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Custom in-ear monitors reviews list

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

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

ABOUT CUSTOM IN-EAR MONITORS

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

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

HOW TO USE THE LIST

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

NOT SURE WHAT TO GET?

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

117 Responses

  1. Want to buy my first CIEM. It’s mostly music on iPhone during day and some computer audio card at evening.
    Mostly listening jazz, funk and electronic music.
    Budged ~1000.
    Trying to decide between UE Reference and JH 13 V2.

    Generally JH looks better, but I would like to have mike and iOS jack, which is not available on JH13 V2 but at the same time available on V1. BUT, JH13 V1 has 6 drivers as UER, it has not bass tune as V2, and it has old 2 pin connector. MIC feature is not a stopper. But I really would like to have it.

    So, my question is, – these 8 drivers and 4-pin connectors, are they really give sensitive advantage for V2 over V1? And will V2 or even V1 significantly better than UER?

  2. Thanks for taking the time to enlighten us on these ciems. I’m a recording studio owner and producer who also plays out . I’m in the market for a reference grade ciem for mixing on the road as well as checking my own mixes while in the studio. I want the ciems not to lie to me about the mixing decisions I’m making but I also want to be able to enjoy listening to my music collection without being turned off by sterile sounding critical monitors. Three UERR seems a great choice but maybe there are more forgiving choices like the hidetion or spiral ears . I’m going to take advantage of the 30% off sale and order either a ref remastered or the prm if they will honor the discount on the prm. This is taking up weeks of my life educating myself .. thanks for your help .

  3. Hi Joe, I was considering making the jump for a Ciem from my er4xr, looking for something balanced with strong mids and treble extension. I am considering the UE Pro 5 and Jomo5v2. Do you have any other recommendations in the 1000sgd-ish price range

  4. So many options, a little lost where to start. Maybe you could offer some advice. First time CIEM buyer. Looking for a versatile CIEM with good isolation as I intend to use them while traveling, doing yard work, and various other things around the house. Definitely a bass head. I appreciate well balanced and clear sound. Not looking for bass over everything, but I love bass! Ideally something with a maximum price of $500, but less would be better for my first pair. If there are not a lot of viable options in that price range, I’d consider spending more. Thanks.

  5. Hi David, thanks for the question. I used to listen to a HD600 and think it offers excellent value, but with so many other great CIEM options, use those. First, (C)IEMs sound different than headphones in general, as the head-space is presented quite differently, but higher-end CIEMs do get closer to the same experience.

    In my experience, CIEMs have always sounded better than UIEMs. CIEMs should always be comfortable, but IEMs comfort is determined by the shell size, ear tips, and other factors. Something to consider is, if you don’t like a UIEM, you can always resell (or return) it, but the same can’t be said for a CIEM, although the manufacturer may allow you to exchange it for a different model.

    My recommendation: get a UIEM to start, see how you like it, and if it is all good, you may or may not decide to upgrade to a CIEM. If you don’t like the particular IEM, or decide to stick with headphones, you have that option as well. There are many options from a sound quality standpoint, and I would start by reading the reviews here to see what you think hits the sound signature spot.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  6. Hey Joe,

    I’m thinking about completely changing the way I listen to music. I currently use an HD600 paired with the Schiit Magni 2 and Modi 2 at home after having upgraded from the ATH M50x half a year ago. I realized I enjoyed the detail and clarity of the HD600 over the M50x, but I also missed the experience of a more fleshed out bass. I want to get into iems now to replace my current setup and I’m not sure whether I should buy a ciem or a uiem. The sound signature I prefer most is a mix between the HD600 and the M50x, and I think the LCD X nails it.

    After conducting some research online, I feel like I’m leading myself in circles. I don’t know whether a high end uiem or a ciem would sound better for the price, and there are so many iems out there that I don’t know how to choose one. I highly prioritize comfort and sound quality, so I’d appreciate any advice on what I should consider buying based on my preferences. With the gear I currently have I think a high end iem would still be able to surprise me with how much better it can sound. What do you think?

  7. The best answer may be to get a ER-4S reshelled into a custom. The CIEMs I have heard strive to have as much extension on both ends as possible, but single drivers, and the closes I have heard is to what you are looking for is the Music One (my review, ljokerl’s review). If you want a focus on the midrange, Westone and EarSonics have a sound signature that fits, but there is plenty of bass with both. Also, some CIEM companies will custom tune based on hearing preferences, but I am not sure how good the end result will be.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  8. Joe, I realize SA-43 as extremely neutral IEM with a bit warmth when both switches are off. I don’t use switches at all. Even though, I’d like to have another pair of CIEM where both highs and lows are not as present comparing to SA-43 with both switches turned off. What are your recommendations? Probably, that’s because I used to be a big fan of ER-4S and Sleek Audio CT6, but I don’t use them anymore.

  9. Hi Andrey, seems like you are looking for a lower driver count CIEM, possibly even a single driver, to give you the midrange without the bass / treble. The Custom Art Music One is the closest I can think of to what you described, but please let me know your thoughts on the SA-43 from a tonal balance perspective, and any IEM examples you may have for the sound signature you are looking for, and I may be able to provide some additional recommendations.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  10. Hi Joe,

    Fistly, I’d like to thank you for the review of SA-43. I received them from Alf in December and I’m still amazed by them 🙂
    However, I’d like to ask for a piece of advice. I’m looking for a CIEM with a slightly mid-oriented tonal balance with recessed both highs and lows. As I understood, this type type of tonal balance is quite unpopular, so I don’t know where to start. What would you recommend to pay attention?
    Thank you in advance!

    With Regards,

    Andrewy

  11. Hi David,

    Thanks for your question. I would say the Hidition is more neutral to my ear (like the JH13 is also more neutral to my ear), and it accentuates the details more than the ES60. But, since you prefer the W60s over the JH13, etc., that leads me to believe the sound signature is your preference. Given that, the ES60 would be a good choice, and Westone products are not bad by any stretch of the imagination. The THL reviewers I have talked with about Westone products agree that the soundstage space isn’t as large as that of competitors that have similar (but with slight differences) sound signatures such as EarSonics.

    Here are some alternatives:
    – EarSonics EM32
    – Spiral Ear SE 5-way Ultimate
    – Fit Ear PS5
    – AAW AH-Morph W500

    The above are all very, very good in their own rights, and if you want to venture down a different path for potentially a higher reward, you may want to pursue one of those. Otherwise, I am sure the ES60 would make you very happy, and if you live in the US, shipping will be cheaper as 3 of 4 products above are made outside the US (but the order process isn’t really any different).

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Cheers,

    Joe

  12. Hi Joe,

    Thanks to you (and the others) for your great work here – I’ve found it really useful. I’m thinking of getting my first pair of CIEMs, and I’d be grateful for some advice.

    I’ve narrowed it down to the Hidition NT 6 and the Westone ES60. I think of myself as prefering a neutral sound signature, and I’ve read that both of these CIEMs are relatively neutral.

    I see there’s not much love for Westone CIEMs on this site, but the ES60 has gotten a couple good reviews (including one by Steve Guttenberg). I compared the Westone W60s to a number of other universal fit options (JH 13 v2, Noble Savant, etc.) and liked it the best, so I thought the ES60 might be a good bet. However, from the reviews here the Hidition sounds outstanding: in your view, is the Hidition definitively better (as a neutral, detailed earphone), or is the ES60 worth a look?

    Thanks in advance!

    David

  13. Hi Benson,

    Yes, it is a tough decision. It seems the Lear would fit your soundstage size needs a bit better, but the SE5U is quite amazing. If you haven’t already, you may want to read jelt’s comparison, as he hears them a bit differently than I do, but close. Let us know if you have any other questions and whatever one you get will be exceptional!

    Cheers,
    Joe

  14. Thanks Joe!

    I have been deciding between Lear BD4.2 and ES5U recently, this chart makes the decision even harder since both of them seem to perform very similarly when it comes to soundstage. I know I can’t really go wrong with either but the fact that is true makes the struggle even worse :P.

    Benson Wang

  15. Hi Benson, thanks for the question and sorry for the delay. The T1 has a very large soundstage, and in my experience, no CIEM can come close to the same size, but in general, CIEMs have better “pinpoint accuracy.” In addition to my list, I have a chart where I have ranked presentation size, and here are some of the top performers:

    Model SS Width SS Depth SS Focus
    Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 100 70 85
    Spiral Ear 5-way Ultimate 85 89 99
    AAW W500 AHMorph 88 87 85
    Lear LCM BD4.2 92 90 95
    Hidition Viento R 88 85 100
    EarSonics EM32 87 84 90
    Starkey SA-43 90 89 85

    Hopefully that helps with your decision.

    Cheers,
    Joe

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