Welcome to the headphone list, where we have listened to and evaluated hundreds of in-ear headphones to help you find the best fit for your needs and preferences. This is ljokerl's table in interactive format that provides an easy way to narrow your selection down to fit your needs. To view all reviews (sorted by most recent), see here: All IEM Reviews. We are constantly adding new reviews, so be sure to check back or follow us on facebook, twitter, or google+.

Don't see your model listed? Try checking the "Show Discontinued Products" box.

For a more concise listing of our favorite sets for various tastes and budgets, check out our continuously updated Earphone Buyer’s Guide by Sound Signature.



Price (USD)
Average Rating
Sound Rating
Build Quality
Isolation Rating
Comfort Rating
Microphonics
Accessories


Headphones with mic/remote

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Show Discontinued Products


 

ModelMake & model of headphone.
Blue = custom-IEM
Red = discontinued
iHeadsets with mic/remote:
blank = no headset functionality
1 = mic + 1-button remote (universal)
3 = mic + 3-button remote for Apple iOS devices
a = mic + 3-button remote for Android devices
v = mic + 1-button remote + analog volume control (universal)
AccessoriesHow useful and complete the bundled set of tips & accessories is. Depends on the quantity and quality of the accessories, as well as on how well-suited they are for the earphone they come with. BuildDepends choice of materials, assembly quality, structural design, and overall feel. Also includes any observations on the durability of the earphones while in my care. IsolationAmount of passive reduction in ambient noise provided by the IEM. All IEMs isolate external noise by virtue of sealed ear coupling, but some are better than others. The better-isolating IEMs are capable of providing is upwards of 30db of attenuation, an 8-fold reduction in ambient noise volume. MicrophonicsSusceptibility to cable noise, a common malady affecting in-ear earphones. Mitigating factors such as the inclusion of a shirt clip or cable cinch and the ease of wearing the IEMs over-the-ear are taken into account. ComfortHow easy the earphone is to wear for long stretches of time. Typically tip- and ear-dependent, although general trends still apply. The ease of insertion/removal of the IEM is also taken into account. SoundPossibly the most subjective of the categories, the sound rating is an evaluation of the relative merits of the sound signature, scaled to the best earphone I have heard. AverageCalculated average of all scores, with the most weight on the sound score. PricePrice in USD at time of review. N/A indicates the product is discontinued.
JH Audio JH13 Pro Freqphase 1 5 5 4.5 5 5 10 9.85 $1099
Noble 4S 4 5 5 5 5 9.9 9.85 $999
Hidition NT 6 4 5 4.5 4.5 5 9.9 9.65 $1200
Sensaphonics 3MAX 5 5 5 5 5 9.4 9.65 $1050
1964EARS V6-Stage 5 5 4 5 5 9.7 9.65 $699
Spiral Ear SE 3-Way Reference 4 5 5 5 5 9.5 9.60 $790
Unique Melody Miracle 3 5 4.5 5 5 9.8 9.60 $1049
Custom Art Music One 5 5 5 5 5 9.2 9.55 $260
Clear Tune Monitors WLS-5 4 5 4.5 5 5 9.5 9.50 $800
Lime Ears LE3 and LE3B 4 5 4 5 5 9.5 9.45 $700
1964EARS 1964-V3 5 5 4 5 5 9.4 9.45 $499
Gorilla Ears GX-4b 4 5 4.5 5 5 9.4 9.45 $799
FitEar To Go! 334 5 5 4 4.5 4.5 9.5 9.35 $1349
Alclair Reference 4 5 4 5 5 9.4 9.35 $399
Clear Tune Monitors CTM-200 3.5 5 4 5 5 9.3 9.25 $350
LEAR LUF-4F / LUF-4B / LUF-4C 5 5 4 5 4 9.3 9.20 $565
EarSonics Velvet 4.5 4.5 4 5 4 9.4 9.15 $599
EarSonics SM64 4 4.5 4 5 4.5 9.3 9.10 $449
j-phonic K2 SP 4.5 4.5 4 5 4.5 9.2 9.10 $400
AKG K3003 / K3003i 3 5 5 3 5 4 9.4 9.10 $1300
InEar StageDiver 2 (SD-2) 4.5 5 4 5 3.5 9.3 9.10 $449
InEar StageDiver 3 (SD-3) 4.5 5 4 5 3.5 9.3 9.10 $599
Westone 4 5 4.5 3.5 5 4 9.3 9.05 $499
Ultrasone IQ 1 4.5 5 3.5 5 3.5 9.3 9.00 $899
Westone UM3X 3.5 4.5 4 5 4.5 9.1 8.95 $399
Ultimate Ears UE 900 3 5 4.5 3.5 5 4 9.2 8.95 $400
Etymotic Research ER4S 5 4.5 4.5 3.5 4 9.2 8.90 $299
Westone 2 5 4.5 3.5 5 4.5 8.9 8.90 $299
FLC Technology FLC8 5 4 3.5 4.5 4 9.4 8.90 $318
Shure SE535 3 5 4.5 4 4.5 4 9 8.85 $435
TDK BA200 3.5 4 4 4.5 5 9.1 8.85 $190
DUNU DN-2000 5 4.5 3.5 4.5 3.5 9.3 8.85 $259
ACS T15 3.5 4.5 4 4 5 9 8.80 $229
Westone 3 5 4.5 3.5 5 3.5 9.1 8.80 $399
RHA MA750 / MA750i 3 5 5 3.5 4.5 4.5 8.9 8.80 $120
Fidue A83 5 4.5 3 4.5 4 9.2 8.80 $280
RHA T20 / T20i 3 5 5 3.5 4.5 3.5 9.1 8.80 $240
VSonic VC1000 3.5 4 4 4 4.5 9.2 8.75 $125
Fischer Audio DBA-02 mkII 4.5 4 4 3.5 4.5 9.2 8.75 $198
Sony MDR-EX1000 4 4.5 2.5 5 4 9.3 8.75 $450
VSonic GR01 3.5 4 4 4 4.5 9.2 8.75 $208
Kozee Infinity X1 Executive 4.5 4.5 4 5 5 8.4 8.75 $189
Rock-It Sounds R-50 / R-50M 1 3.5 4 3.5 5 4.5 9.1 8.75 $120
Olasonic Flat-4 Nami 3.5 4.5 3 5 4 9.2 8.75 $499
Sennheiser IE 800 4 5 3 4 4 9.3 8.75 $800
VSonic GR07 Bass Edition 4 4 3.5 4.5 4.5 9.1 8.70 $129
Sennheiser IE8 / IE8i 3 5 5 2.5 5 4 8.9 8.70 $375
VSonic GR07 4 4 3.5 4.5 4.5 9.1 8.70 $158
Dunu DN-1000 5 4.5 3.5 4 3.5 9.2 8.70 $160
Phonak Audeo PFE 112 1 5 4 3 4.5 5 8.8 8.65 $140
Final Audio Design FI-BA-SS 3.5 4 3 4.5 4.5 9.2 8.65 $1000
HiFiMan RE-400 Waterline 3 3.5 4 4 4 4.5 9 8.60 $79
Yamaha EPH-100 4 4 4 4 4.5 8.9 8.60 $130
Etymotic Research HF5 / HF2 / HF3 3 4 4 4.5 4 4 8.9 8.60 $120
LIFE Headphones 3.5 3.5 4 5 4 9.0 8.60 $250
Sony MDR-EX600 4 4.5 2.5 5 4 9 8.55 $200
JVC HA-FX700 4 4.5 2 5 4 9.1 8.55 $260
T-Peos H-100 5 4.5 3.5 4 4 8.7 8.50 $150
Sony XBA-4SL / XBA-4iP 3 4 4.5 3 4.5 4 8.9 8.50 $350
JVC HA-FXT90 4 4.5 3 4.5 4 8.9 8.50 $78
Brainwavz B2 4 3.5 3.5 4 4 9.2 8.50 $160
Ortofon e-Q5 3.5 4 3.5 4 4 9.1 8.50 $215
Monster Miles Davis Trumpet 3 4.5 4 3.5 3.5 4.5 8.9 8.45 $350
Monster Turbine Pro Copper 3 5 4 3.5 4 4 8.8 8.45 $269
Klipsch Image X10 / X10i 3 4.5 3 4 4 5 8.6 8.40 $110
Future Sonics Atrio MG7 4.5 4 3.5 4 4 8.8 8.40 $175
Monster Turbine Pro Gold 3 5 4 3.5 4 4 8.7 8.40 $249
JVC HA-FXD80 / HA-FRD80 1 3 4.5 3.5 4.5 4 8.7 8.40 $64
Monster Miles Davis Tribute 5 4 3.5 3.5 4 8.9 8.40 $390
Philips Fidelio S2 1 4 4 3 4.5 3.5 9 8.40 $100
Ultimate Ears UE 600 / 600vi 3 4 3.5 3.5 4.5 4.5 8.6 8.35 $60
Audio-Technica ATH-CK90Pro 3 4 4 4 4 8.7 8.30 $220
RBH EP1 / EP2 1 3 4.5 3 4.5 4.5 8.5 8.30 $149
Brainwavz R3 (ver. 2) 4.5 4.5 3 4 3 8.9 8.30 $110
DUNU Titan 1 4.5 4 2 4 4 9.1 8.30 $100
MEElectronics A161P 1 4.5 3.5 4 3.5 4 8.7 8.25 $95
Dunu DN-19 Tai Chi 5 4.5 3.5 4.5 4 8.1 8.25 $100
SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Pro 1 4.5 4 3 4 4.5 8.5 8.25 $100
Audio-Technica ATH-CKM99 3.5 4.5 3 4 4 8.6 8.20 $190
VSonic GR06 4 4 3.5 4.5 4.5 8.1 8.15 $63
Creative Aurvana In-Ear 3 4.5 3.5 3.5 4.5 3.5 8.5 8.15 $100
Westone 1 5 4.5 3.5 5 4.5 7.6 8.15 $120
Astrotec AX-35 3.5 4.5 3 4 4 8.5 8.15 $70
Etymotic Research MC5 / MC2 / MC3 3 4 4.5 4.5 4 4 7.8 8.10 $59
Shure SE215 3 4 4.5 4 4.5 3.5 8 8.10 $99
Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 4 8.6 8.10 $100
Alpha & Delta AD01 4 4 3 4 3.5 8.7 8.10 $91
Philips Fidelio S1 1 3.5 3 3 4.5 3.5 8.9 8.10 $90
Fischer Audio SBA-03 2.5 3.5 4 3.5 4 8.7 8.05 $120
Dunu I 3C-S 5 4 3 4.5 4 8.1 8.05 $99
HiSoundAudio Crystal 2.5 4.5 4 3.5 4.5 8 7.95 $69
Rock-It Sounds R-30 / R-30M 1 3.5 4 3.5 5 4.5 7.7 7.95 $70
Brainwavz S5 4.5 4 3.5 4 4 8 7.95 $100
VSonic R02 Silver 2.5 4.5 3.5 4 4 8 7.85 $49
VSonic VC02 3 3.5 3.5 4 4.5 8.1 7.85 $49
MEElectronics A151 / A151P 1 4 4 3.5 5 4.5 7.4 7.85 $45
Rock-It Sounds R-20 / R-20M 1 3.5 4 3.5 5 4.5 7.4 7.80 $40
Phonak Audeo Perfect Bass 022 1 1 4 3 4.5 5 8 7.80 $99
Etymotic Research ETY-Kids 5 / 3 3 3.5 4 4.5 4 4 7.6 7.80 $39
HiSoundAudio BA100 1 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 4.5 7.9 7.80 $63
Thinksound MS01 3.5 4 3 4 4 8 7.75 $90
Moe Audio MOE-SS01 2.5 4 3 4.5 4 8 7.75 $65
Brainwavz S1 4.5 4 3.5 3.5 4 7.8 7.75 $60
Audio-Technica ATH-CKM500 3 3 4 3 3.5 4.5 8.0 7.70 $54
Dunu DN-23 Landmine 5 4.5 3.5 4 3.5 7.5 7.70 $69
PureSound ClarityOne 1 3.5 3.5 3.5 4.5 3.5 7.9 7.70 $60
VSonic GR02 Bass Edition 4 4.5 3 4 4 7.6 7.70 $31
HiSoundAudio Wooduo 2 4 4 3 3.5 4 8 7.70 $80
Fischer Audio Tandem 3 3.5 3 3.5 3 8.6 7.70 $75
Astrotec AM-90 / AM-90-MIC 1 3 4.5 3.5 4 4.5 7.4 7.65 $44
Velodyne vPulse 3 4 4 3.5 4.5 4 7.4 7.65 $60
Fischer Audio Eterna 3 4 3.5 4 4 7.7 7.65 $70
Fidue A63 3 4 3 4 3 8.2 7.65 $60
Xiaomi Piston 3 a 3 3.5 2.5 3.5 4.5 8.2 7.65 $16
Astrotec AM-800 3 4.5 2.5 4 4 7.8 7.60 $40
Yuin OK1 3.5 3 1 5 2.5 8.9 7.60 $229
Beyerdynamic DTX 101 iE / MMX 101 iE 1 4 4.5 3.5 3.5 4 7.4 7.55 $84
Bowers & Wilkins C5 3 3.5 4 3.5 4 3.5 7.6 7.55 $180
Rock Jaw Alfa Genus 2.5 3.5 3 3.5 4 8.1 7.55 $72
NHT SuperBuds 1 4 3.5 4 4 3 7.7 7.55 $70
HiFiMan RE300h 2 3.5 3 4 4.5 7.9 7.55 $49
Monster Turbine 3 4 4 3.5 3.5 4 7.5 7.50 $100
ViSang VS-K1 4 4 2.5 4 4 7.6 7.50 $50
T-Peos D200R 1 2.5 4 3 3.5 4 7.9 7.50 $35
Pump Audio Earphones 1 3.5 3.5 3 4 4 7.7 7.50 $50
Brainwavz M3 / ViSang R04 4 4 2.5 4 3.5 7.7 7.45 $80
Sony MH1C 1 1.5 3.5 3.5 3 4 8.1 7.45 $31
NarMoo S1 4 4 3 3 3.5 7.7 7.45 $33
Brainwavz S0 4.5 4 3 3 4 7.5 7.45 $45
Fidue A31s 1 4 3.5 3.5 4 5 7 7.45 $16
Brainwavz M5 1 4.5 4 2.5 3.5 4 7.5 7.40 $35
Soundmagic PL50 4.5 4 2.5 4.5 5 6.9 7.40 $51
Dunu DN-16 Hephaes 5 4.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 7.1 7.40 $79
Spider Realvoice 3 4 3.5 2.5 4 3.5 7.8 7.40 $78
Xears XR120PRO II 2.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 7.7 7.40 $45
Nuforce NE-700X / NE-700M (2013 version) 1 3 4 3 4 3.5 7.6 7.40 $65
NarMoo R1M 1 4 4 3 3.5 3.5 7.6 7.40 $25
Popclik Evolo 1 3.5 4 3 4 4 7.4 7.40 $30
Dunu DN-17 Crater 5 4.5 3 3.5 3.5 7.2 7.35 $70
Brainwavz M2 / ViSang R03 4 4 3 4 4 7.2 7.35 $55
Fischer Audio Consonance 3.5 4 3 3 4 7.6 7.35 $51
Dunu DN-11 Ares 5 4.5 3.5 3.5 4 6.8 7.30 $67
Dunu DN-13 Crius 5 4.5 3.5 3.5 4 6.8 7.30 $54
Ultimate Ears 500 / 500vi / 500vm 3 3.5 3 3.5 4 4 7.4 7.30 $37
Xears XE200PRO 3 3.5 2.5 4 3.5 7.8 7.30 $148
Phiaton PS 210 / PS 210i 1 3.5 4 2 4 4 7.5 7.30 $80
Fischer Audio Silver Bullet 2 3 3 3.5 3.5 8.1 7.30 $65
Signature Acoustics Elements C-12 3.5 4 3 4.5 4 7.2 7.30 $50
T-Peos Tank 1 2.5 4 3 3 4 7.7 7.30 $39
Xiaomi Piston 2 a 3 3.5 2.5 3.5 3 8.1 7.30 $25
T-Peos Rich200 1 1.5 4 3 3 4 7.9 7.30 $33
Zipbuds PRO 1 2 4 3 2.5 4 7.9 7.30 $35
JVC XX Elation HA-FR100X 1 2.5 4 3 5 3.5 7.2 7.30 $59
Dunu DN-18 Hawkeye 5 4.5 3 3.5 3.5 7 7.25 $60
id America Spark 1 3.5 4 3 3.5 3.5 7.4 7.25 $40
Hippo VB 4 3.5 3 3 3.5 7.7 7.25 $79
Soundmagic E30 3.5 3.5 2 4.5 5 7.1 7.25 $39
Phiaton PS 20 2.5 4 2 4 4 7.6 7.25 $50
Xears Nature N3 / N3i 1 3 3.5 2.5 4 3 7.8 7.20 $95
VSonic GR99 3 4 3 3.5 4 7.3 7.20 $28
Thinksound TS02 1 3 4 3 4 4 7.1 7.20 $80
LG Quadbeat HSS-F420 1 1 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 7.9 7.20 $30
JVC Xtreme Xplosives HA-FR301 1 3 4 3 5 4 6.8 7.20 $40
1MORE Design Crystal Piston a 2.5 3.5 2.5 3.5 3 8.0 7.20 $30
Xiaomi Hybrid Earphones a 1.5 3.5 2.5 3 4 8 7.2 $18
Dunu DN-22M Detonator 1 5 4.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 6.7 7.15 $45
Brainwavz M1 4 3.5 3 4 4 7 7.15 $45
Beyerdynamic DTX 71 iE 3 4 3 3.5 4 7.2 7.15 $50
RHA MA350 2.5 4.5 3.5 3.5 4 6.8 7.10 $40
Xears Resonance 2.5 3.5 3 3.5 4.5 7.2 7.10 $34
UBSOUND Fighter 1 2 3.5 3 3 4 7.6 7.10 $49
ViSang R02 / Brainwavz ProAlpha 4 4 3 4 4 6.7 7.05 $40
MEElectronics CW31 / CW31P 1 4 4 2.5 4 4.5 6.7 7.05 $29
Paradigm Shift E3m 1 3.5 4 3 4 3.5 6.9 7.05 $40
Dunu DN-12 Trident 3 4.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 6.8 7.05 $25
Pioneer SE-CLX60 2 4 3 4 3.5 7.2 7.05 $75
Tekfusion Twinwoofers 1 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 7.2 7.05 $40
Fischer Audio Ceramique 2 3 3.5 3.5 2 7.9 7.00 $53
Thinksound TS01 / Thunder 3 4 3 4 4.5 6.5 6.95 $45
Klipsch Image S4 / S4a / S4i 3 3.5 3.5 3 4 4 6.7 6.90 $60
Xears Communicate CP100iP 1 3 3 3 3.5 4 7.1 6.90 $54
Soundmagic E10 / E10M 3 3.5 3.5 2.5 4 3.5 7 6.90 $35
Woodees IESW100L Blues 3 3 4 3 4 3.5 6.9 6.90 $70
VSonic R02ProII Silver Cable 3 4.5 3 4 3.5 6.4 6.80 $35
JVC HA-FX40 2 3 2.5 4.5 3 7.2 6.80 $20
Fischer Audio Paradigm v.3 2 4 2.5 2.5 4 7.2 6.80 $55
Maximo iM-590 / iP-HS5 / iM-595 3 4.5 3.5 3 3 4 6.6 6.75 $35
JAYS t-JAYS Three 3 4.5 4 2.5 3.5 3.5 6.6 6.75 $106
JVC HA-FXC80 "Black Series" 4 4 3 4 3 6.5 6.75 $40
Munitio NINES Teknine SITi Nine Millimeter 3 2.5 4.5 3 4 4 6.2 6.75 $103
Earjax Lyrics 5 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 6.4 6.70 $66
Sony MDR-EX300 3.5 3 2 4.5 3.5 6.8 6.70 $60
MEElectronics M6 / M6P 1 4 4 3 5 4 5.7 6.70 $20
Hippo Pearl 3 4 3 3 4.5 6.4 6.70 $28
Woodees IESW101B / IESW100B 1 3 3 3 4 3.5 6.6 6.65 $31
Nuforce NE-600X 1 3 3 3.5 4 7.0 6.65 $15
Spider TinyEar 1 2.5 3 3 3 4.5 6.6 6.60 $40
Apple In-Ear Headphones (ADDIEM) 3 2.5 3.5 2.5 4 4 6.5 6.60 $50
JVC HA-FX101 1 1 3.5 3 5 4 6.2 6.60 $14
Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 4 / 4vi 1 4 3 3 4 3 6.5 6.55 $33
Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Tour 3 3.5 3.5 3 4 3.5 6.1 6.50 $150
RadioPaq Classical 1 1 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 6.5 6.50 $11
Klipsch Image S3 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 5.9 6.45 $39
Ultimate Ears 350 / 350vi / 350vm 3 3.5 3.5 3 4 4 5.9 6.45 $18
Philips O'Neill SHO2200 Tread 1 1 5 3 4 3 6 6.40 $26
Brainwavz Beta 1 1.5 2.5 2.5 3.5 4 6.7 6.35 $10
Monster Lil' Jamz 3 2.5 3 3.5 3.5 4.5 5.9 6.35 $55
RadioPaq Jazz 1 1 4 2.5 3.5 2.5 6.8 6.35 $44
Monster Jamz 1 3 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 6 6.30 $47
Fischer Audio FA-977 Jazz 2 3.5 3 3.5 3 6.4 6.30 $50
Klipsch Custom 2 4.5 2.5 3.5 2.5 4 6 6.25 $80
H2O Audio Surge 3.5 3.5 3 4 4 5.5 6.25 $37
Yamaha EPH-50 1.5 3.5 2.5 3.5 4.5 5.9 6.20 $55
Sennheiser CX280 2.5 4 3 3 4 5.8 6.20 $50
Monoprice 8320 / MEP-933 0 2.5 2 3 2.5 7.5 6.20 $11
MEElectronics M9 / M9P 1 4 4 3 4 3.5 5.3 6.15 $20
Blue Ever Blue 866B 2 3 2.5 3 4.5 6.1 6.15 $55
H2O Audio Flex 1 3.5 3 3 4.5 5.9 6.15 $20
Soundmagic PL30 5 3.5 1.5 4.5 4.5 5.2 6.10 $24
Sunrise Aodia i100 1 1.5 3 3 3 4.5 5.9 6.10 $24
MEElectronics M16 / M16P 1 3.5 4 3 4 4 5 6.05 $13
Rock-It Sounds R-10 3.5 3.5 2.5 4.5 4.5 4.7 5.90 $20
Soundmagic PL21 / MP21 1 4.5 3.5 2.5 4 4 4.8 5.85 $22
Rock-It Sounds R-11 3.5 3.5 3 5 4.5 4.2 5.80 $25
Astrotec DX-60 1 2.5 3.5 2 4.5 4 4.9 5.70 $20
Earjax Tonic 3.5 3.5 2.5 3.5 3.5 5.1 5.70 $28
Ultimate Ears 100 1 2.5 3 4 4 4.9 5.45 $10
Skullcandy Holua 1 3.5 2.5 3 3 4 4.5 5.30 $22
Maximo iMetal iM-390 / iP-HS3 1 4 3.5 2.5 3 2.5 4.6 5.20 $39
MEElectronics M2 / M2P 1 1.5 4 2.5 4.5 3.5 4 5.20 $15
elago E3 1 3 2.5 4 4 4.1 5.00 $11
Zune Premium Headphones v2 3 2.5 3 3.5 3 4.2 4.95 $37
Coby CVEM79 Jammerz 2 3 2 4.5 4.5 3.7 4.95 $10
Skullcandy Titan 1 3.5 3.5 2.5 3 2.5 4.1 4.85 $37
JVC HA-EBX85 1 2.5 2.5 4 4 3.6 4.65 $17
Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 1 2.5 3 3 4 3.5 3.1 4.60 $14
Section 8 Earbuds 1 3 3 3 3.5 3.7 4.60 $10
Yamaha EPH-20 1 2.5 2.5 3.5 4.5 3.5 4.55 $20
Kanen KM-948 1 2 3 2.5 3.5 3.7 4.30 $7
MEElectronics SX31 / SX31P 1 1 2 2 3 3 3.2 3.85 $13
DealExtreme Orange IEMs 1 2.5 2 4 2 1 2.65 $3
ModelMake & model of headphone.
Blue = custom-IEM
Red = discontinued
iHeadsets with mic/remote:
blank = no headset functionality
1 = mic + 1-button remote (universal)
3 = mic + 3-button remote for Apple iOS devices
a = mic + 3-button remote for Android devices
v = mic + 1-button remote + analog volume control (universal)
AccessoriesHow useful and complete the bundled set of tips & accessories is. Depends on the quantity and quality of the accessories, as well as on how well-suited they are for the earphone they come with. BuildDepends choice of materials, assembly quality, structural design, and overall feel. Also includes any observations on the durability of the earphones while in my care. IsolationAmount of passive reduction in ambient noise provided by the IEM. All IEMs isolate external noise by virtue of sealed ear coupling, but some are better than others. The better-isolating IEMs are capable of providing is upwards of 30db of attenuation, an 8-fold reduction in ambient noise volume. MicrophonicsSusceptibility to cable noise, a common malady affecting in-ear earphones. Mitigating factors such as the inclusion of a shirt clip or cable cinch and the ease of wearing the IEMs over-the-ear are taken into account. ComfortHow easy the earphone is to wear for long stretches of time. Typically tip- and ear-dependent, although general trends still apply. The ease of insertion/removal of the IEM is also taken into account. SoundPossibly the most subjective of the categories, the sound rating is an evaluation of the relative merits of the sound signature, scaled to the best earphone I have heard. AverageCalculated average of all scores, with the most weight on the sound score. PricePrice in USD at time of review. N/A indicates the product is discontinued.

987 Comments

  1. Isaac on

    awesome list, part of the reason i bought the DN1000 which i love very much. any plans to review the latest from Dunu, the DN-2002?

    • ljokerl on

      Yep, I will have my hands on those pretty soon.

      • Isaac on

        lovely, i can hardly wait to hear your thoughts.

  2. Michael on

    Hey. Apparently there is a huge hype on headfi on the Chinese thread about how the senfer 4 in 1 are better then a83, Dunu dn 2000j and can compete with akg 3003 for $30 also the vivo ex800 can compete with gr07 for like $15 and has the same sq.

    Maybe you can do a review on it?

    • ljokerl on

      I’m not too big on trying to chase down every hyped-up IEM out there. I’ve lost count of how many times something has been labeled a “better X for half the price”. Usually it’s X that remains popular/recommended once the dust settles.

      If these continue to be popular in the long term I’m sure they’ll hit my desk eventually.

      • Michael on

        Thanks. What do you recommend for like $80 that has amazing vocals, wide soundstage, great clarity and smooth on the mids.

        I do like my vsd3s

        • ljokerl on

          Ostry KC06, or maybe Fiio EX1 (based on others’ feedback that it’s similar to the DUNU Titan 1). Both are rather mid-forward but not generally harsh, and have wide soundstages and excellent clarity.

          • Michael on

            Are the ostry a upgrade from the vsd3s? And are they better then the havi?

            • ljokerl on

              All three are about on-par, just different tuning. KC06 is the most mid-forward and has the widest soundstage.

              • Michael on

                How about the trinity audio vyrus?

                • ljokerl on

                  Not a clue, never tried any Trinity earphones

  3. Nir Nisim on

    Hi Joker
    I’m looking for a good pair of IEM
    Mostly listening to rock , punk rock,house
    Budget – 250$
    Source – S7 Edge
    Thanks !

    • ljokerl on

      Depending on the sound tuning you prefer, my recommendations can be found here: http://theheadphonelist.com/earphone-buyers-guide/

      Typically, unless you already know exactly what type of sound you’re after, I recommend a balanced to slightly v-shaped sound for that sort of mixed-genre application – a VSonic GR07 Classic or GR07 Bass Edition, for example. These have been a staple of the portable Hi-Fi scene for 5+ years now and are a great way to get into high-end IEMs. Should only run about half your budget, too. The Bass Edition has a bit more bass, as the name implies, and can be the safer choice (for EDM especially) than the more accurate GR07.

      • Nir Nisim on

        I just want to enhance to sound of the drums and the guitar
        What about the DUNU DN-2000 , they’re v-shape too

        • ljokerl on

          DN-2000 has a slightly more colored sound signature with a more pronounced v-shape, so it’s more polarizing and therefore harder to recommend as a “starter” IEM without someone specifically requesting a v/u-shaped sound.

  4. Lecks on

    Hi Joker! Just want to know if you can recommend a better/comparable IEM (with detachable cables) to the RHA-MA750? Same price point, same build, and same (if not, better) sound. Thanks!

    A big fan of your reviews btw. ☺

    • ljokerl on

      Something like that would be a fantastic IEM considering that the MA750 is one of the best values in its price range even without detachable cables.

      The only sets I can think of that compare in terms of sound quality and have detachable cables without costing an arm and a leg more than the MA750 are the DUNU Titan 3 and Titan 5, but these (1) are tuned nothing like the MA750 and (2) have both failed on me at the cable connector while my MA750i is still going strong (though to be fair DUNU claims to have fixed the connector issues on the Titan series).

      • Lecks on

        Thanks Joker! Will definitely try the Titans too. I’m also eyeing the IM50 and 70 as viable options. What do you think? I also like the fact that they have replaceable cables too.

        Would like to know your opinion on which is better between the 50’s and 70’s as well. Thanks!

        • ljokerl on

          Not too familiar with those models, can’t really tell you where their sound quality falls on the spectrum. I have heard the IM50 once – it’s a smooth-sounding earphone, doesn’t have the enhanced bass of the MA750 or the more v-shaped sound of the Titans, but seemed good for the price. Never tried the IM70.

          • Lecks on

            Thanks Joker! Appreciate your input. For soundstage, do you know any IEM with great soundstage, and also has a great overall sound quality? Would appreciate it if you can recommend something with a detachable cable as well (to protect the investment).

            How about the vsonic VSD’s or the Audio technica E40/E50/IM70? If you are to pick, which one do you prefer?

            As always, thanks for your help!

            • ljokerl on

              VSD detachable cables are pretty useless (not standard socket) and the soundstage is better on some of VSonic’s higher-end fixed-cable models. A DUNU Titan 3 or Titan 5 have a wider soundstage.

              Not sure about the audio-technicas you mentioned.

              If you’re feeling spendy the Sennheiser IE80 is always a good sturdy option with detachable cables as well.

  5. Mathews Joseph on

    Dear Joker,
    I’m looking for a pair of earphones that could give me a wider and more immersive soundstage than my present RHA MA750.
    I’d be really grateful if you could compare RHA MA750 against Audio Technica IM70. The latter, as it comes with two drivers is well known to create a 3D effect. Can you suggest some iems that would deliver me a greater sense of space..
    In the same direction, would it be reasonable to get an amp that would enhance the immersive effect of my MA750? Are amps known to expand the soundstage?
    My budget is 200$..

    • ljokerl on

      I haven’t tried the IM70. I did try the 1st-generation dual dynamic earphone from JVC (the FXT90) and that had a nicely layered soundstage, but not very wide. If you’re just looking for better layering and separation, the FXT90 or Yamaha EPH-100 would do nicely without dropping in overall sound quality or bass quantity compared to MA750.

      If you’re looking for something that also sounds as wide/spacious (or even wider) than MA750 it will be very difficult without going with a different sound signature. The Sennheiser IE80 is what comes to mind but it’s pretty pricey.

      Unless you’re using a poor source to begin with I wouldn’t try to use an amp to affect the soundstage significantly (switching to a different earphone would give you a much bigger difference in that regard). That said, there are some amps that are considered to have a wide presentation (as compared to other amps), and there are even some that “artificially” widen the soundstage using some kind of crossfeed effect. I’m not too familiar with all the different amps out there so I can’t name specific ones, but if you do a bit of digging on Head-Fi you’ll find them.

  6. Conor Brennan on

    Hello Joker!
    I’m finally planning to get my first good pair of headphones, and I’m a bit overwhelmed with all the choices. I’m looking for a headphone with the following qualities:
    1) Price range from $100-$200 (USD), ideally in the middle but willing to spend all $200 if it fits the rest of my requirements.
    2) Good Isolation- want to be able to use these in a school cafeteria.
    3) A sound signature which would work well for the following bands: Pink Floyd, Rush, Nirvana, Muse, Led Zeppelin, Stone Temple Pilots and generally other rock music. I don’t know which would work best, whether it be V-shaped or neutral. I’m fairly certain I don’t want warm, though.
    4) A relatively good amount of comfort would be nice.
    5) Lastly, relatively good build quality would be very nice.

    Thank you very much for any help, Joker!

    • Conor Brennan on

      Oh yeah, as an edit:
      I’ve (not bought or even listened to music with) been browsing through potential pairs for a while and a few that have caught my eye are:
      RHA MA750
      Etymotic Research HF5

      If you could additionally talk about how these would work for my needs that would be very nice.
      Thank you for your time, Joker!

      • ljokerl on

        Those are both at the top of my recommendations in your price range, albeit at different extremes (for your genres) in terms of sound signature. The MA750 is about the bassiest thing I would recommend for rock music (though it’s far from the most bass-heavy earphone in its price range). The HF5 is about the most neutral/analytical. Honestly, without more info I’d recommend splitting the difference and going with a VSonic GR07 Classic (or GR07 Bass Edition). It has a less neutral, punchier sound than the HF5 but not as warm/bassy/v-shaped as the MA750. Build is decent, about on par with the HF5. Comfort is very good. Isolation is fine for daily use, about on par with MA750.

        • Conor Brennan on

          Thank you Joker!
          So I still have a few questions.

          The first is: Why exactly would you reccomend the VSonic over the Ety HF5?

          Secondly, what defines a punchier sound? I know it’s associated with bass, is this how prominent the beat is (if that makes sense)

          Thirdly, you said “without more info.” Could you please elaborate upon what you want? I’d like to help you help me as much as possible!

          Lastly, are there any specific sources you recommend buying the Vsonic off of? And other headphones?

          Again, can’t thank you enough!

          • ljokerl on

            The HF5 is a pretty flat earphone, for many people that type of sound is an acquired taste (and for some a complete no-go). The GR07, while balanced, is a little easier to get into, especially for someone new to higher-end IEMs. In a way it “splits the difference” between the HF5 and more conventional/consumer-friendly sound.

            This also relates to what I said about additional info – if you could say, for example, that you are fine with having little to no bass enhancement, that would make me less reluctant to recommend the HF5 as a first high-end earphone. As is, I’m going mainly off my own experience and the hundreds of comments of feedback from readers.

            Yes, punch has to do with how visceral the bass is. The HF5 doesn’t have too much of it.

            You can get GR07 from Amazon if you’re in the US, or from lendmeurears if you’re not. There may also be a small price difference between them.

  7. AndyT on

    Hey Joker, I’ve enjoyed reading your lists over the past year or two, I appreciate how you seem to genuinely care and seem to reply to everyone, must take some effort!
    I was wondering if you could give me some advice.
    I’ve tried quite a lot of iem’s over the past few years and I want to get my ‘endgame’ pair, so to speak.
    I guess you could say im a bit clumsy/careless. I need to buy a new pair of iems every 6months-1year because the wiring almost always ends up coming loose. I tried to rectify this by buying a detachable pair, so I only have to get a replacement cable, but that didn’t really help. Guess I must be too violent with them.

    sound signature: tl;dr – Analytical? TPeos H300 > Brainwavz b2 along this sort of sound.
    I used to really love the sound signature of my Brainwavz B2’s, so I came to the conclusion I loved analytical sound. From there I purchased a Sennheiser558(headset). I had mixed feelings regarding that, but I put it down to the fact it was a headset and not IEM’s. My current daily driver is the T Peos H300, and it’s essentially perfect. I can hear the tiniest detail in everything, sadly I managed to break one of the connections in the earpieces. I’ve successfully re-soldered all of the four wires inside, but it still occasionally cuts out(once a day or so), and stops working until I don’t use it for 10+minutes (very strange… I can’t explain it).
    I love the bass on these earphones though, which I know sounds strange considering I said I enjoy the analytical sound, but it just really packs such a great punch, and when i’m playing CSGO, I hear things that I literally should not be able to hear. I would love to just buy another pair of these, but with the import tax and high price tag, it’s a bit unreasonable.

    build quality: tl;dr – smallish earpieces(mandatory), braided cable is a plus,
    This will sound insane because every review I have read about these have said they have absurdly bad build quality; but to me, the HiFiMan Re-400 takes this hands down. The cable from the connector to the Y-split was braided and very flexible/floppy. It had a nice solid ‘toggle?’ to hold the earpieces in place. The earpieces themselves were the perfect size, sat right inside my ear, as opposed to other ‘bullet shaped’ ones(e.g T-Peos H-300) that stick out what I would consider too much.

    price: tl;dr – anything ‘reasonable'(<$400?)
    Now this will sound ridiculous, but I don't really have a price limit per se. If it is a perfect pair of headphones, i'd probably pay whatever they cost within reason, I paid about $300 for these H300's, and i'd say they were worth it, but If I were to buy another pair of IEM's around/above this price, I would need to be certain they are top notch, and not going to fail within the year; or at least be fixable to an amateur solderer.

    other: inbuilt mic would be a plus, not mandatory, don't care about accessories.
    Don't really care about accessories, I've gathered more than my fair share through the years, and if I need something specifically, i'll just probably buy it aftermarket. in-line Microphone would be a huge plus, but not mandatory, as I have a separate lapel mic which is pretty decent quality. A nice 'toggle' on the Y-split would be appreciated too.

    Hope I haven't put you to sleep with all of this, and it would be appreciated if you could give any insight.

    • ljokerl on

      Thanks, I really appreciate that!

      My experience with the RE-400 is similar to yours – I’ve had the unit for 3+ years and it’s still going strong. That said, there’s not a lot of bullet-shaped earphones that are equally compact and also can be considered top-tiers in terms of sound.

      Honestly, what immediately came to mind is the FLC Technologies FLC8. It’s a little more complex than most IEMs thanks to the sound tuning system (not very plug-and-play) and the form factor is unusual, but I think it’s very comfortable. It also has replaceable cables and you can pick up a mic cable for it later I suppose; there isn’t one included. Probably not easy to work on with the complex internals, but I wouldn’t expect any part of it to fail aside from the cables.

      Unfortunately I am not familiar with the H-300 so I can’t tell you how the two compare when it comes to sound, but the FLC8 is one of the best uses of a hybrid driver system that I’ve heard, combining really high levels of clarity and detail in the mids and treble with some (but not too much) extra bass impact from the dynamic driver. Plus it gives you a bit of flexibility in getting the sound you want, again thanks to that same tuning system.

      Usually I like to recommend two or three different sets for every request but in this case I can’t think of anything else that would fit your requirements this well.

      • AndyT on

        That’s absolutely fine, thank you for the help!
        It’s very much appreciated.

        If only I could somehow take the internals and insert them within the RE400, bit too difficult there though tbh.

        I’ll probably stick with the h300’s for now, and grab a pair of FLC8’s when I can / if these fail.

        • ljokerl on

          The housing has a large role in sound tuning, especially with something like the FLC8 with all of its vents and ports, so the results of a transplant like that would be hard to predict even if it were feasible.

          Perhaps by the time the H300 fails there will be some viable new options, too.

    • ljokerl on

      I don’t think so. I have some inexpensive IEMs from China that look like those (generic custom-turned-universal form factor) but I think the are from a different brand. The few pairs I have look the part but don’t sound very good.

  8. xern on

    Hi Joker!
    Recently my Steelseries Flux in-ear pros started failing. They were still under warranty(just barely), but sadly they’re no longer manufactured and the after a month long wait the shop that I’ve bought them at refunded me. I realized that this might happen, so I started looking for new iems over a month ago, but so far I’m not sure which iem to choose. I’m currently back to my old Sennheiser iems(It’s CX-300-B I think) – EQ did help them a bit, but they don’t sound great…

    Here’s what I’m looking for:

    Sound
    Neutral sound signature with as much detail as possible. I would prefer if it leaned towards bright and analytical than towards warm sound.
    Bass – I would prefer tight and controlled but it would be fine if it lacked in quantity.
    Mids – bringing out as much detail as possible (I enjoy noticing all the details and even imperfections in recordings)
    Highs – Neutral to bright and with good extension.

    Other features
    Durable – like I mentioned my sennheisers are over 10 years old and they still work fine and I honestly hope that my next purchase will be just as robust.
    In-line microphone and control(android) – I got used to it with my Flux in-ear pros, and it’s a convenience that can’t live without any more.
    Over the ear cable – same as above.
    Detachable cable(MMCX or similar) – it would be a very nice feature to have as it would certainly help with longevity of the headphone, but it’s not a must.

    Honestly I’m not even sure if my perfect iems exist, but I keep searching.

    Headphones that I’m considering so far:
    * Rock-it Sounds R-50M – out of stock, I’m not sure if they’ll be available again
    * AKG N20U – kind of hard to find reviews on those
    * Westone UM Pro 10 – I’m a bit concerned about the QC on these
    * MEE Audio Pinnacle P1 – seem to have everything I need, but are the most expensive. Impedance might be a problem when driving them with a smartphone.
    * SoundMagic E80s
    * HiFiMan RE-400a – not sure about the over the ear wear and durability of the cable

    I’m not sure how those headphones compare to Flux in-ear pros and if they’re approaching the sound that I’m looking for.
    Maybe there are other iems in the 200$ and below price range that I should consider but aren’t on my list?

    To my knowledge no reviewer has reviewed all of the iems that I’m considering, and it’s very difficult to compare reviews of different products written by different people when it comes to something as subjective as sound. Inner fidelity doesn’t have FR graphs for most of the headphones above, so that’s no help either. I will be grateful for any and all input from you. I’ve spent too much time going through hundreds of reviews and graphs and not coming to any conclusions.

    Thank you.

    I really appreciate your help.

    • ljokerl on

      This gave me a good brain workout. I like the very detailed requirements but it is a two-edged sword in that very few IEMs can hit at least 2 of 3 in what you want. I guess any MMCX earphone can be turned into a headset (just need an MMCX headset cable like the ones Shure and MEE Audio sell separately) so points 2 and 3 in other features go together, but still:

      * Rock-it Sounds R-50M – not detachable and I wouldn’t put the long-term durability on par with an MMCX earphone
      * AKG N20U – never heard of it
      * Westone UM Pro 10 – I wouldn’t worry about build quality but I don’t think their stuff has the tonal character you’re after until you get to to the W20, which is $300.
      * MEE Audio Pinnacle P1 – difficult to drive (ok with my Moto X Pure but still not optimal; not so good with my Nexus 5) but otherwise probably the best compromise on your list
      * SoundMagic E80s – are these detachable? I only tried them briefly, don’t know too much about the sound
      * HiFiMan RE-400a – durability is not a strong point of HiFiMan IEMs. No detachable cable. Might as well go Etymotic HF2 if you’re going this form factor.

      Likewise, sets not listed typically hit 80% of what you want, but never reach 100. Dunu Titan 3/5 sound pretty good and have detachable cables but are not worn cable-up. Shure SE215 has the right form factor and cable configuration but is the opposite of neutral-to-bright when it comes to sound. VSonic has the right sound/fit but no detachable cables and no mic. ATH-IM02 pretty good too but cables are proprietary (not MMCX) and I don’t think there’s one with a mic available.

      As you go up in price there are some sets that would be a better match – the FLC Tech FLC8 comes to mind, for instance, but that’s way above what even a P1 costs.

      • xern on

        Thank you for your reply joker!

        I didn’t consider ATH-IM02 before, but I did some research and it turns out that Audio Technica does offer a headset cable for those iems( http://sea.audio-technica.com/products/headphones/professional/in-ear-monitor/at-hdc1is ).
        I tested my smartphone with my ATH-M40x(35 ohm impedance) and turns out that it’s able to drive those headphones beyond my comfortable listening levels. That doesn’t mean that it’d work well with MEE Pinnacle P1, but it does give me some hope.

        When factoring in the extra cable I’d have to buy for ATH-IM02 the price increases to the point where it’ll basically cost the same as MEE Pinnacle P1.
        So that narrows my choices to those two iems. How would you compare them and which one do you think will sound closer to what I’m after?

        Thanks a lot joker! You’re a lifesaver!

        • ljokerl on

          Hmm.. similar price tier on top of the similar comfort, isolation, etc. Build quality is about on-par too – generally I would trust ATH build quality more but I like a standard MMCX socket over a proprietary one.

          That means it all comes down to sound, and I think the P1 delivers more of what you want assuming you can get decent performance out of it with your phone. Neither has too much bass and both deliver pretty good detail, but do so in different ways. The IM02 is more forward in the midrange, which is a plus for midrange detailing, but overall it’s a little more smoothed-over and dull-sounding with a neutral-to-dark tone. It would be the better choice if you were after something non-fatiguing and mid-centric. The P1 has slightly less forward mids, but keeps up in detail because it’s generally more crisp and somewhat brighter. Soundstage is a little wider too, which doesn’t hurt.

          • xern on

            ATH’s proprietary connector was designed to be more robust than standard MMCX(I’m not sure if they’ve succeeded), and as it turns out cables with ATH connectors are already offered by lunashops ( http://www.lunashops.com/goods.php?id=4402 ).
            Interestingly I like the looks of ATH-IM02 better, it looks more utilitarian and “less form over function” than Pinnacle P1.

            But going back to the most important aspect of this choice, the actual sound, I’m very surprised that you mention that Pinnacle has less forward and brighter sound. I assumed that BA drivers would have a natural tendency for brightness and detail, and I certainly didn’t expect a single dynamic driver iem to win in that regard over a dual BA design.
            After reading reviews of both iems I had the impression that IM02 had a more balanced sound(leaning towards analytical), and that P1 was more mid forward, but I guess that that’s what I get for comparing reviews from different reviewers…

            Thank you again for your amazing help!

            • xern on

              I just wanted to add, that I’ve called an official MEE Audio distributor and asked him if it’s ok if I ordered the Pinnacle P1 and later returned them if it turns out that my smartphone can’t drive them properly, and he told me that he’d prefer if I transfer him a deposit and he’ll send me a review unit for testing. I’ll most likely do that, and if it turns out that my phone can’t handle them I’ll try to get the ATH instead.

              After careful consideration it turned out that there’s one other thing that I didn’t take into account regarding ATH-IM02 – namely I’d have to import them, and that means that they’ll most likely not be covered by warranty. And even if they would be covered it’d still be a major hassle to send them back and forth across the world in case something happens. Not to mention that I might have to pay customs on top of the the price and the shipping charges.
              I could probably buy them used thus avoiding customs, but then I’m sure they won’t be under warranty.

              • ljokerl on

                That seems reasonable RE: the P1. Can’t get service like that here in the US.

                P1 has a spacious sound in general, and is balanced to slightly v-shaped. It’s not a very conventional sound tuning and I can see why the information out there would be conflicting – it really depends on what you’re comparing them to. If you put them against a DUNU DN-1000, for example, then the P1 will definitely be the flatter, less bright earphone with the more forward midrange.

                Comparing the P1 with the IM02 is akin to comparing the VSonic GR07 with a flat BA earphone (e.g. an Etymotic). The GR07 is a very balanced IEM, but its wide and mildly v-shaped sound means the Etymotic will sound more forward in the midrange (and more intimate in general). Doesn’t help that the IM02 is a little more relaxed at the top end than your average dual BA.

  9. Jeremy on

    Hi Joker, thanks for all this information, it has been great. I do have a question I can’t find an answer to though, and that is how my current shure e4c iem pair compare to today’s quality. What would be a comparable set? I want to upgrade sound quality, and while I realize some are just simply different due to FR response, I don’t really know if I could spend 100 due to improved technology, or if I would still need to spend more than what these cost.

    I am looking for a warm / sweet sound, good bass, detailed, not harsh treble. I listen to indie/alt/rock/edm/rap. Looking at between 100 and 300 +/-. I’ve been thinking of titan 5 or dn2000, ie80, vsonic vsd5, or mee audio pinnacle…any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    • ljokerl on

      I’m not too familiar with the E4c – I think i had one like 10 years ago but that was long before I was seriously comparing different IEMs. It’s long gone, so I can’t really tell you where it lands these days. On paper it seems like the IE80 would be your best bet out of the sets you’re looking at (which are all over the place, by the way) based on your requirements, but I also don’t remember the E4c having particularly good bass or warmth.

      • Jeremy on

        Haha – yes, they are a bit all over the place, which is why I am going a bit crazy, since it seems everything that has 90% of what I think I want, there is some sort of other deal breaker. I am not necessarily looking for something with the exact same sound signature as the e4c, as it was one of my first IEMs and purchased before I even knew what I liked, just want to upgrade. You are correct, it doesn’t have much bass, and I definitely want more bass in the next IEM, but I also really appreciate the clarity and smoothness in the mids and lower treble area…but ultimately would like something a little more rich and dynamic/fun (not sure if these are the correct terms, but best I can describe). Another one that I have found recently and seriously considering is the Fender FXa5 or 6….but perhaps I’ll just keep my eye out for a good deal on the ie80 and make the jump if/when I find one. Thank you for your response!

        • ljokerl on

          You can also consider the Yamaha EPH-100 as a more affordable alternative. Similar performance of the IE80, slightly different sound signature, and much less expensive.

          In general, I think trying a few inexpensive IEMs with different sound signatures to get a better feel for what you like isn’t a bad idea before diving in and spending $300 on a top-tier set, unless you live in a part of the world where IEMs can be demoed in stores. The E4c is a starting point but it’s fairly outdated so it will be difficult to find comparisons between that and today’s popular sets.

  10. Mathews Joseph on

    Dear Joker,
    I don’t know whether this is the exact way to approach you. However, i’m in great need of your advice.
    “What I need is a next level sonic experience in terms of a more wider and immersive soundstage (instrument separation), and a slight more bass.”
    What I currently have is a Cowon C2 (permanently set in Hip-Hop EQ setting; otherwise which the player sounds mediocre), and an RHA MA750. I mostly listen to academy award winner A.R Rahman’s music. With my current sourcegear and iem, I do have quite a satisfactory experience.
    However, in order to have a more immersive sound, should I get a new DAP like Fiio X1, or buy an iem like audio technica im70, or get an amp?
    I understand that RHA MA750 is pretty much the best iem in sub150$ range.
    And my budget for any sort of upgrade is not more than 100$..
    Eagerly looking forward to your advice.
    Thanks a lot….

    • ljokerl on

      At $100 you’re not going to get an MA750 upgrade unless you would prefer a different sound signature, but since you want even more bass than the MA750 provides while keeping at least the same soundstage, that eliminates pretty much all earphones that could be considered better or even equivalent.

      In almost all cases I think that upgrading your earphones will make a bigger difference than upgrading your source, especially if you’re still in the low-mid price ranges, but in this cases I don’t know of an earphone that you can upgrade to.

  11. Juan on

    Looking for Bluetooth in ear headphones that have a decent noise isolation but are on the cheaper side. Any recommendations? I was looking at the xiaomi pistons

    • ljokerl on

      Sorry, I don’t really know of any good inexpensive Bluetooth earphones. Not really a focus area for me.

  12. The Chosen One on

    Best in-earphones that don’t fall out especially when laying in bed, running/working out?

    I’m looking for great sound quality, comfort and my budget isn’t too high as I’ll be using it for everyday use.

    • ljokerl on

      If you’re going to be resting against a pillow you want something low-profile and ergonomic. MEE M6 is very affordable and is what I use for gym duty a lot of the time. Soundmagic PL50 and E30 are good alternatives but more expensive and harder to find.

      Fidue A31s is even more low-profile than the above but the fit is not as secure for running (and I’m not sure it’s sweat-resistant). Audio-Technica CKX5iS is sweat-resistant and well-designed for active use but you won’t be able to lay down with it like you will with the M6.

  13. Thanexu on

    hi, I was wondering if the think sound rain2’s are any good for 89.99. I don’t know much about earphones so I wanted to hear your opinions on them, since I like the design. Another choice I’m looking at is the Yamaha eph100.

    Thanks

    • ljokerl on

      I was a fan of the first-gen ThinkSound Rain IEMs but the market has evolved since. Higher-tier IEMs like the EPH-100 and MA750 have gotten more affordable while sets in the ThinkSound performance bracket have gotten more competitive. Unless the Rain2 is a significant improvement on the original Rain in terms of sound quality, or you think the EPH-100 will be too bassy for you, I’d go with the Yamaha.

      • thane on

        Thanks for the help! I mostly listen to rock, alternative, electronic, classical and a bit of rap. Do you have any recommendations for me that are under 90$ or maybe 100$? The seinheiser momentums are also a choice I am looking.

        Thanks

        • ljokerl on

          Momentums are good but a little mid-recessed. They’re arguably better for EDM and rap than they are for rock or classical, though ultimately it will depend on the listener. I prefer the EPH-100 myself.

          For a more balanced option, you can consider the VSonic GR07 Classic, which is a more Hi-Fi set in a similar price range. A balanced sound is arguably more versatile between all genres, but again this depends on your listening preferences.

          • Thanexu on

            Thanks again. Do you have any recommendations for earphones that are worn straight down around the 100-120 price range? The over ear fit is uncomfortable for me

            Thanks.

            • thane on

              Correction: 100-140 Price

              • ljokerl on

                That doesn’t limit you too much. EPH-100 is worn cable-down. So are tons of other sets I’ve reviewed positively, such as the DUNU Titan 1, Philips Fidelio S2, even the Sennheiser Momentum. The Fidelio S2 is the closest you’ll get to a GR07 with a cable-down fit.

                • Thanexu on

                  I have narrowed down my list to the dunu titan1, yamaha eph-100, dunu dn-1000, klipsch image x10, and the fidelio s2. since these can be worn straight down unless the gr07 or ma750 can also be comfortable being worn straight down i will stick with these. Which one do you think would be the best for me? I pretty much listen to everything except modern pop music. Thanks!

  14. James on

    Hi Joker,

    I was debating whether to get an SE5-Way Ultimate for some time now but another IEM just came up that I’m thinking of getting instead. The Shure KSE1000’s. Have you heard these earphones? If you have, how does it compare to the SE5 Way Ultimates? Worth the price? Please let me know your thoughts of them. 🙂

    Best regards,

    James

    • James on

      Sorry, I meant the KSE1500’s, not 1000’s.

      Thanks,

      James

      • ljokerl on

        I actually haven’t heard either myself – they’re both pretty rare earphones, but hopefully someone out there has both.

  15. RS on

    Have you tried the Sony XB90EX? If so, how’s the comfort, sound and quality? Are wireless earbuds good for running instead of wired? Can you give me some good earphones with the best bass quality and good for running.

    • RS on

      Also, any good earphones that are waterproof and sound great. Thanks.

      • ljokerl on

        No experience with the XB90EX.

        There are a couple earphones that are sweat-proof or sweat resistant. don’t know any current ones that are straight up waterproof. I use a MEE M6 and an Audio-Technica CKX-5iS when I need an earphone I can sweat on. Both are sweat-resistant and have held up fine for me.

        For wireless the only set I’ve tried with enhanced bass that’s any good is the MEE X7 Plus. Pretty sure it’s sweat-resistant as well.

  16. einzwei on

    Hi I have used the Mi piston v2, v3 and now the Mi hybrids. I didnt like v3 as the trebles are too recessed, v2 was enjoyable but less refined, the hybrids are good but has too much bass for my liking. Something better than the Mi hybrids with less bass would be nice.
    I’m considering the Zero Audio Tenore or something around $40.

    • ljokerl on

      I don’t really know of anything at $40 that will be better than the Mi earphones. Maybe the Ostry KC06 at $50-60? Not too much bass (less than Xiaomi Hybrid and Piston v2) and the treble is plentiful compared to Piston 3.

      Haven’t tried anything from Zero Audio.

  17. Shellbearnoon on

    Hello, I heard JH Rosie is basically an uiem version of JH13. So, Does it sound the same or better or worse ?

    • ljokerl on

      Not sure, I’ve never tried it.

  18. Josué on

    I dont know if you can help me, I have searching alot without success…
    Im im looking for “all around” IEM’s, I listen all kinds of music and have no experience with headphones at all
    I would like to have a descent isolation (bus travel), no boring sound and it cant be CIEM or like shure (above the ear) because i feel them very unconfortable
    I know this isnt much to work, hope you can helpme, also budget is 0 – 400$

    • ljokerl on

      I don’t know if I’d recommend jumping off the deep end like that and spending $400 on your first higher-end IEM before you have a really good idea of what your likes and dislikes are. The path I’ve always recommended is trying one or two well-regarded mid-tier sets with different sound profiles to see which appeals to you most.

      Anyway, to answer your question the set I would consider the best all-rounder that also has a cable-down (non over-the-ear) fit is the DUNU DN-2000. Good clarity and overall bandwidth, a bit of extra bass but not so much that it looses fidelity, energetic treble, etc. The main downside of this one is that it’s a little large and it can take some fiddling to learn how to get a good fit with it. So not too beginner-friendly, in other words.

      The exact opposite of that is the Klipsch X12, which is one of the smallest and most comfortable IEMs ever made, with excellent isolation to boot. It’s not as Hi-Fi as the DN-2000, but it does a lot right – the sound is a little on the bassy side and not great in terms of treble quality, but still relatively competitive. The sound is unchanged from the X10 model in the table above.

      • Josué on

        Thank you for the quick answer, I look into both and DUNU call my atention, seem well build and have good reviews across internet, I was wondering if the DUNU DN 2002 will be a improvement over DN 2000 or is a different sound for different users?
        And forgot to mention in the first post, I have tried in the past a Sennheiser HD 650 at friend house for about couple hours, I know they are no IEM but loved de sound, maybe you know them and can be used like a reference what I like

        • ljokerl on

          Not sure about the DN-2002 yet; for what it’s worth the DN-2000J was originally supposed to be a DN-2000 upgrade but didn’t sound that way to me.

          DN-2000 and HD650 don’t sound very much alike – the HD650 are more on the warm and smooth side while DUNUs are bright and exciting. The Klipsch would be a better match for the Sennheiser sound, but I don’t know if one brief experience with the HD650 is enough to make a call on which of the earphones’ sound signatures you will prefer.

  19. Cst on

    Hey ljokerl, I currently looking for some new headphones. I recently had the Narmoo R1M and the Piston 2.1. I am not really versed in headphones but I do know I value sound stage the most in headphones- I don’t really know what to think about bass and such though. I have a budget of $50. I enjoy mostly hip-hop and alternative music. I’m looking towards the M6 Pro or the Soundmagic E10s but I’m not sure which to choose. Out of these two which is the better option and if you see fit can you make an outside suggestion. Thank you.

    • Cst on

      Or the ZERO AUDIO-ear stereo headphone carbo Tenore

      • ljokerl on

        I’m only familiar with the E10s out of those three, and I do think they’d be a good match for what you want. Under $50 they have on of the better soundstages – the only set I’ve tried recently that beats them out in this regard is the Ostry KC06, and the E10 has more robust sub-bass than those so it may still be a better match for hip-hop, for example.

  20. Emdyion on

    Hey ljokerl! I’m looking for a flat response IEM similar to the ATH-M40x headphone counterpart. I noticed that they have made the E series (particularly the ATH-E40) that could be the IEM I’m looking for. By chance, have you tried these out, and is there other IEMs that you could recommend? I’d prefer the price to be similar or lower to the price I got my M40x ($100).

    I’ve tried the Shure SE215 and the ATH-IM50s, and they both excel in different things (SE215 is a bit clearer for me, IM50s is a bit warm), but they don’t really match the flat sound signature I’ve enjoyed with the M40x.

    • ljokerl on

      Unfortunately I haven’t tried those, but I have tried the IM50 and if you prefer something flatter and a bit less warm you don’t have too many options. I’d go for the best Etymotic you can get (HF5 ideally, but MC5 if that’s over budget), or a Final Audio Heaven II. You’ll get a significantly crisper, flatter sound with those compared to the IM50.

  21. Drew on

    I’m looking for a replacement for my Piston 3s. I’ve really enjoyed them, but the right side earpiece just went out. Here’s what I’m looking for:

    I listen to classic rock, hard rock, blues, and classic metal music. I’m looking for a bud that is pretty neutral and accurate, but also fun to listen to. I guess what I’m saying is I don’t want over-accentuated bass, but I do like bass. I don’t want them to sound boring, but I also want them to be relatively accurate (I use them to listen to music (fun), but also to listen to musical instrument gear demos online (accurate)). I don’t want them coloring the sound too much, but I want the bass to be solid, the highs to be detailed but not harsh, and the mids to be present but smooth. As I mentioned, I have the Piston 3s and don’t really have a lot to complain a lot about sound-wise. Maybe they could be a little more lively and have a better soundstage, but I’d be nitpicking. I also found that the volume controls didn’t work with my iPhone 5s. Play / Pause did work. I do like the fabric covered cable.

    As for other features, I would like the microphone and Play / Pause / Volume controls. I’d like very good noise isolation (I wear them while flying on airplanes, cutting grass, and also while my wife watches The Bachelor). And, decreased microphonics are nice, but I don’t want over-ears and I’m not a fan of shirt clips.

    Sound quality is my number one criteria. My budget is around $100 or so, preferably less. Thanks for any help!

    • ljokerl on

      That’s quite a lot to ask – the Piston 3 is already one of the better earphones for that type of sound under $100, so finding something that performs at least as well while also being well-isolating and having a 3-button Apple remote is very limiting on top of that. Your only options are to go for something with flatter/more accurate sound, like the HiFiMan RE-400i or Etymotic MC3, or for a more “fun” and colored sound with the Sennheiser Momentum (Apple version). Even between these three everything is a tradeoff – the HiFiMan and Etymotic won’t have quite as much bass punch as the Piston 3 while the Momentum is bassier but more mid-recessed and overall not as natural. The MC5 will have by far the best isolation but is the most dull-sounding of the three. And so on.

  22. Asaf Manor on

    Hi,
    I have been using Mee M6 in the last 6 years or so, and I am very satisfied with their comfort and microphonics.
    I’ve decided to go up the ladder and find a pair with more DEPTH, more emphasis on bass and especially low-mids, and better isolation.
    The treble in the M6 is a bit too emphasized for me, and the overall sound feels very shallow, like all the layers of sound are sticked together…

    My natural choice is M6 Pro. I know it might not answer the sound signature I am looking for, but it is priced fairly, it will be comfortable as I am used to, and it comes with a handful of nice accessories.

    Any recommendation? budget is about 50$, and I would like it to have a mic and (1 or 3) android button.
    I can give up the last demand if it makes a big difference. I listen to hard rock, alternative rock, and some electronic / hip hop music (chet faker, flume, fakear etc.)

    • ljokerl on

      Not too familiar with the M6 PRO – some comments here have indicated that it’s a less bassy version of the M6 (which doesn’t seem to be a fit for what you want) but i haven’t verified it myself.

      Your budget is still pretty limited and the M6 is going to still be one of the most ergonomic options you can get your hands on. I think you would love the sound of the Sony MH1C, for instance, but its ergonomic design is likely to disappoint coming from the M6.

      An OK compromise might be something like the Xiaomi Hybrid – it has better sound than M6 (though not as good as MH1C) and the form factor, while still very different from M6, is not uncomfortable.

  23. Brian Ross on

    Hi — I have currently use Audio Technica M50s and Polk Ultrafocus 3000’s as my primary travel and @work headphones. I used to invest a bit of money in IEM’s (mostly Shure) but switched to Over-Ear when I kept losing my Shures 🙂 I’d like to get back into IEMs at a lower price point ($<200) and I love the sound of the M50s and Polk's.

    Any recommendations for me? To be honest nowadays I mostly just listen to podcasts and Spotify so I don't have a lot of high-quality files on my devices. I was thinking about the Audio Technica IM02's b/c I like AT sound and most of my cheap IEMs have been killed due to tangled/broken cords so detachable cord is a big, nice perk.

    Help much appreciated.
    -Brian

    • ljokerl on

      IM02s are a good all-rounder and not all that different from the mid-high tier Shure sets (SE315 – SE535). They’re a little darker-sounding and heavier on midrange presence than the M50 (which may not be a bad thing for podcasts and lower-quality files), and being an IEM the bass slam will be more akin to what you got with your old Shure earphones than to the ATH headphones, but they’re easily the best sub-$200 detachable-cable earphones I’ve tried recently.

  24. steve b on

    Hi I need advice between the two.

    Audio Technica ATH-IM02 costs $170 and I can get a Sennheiser IE80 for $200

    How does the two compare?

    Which is more compact/comfortable?

    What are their strength and weakness?

    • ljokerl on

      They aren’t really competing earphones – the IE80 is bass-heavy, warm, and very spacious-sounding. The IM02 is more of a reference earphone – pretty flat/balanced with a mild midrange emphasis, no bass enhancement, and a relatively forward/intimate sound. Both are well-made and comfortable so it really comes down to what you want out of your earphones in terms of sound.

  25. burningfightingfighter on

    I currently have Phillips Fidelio X2, but I am getting headache and blurred vision if I wear it for long periods of time due to how heavy the headphone itself is and how much pressure it is putting into my head.

    My source is FiiO E17 USB DAC/AMP.

    I am looking to purchase an IEM for about ($70-$200).

    I would like it to be as small as possible and preferably has a detachable cable

    While researching I found models such as Fiio EX1($70), Shure SE215($80), Dunu Titan 3 ($135), Dunu Titan 5($140).

    I am currently leaning towards Dunu Titan 3 because of very compact design and apparently great sound quality.

    If you happen to know better choice, please leave message below of why you think it is good/better that the one I picked.

    • ljokerl on

      The Titan 3 is actually above average in size and weight for an IEM, it’s just that not many of the smaller ones have detachable cables. The sound is also quite bright and v-shaped, with hyped up bass and treble. It’s good for what it is, but definitely not for everyone. Generally speaking, I always recommend thinking about the type of sound you prefer when making your decision – there’s enough options in the sub-$200 range that will allow you to do that.

      For an all-round solid earphone I would probably pick a the Audio-Technica ATH-IM02, which can be found online for ~$170, unless I wanted the extra bass of the Shure SE215. Bass quantity is about the only thing the SE215 does better. The IM02 is smaller, lighter, and more comfortable, and the sound is much better if you value accuracy.

      • burningfightingfighter on

        Thanks for the recommendation, I am seriously contemplating of purchasing the Audio-Technica ATH-IM02 now.

        If I spend $100 more, is there any significantly better option than the Audio-Technica ATH-IM02?

        • ljokerl on

          No, not significantly better. You have options such as the Westone W20, which doesn’t sound any better than the IM02 but has an even smaller and more lightweight form factor. Everything else is either not as good (larger, heavier, etc) in terms of form factor or doesn’t have a detachable cable.

        • burningfightingfighter on

          Thanks for the advice.

          I just purchased the Audio-Technica ATH-IM02.

          Also which aftermarket earbud tips would you recommend for it?

          • ljokerl on

            The stock tips actually worked fine for me on those. They’re good quality – thick, but soft and flexible. There’s also some foam tips included, and I guess if none of the tips really worked well for me I’d start my tip rolling with the Sony Hybrids.

  26. Peter on

    Hi Joker,

    I hate to be a bother, but I don’t have a bunch of IEM’s at my disposal to test :). I had a pair of Ostry KC06’s that I got upon your recommendation, and I absolutely loved them. However, they broke and their customer service is basically non-existent. I wanted to know fi there was another pair of headphones that cost about the same, and have similar sound quality / sound signature or if I should just suck it up with their bad CS. I’m also open to trying a different sound signature if it would open my options up. I’ve tried the Xiaomi Piston 3’s though and they sound muffled and a tad bit bassy for my tastes. I did like my previous pair too, the UE 600.

    Also, have you had the chance to try the Massdrop and HiFiman collab RE-00? What are your thoughts on it?

    • ljokerl on

      I haven’t tried that HiFiMan model but I do have one go-to recommendation for fans of the KC06 and that’s the DUNU Titan 1. The Fiio EX1 is supposed to be very similar as well, and can often be found cheaper. I went more in depth in my Titan 1 review, but I think this earphone fixes some of KC06’s shortcomings in terms of sound while offering a slightly different flavor of the same sound profile. Definitely worth checking out IMO.

  27. Lee Tomlinson on

    Hi,

    Based on your and other reviews, I’ve just sent off ear impressions to have a pair of Alclair References made (my first customs).

    I’m currently using Hifiman RE400s, and love the balanced sound, but find them a little “light”/thin with classical music (e.g. piano, violin pieces). It feels like there isn’t much depth to the notes (I guess “note thickness” perhaps?)

    I’m comparing to my full-size Fostex T50RPs, which sounds pretty perfect to me in terms of balance, detail, note weight/thickness.

    How do the Alclairs compare in this respect?

    Also, one thing that bothers me when walking around listening to classical is bone conduction/hearing my footsteps. Are customs better for this? Maybe I just need softer-soled shoes.

    Thanks,
    Lee

    • ljokerl on

      The RE-400 tends to be a little mid-centric and misses out on some sub-bass and treble presence, which results in a slightly dull and subdued sound, especially when compared to higher-end sets. I wouldn’t say the Alclair is much thicker than the RE-400 in the conventional sense, but it does offer a more complete and well-rounded sound, and of course the detail is very good.

      Bone conduction (or rather, the occlusion effect) is something you’ll notice with most IEMs except some that are open/semi-open. Otherwise it varies a bit from set to set but customs are not generally better than universals in this regard.

      • Lee Tomlinson on

        Thanks a lot for the info. I think the lack of bass/sub-bass is at least part of the problem I was failing to explain very well.

        I actually just made a simple mod I read about here:
        http://www.head-fi.org/t/704091/hifiman-re-400-or-yamaha-eph-100#post_10240646

        Seems to have improved the sound, to my ears at least.

        Looking forward to getting hold of the Alclairs to compare.

        • ljokerl on

          Cool mod!

          Alclairs should be an interesting contrast – always the best way to learn more about headphones and your own preferences.

  28. adrianliau on

    hi joker first of all nice compilation of earphone reviews you put up, kudos. I’ve been using SE215 for as far as im into IEMs, which one would you recommend for the next upgrade? I listen to mostly pop/rnb with mild bass, so far im eyeing on OSTRY, Vsonic GR07 and Macaw GT100s

    • ljokerl on

      It would help to know what you’re looking to keep and what you’re like to see improved compared to the SE215. The SE215 is a little bit unusual in sound tuning and certainly not my favorite, but it’s still a pretty decent $100 IEM. Something like the Ostry KC06, for example, will give you more clarity, separation, detail, etc, but at the expense of having less bass depth, warmth, and fullness to its sound, as well as much brighter treble. So it’ll be better than the SE215 for some listeners but not for others. The GR07, on the other hand, is a little more versatile and high-performing, and a good, relatively inoffensive choice if you’ve never had a “reference” IEM before

      • JJS on

        I’ve been searching for an upgrade for my GR07 BE’s with little to no luck. I can’t seem to find anything with the same signature but better. Any suggestions or should I just accept it and call them my end game?

        • ljokerl on

          The difficulty of finding a true GR07/GR07 BE upgrade has been discussed at length on the GR07 review page here: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/vsonic-gr07/ . While I agree that there’s no perfect option, I’ve now recommended the FLC Technology FLC8 as a GR07 upgrade about a dozen times with good feedback: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/flc-technology-flc8/ . The FLC8 is a top-tier IEM any way you spin it, and while it’s not tuned exactly like the VSonic it improves on some of what makes the GR07 so special.

          • JJS on

            First of all thank you for the reply,

            I was under the impression I had read everything I could about GR07 competitors/upgrades, but I see that I may have missed some suggestions. I’ll take a closer look at the FLC8 and I do see there is an “upgraded” FLC8s and I am hoping it has the same characteristics as the original.

            BTW, your hard work with all of these IEM reviews is greatly appreciated… No idea how you keep up with it all but thanks again…

            • ljokerl on

              Thanks, I appreciate that. Glad the reviews have been helpful!

              The FLC8 is relatively new and quite niche compared even to the GR07. I try to get my hands on a good balance of this type of IEM and more mainstream sets, but I’m sure there’s many great earphones out there I haven’t tried.

              • JJS on

                Sorry to spam this thread. My FLC8s’ arrive on Saturday and you were right, they are absolutely an upgrade from my GR07s and I could not be happier. They sound amazing! I doubt I would have rolled the dice without your feedback so thanks again.

                • ljokerl on

                  I actually really appreciate post-purchase feedback as it helps me hone my recommendations – 99% of the questions asked here never get a follow-up.

                  Anyway, very glad to hear you’re enjoying the FLC8 as a GR07 upgrade! It’s a much more complicated earphone for sure, but can also be quite rewarding!

                  • JJS on

                    It’s the least I could do. The only thing I have an issue with is that there is no going back. I cannot listen to any of my lesser IEMs after the FLC’s (first world problem) 😉

                    I am using your recommended config red front, gray back, and gray inside and I feel its perfect for me so luckily we have the same preference in signature. Keep up the work, your review was spot on.

                    • ljokerl on

                      Happens every once in a while 🙂

                      Happy listening!

  29. IEM on

    Hey, can you give me a great IEM suggestion for everyday use such as exercising/gym? Under $500 sounds like a good budget for excellent sound, comfort, durability. (Over the ear is key)

    • ljokerl on

      Most if not all higher-end IEMs aren’t designed for sweat resistance so using them for the gym would be somewhat risky. I use a nicer IEM outside the gym and then have a sweat-resistant (or just disposable) “beater” set for the gym.

      If you still prefer an over-ear IEM as your main, you have lots of options – probably a good half of the sets in the chart above can be worn over-the-ear. Shure, Westone, EarSonics, Audio-Technica, TDK, Ultimate Ears – they all make good over-the-ear IEMs under $500, most of which have full reviews on this site. Another good choice (that isn’t listed in the table) is the Audiofly AF180. All of these “ergonomic” IEMs are very similar to each other in fit/comfort and build quality.

      • IEM on

        Did some research on those but they all seem similar in terms of sound. So hard to find one that will fit and sound nice. Which one do you use for the gym?

        • ljokerl on

          That was my point – without more criteria it will be impossible to pick because so many IEMs do what you want (without being truly designed for the gym).

          I use a disposable IEM at the gym – the MEE M6. Don’t trust the sweat resistance on any of my high-end sets.

          • IEM on

            The MEE M6 looks good especially for the price and I just saw there’s an M6 Pro version. What’s the differences?

            • IEM on

              Also, how would you rate the sound?

              • ljokerl on

                From what I understand it’s supposed to be a less bassy, more accurate M6 with brighter tone but I don’t have one myself.

                • IEM on

                  Oh… why did you give the sound a 5.7? I’m currently using the Panasonic TCM125A which sounds great and fits well for $20. Have you tried these?

                  • ljokerl on

                    I haven’t tried those, only the Panasonic HJE120 which is a lower-end model as far as I know. It does not sound as good as the M6, but it’s only $8 or so.

                    • IEM on

                      Do you think the MEE M6 Pro is worth it at $77 CDN? The MEE M6 is only $30 CDN. Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks.

                    • ljokerl on

                      I don’t have an M6 PRO so I can’t compare it with the M6. The M6 is what I use, the next step up in sound for sports would be something like an Audio-Technica CKX5 but I tend to prefer the over-the-ear fit of the M6. You could get a Shure SE215 and just treat it as a disposable sports earphone, but again it’s a little larger and bulkier than the M6 and I personally don’t want to sacrifice comfort/fit.

  30. mob on

    Which one of these would be great for gym?

    Yamaha EPH-100, Vsonic VSD3S, Vsonic VSD5S,Hifiman RE-400, JVC FXT90

    Quality, Comfort, Sound should be perfect.

    • ljokerl on

      There isn’t any one IEM that has the perfect comfort and sound quality for every listener and pair of ears. I personally don’t like using cable-down earphones at the gym as they are more likely to come loose or get snagged on something so I’d get the VSD3S or VSD5S. Probably the less expensive VSD3S if it’s for gym duty – they’re very similar-sounding and neither is sweat-resistant. When they eventually fail, better to be out $50 than $75.

      • mob on

        Thanks for the info. I felt like the GR07 BE was loose when running. Not sure how the VSD5S sounds but the “new” VSD3S apparently fixes an issue with the wire and sound. Do you have any other recommendations? Much appreciated.

        • ljokerl on

          Something with a similar over-the-ear form factor plus a “memory wire” component will give you a more secure fit than the GR07 – for example the Shure SE215 or MEE M6. I personally don’t like the sound of these quite as much as that of the Vsonics but it might be worthwhile tradeoff for a more secure and convenient fit while running.

          • mob on

            Yeah, I heard the Shure SE215 sound isn’t that great especially at that price. I guess it’s between the VSD3S and VSD5S. There’s some details about the VSD5S on penonaudio. Might lean towards the VSD3S.

  31. gformat on

    Hi Joker. I’m looking for some IEMs that would do great with heavier/more aggressive music, ie. metal, hardcore, and punk. My budget is right around $100. What would you recommend? I definitely want the guitars to jump out at me and have excellent detail and clarity. Am i right in thinking that a more mid-forward/strong treble pair would be best for that? Obviously bass presence is important as well in heavier music, but I am by no means a basshead. I am pretty new to the audiophile world and would greatly appreciate your input and top picks for my price range. Thanks!

    • gformat on

      I should also add that some of the metal I listen to can be quite complex and fast (technical black and death metal), with many layers of sound and riffs overlaying other riffs. So instrument separation is very important as well as the aforementioned detail and clarity 🙂

      • ljokerl on

        You probably want something with a good amount of midrange/upper-midrange presence to give guitars that crunch and presence. The VSonic GR07 is a popular choice but I’d personally look for a Philips Fidelio S2 or DUNU Titan 1 – you should be able to find at least one of these for about $100. The Fidelio is a little more on the accurate side, not as energetic and exciting to listen to as the Titan 1, but a little more refined and natural. I like them both quite a lot and they both deliver what you want with slightly different approaches, so ultimately it’s down to which one you can find in your budget and which approach sounds more appealing.

        • gformat on

          Thanks alot! I think I’m going to go with Fiio’s version of the Dunu Titan 1, the EX1, since it is about $30 cheaper and has a better cable 🙂

  32. sulabh on

    How about 1more triple drivers?These have very good reviews on head fi.

  33. sulabh on

    How is fiio ex1?I am looking to upgrage from soundmagic E10 which I think is the best budget headphone.

    • ThatGuyOverThere on

      The fiio ex1’s are identical to the dunu titan 1’s, so you could check out Joker’s review of those.

  34. col on

    What do you think would be a nice upgrade to the brainwavz delta? Something with a mostly neutral sound signature, but perhaps a little more detail and airiness.

    • ljokerl on

      Never tried the Delta but I can recommend some IEMs that have a near-neutral, airy sound with good detail. The Ostry KC06 is a good one, or the Philips Fidelio S2 if you’re spending $100-ish.

      • col on

        Thanks. I was already leaning towards the Ostry KC06 so I’m gonna go with those.

  35. Michael on

    What would you consider a upgrade to the im03 that is more musical. Also is it true that BA headphones will sound different if you change the cables, I heard is something to do with ohms and how 1 extra ohms will make BA headphones sound different or better.

  36. rohit on

    Hi Joker,

    I’m looking to buy an IEM that has the best value, comfort, and quality.

    I had a Vsonic GR07 BE but the wire snapped. Also, have the JVC FXD70 but it’s not that comfortable after sometime. My budget would be around $200.

    • ljokerl on

      GR07 BE is still among the best earphones under $200. Unless you have some specific sound requirements, you’ll have a very tough time replacing it. Closest thing I can think of that would be a (sort of) upgrade would be the RHA T20 – those are over $200, but you also get a 3-year warranty as a good bit of extra value compared to something like the GR07.

      • rohit on

        I was looking into the T20 but I’m not sure if it’s worth the price. What do you think about the Yamaha EPH-100? Saw it for $87 which seems like a good deal. How is the T20 compared to the 750i?

        • ljokerl on

          The EPH-100 and MA750 are both around the same performance level, which I don’t consider to be an upgrade over the GR07. They do provide a warmer/bassier alternative, and $87 is a killer price for an EPH-100, but again I don’t think it sounds better than the GR07 and the fit is more akin to the FXD70.

          The T20 review contains an MA750 comparison in its own section: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/rha-t20-t20i-in-ear-earphone-review/

          • rohit on

            These are my choices as of right now:

            1. Yamaha EPH-100 – $68

            2. JVC FXT90 – $54

            I have the JVC FXD80-Z but dislike the tips and the fit. Comfort, clear sound, quality is my priority. Also, prefer the wire over the ear style.

            • ljokerl on

              I’d go with the FXT90 – it’s more different in fit from the FXD you didn’t get along with, and clarity is at least on-par with the EPH-100. Can’t be worn over-the-ear though.

  37. Michael on

    Are flat/Netural sound signature sounds most realistic terms of sound signature

    • ljokerl on

      Depends on who you ask, but I think most would agree that’s true if you could also get them to agree on exactly what a truly flat/neutral headphone sounds like.

  38. Iv on

    Hi Joker.

    I am currently using a pair of UE 600 and Huelin Ihifi 770C and looking for new IEMs.
    I’ve narrowed my choices down to the RHA MA750, HiFiMan RE-400, Dunu DN-1000 Dunu Titan 3, Dunu Titan 5 and VSonic GR07 Bass Edition.
    I mainly listen to Jazz, Hard Rock, Trip-Hop, Ethno and classical music. My favorite bands are Erik Truffaz, Nils Petter Molvaer, Esbjorn Svensson Trio, The Cinematic Orchestra, Lars Danielsson, Leszek Mozdzer,Jimi Hendrix, Massive Attack , Radiohead, Black Keys, Stevie Ray Vaughan, GoGo Penguin…

    My criteria in the same order is best sound quality, great soundstage, tight and punchy bass, soft on treble.

    What do you think? Considering the style of music I listen to and the fact that I absolutely loved the UE 600?
    And if not them, What other IEMs would you recommend?

    Cheers,
    Iv

    • ljokerl on

      Well, if you want treble that’s at least as smooth as the UE600, that eliminates everything except for the RE-400 and maybe the MA750 – the rest of the IEMs you picked out tend to be much brighter and/or harsher and/or more sibilant. They are very difficult to recommend for someone coming from the UE600. The RE-400 is the closest but it’s a little more mid-centric than the UE600.

      I would recommend the Aurisonics Rockets, TDK BA200, Sony MDR-7550 (these are on the warmer side, but still much more balanced than something like a Titan 5), or if you can’t find any of the above – the Audio-Technica ATH-IM02. These are all balanced, smooth-sounding earphones tuned more like the UE600, but also provide at least a mild upgrade. Most sets in the sub-$150 range won’t be much of an upgrade to the UE600 because of how good those are.

      • Iv on

        Hello,

        Thank you for the fast reply and for the positive, friendly attitude towards me and all the others audiophiles around the world.
        How would you rate from 1 to 10 in terms of sound quality and isolation the following IEMs:

        Aurisonics Rockets, TDK BA200, Sony MDR-7550, Audio-Technica ATH-IM02, MA750, Dunu Titan 3, Dunu Titan 5 and VSonic GR07 Bass Edition

        Thanks a lot!

        • ljokerl on

          I don’t have ratings in mind for the ones that aren’t on the list above yet.

          The Rockets have the highest isolation for sure, while the Titans and MDR-7550s have the least. The rest are all pretty comparable to each other(3.5 – 4 on the scale above)

          • Iv on

            Hi ljokerl,
            Thanks once again for the recommendations! Most probably I will have to raise my budget for being pleased, as the noise isolation and comfort are as important as the sound quality. I am mostly concerned that if I buy Aurisonics Rockets there will be no longer warranty coverage as the company has been bought by Fender and I am in Europe, so if any problem accurs it will cost me a lot of time and money.
            By knowing what kind of music I am listening to (Blues, Hard Rock, Jazz, Ethno, Trip Hop, Classical music) – will my audiophile needs be covered by one of these models:
            Custom Art Music One,Ultimate Ears UE 900,Etymotic Research ER4S,DUNU DN-2000

            Cheers!

            • ljokerl on

              Those are all very solid audiophile earphones – really depends on whether you liked the sound of the UE600 or not. The Music One and UE900 will make for the best UE600 upgrade while the DN-2000 is the furthest off in sound signature (it is both brighter and heavier on bass). The Music One is also the most similar to the universals I originally recommended and has smoother, less bright treble than the UE900, which seems like it would be an asset to you.

              • Iv on

                Hi,
                The more I am looking at Custom Art site and reading about Custom Art Music One, Custom Art Music Two, Ei.3, the more my interest is rising in them. But as I can’t hear them, I will have to ask once again, thanking you for your patience. I am very sensitive to highs and brightness, I don`t like much brighter, harsher or sibilant sound but I like more warmth, depth and bass, smooth-sounding earphones. If we reduce my choice to the following models Custom Art Music One, Custom Art Music Two, Ei.3, which would be most suitable for music styles like Texas Blues, Psychedelic rock, Jazz, Funk, Alternative Rock, Progressive metal, Trip Hop and Classical music?

                Thanks again!

                • ljokerl on

                  I’ve only tried the Music One, but among all the other CIEMs I’ve tried (especially those under $500) it is one of the safest choices for someone who doesn’t like brighter/harsher/sibilant sound.

                  With that said, it’s more neutral than it is warm, and bass depth is not one of its strongest suits, being a single balanced armature model and all that.

  39. RGKN on

    Hi, joker. As of recent, I’ve been searching out good earphones for a budget price. I bought a pair of Xiaomi Piston 3’s about a year ago and have been very happy with the sound quality, especially with how neutral the soundstage is. Here lately though, it seems like it is becoming more and more difficult to find reputable dealers that sell authentic Piston 3’s, so I was wondering if there were any other IEMs under the $50 range with a similar soundstage and sound quality? Thanks.

    • ljokerl on

      The Xiaomi Hybrid may be an option although I personally prefer the less bassy Piston 3, the Hybrid is no slouch when it comes to soundstaging.

      Other options that come to mind – LG Quadbeat F420 (and possibly later versions, I haven’t tried them but they get great feedback), Ostry KC06, and maybe the Fiio EX1 if you can find one cheap enough.

      • RGKN on

        Thanks for taking the time to respond. The Ostry KC06 sounds like it would be perfect, but one thing that worries me is the low 16 ohm impedance that seems to lend itself to hissing on certain devices. Do you happen to know if it will have a hissing noise wile listening on my computer or smartphone?

        I also have been interested in the HiFiMan RE-400 here recently, but, from what I’ve heard from you and in a few places around the internet, it isn’t quite as fun as some of it’s cheaper, not quite as objectively good sounding competitors. Which is a bit disappointing, but it makes sense. Sometimes balance can be a bit dull.

        Anyway, I listen to a lot of EDM, which is probably why I adore the Xiaomi Piston 3 so much for for it’s flattened v-shaped soundstage and clarity. Also, after doing a little research, I am thinking of upping the range I am willing to spend to around the $150 range. So my questions are, for an EDM lover, what IEMs do you personally prefer, regardless of the price? And what earphones would be the best value for their money?

        • ljokerl on

          Maybe, it really depends on the computer or smartphone. KC06 is certainly not safe in this regard, so if you’re not sure how bad the noise floor is on your devices, might be best to skip it.

          RE-400 is sort of the inverse of the Piston 3 in sound tuning. Instead of balanced with a bit of added bass punch and treble crispness, it’s balanced with slightly relaxed bass and treble. That certainly can make it sound more “dull”, though it also has certain advantages for some listeners, such as a complete lack of harshness. As usual, it’s subjective whether one likes the RE-400 signature better or the Piston 3 one, but they don’t make for the most natural upgrades from each other.

          $150, I’d be looking at the Yamaha EPH-100, RHA MA750, and VSonic GR07 Bass Edition. EPH-100 is a lot warmer than the Piston 3 (more like the Piston 2) but it’s one of my default recommendations for EDM just because it works so well. Coincidentally, my end-game earphone for EDM would probably be the EarSonics Velvet, which is one of the few IEMs I consider to be an upgrade from the EPH-100.

          The GR07 BE is on the other side of the spectrum, balanced with a mild v-shaped much like the Piston 3. Performance is a tier higher, though. And the MA750 is sort of a compromise between the EPH-100 and GR07 – more balanced than the former, but bassier, warmer, and not as clear as the latter. All three would be great options in the $150 range. And none are as sensitive as the KC06.

  40. AriBen on

    How come the 1MORE triple and dual drivers and their MK801’s over ears are not here? The triple driver ust topped consumer reports portable headphone list as #1 – shouldn’t it be here?

    • ljokerl on

      It’s coming, just haven’t been able to keep up with all the new releases lately.

      • AriBen on

        Anything i can do to help? Need samples?

        • ljokerl on

          Have them. Just need fewer new IEMs on the market 😉

  41. MQ on

    Is the Rock It Sounds R-50 similar to the vsd3s. Is it an upgrade? If I want something similar to the vsd3s should I go for the gr07 or R-50? Also is there a similar list for headphones

    • ljokerl on

      It’s similar in the very general sense that neither earphone is significantly colored-sounding or treble-light, but the R-50 is tuned for a flatter sound. That mild v-shape and bass enhancement that the VSD3 (and other VSonic dynamics) have is gone, so it’s hard to say it’s the same sound signature or a direct upgrade. If you’re looking for an even more balanced and clear sound then yes, the R-50 will do it but otherwise a GR07 (or even a Philips Fidelio S2) make for a more logical step forward.

  42. Michael on

    Please do a review on the VE Monks there only $5 and I don’t mind buying you a pair and sending it to you ;D

    • Michael on

      Oh and I got my 1more triple I like the sound signature, they sound musical but the vocals seem to be whispering even at slightly high volume

    • ljokerl on

      Sorry – non-IEM earbuds don’t really like my ears (and vice versa) so I try to stay away from them.

      • Michael on

        Oh lol. 1 question idk if there’s something wrong with my 1more triple but it seems at slightly high volume around 30% volume rate I feel like the vocals are whispering to me or the vocals sound kinda thin and feels like it’s little back

        • ljokerl on

          Mids/vocals being a little set back is the definition of v-shaped sound. The more v-shaped an earphone, the more “recessed” the midrange is compared to the bass and treble. The 1MORE is somewhat v-shaped while something like the RE-400 is the opposite – the midrange is upfront and the treble and deep bass take a back seat. And then something like the Alpha/Delta AD01 is even more v-shaped, with more treble and especially bass towering over the midrange.

  43. pimogo on

    Great list.. I’ve been reviewing this list up and down… plus the comments. Very helpful. Let me tell you a little bit about me. At work I use the Oppos PM3s — love everything about it.. At home I have both the HIFIMAN 560 and Beyer 880s. BOth are great, I like the planar sound and tight bass of the former for some stuff, but the Beyers feel great for classical. I’m looking for an IEM for work now. I would like something a little lighter than a full headphone from time to time. Now for genres, primarily Folk, Jazz and CLassical.. I’m getting more and more into classical and wish for something that reproduces those as faithfully as possibly. Comfort and build quality are likewise important, and detachable cables (if possible a plus). What can i get for say less than 300-350$

    Many thanks! Keep up the great work!

    • ljokerl on

      Two come to mind – the Sony MDR-7550 and the Oriveti Primacy. The 7550 is the more neutral option, slightly warm in tone but overall very balanced. Its sound tuning has always reminded me somewhat of OPPOs and the other PM headphones I’ve tried. It’s odd-looking/fitting and the detachable cable may be of limited use because I’m not sure replacements are easy to find, but it’s without question a great value that does everything you want.

      The pricier and less balanced-sounding option is the Oriveti Primacy. There are a few triple-driver hybrid earphones you can get under $350, but fewer than half have detachable cables and among the rest quite a few sound brighter than what you’re used to and just aren’t a good match in tone or tuning. The Primacy is warmer and also has arguably the most sleek and comfortable form factor with MMCX detachable cables. Not as balanced as the 7550 and the bass is a little more powerful and less controlled, but as an overall package it’s pretty killer.

      • pimogo on

        Wow. You’re expertise is amazing. Thanks! I’ll definitely look into the Oriveti–I was unware of them before. They look about right. Though what exactly is meant by lack of balance–sounds like a pretty big compromise. How do these compaare to the Westone 40s? Or on the lower end, the often recommended RHA MA750 / MA750i?

        • ljokerl on

          Sound signatures fall along a continuous spectrum, so it’s not really a matter of lacking balance but more so just having more emphasis here or there compared to another earphone. The Westone 40s and MA750 are even less balanced than the Primacy, though again that’s not necessarily a bad thing and can potentially make them better-suited for some listeners. The MA750 has more emphasis on bass and gives up some clarity and resolution compared to higher-end sets like the Sony MDR-7550 and Primacy, while the W40 has a smoother, darker, warmer sound that has a similarly negative effect on clarity.

          • Hugo Amaral on

            So i was recently offered a chance to trade my PM-3s for the Shure SE535. Would this be an advisable trade for someone looking to get an IEM, but not at the sacrifice of audio fidelity–the requirements above still being relevant?

            • ljokerl on

              If you don’t plan to use closed-back headphones much after getting your IEMs, that sounds like it might be worth it. The SE535 is a nice earphone, very smooth with a slightly relaxed top end. It’s pretty similar to the Sony MDR-7550 I recommended, just pricier (in a straight trade that’s not much of a worry) and trades off a little of the 7550’s excellent top and bottom extension for a bit more refinement. If your budget had originally been $500 I probably would have included the SE535 among my recommendations.

      • canali on

        jokerl…for the 7550s: many bassheads LOVE it…they often tape the vents and then pin prick it to get the slam they’re looking for, lol

        • ljokerl on

          Just proves that a highly capable earphone with a well-tuned dynamic driver can do many things. An unmodded 7550 is pretty kickass, just doesn’t provide too much bass.

  44. Michael on

    Hello. What Iem do you recommend for about $120. I like bass that are well controlled, neutral but not dull sound sig. good clarity and soundstage, silky smooth mids and really good on the vocals like female and male.

    I was thinking about Alpha & Delta AD01, Trinity Delta 2 way, 1MORE Triple Driver

    I dont really like the eph 100 they sound dark, rha 750 because there to airy and the re400 because there to dull

    • ljokerl on

      Not familiar with the Trinity set. The AD01 and 1MORE triple sound very different from each, with the 1MORE being way more neutral. I think it would be the better choice for you out of the two. The only alternative I can think of is the Philips Fidelio S2, which is even more neutral, but if you thought the RE-400 was a bit dull that makes it a bit risky to get the S2 over the 1MORE.

      • Michael on

        Does the Fidelio X1/X2 and the fidelio s2 sound similar

        • Michael on

          And would the hf5 be another good choice? Isolation is another thing I need

          • ljokerl on

            Silky mids and good soundstaging aren’t really things that describe Etymotic products. If you’re looking to maximize clarity and neutrality above everything else, the HF5 is great. But in this case I’m not sure it’s the right choice.

            Cam’t comment on the Fidelio X1/X2, don’t have those. I do like the Fidelio L2 but that’s on the warmer, more consumer-friendly side compared to the more accurate Fidelio IEMs.

            • Michael on

              Do you like the 1more and how do they compare to the s2?

              • ljokerl on

                I like it, I’m just not sure it competes with the Fidelio S2 directly. The Fidelio sets tend to be quite balanced, while the 1MORE hybrid earphones are somewhat v-shaped. Out of what you’ve had, the Fidelio is closest to the RE-400 (but not as dull) while the 1MORE doesn’t really have a direct analog. It is probably closer to the MA750 with less bass and warmth than it is to the RE-400 or EPH-100, but that’s a bit of a stretch.

                • Michael on

                  I just got the white s2 white and i am really wowed, vocals sounds so good and realistic with my nx1 topping what will be a upgrade over the s2 that are more neutral, Are the s2 kinda open to let the air in because it seems like the grills on the back are unless its just for design

                  • ljokerl on

                    Upgrade would probably be something like a UE900 – flat/neutral-tuned IEMs but with extended bass and treble that isn’t smoothed-over.

                    I believe the vents on the S2 are partly decorative and conceal a standard IEM vent but I am not sure where I read that.

  45. Dj on

    Here I am again hehe. My friend is looking for an upgrade also from soundmagic e10s. Given the limited availability of earphones here in the phiippines, he has only a few choices. His choices are the following:
    Fischer Audio consonance v2
    Soundmagic e80s
    Fiio ex1
    Hifiman re400a
    Audio technica im50
    Sennheiser momentum in ear
    1more triple drivers
    JVC hafxt90/ JVC hafxd80
    Fidue a71/a63
    What do you think is the best choice for him?

    • ljokerl on

      It depends on what he’s looking to see changed (or kept the same) compared to the E10. If it’s a more balanced/accurate sound, something like the RE-400 or IM50 would be the best choice. If he’s looking to stay around the same level of enhanced bass and overall coloration as the E10 (which is “some”, but not much), I’d pick the 1MORE triples or the Fiio EX1. If he’s looking for a more heavily “flavored” sound, the FXT90 or Momentum would be good options. These are both bassier and more V-shaped than the E10.

      Disclaimer: I haven’t tried the E80.

      • Dj on

        okay thank you for your reply 🙂 i’ll tell him your answer and recommendations. oh by the way i’m enjoying my pistons v3 now haha. They simply sound amazing haha.

        • ljokerl on

          Awesome, glad you’re enjoying the Pistons! Definitely a killer value!

  46. Michael on

    Have you joined the Hifiman He 350 and the re00 drop. If so I be looking forward for your review 🙂

    • ljokerl on

      I am sure they’re as good as the versions they’re based on :). But no, I didn’t participate – I still have non-Massdrop exclusive products from HiFiMan I need to review.

  47. Advent on

    Hi Joker

    Looking forward to your ATH-IM02 Review.

    Recently broke my TDK BA200 and I’m looking for a new replacement. I saw above that the ATH-IM02 has a similar sound signature to the TDK BA200 which I really like.

    I am torn between the UE 900S (as they’re going for 250USD on Amazon currently) and the ATH-IM02. Considering the ATH-IM03 as well as a 3 driver upgrade from my 2 driver TDK BA200.

    Would appreciate any input from you with regards to how the UE 900S and the ATH-IM02/03 sounds as compared to the TDK BA200!

    Thanks! 😀

    • ljokerl on

      Assuming it sounds like my UE900, the UE900S would be better if you’re looking to switch from the BA200’s slightly midcentric sound to something a little brighter and more extended. The UE900 can perhaps be considered a little flatter and more analytical overall, but really its just a slightly different approach to near-neutral sound – one that’s partway between the BA200 and super-analytical sets like the Ety ER4, etc.

      If you preferred the slightly warm tone of the BA200 and its more midrange-focused sound, the IM02 will make for a better successor as it’s more similar in terms of tone and overall balance. Unfortunately I don’t know much about the IM03.

  48. nkatkamwar on

    Amazing list and reviews. Great job and thank you for such resource. I needed a suggestion regarding buying an IEM with HUGE soundstage, airy and controlled quality bass. I am bending towards sony Z5 or may be save a little and go for SHURE 846 / AKG 3003. My current budget is 500 but if spending 1000 usd gives me a way better sound I might consider that. What do you reccommend ?

    My current headphones are, GR07 BE (love them), RHA 750 and Phillips fidelio + Fiio E18 sound amazing to me.

    • ljokerl on

      The Z5 has a ton of bass but as a result the quality lags behind something like a K3003 or Shure SE846. If you want a more bass-heavy sound like the Z5, but not quite as overdone on the bass front, I would consider just the plain old IE80. Massive soundstage and about 2/3 of the bass quantity of the Z5 with less bloat.

      You can also consider something like an FLC Technology FLC8 – it’s comparable to the K3003, especially in soundstaging ability, and much more within budget. Same general type of sound, too, plus a tuning feature that you may or may not find useful.

      And among the +/-$100 sets your collection is missing the DUNU Titan 1 – bass quality and airiness are two of its strongest points. Just something to keep an eye out for.

      • nkatkamwar on

        Ordered IE80. I always wanted to try it. I might get FLC8 and compare soon. But do you think k3003 or 846 or any CIEM in that range will satiate a soundstage lovers desire ? If you can suggest me a over ear with badass soundstage it would be a great help.

        • ljokerl on

          I think higher-end IEMs can do a very precise job when it comes to soundstaging. It really doesn’t get much better than the IE80/FLC8 tier except maybe for some ultra high-end customs, so if you find the IE80 to fall short of expectations, perhaps a full-size set would work better for you. I’m a big fan of my trusty old HD600, but there probably is room for improvement on the soundstage front. I just didn’t think my pricier Audeze, OPPO, or HiFiMan cans did a significantly better job.

  49. Willy Shum on

    Hey joker, you like the alpha & delta AD01 right? Well lend me ur ears jus released AD02, their budget version. Would you be trying these?

      • Willy Shum on

        Ah, my mistake. They are called Alpha & Delta D2 not AD02s.

        • ljokerl on

          Ah, those. Yes, I have a pair on the way.

  50. Willy on

    Hey joker, I think the time has arrived for me to purchase a new pair of IEMS. my almost 2 year old VSD3s have finally failed on me, the cable for the right earpiece no longer produces sound ( I confirmed this by swapping the drivers because my version is removable, and I was able to hear sounds from my right driver after swapping). So my budget is roughly the same, about $60 CAD. I was thinking of picking up the new 2016 version of VSD3s since I love the sound signature of it a lot, but I’m open to other suggestions too. Although maybe the ~$120 CAD is worth picking up the GR07 classics?

    Thanks joker!

    • ljokerl on

      If you can swing it I’d do the Classics, keeping in mind that 1) it won’t sound too different from the VSD3 – just incremental improvements here and there and 2) the GR07 is a bit more balanced in overall sound tuning.

      No point in moving away from VSonic if you enjoyed your VSD3 since VSonic’s house sound is relatively unique and the performance of their earphones is still very high compared to other brands.

      • willy on

        thanks for the reply! yeah, I loved the heck out of my vsd3s. and I’ll be sad without them now that I only hear music from one side during my commutes lol. anyway, this may be awkward to ask but can you measure how tall the jack is? I use my phone as my daily driver and it has a case so I hope it still fits. thanks.

        • ljokerl on

          Sure, which distance are you worried about? The GR07 has a very low profile L-plug so something like an Otterbox probably won’t work without one of these: http://amzn.to/1U9Xtkb

            • ljokerl on

              That’s going to be tough, the clearance between the contact part of the plug (which goes into the headphone jack) and the leg of the “L” is 3mm. So if your case is thicker than that, it’s not going to fit.

              As a point of comparison, the same distance on my Alpha & Delta AD01, which I know fits even Otterbox cases, is over 8mm.

              • Willy Shum on

                mm I wish vsonic made it a bit higher. it looks like my case is just 1mm thicker than the distance of the jack

  51. Russ on

    Hi,

    I’ve been using the Hifiman RE-400 for a few years, but have now had my second pair break in the space of 4 years. Want to find something with a similar sound signature for around $60 – $70 but with a better build quality. I really like the balance of the Hifiman, but wouldn’t mind a touch more treble. Been looking at the Osprey KC06 or the Fidue A63. Would this be the right way to go or would you recommend something else?

    • ljokerl on

      A63 is probably not the way to go – its mid-bassy sound won’t impress you coming from the HiFiMan. The KC06 at least has the clarity to keep up with the RE-400 and a brighter top end. I’d go for that one but would also keep in mind that it’s not going to keep up with the RE-400 in overall accuracy. Definitely a more colored earphone overall. I also doubt it will be more durable and reliable than the RE-400, but then again if there was an RE-400 alternative with better build quality in the same price range, I wouldn’t have to recommend the RE-400 anymore. Unfortunately there isn’t – the closest thing to an RE-400 with bulletproof construction is the Aurisonics Rockets at ~$250. Under $70, the KC06 is great.

      • Russ on

        That’s great, thanks. I’ve been reading a lot of you reviews on these and they are incredibly useful. I was also looking at the Ultimate Ears 600 or Rock Jam Alfa Genius. Would these be a better alternative or is the KC06 still a better option?

        • ljokerl on

          UE600 would be a closer match to the RE-400’s signature but it’s long since discontinued and build quality was never its strength, either. If you can get one new with warranty and prefer not to stray too far from the RE-400’s more neutral sound it might be worth it, but without warranty I wouldn’t risk it.

          Alfa Genus won’t be as impressive as the others coming from the RE-400.

          • Russ on

            I’m actually really struggling to decide which to go for! A bit worried that the KC06 will be too bright. Hope you don’t mind one more question?

            I can no longer afford another pair of RE-400s and only have $60 to spend. What’s out there that will get me closest to the sound signature of the RE-440s?

            Thanks

            • ljokerl on

              This is a good question. Ultimate Ears 600 would be a very good one but it’s discontinued so it’s hard to assume it’ll be easy to find at that price.

              Of the stuff that’s regularly available probably the Etymotic MC5 (since they lowered the price to $59 now) for a slightly leaner signature or Brainwavz M1 for a slightly thicker/more mid-centric approach. Or one of the balanced armature sets with the Knowles SR driver, whichever you can find on the market – MEElec A151P 2nd gen, Rock-It Sound R-20, or Astrotec AM-90. These tend to be very smooth, even a little dark, so if you want treble performance at least on-par with the RE-400, the MC5 is the one I’d pick.

  52. Alexgerm on

    HI Joker,

    I’ve been looking through many of the comments and am getting pretty good vibe from the rha 750s, it seems like great value.

    I mostly enjoy listening to hip hop/rap (more musical, like Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly), some edm, some indie, some rock… little bit of it all really. I definitely do like some bass, I like being able to hear and feel it in the songs where you should. I guess you could classify that type of sound signature as energetic and warmish?

    Anyway, have been looking into a couple products from rha, such as the 750s (140 cad), the t10 (220cad) and even t20 (320cad, slightly too expensive). Is the sound from the flagship models truly worthy of the step up in price? do you have other recommendations?

    One last side note/question, I may be looking into taking this pair of iems to the gym and even cycling, would you say that the rha 750s are secure enough to stay in with some movement and are somewhat durable enough for these activities?

    Side side note/question, I have never had wireless earbuds but hear decent things about the jaybird x2s, would you even consider them as an option compared to any of the above?

    Thanks for the help and awesome list!

    • ljokerl on

      It depends on how high you’re aiming, really. The MA750 is very good for the price, and a great value for warm-ish earphones. The T20 is an upgrade in terms of sound, but one that’s relatively mild and tough justify with a 250% price hike, especially if you’re just buying your first higher-end IEM.

      I don’t think the T10 fits in between the MA750 and T20 at all – it’s much bassier than both and I don’t recommend it because the bass just gets in the way of everything else, so it just comes down to MA750 and T20. Unless you’re one of those people who will always be wondering “what if” if you don’t get the best possible thing, I’d go with the MA750.

      All three are pretty secure in the ear but also somewhat heavy thanks to the stainless steel housings, so they might come loose during really active use. Likewise, durability is good but since they’re not gym IEMs I doubt they are sweat-proofed, as I know the X2s are. I have tried the Jaybirds before and they are just okay sound-wise (probably comparable to the good wired sets in the $50-80 range) but at that point it’s a convenience play. If the wireless functionality and the fact that they (probably) won’t fail from sweat or fall out during exercise play are altogether at least equal to sound in importance, chances are the Jaybrids are a better choice over the RHAs. If sound is your #1 selection factor, then go with RHA.

  53. Andreas on

    Hi, Joker
    My GR07 MKIIs broke on me after 2-3 years and I need to find a replacement around a similar price. I am tempted to go for the GR07 BE, but the bass on the MKIIs were more than enough for me so I’m worried that it might be too much. The GR07 Classic was another option although I am put off by it as it seems like it may be a slight downgrade. Since I already know I like detail and clarity I’m thinking that I could just try something different and go for the HF5s.
    Any thoughts, advice or other recommendations?

    • ljokerl on

      The difference between the GR07 BE and GR07 mkII in bass quantity is small enough that I wouldn’t really worry about it, but if you’re open to trying something new that’s the way I would go. HF5 or the less common (and less pricy) Final Audio Heaven II would both be good options for detail and clarity. HF5 is a little clearer, Heaven II is a little more punchy.

      Slightly less traditional choice – the DUNU Titan 1. It’s not a BA but it differs from the GR07 in some key areas that make for an interesting contrast. Compared them in the review here: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/dunu-titan-1/

  54. Saswat on

    Hey Joker! I am looking for earphones under 130 dollars.
    I am confused between RHA ma750,Shure se215, vsonic vsd5 and ostry kc06a
    I want a good pair of noise isolating earphones with decent bass, detailed mids and clear trebles. Basically i want my music to sound the way the producer has made it.
    I will be travelling a lot. So that is important to take into consideration.
    I am slightly biased on the RHA ma750 due to its build quality and look.
    Please help me.

    • Anurag on

      RHA 750 AND SHURE SE215 is very bassy. Vsonic apart from a little semblance is extremely detailed, perhaps more detailed than the Rha and definitely more than vsd5, bass is more controlled than the shure se215, which in comparison feels boomy, Ostry kc06 is an excellent earphone at a very dirt cheap price when compared with the other options, if your looking for the way producer has made music, i would not recommend RHA cause it is a more fun sounding iem with more of a bass boost, same goes for the shure, vsonic is more v shaped , ostry is more mid forward, with vocals and great instrument separation, build is questionable when compared to other option, build wise rha>shure>vsonic>ostry sound wise according to your preference vsonic=ostry >rha > shure. hope i helped.

      • Saswat on

        How much difference is between the vocals and instrument seperation of rha and ostry?

        • ljokerl on

          Anurag provided a good overview of the sound signatures.

          Between the RHA and KC06 there’s an easily noticeable difference in the areas you’re concerned with because the RHA emphasizes bass and has a warmer tone (not usually good for vocals or separation) while the Ostry does the opposite – vocals are quite upfront and the bass is only very mildly enhanced.

  55. Aftab on

    Hello Joker,
    I brought the soundmagic e10 after reading your reviews and it was satisfying.
    It finally died after 2 years and Iam now looking for an upgrade/replacement for my e10.
    Could you please advise.

    • ljokerl on

      One of the most common questions on this site, like in the post right below this one where I recommended the Ostry KC06 – it’s a nice upgrade in clarity, albeit rebalanced slightly from the warmer E10. In the end it really comes down to your budget and what you’re looking to have different compared to the E10.

  56. Anurag on

    HI joker, ive been stalking this page for months in order to find the perfect upgrade to my soundmagic e10s, the bass upto 50 hz seems too much for my taste and the upward bass seem less fast and tight though it is there. i really love the higher portion of the spectrum on this one and would love brighter mids, i prefer atmospheric music , smooth jazz ,pure acoustics and vocals, which one do you think is a considerable upgrade to me, as my daily driver i use the cheap cowon em1 , which seems to give the same clarity as the em1 but with less bass impact , another daily driver is the sennheiser cx.1.0 which feels less brighter than my em10s. im not a basshead by any chance but i love fast and tight bass impact . do you feel VSD3S or VSD5 is a significant upgrade? or maybe i should ditch everything and go with gr07 ? im also eyeing the Sennheiser Momentum IEM .

    • ljokerl on

      I was thinking Ostry KC06 – not too expensive, not a whole lot of bass boost (though bass quality isn’t really better than E10), brighter and more forward mids, and one of the few sets that can match the E10 in soundstaging under $100 which should be good for your music genres.

      The VSD3S/VSD5 (and especially GR07) do have better bass quality but the mids are less forward compared to the Ostry and the sound is more sibilant. Not a big deal by itself, but you’re coming from the E10 which is pretty smooth, so this may be a bit jarring.

      The Momentum IEM is a lot more v-shaped and bassier than the E10, not something I’d choose in this case. Would rather get a DUNU Titan 1 if spending upwards of $100.

  57. coldsummer on

    Hi joker,I want to replace my CX300 II. I often listen to music like indie/alt rock and EDM. Great isolation and build quality are important conditions.
    Choices on my list (budget 150)
    GR07 BE ( 100 USD in my country)
    MA750 (130 USD)
    Focal Sphear (120 USD)

    Any recommendations ? thanks

    • ljokerl on

      I’d go with the MA750. It is the priciest of the bunch and not quite as clear as the GR07 BE, but you’re coming from the CX300 II so the clarity will be an improvement anyway and the sound signature of the MA750 is arguably a better match for EDM. Build quality is the best of the bunch as well.

      The Sphear is quite alright and that’s a fair price (I think it’s $150 here) but it didn’t stand out to me the way the GR07/MA750 do the few times I’ve listened to it.

  58. Tj on

    Hi joker

    Great job with the site 🙂 was reading reviews on it and it looks nice. I got a query i am looking for a IEM with gr07 type sound signature. Do you recommend me something that can be brought under $60-70 bracket.

    • ljokerl on

      The closest I’ve heard to a GR07 in that price range is the VSD3S. Very similar sound signature, and just $50 or so.

  59. Lawndart on

    Hi Joker,
    I was wondering if you could help me out with a recommendation. Ages ago I finally drank the Cool-Aid and decided to go the IEM route. I’ve always been a headphone user, and comfort was a concern. At the time the Creative EP-630 was rated highly for comfort and I was told they sound pretty good, too. I liked them, and had no issues wearing them for hours at a time. Years later, I finally lost them and was looking for a replacement. As a temporary fix I ended up with the Klipsch S4. The bass in these was really bloated at the time, but they have mellowed out a bit. Still the poster child for microphonics, though. After LOTS of further research, what I read here, various forums, and at Inner Fidelity convinced me to go with the VSD1S. I’ve had them for a couple of years now and have been thrilled with them. I’ve loved the clarity. I hear details in music that I spent years not noticing. Every now and then I might notice the sibilance or wish for a touch more bass, but never at the expense of the detail and clarity.

    Recently, however, the left channel has been cutting out and I have to wiggle the cord at the earphone to get it back. I was all set to order a new set, but was curious about my other options. I was excited to see the VSD3S and VSD5, but those look like they are exclusively over-ear designs. I tried my VSD1S over-ear when I got them, but I don’t like the cables behind my ears. I’ve always worn them cable-down, medium single-flanges, and they fit perfectly. It doesn’t look like that’s an option with the 3S or the 5. I’m trying to stay around $50, under being better, over getting harder to justify the more over it goes. The only ones in the $100 range I’ve really considered are the GR07 Classic and BE because I seem to like the Vsonic signature, the Fidelios because of THL and Inner Fidelity (though the funky cables remind me of the S4 cables), and the AD01 because of replaceable cables. Out of all the headphone products I’ve ever replaced, most are due to cord failure, and that’s also why I have a hard time justifying spending more than about $50.

    As for what I listen to, it really varies. Industrial, trance, classic rock, metal, current pop crap, then throw in some bagpipes and other stuff for good measure. Little bit of everything, really. I also use them for movies and games on my computer. I don’t have any amps. Sound sources are from computer, tablet, and my old Creative Zen player. Microphonics could be an issue because of wire-down wear. Isolation and bleed aren’t an issue. Also prefer to stay away from deep IEM’s like the Etys. Do you have any recommendations for a replacement in the $50 range or should I just order a new VSD1S? It drives me nuts trying to find a new one. I’ve checked the guides here and the Wall of Fame at IF, read so damn many forums, and looked at reviews on retailer sites until it’s all just a blur. I wish they’d made the VSD series all use the original housing. This would be simpler. Thanks for any help you can provide.

    • ljokerl on

      For what you’re asking I would recommend the Ostry KC06 – it’s got kind of an unusual (but in a good way) sound tuning and durability isn’t one of its strongest suits, but it’s the only shallow-fit, cable-down earphone I’ve tried that can hold its own against sets like the VSD3S/VSD5S in clarity: http://theheadphonelist.com/brief-impressions-vsonic-vsd3s-ostry-kc06-havi-b3-pro/ . I think you would enjoy its sound, too. I sure do.

      If you’re considering going up to the $100 price range, I’d take a look at the DUNU Titan 1 (full review coming soon). It’s pretty much a straight upgrade from the KC06, is worn cable-down with the same fit as the Philips Fidelios but with “normal” cables. Again it is one of the few sets that can hold their own against VSonics in its price range, GR07 included.

      Of course I am tempted to recommend getting a higher-end one with replaceable cables but your options are limited because most detachable-cable earphones have an over-the-ear fit. Of the ones that can be worn cable-down, the AD01 and Onkyo IE-HF300 are the least expensive, but their sound is not ideal if you are used to the VSD1S with its emphasis on clarity and not very dominant bass. I don’t think you’ll enjoy them over another VSD1S. Then there’s the MEE Pinnacle, but it’s a bit harder to drive and may not sound that great with some of your sources. That just leaves the DUNU Titan 3 and Titan 5, which are both quite good but they are new and so far I prefer the more neutral Titan 1 even though it lacks the detachable cables.

      And lastly of course you can get another VSD1S (or two) since you can pick one up for under $30 these days: http://amzn.to/1pBbMBK . For the price that’s still going to be a killer value.

      As a side note, I just had the Fidelios removed from the InnerFidelity Wall of Fame because they’re kind of hard to justify between the price drop on the HiFiMan RE-400 and the Philips TX1/TX2 being available for ~$30 online. And also the DUNU Titan 1 which I mostly like better and which has a similar form factor to the Fidelios and sells at a similar price point.

      • Lawndart on

        Hi again, Joker,
        Thanks for the reply and detailed recommendation. Now that you’ve got me pointed at the KC06 and Titan 1, I’ve been researching the heck out of them. As of now I’m leaning toward the Titan. I realize that the graphs on Inner Fidelity only tell part of the story, and being able to understand them helps, but the Titan looks to have a bit more sub bass than the KC06, and it doesn’t have that chunk missing in the upper mids like on the KC06. Amazon has the Titan 1 for $95 at the moment, so I think I’m going that route. I’m also going to guess the Fiio ex1 is slightly different in tuning to the Titan. It’s quite a bit cheaper, but if the tuning is different, I think I’d rather have the Titan.

        I do have a couple more questions. If you were going to recommend an over-ear in the $50 to $100 range, what would it be? I know I’m fairly set against over ear, but I also didn’t think I’d like IEMs to begin with a few years ago. If there’s one that would be hands down better than what I’m seeing with the Titan, I’m curious what it is. And with replaceable cables, I’d probably even be willing to go a bit over on price, since my biggest problem with paying a lot for them is knowing that, in time, they’re going to be like most other headphone products I’ve owned and fail at the cables. It’s like buying a $50 Cheeseburger. Sure, it’s probably way better than the $5 one, but they’re all headed for the same place.

        And my last question is just about a pair of beater IEMs. If I get a $100 IEM, I will likely not being driving a lawnmower around with them, etc. I’ll just want something to drown out the mower a bit and listen to some podcasts/music. Any quick suggestions for a sub $20? I know you can’t get much isolation for that price, but I don’t think the Titans have any isolation and I’d hate to tear them up snagging them or something. I was figuring I’d end up grabbing a Piston 3 or something for this purpose, but if you have a better suggestion, I’m all ears. Or at least 2 ears.

        Again, thank you for all your hard work on this site and others. It helps folks get the most out of their music, and you keep a lot of people from throwing money at random crap and hoping to get something that works for them. Thanks.

        • ljokerl on

          Well, the Titan 1 review has now been posted if you want my full take: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/dunu-titan-1/

          I did compare it to the KC06 a bit in there and yes, the deep bass is much better on the Titan 1. Unfortunately no EX1 here (or at InnerFidelity) for a proper comparison.

          I’m not big on over-ears in this price range, so I don’t think I’m the right person to recommend one. I’m much more well-versed in IEMs, and I tend to prefer them in this price range anyway. Don’t think I’ve ever heard a sub-$100 on/over-ear headphone that can push out detail like the Titan 1.

          Oh and it’s totally worth it to have a cheaper “beater” IEM sitting around and fulfilling needs that the Titan 1 doesn’t. You can do pretty well for $20 – if I were you I’d get a pair of the Philips SHE3590 – better isolation than the Piston 3 and still sounds very good for the price. You can also fit Complys on them down the line if you feel like spending a few bucks to improve the isolation. And you can even get them with a mic (SHE3595) if you need a headset around.

          • Lawndart on

            I’ll be reading that review now. I also really like how much stuff comes with both it and the Ostry. The hard case is icing on the cake. Out of all the stuff I could find regarding the Titan 1 vs. the EX1, some seemed to think it’s the same, but a few said it has a bit bassier, move V-shaped tuning. The latter sounds more probable. It makes more sense for Fiio to have their version tuned different, with a more bassy, V-shaped mass market setup. And it sounds like the Titan line gets a bump in the mids or uppers with each successive model, so having the EX1 go in the opposite direction seems reasonable. The Titan 1 seems like it gets a better, less microphonic cable, too. I could also be completely full of shit. YMMV. I barely even looked at the Titan 1es. Seems like it has a completely different tuning, and an odd design for the cable/earphone junction that seems like a pretty likely point of early failure.

            Also, I wasn’t referring to over-ear headphones, I just meant wire-over-ear IEMs. You seemed like you were on the verge of recommending a wire-up IEM, but stopped due to my preference for wire-down wear. If you’ve got a wires-up IEM to throw in the mix, go ahead. I wasn’t a fan of wearing mine like that, but I also wasn’t sure I’d be able to get used to IEMs in general a few years ago.

            And it looks like I’ll be going with the Philips SHE35XX series for a beater. According to Google, prices seem to vary widely from $10-$123.75 (no tax on the last one), so I’ll shop around. Mic version might even be cheaper than non-mic.

            Thanks, again.

            • Lawndart on

              I’m think I am indeed full of it, regarding any difference besides cabling between the Titan 1 and the EX1. Been reading the official thread at Head-fi. If they were closer in price I wouldn’t be obsessing over this, but with that big of a price difference it’s basically a new VSD1S and an EX1, versus the Titan and a SHE3595 for the same price. Argh. I WILL decide by the end of the weekend. I’m getting really tired of my backups, the Klipsch S4. The make me feel like I’m listening through a head cold and they fall out if I so much as blink. I miss the days when I just made impulse purchases. I bought a lot more garbage, but it was more efficient and didn’t involve agonizing over things.

              • ljokerl on

                I don’t think there’s any better options that are cable-up other than the GR07, and that’s pretty much a wash against the Titan 1. Just different sound tuning is all. If you try them both side by side chances are you’ll prefer one to the other but objectively they’re both great IEMs.

                Philips should be $10-12, maybe $15 with the mic. There’s at least four models that are all the same sound-wise – SHE3580, 3585, 3590, 3595. Prices on all of them fluctuate, as you saw. Even at $15 it’s worth a buy, though.

                • Lawndart on

                  Gotcha. Well, by the end of the weekend I’ll order the SHE3595 and either the Titan 1 or EX1. I know you said you haven’t verified the differences, but the price difference of $25-$30 is pretty significant. Still on the fence on this, but I’m giving a self imposed deadline of Sunday night. I will remember to use the affiliate links.

                  Thanks.

                  • ljokerl on

                    Appreciate that! Hope you enjoy the EX1 as much as I do the Titan if you end up going that route!

                    • Lawndart on

                      Purchase made. Now the agony of waiting. I went with the Fiio. $25 savings is $25. I ended up with that, the SHE3595, a Bluetooth speaker, and with the savings on the Fiio, that paid for most of a new VSD1S. (I had to get a new one. It was the first headphone product I’ve ever felt that strongly about.) One of the other things that influenced me on the Fiio was one of their reps on Head-fi answering a question as to how it was different from the Titan 1, he said they upgraded the cable and the finish on the metal was changed. Debatable on whether the cable is an upgrade or not, but if they didn’t make any other changes that’s fine by me. Maybe I need to get it good and broken in, then send it to you and/or Tyll for a few days.

                      Hope I did the affiliate thing right. Added all my crap to the cart, then clicked the generic affiliate link on the Support THL page, then checked out. I really hope that was right.

                      Thank you for all your help. I’m really looking forward to hearing what they’re like.

      • Avinash Kumar on

        Hi joker,

        Is the Fiio EX 1 same as dunu titan , i meant sound quality wise. I heard they were the same but do they have the same tuning ?.It is cheaper that the titans so would be more bang for buck .

  60. Joey on

    Hey Joker,
    Hope everything goes well with ya! I’ve been using your guide/list since my first IEM. Really impressive work!
    Recently I lost my UE 900. T.T So I’m looking for a new pair of IEM (or maybe CIEM) under $500
    Most of the time I use IEM to listen to alternative rock(coldplay..), dance and pop music. Since I have UE 900 and HD598, I tend to be used to a balanced and slightly warm sound.
    Having checked thought your list and reviews, these IEMs comes to my mind:
    Shure 425/535 —-some say the low end is too weak and the sound is very colored?
    Westone UMPRO30 —-Or W30? what’s the difference I’m also worrying about the build quality….
    1964ears V3 —- A bit over my budget, but god the reviews are so attractive. By the way, I cannot find the V3 page on official site, did they already discontinued V3?
    Sennheiser IE80 —-$249 on amazon wow, it’s the cheapest on my list now. Could save my wallet while having great sound.
    Alclair Reference —- Same as 64 v3 but less pricy

    I’d love your recommendations before I make the decision! Thank you.

    • ljokerl on

      The sets you’re looking at are all over the place when it comes to sound tuning so I’m not really sure what you’re going for here in terms of changing up the sound signature of your earphones. Most of these sets are significantly bassier than the UE900, so are you seeking something that has a lot more bass? Likewise, most are more colored-sounding than the rather neutral UEs. The SE535 is kind of the middle ground here – things like the 1964-V3 and Westone W30 and IE80 are even more off-neutral.

      There are much more balanced earphones out there – for example the Audio-Technica ATH-IM02, Aurisonics Rockets, AudioFly AF180, etc. Not saying these are better than the UE900, but they’re each closer to being a spiritual successor to those and the HD598. The Alclair Reference is pretty balanced too, but it has more prominent, harsher treble than the UE900 and especially the HD598. It would be a risky buy unless you know your treble tolerance goes higher than your Sennheisers and UEs.

      • Joey on

        Thank you for the reply. I’m still in the process of finding my “sound signature”…I do find my UEs and Sennheisers a bit boring and too little bass (especially the HD598) tho. I guess I need to go and try more earphones and find the “right” sound for me. Although is it’s very hard to get access to a varieties of IEMs with different sound signature. For now I could only say that I am looking for a more exciting sound, maybe a bit more on the low.
        Would you recommend CTM-200 over 1964 v3 if I’m looking for that kind of sound?

        • ljokerl on

          In that case it may indeed be best to switch things up and go for a slightly more “fun” IEM. Typically I would recommend a more “v-shaped” sound for this but then it’s also vital to know how sensitive you are to prominent treble, as the UE900 and especially the HD598 are pretty smooth. The 1964 V3 is more exciting than the CTM-200 by miles and seems like it would be a good choice here, the only potential negatives are that the bass is pretty heavy in comparison (doesn’t sound like you’re opposed to that) and the treble is a little more prominent. The Alclair Reference is a bit more balanced (and less “fun”) but the treble is still somewhat harsh so you don’t even get an advantage there. In this case I’d choose the V3 over those two.

          • Joey on

            Thanks for you advice Joker. Almost ordered CTM200 haha. I’ll go for the 1964 V3 for the “fun” then, as long as the bass won’t give me a headache lol. Can you describe how strong the bass and treble of V3 is? Would you compare either bass or treble to UMpro 30/535 (these are the only two IEMs that I can get to try)?
            The other thing is the “fatigue”. When I was using UE900, sometimes I feel the fatigue and boring after maybe 2 hours of listening.

            • ljokerl on

              Unfortunately I don’t think you’ll be able to get a good feel for how the V3 sounds from those two earphones, they just aren’t sufficiently similar. The SE535 really couldn’t sound more different – it has no bass enhancement and very relaxed treble. The UM 30 PRO is at least closer in bass quantity but even so the balance and tone of its bass is different. And neither has upper mids or treble that resemble the V3.

  61. M.K. on

    Hi Joker,

    What a fabulous list – thank you. Having spent several hours looking through your reviews I think I have settled on the Yamaha EPH-100 but just wanted to see if you agreed with my choice. There are so many to choose from! I listen to a wide range of music – indie, rock, soul, electronic, pop, orchestral, all sorts really, so I am looking for a versatile set of in-ears. I favour a strong but firmly controlled, not boomy bass, and decent clarity. Is the Yamaha the best bet, or are there alternatives I should consider? Thanks for all your work.

    MK.

  62. Ankit on

    Hi ljokerl,

    Hope you are doing great. I am again the look out for a pair of quality IEM’s and would like your opinion on how good is SoundMagic E50s.
    I am able to get it for $40, are there any other options that I should look for before buying.

    I love clarity and deep bass not boomy but tight. Your recommendations are important before finalizing my purchase.

    Thanks.

    • ljokerl on

      Sorry, I haven’t tried the E50 at length so I couldn’t tell you how it compares to anything else.

      As for other recommendations, it’s a sliding scale of bass quantity vs clarity. If you want to stay closer to the clarity side, you can choose something from VSonic or Soundmagic – they’ll typically have good bass extension but not too much bass boost, which leaves the clarity pretty high. If bass is more important, then something like the Sony MH1C or Xiaomi Piston 2 will give you plenty of it while maintaining good clarity compared to other enhanced-bass earphones in the price range.

  63. Wei Jin Tay on

    Hi joker!

    First of all, love all the great work you do. I swear by your iem list whenever I’m looking for something new.

    I’ve been in the market for a new pair of iems around or under $100. After doing some research I came up with a shortlist consisting of the RHA MA 750i, Havi B3 Pro 1, Macaw GT100s, and the JVC FXT90.

    I’ve heard the 750i, and liked what I heard albeit only having spent a brief hour with it. I read your reviews on the JVC FXT90 and the brief review of the Havi B3 Pro 1(I tried searching for the full review for the Havi but couldn’t). And I’ve been reading reviews of the Macaw GT100s online which seem to be overwhelmingly positive, but I was hoping you’ve had the opportunity to try them as I would like your take on them.

    I tend to lean towards a balanced sound signature with a touch of warmth, and airy, slightly sparkly treble. For reference, I have a pair of custom art music ones, phonak pfe 012, Superlux HD668b, Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro, and Beyerdynamic DT1350.

    Based on reviews, I’m currently favouring the Havi B3 Pro 1 because of the immense soundstage and clarity that every review doesn’t fail to mention. But I’ve also stumbled upon one thread filled with people disappointed by the Havis, claiming it was overhyped, which is why I was looking for your full review of them. If it isn’t too much trouble, I was hoping you could give me a more detailed impression of the Havis. I would also be open to any other recommendations you would make around the $100 plus or less range.

    Sorry for the long post. Just wanted to make sure you have all the information to work with before giving your recommendation. Thanks for your time!

    Jin

    • ljokerl on

      Never tried any Macaw IEMs, sorry.

      Considering your preferred sound signature, it seems like the FXT90 might be a step too far in the v-shaped direction. It’s just not as balanced as the MA750 or Havi, and really has no advantages over the RHA in this case. The Havi lacks warmth in comparison to the RHA, and doesn’t have the best bass depth once you start comparing it to good IEMs around the $100 (and higher) mark. Soundstage and clarity are indeed good, and the treble sparkle is decent, but if you can afford the RHA at 2x the price I’d honestly go for that instead. The MA750 is a very difficult earphone to beat for slightly warm sound with a decently wide soundstage that’s neither too lean nor too colored-sounding. In this case it’s in the goldilocks zone, so to speak.

      • Wei Jin Tay on

        Thanks for your input! I do have one last question though if you have the time.

        Currently, I can get the RHAs for around $95 to 100. But I also have the opportunity to get the UE900 for around $150 plus. Would that be worth the extra investment over the RHA considering the sound signature that I’m looking for? Or does the RHA still stand as your recommendation all things included?

        Thanks again!

        Jin

        • ljokerl on

          The UE900 doesn’t really fit the sound that you’re looking for. It’s more flat and bright, especially compared to the warm and rich-sounding MA750. I’d go with the RHA.

          • Wei Jin Tay on

            Thanks for your input! Much appreciated!

  64. Leond on

    Hello Joker.

    I am previous owner of Primo 8 , AKG k7xx and ATH R70x.

    I didn’t like harsh treble of AKG K7xx and love the neutral of R70x. I want to change my IEM to similar sound signature of R70x.
    Some of my friend recommend me the noble 4. Do you have any other choice to recommend beside noble 4 ? I love sound as flat as possible to produce precise music.

    Warm regard,
    Thank you.

    • ljokerl on

      Unfortunately I am not familiar with the R07x or the Primo 8, but I do consider the Noble 4 to be among the smoothest balanced/accurate IEMs I’ve tried. If those two qualities (smooth sound, accuracy) are your priority, I can’t think of an IEM that is a better compromise between the two. But of course I can’t say whether it’s superior to the Primo 8 in this regard or whether its balance is similar to the R70x .

      • Leond on

        I see. Then, can you recommend other IEM similar to noble 4 ?

        warm regard,
        Thank you.

      • Leond on

        I see. Then, can you recommend other IEM similar to noble 4 ?

        warm regard,
        Thank you.

        • ljokerl on

          Among the lower price range customs you can consider the Custom Art Music One – it’s not as balanced, resolving, or refined as the Noble but it’s the closest thing in sound tuning I’m familiar with.

          For universals something like a Shure SE535, TDK BA200, Aurisonics Rockets. These won’t keep up with the Noble 4 but they’re an equally nice combination of “smooth” and “balanced”, just on a lower performance level.

  65. Mike Picasso on

    Must admit, the more I read, the more confused I get!

    Genre – lots of EDM, such as Avicii, Armin Van Buren, Calvin Harris, etc. (like EDM with vocals); also like Charlie Winston, Lili Hayden, Abra Moore, and Dido, for vocals, along with ColdPlay and on occasion, harder rock such as Disturbed, System of a Down, Papa Roach, etc. Trying to figure out which “style” I would consider my preference. Like some bass, but not a basehead; enjoy hearing not only the vocals but instruments played. Enjoy jazz, though have not found a good pair of cans I enjoy listening to while mobile. Based on what I have read, it seems I would consider myself more in favor of a “balanced” sound but not 100% sure.

    That said – have a pair of SE215. They work, but miss the range/clarity that the Focal speakers in my car produce, or the B&W 6 series I have. Shooting for a price range of up to $4-500. Any help that you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

    • ljokerl on

      EDM listeners often prefer a more v-shaped or at least enhanced-bass sound, so something between that and balanced is where I would aim. Your SE215 already has enhanced bass, so if you go for a truly balanced IEM you have to be conscious that you’re going to end up with less bass quantity. If you think that will work for you – great. If not, just be careful of how far in the “balanced” direction you go.

      My recommendation would be the FLC Technology FLC8 (or FLC8S). I consider it to be one of the better all-rounders in this price range, especially as you don’t seem to be entirely set on a particular sound signature. These will give you some flexibility in that regard, on top of already solid performance: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/flc-technology-flc8/

      • Mike Picasso on

        Like hearing the bass and appreciate its presence, but also enjoy hearing ALL aspects of the music.

        Will follow-up after receiving recommended item.

        Thanks again!

      • Mike Picasso on

        A follow-up: if I was to increase funding for this, is another model you would recommend? Realize finding something with heavy bass AND clarity seems to be difficult. Fascinated by these IEM’s and not ready to purchase CIEM’s as I am not 100% of which way I should go (seems like you were suggesting a balanced/V-shape).

        Point – if you think there is something more suitable, but at a higher price range, please let me know. Hate spending money on stuff that literally lays around because I do not wish to use it.

        • ljokerl on

          Unless you have some more specific requirements I don’t think you’ll find anything more versatile than the FLC8 even if you spend twice as much – you may get a small improvement here and there, but because your sound tuning preferences aren’t well established at this point it’s hard to say any of it will make an appreciable difference for your extra $200-300.

          • Mike Picasso on

            I have spent the past few days trying to identify the sound style I like – enjoy the presence of bass, and like the feel of it, but enjoy hearing it more as a filler. Focus is more on hearing the mids and highs, though I also do not want them screeching in my ear. Thinking my preference is more “warm and smooth”, maybe even v/u shape – want lows and highs but focus is more on vocal clarity.

            Not sure if this changes your recommendation but wanted to try and offer more clarity in desires.

            • ljokerl on

              The FLC8 tends to be a little v-shaped, but its highs are pretty smooth for this type of earphone and the bass is not intrusive even at its maximum quantity. I’d say it’s still a good choice (especially when it comes to value). However, if you think you’d prefer something that’s a more typical “warm and smooth” type earphone, you can take a look at something like the Sony XBA-H3 or Sennheiser IE80 in the same price range, or the EarSonics Velvet if you want to jump straight into the deep end and get a top-tier universal. On average these types of earphones will be a touch less clear than the FLC8, but not as muddy and rolled-off as the SE215.

  66. Dre on

    Hi Joker. I just bought the DN- 1000 and they sound real clear and crisp but lack the bass that I had in the JVC HA-FXZ200. Is there anything you recommend that is an upgrade from the JVC. I love the BASS in the JVC but the clarity In the DN-1000. Could this be accomplished with different ear buds or a new setup? Thanks

    • ljokerl on

      I’m not familiar with the FXZ200 but generally speaking it’s tough to maintain both bass and clarity at a very high level. The DN-1000 is not light on bass for a higher-end IEM, but there are bassier sets such as the Yamaha EPH-100, RHA T20, Sony XBA-H3, Sennheiser IE8, and JVC FX850. These don’t have the treble emphasis of the DN-1000 and the added clarity that comes with it, but they tend to be more impactful than the DN-1000 without sounding overly muffled. Can’t say how they compare to the FXZ200.

  67. Willy Shum on

    Hey joker, thinking of spending $~25 on a new pair of earphones. Currently in my mind: KZ-ATE, Xiaomi pistons 3, Xiaomi Hybrids. Which of the one should I go for if I like something similar to the HD 598s with a little more bass? Thanks! Also, is the 598’s sound signature considered Balanced?

    • ljokerl on

      HD598s can be considered balanced, maybe even a little mid-centric. This is pretty much the opposite of the way the Piston 3 and Xiaomi Hybrids are tuned, so I’m not sure I can recommend them as an HD598 alternative. That said, if you’re spending just $25 on IEMs you really can’t expect something that sounds like a $100+ full-size headphone so you might as well just get the best IEM you can. Piston 3 is probably the safer choice of the two.

      Not sure about the KZ-ATE, never tried them.

    • Brandon Lew on

      Hello Willy,

      I know I’m not (ljokerl) nor am I an audiophile, but the best description I can give is a budget audio enthusiast. I do have all three of those and from my experience the Xiaomi Hybrids are the brightest sounding of the group you listed and tend to sound more detailed than the rest, but they can also be slightly shrill at high volumes. Of the 3 the Piston 3 is the most neutral and is the least prone to distortion in my experience, but for me at least, they leave me wanting more on occasions. They are in no way bad, but in comparison to the hybrids, they are not as jumpy or fun to listen to. That leaves the KZ ATE which is more veiled in the highs in comparison to the hybrids and the highs sound a little more like the more neutral Piston 3. This allows you to pump the KZ ATE louder than the Hybrids w/o inducing too much ear fatigue. You will also experience slightly less tight, but more dense bass than the Hybrids in the KZ ATE. The KZ ATE are definitely tuned more for low-end performance, but they still sound very clear in the lower to upper mid range once your ears adjust to the sound signature. This is due to the fact that right off the bat you will notice the bass jumps out the most in comparison to the other 2. Initially I’ve experienced that when going to the KZ ATE from the brighter Xiaomi Hybrids, I initially did not like the more accentuated bass and thought it was overbearing at first glance, but as I gave them more listening time I found I liked the more engaging sound signature of the KZ ATE. I’m not a bassy guy, but I think I would rank the KZ ATE over the Hybrids only for the one fact that the Hybrids, while a little more detailed, if your pay attention enough they sometimes struggle with more complex tracks and sound like they’re straining a little and on rare occasions they do distort and it kind of ruins the experience which can make you gun-shy about pushing them. The KZ ATE is less detailed and sometimes leave you wanting a little more highs and better separation on complex tracks, but I haven’t experienced any noticeable distortion and overall the experience you get in the KZ ATE is more powerful I feel. for $15 the KZ ATE is fantastic, not $100 killers as some people say, but they would hold their own.

      Best regards, Brandon

  68. Source coderz on

    Hi joker! I’ve been reading through the comment section of the liSt and the buyers guide you made for a while now since I’m in the market for a new pair of in ear headphones. I just came off of 2 pairs of sennheiser cx 300 II’s and I enjoyed the sound of them for as long as they lasted. One of the biggest things for me in a headphone is longevity, so if you can please help me find a new pair that also can last a while. My list so far is:
    Rha ma750
    Shure se215
    Yamaha eph 100
    I’ve short listed it to 3 but are there any better alternatives? I’m trying to keep it under $120. Im also using a galaxy s6 edge as my main audio source. I listen to mainly rap, hip hop, occasionally pop rock and anything that plays on the radio. I like bass and would like to have good isolation as well. I know that these are a lot of variables to take into consideration, but would be super greatful of you could help! Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      The MA750 is one of my favorite in-ears in its price range for a combination of durability and sound performance with good (but not overbearing) bass. It’ll also be less for a change from your CX300s in terms of sound tuning than either the Yamahas or the Shures, which is probably a good thing since you liked the Sennheisers. I’d definitely go with those – all things considered they’re a hell of an earphone for $120.

      • Source Coderz on

        Thanks a lot man! I’ve been really worried that the ma750’s might be a bit less ‘fun’ for casual music compared to the shures, but I feel pretty good about now. One more thing, I just got a pair of m50x (came bundled with a piano our family ordered) and I love them now. How would you compare the bass of the m50x to the ma750? Thanks again.

        • ljokerl on

          IMO the MA750 is plenty fun. As for comparing it to the M50X, that’s tough because the bass of headphones and IEMs differs on a mechanical level. An IEM that is “flat” doesn’t have as much perceived bass impact as a balanced/flat headphone. So relative to other headphones, the M50X is more neutral than the MA750 is relative to other IEMs, but compared to each other I think the extra bass of the MA750 barely compensates for its less flat/balanced sound.

  69. Francis on

    SoundMagic E50S review thanks 🙂

  70. David on

    Hi, I want to know if you will be reviewing soundmagic’s E10S and E50S. I am reading a lot of reviews of these and am curious as to what you think.

    • ljokerl on

      I will try to get my hands on these eventually but don’t have any plans to review them in the near future.

  71. alex fan on

    Hi joker,

    Greetings from China by alex with paiaudio:)
    This is alex with paiaudio, we are looking for someone write our IEMs reviews on THL, Would you tell me who should i talk to or you are the right one ? thanks very much.
    i emailed THL media ,but there is no reply, pls recommend ,thank you:)
    here is our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paiaudio/
    looking forward to hearing from you:) Cheers:)

    alex with paiaudio

  72. alex fan on

    Hi Ljokerl,

    Greetings from China by alex with paiaudio:)
    This is alex with paiaudio, we are looking for someone write our IEMs reviews on THL, Would you tell me who should i talk to or you are the right one ? thanks very much.
    i emailed THL media ,but there is no reply, pls recommend ,thank you:)
    here is our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paiaudio/
    looking forward to hearing from you:) Cheers:)

    alex with paiaudio

  73. Michael on

    Can you do a review on the IM02? What score would you give it. Also what is the best headphone you ever tried or have

    • ljokerl on

      Working on the IM02, for now let’s say it’ll score the same as the TDK BA200 for sound. I think they are pretty equivalent in terms of capability.

      Best headphone I have is the HiFiMan HE-560. Best I’ve heard is the STAX SR009 (with corresponding STAX energizer).

      Best IEM I have is the JH13 Pro from JH Audio, although I think the Empire Ears Zeus might be a contender.

      • Michael on

        I heard the JVC spiral dots will make the im03 less silibance and make the overall sound quaility better. Maybe it will make the im02 sound better. Would you say the im02 are able to compete with the dunu 1000/2000

        • Michael on

          Oh one thing how does the im02 compare to the etymotic er4

          • ljokerl on

            These are all tuned differently – the IM02 is hardly a direct competitor to the more v-shaped DN-1000/DN-2000. But sound signature/tuning aside it can definitely compete with those.

            The ER4 is a slightly different take on flat/balanced sound. The IM02 is pretty neutral but a bit dark/smoothed-over while the ER4 is quite analytical and a little brighter. ER4 is better if you just want to squeeze the maximum detail out of everything. IM02 is better if you prefer something a bit more forgiving.

            • Michael on

              Will you do a review on the new MEElectronic p1 pinnacle and compare it with dunu 1k-2k im02 because there are in the same budget are. If you have a chance to

              • ljokerl on

                Yes but not in the near future, I don’t have a P1 yet.

  74. Bryan on

    Hey there joker,

    First thing first, thank you so much for this beautifully put together list! I’ve literally been looking at headphones non-stop and it actually made me more and more confused, but your immaculate, along with your highly detailed reviews, gave me some clarity! I seriously can’t thank you enough for all the time and effort put into this list!

    I’ve currently got the Sennheiser CX-300 II which i use everyday for commuting, uni, and work (sound isolation is somewhat important because i work on a tractor, but if it comes at a huge sacrifice to SQ, i can just pop some over ear safety ear muffs on top). My music usually revolves around Hip hop, RnB and basically a lot of contemporary music that you would find in the top 10 list for the week lol. I do enjoy the bass but i mean i don’t even know how exposed i’ve been to bass on the CX 300-II?

    Source: Iphone 5s

    I’m currently considering:
    RHA MA750i
    RHA T10i
    VSonic GR07/bass edition maybe?
    Shure 215
    Ety HF5
    Would it be fair to notice a huge difference between these choices and the CX 300-II that i have at the moment?

    Budget: Willing to spend around $300

    Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      Not really any bad choices there although I probably wouldn’t get the HF5 for hip-hop. I also wouldn’t get the T10i for anything unless you’re a confirmed basshead.

      Is the Yamaha EPH-100 available to you by any chance? I think those would give you the best balance of isolation (second only to the Etymotics on your list) and enhanced-bass but still quality sound that meshes well with your music genres.

      If those aren’t an option I’d probably go MA750i. You give up a bit of isolation but sound quality is comparable to the Yamaha and it’ll be a great value for use with an iPhone.

      • Bryan on

        Thanks Joker, i’ve been researching the Yamaha’s like crazy and unfortunately i can’t get them anywhere in Australia, i can only get my hands on the newer yamaha eph -m100 (are the newer ones any good?) they also want $179 AUD for them whereas the MA750i is around the AUD200 mark.. I also wanted to ask if the Aurisonic rockets (AUD300) would be a better option??

        • ljokerl on

          Rockets provide awesome isolation but the sound is most likely too balanced – they’re more Etymotic than Yamaha. I have only heard mediocre and negative things about the M100 so I wouldn’t risk it, personally. But I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure.

          Seems like the RHA MA750i is your best bet in terms of performance and value. You probably get the nice 3-year warranty on them as well if you’re buying from a dealer.

          • Bryan on

            Thank you so very much for all the advice, i’ll get the MA750i’s 🙂

  75. Ali Arghavan on

    Hello joker and thanks for your amazing list.
    I’m thinking to spend about 400-500 dollars on a pair of earphones. I have these options in my country:
    Shure SE535 (regular)
    Nuforce Primo 8
    Westone W40
    They are similarly priced here around 500$. I like a balanced sound with slight emphasis on the mids.
    Can you compare these and tell me how they sound compared to each other? Which one has the greater value?
    Also durability is an important factor for me because there is no warranty here. Although I think all three are quite durable regarding detachable cable.
    Thanks in advance

    • Ali Arghavan on

      I forgot to say I plan on using these on Astell & Kern AK Jr if that’s important

      • ljokerl on

        I’m not familiar with the Primo 8 but for balanced sound with a slight mid emphasis I would definitely choose the SE535 over the W40. The W40 has too much bass and too little upper midrange in comparison. Durability should be similar between these two. I prefer the fit/comfort of the Westones but it’s not a big enough difference to base your purchase on.

        • Ali Arghavan on

          Thanks for your answer. I’ve recently came across UE 900s. How would you describe it’s sound signature versus Shures?

          • ljokerl on

            Less midrange emphasis, more mid- and upper treble compared to the Shures. Bass is similar, but for me better on the UEs (slightly more linear). But for your requirements the SE535 is still the better fit.

  76. pcystc on

    Hi, Joker. I’m looking for an IEM to substitute my se846 and In-ear Sd4s.I listen to pop mostly and I insist using phones as the player(Samsung Note5 now) , So I need a easy to drive iem.
    I like the bass of se846 and the atmosphere it brings.But its vocal sounds a bit weird compared to sd4s, and its sound stage is too narrow. I like sd4s very much as it provides very detailed sound and excellent separation of instruments. Its vocal is light and sweet But I need the vocal to be more energetic. Overall it’s a fabulous balanced iem with outstanding clarity.(But I expect more bass from my iem )The lethal problem with this iem I think is the background noise. It’s too sensitive to the player and I can’t bear the clear sound ruined by the noise.
    Do you have any suggestions or recommendations?

    • ljokerl on

      Unfortunately I’m handicapped here in terms of recommendations – I haven’t listened to the SE846 in depth and I haven’t tried the SD-4 at all. So any recommendations from me are at least in part guesswork based on your post.

      With that said, the SE846 isn’t exactly bass-light and the only two earphones I ever recommend that offer a more dynamic and powerful low end are the EarSonics Velvet and the FitEar TG334. Out of those, the Velvet at half the price is a better value in my book, especially as it also avoids the slightly over-intimate midrange of the FitEar, which doesn’t seem like it’s called for here, and has a more energetic sound overall. The Velvet is also is not very sensitive for a BA IEM.

      Unfortunately I can’t compare it to the SE846 or SD-4, but there are some other comparisons including the SD-3 in my review: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/earsonics-velvet-in-ear-earphone-review/ . If you know how to read measurements you can also check out the data section of InnerFidelity – it has measurements of both the SE846 and the Velvet.

      • pcystc on

        Thanks for the information.The comment about the 2 iems including the bass stuff is just the sharing of my feelings but not that I’m looking for an iem with powerful low end. I received my JH13V2 last month then I found that compared to the JH13v2 the 2 iems I have are not good enough, which is the reason I wanna change them for a better one. What I expect is something with lots of detail and good separation of instruments, balanced toned and big enough sound stage, and it would be perfect if the sound is adjustable. With these features do you have any suggestions?
        Well actually I doubt if there exists such an iem could be in the same level of JH13V2, thus what I need may be another CIEM :)….Please give me some advice

        • ljokerl on

          I don’t have any suggestions that fit this different set of requirements – sorry.

  77. Sathishkumar on

    Hi I need your advice.
    I need IEM with mic for my Android(Oneplus2)& Windows(Lumia 1020) phone.
    Balanced warm sound with detailed music/Vocals/Surrounding Effect and pinchy bass with Noise isolation
    I shortlisted RHA Ma750i Any other suggestions .My budjet is 150$ .I am from India so choices are limited.
    Also any Portable DAC for hearing Lossless Music.

    • ljokerl on

      MA750i would be very good. It’s not the most balanced IEM but it is warm and has enhanced bass without being severely colored. I like it a lot.

      Haven’t tried any of the Android DACs in the lower price ranges so I can’t be of much help with that.

      • Sathishkumar on

        200$ what will be best IEM with mic for Android phones(Music,Answer/Calls)
        My expectations:
        Balanced sound signature
        Detailed sound details
        Noise isolation
        Pinchy Bass

        Note: I am from India so I have limited options.

  78. John on

    Hi joker. Just wanted to thank you for your time and dedication in answering questions as well as compiling all this info in one place.

    Anyway, I’m relatively inexperienced when it comes to audiophile equipment. I owned a pair of Shure SE215s from 2011 til 2015, when I accidentally put them through the wash. I then purchased some HIFIMAN RE-600s, and I have to say I really loved the sound those things put out. The only problem with them was their fragile build quality (I had to send back the adapter once every 3 months or so, for example). Finally, the right ear died on me recently.

    I tried out a pair of 215s again (as they were super durable before), but now they’re extremely uncomfortable to wear so extended periods and the sound seems too bassy and muddled for me.

    Therefore, I’m interested in a mid-range IEM that’s pretty durable, has a balanced sound, and above average isolation. I was looking at some Etymotics, but I’m unsure if all that isolation means you have to give something up in sound quality.

    • Sean on

      Hi there hifiman re600 fan! 🙂 I own the re600 and loved the sound of it alot.
      I stumbled upon your comment scrolling through the site and realised that like me, you like mid-focused/balanced iem. I posted a comment asking joker about what he’d recommend and I think this may help you.
      http://theheadphonelist.com/earphone-buyers-guide/#comment-124740
      He recommends the aurisonics rockets for mid-centric sound and its pretty tough earphones too! I haven’t got those yet now but I’m planning to. Let’s see what joker says!

      • Sean on

        I also had the se215 before but sold them off as the bass was too fatiguing and the shells are too big for my ears it hurts alot. Se535 is also an iem with mid sound and durable because of its replacable cables, but I’m not sure if it will be comfortable for you. Shure se535 shell seem to be smaller compared to the 215.

    • ljokerl on

      Sean is right – the Aurisonics Rockets are what I recommend for these. I found these to be very comfortable, well-made, and highly-isolating – so much so that I recommended it in my recent buyer’s guide not once but twice: http://theheadphonelist.com/2015-holiday-buyers-guide-the-most-gift-worthy-earphones-for-audiophiles-and-music-lovers. The Rockets are also a good successor to HiFiMan in-ears in terms of sound.

      If you prefer to spend closer to SE215 money, the Ety HF5s are still great earphones. You definitely don’t give up anything in sound quality for their high isolation, but they do have a more typical balanced armature sound as compared to the RE-600 or Rockets (which, while not identical, are more similar to each other).

      • John on

        Thanks a lot for the tips. Really appreciate it. Keep up the good work.

  79. Leigh on

    I am a female singer in a loud 10 piece band, pop, rock, disco. I need a custom IEM recommendation so us three singers can hear our vocals better. The other two singers both sound pretty bright while my voice is more mid range. I don’t know what all the sonic terms mean like neutral, balanced, etc, but can you recommend some for us made in the usa, up to $500? Thank you!

    • ljokerl on

      My pick for this would be the Clear Tune Monitors CT-200. It’s a midrange-centric monitor – not the best for bass or treble, but that’s not needed here. At $400 it’s also not cheap and you could probably find better value overseas, but CTM monitors are made in Florida so these seem like the ideal fit here.

      • Leigh on

        Thank you. I’m almost sold on the CT-200 but I am curious how it might differ from the 1964 Ears V2. I think you may have only heard the V3, but I have questions based on the tech specs listed on their websites. Do the following things make big differences?

        1. Both APPEAR to be mid-centric. The CT-200 has one low driver and one mid/high driver, while the V2 has one low/mid driver and one high driver.

        2. CTM has impedence of 117.5 and 1964’s is 22. Why such a big difference and does this matter if we are always using wireless packs on spage?

        3. Frequency response on the CTM is 20 Hz to 15.5 kHz vs 1964’s 30Hz – 15 kHz. I have read that 1964 ears are more bassy, but have also read that frequencies below 20 Hz don’t matter much. (It seems from what I’ve read that CTM is more clear and 1964 is more dynamic/boomy, which is why I’m leaning towards CTM.) We also don’t want to be blown away by our keyboard player’s loud organ or possible bleed from the horn section right behind me.

        Here are their pages:
        https://www.cleartunemonitors.com/product_detail/33/CT-200/
        https://www.1964ears.com/product/1964-V2-Custom-In-Ear-Monitor

        thanks!
        Leigh

        • ljokerl on

          In addition to the fact that specifications tell you very little about how earphones actually perform, there is no one set standard for how they are measured and reported so I wouldn’t compare two sets of specifications provided by two different manufacturers to make a decision like this. The CT-200 and V2 are both easily driven and should be fine with your average wireless pack. Besides that, I don’t think you can tell anything from this info.

          • Leigh on

            We ordered the CT-200. I think anything will be a step up from what we used before, the Shure E2s supplied by our old sound guy. Of course the CTM sales team tried to tell us the CT-200 is not of pro level and we should go with the CT-400 with 4 divers, but I did not bite because it was $200 more and had the mids down, it was just a lot louder. I assume by “pro level” he meant for stage use? I hope we will be ok, we do have a loud band, but from what I’ve read we are limited by the fact that the whole band is not using in ears, only the singers and the horns are.

            • ljokerl on

              Volume is not going to be your problem – custom monitors don’t really differ radically in that regard. Not sure what the CT-200 is for if not stage use (it’s certainly not tuned for the general public) but it just sounds like a standard upsell to me.

              Hope you like the CT-200s once they arrive!

              • Blair on

                Hey Joker,
                Do I need a amp for CT200 since it has 117.5ohm impedence. Looks pretty huge for ipods.

                • ljokerl on

                  The sensitivity is high enough that volume is not a problem, and subjectively I never thought it needed an amp. Balanced armature earphones generally have non-linear impedance so chances are it’s 117 ohms at the measurement point (probably 1kHz), and significantly lower at other frequencies. CT-200 has a 2-way crossover so maybe 1kHz is close to the crossover point – could be the reason for the weird spec.

                  This is an example of why specifications on earphones can be pretty misleading without the measurements behind them being clear.

  80. Stuie299 on

    Hey Joker! I just want to say thanks for all the work you do in relation to the list as well as helping all of us in the comments. Your time, effort, and commitment is very much appreciated.

    So I have a pair of AKG K553 full size headphones. I love their sound signature, but let’s face it, they’re horrible for traveling. That’s why I’m looking for some IEM’s that are somewhat similar. I’m looking to spend around $110 or less so this may not be possible. Basically I want something with good clarity, Range , and a spacious soundstage. I also prefer a neutral sound with more sub-bass depth than an enhanced punchy mid-bass (trying to avoid bloat and bleeding). Here’s where I really need help. The two in my price range that are closest to that sound are the Philips Fidelio S2 and the Hifiman RE-400. At first glance this doesn’t present any problems but for whatever reason Philips has discontinued the Fidelio S2. This leaves me with the RE-400, but after doing some research I have major concerns over Hifiman’s build quality. So, I now ask you what I should do? Should I not be so worried about the RE-400 build quality? Is there another option I’m over looking? Or do I just need to bite the bullet and spend more money (if so, how much more and what would you recommend)? Thanks for any and all help. You’re absolutely the best!

    • ljokerl on

      Thanks, I appreciate that!

      Unfortunately I don’t have any experience with the K553 (unless it’s identical to my K550) but from what you’re describing it definitely seems like the Fidelio S2 would be the better choice – the RE-400 has slightly subdued sub-bass, if anything, and isn’t known for having a particularly wide soundstage. The S2 does both of those things better.

      If the S2 is not available, I would say the next best thing in that price range would be a VSonic GR07 Classic, which still has a slightly wider presentation and slightly better deep bass than the RE-400, followed by the Dunu Titan 1, which also does both of those things but sounds a little less neutral overall. Good build quality, too.

      • Stuie299 on

        Thanks for replying.

        I’ll look into the VSonic GR07 Classic, however the Dunu Titan 1 seem to have a more prominent mid bass than what I’m looking for. Also just read your review of the Fischer Audio Silver Bullet but there were no comparisons. How does they compare to the S2 and the GR07?

        • ljokerl on

          The Silver Bullet is a much older earphone. While it would still be good for about $60, I don’t think it holds up well to higher-tier IEMs like the GR07 and S2.

          • Stuie299 on

            Luckily Amazon was still selling the Fidelio S2 for around $100, though I had to settle for the white color. The black color now costs around $40 more, plus no prime shipping (unlike the white ones).

  81. bloodwing on

    Hi joker I read through a lot of your reviews and I think they are great. Thanks for them. However I am pretty new to quality in ear headphones so I need your suggestion between the following. I am looking for a around $50 in ear headphone and I mainly listen to electronic, rock, some metal and alternative but sometimes to other stuff like rap.
    I looked through your list and narrowed down my choices to the following:
    Dunu DN-22M
    Vsonic VSD3
    Xiaomi Piston 3
    Vsonic GR02 Bass Edition
    NuForce NF-NE-600X
    My main concern is when you talk about bass, because I don’t really know how much bass it actually is when you say a headphone is for a basshead. Currently I am using Panasonic RP-HJE120-K and those could use more bass and clarity seeing as they are like $10. I also have tried on Audio Technica ATH-M50 over ear before and I think they need more bass aswell.
    So what do you think of these would be a good choice for me? Or if you could suggest a different one around the same price? One that is widely available preferably.
    Also if I could add, i think what I am looking for is bass impact but also clarity
    Thanks

    • bloodwing on

      Based on the availability here in Canada I have further narrowed it down to
      Xiaomi Piston 3
      Vsonic GR02 Bass Edition
      NuForce NF-NE-600X
      Jvc HAFX101R
      Now I know there is a price gap and NuForce along with the Vsonic might be better. So do you think the difference is worth it because I use headphones pretty much every day. Or do you have a better more popular suggestion?
      Thanks

        • bloodwing on

          Thanks a lot for replying. After reading some more reviews I narrowed it down between NE-600X and GR02. The HJE120 to me sounded relatively bass light but that probably just means that I am maybe kind of a basshead. Just another quick question. Is GR02 comparable in base and clarity to NE-600X, because I kind of like their design a bit more. Thanks

          • bloodwing on

            Sorry I am replying so much. Just one last thing. The NE-600X cost $35 here in Canada (as opposed to $12 in the US) while the GR02 cost $47 (in Canada). So what I am asking is, do you think that even at $35 the NE-600X are still a good value or that it is worth investing the extra $10 into GR02 (do they provide better value per dollar?) or even investing a bit more into something else. Thanks.

            • bloodwing on

              Also what is the difference between the enhanced and powerful bass?

              • ljokerl on

                Just a matter of degrees. Usually when I say bass is powerful I mean it’s heavily enhanced.

                I think the NE-600X is a better earphone for what you’re asking than the GR02, regardless of value. The GR02 doesn’t really have much more bass than an HJE120.

                • bloodwing on

                  Alright, I think I get what you mean. Have you ever tried the Audio Technica ATH CLR100, they get a lot of praise on amazon. Or the zero audio carbo basso?

  82. mayank11280 on

    Hi Joker,
    Can you please help me out, I want to buy earphones and I have a budget of roughly 45$.
    Earlier I had have : SM ES18s, Sennheiser CX180, Piston 3, Beyerdynamic DTX 102ie.
    I prefer a very neutral response but very slight boomy bass.
    Music genres I generally listen to are : Experimental, Rock, Indie.

    • mayank11280 on

      Till yet I have decided for RHA s500 but I am confused as anything.

      • ljokerl on

        I haven’t tried the S500 yet. How about the Sony MH1C? It is pretty balanced/flat outside of the enhanced bass. Might be a little too bassy for what you want, but for the price it’s a great earphone (and it’s easier to remove bass than to add it).

        Other more neutral options would be the Soundmagic E10 or E30 – both are pretty balanced with slightly enhanced bass (E10 has more of it, but not as much as the MH1C).

        • mayank11280 on

          What about VSD1S?

          • ljokerl on

            Definitely a good IEM but a touch v-shaped (I guess most like the Piston 3 out of what you have owned). Can be a touch harsh/sibilant and the bass isn’t that powerful – just a little enhanced over neutral.

            • mayank11280 on

              Or should I buy RHA MA750 instead of RE400 when possible? As I saw RHA gives 3 years of solid warranty.

              • ljokerl on

                The MA750 is not a neutral earphone. And the RE-400 doesn’t have even slightly boomy bass. So neither is the answer.

          • mayank11280 on

            Thanks for your reply Joker.
            I guess I will stick with Piston 3 and Beyers till I save enough for RE400. 😛
            However I felt lack of good isolation in Piston 3 disturbing.
            It’s mids are very clear but bass is not as controlled as DTX 102ie but DTX has a lot of it, sometimes my ears feel like filled with pressure and both have average treble.

          • mayank11280 on

            Okay, I have finally decided to go with Soundmagic E80.
            They seem to be pretty balanced, as I have wanted.

  83. Michael on

    Hey joker i love my shure 425 the vocals are very very good with my x5 2nd gen what will be a upgrade to the 425 for $350-$400 my other fav are the dunu dn 1000

    I am looking for very wide soundstage good mids good details very clean vocals maybe the ue900s? triplefi10? dunu dn2000j?

    • ljokerl on

      I haven’t heard the 425 in a long time but I don’t remember it sounding much like the DN-1000, which has far more recessed mids. I guess this means you’re pretty open-minded to different sound signatures, though leaning towards balanced and v-shaped based on the new sets you’re looking at.

      How about the FLC8? http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/flc-technology-flc8/ . I prefer it to the other earphones I’ve heard of this type, including the DN-2000J. Its vocals won’t be as forward as those of the SE425, but better in this regard than the DN-1000, and in most other ways it’s a strong upgrade.

      • Michael on

        Thanks i cant find the flc8 on amazon do you have any other recommendations? also whats the difference between flc8 and flc8s

        • Michael on

          i was condering ue600s, dunu dn 2000j but kinda dont want to go went dunu again, westone w40 used or new w30, Westone UM Pro30, used im04 or im03

          • Michael on

            i mean 900s

            • ljokerl on

              UE900 is one I like a lot for balanced sound. But not sure if it’s the right choice here – I don’t think its midrange is as forward as SE425, but at the same time it doesn’t have the enhanced bass and “fun” sound tuning of the DN-1000. W30 would be my choice over the W40 and UM PRO 30 in terms of how it fits into your collection. But I’m not familiar enough with it or the SE425 to make a direct comparison.

              Not sure about IM04/IM03, but I do like the cheaper IM02 a lot for balanced sound (that may or may not be an upgrade the SE425). If IM03/IM04 are better, they should be very impressive indeed.

              • Michael on

                I look into the w30 or the im03. Do you think buying used iem/headphones are fine? Used ones are $50 cheaper on w30s

                • Michael on

                  And how do you compare the im02 to the w30s

                  • Michael on

                    Oh and i heard that the w30 are dark sounding i am more of a kinda bright type of sig guy. Really like how the grados are pretty bright. Have a pair of ue6000 that are kinda dark and i was like eh

                    • ljokerl on

                      I tend to buy things like this with warranty but it’s a personal choice. Lots of people buy used headphones.

                      I don’t think the IM02 or W30 are the answer for bright sound. Maybe the DUNU Titan 1, then? It’s a very unique-sounding earphone, but bright and with a wide soundstage.

                      Another kind of rare option – the Olasonic (Ocharaku) Flat-4 from Japan.

                    • Michael on

                      I prob either get the westone w30 or the ue900s now. Wouldn’t technically the ue900s be better because they have 4 drivers. Which one of those 2 would better clarity and vocal wise?

                    • Michael on

                      And which one would technically be a upgrade from the shure

              • Michael on

                i might reconsider the dunu 2000j dont know how much of a upgrade it will be compare to the dunu 1000. But overall would you say the ue900s are slightly better because its a 4 driver compare to the w30?

                • ljokerl on

                  DN-2000J is about as good as a DN-2000, just less unique in sound tuning. I never recommend anything based purely on driver count but I do think the UE900 is better than the W30 specifically for balanced sound.

                  • Michael on

                    Thank you joker. I am trying to find something like my HD 600 on the go kinda sound

  84. desutruction on

    Hello! There are currently two good-sounding deals in my local 2ndhand ads thing. Sony XBA-A2 and Sennheiser IE8 for real cheap (around ~$160 converted). Which one is better to get, disregarding sound signature (I don’t have much of a preference)?

    • desutruction on

      PS: There’s also a Sony MDR-EX700SL for roughly the same price

      • desutruction on

        And JVC HA-FX850 (also same price) dang sorry for the PS-es, i haven’t been snooping around in the 2ndhand market

        There’s also Brainwavz B2 for around $60 converted.

        • ljokerl on

          Brainwavz B2 for $60, assuming it’s in good condition, is a killer value for neutral, balanced sound. To get that level of performance new these days would run you $200+ IF you can even find a comparable set.

          Otherwise the JVCs and Sennheisers both seem like a pretty safe choice at $160-ish.

          • desutruction on

            Thanks! I think I’m gonna get the B2, My GR01’s nearly fried anyway and the upgrade I’m hoping for is still very far (FLC8S)

            • ljokerl on

              B2 makes even more sense in that context. It’s much more similar to the GR01 than an IE8 or JVCs.

              • desutruction on

                Where would ATH-IM02 fall in the scale of things? Is it a good choice for $130 or should I stick to the $60 B2? Thanks! This list is pretty much my main reference.

                • ljokerl on

                  I think they’re about on-par in terms of sound, but the IM02 has a slightly darker tonal tilt. Obviously this makes the B2 at $60 the better value.

  85. Sulabh on

    Hi joker, when will you review soundmagic E50 and E80?

    • ljokerl on

      No plans at this time.

  86. Joe on

    Dear Sir,

    Based on the number of balanced armature, I like to collect balanced and neutral universal type IEMs with detachable cable .
    However, I am struggling to choose the IEMs.
    Can you give me suggestions from the list for each category listed below, or if better one is not on the list, can you please give me an alternative option?
    If the gaps of sound quality (I mean neutrality and balance) between the IEMs are so close, I do not mind to pick two or more.

    1 B.A. – ER4S (not sure about other IEMs in this category)
    2 B.A. – Shure SE425, ATH-IM02, InEar StageDiver 2 (SD-2), W20
    3 B.A. – not sure about this category, any suggestion?
    4 B.A. – Noble 4, Primo 8,

    I really appreciate your suggestions.

    • ljokerl on

      1: ER4 is a must-have but there are tons of good options – Final Audio Heaven II, Phiaton MS 100 BA, Ultimate Ears 600, etc., etc. But I’d get the Etymotics.
      2: ATH-IM02 (Westone 20 is good too, but more expensive). There are ton of other options in this category but many of the good ones are discontinued. IM02 should be relatively easy to get.
      3: Nothing with detachable cables comes to mind for neutral sound
      4: Lots of options here – AudioFly AF180, Ultimate Ears 900, LEAR LUF-4F are all pretty good but the custom version of the Noble 4 is still better in my opinion. Haven’t tried the universal version.

      • Joe on

        Thank you so much for kind response. Your suggestion helps me to decide to buy Noble 4 and keep my er4s.

        When it comes to neutral 3ba IEMs, how about Earsonics SM64, Earsonics SM3v2, or Shure se535ltd?
        Among these, which one do you think more neutral than the others?

        Moreover, is there neutral Dynamic Driver IEMs with detachable cable? If there is, what do you think is the best option? Are Sony MDR EX-1000 or Sony MDR 7550 can be considered as neutral? Since my knowledge is limited, I am struggling to think any other Earphones in this category.

        • ljokerl on

          EarSonics doesn’t make neutral-sounding products to the best of my knowledge. The SM64 and SM3 certainly aren’t. The SE535 is a much better option, didn’t think of it.

          The EX1000 would be great for a dynamic addition, if you can find one. Otherwise the MDR-7550 is okay, but a little warm/dull.

          • Joe on

            Thank you for quick and kind response. I plan to buy ex1000 and se535ltd.

  87. Aimeric on

    Hi Joker, I am really impressed by the list you posted and would like to get some advices from you. I currently own a really bad pair of in ear headphone (the ones that comes with the lg g3) and I decided to buy a new pair under 150 euros (or 165 US dollars maximum). I mostly listen to electro, chillstep and electroswing. I would like to buy IEMs that do good noise isolation and that are comfortable to wear for a extended period of time (I travel a lot by plane). I looked all over the internet and the IEM the most recommended are the bose soundtrue ultra but they also have a lot of bad reviews. I also considered the rha t10i but I read on your website that they may be too bassy. Could you please tell me which IEM you would recommend for me and tell in which way it is better than the bose soundtrue ultra?
    Ps: sorry in advance for the grammar and writting mistakes but I did my best, considering that I only speak french xD.

    • ljokerl on

      I am not a fan of the RHA T10 but the less expensive MA750 model is great and within your budget. Not sure how it compares to the Bose Soundtrue but it has overall excellent sound with enhanced (but not overwhelming) bass, great build quality, and a nice design. Comfort varies from listener to listener but with the over-ear design they seem to fit most people very well.

      The closest alternative to these is the Yamaha EPH-100. It’s similar in most ways and actually isolates a little better, but I think its design is less beginner-friendly. The way its eartips are designed again makes fit a variable.

      In this price for EDM these are the two I’d buy with my money.

      • Aimeric on

        Hey Joker, I finally ended buying the rha ma 750i but I am really disappointed about it. The sound itself is not too bad but it is not really different from the 11 euros headphone I had (LG HSS-F530). Indeed I can feel a slight difference in the bass but I don’t think that would justify paying 99 euros for those headphones. Furthermore the sound hurt my ear (as if the sound was almost too sharp for me). I read on the internet that a lot of people experienced the same thing as me but after a burn in period the sound of this headphone can be drastically improved. I don’t have enough time to try burn in those headphones: I am gonna leave France in 2 days. So I can either send it back tomorrow or keep it with me and burn in the headphone but I won’t be able to send it back later. I also read on the internet that burn in a headphone may be a myth. Have you ever heard about people having problems similar to mine? Do you think burn in a headphone can really improve the listening experience? Finally, do you think I should just send it back and order the yamaha eph-100 or keep the rha ma750i and try to get use to it?
        Thanks a lot for your time

        • ljokerl on

          There’s too many variables here for me to be of help. Maybe your old headphones aren’t as bad as you thought, maybe your ears aren’t as discerning as you thought, maybe you need time to get used to the MA750’s sound profile (not uncommon when switching headphones, and sometimes mistaken for “burn-in”) or maybe it’s not the right sound signature for you after all. The MA750 isn’t known for having a very “sharp” sound compared to other in-ears – that may indicate that you don’t have the best fit with them (fit is very important with in-ears).

          I am not in the business off troubleshooting but there’s a lot that can be going wrong here. I wouldn’t rely on burn-in per se, but I would suggest first making sure you definitely have the correct fit and then using only the MA750 for a week or so. If after that you go back to your previous earbuds and immediately you still don’t hear a difference, then either decide whether you want to try a different set than the MA750 or if perhaps higher-end headphones aren’t necessary for you and you just need to find something inexpensive and comfortable (again, not uncommon).

    • ljokerl on

      Seems that way! Haven’t read much about these.

      • willy on

        Yo joker! http://www.lendmeurears.com/new-vsd3s/ It’s out! I might pick up another pair since my detachable version sometimes cut sound out. apparently better soundstage + sound overall. cant wiat to see someone review it!

        • ljokerl on

          Man. Only VSonic could re-use the same exact name for an updated model to make things even more confusing.

  88. XacTactX on

    Hi there joker, thank you so much for this web site and all your reviews. I have a question about the Philips TX1/2 that you reviewed for InnerFidelity. If you put it on your IEM list, what grade would you give these two for sound quality alone? I’m thinking about getting the TX2, that’s why I ask.

    Thanks. 🙂

    • ljokerl on

      Ah yes, I need to add those 🙂

      I rate them about the same as the VSonic VSD1S, which is an 8.3 for sound. Very good deal for what they normally cost.

  89. Daniel on

    Hey Joker
    I’m currently looking for some great sounding earphones. My budget is $200. I don’t currently have a style of sound that I prefer since i’m pretty new to all this.
    Thanks for the help.

    • Daniel on

      Forgot to add in that the current music that I listen to has a lot of vocals. Also, I was looking at the Yamaha EPH-100 and the RHA MA750 and wondered which ones were more prone to sibilance and if there were better pairs of earphones under $200 that aren’t prone to sibilance either. Thanks

      • ljokerl on

        Those are both good options as they offer plenty of bass without being overly bass-dominant and have relatively smooth sound. Neither is sibilance-prone. Either would be a good place to start, I think. Since you listen to a lot of vocals you could go for a more vocal-centric set like a DUNU Titan 1, but I think it’s more risky to get a more niche earphone like the Titan 1 as your first high-end set. A conventionally warm and smooth set like the RHA or Yamaha is a nice, safe choice.

  90. abilfm on

    could you do me a favor doing some reviews on SONY MDR-EX650 and VSONIC VSD5?

    • ljokerl on

      The VSD5 will get a review in due time.

  91. Fight on

    Hello joker, can you help me choose my first CIEM please.

    I’m now looking into 3 brand which is westone, spiral ears, and ACS. If you can see I love sound on the warmer smoother side of things.

    I can only afford their entry model which is westone es10, spiral ears se-2way, and ACS evoke. I guess you may not have listen to them, but can you describe the difference in their house sound so maybe its will apply to the difference in sound between each of these model.

    I’m looking for organic, rich, smooth, and clear(not gooey that make vocal sound not clear, if that make any sense) sounding that non fatigue. Good separation or “air” between each instrument is also nice as I hate congested feel. I love smooth treble(non peaky) and I love good body/realistic vocal.
    Bass and other thing that are not mention are second consideration.

    Best regard

    • ljokerl on

      Right, I have not tried those so it’s pretty hard for me to make a recommendation. Out of what I’ve heard from these brands, I would trust Westone to consistently have the smoothest sound (I have the ES5 and most of their universals) but this is really not the kind of feedback I’d rely on to make such a large purchasing decision. You need hands-on experiences from current users of these exact products.

      • Fight on

        Thanks for your reply, another question
        Can you please compare 1964 V3 to the spiral 3way, from what you review its both seems like similar but you never compare it directly. I love to find something like Audeze signature with good separation or “air”.

        And will you review custom art Ei.3?

        • ljokerl on

          Different price ranges, form factors, sound signatures. I try to compare sets that are more similar.

          I would’t say either one sounds like my LCD-2. The V3 is more v-shaped – it has a bass boost and impact is not too different from my Audeze, but also has relatively bright and energetic treble. The SE 3-way is warmer and smoother, but not as flat and level as the LCD-2 through the bass and midrange. It’s got potential for huge bass, too, whereas the LCD-2 never gets overly bass-heavy.

          No plans for the Ei.3 right now because I still have the Custom Art Pro330v2 and Harmony 8 Pro to review.

          • Fight on

            Thanks again,

            So in your opinion, which CIEMs you have heard are the most Audeze like? I especially love the mid range of Audeze, so awesome.

            You can give a couples model so I can see which one I can get in my country and within my budget because price in my country is different than yours.

            Best regard,

            • ljokerl on

              In terms of sound tuning, my Westone ES5 and Heir Audio 8.A. Neither of these is tops for technical performance out of what I’ve heard, but the way they are tuned reminds me most of my LCD-2 – warm, smooth,rich, but not way off-balance.

  92. desutruction on

    Hello! I’m planning on getting either the Fidue A83 or Dunu DN200J as my endgame universal IEM. Before actually buying them, though, I’m just wondering if there are any other alternatives that are as good in performance/detail but maybe with a different sound signature.

    The closest I could see is the FLC8 and it seems like that would be the optimum choice because the treble from both A83 and dn2kj might just be too harsh for me. Are there any others I should consider that’s still less than $350?

    • desutruction on

      If it helps, my current IEM right now is VSonic GR01 and the treble is still pleasant to me. (How much more treble do those two have?) My main problem with FLC8 is the availability since I live in the Philippines 🙁

      • ljokerl on

        I prefer the FLC8 to the DN-2000J and A83. The treble is a bit more refined (though not quite as smooth as the GR01 in my preferred configuration), I like the form factor better, and the tuning system is a nice bonus for some added flexibility.

        I don’t know if there are any other alternatives in a similar vein but there’s nothing I’ve tried in the price range (thus far) that’s better than the FLC8 for that type of slightly v-shaped sound you seem to be after.

        Availability seems to a problem everywhere at the moment, unfortunately.

        • desutruction on

          Thanks! FLC8 does seem to be the thing I should go for.

          Anything warm that’s as good in detail/technical performance as the previously mentioned trio?

          • ljokerl on

            Yep, but you’ll be paying dearly for it (the EarSonics Velvet)

            • Catalin on

              Hello,

              Regarding the above mentioned trio – FLC8, DN-2000J, A83 – and the Velvet, which of the following statements would you consider best describes the quality-price gap between them:

              1. Velvet sound quality is about on par with the trio, therefore the price difference is not justified at all;
              2. Velvet SQ has slightly improvements over the trio but not as much as to justify the price difference;
              3. Velvet is way better and clearly superior in all aspects to any of them, hence the price difference totally justified?

              Thanks!

              • ljokerl on

                At that level it’s not as simple as just sound quality. The Velvet doesn’t really have better sound than those (especially not the FLC8) but it has a different sound signature – one that is arguably more rare on top-tier earphones. That means that for some listeners, it is a much more worthwhile purchase than any of the other three sets you mentioned despite the price differences. For others, the FLC8 or DN-2000 may be just as good-sounding, or perhaps better, in which case paying the premium for the Velvet makes no sense.

                • Catalin on

                  Ok, then what will be your recommendation for best compromise or all-rounder for listening mostly to rock (old school like AC/DC, Maiden, Metallica) EDM ( a lot of vocal trance), blues and occasionally ambient-downtempo, classical and jazz.
                  I would like a lush, fuller and thick sound, not lean, engaging and not on the boring side, with a lot of bass but not bloated, not recessed mids – which I think will affect the vocals – but also not rolled-off treble.

                  • ljokerl on

                    The Velvet would be great for that. High-quality enhanced bass and non-recessed mids and non-rolled off treble are its specialty compared to other top-tier earphones.

                    • Catalin on

                      Thanks!
                      One last question: would you consider it an upgrade from IE800 with regards to midrange and treble?
                      I found the mids of IE800 a lot recessed and the treble not rolled-off but boosted in a way that became annoying for long listening sessions.

                    • ljokerl on

                      The Velvet has a different midrange/treble balance – the midrange is not recessed and the treble is not as boosted in relation.

                      The IE800 is a v-shaped IEM. The Velvet isn’t.

  93. Michael on

    $200-300 upgrade over my dunu dn1k i loved how it was so musical with clean vocal subbass and wowed me for edm vocals

    • ljokerl on

      Depends on the improvements you’re seeking. The DN-2000 can be said to be that upgrade if what you want is better overall balance, clarity, and bass control, as well as slightly less recessed mids and a wider soundstage.

  94. Peter on

    Hi Ljokerl,
    Help me please what to choose between Xiaomi Piston 3, Vsonic GR06, Soundmagic E50 and maybe Sony MH1C. I’m looking for full, bright sound with juicy bass, smooth mids and hi’s. Sound’s sources are Samsung S3 the most often, sometimes IRiver T60 and Notebook with Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.
    I’ve listened recently to Fiio EX1 (DUNU Titan 1) with my S3 and T60 and I really like this sound, but it’s a bit to expensive to me (60$ is about the maximum).
    What I don’t like is for example: NU-Force NE-700 sound (too dark and bassy), Vsonic VSD2 (too grating).
    I would be really thankful if you would help.
    Thank you in advance!

    • Peter on

      Of course I’m open for other IEM’s in this price range, the list isn’t closed.

      • ljokerl on

        How about the Ostry KC06? It’s the closest thing I can think of to the Titan 1 sound under $60. Bright, nice mids, a small mid-bass boost to give it some impact. The bass is not as deep as the Titan 1 but for half the price it’s a nice alternative.

        The Piston 3 is alright but I wouldn’t call its bass juicy and it’s not as forward in the midrange. The GR06 isn’t a huge improvement on the VSD2 in smoothness. The MH1C is not bright at all. Not sure about the E50.

        • Peter on

          Thank you very much for you answer. I’ve found KC06A in this price, is it better? I’m slighly afraid about it’s durability, I’ve read some opinions that it broke after 1 year of using..
          Maybe think about test E50, they are apparently much better than E10 with armature-like sound. 🙂
          One more question: will I find something with a little bit less bass than Dunu and not as that safety-backward hi’s as in Dunu but with wide scene, bright and smooth sound?
          Regards,
          Peter.

          • ljokerl on

            I don’t have an KC06A but my understanding is there are some tuning differences between the two but neither is clearly better than the other. It’s why Ostry is still selling both models.

            I think the DUNU Titan 3 is supposed to sound the way you’re describing but I haven’t been able to confirm for myself yet. It should at the very least have flatter/less prominent bass than the Titan 1 as it was tuned to be even more vocal-centric.

            • Peter on

              Thank you Joker! I’m going to get KC06A in a few hours, so I’ll check it out by myself.

    • ljokerl on

      Nope, but I want it! Looks like the cable and plug are different, housings are similar.

  95. Alejandro Martinez on

    Hi, Joker.
    Two questions:

    1) By any chance are you going to review Echobox’s X1 Finders IEM?

    2) I owned a pair of W4 (that I bought because of your review many years ago), and loved them to bits, but lost them…
    Now I want to get a replacement that have a similar sound signature and probably a lower cost. Do you think the X1 might suit my needs? I also was thinking of getting TE-05, RE-400, HF5, or an used replacement (W4,W4R or W40).

    Thank you SO much for your reply.
    Warm regards from Venezuela
    Alejandro

    P.D: Keep up the outstanding job!!!

    • ljokerl on

      I have a Finder X1 but haven’t spent too much time with it yet. However, it doesn’t make me think of the W4 at all. It’s much more clarity-oriented and seems to have a brighter, more energetic sound sig than the warmer Westones.

      The RE-400 makes more sense as a replacement as it is at least a warm (ish) and smooth-sounding earphone, but it lacks the bass impact and overall imaging of the W4. However, it’s only $59 nowadays so it’s hard to hold that against it. If you’d rather get a mid-range IEM that’s bassier than W4 as opposed to less bassy, the Yamaha EPH-100 may be worth looking into as well. It has a warm and very impactful sound. Still not quite on-par with W4 in some ways, but very good for the money.

      • Alejandro Martinez on

        Thank you!!

  96. Ayman on

    Hello!

    Im searching for a in ear headphone for $21, i see in the list the best is the xiaomi piston 3 for this money.

    Im will be using it for listening music, and in the future, for gaming.

    I watch the xiaomi hybrid, thats a good choice?

    • Ayman on

      Ah, can you add a review of xiaomi hybrid?

      • ljokerl on

        The Xiaomi Hybrid will be added eventually but for now I’m recommending the Piston 3.

        • Ayman on

          Thank you joker

        • Fernando on

          Hello! ljokerl I am also waiting for you review of the Hybrids to take a decision! I already own the Piston 2 and the Sony NC31EM
          Thanks for this awesome list!

  97. Vincent on

    Hello joker!! very nice review and all the afford.

    Can I ask opinion about PSB m4u4? I’m looking for neutral iem within the budget of 350 and I see this get very good review although its still relatively new, so in case you have heard this can you explain what it sound like and compare with few others.

    Best,

    • ljokerl on

      Unfortunately no experience with PSB headphones here.

      • Tony Lau on

        Would you be considering reviewing the PSB M4U 4 in the near future?

        • ljokerl on

          There isn’t one in me collection and I don’t think I’ll get my hands on it anytime soon.

  98. Joel on

    Hello Joker, thanks so much for compiling so many helpful reviews. Two years ago i purchased a Philips SHE6000/28 in ear surround sound headphones and really liked their sound. I don’t buy earphones over $50 because I use them during work. I work at UPS and need music to make the day go by faster and just make it more enjoyable in a sense. I bought two actually and they both finally gave on me. I was wondering if you recommend any earphones related or similar to this product. Not sure how it is surround sound but it is my favorite so far after about two dozen different earphones. I don’t want too much isolation in order to hear my boss call my name or just in case for emergency reasons. Thanks for your help and time.

    • ljokerl on

      I’m not familiar with the SHE6000, unfortunately, but if you can find out how they sound (perhaps someone has reviewed them on Head-Fi) there are many very good sub-$50 earphones for every sort of taste and tuning currently on the market: http://theheadphonelist.com/articles/earphone-buyers-guide/

      Some personal favorites for lower isolation are the Ostry KC06 and Soundmagic E10 (E10M if you need a mic/remote).

      • Ardian Pradipta on

        Hello joker, have u try xiaomi quantie? (their new pair of hybrid iem)

        best,

        • ljokerl on

          Yes. They’re good value, but haven’t blown me away. They’re what would happen if you tried to replicate a Piston 3 sound signature with hybrid drivers.

  99. Silverlineage on

    Hi joker!
    I am planning to get a pair of earphone from amazon. I am looking out for a in-earphones that has sound that is well-balanced with bass that isnt overpowering or bleeds into the lower-mids but still sufficient and tight. i have read your review and i like the “stage” sound signature. however, due to my limited experience and access to earphone models, i have shortlisted a list that im considering and hoped that you can input here!
    These are
    ATH im02, Westone um pro 2 and the RHA MA750 and JVC FXT 200. I have limited access to the ATH and RHA models to actually listen them out. how does the ATH im20 and Westone um pro 2 compare with each other?
    Thanks!

    • Silverlineage on

      Oh to add on. the westone um pro 20 is at the top end of my budget. so anything below are fine! 😉

      • Silverlineage on

        oH i used to own a pair of westone 1 and i found the 1 BA driver to be insufficient and i usually EQ it abit to give it abit of a U shape to compensate for the lack of clarity and definition at the bass end.

        • ljokerl on

          I’m actually not familiar with the UM20 PRO – only the 30. I know what you mean about the Westone 1, though. The ATH-IM02 is by no means u-shaped but it doesn’t have the roll-off problems of the Westone 1 so I doubt you’ll have to equalize it. I really like this earphone for a reference sound signature. The MA750 is not nearly as balanced, but it does have a slight v/u-shape and is very enjoyable overall with the big bass and warmer tone. Equally good, just a different style of sound tuning. Not sure about that particular JVC model but their stuff doesn’t tend to be super neutral/accurate either.

  100. Joshua on

    Hello Joker! It is currently nearing Black Friday and a bunch of sales have opened up. I love my VSD3s but they’re falling a part after a year of usage. I really like the sound signature it provides (Good bass and treble, I’m assuming this is called “V-Shape”?) and would love to move on to an “upgrade” within ~$100. I live in Canada and right now I have found: HifiMan Re400a (Android phone for me) for $90 after tax+shipping while the GR07 is $112 after tax+shipping. Which one should I go for? Or are there better options around the $100 (Probably $85 USD) mark?

    • ljokerl on

      The GR07 is a better VSD3S upgrade than an RE-400. The RE-400 moves in the opposite direct from “neutral”, being a touch midrange-focused rather than v-shaped. The GR07 (or better yet GR07 BE if you can find it) is a more logical progression. There are other good options besides the RE-400 but I’m not sure what they will run you in Canada – the DUNU Titan 1, for instance, or the Fidelio S2, but none of them share the VSonic house sound quite as well as a GR07/GR07 BE.

      • Carl on

        Hey joker, what about the Sennheiser hd 598 ? They’re on a massive sale of only ~$100 because of black friday right now.

        • ljokerl on

          The HD598 is a full-size headphone. It doesn’t really make sense to compare it to IEMs.

          In any case I’m not the right person to ask about the HD598 because I’ve never liked this model.

  101. Shawn on

    Hi joker,
    I’m looking for a new pair of iem to add to my collection. I once had the shure se215ltd just to realise how much I dislike the overwhelming amount of bass consumer orientated audio companies tune into their earphones. I even find the legendary tf10 exhausting to listen to for extended periods of listening due to its significant bass response (it’s still a really great iem though). I’m currently using the earsonics sm3v2 and I came to love it’s mids, clarity and treble although it takes higher volumes to drive, and a little sibilant at times. I guess the sound signature that suits me is one that has more mid-centric sound and detailed treble one as I prefer an emphasis on vocals than bass. I also did looked up several iems including the hifiman re400 and sony xba-30. I’m wondering if you would recommend either of the two or any other iems?

    • ljokerl on

      The RE-400 is great for this – the bass is never excessive and the top end tends to be very smooth. At the $59 black friday price you can’t really beat it, especially not with an XBA-30 which is less balanced.

      More in the SM3v2/TF10 price range there’s also the Aurisonics Rockets, which is an upgrade to the RE-400 and also sounds like what you’re describing. Mid-centric, very smooth, tight and level bass.

  102. Batman on

    Hey Joker, have you listened to any of the KZ (Knowledge Zenith) headphones? They’re a really budget IEM brand from China I think.

  103. Joe Donut on

    Hey Joker!

    I was looking for a pair of IEM around $100, but preferably cheaper. I have been looking around and I found the ShureSE215 for $89 and Westone1 for $69. How would you compare these two?

    I listen to a lot of rap and enjoy a slightly more bass heavy sound signature but I don’t want this to have a HUGE impact on my decision, Ultimately, I want to purchase whatever gets me the most bang for the buck. With that said, you have also praised the RHA MA750 quite a bit. Could you also compare these earbuds in relation to value with the Shure and Westone?

    Additionally, if you have any other suggestions please let me know.

    • ljokerl on

      The Westone 1 does not have enhanced bass at all so I don’t think it’s relevant here, and I always recommend the MA750 over the SE215 for overall value – it has better treble and other improvements here and there, which all add up to a more natural and spacious sound. If you were looking to stick closer to the $90 that gets you and SE215, there are also better bang-per-buck options (assuming your primary criterion is audio performance) – for example the Alpha & Delta AD01 at ~$85 – 90

  104. Tobias on

    Hello Joker,

    Budget: $160 max
    I am looking for a pair of IEMs, i like something a little bit on the bassy side and i want them to be used over the ear. Durability is a must for me.

    IEMs that i am looking:
    -Sennheiser IE60
    -Audio Technica ATH-IM02
    -Westone UM Pro10

    Thank you!

    • Tobias on

      I forgot something. I looked at the RHA MA750, but the plug is too big for pocket use and it looks really uncomfortable

      • ljokerl on

        The MA750 plug isn’t too bad and it’s an awesome IEM. The IE60 isn’t on the same level in terms of performance and the IM02 is not on the bassy side by any stretch of imagination. Not sure about the UM PRO10 but it’s a single BA so it’s extremely unlikely to put up a fight vs the MA750 in the bass department. You’re probably better off with the Shure SE215 if you want that form factor and not the MA750’s.

        • Tobias on

          What do you think about the shure se215 vs the rha MA750? I read a lot of comento saying that sometimes the shure one come with a bróker earpiece or the connection between the earpiece and the cable breaks in a month and i will not be able to repleace them. Do you have any experience with that? From this list you think that the rha ma750 have the Best sound?

          • ljokerl on

            I consider the MA750 to be a better earphone than the SE215 in terms of sound and overall, but some people don’t like it for one reason or another (no detachable cable, shiny design, whatever) so the SE215 can be an OK alternative. The MA750 is the one I’d get from your list.

            Regarding the failing SE215 connectors, it was a common issue when the earphones were first released but as far as I know it was resolved within the first year. Keep in mind the SE215 has been around for a long time now – 3 years or so.

  105. Tamas on

    Hello Joker, the list is really something ! very good job

    i have a question as i heard a lot of good things about the Xiaomi Pistons and I wonder are the Pistons 3 or the new ones Xiaomi Hybrid IEM which has been released today noticeably better then the original ones which I got with my phone HTC One 7 (HTC max 300 earphones) – I was quite surprised by the HTC ones as they sound not so bad and I did not find any comparison on the internet -> would be pity to just waste money (although they are quite cheap) and buy a Xiaomi ones and then realize that there is not any difference. Thank you, once more time good job !

    • ljokerl on

      Not sure, I’ve never had HTC IEMs. I had some HTC (non in-ear) earbuds that came with my old phone but they weren’t very impressive.

      I think you’ll always be wondering about this until you take the plunge and actually give another set a chance. At $15 or so the Piston 3 is an inexpensive way to find out for sure. Just make sure to give yourself some time to get used to the Pistons, if you do buy them, before deciding you don’t like them. They have a rather unique sound profile for a budget earphone that’s probably different from whatever HTC tuned into their stock earphones.

  106. Dan on

    Hi Joker! I’m on the market for a pair of custom IEM. I’m looking for an upgrade from my Shure SE215. I find them a bit too bassy and muddy overall!
    I was looking at custom IEMs around the 400$ price tag. Im considering the following models: JH5, 1964 V2, Custom Art Music One, Alclair Reference and Inearz P350.
    Which of them has decent treble without an overwhelming bass like the one of the SE215?
    Thanks a lot for the advice!

    • ljokerl on

      All of them, I’m sure. The SE215 is a very decent mid-range earphone but you can find earphones with better treble presence/extension and tighter bass for well under $100. Don’t need to worry about that with $400 customs.

      From your list I only have the Music One and Alclair Reference, and they both do what you want but not in the same way. The Reference is more dry and analytical, and might sound a touch too treble-heavy coming from the treble-light SE215. The Music One is a more literal interpretation of what you want – it’s much more balanced than the SE215 but doesn’t go too far in the opposite direction like the Reference does with its thinner sound and brighter treble. Instead, the Music One is just on the warm side of neutral, with slightly smoothed-over treble but not nearly to the same degree as the SE215. Couldn’t tell you if the JH5, 1964-V2, or P350 may be better, though.

  107. Wayne on

    Hi Joker! Just got my Ortofon e-Q7 a few days ago, partly due to your recommendation. Great sound! I totally agree with your review, plus it somehow reminds me of the sound of a turntable…

    I would like to upgrade my “fun-sounding” one (ie. enhanced bass, enjoyable sound but still carries a nice speed and detail). I’m coming from MH1C which often sounds too smooth for me, so an added treble would be great but not to the point of being harsh. I’m thinking of getting a used ATH-IM50 for ~$90. How does it compared to EPH-100? To DN-2000? (I could get a used DN-2000 for ~$150). Also, I know the e-Q7 is at a different ballpark, but how does its treble compare to the EPH-100’s?

    Thanks again!

    • ljokerl on

      Glad you’re enjoying the e-Q7!

      I’m not too familiar with the IM50 but the one time I tried it it sounded pretty accurate and somewhat unexciting – not in a bad way, but I’m not sure it can fit a “fun” IEM niche. Compared to the IM50 and e-Q7 both the EPH-100 is warmer and has quite a bit more bass (deep bass especially). Its treble is pretty smooth, with a slight lift up top. The DN-2000 is bright in comparison and can be a little harsh (more so if you don’t take the time to find the best fit) but it is also very rewarding if you can get past its treble – the high clarity and enhanced sub-bass (but not mid-bass) make for a very unique sound.

  108. John on

    Hello Joker, my Fischer Audio mk II just died. Along with iPod 6/5.5 we’d had a few wonderful years together.
    I decided to go for Fiio x1, anything you can recommend under 300$ or I just go for another mk II?
    I wore them over ears, used comply tips, and they were almost like a friend to me.
    I’d prefer natural sound without any exaggerated bass. I really liked “meaty” percussion and overall clarity, not to mention excellent noise isolation with comply tips.

    • ljokerl on

      Hard to find DBA-02s these days but they’re still among the best for a reference sound. You can try an Etymotic ER4 or Audio-Technica IM02 – both will give you neutral sound but I can’t say either is better than the DBA-02 mkII. The ER4 will also be tougher to wear over-the-ear. So yeah, another DBA-02 mkII is what I’d get.

      …but with that said I’ve also heard there’s a Fischer Audio DBA-02 mkIII on the horizon. Don’t know much about it other than it’s supposed to have detachable cords.

      • John on

        Thanks!

        What if I want to try something new, and I’m not totally sure about my signature preferences (not basshead for sure)? I’ve had only one good IEMs so far.
        I want the good choice for Fiio X1 without any amp.
        I highly value isolation and longevity, also durability and “bang-for-the-buck” sound good to me.
        From logical point of view I think I’d like clarity, balance, and accuracy, but again, I’ve never tried any decent IEMs except dba-02.
        Here’s what I listen https://www.piratepad.ca/p/music
        My budget isn’t limited, but I don’t want to spend over 400$ for IEMs.

        PS I made myself a short list based on sound ratings of your reviews and only the first three look good so far.

        Custom Art Music One
        FLC Technology FLC8
        DUNU DN-2000
        Brainwavz B2
        VSonic GR01
        Fidue A83
        Dunu DN-1000
        Etymotic Research ER4S
        TDK BA200
        Rock-It Sounds R-50 / R-50M
        VSonic GR07

        • John on

          Forgot to include Alclair Reference and Clear Tune Monitors CT-200

          • ljokerl on

            That’s a list of good earphones, but half of them won’t even keep up with your old DBA-02 in clarity/balance/accuracy. The B2 is exactly the same earphone as the first-generation DBA-02. The Music One gives up some of the clarity for a thicker, smoother sound while the FLC8 and DN-2000 shine when it comes to providing a more v-shaped sound with enhanced bass. And so on.

            I recommended the Etymotic ER4 above and I’ll standy by that – it’s a fantastic earphone for any fan of neutral sound to own at least once. I had one early on, sold it, and ended up buying another later. They last forever, too. However, it’s tough to wear over-the-ear, and if using it will be a struggle for you it’s again not worth switching from the DBA-02.

            If you really want to try something different, the FLC8 would be my pick. It gives you the option to stay relatively close to a neutral/balanced sound, but you also have the option of swapping to another tuning. It can be daunting at first but eventually you’ll find a few configurations you like and will probably get some good use out of it. An added bonus is the light weight and native over-the-ear fit.

  109. pedro_net on

    Hi joker. I hope you can help me on this one. I used to love bass but then i discovered that with some decent earphones i can enjoy more than just bass. I own the Brainwavz S1 (which have plenty of bass) and recently i bought the IM50 (and i fell in love with the female vocals that i wanted so much) and i realized that i still love my bass but just in the right amount, otherwise it gets annoying after a while.
    The IM50 are superb but sometimes i wish the instruments were cleaner somehow, it’s like there’s some noise sometimes, some distortion when it has many instruments. I know it doesn’t have to be the earphones themselves but i tried them in many sources and i use FLAC files.
    Having said that i thought on trying BA for the first time but i’m afraid i’ll miss the bass impact even if there are multiple drivers. So i thought about a hybrid.

    First question is: Am i taking a giant leap here or should i give it a go? I’m not rich lol but still i’d like to try it unless it would be a disappointment for sure.

    Second question: I thought about the Fidue A73 since it’s balanced and seems to have the right amount of bass (?). But then, for just a bit more i could have the DN-1000 that has one more BA in it and, from what i hear, it does make a total difference in making it natural. It also seems to have deeper bass. My limit is $180.

    What do you suggest?

    Thanks a lot in advance.

    • ljokerl on

      In the most general sense, you can say that hybrids will deliver better bass impact than pure BA sets on average, but that won’t hold true in every individual case. The EarSonics Velvet, for example, has only BA drivers and offers gobs of bass in addition to many of the qualities that make BA systems great (clarity, resolution, etc).

      Anyway, seems like the DN-1000 would be a good choice for you. I haven’t tried the A73 at great length yet but it doesn’t seem to have as deep and enhanced a low end as the DUNU and the price difference isn’t that big.

      The DN-1000 will have more in common with the S1 than the IM50 in terms of overall balance (more recessed mids, brighter treble), but of course has the benefit of a hybrid configuration when it comes to overall performance vs. the much less expensive S1. I like the DN-1000, and if what you are expecting is a more resolving and all-around more hi-fi upgrade to the S1, I doubt it will disappoint.

      • pedro_net on

        Going for the DN-1000 then. Thanks a lot!

  110. Jay17 on

    Hi Joker, amazing job on the list! I’ve been using the Fischer Audio Eterna for the past two years and was loving them however they recently broke and I’m now on the market for a new set of IEMs. Initially I was just going to get the eternas again but now would like to get something new. I listen to mainly hip-hop, pop, metal and rock and I like my bass to be quite prominent. What would you suggest? I was considering the Wooduo 2, Gr02 BE and RHA-MA750. I would prefer an over the ear style as I would be using these at the gym and sometimes the cable could get snagged. Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      The MA750 is great for this. The bass is prominent but not overpowering – less in-your-face compared to the Eterna, but not light by any means. The overall sound is smooth, refined, and spacious, which makes it quite genre-versatile, and an over-the-ear fit is native.

      • Jay17 on

        Hi Joker. I’ve just discovered that the only distributor and seller of RHA is my country’s apple store and it is also the MA750i (mic version). Because of that the price is of these is ridiculous and amazon does not seem to ship these to my country. What other alternative would you recommend?

        • ljokerl on

          With a native over-the-ear fit that just leaves the Shure SE215, but compared to an Eterna they’ll sound more balanced (not bass-light, but more balanced for sure).

          If you go for conventional-fit IEMs you have more options, like for instance the Yamaha EPH-100 (excellent if affordable) and the Alpha & Delta AD01. The HiSound set you mentioned is good too but it’s harder to wear over-the-ear with that flat cable and the sound may be a little bright coming from the Eterna.

  111. steadead on

    Hi,
    Do you plan on reviewing the Audio Technica Technica ATH-IM02?
    Also, how would you compare them to the ER4?
    Thanks

    • steadead on

      Hi,
      I was also wondering if you have tried Trinity’s iem and if they are good for a neutral sound signature?
      Thanks

      • ljokerl on

        Yes, I plan to review the IM02. Compared to the ER4 it is a little darker, has less forward upper mids, better bass depth, and is not quite as lean and aggressively clear. Still quite neutral, just a slightly different take on it.

        No experience with any Trinity IEMs.

  112. Tarik on

    Hi Joker,
    I’ve been using Shure SE215 for 3 years and I planned to change because of some cracks around the nozzle. It seems that it will defects in a few months.
    I want to buy a durable iem with removable cables. Durability is important for me. I planned to use more than 2 yrs. Also i wanna better clarity, soundstage, instrument seperation and highs in terms of SE215. My new iem should be an upgrade. In my opinion, SE215 is good in pop and r&b. However it’s adequate in rock etc.
    I see FLC8S could be my new iem. However, i am not sure. I listen all type of music. I’m not a basshead too.
    Could you help me?
    (My budget is around 300$)
    Thanks for all reviews and comments.
    Tarik

    • ljokerl on

      The FLC8 does what you want but it is a very bright earphone compared to the SE215, which tends to have somewhat dulled-down treble. Bass is fine if you’re not a basshead and the clarity is very hard to beat, but I think you’ll need a lengthy acclimation period for the brighter sound after owning the SE215 for three years.

      With that said, detachable-cable earphones under $300 aren’t all that common – there’s the Fidue A83, which doesn’t really have the clarity of the FLC8. There’s the Sony MDR-EX600, but those are hard to find and I’m not sure you can get replacement cables for them at all. And then there’s the more balanced-sounding BA options, which in this price range would be the Westone W20 and Audio-Technica IM02. I’m actually a big fan of the IM02 for its high price/performance ratio and very balanced and resolving sound, but again I’m not sure what the situation is with replacement cables. That’s definitely one point for the Fidue – the connectors are standard MMCX so you have the most freedom in terms of aftermarket and replacement cables. But if I wasn’t worried about that and wanted a more “reference” earphone I’d strongly consider the IM02.

      As for other options, AudioFly has the AF120 hybrid at $250 but I haven’t tried it at length. MEElectronics has the Pinnacle coming out this year that sounded quite good at CES and has MMCX detachable cables. Fidue has another hybrid with detachable cables in the works, but I have a feeling it’ll be priced above their A83, which is already $250+.

      • Tarik on

        Hi ljokerl,
        Firstly, I’m very pleased for your answers, thank you.
        I wanna replaceable cable for iem because of afraid on cable cracking issues.
        I lost many of my earphones because of that reason and it’s very annoying for me.
        FLC8S could be very bright but I think about that it has various modify options with accoustic filters. I can solve that problem. Can I solve or not i couldn’t clarify too.
        I may find some second hand Westone W20,W30,W40 Earsonics SM3v2 or SM64’s with my budget. But I don’t know these fit my needs.
        Sony’s physical appearance is not satisfy me. IM02 could be ok but connectors are not identical with aftermarket cables.
        I wanna balanced neutral and reference sound signature.

        • ljokerl on

          The FLC8 never gets quite as neutral as, for instance, an IM02 or Westone W20 in my experience but on the other hand you do get quite a variety of possible tuning options, which has value.

          I wouldn’t recommend the W30/W40 or the EarSonics for neutral sound. These tend to be tuned for specific non-neutral sound signatures, unlike the lower-end W20 which is flat but a little dark, and the IM02 which flat and is less dark, and of course the FLC8 which is only a little bright.

          • Tarik on

            Hi ljokerl,
            I find IM02 on Amazon which is priced at $220 with %20 customs fee. I don’t know it is worth at this price level but it’s okay.
            I also save W20 on my mind for second option.
            I will search for both of and make a decision.
            Thanks for all.
            Sincerely.

  113. audioslave on

    Hello ljokerl
    I’m looking for a remplacement for my Phonak Audeo 112 that I used to listen with the black filters. I’m leaning towards the warm / laid-back side of neutral (à la SR-007 or LCD-2), so my preference goes for a flat bass / midrange and a lean / smooth treble. I’m using a Stax Lambda Nova Signature at home so I’m looking for the same kind of liquid / neutral sound with zero sibilance / harshness in the treble. Based on your reviews and comments I believe my two main options around 400€ would be the AF180 and the SD-2, am I right? What do you think would be my best bet between those 2 IEMs?
    Cheers

    • ljokerl on

      Yes, those would both be my recommendations as well. I’d also throw in the Sony MDR-7550 (I believe it’s also called the EX800ST in some markets) as a dynamic-driver option with an SD-2 -like sound signature. These two remind me the most of the LCD-2, with prominent mids and well-measured bass on top of slightly dull and not at all bright treble. The AF180 has a bit of a dip in the upper midrange which is not something I experienced with the LCD2 (or the PFE112).

      • audioslave on

        Thanks ljokerl ! I didn’t know that the 7550 were the international version of the EX800ST. If they sound anything like their big brother, the CD900ST (which I owned and loved), it must be dead neutral and exactly what I’m looking for.
        Just one last question: do the AF180 have a technical edge over the SD-2 which would make up for their upper midrange dip? Or are they both so close that it’s only a matter of signature preference?
        Cheers

        • ljokerl on

          Hard for me to be objective here because I don’t personally like that warm-and-smooth LCD-2/SD-2 sound signature all that much. I do prefer the AF180 and am tempted to say it just has a more even sound (aside from the upper midrange dip) and therefore better technical performance. But overall both of them do things I don’t love so I think it would be more fair to say that it’s only matter of preference.

          • audioslave on

            Thanks a lot ljokerl, much appreciated. I think I will get the SD-2.

  114. Miles on

    Hi ljokerl, I have the Sennheiser hd 439 and Id like an upgrade to these in an earphone. Id just go ahead and get the HD650 but I have really long hair and having full size headphones on make me look like there is something wrong with me. The pair I was looking at were the Sennheiser IE800 but at $800 this out of my price range. Is there an earphone that comes close to the HD650 or better for about $600 US ? Any help I can get would be great.

    • ljokerl on

      I tend to really like the HD600/HD650 and would pick them over a similarly-priced IEM for home listening, but would never use them on the go.

      Despite being a Sennheiser product the IE800 sounds nothing like an HD650 – it’s actually a rather bassy earphone with slightly thin mids and plenty of treble energy – none of which it has in common with the HD650.

      For something more accurate and HD650-like you’d be better off with a high-end warm-tone earphone such as the InEar StageDiver SD-2, Shure SE535, Sony MDR-7550, or even Aurisonics Rockets.

      • Miles on

        Thanks ljokerl, That’s a big help. I had the Rockets on a list of IEMs I liked. I do like warm but nothing to dark, dark just sounds syrupy to me. Which one stand out as the best of the 4 ?

        • ljokerl on

          The Rockets are going to be the least dark of the bunch and not overly thick, so it seems like they’ll be a great fit here.

          • Miles on

            OK, I always assumed that HD650’s were neutralish. So I should have asked a different question but I have a feeling the Rockets are in the running. What are the best neutralish not sterile earphones for $600 US. Sorry for my miscommunication

          • ljokerl on

            HD650s are neutral-ish, just more warm than, for example, the HD600, which I prefer. So my answer wouldn’t really change because neutral-ish and not sterile together does still mean slightly warm, and that means Rockets (and Shure SE535s if you want to spend more) are a good bet.

            You can go more neutral than the Rockets and Shures by a little bit because those IEMs do tend to overemphasize mids very slightly. My recommendations for that would be something like the Ultimate Ears 900 or Audiofly AF180. These are very pricy but they are set apart by having very good end-to-end extension, even if both lack a little upper midrange presence compared to the Rockets and SE535s.

            Significantly more neutral IEMs, like Etymotics, Fischer DBA-02s, and so forth, tend to be more lean and analytical which doesn’t seem like the direction you want to go.

      • KC33 on

        Hey LJokerL, speaking of Aurisonics, have you had a chance to hear any of their Bravo series? I would like to audition the Harmony but I haven’t had a chance yet.

        BTW, the site’s looking good!

        • ljokerl on

          Thanks very much!

          And not yet, I haven’t even published a full Rockets review yet. Just really enjoying them 🙂

          • KC33 on

            Glad ur diggin the rockets, I haven’t had a chance to hear them yet. I look forward to the Rocket review.i

  115. GuyLamari on

    Hey Joker! I recently got a pair of Ostry KC06’s. They sounded great! However, after only a week of mild use the left side gave out… Could you recommend me some cans that are roughly the same price, same sound, and better durability? Or do you think that I just got a dud, and should gamble on another pair of ostry’s? Thanks 🙂

    • GuyLamari on

      Forgot to include this in my original post:
      Have you had any experience with ostry customer service? I scanned the qr code that came in the box, but the site it directed me to came back with a server error. Thanks again!

      • ljokerl on

        Well, I definitely don’t think you can find something with comparable sound to the Ostry and for a similar price but with better build quality. If there was such a thing I would recommend it over the Ostry in the first place.

        The closest I think to a KC06 equivalent/upgrade with better build quality would be a DUNU Titan 1, and you’d be likely to get that for under $100.

        As for the KC06, my sample size is 1 unit so I can’t draw any conclusions. It’s not amazingly well-built by any means but it has held up for me over 8 months or so. Never had to contact Ostry for any reason.

  116. Srihari on

    Thanks for your detailed yet simple to understand reviews.
    I currently own the basic IEMs Soundmagic E10M (often used with phone and PC) and really enjoy them. I am looking to upgrade to something which gives better clarity. I don’t really need high bass.
    Currently i am torn between Hifiman RE400, VSonic GR07 and Etymotic HF3/HF5. I am just unable to decide between them. Could you please help me out here?

    • ljokerl on

      They will all give you great clarity but the HF3/HF5 is pretty much unbeatable in this regard. It sacrifices no clarity for anything. Highly recommended.

  117. Ed on

    Hi Joker,

    I’m in the market for my first CIEM and I’m stuck between the Alclair Reference or moving up to something like the RSM Quad or V6 stage or the 1964 ears A3. I had the chance to demo these briefly at RMAF and they all sounded very similar in sound signature to me. It would be great if you could do a comparison of these since you’ve had some extended listening time with at least the reference and v6 stage. It would also be great if you have any other recommendations for me. I prefer a relatively neutral sound signature with a touch of warmth.

    Thanks in advance.

    • ljokerl on

      I don’t have sufficient experience with the RSM or the A3 to bring those into it but I compared the Aclair Reference to the 1964 V6-Stage at length in the “comparisons” section here: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/1964ears-v6-stage/ . Definitely agree that they share a lot of similarities, and you do kind of get what you pay for – the Reference is good but I think the V6-Stage is even better. Another one with the same type of sound is the Unique Melody Miracle, but that’s quite a bit pricier.

  118. Artacia on

    Hey Joker,

    I am trying to suggest a quality IEM to my friend who is an extreme bass-head and electronic dance music lover. I am currently thinking about the ATH CKS99. He works out quite a bit so he would need something rather sweat resistant. His budget is about $50-$85.

    In addition I was wondering what the difference is between the ATH CKM99 and the CKS99?

    Thank you for your time,

    Artacia

    • ljokerl on

      The CKM99 has good bass but it’s not a great basshead earphone by any stretch. I believe the CKS is the enhanced-bass series and would have more bass, but I haven’t tried the CKS99 myself.

      Audio-Technica also has line of sweat-resistant IEMs, the CKX line, but the one I have (CKX5) is no bassier than the CKM500 or CKM99. The CKS equivalent should have more bass.

      • Artacia on

        Awesome. Thanks for the response joker.

  119. Charlotte on

    Hey Joker, I was wondering if you know the difference between the DN-2000 vs DN-2000J model?

    • ljokerl on

      Yeah, there are differences to the form factor (DN-2000J is a bit shorter), accessory kit (DN-2000J comes with a few extra bits), and sound (DN-2000J has a more conventional v-shaped sound signature while the older DN-2000 has a more unique tuning where the sub-bass and higher treble are elevated but the part in the middle is more flat). I don’t think either is clearly better than the other – really depends on what you’re after.

  120. apatheticR on

    Hi joker, lot of thanks for such a tremendous work on IEM!!
    I use Sony MDR-XB950BT for modern/hiphop/electronic music but basically I am a metal head, I listen to virtually all kinda metals :XX
    I know its not possible to get a single IEM that can deliver all types of metal with full dimension, but I am looking for something with which would possibly enable me to enjoy most of the metal genre Currently I am using my stock Samsung dual driver earphone which is not actually as bad as people think it is! however, I seriously want to upgrade.
    My emphasis is on transparency, layered music, enough bass, sufficient mids and trebles, aggressive, good separation between instruments like guitars, keyboard/piano, drums and percussion. Would you please recommend something for me? So far, I am thinking about Vsoinc VR07/BE, JVC HA-FXT90 or RHA MA750/MA750i. I had a look at Dunu DN-1000 too but it exceeds my budget (I have to starve a few days to get it.. :p).
    Thanks again!!

    • ljokerl on

      All good options, really. I tend to favor more balanced and resolving sound for metal, and to make sure you’re getting good bass punch on top of that I’d go with the GR07 BE. The main downside is that the treble can be a bit aggressive and even sibilant, but unless you’re especially sensitive to sibilance the pros far outweigh the cons.

      • apatheticR on

        Thanks a lot Joker. Cheers.

  121. Ehtesham Shareef on

    Hey joker,
    I’m planning to buy a new pair of headphones within the 50$ range.I have narrowed down to the following list :-KZ-ed9,Piston 3.0,VSonic VSD3S,Philips SHE-3590,AKG K-321.I mostly listen to prog rock,metal and related stuff.Which one do you think will suit me the most.
    PS:Having trouble getting the vsonic in my country so take that into account.
    Thanks !

    • ljokerl on

      From that list I’ve only tried the VSonic, Pistons, and Philips 3590s. Between the three I would definitely try to get my hands on the VSD3S – it’s the most balanced and resolving of the three. It’s not definitely the smoothest, but unless you’re highly sensitive to harshness and sibilance its other qualities are important for rock and metal.

  122. kyle on

    hi, I have vsd3s. if my budget is ~$100 should i get vsd3? I like vsd3s but would like a bit more punch in the bass and better clarity/details

    • ljokerl on

      In my opinion they’re very similar, so there’s no point in owning both or switching from one to the other.

      Generally speaking, because the VSD3S is such a high-performing earphone, for $100 you can either get more bass punch (e.g. JVC FXT90 or Alpha & Delta AD01) or better clarity/details (e.g. GR07 Classic), but not both at the same time.

  123. ddeus25 on

    Hi, Joker,
    Although I have a few full-sized cans, I only use these indoors; I use IEMs when on the commute. At present I’m into budget IEMs and have used Soundmagic ES18, Xiaomi Pistons (both v2 and v3) as well as models of the lesser known Chinese brand Awei (ST200vi). Presently, I’m a bit fatigued with all the bassy sound which are the signatures I get from these phones and have been looking for a pair that have a less heavy low end. I’m wondering if the Zero Audio Carbo Tenore is a good buy if I were craving for a more neutral sound. My current playlist includes jazz and heavy metal .

    • ljokerl on

      No experience with Zero Audio products but there’s quite a few good neutral earphones out there, depending on your exact budget of course. In the ~$60 bracket two of my favorites are the Etymotic Research MC5 and the Havi B3 Pro I.

      • ddeus25 on

        Thank you very much. I’ll be hunting for the IEMs you recommended. More power to you. 🙂

  124. Simon on

    Hi Joker i own a pair of RHA MA750 that i bought on your advice in january and i’m really happy with them but i would like to try a new sound signature, especially since, from what i read (do you agree?), the ma750 sound signature is not the best for jazz/rock/folk and some classical that is what i mostly listen to (even if i really love how some trumpet and bass jazz tracks sounds).
    I’m looking for some balanced sounding iems in the 100€ price tag and particularly i was interested in Hifiman re-400 and FAD heaven II (really good looking iems and seems to have a very good build quality).
    Regarding re-400 i found them for 110€ but i never bought from the vendor that has them. The FAD Heaven II, instead, are sold on Amazon (that i would prefer for their proven good assistance) at 78€.
    What would you suggest between the two iems? Have you other models that you think would be more suitable?

    Thanks in advance

    • Simon on

      Oh, forgot to mention Philips Fidelio S1, but from reviews they seems to have a more enhanced bass…

      • ljokerl on

        I happen to like the Heaven II, especially at that price vs the RE-400. It sounds like you like their design, too, which is always a plus, and the Heaven II would definitely provide you with a nice contrast to the MA750. Compared to the RE-400 the Heaven II is somewhat bright and a little harsh, but unless smoothness is one of your top requirements for this purchase, I don’t think it’s a concern. I can’t think of another balanced-sounding IEM that I’d pick over the Heaven II given that pricing.

        • Simone on

          Thank you for your reply!
          Yeah, i like how heaven II loks, indeed. Regarding sound (that’s the most important thing!) you think the FAD’s brightness and harshness could be fatiguing?

          One more question, if you don’t mind. Would you suggest an headphone amp considering i listen mostly from my iphone 6 plus headphone out, my iMac (with whom i have a ground noise problem that an amp could possibly fix) and a soon-to-arrive macbook air or surface pro. Most of my music is 320kbps AAC, some 256kbps AAC and a few 320kbps MP3 (didn’t go lossless because i like to have all my music with me 😀 ). I also considered a DAC/Amp but i’m not sure it is worth with ~100€ IEMs and a pair of Koss PRO DJ100 that i also own. In case you would suggest me some, I’m listening

          Thanks again, you are always so helpful

          • Simon on

            Reading comment again i noticed that i was not completely clear. I meant: Do you thing the amp (or a DAC/amp) is a good idea or it is useless considering my sources and gear?
            Waiting you answer about this and Heaven II.
            And again, Thank you!

          • ljokerl on

            I don’t find the MA750 or Heaven II to benefit significantly from amplification and as far as gear goes you’re already doing pretty well. The iPhone 6’s headphone out should be sufficient to drive both the BA-based Heaven II and the MA750. You’re better off investing more in your earphones than an amp/DAC at this stage.

            As for the brightness of the FADs, it depends on the listener. The RE-400 is a *very* smooth earphone so in most cases the earphone it’s competing against will sound harsher. If you already know that you’re very sensitive to harshness, I’d avoid the Heaven II. Otherwise, it’s not something I would worry about.

          • Simon on

            Don’t know why but i can’t reply directly to your message. Anyway, I’ll surely go for FAD Heaven II, i don’t think harshness could be a problem, especially since i do not like to listen music at high volume.
            Thanks! I’m sure i’ll enjoy them!

          • Simon on

            Sorry, i know i’m annoying you, really last question.
            Do you thing it’s worth doing an effort and buying Heaven IV over II (considering the their price is 169€, and that i should add 10-15€ to Heaven II for a carrying case since they don’t have one, while IV do)?

          • ljokerl on

            Unfortunately the Heaven II is the only one I have from this generation of FAD Heaven series. As for a case, you can pick a generic clamshell zipper case up on ebay for $2-3. I happen to be a fan of this slim plastic case from Fidue (because it fits easily in my pocket) and it’s still only $9 with some extra accessories: http://ebay.to/1UXnijG

          • Simon on

            I think I’ll buy Heaven II, then. Good case suggestion, I’ll see if I can find one.
            Thanks again, I’m sure I’ll enjoy them, your advices are always useful 🙂

  125. thejammonster on

    Hi joker,
    I found my way here through Head-Fi. I have ventured into hi-fi full-sized headphones recently and this has me looking to upgrade my current IEMs that I use outside of the house. I currently have Sennheiser CX 985s at work and Sennheiser CX 200s for anywhere in between home and work. My preferred genres are metal, rap/hip-hop, EDM, and indie rock. I like a lot of bass, but not so much that it overpowers the rest of the music. I think I’m probably just an inch above the official basshead line. I have some options picked out from reading through your reviews but would like your opinion since it can be difficult to compare specific models where you haven’t done so already. My budget is up to $200 for my CX 985 replacement.

    Dunu DN-1000
    HiSoundAudio Wooduo 2
    Philips Fidelio S2
    RHA MA750
    Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear
    Thinksound MS01
    Yamaha EPH-100

    What are your thoughts on the above list for quantity and quality of bass? I find my current CX 985s (which I think are very similar to the CX 980 that you reviewed) to have decent bass but not enough, so that can be a good comparison point. For the cheaper on-the-go CX 200 replacement I don’t care as much. I would only be looking for a similar sound signature to the CX 985 replacement. Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      That’s quite a variety of options there with a wide range of sound signatures. Some of those are easily eliminated (e.g. the Fidelio S2 for being too close to neutral in terms of bass quantity).

      To exceed CX980 bass quantity without going overboard you’re looking at the EPH-100 and MA750. They’re my two top recommendations for genres like hip-hop and EDM anyway, so it works out. I personally prefer the EPH-100 for having a slightly smoother upper midrange, but they both give you a good balance of enhanced bass and good overall sound quality. The next step up would be something like the Sony XBA-H3, and those things are pricier and less practical.

      • thejammonster on

        Thanks! I was leaning toward the RHA but wanted to get some confirmation. I just ordered a pair and snagged the MA350 as a budget CX 200 replacement. I’ll post again with some thoughts after I receive them.

  126. mai9 on

    I don’t understand that in this list there are many custom in-ear (like the Custom Art Music One), aren’t them suposed to be in that other list?

    Also, what’s your opinion on the Noble Audio 3U? I currently have a Phonak Audeo 022 (I don’t know what sound signature it has), and I’ve deciding on buying the RHA MA750 or that Noble Audio 3U or the EarWerkz Supra 2, or the Custom Art Music One. In a shop I liked the sound of the B&W P5, but they are expensive and I’d prefer an in-ear model. Thanks

    • ljokerl on

      Different authors. The other (dedicated custom IEM) list is for stuff reviewed by average_joe. Wouldn’t make sense to combine all of our CIEMs into one list since the rating scales we use are different.

      No experience with the Noble 3U but the 022 has a sound signature between “balanced” and “warm and smooth”. It has a small amount of bass enhancement and is pretty flat between the mids and highs. Kind of like a SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Pro. The MA750 is significantly bassier and a little more v-shaped. The Music One is more flat, kind of like the Phonak 122. More accurate, but it’s moving in the opposite direction from the 022’s sound than that B&W set you liked.

      • mai9 on

        ok thanks. Maybe then I will get a MA750 or a Noble 3U if I want to spend 3x the money. I am a bit sad because the Music One looked like a great product.

      • mai9 on

        Another question, is the B&W P5 “V-shaped” or it would be “basshead”? I read here that the MA750 is “warm and smooth”. The Music One would be “balanced”? The Noble website and reviews say the 3U is V-shaped.

        Thanks

        • ljokerl on

          The P5 is warm and smooth. The Music One is quite balanced. Keep in mind it’s all a spectrum and two sets in the same category can still sound pretty different from each other. Every manufacturer has their own idea of what a certain type of earphone should sound like.

  127. Chris Yi on

    Hey Joker! So after doing more research I’ve come down to deciding between your highly recommended MA750 and the EPH 100. I listen to a lot of layered music with lots of vocals but I also listen to rap and hip hop and would like a set of earbuds that provide a fun and rich bass sound.

    Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      Hmm.. they’ll both do fine for this and provide a fun, enhanced-bass sound. If I had to pick I’d go for EPH-100 as it has slightly less recessed mids and can be a better match for vocals as a result.

      • Chris Yi on

        Alright thanks! Also could you do a review on the Dunu DN – 900s?

        • ljokerl on

          Sorry, didn’t like those at all. Not planning to review them.

  128. EAyanlar on

    What would be improvement to Yamaha EPH-100 ? For bass heavy music, Like Future House, EDM, Deep House. Would prefer more bass than EPH-100.

    Cheers

    • ljokerl on

      If you want to maintain the overall sound quality of the EPH-100 and also stay with a close sound signature, but add even more bass, you’re probably going to have to go upmarket, like with a sony XBA-Z5 or one of the JVC FX-series IEMs (e.g the FX700).

      If you’re okay with simply trading some clarity and resolution away for more bass impact compared to the EPH-100, you have much more reasonably-priced options like the NHT Superbuds and the Beats by Dre Tour 2.0

      • EAyanlar on

        What about the Custom Artt Music Onr?

        • ljokerl on

          Way less bass than an EPH-100.