5 ($120) – Etymotic Research invented the universal-fit in-ear earphone back in the 80s, and the company still manufactures some of the most accurate earphones on the market more than two decades later. The HF5 is a top-tier model with a mid-level price tag, offering an impeccably clear, detailed, and accurate sound from a tiny balanced armature driver. It also offers outstanding noise isolation – better than pretty much any other universal-fit earphone on the market – all at a very reasonable price. Two headset versions – the single-button HF2 and 3-button HF3 – are also available. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page


Fischer Audio DBA-02 mkII

Fischer Audio DBA-02 mkII

Fischer Audio DBA-02 mkII ($196) – Rounding this overview is Russia-based Fischer Audio with the DBA-02 mkII. The mkII revision finally gives this premium-sounding earphone a fitting look and feel—the updated earphones are sturdy, comfortable, and very well-isolating. They also provide a balanced and capable sound courtesy of dual balanced armature transducers, effortlessly resolving the finest musical details with great instrument separation and stereo imaging. The DBA-02 mkII is not the cheapest dual-armature earphone on the market, but it is one of the most well-rounded. Read full review

Buy (amazon.com) | Manufacturer’s Page


Well, that’s more than two dozen of the most essential earphones for every taste and budget. For more in-depth reviews of these and other sets check out the sortable review list. This guide will be updated whenever we come across new products worth mentioning.


Check out also our Budget Earphone Buyer’s Guide – the Best Earphones Under $50 and our Custom In-ear Monitor Buyer’s Guide


Questions or comments? Leave them below.

Last major overhaul: 02/14/15

About ljokerl

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.


Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/thehea52/public_html/wp-content/themes/jarida/comments.php on line 21
  1. Hi Joker,

    I tried HiFiMan RE-400 last night; absolutely horrible packaging, flat, downward unexciting sound, and very questionable build quality. One of the cables appeared to be cracked right out of the box. Tried every tip that came with it, played them on Hi-Res Sony NWZ-A17, and after about fourth random flac from Allison Moorer (Down to Believing), The Blues Mystery (The Blues Mystery), Fourplay (Esprit De Four), .. I packed them and returned back to Amazon. These phones sound so unnaturally flat and unexciting that I simply could not have them in my ears any longer than that.

    My current street buds are Yamaha EPH-100, I have had them over several years, and I do like their overall soft, sweet, and with the punch when needed sound. The only problem with them is that I have wet year in the morning, with the drivers close in the nuzzle they do tent to shut down (one by one) by the time I exit the last U-Bahn train on the way to work. Getting the right tips for them is also somewhat a problem.

    With this being said, would you recommend a set that betters Yamahas for sound and comfort. I spend most of the daytime hours with DT770 in the office, and I am well aware it would probably be hopeless to wish for the similar sound from the tiny in-ear buds, but I would appreciate your suggestions on anything that comes near it?

    Thank you.

    • I wouldn’t go from the EPH-100 to the RE-400. Completely different earphones with very different strengths and weaknesses.

      They aren’t sweat/water-resistant, but if you want an earphone with a fun and punchy sound not unlike the EPH-100, but in a very different form factor, the RHA MA750 may be worth a try. It’s not better-sounding, but it may work better for you in terms of design.

      Otherwise you can look at something like the Sony XBA-H3 or Fidue A83 for an upgrade, but these tend to have worse noise isolation and quirky form factors.

    • Hi Joker I’m looking for most powerful earphones cuz I’m hard of hearing and I don’t need a specific cuz I won’t hear the difference between clearness and high frequency sounds, but will go for bass sounds, any ideas. Thanks

  2. Nice website joker very informative. Just would like to ask for a recommendation of IEM’s cant seem to decide on what to choose. I mostly enjoy symphonies. Though I do not know what sound signature they are good in. Durability is also a plus,maybe ill be taking them on a hike.
    These are what I have listed so far:
    mh1c,vd1s,piston 2,dunu trident,me electronics m6p2 maybe a vd3s if its worth but its going out of my budget. Or if theres one youll recommend within that price range is also much welcomed. Ill be mainly ordering them from ebay or aliexpress. thanks

    • VSD3S should only be a couple of bucks more than the VSD1S. Fixed-cable version is $45 at lendmeurears. I would go for that or the MH1C. The warm, smooth MH1C (asymmetric cable aside) is the safe choice with a more consumer-tuned sound. The VSD3S is more of an enthusiast earphone with a tuning more oriented towards clarity and accuracy. Both are great “starter” earphones.

  3. Sir you rock. Your knowledge and ability to communicate the subtleties of sound is truly amazing.
    Now for my question. I am an old school film editor and have studio monitors (Adams a5x), for the edit rooms and both adams and TDL’s and B&W C5′s for the screening rooms and a fun Klipsch reference series for the playstation 4. Up till now I have been toting around my studio cams for my laptop and iphone. Finally giving in to the portability of an in ear set. I will be using these for music and films while on the go but will not be “working” with them, so a more fun and open soundscape is where I’m headed. Fun but not “over” colored. Deep bass with a clear unveiled midrange and clean treble for films seem logical. I do however listen to an enormous range of music. Always on the lookout for soundtrack material. I will also listen to soundscapes. I feel like the 100 to 200 dollar range is fine… if I need to listen for work I will pull out the studio cams. Since these will be my first (other than the white things apple gave me with the phone) I have been reading up on many of your reviews and comments but I have not found any that address my unusually broad listening habits. So, what say you? Thanks again for your generosity and passion!

    • With the requirement of a fun sound and no other experience with mid- or high-end in-ears, I would consider the RHA MA750 as a starting point. Yes, it’s a little on the bassy side and not as tight or clear as a strictly analytical set, but it has good impact and is easy-going and relatively versatile. If you would rather trade a bit of that “fun”, warm character and bass power for a little more clarity (but still maintain more punch than a strictly flat IEM), I’d recommend the VSonic GR07 Bass Edition or the Philips Fidelio S2. These tend to be more neutral/clear/accurate and brighter in tone overall, but still have ~5-10 dB boost over flat at the low end for that punchier sound.

  4. Hello Jocker

    Thank’s for all you are doing here.

    You get so many questions, it gave me pause…

    So, i read as much as I could, but I am still uncertain. Let me set the stage first on my experience and taste. I come from the RHA MA750i, that I got almost a year and a half ago. As a side note, for those interested in anecdote relating to their durability, the rubber coating started to peel off at different places a couple of month ago (mind you, I wear them a lot, and they were still functionnal, just getting uglier by the day). I got a replacement from RHA two weeks ago, but the cat killed those.

    I want something different for my next in-ear. I don’t have much experience with good headphones, but here is what I liked and what I think I learned from the 750i : I enjoyed the detail and separation, I think. I could hear very nicely accoustic instruments, what sounded to me like very natural and at times almost scaringly present voices, generally more details than I was used to. I don’t know to much about sound stage, but sound did seem to travel and position itself better than I was used to, but not in a « I can tell the trumpet is right there… » kind of way. I got the feeling mids and highs where quite to my liking, even if I also remember enjoying what I believe were more brillant sounding headphones. I otherwise have cheap AKG K403 on ear, cheapo Sony iem from the bargain bin (the MDR EX38iP I believe), a pair of Koss SportaPro… and I prefer the mid and high balance of the 750i all the time.

    I did enjoy a lot the depth I could hear the bass reach, it was a novelty for me. But too often times (not always, by any means) I got the feeling that the overall bass was overshadowing the detail and clarity, killing a major part of the pleasure for me. I discovered what « veil » meant. This is in essence what is making me look elseware for my next IEM.

    Right now, I am looking at : HiFiMan RE-400, Fostex TE50, Vsonic GR07 Classic, Vsonic VSD3S, Audio-Technica ATH-IM50. I think you did not review the Fostex or the Audio-Technica so far, so I will not expect specific comments about those. It’s just that the Fostex is on sale right now at $129 at Headphonebar, a Canadian distributor, and the Audio Technica is rather inexpensive on Japan import at Amazon.ca
    I don’t know what to expect as far as bass is concerned in a more balanced headphone. I figure I can only bet I’ll very well survive the loss in bass quantity departement, as long as the bass is audible (I don’t have to concentrate on it to hear it) and present, and of some highish quality. But I am more concerned for the highs and mids.

    Question 1 : I am wondering for each of the IEM I’am looking at as to how they compare to the 750i in terms of separation, detail, clarity and overall soundstage. The soundstage part in that list is probably the least important for me, or the one I understand the least or that I am least conscious of.

    Concerning the Vsonic in particular and it’s reputation for tending to be sibilant, I have no idea what is my tolerence for sibilance or harsh highs. I have heard highs and high mids that were too much for me, but the only concrete but not very usefull thing I can state about my tastes in highs and high mids is that I seem more tolerant than my wife to them (also you can refer to what I stated about the 750i).

    So, question 2 : Specificaly, would you say the VSD3S suffers more or less in that department than the GR07 Classic?

    Question 3 : Is details, clarity, separation on the GR07 classic worth twice the price compared to the VSD03?
    That’l be all for now. Thanks in advance, and sorry for the lengthy post.

    • Right, I can’t address the IM50 and the TE50 but I tend to prefer the GR07 Classic to the RE-400 for the things you want, especially in the soundstage/separation and bass departments. Mids are kind of a toss-up – the RE-400 has more forward mids, but the GR07 is a little leaner and just as capable in the midrange despite being a little more laid-back. The top end is definitely smoother on the RE-400 (compared to the GR07 and MA750 both).

      Coming from the MA750, the GR07 does what you want. Even the bass edition of the GR07 has better clarity and tighter bass, as noted in my MA750 review: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/rha-ma750-ma750i/ . The only downside, as you noted, is that its treble is even less smooth and forgiving than that of the RHA. Where that falls on your tolerance is a mystery at this point.

      As for the VSD3S, I compared it to the GR07 here: http://theheadphonelist.com/brief-impressions-vsonic-vsd3s-ostry-kc06-havi-b3-pro/ . The GR07 is better when it comes to bass tightness, though I can’t really quantify the difference (beyond saying it’s noticeable/significant), or put a price tag on it for that matter.

  5. Hi |joker|,

    Firstly, thanks for the excellent buying guides and extensive reviews.
    I am looking for an upgrade to the GR07 Classic and would like to buy a pair with a similar sound signature and a little more controlled (but not too smooth) treble. I’ve been looking at the Alclair Reference, Audio Technica ATH-IM02 and InEar SD2. Which one would you recommend among these? If you have something else apart from these to mention, please do.
    I’ve mentioned a custom monitor here but (in case of refits) due to import/shipping issues in my country, I’d rather prefer a universal. Looking forward to your insights.

  6. Hi Joker,

    I have a pair of Shure e4c IEM’s that are literally on their last leg. I love the sound profile of these as well as the build quality.

    I have tried the new the shure product I thought would be similar, the SE215, and I did not like it at all. I also tried the Etymotic MC5 but I thought they had a bit of a cheap build quality but the sound was closer to my e4c’s. I listen mostly to jazz and a bass boost really messes with the tightness of an upright’s tone.

    can you reccomend something? I might try the ety HF5′s or Philips S2′s…would that be the right direction?

    Another thing that I liked about the Shure e4c’s was that they fit comfortably up over the ear OR straight in. I did not find that to be the case with the ety’s

    Thanks in advance!

    • Keep in mind that the E4c was like $300 (or was it $400?) when it came out (to the MC5′s $79.99, for instance). I had one ages ago and it was a tank. Don’t remember much of its sound other than it was balanced (whereas the SE215 is bassy, warm, and a little dull up top)

      The HF5 is built and fits in the ear quite similar to the MC5. Other than that it’s a great earphone for balanced sound but if you want something that’s shorter to wear either cable up or cable down, a HiFiMan RE-400 or ACS T15 may be a better choice. Neither is as beefy as the Shure E4c but they’re the closest to being wear-able both cable-up and cable-down with a flat/balanced sound sig and tight bass.

      The Fidelio S2 is bassier and can only be worn cable down, and has a bit of upper midrange lift compared to the Shure models I’ve tried. Not sure that’s desirable with jazz. It’s also got a rather large footprint in the ear compared to the rest of these.

      • Hi Joker,

        Thank you for your quick response. I forgot my Shure e4c’s where that expensive. They definitely were!

        I read both reviews on the T15′s and RE-400′s. One follow-up question…the T15′s are nearly 3x the price of the RE-400′s…so am i getting a noticeable step up?

        If the ACS’s are definitely high-end IEM’s comparable to the ER4′s and the RE-400 are more mid-range then I might spring for the T15′s. ACS has a location in NYC so I may contact them. I love the non-descript form factor of the T15′s.

        Thanks Again!

        • Not in sound – the RE-400 has a slightly warmer and less lean and balanced sound sig with a more forward presentation, but keeps up for the most part. Part of what makes it such good value. The T15, on top of being more neutral and a little more spacious, just has a nicer form factor and will likely last longer with heavy use.

          If you have ability to try the T15, I would definitely do so, but for sheer value it doesn’t really match the RE-400.

          • thank you joker!

            i am going to try the re-400′s and if that doesn’t work i will either go with the t15′s or just be stubborn and get an unopened pair of shure e4c’s haha

  7. Hey Joker!
    I have a bigg issue. I want to buy a new headphone. Now i useing Brainwavz R1 and i just LOVE the richness of the base, but it s getting uncomfortable for my left ear (hurting, pushing my ear canal a bit, and always getting out when i doing some sport). I listening hib-hop music all the time , and rarely movie soundtracks. So i want a good iem headphone with realy good base, and an OK durability for cycling. I red a lot of forums and reviews and i can’t chose . What do you suggest to buy: Shure SE215, Sennheiser MOMENTUM In-Ear, RHA MA750i. I red a realy good reviews about this new Dunu TITAN 1 headphone, but sadly i cant buy this in Hungary.
    So Joker pls help, which one do you prefer?

    • I would choose the RHA MA750i – the only limitation on that is comfort, because it is a large earphone. Not sure how its form factor compares to the R1, though. It has more bass than the SE215 and Momentum without sacrificing quality.

  8. Hi lJokerl! So im planning to buy the Shure SE215, and in comparison with the RE 400, i’ve got a few concerns, the RE 400 are too smooth for my liking, and seeing that you put the SE 215 in that category, how’s the smoothness on the 215′s? The RE 400′s are quite sleepy for me, and their soundstage is really average at most, will the SE 215 have a better soundstage and sound more lively? Thanks lJokerl!

    • I personally don’t consider the SE215 to be more lively than the RE-400. I’ve always thought its treble somewhat dull, and the heavier bass actually makes that a little more obvious compared to the flatter RE-400. Soundstaging is nice on the SE215s but if you want lively I’d go with something else – maybe an Ostry KC06 (wider soundstage and a more colored sound sig). Or a JVC FXT90 (SE215-like bass with more treble) if you don’t mind a more v-shaped sound.

  9. Hey Joker thanks for the list. I’m looking for a bassy iem as i listen to mostly edm. I currently own the JVC FX1X and am quite happy with the amount of bass on it…I’m looking at the Velodyne V pulse or the Hisound Wooduos 2 as comparatives, possibly the Yamaha EPH 100s as well. Which of the 3 would you recommend based on quantity of bass(im not too bothered about the quality it shld be gd). Especially between the Vpulse and Wooduos

    • The vPulse and Wooduo2 are more focused on sub-bass (deep bass, responsible for that low rumble and slam) rather than mid-bass like the JVCs. This helps keep the bass quality relatively high compared to other bass-heavy earphones, but it’s also a little different from mid-bassy sound of the FX1X, which just has a lot of impact with not too much depth behind it (though for the price it’s excellent). This is similar to what 1st-gen Beats by Dre did and why they weren’t particularly well-liked even by bassheads.

      Honestly, if you want that type of bass presentation the Beats by Dre Tour 2.0 or the new NHT Superbuds (review coming soon) would be a better buy than the Velodyne or HiSound. If you’re willing to try the deeper, more refined bass of the Wooduo2, by all means go for that – it’s better than the vPulse in both overall bass quality and clarity.

  10. Hi there, thank you so much for this page – the previous editions have been super useful to me and is the definitive guide to headphones/IEMs for me.

    Just wanted some recommendations – I recently lost my HifiMan RE400 Waterline, and am looking at the EPH-100, GR07 BE, GR07 Classic and the VC1000. Unfortunately, the TDK BA200 is hard to find where I am – so that’s kinda out of the questions.

    While I was okay with the RE400, I found it a little on the bright side – I also have a pair of Sennheiser HD25 Headphones which I really love. I listen to a variety of music – rock, jazz, acoustics, metal, blues rock, some EDM. Based on these, which of the above would you recommend?

    Thanks in advance and keep coming with fantastic reviews!

    • Barring any possible fit issues you may have had with the RE-400 (which would have made it sound brighter), your requirement for darker treble precludes the GR07s and definitely the VC1000. The EPH-100 is the only one of the sets you’re considering that has a chance of sounding smoother than the RE-400, but it’s also a fair bit bassier. Still a good option, though.

      Here’s some alternatives that I think sound very smooth but have less bass than the EPH-100:

      Brainwavz R1: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/brainwavz-r3-ver-2/
      SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Pro: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/steelseries-flux-in-ear-pro/
      Klipsch X10 or X11: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/klipsch-image-x10-x10i/

      The Flux and R1 are more similar to the RE-400 in balance while the X10 is warmer and bassier (not quite as bassy as the EPH-100, though). It used to be quite pricy but seems to be down to a reasonable $110 on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1DPqMiN

      • I think it might have been a fit issue – especially when I started using comply tips which were a little too big.

        I should’ve stressed that I quite like clarity & instrument separation. I’ve recently found a TDK BA-200 where I am as well, but it’s quite a bit more expensive than the secondhand EPH-100 that I found. It’s also really difficult to find VSonic stockists here.

        I’m thinking of going with the EPH-100 and waiting out for the VSonic GR07BE. But given that I found the TDK supplier and that I like instrument separation – what would you recommend? Thanks a lot!

        • I would probably skip the GR07 BE and either go EPH-100 (for bassier/warmer sound) or BA200 (for flatter/more balanced sound) depending on what you place more importance on. For instrument separation the BA200 is definitely superior but the EPH-100 is not bad by any means, especially considering how much more bass it has. I guess the difference in prices would have a lot to do with it as well.

          I actually think that with a perfect fit the RE-400 is still a touch smoother than either of these, but obviously fit variability can change that. The EPH-100 and BA200 are both quite high up there in smoothness when compared to other IEMs on the market.

  11. Hi there joker! Been visiting your website on and off whenever I feel like it and seems there are quite a lot of new ones.

    I’ve always wanted to get a JVC HA-FXT90 but things always come up so I can’t get them. I’m still looking forward to getting one but with the VSD3S out now, was thinking of getting that instead. How would you compare the 2? Which would you pick considering they’re both v-shaped.


    • The VSD3S is a more neutral and accurate earphone with a milder v-shape (which I tend to prefer over deeper v-shape signatures, but that’s not true for everyone). The FXT90 has more of a mid-bass hump and a more warm and impactful sound overall, with a more forward and aggressive presentation. The treble on it can be a little harsh but the VSD3S can be a little sibilant so I don’t think either has an advantage there.

      • Wow, that was a quick reply! Thanks!

        Hmmm, I figured that would be the response haha. Anyway if it helps, I listen to different genres, from Rock to Instrumentals / Classical to Game / Movie OSTs to EDM (House, D&B, etc) and like the presence of bass as long as it doesn’t overpower everything else. Really wish I could test the FXT90 first.

        Anyway thanks again! Keep up the amazing work! :)

  12. Nice Guide Joker. I’ve been following your reviews for quite some time.

    I bought the Flux about a year back and since then two pairs have conked on me. It’s extremely frustrating because, while I’m not touting that I’m the most careful guy when it comes to earbuds, I really do try and take care of them as best as I can; wrapping them with good technique, putting them in a pouch in a pocket with nothing else in it, keeping the cord as loose as possible, etc…

    Do you know what would be a pair that has a similar sound signature to the Flux (which was top-notch for my tastes, admittedly) but with much greater durability? My budget is up to about 100-120 Canadian Dollars, which is about 80 to 100 USD. I’d be really happy with a pair that at least lasted a year or two. Also, even though the Flux sound signature was really to my liking, I wouldn’t mind something more v-shaped since I do tend to listen to rock/metal music more than other genres.

    Thanks in advance for reading. I truly value your opinion!

    • Just to let you know since I forgot to mention, I only use IEMs when I’m out and about. I have a pair of headphones that I use at home which don’t fit into my Ipod Nano jack. I don’t use the IEMs that often every day (maximum about 3-4 hours), and usually that time is spent only on commutes.

      • Hmm… three options come to mind -

        Sennheiser Momentum – might be a bit too V-shaped but it has a lot of similarities to the Flux and is very good overall. The build is not exactly heavy-duty but if taken care of it should last – the plug is much better than with the Flux, for instance.
        Review here: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/sennheiser-momentum-ear/

        JVC HA-FXT90 – a little on the bassy side and not as similar to the Flux as the Momentum, but it is v-shaped and the construction is good. http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/jvc-ha-fxt90/

        VSonic VSD3S – the flattest of the three but still more v-shaped than the Flux thanks to greater treble energy. Excellent value at just $50. http://theheadphonelist.com/brief-impressions-vsonic-vsd3s-ostry-kc06-havi-b3-pro/

        • Thanks for the reply!

          So I’m looking at these three IEMs on Amazon.ca right now and the Momentum is going for $96 and the Vsonics at 59$. The only JVCs I could find are called just “Victor”, which kind of look the same as the ones in your review but I’m not sure if they are the same model, and those are going for 78$. I’ve always ordered my earbuds and headphones over Amazon so I don’t know where else to look for better deals that can also get it here reliably and fast.

          In your opinion, which one should I go for out of the 3? I haven’t had any experience with any of them and they all fit my budget nicely so I wouldn’t mind. Sennheiser would probably be the best choice if anything ever happened to them because there’s a repair center very close to home, and in general I really like Sennheiser as a company even if some people think they don’t produce anything spectacular. Then again, there are the most expensive. At the end of the day, I just want a decent-sounding pair of earbuds that last a decent amount of time if they are taken care of. Whatever works, works.

          • Victor is often what JVC goes by in Japan. Most likely they are just Japanese imports. The packaging and some accessories might be different but otherwise they should be identical to the ones I reviewed.

            These ones are even labeled “Japan Import”: http://amzn.to/176dQIj

            If it were me, I’d go for the Momentum. Technically it doesn’t sound better than your two less expensive options and the construction can appear a tad underwhelming, but its tuning seems to be the closest to what you’re after and I tend to trust Sennheiser build quality.

          • Alright, thanks! I was leaning more towards the Momentum any way, since like I said even if anything were to happen a repair center is only about 45 minutes from home.

            Thanks for producing some amazing content here and other places!

        • Need help selecting some IEM’s. So many choices, seem to be getting lost. Looking for a do it all, however don’t want a Bass Monster. My full size headphones are Philips Fidelio L1′s, which I really like other than comfort. Also use a pair of Yuin PK3′s. Had some Grado SR80′s I liked also. Really interested in a well balanced set. Been eyeing HiFiMan RE-400′s, but also considering the Vsonic GR07 Classic & Bass, Ostry KC06a, Philips Fidelio s2, and the Sennheiser Momentum in ear. Looking for sound quality 1st, then comfort and finally build quality. Any thoughts on which I should use? Also open to other suggestions. Really don’t want to spend more than $100. Most listening will be done with an iPhone 6 plus or ipod Classic 5.5.

          • All very good options. The only one I would strike off (for not being all that balanced) is the Momentum in-ear.

            Not sure what the Fidelio L1 sounds like but the KC06 (no experience with the KC06A) is probably the most grado-like of the bunch, if you like that sort of thing, while the others are more flat. The RE-400 is the smoothest and most focused on the midrange while the S2 and GR07 (and KC06, too) are a little more bright and energetic, with punchier bass as well. I find the RE-400 and GR07 to be the most comfortable and the GR07 and S2 to be the best-built.

          • Thanks for the response, greatly appreciated. I forgot to mention what type of music I would be listening to. A few examples would be Drive by Truckers, Lucero, Eagles, Pink Floyd, Der Tick, Neil Young, etc…. Mostly guitar and vocal driven type stuff. Will also throw some Metal and Counrty their way. Also some Rush, want to hear Neil’s drums pound. What would you recommend?


          • It depends more on personal listening preference than music genres – you can ask two different people what type of headphone they prefer for country music and get two different answers. If you don’t have a particular sensitivity to sibilance, I’d go with the GR07 as a solid all-rounder.

  13. Hi,
    I was hoping to get some suggestions. For the past 9 or so years, I’ve been using JVC Soft marshmallow earphones (link: http://www.amazon.com/JVC-Marshmallow-Headphones-Discontinued-Manufacturer/dp/B0036RDVRI). At $20, they were great: awesome isolation, pretty great sound quality, extremely comfortable fit (memory foam ear pieces), extremely durable (I bought 4 pair over the 9 years), all while being extremely affordable. I loved everything about them. However, the model has been discontinued by the manufacturer, and the current model to replace these ones is absolute crap. Not at all the same quality as the first model I loved.
    I’m trying to find a replacement for them, my last pair is now on the fritz. I’m leery with the idea of spending $50 or more on a “good” pair of earphones in case I’ll end up being disappointed… One thing I cannot stand are the plastic (silicon I guess?) ear buds, I highly dislike them, I really want something close to the “marshmallow” ear buds of the JVCs.
    Which model do you think would come closest to my beloved (but now discontinued) JVCs?

    • You can buy memory foam eartips for most earphones from Comply (http://www.complyfoam.com/). They tend to be pricy but worth it if you prefer foam – the selection of earphones that already come with foam tips, especially under $50, isn’t very good.

      Anyway, since you’re used to lightweight, bass-heavy earphones I’d consider just getting a Philips SHE3590, which is very inexpensive, and a set of the corresponding foam eartips. Altogether should cost less than $30. The Nuforce NE-600X is another good option, especially if you prefer bassier sound. With a pack of Comply eartips it will still cost $30 or so.

  14. hi,

    i am buying a new in-ear canalphones and i need your suggestion. Thanks In Advaance!!

    i have had a Sony DREX13DPV. the problem with the sony was that at higher volumes, the sound felt harsh and distorted. the clarity was lost. felt painful on the ears.

    i also had Creative EP630 and Senheiser PMX 60. I found them both to be good.

    but I am looking for something better than these three!

    so my expectations are like…

    1. sound quality:

    smooth. clarity. good instrument differentiation. good vocals. most importantly good sound quality should be maintained at max volumes.

    2. Noise Cancellation:

    as much atmosphere noise cancellation as possible.

    3. BUILD quality:

    I have damaged all my 3 previous headphones one way or another! so i am looking for a sturdy one. especially the wires!

    4. BASS / TREBLE

    I am not a basshead. i dont want too much thumping or treble. a good enough bass/treble is fine.

    5. Price:

    under INR1500. would prefer closer to INR1000.

    LOOKING FORWARD to you suggestions!

    • oh the price range in $ is ,, below $25. prefer closer to $20.

      • That’s really not a big budget for sound AND build quality AND isolation. At best you can get something decent in all three categories. The three sets in the guide above under “warm and smooth below $50″ would all be worth looking at. The DUNU Trident is probably the best compromise of the three qualities you want – the Piston doesn’t isolate quite as well and the MH1C, while best-sounding per your requirements, is slightly over budget and has a j-cord.

        Because I value my hearing, I do not test IEMs at max volume, so the above recommendations are based on moderately high listening volumes. The MH1C stays the smoothest at the limits of my loudness tolerance, followed by the Trident.

  15. Hello! Great web and great list. Congrats.

    I have right now the CX310 Sennheiser by Adidas Originals (it’s not heaven but for me it’s ok). Could you recomend me some IEMS not very far from the sound of the CX310?

    My money limit is 50 euros. (or dollars)

    thanks for all!

    • Unfortunately I don’t have any experience with the CX310 so I don’t know what it sounds like. If I had to venture a guess, I would assume it’s not too different from the CX300, which is on the bassy side and quite smooth. In that general vein, something like the Nuforce NE-600X would be a good alternative, or the Xiaomi Piston 2, or the new HiFiMan RE-300.

      If you want to venture a bit more towards a more balanced sound profile, at ~$50 there are some very good places to start with higher-end IEMs, like the VSonic VSD3S for example: http://theheadphonelist.com/brief-impressions-vsonic-vsd3s-ostry-kc06-havi-b3-pro/ .

      • I’ll try but, I can honestly say that I bought the CX300 and I didn’t like’em at all. There was a sound like “can” sound that wasn’t as clear as the CX310 is.

        So CX300 is not my choice. It’s is supossed that my CX310 is a bit lack of bass so maybe you could help me more right now.

        thanks for your time!

  16. Which under 100$ IEMs have a signature similar to the Marshall Major? A little less bass (more clarity), and a bit more depth would be fantastic. Thanks!

  17. As I lost my Klipsch Image S4 a couple of months ago, I have been dying to get a replacement IEM. I bought that set from good reviews for a basic set that produced good sound. Now, I’m hoping to invest in a good pair of IEMs for the foreseeable future.

    From the research I have done, the S4s come across as bass-heavy IEMs (I’m not sure whether they’re classified as V-shaped or bassheads) and did not give me any problems. I would say though that sometimes it would be a bit tiring to listen to them, whether from long duration listening or plain fatigue from the IEM, I’m not sure. My playlist usually consists of mainstream music with the occasional foray into Indie, Electronic, Classical, Instrumental or even rock (All depends on my mood). I was under the impression that I preferred a more balanced sound with wide soundstage but the S4s to my surprise was not such an IEM.

    Suggestions from this thread and several other sites suggest the JVC FXT90 or VSonic GR07s a suitable replacement but I don’t mind getting a more suitable pair for my listening pleasure. I have also seen the Yamaha EPH100 as a replacement and my local audio shop let me listen to the Beyerdynamic XP2 and Shure SE215 for testing purposes. Ultimately, I am left as clueless and spoiled for choice as I was at the beginning of my search.

    My questions then are as follows:
    1. What would you say would be the sound signature that lean towards ie. warm and balanced, basshead, V-shaped?
    2. Suggested IEMs.

    • The S4 is moderately v-shaped. The highs can be sibilant and fatiguing on it, which is true to some degree of a lot of inexpensive v-shaped earphones. Some people also find enhanced bass fatiguing with IEMs, but it sounds like you enjoyed the bass quantity. That said, you might like another sound signature even more than that of the S4 – there’s just no way to know without trying.

      The SE215 is more on the warm and smooth side, for instance, while the GR07 gives you a more balanced sound with a wider soundstage (but the highs can still be a little fatiguing). The FXT90 returns to more of a v-shaped balance, but with good overall clarity and mids that are not thin. The The EPH-100 provides a bassier but also smoother sound than the GR07 and FXT90 – I find it to be better than the SE215 overall.

      If I were you I’d go with the FXT90 or EPH-100 – EPH-100 if you want a smoother sound and don’t mind strong bass. FXT90 if you want to stick a little closer to the S4 sound but with more in the way of layering, resolution, etc.

      • The S4 I guess did the job it was bought for, relatively good sound at a cheap price. Of course you have pointed out rightly that there was sibilance at times and made listening to music with these IEMs very fatiguing. The bass was nice with the S4, “loud” but rather shallow when I listened to EDM but a plus nonetheless.

        As I explore my choices, I want to ask: From what I mentioned regarding my music preference in the earlier post, what do you think would be a good IEM for me? Perhaps a more all-rounded set, a Jack of all trades so to speak. Although I would like to test out each pair and make a decision after, I can’t test out most of these sets so I’m relying on reviews and comments like this. Unfortunate actually.

        • The problem is that the sound signature I like best for your preferred music genres might not be the one you like best (if you had the ability to sample all of them, of course). I tend to like balanced sound as a jack of all trades signature, but that certainly isn’t true for everyone.

          I recommended the FXT90 and EPH-100 because I think they make for the best fit based on your post. The EPH-100 more so as it has both deeper bass and smoother overall sound than the S4 – both things you’d like to see improved. I can’t call the Yamaha a do-it-all as it is a bass-heavy earphone, but based on your posts it seems to be a good option.

  18. In the basshead section which would you recommend Velodyne vPulse or HiSoundAudio Wooduo 2. I am very interested.

  19. Hello ljokerl, a truly enthusiastic and passionate character you are, its damn so obvious. Now let’s cut off introduction a bit and see how my search goes within my second IEM decision with your help. Firstly my introduction to IEM had been quite tragic, by a pair of Rockit r50, (since I’d received the product damaged from oversea shipping – never could fulfil my needs at any level to be honest as a metal/rock listener) and on top of that until about few weeks, it died cause of cable off of jack output bended sharply in my pocket over time sadly.

    Now I need a fresh one badly and among aformentioned categories I’m a bit lost in which category would suit me best with the music I listen as often. In short, which signatures I should prioritize over others to get the most of them ?

    Price range would be $50-100 with of course an improvement over my ex, and not to mention durability from now on is quite on critical side along with moderate price ratio at best as possible as it gets. Thanks already for your suggestions !

    • It’s actually very subjective which sound signatures match which genres better. Generally speaking, there is no right or wrong sound for most music types. Personally, I prefer a neutral to slightly v-shaped signature for rock and metal. In this price range and without any additional requirements I’d probably go with a VSonic GR07 Classic – it’s just a good all-rounder that’s served me well for 3+ years.

      Or you could save a little $$ by going with any one of these three: http://theheadphonelist.com/brief-impressions-vsonic-vsd3s-ostry-kc06-havi-b3-pro/ . They’re all very solid in-ears with slightly different takes on balanced sound. From there, and with lots of listening, you can dial in your signature preferences a little better for your next upgrade down the line.

      • I read your detailed review for GR07 Classic and satisfied; and there are two sellers right now on ebay that sells GR07 Classic from $99 with free global shipping, seems legit enough, on the other hand I came across with this Chinese company that selling a fresh pair for $85 sounds both provoking and worrying;
        Not sure if it worths taking the risk though is another side of spectrum.

        Before giving a strict decision, I can try pushing my limits for a little bit more (~+$15) if there is a product to be suggested in replace of GR07 Classic as to be worthy enough, incase I would miss my chance having another one before 2-3 years.

        P.S. My listening experience vary a lot in terms of quality, from very raw demos to professional recorded albums of todays. But in this case, I’d prioritize demo listening experience to higher levels if possible due to other options.

        Thanks for allocating your time.

  20. Hi Joker,

    What you do for this community is incredible, thanks so much!

    I previously owned some open Grado cans and I loved how they sounded. Can you suggest some iems that provide a similar sound signature for less than $200? I realise thats probably not 100% possible, but what would you suggest I look at?

    Thanks so much!

  21. Hi Joker, thank you very much for this guide and your dedication to posting reviews for us common folk.

    I am in the market for a new IEM in the sub $130 range. My last IEM’s were the Brainwavz M2 which I enjoyed a lot. However for my next one I want something with a little better soundstage width but with equally good sound quality. Prior to that I owned the Klipsch S4′s which I also liked for the really punchy bass though I did find it a fatiguing listen, especially with the annoying sibilance. My ears are sensitive and the sibilance literally made them hurt. I also own a pair of the ATH-M50′s which has a sound signature I really like and don’t find too bassy.

    Things most important to me besides sound are build quality and comfort. Isolation is also important but not a deciding factor. I mainly listen to post-punk, indie rock and metal, but also some rap and random stuff like folk, flamenco and drone/ambient.

    I have so far looked into the MA750′s which look nice and I like the 3-year warranty and superior build quality although I am not sure if it is worth the money. I also have looked into the OSTRY KC06A’s and TTPOD T1-E’s (which look like a steal at $32). Not sure if you’ve tried the T1-E’s but out of those and other iem’s you have demo’d, which should I be considering?


    • No experience with the T1-E. The KC06 is pretty good but brighter than the M2. Good soundstage width, though, and not harsh/sibilant for how bright(ish) it is. The RHA MA750 sounds more conventional – it’s a warm-sounding IEM with more bass than the M2 but not harsh like the Klipsch S4. It’s not as neutral as your M50. Neither is the KC06, but it’s probably closer.

      One other set that might be worth considering in your price range with good build quality is the Brainwavz R3: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/brainwavz-r3-ver-2/ . Fit can be a little tricky but it’s not uncomfortable. Can’t really say it’s better than the MA750 or KC06, more of a different sonic flavor – smooth and balanced. Not as warm/bassy as the MA750 or bright/crisp as the KC06. Very solid construction, though.

  22. Hi
    I had hippo vb and loved them for the bass but it broke down 3 years ago and i bought jvc ha fx 200 and i have not been as much in love with those as my hippo vb. Do you have an recommendation for great basshead that are ok as all around ?

  23. Hi ljokerl thaks a lot for wonderful guidance.Following your’s as well as dozens of other headphones recommendation sites I end up with buying philips she3590, sony mdrxb30ex, soundmagic e10, hisound audio wooduo 2, xiaomi piston 2, klipsch image s4i and jays a jays five IEMs.For home listening i use sennheiser hd 598 . Can you recommend IEM/s which are far superior to these and i can notice the difference like in a huge margin(in terms of clarity,soundstage ).My budget is around 300 euro.I listen to almost every genre of music from dubstep to classical.So basically i want something which is all rounder but i don’t know if my budget is too less to get that quality.

    • A good place to start would be which one you like best out of the sets you already have, and what direction you want to go from there, both in general sound signature and where specifically you want to see improvements. The IEMs you have all seem to be v-shaped signatures to varying degrees (except the XB30EX and a-JAYS – haven’t tried those). However, your HD598 isn’t v-shaped, so maybe a more balanced/reference set is worth trying? You can get a very good one for 300 – for example a TDK BA200 or UE900 (if available in your region). Or you can try a more colored/less neutral set that still performs very well technically – for instance the DUNU DN-2000: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/dunu-dn-2000/

      • Thanks for reply but unfortunately only 1 of your recommendation (UE 900 ) is available in my region and it costs around 400 euro inc. shipping.I want your opinion , is it worthy to invest 400 eruo for UE 900( do they justice the sound quality in 400 euro range?) ? or do you have other recommendation which is widely available like sennheisers.

  24. Hey joker.. I’ve been using your multi iem review for years in headfi. I am really grateful for your effort. You have my thanks!

    To begin with, im a re0 fanboy..

    Since you have lot of experience with various analytical oriented iem, is there any clear upgrade route except the customs? I’ve tried ety er4s/p/b but i find them to be overly sibilant where as re0 retains the slight musicality with extended treble but not so sibilant vocal. I never find re0 bass lacking. I imagine a re0 with better instrument separation and more detailed without being sibilant.

    I’m not really good in perceiving sonic characteristic. I’ve listened to my friend’s shure se215 spe and i find the mids greatly detailed and refined, much thicker than re0, making the mids is pleasing too as i feel like listening to high resolution with thick wolfson-yummy texture when i listen to piano piece. however i find the treble kind of rolled off and the bass is bloated for my taste.
    I imagine an iem that sounds amix between those two would be just perfect.. But im affraid such iem only exist in top line iem.
    Because of budget limitations, im stuck with re0.
    Whats your thought about it? And oh i really like akg k550 and shure srh840 when i tried them.. Those are my sonic preference ^_^

    Your thought would be appreciated alot! I’ve been asking in audio forum and many recommend weston um4x, ety er4 series, or hippo pro one. I’ve tried them except weston and although the etys are technically better, it is too harsh where as i feel less fatigued with re0. I’m in constant fear that i’ll never be able to find an upgrade because there are moments where i find re0 can be better, but it’ll cost me alot to upgrade.

    Thanks again :)

    • Hmm.. if the ER4 was a little too energetic in the treble, maybe an upgrade in the opposite direction is worth considering. There are earphones that remind me of the RE0 but lean towards the warmer end of the spectrum instead, for instance the TDK BA200: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/tdk-ba200/.

      It’s a shame HiFiMan discontinued the RE272, that would have been a good one to recommend as well.

      I would skip the Westone UM3X unless you can try it before buying – it’s probably warmer than you want and has a bit of an upper midrange dip compared to the RE0, which comes across as a slight decrease in crispness.

  25. Hey Joker first off thank you for your dedication to this hobby and helping people like me.

    I’m looking for a item that’s good for edm. I have the dn1k and love them but sadly they are not very comfortable for me. Basicly I’m looking for the dn1k in a more comfortable package (think RHA T10). Any help is appreciated!

    • Nothing comes to mind with the same signature – closest I can think of with a more ergonomic form factor is the Fidue A83: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/fidue-a83/ . Has some pros and cons vs the DN-1000, though.

      If you want to look at higher price ranges, there are a few more possibilities such as the LEAR LUF-4B and Westone W30. If you’re willing to give up a bit of overall refinement and clarity but still get something that’s quite good for EDM and saves you some cash, maybe the Yamaha EPH-100 and RHA MA750 are worth checking out. The MA750 is just as heavy as the DN-1000 but the over-the-ear form factor may work better for you.

      • Sorry I forgot to mention my price bracket. At the most I can spend $200. Just to make sure I am getting the IEM that best fits my tastes here are some samples of music I listen to. It’s awful I know go easy on me :).




        So right now it looks like the RHA MA750 are my best option.

        As I said before thanks for what you do, and any help is appreciated!

      • Thanks for your response. I forgot to mention that my price range is roughly $200. Just to make sure I’m actually looking for the right thing I’m gonna link some songs I listen to.

        For some reason when I try to post things with links they don’t show up. So just copy and paste these into youtube.

        SmK – Take A Chance

        Main Reaktor – Salvation [NCS Release]

        TryHardNinja – All Nighter

        I know my taste is awful but go easy on me :)

        So from your first response the RHA MA750 is my best option.

        Also what is the difference in sound between it and the RHA T10?

        Thanks for all your help!

        • Links got stuck in the spam filter. Cleared now. EPH-100 and MA750 should both be pretty good options. I tend to favor the Yamahas for EDM but both are pretty good. The Yamahas are lighter and may be more comfortable in the ear but there’s less eartip options as well.

          The T10i is bassier and warmer than the MA750 but not as clear. It’s also physically heavier. I prefer the MA750.

  26. Hey Joker — Happy Holidays. Currently looking to upgrade from my standard iphone headphone and wanted to buy an IEM for under $200. I will mostly be using it for road biking. Thus, looking for a pair that is durable, microphonics limited, sweat resistance, and comes with an inline mic / volume control as well. I typically listen to classic rock, EDM, and oldies music.

    I was looking at Klipsch X7i In-Ear Headphones selling for $150. However, from the reviews, the microphonics might be an issue.

    Thanks for your advice! Trying to grab a pair before Christmas!


    • No familiar with the X7i. Sweat resistance is very limiting requirement – only a few IEMs have it. Pretty sure the X7i is not sweat resistant. If you want sweat resistance, the best set I’ve tried is the Audio-Technica CKX5iS. It has a volume control, too, but it’s an analog slider.

      If you relax the sweat resistance requirement you have more options, like a Shure SE215 + mic cable, RHA MA750i (if you don’t mind a bassier sound), and even the Klipsch X10i (has a bit more cable noise than the SE215/MA750i but still not too much). All of these have a warm and smooth type sound, the MA750i being the most v-shaped and also most bass-heavy. Still very good, though.

  27. Sir,
    Your reviews are like a ray of shining light in the dark obscurity covering the ear-phone world. I’ve been rooted to my PC for 14 hours straight researching various brands and models and my efforts started making headway only after I came across your article.

    I’m a complete novice regarding the whole system as the only earphones I’ve had the experience of using were the Soundmagic ES-18s (Which I really liked considering the price) and the Sony MDR XB30EX (Can’t say I was too impressed by this one regardless of various online reviews stating otherwise. I kept going back to the Soundmagics.)

    I’m an avid metal fan occasionally straying into classic and progressive rock, grunge and sometimes even blues and jazz.
    It’s been only a couple of days since I decided to fork up some cash and get a pair of earphones which would take my listening experience to the next level.
    My budget though is still pretty limited (60$) and after going through each of your recommended models individually and cross referencing with other reviews I narrowed my list down to four models.

    Steelseries Flux: Which I eventually crossed out because of the apparent durability issues.

    FIDUE A-63: Your reviews nearly convinced me to get these but when I checked other sites they did mention that the bass is sort of lack lustre.(Though I’m not sure to what degree)

    MOE-SS01: These looked good as well but I didn’t understand the deeper bass but brighter(cooler?) overall tone aspect(I don’t really prefer sounds where the treble stands out too much so I’m not sure if the SS01 falls into that category)

    V Sonic VSD1: Personally I would have gone with the VSD1s as they sounded perfect but when I checked amazon I found recurring complaints that the left earbud starts fizzing out after 2-3 months.(sigh…)

    Truth is, even I’m not sure what sound I really want and I’ve been whacking my head for hours now trying to decide amongst these four and would love it if you could offer any insight on which of these(Or any other actually) earphones would be best suited for my musical tastes.

    Some bands/artists I listen to include: Lamb of god,The Ocean,Opeth,Messhugah,Gojira,Megadeth,Porcupine Tree,King Crimson,Pink Floyd,Alice in Chains,Eric Clapton etc.

    On a side note, thank you for doing such an amazing job! I can’t even begin to appreciate the sheer amount of work you’ve put into these articles ^_^

  28. Hi Ijokerl. I’m coming from the re-262 and I love its sound and soundstage. However, it needs a amp and so that’s not so convenient for portable use. Can you recommend any iem that fits the category other than rha 750? The type of music that I listen most is vocal. More specifically, mostly man vocals. Also one female singer. Here is a link for you to listen how her voice is like: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hk349GANmJ8
    My budget is below $200.

    • Sources I have are 6+, clip+ & HM603

      • The MA750 sounds very different from the RE262. For one it’s a lot bassier, but it also has an upper midrange boost that’s very different from the fairly smooth mids and laid-back highs of the RE262. It’s a good contrast, but not an alternative.

        How about a TDK BA200? It’s an awesome balanced-and-smooth sounding in-ear for the price: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/tdk-ba200/

        • The BA 200 actually is one of my consideration. I’m considering the RE-400, 600, Visonic GR07. I read all your reviews and so I know that they are similar. I still can’t decide between them.

        • And the Havi b3 pro 1 also.

        • Also brainwave B2

          • Not that similar. Also, the B3 Pro1 is a little outclassed here and you’re planning to use it unamped which most people don’t recommend.

            The BA200 and the other HiFiMan sets will give you an experience closest to the RE262. The BA200 would be my pick but if you find the RE-600 in your price range and don’t mind its slightly smaller soundstage, it’s a good choice as well. The GR07 has a more v-shaped signature and lacks the smoothness of HiFiMan sets while the Brainwavz B2 is a lot brighter and cooler in tone. Still a very good earphone, but definitely not too similar to the RE262.

        • As the B3 pro 1, I think that the hm603 has plenty of power to drive it. I read your brief review comparing it to the re-400 so it came to my list.
          The re-600 is $200 now.
          I bought the TDK IE800 but i don’t like it because its sound is lean. Do you think that I will enjoy the BA200?
          Between these four, which one is the better choice?
          Thank you.

          • While I don’t think the BA200 sounds lean, if you’re worried about lean sound you can stick with dynamic drivers instead of balanced armature. The B3 is also not a great option as it’s on the thin side for dynamic. Go for the RE-600 in that case.

        • I decided to follow your suggestion and bought a pair of second hand BA 200 for $90. Thank you so much for your help.

  29. Hi ljokerl,

    I’ve enjoyed NuForce NE-700M very much but need to buy a new set due to the cord fraying. What other sets would you recommend with or without a mic in the sub $100 range?


    • Lots of good options. If you want to stick with bass-heavy sets, I’d recommend these: Audio-Technica CKM500 (has a mic version as well), Velodyne vPulse (has mic), Beyerdynamic DTX101 or DTX102 (or MMX101/102 for mic), and Rock Jaw Alfa Genus. All of these give you different sonic flavors – vPulse for deep bass emphasis, Beyers for a warmer and smoother type of sound, CKM500 for a more v-shaped signature, and the Alfa Genus for a v-shaped sound with the bonus of additional tuning ports. The common theme on all these is powerful bass.

      For something a little more balanced but still on the warm, enhanced-bass side – the Shure SE215 is quite good (mic cable can be purchased separately).

      • Thanks! For the sake of comparison, would you consider the NE-700 more deep bass emphasized, V shaped, or something else?

        • The NE-700X is bassy, but it has a pretty strong focus on both mid-bass and sub-bass. Wouldn’t call it v-shaped, just bass-heavy.

          • I gave the vPulse a go for the past month and feel lacking in detail and overall sound quality. The bass is excellent, however.

            The Beyers are next on my list.

  30. Hi there,

    thanks for working so hard and making this such an incredibly helpful and interesting resource!
    It’d be great if you would have some more advice to spare.
    On the road I enjoyed my q-jays for the last few years. I loved everything about them until they broke.
    I’ve got very small ear canals and am looking for something similar or maybe better. What would your suggestion be?

    Thanks in advance.

  31. Hello, Joker. I would like your recommendations for the most suitable IEM for classical music under 200 dollars. The HiFiMAN RE-400 has been coming up a lot in my research, but I was not optimistic re their build quality. Build quality is very important due to certain circumstances of mine, and so the RHA’s MA750 IEM fervently caught my attention with its build quality and impressive three years warranty. However, all the reviews indicate that it is slightly bass heavy, which is, of course, undesirable for classical music. But, for its build quality, I might be willing to compromise a bit. How do you think they fare with classical, then? Do you have any better suggestions under the 200 dollar mark?

    • The MA750 is definitely bass-heavy. There’s lots of other options with much more balanced sound that are decently well-built – for instance the Etymotic HF5, Sony MDR-EX600, or even VSonic GR07. I think these would all do a better job sound-wise.

  32. Hello ljokerl,

    I’m looking to upgrade from ‘Philips SHE9700′. I liked them for every reason possible, but I’m willing to ‘move up’ and get something better.

    From what I’ve known, getting the bass right is a problem. They either are able to get the bass right or they compromise it for better ‘highs’ and ‘mids’. I’m not really into ‘highs’ but I would want to have at least something good enough to produce those notes at that far end of the spectrum if the need be. Still, my playlist typically includes EDM and Rock.

    Here, couple of tracks on my playlist to give you an idea
    ‘Evil Angel’ by ‘Breaking Benjamin’
    ‘Introvert’ by ‘KOAN’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-C0GHBp4_c)

    Now I’m not sure if ‘Signature Acoustics Elements C-12′ would hold up because of your less than 8 rating but I’d like to know more about your take on it. Also, I’d like to know how ‘VSonic VSD1S’ holds out.


    • Because I haven’t tried the SHE9700, I can’t tell you how the sets you are considering compare. However, I can tell you that the VSD1S is a better-sounding, more accurate earphone that the Elements C-12, especially when it comes to bass, which is just too overblown with the Signature Acoustics set. In the end it depends on what “getting the bass right” means to you – if it means sheer bass power, the C-12 may be the better choice. Otherwise, it’s most likely the VSD1S.

      • Hello again,

        I really couldn’t find anything on the SHE9700 but what I did find might be of some use to you. This is an excerpt of somebody’s post who knows more about IEMs than me. Here, have a look

        “The Main difference is in b/w sound signature,Build Qulity,Cable & Accessories.

        Philips SHE 3590 is very basic IEM with a V-shaped sound signature that resembles a rock setting of any media player. With a mild base & treble boost that does not relent other spectrum of the music at moderate volume it almost sounds neutral. Most audiophile like this sound signature and hence the wildly popularity. With bear minimum accessories just 3 tip S,M,L it the very basic in what you can get for an upgrade to a stock earphone. other IEM which similar Sound signature is Sound Magic E10

        Philips SHE 9700 has a sound signature that is Warm and smooth, enhanced bass level, laid-back treble & Emphasis on the mid-bass region. The IEM concentrates of mid bass more than on sub-bass. Sub-bass been as example of sony Xtra Bass line of IEM. (SONY MDR-XB30EX for example). The bass of Philips SHE 9700 is accurate & travels deep but also decays slow does making mid-bass seem more prominent in compare to other spectrum of the music. But been accurate & deep mid-bass is why its rated as highly on reviews sites. This along with the the tangle free & nice cord. Gold plated 3.5 mm audio jack. A case that has hard casing on the outside with enuf room to accumulate a small mp3 player like the clip & added tips makes it well worth the price asked about $17. In addition to this both have a design which as a noise cancelling effect due to both can slide right into the ear canal and form a seal with the ear drum means that most external sound is blocked out. When you have them in and playing music at a reasonable volume it is difficult to hear much else. This makes them ideal for use on busy public transport & other noise environment.”


        So basically, it can be concluded that SHE9700 is an SHE3580 ‘PLUS’. You can find some mentions over at the Head-Fi forum, one of which is particularly more objective than the one above. Over here,


        Specifically, the quote from one of the better regarded users, ‘james444′, succinctly describes the SHE9700. I hope this clears it up for you and is detailed enough an account to provide you with an insight (though I know nothing beats the true test of actual listening)

        Now… could you please suggest anything ? (besides the ones I mentioned earlier).

        Once again, I’d like to repeat that I’m not too keen on the highs. Just the ‘mids’ and ‘lows’ are what makes up most of my playlist as I never listen to classical or jazz. This doesn’t mean that I want a muffled output, especially where the bass ‘overpowers’ everything else present in the track. I need the ‘highs’ too, but can compromise it a little for the bass.

        There, I hope I explained it well (with the help of the above playlist)

        • Sounds like it belongs in the warm and smooth category, so maybe the Sony MH1C instead of the ones you’re considering above? MH1C is a great earphone for the price, just has some ergonomic issues thanks to the flat j-style cable.

          The VSD1S and C-12 won’t have the right sound signature based on that – the C12 too bloated, and the VSD1S too v-shaped and harsh, with maybe not enough bass as well.

          • Actually, for quite some time I’ve been trying to get my hands on the renowned ‘MH1C’ but unfortunately, they were unavailable in my part of the world whether offline or online. My only option is to import them but then that would add to it’s cost, hence defeating the purpose of my purchase.

            Still, I’ll keep trying but I’m not too sure if they will remain available for long because it’s an old model.

            Now, just in case I’m unable to get them is there any other alternative ? I recently went through your review of ‘SteelSeries Flux’ and I must say, I’m quite impressed by its description. My only concern would be that of bass. I know there isn’t a good enough a metric to quantify human preference for bass, but, do you feel it is less ? Or is it that the spread of bass is different ?

            Finally, I must let you know that I’m not planning to spend more than what these cost, however enticing the EPH-100 might be.

          • The Flux is not as bassy as the Sony, nor is it as durable. It’s a great earphone for a slightly more balanced/neutral sound, but still staying on the warm side of a strictly “flat” headphone. Not an amazing MH1C substitute, though.

          • Is Sony XBA-H1 similar to the MH1C ?

            This detailed write up might help

          • Hard to say from that unless they also have a graph of the MH1C done on the same equipment. But, the H1 is a hybrid system so it’s not likely that it will sound the same as/very similar to the dynamic-driver MH1C.

  33. Hi joker, I got a pair of Klipsch Image x10 IEMs for just over $110 on Amazon about a year ago after reading some good things about them, and I’ve enjoyed them a bunch, but I use them heavily and the stain reliefs are torn almost completely to the buds and the jack (they still work for now). Christmas is an excuse for me to get myself a new pair of IEMs, so I’m wondering what my best option would be. It seems like the x10s are around $180 now on Amazon and I would have no problem paying that for a new pair if the reason wasn’t that the first had fallen apart so quickly. Is there anything I can get for under $200-250 that would be comparable/an upgrade from the x10s?

    • The X10 is a pretty unique earphone – if you like that signature it might be best to stock with it. Klipsch did say the X11 had upgraded build quality, but looking at Amazon reviews, I’m not sure that’s actually the case.

      Here are some options I think have comparable quality with an enhanced-bass, warm sound that is at least somewhat like that of the X10: Yamaha EPH-100 (a little on the bassier side but very fun to listen to), Dunu DN-1000 (has a more v-shaped signature than the X10, with very good bass and more treble presence), VSonic GR07BE (more balanced overall but with a fun bass punch and brighter treble than the X10). Depending on what you like they may or may not work better for you than the X10.

      • I listen to a very wide variety of music, so would a more balanced pair be more “optimal” (of course this is partly subjective but in general what would you say)? I wouldn’t be opposed to straying a bit from the signature of the x10s, the main thing that makes me enjoy them so much is being able to wear them for extended periods and not feel any discomfort because they’re so near weightless and comfortable.

        • You’re right on both counts – one, that it’s partly subjective whether certain genres sound better with certain sound signatures (or that some sound signature can be more “versatile”), and two that one of the X10′s biggest assets is its tiny size and that comfort obviously has a direct effect on listening enjoyment. On that basis you can probably eliminate the DN-1000 for its significantly larger size and weight. The GR07BE and EPH-100 can be quite comfortable with the right fit, and if you would consider a more balanced sound, I guess the GR07 BE is what’s left. Between that, the biggest difference is of course the brighter, more v-shaped (but overall more balanced) sound of the GR07BE vs the more bottom-tilted, treble-shy sound of the X10.

          • Thank you for the help, I’ve looked into VSONIC a bit more and it seems like they are generally very well liked. I’ll probably order a pair of GR07BE for myself!

  34. Thanks for the great guide. My Soundmagic E10s stopped working recently and I got the Sony MH1C to check them out since they were cheap. I like the sound quality in general (like the extra bass), but overall I think I prefer a more V-shaped signature that I got with the E10, and I think the MH1Cs lack in treble which I’ve realised I don’t like so much.

    Most important though, is comfort and durability since I have small ears. The E10s fit well enough, the MH1C I can’t stand because of the cable, and the tips were horrible for me (had to use ones that came with E10 and even then, because of the cable, they don’t stay in my ears if I move around).

    So in other words, I’m looking for something like the E10 in sound terms (but better), but it needs to be comfortable. I generally stick to the lower end of the price range since I can never get more than 2 years out of a pair at best anyway, but I would pay up to around £50-60 max ($80-100). Any ideas? I’ve looked at the VSD1S but reviews seem to be a bit mixed around the internet regarding durability and quality.

    Many thanks in advance for your time.

    • Hmm.. maybe the VSonic VSD3S, if that type of design can fit your ears? See here for sound description: http://theheadphonelist.com/brief-impressions-vsonic-vsd3s-ostry-kc06-havi-b3-pro/ . It’s mildly v-shaped with a slight emphasis on sub-bass and great clarity. No lack of treble with these. There’s a new fixed cable version of the VSD3S now that’s supposed to be more durable. If you want to spend more, you may be able to find the JVC FXT90 in your price range. It’s got a more mid-bassy and aggressive sound, but quite good overall. Here in the US they’re about $85-90.

      • Thanks. It seems like both of those would have to be imported, VS3DS = ~£36 and FXT90 = ~£66 inclusive of taxes. I’ll probably do a little more research. Would you say that the FXT90 is justified being worth about twice as much as the VSonic (in your opinion)? They look tempting.

        • I don’t think they are significantly better than the VSonics but they seem to be a better match for what you want. While both are somewhat v-shaped, the JVCs have a warmer, more full-bodied sound than the VSonics, which tend to be a little more on the neutral and accurate side. Also, the treble is just a touch more refined than it is with the VSD3S.

          • The import route seems a bit risky if I have to return them etc. I noticed you recommended the Rock Jaw Alfa Genus to someone further down the comments. From your review, it seems like they might fit my requirements. Do you think they would be suitable as a step up from the E10s?

          • The Alfa Genus might work but it’s an interesting one in that its two best sound tunings are 1) a flat one and 2) a deeply v-shaped one. That means that you’ll have in the Alfa Genus an earphone that’s both flatter/more balanced than your E10 was, and one that’s bassier and more v-shaped as well. Neither is tuned similar to the E10, but you;’ll get an interesting contrast with them.

          • Well I got the Alfa Genus today – you are spot on with your description. I am glad I got them though because it’s nice to have the option of nozzles to see which type of sound I gravitate towards. I think the silver v-shaped ones but with a little EQ tweaking might work best, but one of the nozzles was defective so I’ll reserve judgment until I receive the replacement (their support was excellent). The comfort alone and the superior cable though justifies them to me over the MH1C, and I think they have more clarity than the E10.

            Also didn’t realise they had a microphone on them, nice bonus I suppose.

          • Mine didn’t have a microphone on them :p. Updated model, I guess.

            Happy listening!

  35. hey joker i tried the yamaha eph-100 today for at least 1 hour, it has very good clarity very bright, but because of that aspect it seems to lack base, the base that yamaha eph 100 is producing is not strong enough for genre like edm house or some r&b music. I’ve tried with music like Kanye West – Love Lockdown just on base and it feels very light, but then again clarity is there. In the end i tried beats tour in ear and i felt the base is good. what are your opinion on this, do u have some other model to rec for my liking? thanks alot appreciate it if u can rec :)

    • You sure it’s a genuine EPH-100 and you’re getting a good seal? Clear and bright is not really what the EPH-100 is known for. It’s a very popular EDM earphone on Head-Fi mostly for its bass. Yes, the Tours have even more bass (mid-bass, not deep bass) but it’s not a night and day difference between my Tours and EPH-100. If Tours have the type of bass you are looking for then by all means go for them, but at this point it does’t sound like your EPH-100 experience matches those of myself and others.

  36. How does the sound quality rating work? Jh13 has score of 10.0, GR07 has score of 9.1. I have heard both, JH13 is multiple classes above GR07 but the score doesn’t reflect that.

    Why the buyer’s guide stops at $200? There are plenty of good earphones and interest in earphones above it.

    • The scale is not linear, i.e. a 9.2 tells you that I think that earphone is better than one rated a 9.1, but not how much better.

      And, I do have plans to create more guides but don’t have the time or resources right now.

  37. hey joker im looking for good earphones, my budget is around 250-300 can u rec any i prefer bass heavy type, i was looking at jaybird x bluebuds, but reviews said sound aint that good, tried klipsch x4i i feel it is ok not that great, would really appreciate it if u can rec better ones or more accurate type of earphones for base heavy i listen to trance,house,r&b, and heavy metal

    • Most likely the Yamaha EPH-100 is what you want. One of my favorites for trance, house, EDM, and top-40 type music. An upgrade from that is the Sony XBA-H3 but the form factor is not as nice and it can be tough to find under $300.

      • if budget would to go lower like 200 i have sony XBA-A1AP or XBA-H1, and shure se215 in mind i’ve seen reviews on xba h1 mostly are positive or u have something else to rec? :)

  38. Soundwise I am extremely satisfied with the Sony MDR-EX300s but they are gruesome to the ears if used for many hours as they hurt the cartilage of the ear whereas the Sennheiser CX400 are super comfy but they fall a bit flat when it comes to the sound. Which of your below $50 and $50-100 suggestions do you think could be the perfect match for me?

  39. Thanks so much for this site. The reviews and info are really helpful. Looking for some pointers actually – I want some IEMs that will be used on the daily commute, so isolation is important (using an iPhone 5). I prefer IEMs worn down as I can’t seem to get on with the over ear models. Mic/Remote is a nice to have. The type of music I listen to is choral music, opera and classical so looking for something that is not going to be harsh on the high notes, and can cope with recordings often made in cathedrals (long decay). Detail is important as the music is intricate, bass should be there but not overly so. I have some UE 600s’s at the moment with foam tips, which are OK but I find them harsh towards the top end. Budget wise, anything up to $300. would like to hear your suggestions, thank you!

    • The remote requirement really narrows the field – a lot of hi-fi earphones simply don’t have them. With a cable-down fit, good noise isolation, and smooth sound, that pretty much leaves the Klipsch X10i/X11i . I don’t recommend this model very often as I just don’t consider it a great value (It’s about $300), but with all of your requirements it seems like the best option.

      • Thanks for the feedback. What would you recommend without remote/mic?

        • Custom Art Music One if you want to go custom, but it is over-the-ear :)

          In universals this opens you up to the HiFiMan RE-400 (similar balance to UE600 overall, but it has very smooth sound) and the Yamaha EPH-100 (quite warm and very bassy, but still a good earphone overall). These have good isolation for universals (especially the Yamaha) and are worn cord-down.

  40. Hi Joker,

    Congrats for your work. After loosing my E10 I’m searching for new in-ears. Checking the V-Shape signature I see the Thinksound MS01 as a good option but I’m not sure if its sensitivity (96 ±3 dB @ 1KHz 1mW ) will be suittable to be used with my Fiio X3 / Mobile phone. What do you think ? I prefer transparent/clear sound than bassy one….Any other option below 120usd you can recommend ?

    • The MS01 is not difficult to drive so you’ll be fine from that perspective. However, if you can deal with a slightly harsher sound, a VSonic VSD3S (bassier) or GR07 Classic (more balanced) would give you a more noticeable step up in clarity – since your preference leans towards clarity these may be a better way to go. The MS01 does give you better bass impact and a few other improvements on the E10 while staying within a generally v-shaped sound sig, but clarity isn’t one of the things it really improves on.

  41. First off want to say I love this website and your attention to the many posts. I previously had NuForce 600M because they sounded great to me and were cheap, but they are too fragile. I tried the MA350 and SteelSeries Flux before and didn’t care for either, the former mostly because there wasn’t a lot of bass and the audio jack connection was very rigid for a phone-in-your-pocket setup. 600Ms also seemed louder and fuller than the others I mentioned, maybe because of the added bass? I really want something with an Android-compatible mic/button also, as I tend to cycle through songs quite often. I listen mostly to heavy rock like Stone Sour, Korn, Five Finger Death Punch, etc. Thank you for any help, there are so many headphones out there it’s kind of overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing.

    • Also wanted to mention less than $150 is my price range (less than $100 even better), and I would prefer something with good sound isolation for air travel.

      • It sounds like what you want is a basshead earphone with high sensitivity (loud volume). Unfortunately most higher-end earphones will be less efficient than the NE-600X so you’ll just have to turn up the volume to compensate. Higher-end sets also tend to not have as much bass, with some exceptions. Having to have the remote also limits your options – the only set that fits the sound signature and remote requirements is the Xiaomi Piston 2, but it has a little less deep bass than the NE-600X and also has a straight (I-shaped) plug, like the MA350. Another option that fits what you want is the Dunu DN-22M Detonator, but it doesn’t sound as good as the NE-600X.

        Hate to say it but your best bet might just be the Beats Tour 2.0. It has a remote with a slim L-shaped plug, tons of bass, and a very full-bodied sound.

        • Thanks for the response. I actually wound up ordering the new Sennheiser Momentum in-ear headphones. It sounds like they may be a really good fit.

          • I just wanted to follow up and say the Sennheiser Momentum in ear headphones are an excellent basshead replacement for $100. The buttons work great on my S4 and the bass is plentiful and overall sound quality is good as well. Hopefully you’ll get an opportunity to review them in the near future.

          • Yes, I have a pair and they will get a full review. Glad you like them!

  42. Hendra Suryawijaya

    Hi Joker,

    Two years ago after reading your review, I bought Fischer Dba 02-mkII and I really enjoy it, I would like to know how good Shure 535, and 1964 ears V3 compared to Fischer Dba 02-mkII, I’m really curious.

    Thank you

    • The DBA-02 mkII is a neitral to slightly bright earphone with a somewhat analytical sound. The two sets you are looking at are pretty different – the SE535 is warmer and more full-bodied through the bass and midrange, and gently slopes down the treble. It’s a very smooth-sounding earphone without the analytical tendencies of the DBA-02.

      The V3 is a v-shaped earphone with lifted bass compared to the DBA-02. It has quite a bit more bass compared even to the Shure, not to mention the DBA-02. Tonally it’s warmer and just has a very lively and powerful sound, but its signature is even less of a DBA-02 match than the SE535′s.

  43. Great review. I’ve been looking for a replacement for my Klipschs Image S4. I bought them on a whim since CNET recommended them and overall I’ve enjoyed til the day they broke. I’ve since tried replacing them with a MeElectronics A151 and a Panasonic Ergo-fit(they were really cheap and I wanted a second pair). However, I was less than thrilled by the A151s. In the comments section, I’ve seen that for people who’ve enjoyed the S4s, you’ve recommended “the Yamaha EPH-100 (my go-to EDM recommendation), the RHA MA750, or the JVC FXT90.” Does this list still stand? I’m looking to getting another IEM similar to or better than the Klipschs S4. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks.

    • Yes, that’s still my recommendation for replacing the S4 assuming a ~$150 budget. The A151, as you found out, sounds nothing like the S4.

      Of the three, the FXT90 will probably give you the closest signature match. If you want to spend significantly less and still stay close to the S4 sound signature with very good performance, the Brainwavz S1 is a good one for $60: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/brainwavz-s1/

      • Hello again. At the moment, the JVC HA-FXT90 is only $18 more than the Brainwavz S1 that you both recommended. Would you say the FXT90 is worth the extra money? I’m guessing the sound difference would be almost to a layman’s such as myself, but after my disappointment with the A151s, I want to get it right this time. Unfortunately neither IEMs is available to test out near me so I’m relying on reviews to make my decision. Thanks.

        • It is, with the caveat that it has a little more mid-bass focus and a warmer tone. If that sounds appealing to you, I’d pony up the $18. Otherwise, the S1 is very good.

  44. Joker! I’ve been following your reviews for years now. Just would like to ask you, would you prefer the Audiofly AF140 or the Audiofly AF180 for EDM music? I hear that the AF180 is pleasantly accurate and precise while the AF140 is unique and fun. Preferrably, I want something clear but just want to enjoy music in the end. I’m assuming the dynamic driver in the AF140 is better for my bass needs than the AF180′s 4 armatures. Any advice would be great.

  45. Hi, I am looking for an in-ear headphone around 150$. I usually listen to hippop, rap and play some video games. The most important thing I am looking for is the sound quality. I would like it to have a very good bass and a good mids, and I don’t think I will listen to a lot of highs. I want it to have an inline control that can let me play and pause or skip music and compitable with iphone(volume control doesn’t really matter).
    It also be good if it looks good too:)
    My current choice is probably Ma-750.
    Can you guys recommend something for me?
    Thank you.

    • Btw, I will take this headphone to the gym. I need a good sound isolation and noise cancelling as well.

      • Right up until you said “remote” it was the Yamaha EPH-100 but with the remote I would indeed go with the RHA MA750i. Next best choice would probably be a Shure SE215 plus mic cable. Both have good enhanced-bass sound – the RHA is a little bassier, the SE215 has more balanced mids. Noise isolation is excellent on the SE215 and pretty good with the MA750.

        Also, the vast majority if IEMs is not sweat resistant so if you sweat while at the gym you might want to consider getting a disposable set just for that purpose.

        • Thank you for the reply:)
          Just ignore the remote control pronlem for now. I am mainly looking for the sound quality.
          I will mainly just be listening to music(Hip-hop, Rap) somebody like Drake, Pitbull, FLorida and Akon.
          I am a newbie :( I dont even know if I need a good bass to listen to those songs, or do I need a better mid?

          So, my current choices are:
          1.shure 245 plus mic cable
          2.vsonic GR07 bass edition
          4.Yamaha dn1000( I dont think i can get it from Canada… Unavailable from amazon ca…)
          5.welcome to recommand more~

          Can you order them from the best bass to the worst?
          Can you order them from which would perform the best with this song?

          I also heard you said that a good bass will make the mids and highs’ sound quality bad? If so, how bad will it be?

          • I will stick to my original recommendations.

            There is no such thing as a Yamaha DN-1000 (or Shure SE215 for that matter). If you mean the Yamaha EPH-100, that still sounds more like what you were after to me (strong bass, pretty good mids, and treble that doesn’t intrude). It does well with hip-hop and has good noise isolation as well.

            The MA750 would probably be my second choice just for having a little less mids and more treble.

            GR07 BE has significantly less bass than those two and sharper treble as well. It also has probably the least noise isolation of the bunch. That said, it’s the most balanced of the four and the one I personally prefer – it just doesn’t seem to be what you’re looking for right now.

            The SE215 does well with bass and mids and again has smooth treble but to me is on a slightly lower tier than the others overall. However, if you add the value of its form factor (secure fit, really good isolation, solidly built) it’s still worth recommending.

            I guess if one or more are not available to you, that automatically narrows down your choices…

        • You said that comapred to yamaha eph100, MA750 tends to sound a bit more veiled. What do you mean by that? How is Ma750′s mids and highs compared to eph100? Is there a big difference? Thank you.

          • Veiled is the opposite of clear. The mids of the EPH-100 are stronger and its bass tends to creep up on the midrange a bit less than it does with the RHA unit. Not a big difference, but audible.

  46. Which signature would you suggest for clear dialog when watching TV?

    With my poor hearing, V-shaped would give me better treble, but I’m really interested in clear dialog more than anything else.

    I’ll be using the headphone via the Yamaha 1/4″ Silent Cinema headphone jack, so I’ll need a 1/4″ to 3.5mm converter and will need 15 to 20 feet of cable.

  47. Hi Joker, I currently have the SE215 but find it to be a bit dry and the treble quite weird sounding. My favorite full size headphones are the NAD Viso HP50 and Sennheiser HD650. Both offer a balanced, natural, warm & forgiving sound. I was looking at the GR06′s, Would you recommend these or another IEM?

    • Budget is under $110

      • GR06s are not that smooth, IMO not the best choice coming from an HD650, which is super refined. If it were me I’d play it safe and get something pretty neutral and with very smooth treble – the HiFiMan RE-400, for instance. It’s a little mid-centric and won’t give you that deep, rumbling bass that you’re getting from the SE215 or the sense of space that you might get from a brighter earphone, but it’s got a very nice and “sweet” sound with a touch of warmth and no harshness up top.

  48. Hi, this will be my first time buying a earphone. I am looking for a earphone around 50$ to replace my old iphone earbuds. I want to use it to listen to hip-pop, rap and play video games. Volume control really doesn’t matter, but I would like it to have a inline control that can let me pause/ play or skip music. I also need a decent noise cancelling and a decent isolation, but this is the least important. The most important thing I am looking for is the sound, maybe a bit bass. It would be good if it looks nice too.

    Can you recommend an earphone for me?

    From you reviews, I think steelseries flux would best fit my requirements? But, I don’t actually know.. Lol

    Have you ever tried razer hammerhead pro and Sennehieser cx 300ii? If so, would you recommend them?

    Thank you:)

  49. Hi, first off great list! I’ve recently become an audiophile (since like a year), and I got myself a decent pair of headphones (AKG Q701) plus a FiiO E17 as a DAC/amplifier. I was thinking of getting a decent pair of earphones too that I could possibly use with my FiiO E17 and my cellphone when I’m out.

    I mainly listen to rock music (hard rock, grunge, alternative rock), industrial/electronic rock (Celldweller and Blue Stahli). Sometimes I may listen to orchestral/symphonic music too. What would earphone would you suggest? My budget would be below 100.

  50. Hey Joker,
    My Phillips SHE3590s just recently broke, and I really liked them but I feel the need for an upgrade. The bass from the Phillips was almost perfect, but I would prefer it to be a little stronger. The mids were ok but I prefer it to be a little more forward. Basically I’m looking for an upgrade to the Phillips but with slightly stronger bass and a little more forward mids around 50-100 dollars.

  51. Hey Joker,
    I’ve heard of your reputation on reddit, and I need some advice
    I’m in agony deciding between VSonic VSD1 (with or without S), SoundMagic E10 and VSnoic VSD3 (with or without S).
    Could you please help me

    • They’re all really good earphones so you can’t go wrong. The VSD3S sounds the best of those three to me (review should be up in a day or two) but the VSD1S is not far behind – just has a little more bass and a little less mids and clarity. The E10 sounds different – it gives you a more smooth and laid-back sound, but doesn’t have the tight punch, clarity, and resolution of the VSonics. The E10′s greatest strength is that it has no real weaknesses, but it’s not as Hi-Fi as the VSonics in my opinion.

    • Joker,

      Thank you for putting together such a huge and exhaustive list of both universal and custom fit IEM’s from manufactures throughout the world. It’s really quite impressive! Based on your experience I’m reaching out to you for some audio guidance/advise. Specifically I’ve been searching for a replacement IEM’s to my current Shure SE-846′s. I’ve noticed that you have never review the Shure flagship and frankly I’m surprised? Could you please tell me why?
      My current portable rig includes the Cord Hugo, AK240 along with the Shure’s SE-846′s. At home, I have both the Fostex TD 900′s and Sennheiser HD 800′s but neither of these headphones are really portable. The Shure’s are in my ears about 3.5 hours a day. They sound good using the neutral filter but.. I’m looking for a new set of IEM’s that can get me closer to the sound of my Fostex headphone. Your comments and suggestions are very much welcomed. Another question is how can I make arrangements to have Hidition and/or Unique Melody send over a demo pair to audition. Thank you for you reply sincerely Speed.

      • Shure was not amenable to sending one out for review and when I got a loaner from someone else I found they weren’t a great fit (to put it mildly) in my ears. As I had only limited time with the unit, I decided it would be unfair to try and take listening impressions of it with what was probably an imperfect fit. I haven’t tried the TD 900 at all and only heard the HD800 at shows so I can’t be of much help there either.

        As for making arrangements for a demo – just contact the manufacturer and see what’s available. Ultimately it will depend on where you’re located. UM has distributors worldwide so it’s probably best to contact your local branch. If you’re in the US, it’s Stephen at http://www.custom-iem.com/

  52. Hello joker,

    I need neutral and technical sound of CK90ProMk2 with IM03 detail and RE600 stage. IM03 much too colored and sibilant, RE600 much too thick and muddy, CK90Pro neutral and perfect but not enough microdetail and stage.

    What do you recomment?

    • Not having any experience with the IM03 or the second-gen CK90Pro, not sure how much help I could be. There are lots of things that are clearer and more lean than an RE600, but few that still retain a neutral sound (the DN-2000 from Dunu for example, does all that and has a good soundstage, but also follows a u-shaped sound signature with lifted subbass and fairly bright treble). Sticking to more neutral-sounding sets means something like the Etymotic ER4S (great detail, not so great soundstage), VSonic VC1000 (better soundstage, but a little brighter tonally), Ultimate Ears UE900, or the new AudioFly AF180, which I’ve been enjoying more than I thought I would. Very nice neutral-sounding in-ears with a little bit of treble brightness a-la the VC1000. Better overall, though.

  53. hi joker,
    could you please advice me whether to get fidue a63 or re-400 or any other earphones in the same price bracket? i listen mainly to indie pop , alt rock , electronic and some metal music.
    i prefer a mid forward sound however i do not like bass shy earphones..although the main priority is vocals, i want to be able to feel the bass presence as well.
    thanks and regards

    • If you really want a sound that focuses on the midrange, the A63 is probably your best choice. It’s not a bass-heavy earphone, but it has more impact than the RE-400 and I don’t think it can be fairly called bass-shy in any context.

      The other option around this price range is the Brainwavz R3, which has a little more bass (especially deep bass) than the RE-400 but retains better overall accuracy and clarity than the A63. As it happens, I compared the R3 to both the A63 and RE-400 here: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/brainwavz-r3-ver-2/

  54. Hi, I was hoping you could verify whether or not the Xiaomi Piston 2 would be the best choice for me. I’d like to pursue an IEM with a mic/remote combination and a warm/smooth or neutral sound signature, and I am willing to pay up to $30. The Xiaomi Piston is described as a wonderful IEM for android phones, but as an iphone 5c user, is it still worth it, based on the reduced functionality of the remote? Also, what do you mean by the “bloated bass” associated with them? Thank you for your assistance!

    • Under $30 the Xiaomi Piston 2 is definitely one of the strongest options for a warmer type of sound. The strongest alternative is the Sony MH1C, which sounds more neutral but still has a non-apple remote, has a more annoying cable, and is harder to find in that price range.

      Bloated bass means that the bass is overemphasized (in the specific region known as mid-bass) to the point where it can be uncontrolled/intrusive. It’s the opposite of “tight” bass. See here also for a better definition: http://www.head-fi.org/t/220770/describing-sound-a-glossary

  55. Hey, thanks for the guides, quite invaluable.

    Was wondering if you ever encountered Audiofly gear, AF56 to be precise. They are an Australian brand, but apparently they are distributed in the U.S as well.

    Cheers for your time!

    • I’ve tried the AF56, AF78, and some of the new (triple-digit) models at a show. The AF78 was my least favorite. The AF56 had a nice design and I remember it being rather bassy and warm, but otherwise it wasn’t very memorable . The newer ones I thought were all quite good, though, especially the AF140 and AF180.

      • Hey Joker, I’ve been seraching for some decent earphones for my HTC One M7 since last few days and im just confused which one to buy, the choices are Soundmagic E10M, Singature Acoustics C12 (if you’ve heard about them), V Sonic GR02 bass edition and Astrotec AM90, can you please help, just give me your preference.

  56. Dude, i think the vsonic gr01, monoprice 9927, and soundmagic es20 deserves a spot on the balanced sound sig.

    The philips sho2200 o’niel tread on the warm and smooth.

    Philips she8000 is pretty good and affordable too for vshaped to warm and smooth.

    Then Sennheiser cx870 on basshead.

    • I’m sure there’s lots of other deserving models on the market too, maybe some that no one has discovered yet. Would be great to try them all but it’s probably beyond any one person’s ability.

      The VSonic GR01 and VC1000 are not manufactured anymore as far as I know, which is a shame and probably means they’ll get harder and harder to find. This is also the reason for the TDK BA200 and a few other sets not being on the list. The Monoprice is too hard to fit for some people so again not something I want to have on a recommended list.

  57. Hi Joker,
    I have a dilemma. I am looking for something along the TF10s, with a little more forward mids and something that keeps the shrills of the highs. I’ve tried the pistons (too bass heavy), Phillips 3580 and Aurisonics ASG-01 (wayy too flat). My main jams are kpop, classical and female vocals. Thanks in advance!

    • I’m not entirely sure what you’re after – the TF10 is a slightly v-shaped earphone, so if you have something with more forward mids you just end up with a flatter earphone, which you don’t want. I also not sure what you mean by wanting to “keep the shrills of the highs” – do you want less treble than the TF10?

      • I guess to clarify, I’m not sure if flat is the right word to describe my distaste with the ASG-1′s. You’ll have to excuse me, my understanding of iem terminology is very lackluster. I liked how vocals and violins sounded on the ASG-1, but not much else about it. Didn’t like how the bass sounded, there was no impact, no V-shape, really cold. I was coming from the TF10 and the ASG’s gave me buyers remorse.

        The Pistons are great for club music and hip hop, just not for the other two categories I listed. The voices sound so far away and veiled. Sometimes I feel like they are the bomb only to take them off the next track. Wicked bass, no voices!

        I really liked the TF10′s but they broke and to be honest, the design was really tacky and I didn’t want to reshell. The cable definitely needs work too, which was just too much investment. The shrill refers to the harshness of the treble that you sometimes get with the TF10. I don’t mind it at all and prefer to have some sparkle high up. I do wish the mids came up a tad bit though.

        The Phillips are the only working headphones with a signature that I can stand. I know the Pistons enjoy a v-shape as well, but they sound worlds apart to me with the Phillips taking the lead. Voices sound better, bass is in a more comfortable spot for me. I can listen to vocal with it but not suffer too much when switching to a hiphop track.

        I am looking for earphones that are kind of like an upgraded Phillips for under $200. One earphone that I am currently looking at and have a lot of questions about are the B2′s, which you are fond of. How much bass do they deliver? I’ve heard answers from anemic to a decent amount. Also I would also like to ask if they sound remotely close to the ASG-1′s just because they were such a turnoff. I haven’d had any experience with other flat earphones so I’m not quite sure what to expect. Other headphones I’ve tried are the EPH-100/50s and a Panasonic RPH-s. Other considerations are the GR07′s and Shures.

        In any case, thank you so much for getting back to me and for helping out this community as much as you do.

        • I don’t have vast experience with the ASG-1… I only tried the 1.1 version, once, and did not particularly like what I heard.

          I’m not sure exactly where your bass preference lies – the TF10s and SHE3580s aren’t bass light, and compared to the B2 they can appear downright bassy. You probably won’t want anything with less bass than a GR07 BE, and I would skip the B2s.

          Truth is, I don’t have a perfect recommendation for you – most of my top recommended sets will either be too flat (e.g. TDK BA200, Westone W2) or risk being too bassy (e.g. EPH-100, RHA MA750). There are some good sets that are neither – the Westone W30, for example, but that’s a different price range entirely and doesn’t have very prominent mids. Ditto on the GR07 BE – it’s just not the best vocal earphone.

          At $200 your best bet is probably the Dunu DN-1000 – v-shaped sound sig with some (But not severe) midrange recession, strong (but not Piston-strong) bass, and sparkly treble. Doesn’t really fill the requirement for more forward mids than the TF10, but I can’t think of anything that does and still covers everything else.

  58. Hey there! Great work testing out all this stuff. I’m looking for iems with lots of bass as i listen mostly to edm. I want something which sounds fun. Currently looking at the Shure SE215 or the Yamaha EPH100. What would you say between the 2, and should the V-pulse be up on my list compared to these 2? Thanks!

    • I would definitely go for the EPH-100 – it’s among my absolute favorites for EDM music. The vPulse has more subbass than these but the overall sound quality isn’t as good. Unless you’re tight on cash or value deep bass above all else, I wouldn’t pick the vPulse over the EPH-100.

      P.S. Beware that cheap EPH-100s on ebay may be counterfeits.

      • Hey thanks for the feedback and the word of caution! Was considering the Yamahas too based on reviews. Its at the top of my list now and thx for the clarification. Cheers, keep up the awesome work!

      • Hey Joker just to pose a qn. I currently own JVC FX1X which have pretty xplosive bass as the name is and I totally lose myself in the sound. Will the EPH-100 be able to match the ‘immersiveness’ with its bass? I know the sound is going to be way more clear but will I feel a significant difference(drop) in the bass if I change to the Yamahas from the JVCs?

        • The Yamahas have great bass in both quantity and quality – I can’t imagine anyone finding them “bass light”. However, the bass on the FX1X is quite overblown and you definitely won’t get that eye-popping amount of impact with the Yamahas. I personally think the EPH’s bass is plenty immersive and the lack of such a big mid-bass hump as on the JVCs lets the deep bass be more audible, which is a good thing. That said, if your primary concern is bass of the type found on the FX1X, it’s probably best to stick to lower-end earphones as they have the most. The FX101, FX1X, and FR301 are still three of the bassiest earphones I’ve heard recently.

  59. Joker, thank you so much for this site, it has been ENORMOUSLY helpful. I have one quick question for you, and I understand it may be a simple matter of personal preference, but if it was you deciding between the HF5 and RE-400, which would you prefer? Again, I cannot thank you enough!

    • Sure thing – I prefer the HF5 just because I like the extra little bit of treble energy compared to the more relaxed RE-400

      • Interesting. Thanks for the input. I’m pretty new to both the world of IEMs and semi-audiophile grade equipment, but based on everything I’d read thus far it sounds like it would be hard to go wrong with either, though that may seal the deal for me.

  60. Hi joker,
    I’ve shortlisted 2 IEMs for me. Xiaomi Piston 2 and philips she 3590 or she9700. These will be my first IEMs bought before which I used the ones that came with some samsung galaxy phone. I prefer a V-shaped sound signature but I have a diverse taste in music. I mostly listen to shoegaze, instrumental rock, orchestral symphonies, drum and bass, edm, classical, post rock, metal, a little trance, alternative rock, mostly songs that involve guitars, pianos, violins, cellos etc. So I’m mainly looking for IEMs that are versatile and give good instrument separation and clarity as well as good bass for techno music. I don’t mind EQing to get the best out of these. Please recommend me what to get from these or any other IEM within 25$

    • I forgot to mention that I also record music so something that will help in differentiating instruments will be helpful. I’ve also started listening to a lot of 80s synthpop/rock. As i mentioned earlier, I need a versatile IEM. Also, how is sony mh1c compared to these?

      • Not sure about the SHE9700 but the Piston 2 and SHE3580 are slightly v-shaped whereas the MH1C isn’t. While I generally like the Piston 2 and MH1C better, I would recommend the Philips to you for its slightly less bloated bass and more v-shaped signature. It’s also quite happy to be EQd so if you’re going to be doing that you might as well save a few bucks.

        • Thanks for the recommendation for the philips. I’ve been using them for about a couple of weeks now and they are just perfect to my liking. Beautiful sub-bass, brilliant clarity and separation and very comfortable. I just want to mention that out of the box, they sounded pretty good but a little closed, less space, I don’t know what to call it but the speakers needed to be broken into. After about a week and many equalizer changes, they sound absolutely brilliant. After demoing my earbuds, a couple of my friends have also ordered one for themselves. Once again thanks for the advice.

          • I’m very glad to hear that! I’ve had mine for well over a year now and still very happy with their performance as well.

            BTW the “break-in” effect is usually called “burn in” in audio circles. It’s a hotly debated topic :).

  61. Hey, I’m a complete newb when it comes to this stuff. I’m considering the Xiaomi Piston 2 ($25) and Velodyne vPulse ($30) at the moment. I’m not sure what sort of IEMs I’m looking for, but I listen mostly to rock, post-rock and Nujabes ( instrumental hip hop?). I have an android phone. Which IEM would you recommend?

  62. Thanks for the list!Which headphones on the list go VSonic GR04 are most comparable to? I’ve really liked them, and they survived 2 years of abuse, but it’s time for something better … GR04s somehow sound a bit ‘raspy’ on certain kinds of music.

    Also, what are the best of the above to handle a mix of Prog Metal (Dream Theater, Opeth, Riverside etc), Progressive (Porcupine Tree, Genesis, Rush etc), and Classical music?

    • Somehow the GR04 model passed me by – never got to try it before it was discontinued. I was always told that the GR07 is an upgrade from it and I do like the GR07 for the type of music you listen to. Generally speaking, balanced sound, maybe with a bit of added bass, is what I’d go with, depending on your budget – higher-end VSonics, Philips Fidelio, that sort of thing.

      • Thanks — so it looks like GR07/GR07BE or Etymotic HF5 would be a good bet in 100-150$ range. Would have to give one of these a whirl.

      • BTW, Joker, any opinions/reviews on VSD3/VSD3S? I saw those on LMUE, and grabbed a pair of VSD3S … will check those out, while deciding between GR07BE, HF5 and RHA750 (the latter don’t seem to be the ‘balanced’ group, but sounds like a good all around pair — do you think they’d work for the music types above?)

        • Not yet – I hope I’ll get to try the VSD3/S soon but have not heard it so far.

          I think the MA750 will be too bassy for your genres. Unless you felt the GR04 was significantly lacking in bass I would definitely go for something more balanced.

  63. Hi joker, loving the site so far, I’m looking at a few pairs and was hoping for some advice.

    I currently have astrotec am-90s which I love the mids on, vocals sound amazing and surprisingly they work pretty well with electronic stuff too. I mainly listen to rock and dancey/trance stuff, with a bit of prog and other random synth stuff thrown in. (Genesis, Justice, Floyd, Van Halen, Moguia, etc)

    I’m looking at the Fidelio S2s, Thinksound MS01s, or Hifiman RE-400s. But am open to other suggestions too. My price range is around what those cost. So £100 or so tops.

    What I’m looking for is something with similar mids to the AM-90s but with a bit of extra bass, and brighter slightly more piercing treble for guitar solos and the like, without being overpowering or screechy.

    Not sure which of those three would be the best option, any thoughts?

    • To clarify what I mean about the treble, I want it to “cut”, for instance if you were to listen to chvrches, those high pitched synths really making an impact.

      • Also, how might the Dunu 1000s compare to this sound preference and those other phones?

        Thanks :)

      • The Fidelio S2 is good for what you want. It’s got a lot of presence in the range that gives guitars that “crunch” you’re talking about. My second choice would be the GR07 Classic from VSonic – this version should be well within your budget. If you don’t mind an over-the-ear fit, the GR07 is actually easier to fit properly than the Phillips.

        • Awesome, thanks! How would you compare the sound of the two? And how’s the bass on both? I’m definitely not looking for basshead levels, but a decent step up in low range quality/power from the AM-90 would be nice.

          Oh, and thoughts on the Dunu DN-1000 for this purpose too?

          • They have similar bass quantity but the S2 has a flatter/more linear low end with while the GR07 has a bit more of a mid-bass hump. The GR07 sounds a bit warmer and more full-bodied. It also has a slightly more 3D soundstage but tends to be more sibilant than the Fidelios. Both are a step up from the AM-90 in bass qty.

            The DN-1000 is heavier on bass and a little thinner/less forward in the midrange. Coming from the rather mid-centric AM-90 it might be too v-shaped.

  64. Hey Joker,

    Excellent website! When did you transition over from head-fi? I’ve been following your list for quite some time now and have made pretty much all my purchases based on your reviews.

    My current pair of earphones are finally dying, so I’m looking for something new now. Problem is, I don’t know exactly what to get. I mostly listen to hip-hop, along with a bit of electronic and alternrock. What kind of sound signature should I be looking for? The headphones that I’ve owned are JVC RX700 (my favourite, though I wish they were a tad bit bassier), Senn PX 100-II (pretty good, though at times they felt a bit ‘dull’), VSonic GR02-BE (can’t say much about them since they were DOA) and JVC FX34 (loved them to bits, excellent purchase for $2).

    My budget this time around is $50, though I can extend it a bit if its really worth it. I’ll be using them pretty much everywhere, so the more isolating, the better. Also, I won’t be using them with any sort of amp. I do love my bass, though I don’t want it to be overpowering the vocals – should I look at a v-shaped sound then?

    Looking forward to your reply,


    • This site has been up for about 10 months now but most of my reviews are still posted on Head-Fi as well. Always happy to see more readers here, though.

      Sounds like you’re after a bassy sound with decent treble presence. “Dull” is probably the result of the smooth, somewhat dark treble of the PX100s. I’ve outlined a few options below that I think will work for you, arranged from least to most bass-heavy:

      Sony MH1C – Good but not overpowering low end (more deep bass than mid-bass, which means better quality but less “Bassy” sound in the conventional sense) and very good quality mids and treble. It’s a smooth-sounding earphone, but more neutral than the PX100, so it should be less dull-sounding. The least efficient of the four, but not a problem unless you listen at max volume. Cable can be annoying.
      Xiaomi Piston 2 – Very good but again not quite “basshead” bass. It’s got more bloat than the MH1C but the treble is more exciting, giving it a slightly v-shaped signature. Lowest isolation of the bunch, but also the least expensive.
      Brainwavz S1 – goes a little over budget at $60, but it’s basically a slightly clearer, more v-shaped version of the NarMoo listed below.
      NarMoo S1 – pretty bassy earphones that manage to avoid sounding boring by having decent-quality mids (still a little veiled compared to the Brainwavz, though). Good sound for hip-hop, in my opinion, but might seem a little bloated at first coming from the more accurate RX700.

      Can’t beat $2 FX34s dollar for dollar, though :)

      • Thank you for your thorough reply!

        Of the four you’ve listed, the Brainwavz seems the most attractive option to me. The NarMoo sounds a bit too bassy for my taste, the Piston 2 seems like its not isolating enough and as for the MH1C, I’d rather avoid cables with phone controls on them.

        However, I was going over reviews of the Brainwavz, and many people complain that they start developing issues within a couple of months. I can’t really afford to send it back to claim warranty since I’d already be pushing my budget. Does it really have build quality issues or have those people simply been abusing their pairs?

  65. Hi,
    I love your review.
    After reading so many, I am still confused.
    Currently I have westone umx3, like your review on it. it’s a really good iem but kid of boring.
    Can you recommend something that’s more exciting, something that the umx3 does not have.
    I like to keep it around 150-225.
    Thank you

    • Sure, to have a nice, fun contrast to the UM3X I would either go either v-shaped or warm and bassy.

      For warn and bassy, the Yamaha EPH-100 is a good bet at $150: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/yamaha-eph-100/ . It’s got deep-reaching bass that doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of quality. Mids are not too recessed and it’s not harsh or sibilant. Second choice for this type of sound would be the RHA MA750.

      For v-shaped, I would go Dunu DN-1000 at about $200: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/dunu-dn-1000/ . Like the EPH-100, it has deep bass (just less of it) but it is clearer in the midrange and brighter up top. In terms of sound signature it’s more like the Westone 3 than the UM3X. My second choice would be the VSonic GR07 Bass Edition.

      Personally, I’d go for the Dunu.

  66. Hi Joker,

    I have being using GR07MK2, although i do like the overall sound signature i found it abit lack on bass.

    I’m currently looking at GR07BE and ATH-IM70. I need your view on it.

    • I haven’t tried the IM70 but the GR07 BE is as promised – a GR07 with a bump in the bass. It’s not a huge bump – for GR07 owners it will make sense but someone who blindly buys it just because it is called “Bass Edition” will be disappointed.

      Another option with a similarly clear sound and slightly greater amount of bass is the Dunu DN-1000.

  67. Hi Ijoker

    Thank you for all the information you have provided. I am looking for a good pair of earphones to use with my ipod classic. I think I still have virgin ears in terms of sound quality. Right now I use sennheiser cx160 ($30), to be honest I don’t know what I have been missing. I have been looking at Shure se215, sennheiser cx300, E10, Klipsch S4 and even etymotic er4. Some of the reviews online are so tempting, people talking about hearing parts of music you don’t normally hear with the cheaper earphones. My question is how far true is this and is it worth the extra cash. Guess am looking for something that will blow my mind away or should I say ears :-)
    Budget about $120

    • That’s a very complicated question to answer – many of factors go into just how much of a difference you will hear with your first higher-end headset including:

      -your ears – while everyone can be trained to be a discerning listener, it really varies by individual how hard (if at all) you have to work at it
      -starting point – if you’re “upgrading” from a set of very bad headphones you will obviously be more impressed with a higher-end set than someone coming from an Apple EarPod, which is pretty good, or from a Sony MH1C, which is excellent
      -getting the right sound signature match – this is something not everyone gets right with their first upgrade, but with more experience you can figure out the best fit for you. Upgrading from a bad headphone that is a good match for your preferences to a higher-end one with a sound signature that you just don’t like is not the way to be impressed
      -expectations – a lot of time audiophile publications set the expectations higher than they perhaps should be. This is not intentional, but rather a result of more experienced audiophiles being used to minute differences/improvements in audio performance (see also “diminishing returns”)

      Anyway, it’s your call on whether you want to go off the deep end and spend $100 or try a very good $50 set first. If you want the maximum possible difference, something like the super-accurate Etymotic HF5 is your best bet. No guarantee that you will love it (see my point about sound signature matches above) but it will provide the most raw resolution and detail of anything in the price range.

      If it were me, I’d pick the middle road and get a VSonic VSD1S or similar. These have pretty good bass punch and won’t sound totally “off” to you coming from a less hi-fi set, but they still lean towards a more accurate and neutral sound than you are used to and will provide some of the detail you’ve probably been missing.

  68. Hi Joker, I need some help choosing an IEM – I need a pair of headphones with a mic so I can take calls on my Android phone, but I also need it to do double duty as a pair for running. What I’m looking at is the SteelSeries Flux, MEElectronics A151P, Rock-It Sounds R-20, Astrotec AM-90-MIC, Xiaomi Piston 2, and T-Peos Tank. Which of those do you think would be best for my purposes? I know you like the Flux, but I was also thinking the twisted cords of the A151P and R-20 would be better for running with less microphonics.

    I used to have the Shure 215 but I think I’ve lost them somewhere recently or I would just buy the mic cable, and I also have the Vsonic GR02 BE, but that doesn’t have a mic. I was/am very happy with those soundwise, but I’d be happy with something more balanced too I think. The 215s were uncomfortable over time since I had to use their triple flange tips to get them to stay in my ears (small ear canals), and the triple flanges were still too big and pushed slightly against my ear, but they went in deep enough that they didn’t just fall out. I recently found some great aftermarket tips for the GR02 BE that fit really well, but never got to try them with the Shure.

    Thanks for the guide and for your advice!

    • Less microphonics is obviously better for running, yes. You also have to be careful with sweat – as far as I know none of the ones you’re looking at are sweat-resistant.

      A BA should be good if you want a change in sound. The Astrotec, Rock-It, and Meelec A151 sound almost identical so it’s just a matter of picking the right form factor if you’re okay with balanced sound. They’re all comfortable but the A151 works the best for me in terms of fit. The AM-90 is a little heavier than the other two with those metal housings.

  69. Hey Joker, recently rediscovered your reviews through Headfi, and I was wondering if you could help me tie-break between the following: ATH-CKX9iS, ATH-CKM500(iS), Shure SE215, or Yuin OK1.

    While I’ve owned/tried Grado (SR60i), Stax (just demos), and K701s, what I’ve ultimately ended buying and keeping are Audiotechnica phones (EM7, ESW9A, W1000x). The open air feel, extreme detail and clarity always get me. That being said, my loyalties to AT are making it difficult to give an unbiased decision on which of these to get my IEM journey started.

    My friends swear by the SE215, and they sound damn good. As for the OK1, while not technically IEMs, are considered amazing, and seem to have the sound signature I prefer. Then lastly, I’m almost certain that AT’s signature sound/design will be perfect for me, but now that the CKX series is out, I’m not sure if I should get the CKM500 or go for the new models?

    If you could help me out here through this wall of text, that’d be amazing. If it helps deliberation, I’ve also got the means to get each of these at $100 or less.

    • The Audio-Technica IEMs you have listed don’t sound too much the Audio-Technica headphones that you like – they’re decidedly bassier and more v-shaped. In fact, a large percentage of the ATH in-ears I’ve tried have that type of sound – very robust bass and strong presence in the upper midrange/lower treble leading to an aggressive, mildly v-shaped sound.

      The SE215 still has similarly strong bass but it has more laid-back treble and doesn’t sound very airy. The OK1 is much more balanced and airy but rolls off at the low end compared to these. I like the way it sounds but was never a huge fan of its neither here nor there form factor. At $100 it’s hard to beat for sound, though.

      Honestly, I think sound signature should factor into your decision more than brand. If you think you’ll be okay with one of the bassier Audio-Technicas, by all means go for them because they definitely have a much better form factor than the OK1.

      • Thanks for the analysis Joker, that is exactly what I needed to hear to help me decide. I think it’s a coin toss between the AT phones vs the Yuins if it comes down to relative extremes between picks here. Either way, since I’ve had the chance to personally demo the SE215, getting a detailed comparison between my choices was perfect.

        Between the CKX9iS and CKM500iS, which would you pick? Based on your reviews and notes here, I think I’d prefer the CKX series, but I’d love to hear your opinion on the two

        • Yep, they are definitely extremes.

          I only tried the CKX9iS at a show and walked away with the less bassy CKX5iS. I don’t have a great feel for how the 9 compares to the CKM500, but the 5 is about on-par, just flatter through the midbass region and a little thinner/less full-bodied overall.

  70. Nice article ljokerl!!
    Can you give me an opinion on soundmagic es18? What type of sound signature does it has?
    Out of Philips SHE3580/SHE3590 and soundmagic es18, which one is better?

  71. Hey Joker, awesome stuff. Would like advice if possible. I’m a drummer and use a piar of Shure 315′s as my IEMs, they do the job pretty well. Unfortunately the left bud as died and I haven’t been able to repair it myself. Can’t really afford to replace the bud, but for now are there any fairly cheap alternatives I can use until I can replace the bud? Many thanks

  72. hi joker what is effect of size of driver of an iem on the sound.is bigger the better?because there will be more power produced i think.

    • A bigger driver might have the potential to move more air if tuned that way, but it really comes down to implementation. Look at sets like the EPH-100 – big, powerful sound with a very small driver. You can tell that some manufacturers do have the bigger=better philosophy when it comes to dynamics (Sony and Audio-Technica, for example) but there are lots of crappy, low-end earphones with big drivers to serve as a counterpoint.

      And don’t forget about BAs and moving armatures, most of which are fairly small.

  73. Hey joker great reviews as always. Ive been looking around for headphones that would be a nice upgrade from the JVC HA-Fx101 which I instantly loved. All the choices seem good on hear but was wondering which ones offer the best durability. I have been looking at the vpulse, wooduo 2s, and yamaha eph 100s. Thanks.

    • I would trust Yamaha’s build quality over those of Velodyne and Wooduo. Since the EPH-100 has dropped down to $100ish on amazon I find it hard to recommend anything else for good bass. It might not be as bassy as the FX101 in the traditional sense, but the quality is excellent.

  74. My XBA-1 just gone with no sound in right ear. Tried to warm it up with hairdryer and disassemble, but no luck there. Can you recommend something similar below 100$ with same or better clarity in sound? Not interested in basses cause current Sony XB-40EX sounds terrible. So much noize.

  75. Hi! Im interested in buying my first pair of headphones and a backup IEM, but im on a REALLY tight budget (both of them for $60) im actually interested in the Brainwavz M1 ($40 on amazon) , im a huge sucker for balanced sound, and unfortunately amazon doesn’t offer the astrotec AM90 internationally :c, and the Meelectronics HT21 (on sale right now for about $14), so i don’t know if you could please recommend a pair of headphones and IEM that don’t go beyond my tight budget :c, i really like balanced sound, analitical with a bit of bass (also comfortable and isolating IEM and headphone speaking), so i hope you can help me ljokerl! Thanks again and please keep these type of threads going! Thanks for all the time and effort in putting all of this! :D

    • The HT-21 isn’t noise-isolating but it’s a good option at that price for sure. This way you’re spending most of your budget on the IEM. For even better balance and clarity, you can replace the M1 with the higher-end UE600vi, which is currently retailing for $45 on amazon: amzn.to/1yA92E8

      If you’d rather spend more on the headphone, a good combination might be the Panasonic HTF600 + Philips SHE3580 (darker/bassier) or LG F420 (clearer/brighter). Dollar for dollar the Panasonic + LG combination is probably the best deal in audio, if it can be shipped to your country.

      • Thank you for the recommendations! Im still undecided because the UE600vi seems the best of the bunch in terms of audio quality, but from the reviews it seems that the cable gets torn appart really quickly, so that worries me quite (im always on the go), the LG F420 seem AMAZING! But the comfort and isolation is subpar with the IEM that currently is my daily driver (XBA 1), which one or what IEM with good build quality, decent isolation and good fit/comfort would you recommend at 35-40$? That is somewhat balanced and comes near or surpasses the sound quality of the XBA 1? The headphones will be the panasonic HTF600, they seem amazing :D, and again lJokerl thank you for all the effort in answering! :D

        • I’ve only heard the XBA1 once or twice and I thought it sounded pretty good so that’s a little tough. Two that come to mind are the Etymotic EtyKids (volume-limited a little analytical but overall very balanced and clear) and T-Peos D200R (the least v-shaped of the entry-level T-Peos earphones, but still a little bassy).

  76. are there any good dual driver iem’s under $50 I listen to pop,alternative pop,synth pop,r&b

  77. hi joker how is havi b3 and i think there are three different versions

  78. Hey Joker,
    I hope you can help me. I really love the comfort the Vsonic GR06 because its light and sounds great with shallow insertion (my ear canals can’t handle bi flanges and really long single flanges). I want something less mid centric and it would seem like the GR07 is a no-brainer (fit wise), but if I already find the GR06 sibilant I don’t know that the GR07 is right for me. Are there any other IEMs you could recommend that have a similar ergonomic fit, sound great with shallow insertion and not quite so sibilant (everything is relative I know but any recommendation from you would be helpful nonetheless). Thanks!

    • The GR06 and GR07 are quite similar in terms of sibilance. If you want to cut down, you may consider the Sony MDR-7550, which looks freaky but can be worn shallowly and is nicely balanced in terms of sound, maybe just a touch laid-back up top. The same goes for the Brainwavz R3, but it’s a little harder to fit.

      A bassier option is the JVC FXT90. It’s not as compact as the GR06 but it sounds fine with a shallow fit and the treble is bright, but not sibilant.

      If you want something more balanced and less expensive, the UE600 and especially (as far as shallow insertion goes) the SteelSeries Flux Pro might be good options. The Flux Pro is a little warmer but both are nicely balanced BA earphones that are also comfortable.

  79. i am intrested in soundmagic e10 but i heard that es 18 has almost same driver at less than half the price of e10?please review es 18.

  80. hi joker,

    hi hopefully this thread is still active :) i just received my mh1c, the bass and detail was great but i just felt that the soundstage is too narrow for my taste and treble was not crispy enough (which i miss from my now broken soundmagic e30) so im looking for an upgrade

    my priority would be an open and airy sound with above average to WIDE SOUNDSTAGE, WARM sound signature, with CRISPY but non sibilant treble, and LOUD enough for smartphone listening. bass should be moderate to a bit bassy but not necessarily basshead as long as theres a good mid-bass hump, as long as it responds to my android phone equalizer. iem doesnt have to be polite and neutral and accurate as long as sound is very clear and detailed. btw isolation, comfortability and microphonics arent exactly my priority, just sound quality

    i listen mostly to EDM and contemporary pop.

    how bout vsonic gr07 BE? (i know where i can get a used one for around $110)
    my budget is around $70-120

    thanks a lot!

    • The GR07 BE does tend to expose sibilance and it’s not all that warm, not like the MH1C (earphones with decently strong treble generally aren’t very warm). The Xiaomi Pistons 2.0 remind me of an MH1C with more crisp treble and a more open presentation, though they also have slightly more bloated bass. The LG Quadbeat is another good option for a wide soundstage, but you’ll have to equalize the bass if you need as much as the MH1C has. Both are cheap enough to try and see if they work for you before risking something pricy like the GR07 BE.

  81. ZetanBloodline

    Hi there, I’m looking for a new set of IEMs. I’ve had two pairs of the Meelec A161P, both returned. I really did like the sound of these, but the build quality let them down. Both sets developed splits in the wiring at the strain relief. Review here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R1W3DRMQ0D4GFN/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

    I’ve currently got a set of the Meelec DD53P-BK M Duo Dual. Why I bought another Meelec set of IEMs, I do not know, I guess I like them and I think I was in a hurry when I bought them. The build quality is better, but is somewhat let down by the sound. I have a budget of around £100 – £150 GBP, but would like to spend a bit less.

    I usually listen to rock, metal, death metal, soumetimes house, trance.. etc, and I’ll be mainly using them with my Galaxy S3 phone, although I do also own a Cowon J3 which has been unfortunately relegated to the drawer as an extra gadget I don’t really need to carry around.

    I would appreciate some informed suggestions. Thanks, ZetanBloodline

    • If you’re willing to give up a little bit of bass quantity of the A161P, you can get the Etymotic HF5 for only a little more. It uses a similar driver (Knowles ED) with ~equivalent technical performance but is tuned for a slightly more flat/reference sound. The Etys have pretty good cabling, Kevlar-reinforced if I remember correctly. On the pricier end, the TDK BA200 is quite good – somewhat warmer and more smooth than the A161P, but still very accurate. Not sure how good the headphone jack of the S3 is but if it’s not great, a single-driver, crossover-less earphone might be the safer option for audio quality.

      • ZetanBloodline

        I’ve been away at a festival this weekend, only just got back online. I’m going to have a look at those you’ve suggested and maybe save a few ££s. I’ll try and get back with what I decided to buy. Thank you for your reply.

  82. Hi sir, i’m not a person who has deep knowledge about how good an in-ear headphone is but i really love listening to music. I can say that i am a heavy user since i always use it for commuting, when i take a walk, ride my bike and even when i am sleeping.
    What i’m looking for an in-ear headphones are of course good quality of sound and i dont want those heavy bass, durable for my heavy everyday use and i am also looking for those with microphone and volume controls with those options of having to next a track/back from 1 track/pause/play etc.
    I’m willing to spend up to $100
    TIA! :D

    • Assuming the volume control you want is for an Apple (iPod/iPhone/iPad) device, you have a couple of decent options. The UE600 (http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/ultimate-ears-ue-600-600vi/) is a personal favorite for balanced sound but doesn’t have the greatest durability. The Etymotic MC3 has a more “intrusive” fit but still sounds very balanced and should be more durable in the long run compared to the UE. Both have 3-button remotes.

      • Yes, you are correct. I’ll be using it mostly for my iPhone and iPad.
        Nice recommendations, i’ll look up to it.
        Btw, i’ve heard Sennheisers have in-ear phones made for iPhone. Do you recommend it? I think it’s the mm30i and mm70i correct me if im wrong as i dont clearly remember what my friend said to me. And if possible could you please give me a brief overview about Sennheisers products, are they durable, sound quality wise? Cos i’ve heard a lot from my friend about it being that and this and i was just curious if what he’s saying is true. TIA!

        • I haven’t tried those particular ones but in my experience entry-level Sennheiser products are generally quite good, but fall short of amazing. They’ll do the job, but don’t quite have the value-for-money of some of the more niche products.

  83. With a budget of say $200-250, what would be a good IEM for someone who primarily listens to EDM and J-pop?
    Had a Wooduo 2 which i loved, but unfortunately it got misplaced.
    Thinking of trying something new, the Wooduos had this really “fun” sounding feel, maybe something with a balanced signature?

    • My go-to recommendation for EDM is the Yamaha EPH-100. It just has an awesome blend of deep, impactful bass, smoothness, spaciousness, and all-around good sound quality for EDM. It’s definitely still a “fun”-sounding earphone, but coming from a Wooduo2 I’m not sure if going with a balanced set is the right move for an EDM listener.

      That said, if you want to take a step in the accuracy direction without getting something with a flat response or losing the fun factor completely, go for the Dunu DN-1000. While more expensive and less bassy than the EPH-100, it brings clarity and treble energy that the Yamahas can’t quite offer.

  84. Hi ljokerl,
    I have the sennheiser cx300 (I’m not sure about the model because they are branded Creative) and I listen principally techo/trance in the office and my source are not very hi-fidelity (mp3 and youtube).
    I’m not interested in mic and I prefer wear straight down.
    I have a budget of no more than 80/100$.
    Could you give me 2 or 3 earphone suggestion?

    • Depends on what you want in terms of sound signature. The CX300 is a warm and bass-heavy earphone with somewhat laid-back treble. I’ve arranged my four suggestions below in order from most similar to most dissimilar. The most similar earphone I’d recommend is the Dunu DN-23 Landmine. It doesn’t have the best clarity, but it has a bassy and smooth sound that’s very forgiving. The ATH-CKM500 also boasts very good bass but has more treble presence for a more energetic sound overall. I quite liked it for EDM and it’s a great value at $50-60.

      Next are two more hi-fi sets – the JVC HA-FXT90 and JVC HA-FXD80. The FXT90 has good bass presence and bright, crisp treble, still with a warm overall tone. It has better soundstaging and midrange quality than the CKM500. It runs on the expensive side at about $100, though. The FXD80 is brighter and clearer, but has less mid-bass than the other sets mentioned and is overall more treble-tilted. It still has good bass depth, however, and I enjoyed it quite a bit with EDM.

  85. Hi, I’m from argentina and was thinking about buying from ebay or amazon and ship it.
    What’s your experience with fakes of not so common earbuds?
    I’m a bit scared because there are lots of fakes of sennheiser and even klipsch (currently own a pair of s4 bought here).
    I’m liking the shure se215 or the HiSoundAudio Crystal, do you know any online shop that can be trusted? ( I wouldn’t mind paying 20 extra bucks just to be at ease)

    • Really depends on the model, but I think you’re safer buying less popular earphones. I really doubt the Crystal has fakes – it’s just not popular enough. You can also get them from well-known ebay sellers such as bigbargainsonline: http://bit.ly/1qcUJUS . Those are legit for sure.

      • Thanks for the help! also very nice work here, really appreciate the effort comparing so many models. I’m going to go for the shure, which I can get in amazon (no third party seller), with amazon being authorized retailer.

  86. Looking for some advice,

    Looking for my first set of good iem’s for everyday use (work, commuting etc)

    listen to alot of music, musical interest would be varied, rock, electronic, classical, ambient, small amount of rap

    Have been looking at the GR07 CCE, RHA MA750, TDK Ba200 and few others (so many out there). I have around 100-150 euro to spend,

    Have you any suggestions on which would be best suited or any others suggestions


    • If you don’t have concrete sound signature preferences yet, I would recommend starting with something that’s not too flat/analytical, but also not super bassy. The GR07 strikes a good balance and I recommend it often for this type of request. It’s not the smoothest-sounding earphone but it does well with most genres. You can also start with the VSD1S if you want something with a similar signature but much more inexpensive.

      Generally speaking, the RHA MA750 is a good start if you already know that you like heavy bass, and the BA200 if you know you like more balanced, more Hi-Fi sound signatures.

    • Hi |joker|,

      I’d like to first thank you for compiling the comprehensive list of IEM reviews. I’ve been following the thread (since 2012?) for a few years now and I direct my friends to your thread whenever they need to make headphone purchase decisions!

      I purchased the Yamaha EPH 100 due to your recommendation. I have 0 complaints about them; I’ve had them since summer of 2012 and I literally wear them everywhere – commute, working out, studying, etc. Still in great shape but I lost them a few days ago </3 … so it's time to invest in a new pair.

      I listen to mostly edm, indie/alternative, deep house — and occasionally jazz and classical. Isolation is important as I commute a lot and the bass in EPH 100 is suffice for me. I've also come to appreciate its wide soundstage a lot (but then again I've only had experience with a handful of mid-level earphones). Based on this, would you recommend HiSoundAudio Crystal, TDK BA200, HiFiMan RE400, Shure SE215…. or re-purchase of EPH 100?

      Thanks in advance and your help is greatly appreciated! :)

      • Thanks, glad the reviews have been helpful! Thanks for spreading the word among your friends as well.

        The EPH-100 is still among my favorites for EDM. There are a lot of earphones that can match its soundstage size, but not many that can do that AND bring the bass. Out of the ones you’re considering, the RE-400 and BA200 are the most balanced and have significantly less bass than the EPH-100. Not sure these are suitable for what you want. The Crystal and SE215 come next, with good bass punch (still not as good as that of the EPH-100), but with overall sound quality that I still wouldn’t put on-par with the Yamahas.

        In terms of sound signature and overall performance, the two other sets you might consider are the JVC FXT90 and RHA MA750. They are both enhanced-bass earphones with signatures that I find suitable for EDM. Whether you will like their sound as much as that of the EPH-100 is unknown, but they are the closest competition, isolation aside.

  87. Thanks for posting this, very helpful for a relative novice like myself.

    I wondered if you could recommend a few pairs of earphones for listening to predominantly spoken word audio (talk radio, audiobooks)? I’m considering buying either several pairs of cheap phones (eg Philips SHE3590) or one pair that seems more durable than most (eg RHA MA750) – any advice re this would also be appreciated.

    • I wouldn’t spend more than $60-70 for that purpose. If you’re willing to spend that much, I would focus on getting something with very high vocal intelligibility – I would recommend the Ultimate Ears 600, Fidue A63, Etymotic MC5, Brainwavz M1, or VSonic R02 Silver, depending on the additional features you want.

      As a cheap option the 3590 will be fine – clarity is good and it’s very small and comfortable.

      • Thanks for the suggestions, will check them out. Not noticed any of them while looking online apart from the Etymotics. Liked most of what I read about them but was put off by several people having said they’re a bit fragile (I’m a bit fed up of having to replace phones every 6 months due to loss of sound in one ear).

        Wouldn’t normally have considered Philips – every pair of Philips over-the-ear phones I’ve had have failed in one ear within just a few months – but might give the 3590s a try seeing as they’re so cheap. If I could find cables only half as durable as Howard Leight Sync headphones I’d be more than happy!

  88. What are multi driver iem’s like two driver or three driver and also what is a balanced armature iem?

  89. Can you please explain sound signature of headphones?what is v shape and u shape signature

    • This is a topic that warrants much more coverage than a comment to explain fully but, in brief, both of those refer to a response curve where both the bass and treble are lifted in comparison to the midrange. The differences between “V” and “U” are as you would expect – “U” shaped typically has a pretty flat “middle” and some lift at the lower and upper ends of the spectrum. A “V” shape would have a more recessed/scooped-out midrange. I personally don’t usually bother making the distinction, since my reviews are (hopefully) detailed enough to explain how mild/severe the emphasis is.

  90. But what do you think from your own experience?

  91. Kindly explain burn in. Is it a real thing or just a myth ?will just playing music for hours properly burn the headphones?

    • It really depends on who you ask. My personal opinion is that whatever effects there are, they are negligible compared to all of the other variables that go into the audio chain in most cases. Plus, it’s not like you can avoid burn-in, so there’s no need to worry about it from the consumer’s standpoint.

      If you want to read a more objective take on this, I quite like Tyll’s IF article here: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/evidence-headphone-break

  92. Hi
    I’m looking to upgrade from my now defunct Thinksound TS 02′s. I really liked the easy, warm balance of these that let me listen to them for hours on end, but I’m aware that they’re not the ultimate in clarity or detail. Before that I had a pair of Shure SE 530′s which I found quite clean, but boring and thin in the bottom end. So my taste does tend somewhat toward the warm, smooth side, but not at “bass head levels” For example, I can’t stand the sound of the Velodyne V-pulses, finding them way too overblown on the bottom end.
    So far, based on your reports, I’m attracted to a couple of models; these being the Dunu DN 1000 or Vsonic GR07BE. These would be at the high end of my price range, and I’m open to anything up to this price level but not higher. Any suggestions?

    • The DN-2000 and GR07 BE are great earphones that have more engaging sound than the SE530s but definitely not as exceedingly bassy as the vPulse. However, I wouldn’t call either one of them smooth in the way the SE530 and TS02 are – they are both brighter and more energetic at the top end. If that’s something you think you can live with, I’d probably go DN-1000 over the GR07 as it’s a better match for the ThinkSounds’ signature.

      By the way, if you want to sample a sound very similar to the GR07 BE on the cheap, you can grab the VSonic VSD1S – that way you’re not committing $200 to something you’re not sure you will like and you’ll have a very decent $50 earphone to use as a backup whether you love the sound or not.

  93. Hi there,

    thumbs up to ur really great work.. :)
    i have 2 question…
    1) which one of the following is most forgiving to low bit rate files?
    dunu dn1000, vsonic gro7 be, eph100, Fischer Audio DBA-02 mkII and rha ma750i
    i am asking this because i have few 128-160kbps mp3s and i love them a lot and unable to any there audio cd in market.
    it would be great if u would order them accordingly.
    2) which one would u say has both (a)most textured and deep bass (not enhanced though) (b) clear treble (but not overly harsh) ?
    again it would be great if u would order them accordingly. :)

    • 1) The RHA MA750 or Yamaha EPH-100. Depends on whether you’re more sensitive in the low treble (where the MA750 has more presence) or the high treble. I’d probably go for the Yamaha. The others cannot be called forgiving by any stretch.

      2a) The MA750 and EPH-100 both have heavily enhanced deep bass, with the DN-1000 not too far behind. The GR07 BE probably offers the best balance of detail/texture and presence despite the fact that it rolls off a little compared to the three above. The DBA-02 is very detailed/textured but its bass is likely too light for someone concerned with bass texture.

      2b) I would take the DN-1000 for treble quality – it’s a little smoother than the DBA-02 and GR07 but still has the clarity that the more bass-tilted EPH-100 and MA750 lack.

      • okay, so RHA MA750 or Yamaha EPH-100 are the only forgiving ones among those….how much will i be missing out (or what part of spectrum) if i opt for RHA MA750 (i dont want to go with EPH-100 as the build quality at strain relief and wires are questionable…correct me if i am wrong) instead of DN-1000 as the later has more score in your review?

        and 1 stupid question is forgiving nature of iems just the opposite of resolving nature?

        • With the MA750 you’re giving up some clarity and bass control compared to something like the DN-1000 – it just boomier and more veiled than the Dunu. Not by much, but a noticeable amount.

          Oh and forgiving/unforgiving is mostly limited to the treble region while resolution can refer to any part of the spectrum, so they’re not necessarily opposites. Something can also have poor resolution AND be unforgiving at the same time.

          • alright i dont want to give up anything specially clarity ;) and thanks for clearing that up (y)
            sorry for my questions are getting stupider… :P

            i should be back to DN-1000 then….will they really beat the crap out of the “low bit rate files” or just dont wow me like the flac ones? :/
            also say a nicely (or even averagely for that matter) mastered recording is compressed to low bit rate then does that introduce artifacts into it or they just lose few/considerable amount of detail???

          • I don’t have too many 128k mp3s in my collection and the ones I have aren’t the most compressed-sounding, but the DN-1000 works okay wtih them. I don’t hear low-bitrate mp3s as flat-out losing detail, but they can lose a lot of air and just sound congested. My personal lower limit, generally speaking, is 192k.

  94. Hi, I am looking to buy a good pair of earphones. My only major earphone purchase was the Klipsch image S4 and was completely impressed by them. So since S4 is a bass centric IEM, I am looking for similar but better sounding earphones than S4. I am willing to go upto $150. So if you have any suggestions regarding any pair that would sound warm and bass-oriented. After some (only) research I have shortlisted the following earphones. I am not exactly a basshead ( i think) but i love listening to big roomy and wider soundstage oriented music (if that makes any sense)

    Sony XBA c10 ip
    Meelectronics 151
    AKG K 376
    Velodyne Vpulse
    VSonic gr06
    Monster Turbine
    TDK BA 200 (i think they’re not bassy but ive heard a lot of good things aboutem)

    I mostly listen to EDM, alternate rock and sometimes classical.

    Please suggest which ones should i go for. If none of these are worth (very much impossible coz of the praise they have got) then please suggest any other sub $150 pair.

    All the research I have done is online as I live in India and no store has a good variety of earphones here. So please dont suggest to try them at the store as i cant.


    • I wouldn’t call the A151, C10, or GR06 bassy or bass-oriented either, not by a stretch. If you’re willing to live with something that’s not bass-heavy, the BA200 will wipe the floor with these anyway.

      As for the rest, the Turbine is about 4 years old now and a little outdated, and the vPulse/K376 are decent if you’re paying less than $100 for them but not a sizable step up from the S4.

      Why not go for one of the more modern bass-heavy earphones such as the Yamaha EPH-100 (my go-to EDM recommendation), the RHA MA750, or the JVC FXT90? Unless they are not available in your country, of course.

      • Thank You very much for your reply. I searched for your three recommendations and found that only the Yamaha is available for $200 which is way higher than my budget. However I may go for this if i dont find another good alternative. And if I have to go for a sub $200 earphone, many other earphones such as the Gsonic Gr07 (bass edition) also fall in the category. Please tell me what do you think of it.

        One more thing. What do you think of Fidue A63?


        • The GR07 BE and A63 do not have as much bass as the EPH-100 or S4. If you’re okay with that, the GR07 is a step up from the others mentioned except the BA200.

          • Hey!!

            Finally got my Yamahas today… and boy they look so premium! About the sound quality its very very good, and i’m sure 50 odd hours of burn-in will make them sound even better. The only sad thing is that I overlooked the “Nozzle-mounted driver” which is terrible for my ears as apparently I have narrow ear canals. because of the this the isolation is almost non-existent (unless i push and hold it there with my hands). Haven’t opened the rest of the package yet to find if they have smaller tips that may help.

            Or else i’ll have to buy replacement tips that can fit smaller ear canals. Please help me with some links if possible as to where i can find the tips that fit into the EPH-100.


          • Eartips sized for a 5.5mm nozzle can be stretched on the EPH-100 pretty easily. This variety pack from MEElec might be a good place to start: http://www.meelec.com/MEElectronics_Original_Eartips_for_M11_Earphones_p/tipset10-m11-bk-mee.htm

  95. Hi, really nice list! I’m thinking of getting RE-400 or GR07, but I’m unsure of which one to get since their prices are very similar now that GR07 classic is available. Which one would be a better option if I enjoy listening to all sorts of music. Thanks

  96. I am currently using rp hje 120 and es 18 and want an upgrade i am looking for cx 300 because of good reviews.will it be good choice and better than above two?

  97. Hey great list!

    Have been using the Brainwavz M3s for years now, recently got the RE 400s but I find them lacking that “surrounding bass” feel & can be very harsh/sibilant.

    The SE125 was one of my original options but somehow got persuaded towards the RE400s, very detailed but any hint of surrounding bass is drowned out by city/train noise, leaving only a harsh sound.

    Have got the option to return the RE400s, would the SE125 be better good option?

    • SE215 lel

      • If your RE-400 has more treble and more sibilance than your M3 you might want to double-check your seal. Sounds like they may not be fully sealed in your ears.

        The SE215 is bassier than the RE-400 so it’s got that going for it. The treble is pretty smooth but not really smoother than the HiFiMan set. However, if the RE-400 is not sealing in your ears and the SE215 does, you’ll obviously get a better experience out of the Shure. Another good option (if you can handle its j-cable) is the Sony MH1C. Very smooth and bassier than the RE-400 by a good amount.

  98. Hello, I’m impressed with the reviews made upon! :D
    I would like to know more about final audio heaven ii, is that a good deals?
    Thank you for your reviews! Much more appreciate !

    • Unfortunately I haven’t tried the Heaven II. The last Final Audio release that I have tried was the Adagio III, and I was somewhat disappointed with it.

      • Oh I see…thanks anyway!!
        Was trying to get a detailed and quite balanced IEM , bass can be mild too,
        And curious about final audio review on the web…hope that next time u have the time for it! Haha!
        Is micro phonic means ,sounds that we heard after wear the earphone?
        Thanks again !


    Hi Joker.
    Have you ever reviewed the Sony MDR IEM line? I’m talking about the DREX61lP IEM.
    If you can, go ahead and give them a try! I’d like to see your input on how they fare against similarly priced competing IEMs.


      I’d also like to add that: The aforementioned IEMs shorted on me a bit back. I’d like to find something with similar sound quality and price (within $40), with an in-line mic which isn’t completely necessary but is a great bonus if included.

      • I have only tried the MDR-EX1000/EX600/EX300 and the MDR-7550.

        Lots of great earphones with a mic at $40 but I can’t say how they will compare to your EX61. Check out the LG Quadbeat F420, for example.

  100. can you help me decide between Yamaha EPH-100 and GR07BE? i know they both sound good for the price within my budget,, i prefer a punchy bass and really good soundstage..thx in advance :)

    • Very different bass quantity – if you want deep, heavy-hitting, significantly emphasized bass, go for the Yamaha. If you want somewhat better punch compared to a true neutral earphone but aren’t willing to give up much in the way of accuracy and balance, go for the GR07 BE. The GR07 BE has a wider soundstage.

      • hmm how do Jaybird BlueBuds X compare to gr07be? whats the diff?
        btw i’m owning Klipsch Image S4, what sound signature type it fall into?…i’m new to this ^^’

        • I’ve only tried the BlueBuds once and wasn’t too impressed. It’s not bad for a bluetooth set but I don’t think it’s as good as the Sony SBH80 (http://theheadphonelist.com/sony-sbh80-review-mh1c-goes-wireless/), never mind the GR07.

          The S4 is v-shaped – lots of bass, thin, widthdrawn mids, and prominent, sometimes harsh treble.

          • ok thx, i’ll go with gr07be then…what can i expect from it coming from the s4?

          • Depends on a lot of factors… a trained listener under good conditions (good source, good quality music files, etc) will find a pretty big difference in overall accuracy. Elements that are “missing” with the S4 because its mids are recessed or its bass/treble are too strong will come into focus with the GR07. Instruments will be laid out more naturally, with more “space” between individual instruments.

            If the GR07 is your first higher-end earphone you may not notice a big difference at first (some people have an easier time of getting into Hi-Fi than others) but if you put the S4 aside temporarily and then go back to it after a week or two with the GR07, chances are it won’t sound very good to you anymore.

  101. Stuck between SoundMagic E10 , VSD/S 1 and Signature Acoustics C12 !!
    Which one shall i buy ??

    • If you want heavy bass – the C12. If you want reasonably balanced sound with smooth treble – the E10. If you want moderately enhanced bass (more than E10 but less than C12), better clarity, and strong, energetic treble – the VSD1S.

  102. Cracking list & reviews joker, has helped me a lot! Have you by any chance got hold of the Grain Audio IEHP yet? Any views?

  103. Hi ljokerl,

    Thank you so much for all the useful reviews. Previously I was using Westone UM1 until the cable failed me. I was looking for a IEM with replaceable cable but the price would be very high. I did try Shure 215 and do not like the it coz I feel a lot of detail went missing. For my budget around 200, I supposed I will forgo the replaceable cable. I would prefer a more balanced and detail IEM and so I read around your review. Now I’m stuck between ER4PT, DBA-02 MKii and TDK BA200 (which you recommend to one of the guy in the comment section). Which of it would you recomment?

    • Those are all very good earphones – the ER4 and DBA-02 being brighter and more “analytical” and the BA200 being a little warmer and more full-bodied. If durability is a concern, though, I would definitely go with the Etymotics, and you certainly won’t miss any detail with those.

  104. After seeing reviews i think these are good iem’s (Vsonic VC1000, Vsonic GR07 MKII, Rock it R-50 , DUNU DN1000) within 125$.i dont know which one to buy… Please tell me which one you will go for or would u suggest me a good headphone within125$.. i will buy that without any second thoughts.. thanks…

    • If you can get a DN-1000 for $125 I’d go for that. Otherwise it really depends on the type of sound you’re after – lean and accurate – go for the VC1000 or R-50 or Etymotic HF5 (my preference is the VC1000). A little more bass and warmer tone, but still quite accurate – the GR07 mkII or GR07BE. Even more bass and warmth – Yamaha EPH-100 or RHA MA750.

  105. Hi Joker,

    It looks like you’re sidestepping the GR06s. Are they not as good as they used to be? I might just have lost my pair and am looking for something as good if not better. I record, mix and produce, so I’ve grown quite fond of the warm, balanced signature.

    Any recommendations?

    • The GR06 is still pretty good but I personally prefer the even more inexpensive VSD1S to it. It’s more v-shaped in sound signature but also more open and un-congested. There are a couple of good newer options for warmer-sounding sets as well, such as the SteelSeries Flux and the new Fidue A63, but if you really liked the GR06 I’d probably just get another one.

      • Okay. My budget has increased a little making room for the RHA MA750s. How do you think these compare to the GR06s …and the RE-400?

        • If you want balanced, or even warm-and-balanced, the MA750 is probably not the right choice – too much bass, and not enough midrange presence compared to the GR06 and RE-400.

  106. Hi Ljokerl, love spending time looking at your in-depth reviews. So helpful when eliminating choices and categorizing. I have been using Audio Technica CK90pro for a few years and am really used to the “monitor” sound of it. Whenever I try out headphones at retailers they always sound harsh and brassy (sibilant?) to me comparatively speaking. I was thinking about the TDK BA200 or Fischer DBA-02. Do these sound like a good step up or aside or whatever for a CK90pro user? I tried all the new Audio Technica headphones out and the new over-ear hump designs make putting them on a real pain. What about Westone products? Or any other IEM in the neighborhood? Thanks for the great work and website.

    • The Westone 2 and TDK BA200 would both be good options for a CK90Pro fan – they’re not as smooth up top, but much more so than the DBA-02 and similar. They are a touch warm in tone, but nothing drastic. I’m a big fan of the BA200 especially.

      Also, have you considered trying a dynamic driver? The HiFiMan RE-400 doesn’t sound like a monitor, but it’s a smooth earphone without being tonally dark. I think it’s a very good – and inexpensive – compliment to the CK90Pro.

      • Hi Ljokerl, just wanted to report today I purchased a pair of BA200′s (for only about $120US) and couldn’t agree more with your analysis. They’re like a bright CK90pro, but still have that in-the-studio kind of feel. Overall, I’m quite sure these will be quite enjoyable to listen to. Bright, but just right. Not fatiguing in the least, but you get more of that waveform and sound which is clipped a bit in the CK90pro.

        • Good deal, glad you like them!

          • Hi, have a question about your recommendation for ear tips. I find these earphones need insertion at a certain depth and angle to get full sound. I’m having a little bit of a difficult time with Comply tips. I think they need a longer tip so that you don’t have to push them right up against the outer ear. Do you think the Westone STAR tips will likely resolve this issue? I see they’re sold in a multi-pack for best fit. Thanks for your time.

          • Indeed, I ended up preferring these with the STAR tips and then the Earsonics double-flange tips, which both position the housings a bit farther out in the ear: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/tdk-ba200/

            The STAR tips I use are the longer ones with the red core but getting the variety pack is probably best.

          • Yep, same Westone red STAR tips did the trick. Luckily I live about a 10 minute walk away from about 10 headphone shops in my city so getting the tips didn’t take any time at all (Yeah, being that close is a bit dangerous as well!) Comfortable, and finally the bass is extended (Initially I thought that the bass was a bit anemic but now it’s well balanced, good clarity and punch) and good isolation. Great call, again! It’s funny how independent websites such as yours kill mainstream audio websites in information accuracy and actually educating consumers on the best products. They really are falling behind. Cheers!

          • Must not be in the US. Glad the STAR tips work for you, too!

            Thanks :)

          • Yep, in Asia, where they always clump the same kind of shops along the same street. Kinda makes sense to do it this way, though.

  107. Hi iJOKER
    really impressed with ur knowledge regarding IEMs. I am an entry level earphone enthusiast trying to find high quality budget IEMs. But I would like you to please categorize for us, the DEVICES (mp3 players) which reproduce excellent sound. To name the few its WALKMAN series from sony, IPOD from apple, and Galaxy player from samsung.
    Thankx in advance

  108. Hey joker
    Just looking for some info, I’ve had klipsch s4s, gr06, and gr07mkii. Recently my gr07 crapped out and I can’t seem to get any assistance from lendmeurears or vsonic. Anyways I’m looking to get a new iem that will have a bit more bass than the gr07 but keep the same clarity, but I don’t want vsonic due to warranty issues. I was looking at the yamahas EPH-100 but would value your opinion.

    • You’ll lose a little clarity with the EPH-100 – it’s a lot bassier than the GR07, too. Same goes for the EPH-100. Honestly, if you can swing it, the Dunu DN-1000 is likely your best bet for a non-VSonic product with comparable clarity but a little more bass than the GR07.

      • I could probably do vsonic again if there was a worthy option. After looking at the dn-1000 it looks good pretty good but I feel it will be the same issue if there is a warranty concern being only in china. Open to all and my suggestions by the way but really don’t want to spend more than 250-300. Thanks again great info.

        • Well, a GR07 mkII with more bass and similar clarity is the GR07 Bass Edition – pretty much by definition. Another option for that type of sound from a US company would be the Westone 3 if you can find one in your budget from an authorized reseller (for warranty purposes). I know they went for less than $200 back when Westone first announced they were discontinued.

  109. Hello Joker!

    I have an RHA-MA750 and I am quite satisfied, but I miss a bit the highs and details of my previous GR07BE. So I am thinking about getting a second IEM. I did not like the harshness and sibilance of the GR07 so its not an option. What do you think about RE-400? I liked the GR06 btw, I guess the Hifiman is better in most ways. I cant buy an ultimate IEM (or it would be too pricey) so I will buy one more IEM beside my RHA, which is very sturdy and ideal for commuting, but on the other hand, I miss a bit the great vocals and detalis.. I will use my i4 as source, thats why I dont really consider a pricey multi driver IEM. RE-400 worth its price beside RHA or any other recommendation?

    Thanks ;)

    • The RE-400 would make a very good compliment to the MA750. You could also get something more BA-based if you want an even bigger contrast – an Ety HF5 for example. It’ll have less bass than the RE-400 but with a good seal its treble is not sibilant and it provides an extremely detailed sound.

      • Only problem I heard that its really flimsy.. Is it much better than VSD1(S)? I just wanna get some IEM which is better for vocals and highs, better clarity. I dont need good bass, because I know there is no ultimate solution in this 100-200 USD price range (maybe except GR07BE, which I had and was too harsh and sibilant), so it would be a second IEM for therese purposes under 100USD. :)

        • I tried the DN-1000 as well, but the TWFK not for me, I did not like the highs.

          • The RE-400 is smoother than any VSonic product I’ve tried by a fair margin and has more focus on the mids and more natural vocals than the VSD1/S. Durability is probably part luck and part how you take care of them. I’ve not had a HiFiMan product fail on me yet but I’m aware that others have.

          • Thanks!
            And what about VC-1000 compared to these? :)

          • The VC-1000 is TWFK-based. If you didn’t like the upper half of the DN-1000′s response, I would not recommend it.

      • And what do you think in general abou the pricier Sony mdr ex 1000?

          • And what do you think, is it much better than the RHA-MA750? Is it worth the 3x price? What would be an upgrade from the MA-750, if I did not like the harshness of the GR07BE, DN-1000, but I would like to get more details.. What about Westone 4R? (the SE846 was impressive, but I would not spend over 400$)

          • I would not recommend the EX1000 if you found the GR07BE or DN-1000 to bright – it’s just not a “safe” earphone in that regard. The Sony MDR-7550 would probably be better as it’s like an EX1000 but with less treble presence. The W4R is good – not nearly as bassy as an MA750 but it’s got a lot more midrange presence and clarity. The EarSonics SM64 is good as well and about the same price, but with more bass than the Westones.

  110. Hi again. XD

    So since I’ll be getting the SHE3590 soon, I decided to save up for a higher tier (kinda?) earphone, somewhere around the $100-120 with good sound and build quality. After some browsing around, I narrowed it to the following:
    JVC HA-FXT90, HiFiMan RE-400, and RHA MA750. I’m liking the DN-1000 but it’s almost double the price than what I plan on saving up, haha.

    What would you recommend from those 3, or would you recommend something else? (I just realized they’re all from different sound signatures. lol) Coming from the VSD1, everything was great but I felt that the bass didn’t have much presence so I’m looking for something similar to the VSD1 but with better bass, not too much though. I’m kinda leaning towards the RHA 750 but looking forward to your inputs. (:

    Thanks again!

    • If you like the VSD1S I would actually say the FXT90 is a better option, but the MA750 is certainly nice as well. The FXT90 is no slouch in bass quantity but it’s only a little bassier than the VSD1. It has a more well-layered, dynamic, aggressive sound, though, with simialrly good treble sparkle. The MA750 on the other hand has a warmer and bassier sound than the VSonics by a fair margin and less overall treble energy.

  111. Hi ljokerl,
    Thanks a lot for all the efforts you have put into into these amazing reviews. I was mostly using IEM that use to come with phones apart from a sennheiser HD200 over the ear and was not satisfied. Googling into some of the indian forums led me to your reviews. I wanted listening pleasure, whether a V or Balanced didn’t matter. Based on your reviews I went for Hifiman RE-400, and true to every word you said its amazing. I am fully satisfied. Now here’s my question/worry:
    The headphone cables are pretty slim (upper cords) and I am afraid it might give away sooner than expected. Any suggestions ? or even if they get damaged is it possible to get some after markets

    • Glad you’re enjoying your RE-400!

      Regarding the cables, there’s really not much you can do short of treating them like the fragile piece of $100 electronics they are. The RE-600 has a thicker cable but also comes with a huge price premium.

      There may be ways to repair the cables, re-cable the earphones, or even install detachable connectors (e.g. by http://btg-audio.com) should something go wrong but I’ve never needed to. I still have my HiFiMan RE-ZERO from 2011 or so and it works fine, though I’ve been pretty careful with it.

  112. Hi joker, last I read your reviews was last year (Q3 2013) at head-fi.org and after hours of reading and having a ~$50 budget (equivalent to our local currency), I bought the VSD1 and was really satisfied with it. Sad to say that the right ear-piece has been defective recently, probably because of how I handle it.

    As a result of that, I’m back here, reading reviews on what to get next, I’m looking at 3 items here: Sony MH1C, Dunu DN-12 and SteelSeries Flux In-Ear.
    Do you think you can suggest something else that has a good build (mostly for the wiring) and sound quality? I’m at a budget of ~$50-$80. I listen to almost any genre of music, Game / Movie OSTs, Rock, Alternative, Pop / Pop Rock, Piano, Instrumentals, R&B, etc.

    • (Can’t edit) I forgot to add that I’m really new to this thing so I don’t know much what ‘Warm and Smooth’ or ‘V-Shaped’ means. I think I only understand Balanced and Bass. Haha.


      • Well, the VSD1 that you enjoyed goes in the v-shaped category. The MH1C will have a little more bass (esp. deep bass) and less treble energy and sparkle. From everything I’ve read the Sony is also pretty durable in the long run. The Dunu will be similar but not as clear-sounding or extended.

        The Flux is a combination of the MH1C and VSD1 in sound – it has less bass than the MH1C but better subbass extension than the VSonic, with treble quantity that also falls between those two. It’s probably not as durable as the MH1C even though I’ve had no problems with my unit. If you can deal with its rubbery j-cord I think the MH1C is a good option, or maybe the Dunu DN-23 if it’s in your budget. It pretty much is an improved DN-12, just more expensive.

        • Thanks for the quick reply! I might get the MH1C but from what I’ve read in your reviews and around the web, the Dunu earphones have a pretty good build quality (so that certainly makes me want to try them) and the packaging + accessories are a great plus.

          Aside from your review of the DN-22M, what else can you say about them? I’ll be using them for smartphones, aside from plugging them to my PC, so the mic / button is going to get some use.

          How would you compare DN-22M, DN-23, DN-12 to the VSD1?

          Again, thanks!

          • The DN-23 sounds noticeably better than the DN-12 and DN-22M to me. It’s not quite as good as the MH1C, though. Compared to the VSD1 it won’t have the clarity or treble presence, and it’ll have significantly greater bass quantity but also sound boomier as a result.

          • I see, and once again, thanks for the quick reply. xD

            I forgot to mention that I commute a lot and usually put the wires between my shirt and undershirt so durability / build quality has a little bit of priority over sound quality, but not really that much. With that said, I think the DN-22M / DN-23 would be a good choice, but would it be worth it over the MH1C?

            On a side note, I’m getting a SHE5390 as a temporary replacement for my VSD1 since I still can’t find a local seller for the MH1C / DUNU, and I think it would take a few weeks if I buy them from Amazon or eBay.


          • The MH1C might be hard to wear the way you wear earphones because of the flat j-style cable. With that consideration the DN-23 might be worth the extra $.

            P.S. I actually prefer the sound of the SHE3590 to the DN-22 and DN-12 so maybe it doesn’t have to be temporary.

  113. Hi Joker! I’ve been reading for a while your reviews and I absolutely like the professional way you do this. Thanks! I read most of the answers here but I have a (hope quick) question for you.

    I’m waiting for the Fiio X5 (it will be my first DAP after the creative zen vision:M 60gb of 2007!) and i still have my beloved Phonaks PFE 122.
    I mainly listen to Rock (Muse, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Flaming Lips, CCR etc.) and Jazz (Pat Metheny Group, EST and other ACT artists) and i’m not a basshead, just like a good amount of it.

    What should I be looking for to be an improvement from my PFEs? Price range is up to $250. Should I really change them?

    Thanks again!

    • Thank you :)

      This is a question I can ask right back at you – what are you looking to improve in your PFEs? They are pretty much top-tier universals, even by today’s standards. You can get a little more in the way of clarity and resolution with something like a VSonic VC1000 or better bass depth and impact while maintaining similar clarity in the midrange and treble with a Dunu DN-1000. However, if they are working well and you are happy with the sound, I honestly don’t see the need to spend money trying to upgrade.

      • Thank you for your patience and kind reply. As you can easily understand, I’m fairly new to the hi-fi world. I love the PFE 122 and spent a month in 2010 reading around before actually buying them and they still sound amazing. I think I’m looking for an IEM to let me enjoy music, maybe I’m looking for more separation, resolution and clarity.
        What do you think about the IM02 or IM03 compared to them? How does the Mids compare between the PFE and DN-1000? Lot of people are suggesting me the DN-1000 but I’m afraid of the V shaped sound. Your opinion is highly appreciated :)

        • I haven’t had a chance to try the IM02 or IM03. The DN-1000 cranks up the bass compared to the PFE122 (at least with the black and gray filters) which makes it sound a little more mid-recessed. What it does so well is maintain clarity and resolution in the midrange despite this. If you wanted to try something technically similar to the DN-1000 but with stronger mids and less bass, the VSonic VC1000 would be my choice.

          • I’ll keep in mind the Vsonic VC1000 and hopefully you will get to hear the audio technica sometime in the future. Thanks again for your replies, much appreciated!

  114. Hi ljokerl! First: thank you so much for all of your reviews! They have been so helpful for me and I have been pouring over them and making my own spreadsheets and notes for over 2 years now. However, I have still yet to find a pair that I really love.

    I listen to indie rock and pop/hiphop/dancey stuff (VBR 0 files). Especially when I listen at higher volumes, most headphones often sound “sharp” to me and I wince at certain songs. The kind of sound that I want is warm with plenty of bass; generally the lowest of low notes seem okay, but especially in the two I have now, I long for more fullness in the warm low parts (I am sorry I lack the fluency to describe this). I have owned/tried:

    Klipsch S4i – major meh, broke often
    Sony MDREX36V/BLK EX – okay for the price
    Logitech Ultimate Ears 600vi – okay
    MEElectronics A161P – okay
    Velodyne vPulse – did not like at all
    and the FiiO E1 Portable Headphone Amplifier – didn’t notice a difference in sound

    and since you posted this sound signature guide, I have:

    SteelSeries Flux – not bad, still “sharp” to me and I’d like a little more bass; broke after 3 months
    Sony MH1C – okay sound but not enough bass, very uncomfortable and constantly rotating out of my ears because of the stiff cord

    Can you recommend the next pair I should try? I want to spend $50-100, though will spend up to $200 for the perfect pair, and need at least a 1 button remote for an iphone.

    • It seems like what you’re after is a bass-heavy sound with a lot of upper bass presence resulting in a warm midrange, or what is sometimes referred t as “bloom”. At the same time you want very smooth treble. I’m surprised the MH1C didn’t work for you – it has more bass than most sets. Also, the requirement to have a remote is somewhat limiting but here are some you might consider:

      -Monster Turbine w/ControlTalk – can be found pretty cheap from Monster Outlet, has a warm sound with deep bass. Not more bassy than MH1C, though, unless you weren’t getting a good seal with the Sony.
      -Padacs Aksent – very cheap, lots of bass, and rich sound at the expense of very large drivers and housings. Seems to be out of production. You may be able to find a used one though.
      -Nuforce NE-700M – like the MH1C but with even more bass. Tubby housings aren’t the most comfortable, but not bad with the right tips
      -Dunu DN-22M – warm and bassy with a very rich sound but somewhat muddy overall compared to something like the Flux or MH1C

      I’m not 100% sure any of them are what you’re after but they’re definitely closer than anything else I’ve tried.

      • Thank you so much! I think I might like the sound of the MH1Cs, but they just will.not.stay set in my ears (which is not a problem I have with any of the other ones), making it hard to judge.

        I’ll order a couple of these using the amazon affiliate links and let you know.

  115. Your in depth knowledge of such a wide variety of iems is really amazing to say the least.

    Can you recommend something for me ? I recently purchased a Grado SR80i and really like the sound coming out of these and now I am looking for an iem with similar sound signature…sort of iem equivalent of the SR80i.

    Budget is around 100 bucks but can be stretched further if needed.

    Thanks a lot.


    • This gets asked quite a bit and truth is the Grado signature is pretty unique and doesn’t really translate well into IEMs. Depending on what you’re prioritizing you can come pretty close but there will be tradeoffs. I used to recommend the Maximo iM-590 but it’s really showing its age these days. The MEElec A161P would be a good one if you wanted the clarity and strong midrange presence and were willing to give up a bit of treble reach, soundstage width, and bass body.

      • Hello
        I mainly listen to rap,r&b and sometimes rock.
        Which iem is better , rha ma-750i or dunu dn-1000 ?
        Vsonic gr07 BE is a very good option, but i think the build quality(cable) is not good enough.

      • Thanks for the recommendation. Actually I had re-400 and vsonic gr-07 in mind. How would you rate the sound signature of these two vis a vis the grados….like clarity and midrange emphasis. I can live with a little less bass if thats the tradeoff.

        • The RE-400 has a midrange emphasis but it sounds softer than any Grado headphone I’ve heard, with smoother upper mids/treble and more tactful bass. It doesn’t have the energy or the grit of a Grado headphone. The GR07 has more energy but no mid-range emphasis – in fact it leans a bit the opposite the way, towards a very mildly v-shaped signature. Other than the lack of in-your-face mids and slightly more sibilance-prone treble compared to Grados I think the GR07 is the better option of those two.

  116. Thank you very much, Joker, for this overview and all the work you put into the individual reviews. I believe that it saved me a lot of time searching for reliable information on IEMs, even though it definitely doesn’t feel like it at the moment. ;-)

    Unfortunately, I am a bit confused with my brand new pair of Brainwavz B2 – do these _really_ expose even the slightest amount of sibilance on a recording as mercilessly as I seem to hear it, or is it just me in combination with my perhaps crappy audio hardware? Certain recordings are rather uncomfortable to listen to, whereas others sound just perfect. I’m particularly unhappy with the fact that not only vocal sibilants (s, t, ch, st) stand out, but also certain cymbals of drum kits. I already consider returning the B2s and to exchange them for a pair of RE-400s…

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask for your opinion on my B2 “problem” (if it is one at all) and if you see any chance at mitigating it by technical means (different eartips [currently medium-sized stock oval single-flange], with/without amp, changing cabling, equalizing, whatever), because I like the overall sound of the earphones very much. It could be a tad bassier for my taste, but otherwise everything’s fine. If from the above you feel like I should replace them, but with something else, I’m open for any suggestion as long as it is available here in Germany.

    Thanks in advance for your time. :-)

    • In my experience there are quite a few factors that go into how much sibilance is reproduced.

      In order of decreasing consequence in my experience they are:

      IEM in question – the B2 is an unforgiving earphone, clearly, though it’s not necessarily the only factor in play here. Some earphones have cutouts in the frequency response designed specifically to reduce the occurrence of sibilance and some just work better because they have less overall treble energy or peaks centered on different frequencies. On rare occasion earphone A will sound more sibilant than earphone B on one track, only for the opposite to happen on a different track.
      Recording – very often albums are mastered with sibilance (including the cymbal artifacts you’re describing) already on the track. This is not just limited to 80s metal records – see for example many classic Simon & Garfunkel recordings or the Django Unchained soundtrack. Of course it’s not fair blame the recording for all cases of sibilance but if you only hear it occasionally this can be a strong consideration.
      Fit/ear tip choice – yes, eartips do make a difference – a poor seal is likely to exaggerate sibilance and some eartips can “soak” up a little bit of treble energy for an additional improvement. Definitely try as many as you can. Case in point – the Rock-It Sounds R-50 has a bit too much treble energy for me with all of the stock tips but works very well with triple-flanges.
      Source – some sources do tend to put across a little more energy than others but sources makes an especially big difference with armature IEMs like the B2 due to many of them having non-linear impedance. For example the treble of the Rock-It Sounds R-50, which has a similar driver to the B2, sounds better to me with an inline impedance adapter than in stock configuration. Recently someone commented that the Klipsch X10 sounds very different from a high-output impedance source than from a reference source: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/klipsch-image-x10-x10i/#comment-885 . In the case of TWFK-based earphones like the B2 my experience is that they don’t react positively to sources with non-negligible (above 2 Ohms or so) output impedance.
      Ear canal shape/size/residual volume – all other things equal there is still often disagreement on how much sibilance an IEM has. We know that insertion depth can affect frequency response in the upper mid/treble region, so it’s fair to say that the same IEM may have different amounts of sibilance for different listeners depending on how the IEM fits in their ears and how much residual ear canal volume is left.

      My suggestion – swapping them out for a more forgiving set like the RE-400 or TDK BA200 is the easiest solution but as an alternative see if you can eliminate any of the above variables with the B2 by experimenting with fit/source/recording.

      • Wow, now that’s what I call a comprehensive and all-encompassing reply. Thank you so much! Even more so, as it also answers several other questions I was interested in – seems like you also command the powers of divination. :-)

        I followed your advice and took another round-trip through the assorted eartips that came with the B2s and noticed that the Comply foam tips did indeed significantly reduce the sibilance. But still, not enough for my taste, which is why I decided to give the RE-400 a try. And voilà, here we go. With everything else unchanged, and used with the same source as before, they are indeed much more tolerant towards sibilance, which is almost completely gone now without losing too much of the B2′s clarity.

        I found that for me, the RE-400 have two additional advantages: one, they’re much more comfortable to wear due to their smaller size, and two, their metal housings do seal the sound much better so that almost nothing is audible on the outside.

        So let me thank you again for your advice and the time you took helping me educate myself on this topic, it’s really very much appreciated. At the moment it seems that I’ll be very happy with my choice. :-)

        Cheers, Arathorn.

        • One more thing to be said for the RE-400s is that they are very stable, so even if your source was interacting poorly with the B2, the RE-400 won’t have the same problem :).

          Glad you’re enjoying them!

  117. Fantastic review Joker. Looking to get my son a new pair of IEM’s below the 200.00 mark. His tastes are truly all encompassing. From Eric Clapton to the Dubliners, to Starbomb, to Metalocalypse, to CCR, to Nuclear Bubble Wrap. I have been leaning towards either the RBH EP-1 or the RE-400. Basically looking for a good earphone that works for all genre of music. The music will be played from a smartphone. Thanks in advance for your reccomendations.

    • The RE-400 is quite a lot more balanced/accurate than the EP1. If your son has had a previous introduction to balanced/accurate sound (and enjoyed it), the RE-400 is a great option. Otherwise something more bassy and exciting – something that will easily beat Beats (just as an example) on a level playing field – would do better. The EP1 is not one of my top picks but it’s a solid earphone with powerful bass, strong mids, and crisp, if slightly harsh, treble.

      There are a couple of options in between as well – earphones that somewhat enhanced bass punch but can still be considered balanced or near-reference, such as the VSonic VSD1/VSD1S, Philips Fidelio S1/S2, and the VSonic GR07 with its bass-heavy counterpart, the GR07 Bass Edition.

  118. igotdatboomboompow

    hey thanks for all the awesome reviews, really helps everyone out. i’m thinking of spending 200-250$ on an earphone, mainly listen to rock and metal. what do you think sounds better for those genres: gr07, dba-02, or dunu dn-1000? i’m also considering the er4. thanks again

    • Very different sound between those four – the DN-1000 is pretty bassy while the DBA-02 and ER4 and neutral and lean. If you’re not sure exactly what type of signature you’re after, I always consider the GR07 or GR07 Bass Edition to be a nice compromise – a clear, Hi-Fi sound that’s not analytical but still far from bass-heavy.

  119. Also what do you think of the triple fi 10?

  120. Hi let me start off by thanking you SO much for all you do. About 2 years ago I picked up some sennheiser CX300 II’s and absolutely loved them as they were my first decent pair of IEM’s. But sadly they are starting to lose sound in the left side so I decided it was time to upgrade (it’s also my birthday so its my present to myself) after a couple of days of research I found that the IEM that fit my price range of $200 to $300 and the genre’s of music I listen to (Pop and EDM) is the Westone w3.
    If you have any suggestions or comments they would be greatly appreciated.


    • The W3 is quite good – it’s a bit picky with fit but as long as you don’t mind its slightly v-shaped sound it’s a good value at current pricing. I can also recommend the Dunu DN-1000 hybrid for an even more lively sound at $200 (review coming soon). Tons of deep bass and bright, crisp treble on that. I expect it’ll make this guide as a recommended set :)

      • They seem to be perfect for what I want but I saw people said they are quite heavy. Are they uncomfortably heavy? Also is the isolation on them good?

        • Isolation is good – pretty similar to W3. They are a bit heavy because of the metal (stainless steel?) housings. They can be worn over-the-ear though to alleviate that problem and even come with some cable guides. I’d pick the W3 for wearing comfort but for sound I’d be tempted to go for the DN-1000 for your genres.

          • Are there any comply foam tips that work with this IEM? I was unable to find any online unless you’d recommend any other tips. Also how do you think the h-200 compares to this? If I was looking for something with a removable cable. (assuming they are worth it)

            sorry for all the questions and thanks for your help

          • The Comply T-200 fits super tight, the T-400 fits a touch loose. Both are usable on the DN-1000 though I’d rather use the T-400.

            I haven’t head the H-200 or the KEF IEMs.

  121. The Padacs Aksent has been retired from this Buyer’s Guide due to being out of stock for several weeks. The RHA MA750 (http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/rha-ma750-ma750i/) was added earlier this week in the “Warm and smooth” category over $100.

  122. Hey love the reviews. I’ve been pouring over a bunch of them trying to decide, but I figured why not ask. So the only decent headphones I’ve ever used are the ATH-M50′s. I like them a lot, but I would be open to something a little more refined. Whatever I choose I plan on using on the go as I do a lot of walking. Isolation is a little important, but I usually like to listen to music loudly, so as long as it’s not something open. I’ll be using an mp3 player, so something easy to drive. Lastly, I listen to a lot of different genres of music (Mainly indie, alt rock, edm, electronica, pop, equal parts male and female vocalists), so something that can be versatile is important to me. Look forward to any words of wisdom you can impart.


    • Budget is going to be an important consideration. Since you like the sound of the M50s the VSonic GR07 Bass Edition would be a nice versatile all-rounder to try (or you could get the cheaper VSonic VSD1S first to see if you like their sound or if the GR07 is above your budget). Isolation is pretty good with these VSonic sets and they have bass that’s neither excessive nor lacking in presence for most listeners (sort of like the M50) as well as good clarity and plenty of treble energy. Great place to start if you don’t have very specific sound signature preferences.

  123. I was thinking that Yamaha may have much bass.
    So I also like the RE-400, but may have little bass XD.
    Then I thought … the GR07 BE?
    If I had the money would go for the UM3X. but …
    Sorry for my English.

  124. Hello is impressive as your guide helps when we do not know which to choose.
    I have to change my soundmagic E10, I love their sound and I would like your opinion, to choose something better.
    I think by now I have given the Yamaha EPH-100

    • I guess it really depends on what you wanted improved compared to your E10. The EPH-100, for example, has a lot more bass (especially deep bass) and a warmer overall sound. As long as you don’t mind its bass quantity it’s certainly a very good earphone ;).

  125. hi ljoker, your review here is so impressive.

    In your mind, considering my previous IEM is vsonic GR02 Balanced, should I take vsonic VSD1, VSD1s, GR07, rockit R50 or shure SE215 as an upgrade?

    My GR02 broke a while ago, and though I really liked it I found the bass is a little too much for me (even if it’s not the Bass Edition) and the instrument separation is somewhat lacking. I am listening mostly to alternative/metal vocaloid songs which uses a lot of electronics, and I appreciate every bit of details on it. Oh and I actually love some bass, it’s just that my GR02 has a liiiittle too much.

    thanks in advance!

    • Unfortunately I haven’t tried the GR02 Balanced. I can imagine it sounds something like the original R02 (or rather, the R02ProII that I tried many years ago), which was a warmish sounding earphone but not as bassy/v-shaped as a GR02 Bass Edition.

      In any case to make sure that you have neither too much nor too little bass with good overall separation in my mind the GR07 is your best option. The rest are either too bass-heavy based on what I remember of the old R02, or likely too lean in the bass (R-50).

      • thanks ljoker

        and yes, GR02 is a very warm one — and the soundstage is so huge it’s like listening in a dome lol

        I’ll order GR07 right away, hoping the product is still around

  126. Thank you for the recommendations ljokerl. Custom art music one looks like a great value indeed!

  127. Hello ljokerl,

    Do you know an earphone/ headphone with tonality/FR similar to the Meelectronics A161p but has a better soundstage/imaging?? I love the tonality of the Meelectronics A161p but hate its ‘in the head’ presentation. A little more treble extension is an added bonus but should maintain the smooth but detailed treble with zero sibilance like the A161p.

    Thanks in advance!

    • The A161P is pretty unique but here’s a few options:

      Custom Art Music One (~$250): a little less bright but smoother and more refined than A161P, with a bit more bass impact and a more full-bodied sound. Soundstage is more spacious as well.
      Ultimate Ears 900 (~$400): much larger soundstage, especially in terms of depth, bass is fuller, treble is less grainy and more extended. A little less presence in the upper midrange compared to A161P.
      “Budget” option: HiFiMan RE-400 ($99) – a bit different in sound signature but it is a little more spacious than the A161P and has better treble extension.

  128. Hi, loved the guide. I was wondering what iem to choose. I’m deciding between the klipsch s4i, hifiman re400, velodyne vpulse, and the Yamaha eph 100. I’m upgrading from the sol republic in ear jax, because I found the bass very ,muddy and there was a lot of distortion, thank you.

    • If you like enhanced bass the EPH-100 is definitely the best of those. Considering the quantity of bass it has (which is a lot), it’s really not muddy at all. If you’ve decided you don’t like enhanced bass anymore, then of course the flat and neutral-sounding RE-400 will give you a clearer and more accurate sound but coming from mainstream a set like the Sol Republic it will likely seem very bass deficient, at least at first.

      • Thanks! I’ve narrowed it down to the Yamaha eph 100 like you said and the velodyne vpulse, in terms of things like durability, comfort, isolation, etc. which one do u recommend? Sorry for all of these questions I just want to make sure. Thanks! :D

        • Oh and also in terms of sound and bass. Thanks!

          • Durability, isolation, bass, and overall sound quality the EPH-100 wins. The vPulse may be more comfortable if you’re not used to IEMs thanks to its ergonomic nozzle angle and shallow seal. Once you get used to it, the EPH-100 is definitely not bad, though.

  129. A tip for a buyers:

    Free web service for searching all of ebay locales at once:

    Besides this it has many useful search filter that the official ebay.com does not have.
    Also there is an option to get notifications for your saved searches

    Highly recommended!!!

  130. This guide is fantastic! I wish I had found it sooner! I’m looking to replace my Klipsch S3s that went missing, and would like to find a pair under $100. I liked my S3s, and have also owned and enjoyed the VSonic GR02 those $8 Monoprice headphones that were surprisingly good. I use my Shure SRH 440 over-ear headphones at home, so I’d like to find something similar in signature (I love folk and alternative rock music, but also listen to country, blues, etc), that’s not too flimsy (my GR02s died on me). Any recommendations?

    • I’m not familiar with the SRH440 but it looks like you’ve enjoyed a variety of different sound signatures with your IEMs. The Monoprice is a lot more mid-focused while the S3 and GR02 (if you had the bass edition) are more v-shaped, emphasizing bass and treble. Which signature did you like best, or which do you want to move towards?

      • I really liked the GR02 (they were the bass edition, but I’d prefer not to buy VSonic again after the lack of response from their customer service), and the Klipsch definitely beat out the Monoprice for me.

        I’m not sure how it translates in terms of sound signature, but I like a punchy bass (but not so much that it sticks out; certainly not a bass head!), while also really enjoying the detail of acoustic music. So something well-rounded I suppose?

      • The Brainwavz M1, Astrotec AM800, and Dunu Trident all seem appealing. I like the price point and build (I’m scared of flimsy IEMs now). Any thoughts?

        • Out of those the AM-800 is closest to the signature you’re after – it’s got less bass than the GR02 but more than the monoprice. It also has nice treble sparkle and energy. If you want to spend more to buy from a US-based company with good customer service, the ThinkSound MS01 is a good option as well.

          • Thanks so much! I’ll definitely have to check those out!

          • Hello again! After reading up more on the AM-800s that you recommended, I’m a little concerned about isolation. What would you recommend that isolates well and is sturdily built? I love the warmth of my Shure over ear headphones, but am reluctant to buy the SE215Ks because I found the Monoprice $10 IEMs uncomfortable, and they look to have a similar design.

          • For build quality, warmer sound, and decent isolation Dunu is a good option. The DN-23 Landmine sounds better than the Trident you were originally considering and is still in your budget: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/dunu-dn-23-landmine/

          • Your review of the Dunu Landmine seems pretty spot on to what I’m looking for! The MH1C and SteelSeries Flux also looked attractive… Do you think the Landmine is worth the extra money (or ordering from Hong Kong)? Also, how is the sound stage and balance in the Landmine (I’m not really a bass head)? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all of these questions!! People like you make the Internet a much nicer place to navigate, especially when it comes to subjects like IEMs.

          • Despite my reservations about VSonic, the VSD1S also looks nice.

          • Well if build quality is a priority I would definitely pay a premium for a Dunu set. I had no complaints about the soundstage and the balance is warm, oriented towards the bass and midrange. It’s not too different from the Trident you were originally considering, just clearer and smoother.

          • Oh ok! Thanks so much! I found them new on eBay for $59.99 (including cost of shipping), which is much less than MSRP! I’ll order them soon, and let you know how they work! Thank you so much for the help!

          • Thank you so much for the recommendation! I’m loving the Landmines! The build quality is fantastic, and the sound is exactly what I was hoping for!

          • Awesome, I’m very glad to hear that :)


  131. Hello,

    I can buy the MH1Cfor 24 dollars here in holland) but can you tell me if there is a difference in sound between the MH1 and the MH1C, or is the only difference the connection?
    I still cant decide if i want the MH1/ MH1c or something different like the SHure se215, i listen a lot of dance music with strong bass (techno) i also have the dunu tridents, and fischer consonance, but i want to go a step up, please help !

    • As far as I know the MH1 and MH1C just differ in how the plug is wired. The MH1 only works with certain devices (some Sony, Nokia, and older Samsung phones) without an adapter.

      The MH1C is a step up over the Dunu and Fischer in my opinion and is about on-par with the SE215 for sound quality despite the price difference. For $24 you really won’t be disappointed if you like warm, smooth sound.

      • Thx for your quick response!! first of all i want to say that your chart is so awesome, i think i can dream the whole chart,haha!.
        I only use my in ears for laptop and my ipod classic 5th generation, would it be possible to use the MH1 instead of the MH1C?, the shop says to me that its not a problem, but i rather here it from “THE” expert.
        I think i just cant go wrong for 17 euro’s with the MH1 after your comment.
        I am looking every day for my next in ears, every day countless hours of reading reviews, its a hobyy that has gone outta control :)
        I also want another in ears beside the MH1, i always had dynamic drivers, because i listen a lot of trance,techno, deep house. but maybe that just not important? so i hope you can help me with that also, i want my highs not to be too crisp, and the bass has to be deep and tight, i had my eyey on the VSD1 for example :)
        Looking forward to your answer, and sorry for all the info!!

  132. Hey Joker, as with everyone else I thank you for all the awesome information you supply and have a personal preference question as well. I am very inexperience with IEMs; had one old pair, altec lansing uhp336.

    My predominate music tastes very, most often listen to rap/hip-hop and prefer punchy bass over the low rumbling base. Although I think bass is the most important to me, I don’t want it to be overpowering…maybe slightly leaning to the bass edge. The second most common music I listen to is a little different….more of older soul/R&B ranging from artists like al green to prince and whitney houston. I actually had ordered a pair of VC1000 after reading its thread comparing it to other dual amatures, but had my old address registered on ebay, and “lost” them to the current home owners. Anyways, after reading above I am wondering if they may not have quite enough bass. Based on my probably terrible description of preferennces, in you’re opinion should I re-order the VC1000 or would you go little different route in a similar price range, or possibly 2 pairs with different strengths?

    Thanks in advance.

    • I’m actually a long-time fan of the UHP336. Towards the end of its lifespan, when it was down to $50 or less, it was an excellent deal.

      From what I remember the UHP336 was a little mid-centric but overall very competent, with good bass punch for a BA. The VC1000 won’t be far behind in bass quantity – I think it would satisfy you, but to be safe you might want to go for something just a touch bassier – maybe the GR07 mkII or Philips Fidelio S1. I generally think in this price range it’s better to get one very good IEM than two good ones, but if you wanted to you could currently get the HiFiMan RE-400 and Steelseries Flux for $125 total (if you’re in the US). The RE-400 is mid-focused with and sounds great with vocals. The Flux has more bass and less mids for a warmer, more “fun” sound without giving up much accuracy and should take care of hip-hop, etc for you.

      • Yeah I got the UHP336 for $35 after a very fast review search not really knowing anything about them or other IEMs, and loved them for years. They lasted my quite awhile, but unfortunately recently broke.

        Thanks for the reply and advice. Yeah I am in the US. I think I can actually get the GR07 for about $110 right now, so that may be the best option from what you said. The only thing I was worried about was the fit because I have relatively small ears, do you think that may be in issue?

  133. Hi Joker! I’m a long time reader of your awesome reviews on head-fi thread. I’d like to thank you so much for this amazing job, man! I, also, would like to ask you some advice, if possible. I have the Shure SE215 and the MEElectronics A151 and I really like them, but I prefer the Shure’s sound signature, as it has more power in the low end, but, at the same time, it’s very detailed. I’m looking for a new IEM as a improvement of my Shure’s, but not too expensive, like, less than $200. After spend some time reading yours reviews, I was considering these IEMs:
    Yamaha EPH-100, VSonic GR07 Bass Edition, JVC HA-FXT90, Sony MDR-EX600, Monster Miles Davis Trumpet.
    Which one do you think is gonna fit best for my like? Or do you have another suggestion?
    Thank you very much!

    • The SE215 is a little relaxed at the top so all of the other sets you’re looking at are going to sound brighter in comparison. Assuming you’re okay with that, you would have to choose between more colored sound compared to the SE215, or more accurate. The EPH-100 is the bassiest of the ones you’re considering, with considerably more low end than the SE215. After that comes the Trumpet, which IMO is a pretty good compromise at the current sub-$200 prices if you like enhanced bass. Next is the FXT90, which has a little less deep bass but more mid-bass than the SE215. The final two – GR07BE and EX600 – are more accurate than the SE215. The EX600 doesn’t really have enhanced bass at all (around GR07 non-BE level).

      Anyway, if you want to keep bass at least above SE215 level, the Trumpet is a good option. If you’re willing to give up a bit of it, the GR07 BE is great at the current $130 price. It still has way better impact than the A151.

      • I think I’m gonna choose for a more accurate sound this time and the GR07 BE seems to be a nice choice! My media source is a Clip+ rockboxed and I have no amp yet. Do you think the GR07 will sound good on it?
        Thanks a lot for the help!

        • GR07 aren’t the most efficient earphones but you shouldn’t have an issue with sound quality from a clip. You just might have to give it a few more volume notches compared to another set.

          • That’s nice! Thanks again for the advise!

          • Hi again, Joker! After we talk about the GR07 BE, I took a look at the GR07 appreciation thread on head-fi read somebody talking about the Dunu DN-1000 as a improvement of the GR07 and found many people saying how good is the DN-1000. So, I start to consider it too. Did you already hear the DN-1000? Do you think it is a improvement of the GR07 BE?
            Thanks a lot for all your help!

          • I haven’t listened to it much but I do have a DN-1000. It’s very good but it’s got a more v-shaped sound than the GR07 and even the GR07 BE. Good if you want more bass than the GR07BE but not as accurate as a result. Actually, its signature reminds me more of the GR02 Bass Edition.

          • It was very enlightening, Joker. All I wanted to know! Just ordered the GR07 BE.
            Can’t wait to listen it!
            Thanks again for your valuable advices!

    • Thank you for your efforts reviewing all of these IEMs. I was about to buy a set of Sony MH1s since I kind of like tinkering and figured I’d rewire them to work my iPhone 5s, which will be the main source I use. Ended up springing for the Steelseries Flux since I happen to notice the price drop on Amazon as well. At $25 hopefully these will be good enough that I don’t need to bother dealing with the Sony cable issues. Previously, I’ve been using Koss KSC75 and Portapros as my better headphones. My KSC75s failed and I need something more portable than the Portapros. Can’t stand traditional earbuds since they wont stay in my ears. Many thanks again.

      • Thanks, and good call with the Flux. Hope you like ‘em!

        • Hey, just got the Flex’s in from the Amazon sale. Figured I’d give some feedback after demo’ing a bunch of different recordings including a few of my standby reference recordings. This is running off my PC, unamped, etc. but flac rips of, for example, a Mapleshade Studios Clifford Jordan recording, some norah jones, and some other stuff.

          Anyway, these are pretty amazing for $25. Wow! Very enjoyable. Comfortable, although qualify this since these are my first IEMs so difficult for me to compare. The cord microphonics I do not find all that bothersome, although I am admittedly tethered to my desk so holding back real judgement on this part for now.

          My only real complaints, and its really a vast overstatement to call these complaint because I really can’t fathom anything better for $25. But I’d prefer a touch more treble. Like, for example, to me cymbal hits and reverberation are a bit recessed. It doesn’t need much more but you lose a bit of the air in the treble presence. This probably helps keep some of the vocal sibalence at bay, which I appreciate, but just a shade more treble would be mainly what holds these back from the next level. I also feel like deep bass is just not quite there (although there is plenty of bass). Not the best recording but I picked up on this listening to the bass guitar intro to Ghost by Phish. It isn’t obvious for most recordings and maybe isn’t so realistic for IEMs. To me, this is secondary to the treble “issue”. Overall, these are pretty incredible and I’d have to imagine a steal for $25.

          By the way, my reference for this is more my home audio system, which are scanspeak based monitors which have a fairly similar signature to mid sized sonus faber or proac monitors.

          • Thanks for your impressions!

            I can see where you’re coming from with the treble – there are some budget sets that do better in that regard but usually give up other things, especially in that price range. Good thing you went for the Flux and not the MH1C – the Sonys are a little more relaxed still when it comes to treble.

            The bass should go pretty deep on these, though – if you’re missing some subbass on a known good recording, try inserting them a little deeper. They should produce 30Hz with no problem.

  134. Hey joker! what is the difference between brainwaves b2 and dba 02 mk2 and vsd1 and gr07 mk2? is re-400 comparable to any of these? I like details and accurate sound so which one do I go for? I honestly cannot decide since dba 02 mk2 is rated higher than gr07 mk2 in your reviews I feel it is better sounding. I play drums and use daw’s like sonar and cubase, fl studio a lot so and my music genre preference is basically everything, I want details to be presented well in ambiance music and in aggressive metal music in bands like vildhjarta, tesseract and uneven structure I’d like to be able to hear the background ambient tones quite well complimenting the distortions. so what iem will be a good deal for me under the $150-dba 02 mk2 price range?

    • The B2 and DBA-02 mkII are similar-sounding, the mkII is just better-made and you’re more likely to be able to get a good fit with it due to its smaller size (fit is very important with both of these BA earphones). The GR07 is better than the VSD1 by a fair margin. With the current $130 pricing it’s hard not to recommend the GR07 mkII over the others. It’s got a good sound for metal (love me some tesseract) and you’re more likely to be satisfied with its bass, especially if it’s your first high-end earphone with a neutral signature.

      The RE-400 is definitely comparable but it can sound a little dull compared to the GR07 and even DBA-02. It’s good if you know you like a smoother, more mid-focused sound but if you can afford the GR07 I’d go for that.

      • oh! awesome man thanks, gr07 mk2 is quite expensive given the fact that I dont even own a decent pmp, all songs are played through a shittly samsung android phone. do you know any reliable place that sell used gr07′s or any person who’s willing to sell his? so that I dont have to burn in and it costs less. I live in India btw so it needs to be shipped. Thanks again man you’re a legend

  135. Hello there, Joker — thanks so much for putting together this great and helpful list! What a godsend it is!

    I had a pair of GR02 Bass Edition earphones and liked the sound quite a lot. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost them and am again in the market for a set of earphones — maybe two sets so that I have a backup in case something happens to one! The natural choice would be to get the same earphones again, but I was wondering what might be a step up from the GR02 Bass Edition earphones?

    Maybe the VSD1S or GR07 BE or JVC HA-FXT90? What would be your first and second choices — since I might get two sets?

    Thanks again!

    • The GR02 Bass Edition has a little more bass than higher-end VSonic models such as the VSD1/VSD1S and GR07 BE. If you don’t mind giving up a bit of bass, the VSD1 (which to me is a touch bassier than the VSD1S and has treble intensity similar to the GR02 BE) or GR07 BE would both be good options. The FXT90 is less neutral than these VSonics, though it’s still a very good earphone. I guess my first choice would be the VSD1 followed by the GR07 (at $130) and then the FXT90. However, if you want to maintain bass at the GR02 level or greater, you’d probably want the FXT90 over the other two.

  136. Hi Joker. First of all, thank you for making the most comprehensive and detailed review of IEMs I have ever come across. I find myself reading your review over and over again for days whenever I have spare time.

    I am considering getting a new pair of IEMs just because I feel like trying something new and adding to my small collection which comprises a pair of Phonak Audeo 022 and Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro. I prefer something with tight and textured bass, a somewhat neutral or maybe warm mid-range and highs that are detailed and crisp. I listen to hard rock and metal a lot and sometimes I like to listen to two steps from hell which is “epic” music I guess I would say? I am stuck between the Yamaha EPH 100SL, Hisound BA100, VSonic VC02, Steelseries Flux In Ear, UE600, HiFiman RE400 Waterline. I have also read a lot of product reviews on Amazon for the UE600 and RE 400 Waterline that say they have very poor build quality especially the UE600 having complaints about them cutting out in a few weeks or months. Have you had any experiences like that and is the SQ worth the risk to purchase those two models in particular? I would really appreciate your input.

    Thank you!

    • The Phonak 022 is quite a nice earphone, but have you thought of switching the filters in it to make it a 122 instead? I thought there was a pretty big difference in sound between the 022 filters and the gray/black ones that come with the 122. If the filters are still available i’d say this is worth a try.

      Anyway, the EPH-100 will probably have too much bass for you. It’s certainly bassier than the 022 by a margin. Good if you’re looking for something a lot more impactful, but it doesn’t seem like you are.

      The UE600, RE400, and to a lesser extent the BA100 and VC02 are pretty flat down in the bass region. They have less bass than your Phonaks and will provide a different type of sound. The RE-400 and UE600 are smooth and a little mid-centric. They have smooth and refined treble but aren’t the most crisp and sparkly earphones. Still good, though, especially the RE-400, and they fit the requirements for a neutral-to-warm sound.

      The BA100 and VC02 are brighter than the previous two and provide a more “analytical” sound. Jury’s still out on where the BA100 will rank but the VC02 to me is about on-par with the 022 in overall sound quality. I wouldn’t classify it as warm, though.

      The Flux will be about even with the 022 but it’s not really an upgrade (it’s actually about on-par despite being half the price) and its mids are less prominent. I doubt this one makes sense for you in terms of trying something new. To me, the ones that make the most sense for you are the RE-400 and VC02.

      The build of the UE600 is a little cheap and plasticky (same goes for all lower-end UE models) but it hasn’t failed me yet. UE warranty is also pretty good – my UE100 failed at one point and it was easy to get replaced. I’ve heard many horror stories about HiFiMan construction, especially back in the RE0 days, but I’ve owned almost every one of their products – the RE2, RE0, RE252 and I still have the RE-ZERO, RE262, RE272, RE-400, and RE-600 – and never had an issue. A big part of it is always going to be how you treat your earphones. You’re taking a bit of a risk compared to something like a cheap JVC bud, but there’s nothing else for the price that sounds as good as these earphones so to me it’s worth it.

  137. Hi,
    I wonder if you could advise me on some in-ear earphone with android smartphone control and if it’s possible that they had radio.
    Thank you very much, regards.

    • For most Android phones (e.g. HTC, LG, Motorola, and newer Samsung Galaxy ones) any 1-button remote will work fine. You only have to worry about compatibility with older Samsung and some Sony phones. From this guide that means that something like the SteelSeries Flux will be fine, and it’s a great earphone if you’re willing to spend $50.

      Radio (if you mean conventional FM) doesn’t need any specific type of earphones – it just uses the earphone wire as the antenna. As long as your earphones have a normal cable, the radio should still work fine.

  138. Hey bud,
    Ive checked out your reviews on and off for the past few months now and I see that you have helped out many people.Im hoping you can help me out too.
    My job is in the construction field so there is a lot of movement going on all day.I usually stick the wires in between my shirt and undershirt.There is quite sum pulling.Im looking for a 50-110 iem’s that should sound balanced and have a nice durability.I was looking at the shure se215′s.I also want to try out the yamahas.I usually work in quiet areas so the noise isolation isnt a big deal but the comfort is somewhat of a factor.What would you suggest?

    • If you’re going to be tugging on the wires getting detachable cables might not be such as a bad idea. The SE215 isn’t the most balanced-sounding thing (enhanced bass, a little lacking in treble energy) but it’s great if you’re hard on your earphones. It’s also comfortable as long as your ears aren’t small.

      If you’d rather have something a little more balanced and just replace it should it go wrong, the VSonic VSD1S might be worth taking a look at (review at http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/more-less-vsonic-vsd1-and-vsd1s) . It sounds at least as good as the SE215 and is a lot cheaper (<$50). No detachable cables, but the entire earphone costs only a little more than a Shure replacement cable.

  139. Hey Joker

    I had a question I was hoping you could answer. I am currently looking to get a dynamic driver IEM reshelled. Problem is that most dynamic driver IEMs are vented or have a bass port. I was wondering if you knew of any bass heavy IEMs that are not vented. The only one I could think of was the Atrio MG7. Does the Yamaha EPH-100 have a bass port?


    • I can’t think of any. The Yamaha EPH-100 has a vent. Even barring the vent, it’s not clear what the effect of re-shelling a dynamic-driver IEM will be because the sound chamber size/shape has an effect on the sound – there’s really no guarantee something like the EPH-100 won’t lose a chunk of its performance when reshelled.

  140. Hey joker, I was wondering which IEM to buy and I’ve been looking at your head-fi thread for a long time and I am still stumped. I am wondering whether I should get the Audio Technica CKM500i, VSonic GR02 Bass Edition, Brainwavz M4, or MEElectronics A151P.

    I listen mostly to EDM with vocals & some without and also some mainstream music. I want some good isolation with the least sound leakage. I prefer my music to have a little more bass, however I don’t consider myself as a basshead. I also like more treble, highs, brighter sound..

    • Unfortunately I skipped over the Brainwavz M4 and I don’t think the A151P suits what you’re after.

      The CKM500i is very good – there is a little too much mid-bass for me but other than they are solid. However, the GR02 Bass Edition is a little more reasonable in the bass department (despite the name) and has a v-shaped signature with pretty energetic treble. I think it will suit you best.

      • I would have to agree that the A151P wouldn’t be for me. However, I am still aching to know whether the CKM500i or GR02 BE.. I’m kind of a newbie to the audiophile world, so if you could briefly explain it for a newbie please. I’ve been reading on the CKM500 fan thread on HF and many have said that the CKM500i’s are better than the GR02. I don’t know if they are being biased because it is the fan thread or it actually is true.

        • Technically I would agree that the CKM500 is better – it’s a little clearer and more level through the midrange. However, I personally like the CKM500 less, primarily because the mid-bass is too intrusive and draws too much attention to itself. The GR02 may not have the same level of clarity and may dip down a little in the upper mids, but it’s an easier listen for me and also seems to suit what you’re asking for better (e.g. not a basshead, brighter treble).

  141. Hi! I’m looking for a headphone to block external noise for watching online classes and listening to music while studying, so what I really need is good isolation.
    It seems Etymotic ETY-Kids is a great option, but as I live in Brazil, it’d be out of my price range because of taxes and shipping. Do you suggest another model at up to US$ 40? I don’t really care much about sound quality, my main concern is isolation and comfort, since it’d be my first in-ear headphone.

    How good is the isolation of, say, this Etymotic without playback music? Can it block average conversation at a house?

    Thank you for your work. It’s great.

    • Isolation is independent of music playback. All IEMs block outside noise if you crank up music, but that’s not isolation.

      In that price range the EtyKids isolates far more than any other earphone. The other standout is the dB Logic EP-100 but I’m not sure those are available outside the US. Pair those with a set of Shure Olive eartips and they’re both highly isolating and really comfortable.

  142. I have been using the SoundMagic e30 with my Cowon J3 PMP. I quite like the sound signature of the e30. I like bass but do not want it to overpower anything else.(Listen to Alternative rock and EDM/Dubstep). I recently ordered the Vsonic VC02 and i picked them over the Vsonic GR02 Bass edition and the Astrotec AM 90. Did I make the right choice?

    • If you were looking for something different from the E30, you did. The VC02 is more analytical and more balanced overall, with a tighter, more precise sound. It’s better than the AM-90, and the GR02 Bass Edition would have been much bassier than you’re used to.

      It’s hard to say whether the signature of the VC02 will appeal to you more than the E30 but I think it’s always a good idea to sample a variety of sound signatures. Make sure you get a good seal with them – the VC02 is a deep-insertion earphone, unlike your E30.

      • Thanks for the reply |joker| :)
        Actually i did try something new with the e30 itself as had never used an over-the-ear design and it turned out to be mighty comfortable. However, I do not mind deep-insertion earphones and hoping to find pair of tips my size in the VC02 selection (large ears).
        Please could you tell me what exactly is different sound-wise between the VC02 and the E30. Especially when you compare the bass. In you review of the e30, you mentioned that it is no bass-monster and that is true as I found the bass pretty well balanced. I would be really happy if the bass in the VC02 is as good if not better than the e30.
        Also whats is the typical burn-in period for VC02 and what source should I use? I read somewhere that pink noise works well.

        • The VC02 is inherently quicker than the E30 so the bass is faster and tighter. It’s going to be more of a quick and “punchy” type than the slower, more “thumpy” bass of the E30. Overall quantity is not too different through so once you get used to it you probably won’t miss the slower decay of the Soundmagics. The VC02 also sounds thinner overall and has more treble energy, which is not inherently a bad thing.

          There’s a handy burn-in loop here: http://www.jlabaudio.com/index/burn-in . I typically give dynamic-drivers 50-100 hours.

  143. When i use the padacs with my android phone i only get sound in the left ear… but it works for both ears on my ipod. Is there a way to fix this is?

  144. Wouldn’t let me reply again so I had one last question. Is the limited model, (found here(-
    worth it over the normal for the $20 extra that it costs?

  145. This guide has been updated. The HiSound Crystal has been retired and the SteelSeries Flux In-Ear (full review at http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/steelseries-flux-in-ear/) was added instead.

    • Awesome reviews and really appreciate the time you put into what you obviously love. I have a quick question for you. I previously owned a pair of Klipsch S4i’s which were “meh” to say the least and came with an annoying cable to go along with it. I lost them unfortunately and am looking to move on to better things. I have a budget of around $100 give or take a few bucks here and there. I like a sort of emphasized all around, but not so much as to drown out one or the other, kind of balanced in a way I guess… So yeah, we can go with balanced. I was looking at the HiFiMAN RE-400 as well as the new Steel Series, Shure 215, Etymotic HF5′s and the Rock-It Sounds R-50′s. That being such a wide variety and way too many for me to be able to figure out which would be the best buy, what ones do you think would fit best for someone just getting into high quality IEM’s hoping to make it to the top and enjoy the ride. I appreciate any input!
      Thanks a lot!!

      • Thanks, I am glad to hear that the reviews have been helpful!

        I guess a question to ask would be whether the S4i had a good audio balance for your taste. If it did, the RE-400, HF5, and especially R-50 might be a little too far in the neutral/analytical direction You have to know what you’re getting into with these – they don’t really emphasize anything in the recording. For some listeners, especially coming from a set like the S4, they will simply sound dull (especially at first). If you really want to give a balanced-sounding earphone a try, the RE-400 would be my choice.

        My thought on something that is “emphasized all around” would actually be a forward-sounding set with a slightly v-shaped balance. In the custom-fit realm this would be the 1964EARS V3. In the lower price bracket, the JVC FXT90. It has plenty of everything without significant sacrifices. Coming from the S4, unlike the sets mentioned above, it won’t sound too bass-light, or overly bright, or dull. The SteelSeries is mostly a cheaper, slightly more balanced version of the same with less warmth and a smaller soundstage. The SE215 is tougher to justify with the FXT90 at a similar price point and the Flux at $50, unless you put great value on the build quality, isolation, and over-the-ea form factor of the Shures.

        • I liked the shures specifically because of that over the ear factor and yeah the build quality did look nice. I’m sort of an “audio virgin” if you could call it that? Never had awesome headphones and like I said the Klipsch just started to get annoying IMO and not sound quality wise, just everything else and the fact I lost them didn’t help. Had horrible headphones the past year or so, so basically any head set better than the earbuds that come with the iPhone (most any of them) should do that has at least some sort of good bass and treble. And as for the 1964′s, I’m way out of that price range at the moment. So I guess it is just up to the FXT90 and the SE215′s…

          • Makes sense to me. Personally I’d go for the FXT90. It just seems to be more along the lines of what you’re after and it’s rather user-friendly. JVC typically does a good job on that front. The Flux would be my choice if you’d prefer to spend less and want the easy return process of amazon just in case.

  146. Hi ljokerl,

    First, I really can’t say enough to thank you for this great effort, and that interactive table comparing earphones is damn brilliant so THANK YOU!!!

    Now :), my question to you sir, I just ordered the VC1000 and then visited this page, to find out that the Yamaha EPH-100 is rated the best for worm and smooth yet bassy ones, which kinda of what I am looking for. I really like Bass, but I don’t like it to be very over powering and I listen to a big variety of music including middle easter.

    So do you think the VC1000 would do it for me? or shall I cancel/return the order and buy the Yamaha EPH-100? and the price difference is not factor cause the difference is like 20 to 30 bucks.

    Thanks in advance!


    • Hmm.. if you like bass in any capacity, a balanced armature-based and neutral-sounding earphone like the VC1000 wouldn’t be my first choice. The EPH-100 has lots more bass but is far from muddy-sounding. For bass fans there’s not many better compromises out there for the price.

      P.S. glad you like the table!

  147. Hi, I heard one of my friends A161P and I remember that I liked very much its soung signature. I was suprised with bass amount from an single BA IEM! Now I’m thinking to buy VC1000 – after the intimate sound of A161P will the Vsonic be too harsh or sibilant? What about the bass amount of VC1000?
    Thank you in advance! AAron

    • The VC1000 is a little brighter and less forgiving but unless you specifically liked the slightly rolled-off treble of the A161P, you should be okay. Bass quantity is similar between the two but the A161P tends to have more forward, aggressive mids (intimate, as you mentioned) while the VC1000 is more spacious and the mids are more relaxed. I find the VC1000 to be more accurate overall though both have their moments.

      • Thanks! Useful answer, VC1000 ordered. Waiting to receive it , then report – but just in few words….

        • Every bit helps – I’m sure you’re not alone in picking between the VC1000 and A161P!

          • You just said the truth Sir!
            May I know your opinion about the burning in period for BA IEMs?
            BTW in meantime made my own A161 , without mic. Two housings with drivers inside , of course + M6 cable (many thanks to Mr. Mike Jones fom Meelec!).
            Now I have two pairs of great BAs for less than 140USD :) .
            Thanks again , have a nice day!


          • Don’t want to boring you, but here is the pic of my Meelec A161 (little bit chubby strain relief , but it’s mine baby!) :


          • That looks a hell of a lot more durable for sure! Great mod.

            On BA burn-in – I don’t think there is any benefit to it. I’ve never noticed a difference with a BA between, say, 5 hours and 50 hours. The A161P especially has no crossover so even proponents of burn-in won’t find anything in there that needs to be broken in.

  148. Hello Joker,

    Your reviews are legendary! Thanks!
    Currently I’m using the Xears XE200PRO, but the cable started giving issues. Now I’m looking for something new under or around $50.
    I mainly listen to Britpop/indie music. I like the deep rumbling bass-guitar sound and riffs, instrument (guitar) separation as well as a spacious sound.
    I thought about getting the new XWH700PRO, but reading your comments left me thinking about others too (VSonic VSD1 for example). Which in ears would you advice? Thanks!

    • If you’re looking to stay with a warm and smooth sound like the Xears, I would go for a Sony MH1C. The cable is slightly annoying but it sounds great for the price with good bass depth, great clarity, and excellent overall sense of space.

  149. Great list man, txs! Recently bought the Philips Fidelio S1 and the Phonak Audeo PFE 122, but returned them both cause I kept reaching for my brother’s RE-400 instead. Looking for an IEM with similar smoothness and clarity, but something that will make my world music and jazz collection sound more punchy (played from iPhone4). I like my music balanced with a hint of warmth, an airy soundstage and non-fatiguing. Can’t decide between Yamaha EPH-100, VSonic GR07 BE and Fischer Audio DBA-02 mkII. Please advise.

    • Why not just get an RE-400 and boost the bass a little with an equalizer?

      Anyway, the EPH-100 is way bassier than the RE-400. It’s great if you want a warm and bassy sound but all of the earphones you’ve tried so far have been way more neutral. The DBA-02 mkII is thinner-sounding and not as warm as the RE-400. It probably isn’t what you want. The GR07BE is closer, but if you want it to be as smooth as the RE-400 you’ll again have to engage the equalizer – its treble is more like that of the Fidelio S1 and PFE122.

      • Thanks man, that was very helpful. Problem is I use Spotify, which to my knowledge doesn’t combine with an iPhone equalizer. Any other IEM’s out there that could suit my taste? Might even save up to the $400 mark, since I listen to music almost 2hrs a day.

        • That’s a tough spot. Even above the RE-400 price range there’s just not much with the same level of clarity and balance, equally smooth treble, but better bass, You could definitely go for a high-end Shure or Westone – the SE535 would probably be your best bet for smooth treble and flat mids – but it’s hard (for me) to justify the price hike. The overall performance is just not leagues ahead of the RE-400.

          That or just risk the EPH-100 and hope its bass doesn’t get in your face too much.

          Also, there are a few promising earphones that I haven’t tested in depth yet – the TDK BA200 and RBH EP1, for example. Perhaps someone else has already compared one or both of these to the RE-400 in a meaningful way.

  150. Thanks for the excellent article, this would save a lot of people a lot of time!
    I wanted to go for the Vsonic VSD1. I see you’ve tried it recently, so what are your thoughts about it?
    Also, Any ETA about when you’re going to put up a full review?

    • Forgot to add that I have the MEElectronics M21 right now. So how does the Vsonic VSD1 compare to them?

      • I like the VSD1 quite a lot. Its sound is like a blend of the GR02 Bass Edition and GR07 Bass Edition – it’s clearer, tighter, more accurate, and less harsh than the GR02 but not quite as much so as the GR07. For $45 it’s a great deal and I think you’ll notice a big improvement in overall fidelity compared to the M21. The only caveat is that the M21 has smoother, more forgiving treble.

        I still have the VSonic VC1000 to review (which will be finished in a week or two) but after that the VSD1/VSD1S are my top priority.

        • Thanks for the reply.
          I ordered the VSD1 from MP4Nation a couple of days ago. Had some store credits left and I got them for $29 only!

          I received them a couple of hours ago. Out of the box, they sound MUCH more amazing than the M21, as you rightly said. The bass is a bit boomy but I think that should tighten up a bit once I have burnt them in.
          Eagerly waiting for your review!

  151. Thanks a lot I think I may try the ckm500 since I want more bass on my new earphones that I yearn for

  152. Hi joker between these two iem which is better the Vsonic Vsd1 or the Audio technica ckm500 I like warm and sweet sound signature more to bass but do not want to compromise on the mids and highs too.Which is better?currently using Vsonic Gro2 BE

    • They are different in how they present bass. The VSD1 is more accurate – the bass is enhanced but there is a good balance of subbass and midbass and it doesn’t sound overbearing as a whole, just a little warm. The CKM500 is skewed in favor of mid-bass. It is bassier in the conventional sense but not as accurate and refined as the VSonic.

      The VSD1 is more similar to the GR02BE you currently have – you’re just trading a bit of the bass of the GR02BE away for a tighter, clearer, less boomy, and more detailed sound – while the CKM500 is a whole another ball game.

  153. Hey Joker! What sound signature and IEMs (below $50) would you recommend for non-boosted, tight bass, smooth mids, and crisp highs?

    • That sounds like a Brainwavz M1, Astrotec AM-90/Rock-It Sounds R-20 (these two use the same driver), or, if you don’t mind having to raise the volume on your DAP, the Etymotic Ety-Kids. The M1 has tight bass and is very smooth overall. Might not have the most crisp sound but it’s very easy-going. The AM-90/R-20 are your typical entry-level balanced armature earphones. Bass is tight and flat and the top end rolls off a bit but they have a thinner, crisper note presentation than the M1. The Ety-Kids sound like an Ety and can currently be had for <$30 on amazon but they are volume-reducing, which could be a deal-breaker for some.

  154. Awesome List! Thanks for all the hard work. I am fairly new to the IEM game. I play guitar and am never happy with guitar tone reproduction in IEMs. I play a Gibson Explorer paired with a Mesa Boogie dual rec. I love the crunch. I am looking for a set of IEMs that are good for rock and guitar solos. My musical tastes are all over the map from classical to hip hop to metal and everything in between, but I judge the headphones on guitar tone and drums. From this list what would you recommend?

    • What IEMs have you tried? Something with a flat reproduction may not get all of the harmonics quite right but it’ll get the tone down pretty well. An Etymotic HF5, for example, or the Fischer DBA-02 if you can swing the cost.

      • I have not tried many IEMs, to be honest most of them have been Skullcandies because I have been given several sets, I also have tried a couple KOSS IEMs like the pathfinder, again they were a gift. Never listened to my music on the go much. Recently moved to Taipei and listen to a lot more music now and find myself becoming more picky. I am a huge fan of the Grado 80i sound.

        • Koss and Skullcandy don’t make great IEMs in my experience. I would try something with balanced armature drivers now if I were you. Not sure how distribution is in Taiwan but you may also want to look at the Brainwavz B2, which is a rebrand of the original (first generation) Fischer Audio DBA-02. It might be a better deal than the DBA-02 mkII and Etymotic HF5 in your region. If you don’t need as much noise isolation, the Philips Fidelio earphones (both S1 and S2) do guitars pretty well, too. They are still difficult to find in the US but have better availability in Asia.

  155. Just wanted to say: thank you very much for making the process of choosing the right iem a LOT more manageable.

  156. My current favs are JVC HA-FX101 ,FX3X and Yuin PK3 N PK2 also Monoprice 8323 . I like my sound with good bass ‘with oomph’ and wide soundstage. Also own Soundmagic PL50 which to me is bit laid back n boring ..so i only used them for blues music ..mostly old recording .
    Which would u recommend btwn Brainwavz R1 n M5 …I like very much the bass by JVC and soundstage of Yuin ?
    Mostly i listen to EDM,Rock and Blues …your input is much appreciated. Thanks.

    • The Brainwavz R1 is something I have only heard briefly. Its sound signature seemed to be on the v-shaped side of things and it didn’t sound as good overall as the M5, but that’s about all I remember. The M5 has plenty of bass and a warm signature, but its soundstage is not the widest (no more so than that of the FX101, for example). The FX101 has a lot of bass, which is going to be hard to match in an earphone with a wider soundstage. My recommendation would be the Audio-Technica CKM500. It’s a little pricier than the M5 but should be a better fit for what you are after.

  157. Can you compare differences between Brainwavz M1 & M5 thks

    • The M5 is significantly bassier than the M1. I would classify its signature as borderline basshead. The result is a much warmer overall tone and the appearance of a more recessed midrange and treble in comparison to the M1. The M1 is more balanced, with gently rolled-off bass and treble, which gives it a mid-centric character.

  158. Perhaps you should put super cheap headphones on here that way kids who are buying solely on $2 a week allowance money can use your website because I’m a kid and I’m positive I’m never looking on this website again

    • That’s the whole point of the main comparison table, which contains earphones costing as little as $3: http://theheadphonelist.com/ . Something for everyone, so to speak.

      As for this abridged guide, it contains only the best of the best and there are still several sets under $20 here. Look around the web and you can snag a Philips SHE3580 for less than $10, which is about as good as it gets for the money.

  159. Padacs Aksent for $10 from your link. Does that make it a really good deal?

  160. Great info on the large world of IEM’s and I will put good use to the advice!! Do you plan on also getting involved again on reviewing portable headphones?

    • If I can find the time, I would love to pick portable headphones up again. The market is continuously growing so right now it’s tough to keep up even doing just IEMs.

  161. I would like to know which sound signature classical / acoustic music would fall into. Thx for time and reply.

    • Good question. The reason I decided to group by sound signature and not by genre is that two different fans of the same genre may have different signature preferences. In my experience most classical listeners favor either balanced presentation or a slightly warm-and-smooth one. The latter does add some coloration but is typically more akin to what people think of as the classic “Hi-Fi” sound signature (think old tube amps, vinyl, etc) and will give some extra authority to instruments that rely heavily on low frequencies (e.g. the contrabass).

  162. Very helpful and useful guide for entry-level users. But I think placing the Vsonic GR02 Silver under balanced is misleading. If I had followed this suggestion I would be dissapointed, since they have too strong, outshining mids to be a balanced ones.

  163. Thank you. It is my hope that this guide can serve as a sort of condensed, go-to version of the big IEM review.

    Glad you’ve enjoyed your VSonics. The VSD1 is definitely on my to-try list considering the boastful statements made by VSonic about these earphones!

  164. Like witerabbit said, I wish this was around when I first looked for decent IEMs. Thanks for the hard work! I’m glad I went with the gr07 mk ii based on your review and clieos’. Though I am now getting into CIEMs (UERMs are my first), it is nice to have a guide where I can direct people to for a more budget oriented IEM. I bought three gr02s BE to give to my friends and family for christmas; they are really wonderful IEMs at that price. I’ve tried the re-400 in a store and was amazed at how close it sounded to the gr07. It is an excellent buy for $100. I’m looking forward to your vsonic VSD1 review once you get your hands on them! :D