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2016 In-Ear Earphone Buyer’s Guide by Sound Signature

The earphone market is huge and encompasses everything from dollar-store buds to $2000 custom-fit monitors. Differences between them abound, but neither price nor brand name guarantee that you’re getting the very best performance for your needs.

We’ve tested over 350 earphones from all around the world in order to find the best values for every preference and budget. For this guide we confined our selections to sets currently available in the US through either US-based or global retailers. In addition to sound quality, we considered factors such as construction quality, comfort, and convenience, holding pricier models to a higher standard.

We grouped this guide into 4 basic sound signature types: basshead, warm and smooth, V-shaped, and balanced, plus one miscellaneous group. Keep in mind, however, that even earphones within the same grouping can differ significantly in overall performance. The goal here is not to find the one sound profile that’s universally praised, but to be able to better understand your own sound signature preferences so you can find the best sound for you.

In addition to considering your preferred sound tuning and any other desired functionality such as high noise isolation or an inline microphone for headset use, keep in mind the audio source you plan to use. For instance, some smartphones and computers may not pair well with sensitive or difficult-to-drive earphones. If you have to choose between upgrading your source and headphones, going for the headphones will maximize your sound quality gain per dollar, but keep in mind that higher-end sets will need a decent source to shine.

Lastly, don’t forget the importance of a good fit with your earphones. Most in-ears were designed to maintain a tight seal with the ear canal at all times, and their sound quality will suffer tremendously with a poor fit. Check out our earphone fit guide for info on wearing your in-ear headphones correctly.

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Last major overhaul: 04/22/2016: 6 outdated recommendations removed, 9 new ones added



Earphones for fans of heavy bass who value bass impact, depth, and power above all else. Because heavily enhanced mid-bass often results in bloated, boomy sound, we focused on finding earphones that provide deep, rumbling sub-bass and maintain decent clarity. In addition to the boosted bass, some of these sets emphasize treble for a v-shaped sound.

Below $50


JVC HA-FX101 ($20) – JVC’s enhanced-bass “Xtreme Xplosives” earphones are a bargain find for the bass-obsessed, combining plentiful bass with prominent, somewhat harsh treble. The overall sound is competent, if slightly unrefined compared to pricier sets, but two things are certain – the low end is sure to please bass fans and the sound is excellent for the price. It comes in several colors and a version with a built-in microphone and remote, the FR201, is also available. Read full review

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Popclik String
Popclik String

Popclik String ($10 – $25)For a brand focused on the Latin America headphone market where decent, inexpensive headphones are not too common, Popclik IEMs aim surprisingly high in both performance and design. Even the entry-level String model comes in rather expensive-looking packaging and offers strong performance, nice ergonomics, and integrated headset functionality. Elevated bass and treble provide a lively, energetic sound, and as an overall package there is way more here than I typically expect to see at this price.

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

NarMoo S1
NarMoo S1

NarMoo S1 ($32 – $35) – The S1 is a dual dynamic driver earphone with separate 10- and 6mm dynamic drivers in each earpiece, with the 10mm acting as a subwoofer to deliver powerful bass. The overall sound signature is smooth and full-bodied, avoiding the heavily recessed midrange and rolled-off treble many entry-level bass-heavy earphones suffer from. The earpieces are on the large side, but solidly built and comfortable except in small ears. Read full review

Buy from / Buy from – use coupon code “THL” | Manufacturer’s site

Retired: RHA MA350, PADACS Aksent PD114, Nuforce NE-600X



HiSoundAudio Wooduo2
HiSoundAudio Wooduo2

HiSoundAudio Wooduo 2 ($60 – $100) – Though HiSoundAudio is better-known for their high-end mp3 players and amplifiers, the company has actually been manufacturing earphones just as long. The Wooduo 2 is HiSound’s idea of a proper basshead earphone, one that produces the lowest frequencies without any drop-off or distortion. In addition to some of the most powerful subbass on the market, the Wooduo 2 offers surprisingly good clarity and prominent, well-extended treble. Complete with a unique – if a bit gaudy – aesthetic, the Wooduo 2 is an all-around competent basshead delight. Read full review

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Retired: Pump Audio Earphones, Velodyne vPulse

Over $100

Beats Tour 2.0
Beats Tour 2.0

Beats Tour 2.0 ($100 – $150) – The latest revision of the Beats Tour in-ears has impressed me with its smoother, more refined sound, improved fit, and more understated design compared to its predecessor. The bass is not as overwhelming as you may expect, either, and while the Tour 2.0 isn’t tops in sound quality per dollar, less pricy competitors also have trouble matching its comfort and features. Read full review on

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Retired: Future Sonics Atrio MG7


Warm and smooth

These earphones are characterized by moderately enhanced bass and level or laid-back treble. Emphasis specifically on the mid-bass region often results in rich, full-bodied sound.

Below $50

Dunu Trident
Dunu Trident

Dunu Trident ($25 – $35) – This unique-looking earphone showcases great attention to detail – its packaging, build quality, and design are all worthy of a higher price tag. While the other options in this category all sound clearer and more refined, the Trident impresses with a warm and smooth signature that’s easy to enjoy and difficult to dislike. With a conventional cable, the Trident is also easier to live with every day than the MH1C and its packaging makes it a superior gift. Read full review

Buy from / Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Sony MH1C
Sony MH1C

Sony MH1C ($25 – $80) – Sony’s diminutive smartphone headset can commonly be found well below its retail price, but even at the full $80 MSRP the MH1C is a good deal solely for its superb audio quality. The earphone provides a warm, enhanced-bass sound with surprisingly good clarity and treble presence. The small size and soft eartips ensure long-term comfort, with the only downsides being the asymmetric flat cable and remote designed for Sony Xperia phones (it still has limited Apple and Android functionality) Read full review

Buy from / Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Retired: Xiaomi Piston 2



Shure SE215
Shure SE215

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

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Retired: HiSoundAudio Crystal, SteelSeries Flux In-Ear, Fidue A63

Over $100


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

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Yamaha EPH-100
Yamaha EPH-100

Yamaha EPH-100 ($90 – $150)
– Yamaha’s flagship earphone provides big sound in a small package, based around a dynamic microdriver wrapped in a compact, comfortable, and well-built aluminum shell. Noise isolation is outstanding and the sound quality is great as well, with strong bass, lush mids, and smooth – albeit slightly docile – treble. Add a dynamic presentation and impressive stereo imaging, and the EPH-100 is easily one of the best-performing earphones in its price class. Read full review

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site




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

Philips SHE3590
Philips SHE3590

Below $50

Philips SHE3580 / SHE3590 ($9 – $15) – These bargain-bin miracles may look like average dollar-store in-ears but their sound tells a completely different story. With excellent presence across the frequency spectrum, enhanced bass, and crisp, clean treble, the sound of the Philips is worth much more than what you pay. Small and comfortable, they come in several color combinations and are the perfect small gift for music fans of all ages.

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Soundmagic E10
Soundmagic E10

Soundmagic E10 ($35 – $45) – Though not quite as clear and resolving as the Philips SHE3580 or Piston 3, the E10 is a great all-around alternative with less bass emphasis, smoother treble, and a wider and airier sound. A headset version with mic and 3-button remote, the E10M, is also available. Read full review

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site


Retired: VSonic GR02 Bass Edition, VSonic VSD1/VSD1S, VSonic VSD3/VSD3S, Xiaomi Piston 3




JVC HA-FXT90 ($75 – $100) – This Japan import is chock-full of technology, combining two dynamic drivers – a carbon-coated tweeter and a carbon nanotube woofer – in a single housing. The sound of the FXT90 is balanced in an aggressive sort of way, with the intimate midrange giving up only a bit of emphasis to the prominent bass and sparkly treble. The performance is strengthened by good timbre and a nicely layered presentation, making these JVCs one of the best deals in portable audio. Read full review

Buy from / Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear
Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear

Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear ($85 – $100) – The Momentum In-Ear follows in the footsteps of the on- and over-ear Momentum headphones with its stylsh design, comfortable, lightweight construction, and impressive audio performance. Its sound is v-shaped and slightly warm thanks to a generous amount of bass enhancement. The midrange is mildly recessed while the top end carries a high level of energy for a textbook V-shaped sound signature. The Momentum in-ear is available in both iOS and Android versions with full-featured 3-button remotes. Read full review

Buy from / Buy from / Buy from / Buy from / Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

1MORE Triple Driver
1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones

1MORE Triple-Driver In-Ear Headphones ($100) – The flagship in-ear headphones from 1MORE are an excellent value, starting with a hybrid triple-driver setup that’s virtually unheard of in this price range. The punchy, mildly v-shaped sound signature is a compromise between “audiophile” and “consumer”, which is not a bad thing in itself and makes the 1MORE an easy recommendation for many listeners. In addition, the inline remote is universally compatible with both Android and iOS devices.

Buy from / Buy from / Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Retired: Astrotec AM-800, MOE-SS01, Thinksound MS01, Alpha & Delta AD01

Dunu DN-1000
Dunu DN-1000

Over $100

DUNU DN-1000 ($160 – $210) – The DN-1000 is a hybrid earphone – that is, it combines a dynamic driver acting as a subwoofer with a dual balanced armature setup handling the mids and highs. It has superb bass – deep and hard-hitting, with almost no bloat – as well as very good clarity. Its V-shaped signature makes it especially great for modern music – EDM, pop, and so on – and the excellent construction and good noise isolation, though typical for DUNU, still stand out among $200 IEMs. Read full review

Buy from / Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

DUNU DN-2000
DUNU DN-2000

DUNU DN-2000 ($260 – $315) – On top of their similar aesthetics and construction, the DN-1000 and DN-2000 are both triple-driver “hybrid” earphones with V-shaped sound tuning. Sonically, the pricier DN-2000 is not a direct upgrade over the DN-1000, but rather a slightly more balanced and refined alternative with a bit less bass, a more spacious and airy soundstage, less recessed mids contributing to better vocal clarity, and treble that is a touch smoother. All in all, I consistently preferred the DN-2000 in my listening, but the differences are subtle enough that some users– hip-hop and EDM listeners, for example – may not see much benefit from the pricier DN-2000 or even find the bassier, slightly more v-shaped DN-1000 preferable. Read full review

Buy from / Buy from / Buy from CTC Audio | Manufacturer’s site




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

Below $50

Etymotic Ety-Kids
Etymotic Ety-Kids 3

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

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Brainwavz M1
Brainwavz M1

Brainwavz M1 ($35 – $45) – Of the many budget earphones offered by Hong Kong-based Brainwavz, the original M1 still stands out many years after its release with its smooth and natural sound. There’s no bass boost here – just a balanced signature with a mild focus on the midrange and very smooth and pleasant treble. The small size, comfortable form factor, and complete accessory kit all make the M1 a user-friendly all-rounder perfect for first-time earphone users. Read full review

Buy from / Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Retired: VSonic VC02



HiFiMan RE-400
HiFiMan RE-400

HiFiMan RE-400 ($60 – $80) – The folks at HiFiMan have been perfecting the accurate dynamic-driver earphone for the better part of a decade, and the latest iteration offers a very balanced, slightly mid-focused sound with a hint of warmth, providing a noticeable step up in performance from even the best entry-level models. With its comfortable form factor and good noise isolation, the RE-400 is difficult to fault on any front. Versions with microphone and remote for iOS and Android are also available. Read full review

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

VSonic GR07 Classic
VSonic GR07 Classic

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

Buy GR07 Classic from in blue, maroon, or silver / Buy from / Buy from LendMeUREars | Buy GR07 Bass Edition from / Buy from

Retired: MEElectronics A161P, Philips Fidelio S1

Over $100

Philips Fidelio S2
Philips Fidelio S2

Philips Fidelio S2 ($100 – $135) – Philips’ new flagship earphones are well-built, well-accessorized, and reasonably priced. Offering a flat and level signature with a mild bump across the bass range, the S2 also features tangle-resistant cabling and a built-in microphone and remote. The semi-open design makes them great in situations where the higher noise isolation of most other high-end earphones is undesirable and a great choice for those who don’t like the more intrusive fit of most other IEMs. Read full review

Buy from | Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Etymotic Research HF3
Etymotic Research HF3

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

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Audio-Technica ATH-IM02
Audio-Technica ATH-IM02

Audio-Technica ATH-IM02 ($170 – $200) – The Audio-Technica IM02 is priced closer to the single-driver in-ear monitor offerings from Shure and Westone but utilizes a dual-driver setup with performance to match, making it a no-brainer for musicians. It also benefits from a sturdy construction, secure fit, good noise isolation, and detachable, user-replaceable cables, as well as neutral – if just a hair smoothed-out – sound. Audiophiles and other critical listeners will appreciate the clarity and accuracy the IM02 delivers without being overly treble-heavy and harsh. Read full review on InnerFidelity

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

Retired: Fischer Audio DBA-02 mkII, Aurisonics Rockets



A catch-all for earphones that don’t strictly fit into the other categories or offer variable sound tuning.

Ostry KC06
Ostry KC06

Ostry KC06 ($45 – $65) – The KC06 is a bright, mid-forward earphone that boasts slightly enhanced bass with some sub-bass roll-off, superb clarity, sparkly treble, and a soundstage that’s wide and airy for an in-ear earphone. Next to higher-end sets it lacks some bass extension, soundstage depth, and imaging ability, but for the price it is very hard to fault. The shallow fit is comfortable in the ear, too. One caveat is the high sensitivity, which means hiss can be audible and low volumes can be hard to dial in with sources not designed for sensitive IEMs. Read full review

Buy from / Buy from / Buy from LendMeUREars

DUNU Titan 1
DUNU Titan 1

DUNU Titan 1 ($90 – $110) – The Titan 1 is the next logical step up from the KC06. It is similar to the Ostry unit in many ways – both are shallow-fit, metal earphones; both are worn cable-down and both have only moderate noise isolation; both are comfortable, especially for those who don’t like deep in-ear fit of conventional IEMs. The sound of the Titan 1 maintains the strengths of the Ostry with fewer caveats – the forward upper midrange and wide, airy presentation are retained while clarity, detail resolution, bass depth, and overall balance are all improved. The DUNU unit is also sturdier, and the $120 price tag makes it the IEM to beat for this sort of sound. Read full Review

Buy from | Manufacturer’s site

FLC Technology FLC8
FLC Technology FLC8

FLC Technology FLC8 ($320 – $360) – The main draw of the triple-driver FLC8 is the flexible 36-setting sound tuning system. Not all of the possible settings are brilliant and swapping out the ports is an exercise in patience and finesse even with the included tweezers and spare parts, but it’s pretty easy to alter the sound once you get the hang of it. Those who get tired of listening to the same sound signature, have eclectic music tastes, or aren’t yet sure of exactly what sort of sound they want are certain to find extra value here, but it’s not just the tuning system that makes this earphone special – even if limited to the default tuning, the FLC8 is a superb-sounding triple-driver earphone that also happens to be the lightest and most comfortable in its class. Fead full review

Buy from Amazon.comBuy from LendMeUREars


That concludes an overview of over two dozen of the most essential earphones for every taste and budget. For more in-depth reviews of these and other sets check out the sortable review list. This guide will be updated whenever we come across new products worth mentioning.

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


Questions or comments? Leave them below.

Last major overhaul: 12/08/2016: 5 outdated recommendations removed, 2 new ones added



Picture of ljokerl


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


1,509 Responses

  1. Hey Joker,

    You recommend to me to upgrade from Astrotec AM800 to the 1More Triple Driver a year ago since I liked the mildly v-shape of the AM800 ( My AM800 actually managed to work until now, so I never get to upgrade yet.

    I have been doing more comparison between my Piston 3 and the AM800. And I found out I really like how AM800 made vocal stands out. Combine with that airy, spacious feel, it really makes female vocal and pop music stands out. And it is easy to drive too!
    The Piston 3 sounded way more recessed on the vocal, and less airy. If the 1More TD is similar to the Piston 3, then it might not be my be-all-end-all upgrade.

    I looked at the GR07 Classic, which seem to be your reference point for ~$100 IEM. It look like all-around greatness, but not designed for vocal. How does the vocal fare on GR07C compare to something like the cheaper AM800?

  2. Hi Joker. A month later and I’m still loving the gr07. But I am currently in need of getting a portable closed back HP for work and commute in heavy dust areas (putting an iem in and out in that situation is a big headache and not safe thing to do). I’m looking for something that retains the characters of gr07 – pinpoint imaging, clarity (no haziness or grain) very extended bass, sparkly treble but without harshness or minimal harshness… Existent mids (gr07 mids are fine for me).
    To be honest I’m not looking for an upgrade at all.. just an alternative for certain situations.

    I am currently looking at the hd25 and MSR7.. I was told that msr7 has the same upper mid centric presentation of gr07 and fairly linear bass but doesnt extend so well. Msr7 treble seems to be fantastic.. on the other hand hd25 seems to have excellent bass (still not sure of extension) but trailing the msr7 in treble clarity with a bit of brashness it seems. What would be your suggestion for me? I listen to all sorts of music from old 1930s music to modern ones, generally well mastered ones. Any other headphone that you can suggest for me?

  3. Hi Joker,

    Can you recommend me choosing between Earsonics SM2 and ATH LS200is ? I cannot try them at the sound store, must order online.

    Thank you.

  4. Hi Joker!

    Will you be issuing a 2017 review any time soon?
    Quite psyched to see the update for this year from you.


  5. Yes, you’ve pretty much nailed it – the way the GR07 conveys bass is extremely natural and nearly impossible to beat, even by earphones costing many times more. The result is that with most high-end earphones it’s a give and take – they often have better mids, highs, and/or soundstaging than the GR07, but give up a little in the way of bass quality or realism. This is the case for the FLC8.

  6. Yeah I saw the flc8 review.. looks mostly like my kind of thing.. even more control and finesse in the highs I suppose. More Mids as well but gr07 Mids are good enough for me since despite some emphasis and de emphasis at places it is completely clean. But there’s this sentence in the article about the bass representation.. you told gr07 feels more natural. I love the way gr07 conveys sub bass.. it is never forward.. you never hear it, but you always feel it and with a very precise image.. just the centre of my face would feel like vibrating. And perhaps the reason why it punishes music with sub bass roll off but almost all music I have is well mastered. It has a mild midbass de emphasis but I am perfectly fine with it other than very small image jumping for panning low frequency synths . . Panning high frequency synths from left to right or vice versa has pin point imaging with good centre channel and no image skipping at the centre… Only the lower frequency synths have this mild problem. So it’s imaging is perfect for me, just the tonality can cause issues at times with perceived imaging (but I guess it’s a Goldilocks and I’ll have to give up some lower Mids for that angelic upper mid emphasized female vocals).

    How does the bass of flc8s compare? Can you describe it.

  7. What are some iems (regardless of price.. well not regardless,.. under or around 1000$) that have such clean extended treble without harshness… and equal or more extended bass (not quantity) than the Gr07. I’d probably save up and skip mid-fi.. preferably even customs by the time Gr07 kicks the bucket!.

    And I know that the slightly mid-forward ER4 is not an exact match to the slightly mid recessed GR07, but how does the treble of ER4 compare to GR07 Classic? Does the ER4 have any sparkle or is it devoid of both like the im02. I am a detail freak more than anything else.. being able to trace the nuances and the reflection paths of sound (imaging, not soundstage). Your review of ER4s was too small (very crisp though) to gather any full insight to how it sounds (except that it probably sounds excellent). The reason why I was more interested in ER4 was aside from the sound, I was more interested in the isolation capabilities!.

    Btw, Vsonic has released two new iems – the Gr07X and GR09 (gr09 not yet released but pre sale is happening). Would love to know your opinions when they arrive.

  8. Glad you’re enjoying the GR07! I learned recently that there’s now a detachable-cable version of these: . I don’t have one so I don’t know if the connectors are good/reliable but it seems like a great solution for anyone who has worn out a GR07.

    Otherwise the FLC8 (which you’ve probably read about, but if not I compared it to the GR07 here: is my pick. Etymotics and the IM02 don’t have strengths/weaknesses that match the GR07 very well.

    What you’re looking for in your treble is sparkle without harshness. There are many “reference” IEMs that are almost completely devoid of both (IM02 is one of them) – you’ll want to stay away from those. And obviously stay away from IEMs that have harshness without sparkle, but that’s more common in lower tiers.

  9. Forgot to mention.. I also love the treble glitter that I get out of the GR07. The HD598 didn’t have much glitter (it was kind of too mid forward) and the VSD3s was grating without much texture. GR07 has it with much better texture and extension compared to both the HD598 and VSD3s.

  10. On a side note, even though I am not really interested to look for an upgrade anymore, I do feel that with my usage the cable on these would wear out in a year or so, and I might have to upgrade. How do the ER4SR, FLC8s, IM02, etc compare to the GR07 Classic in terms of detail, clarity, separation, extension and tonality? I think you mentioned FLC8 to be in the same tonality of gr07 but just better in all other aspects. I’m personally more interested in ER4SR but not sure if it would be of my tastes.

  11. Hi Joker, This is Manuel Jenkin. I just jumped on the Vsonic GR07 Classic. Holy smokes. You remember last time I told you I was afraid of vsonic bcoz of vsd3s treble and that I wanted something like HD598. People around at discord convinced me that gr07 was in a totally different league from vsd3s and I went ahead I and now totally understand why you told that HD598 was dull. I just simply can’t go back to the HD598 anymore. I love the detail, texture and tonality of the GR07.. the angelic female vocal rendition (male vocals take a slight backseat but still very engaging and present, just a tad more chestiness required). It just feels natural and effortless across genres, provided they are mastered well. And the bass.. Woah, I love it. very deep and potent but not overblowing! It is a tad thin sounding but I not worrying me at all, I am actually loving the lack of midbass bloat that the HD598 used to have. The sibilance with ‘s’ sounds is actually quite flavorful and I like it. The sibilance with ‘t’ sounds can bite a bit though so not 100% perfect, but I don’t mind it. For anything well mastered I don’t find them harsh at all. There’s a little bit of treble ringing/resonance but it only lowers the perceived resolution only when the tracks get treble heavy like Daft Punk – Contact (even then It didn’t sound harsh)!. I’ve stopped thinking about upgrades for now – first time in my life I am thinking this way of ANY product. Thanks a lot – it was your reviews that got me into soundmagic e10, then the vsd3s.. then got hd598 without consultation (my bad.. but it was fairly decent sounding for the deal price 95 bucks I paid)… and now moved onto this beauty, the gr07. Every other purchase before this I could always come up with flaws and conditional enjoyment, but not so with these. Yeah it might have its own minor pitfalls, but I can easily forget those and just enjoy!!.

  12. I have chosen the etymotic hf2 and are fantastic. Maybe because are my first in ear of good level, maybe because i like a balanced bass, not exagerated, but i think that these etymotic, are good also for this aspect. Great Sound quality and superb isolation. When I have these in my ear, i don’t hear almost nothing other of music. Thanks ljokerl for your precious reviews.

    p.s. ah banal consideration but to do, is important choose the correct tips for have a real isolation and good bass. try every tip and use that one that isolate better.

  13. Hi,
    I am looking for a headphones that fit the following criteria in descending order.
    Previously using XiaoMi piston 2 but they werent comfortable when listening while lying on my bed
    I am also using the Sony MDR 1ABT and I liked how these sound.
    1.Comfort -most important, especially lying on bed
    2.Price – prefer 1 recommendation below $100 & 1 below $50
    3. Sound prefer bass
    Thank you

  14. Hi Joker

    I bought the EPH 100 in the end and just received it today. One thing I’m having difficulty with is the fit. No matter which tip I use, I can’t seem to get a good seal. I’ve used bi/tri flange tips before (Ety Hf3) so I don’t think I’m inserting them incorrectly.

    Any advice?

  15. I should mention I mostly listen to instrumental and orchestral (game OSTs, Two Steps From Hell) that have some choir, and some pop (K-Pop and J-Pop). Most important is the instrumental sound detail.

  16. Heyo Joker, I recently bought the E1001 1MORE Triple Driver and really enjoyed the sound, however the cable noise was a bit too much for me, I could hear it with every minuscule movement. I was wondering if you had any recommendations for a set that sounds like the 1MORE (perhaps with a tad more clarity/highs and mids?) in a similar price range (downwards of 250$ CAD), but with better cables. Thanks!

  17. Hi Joker,

    I’m looking for an earphone that I can use to alternate with my daily drivers the im02. I listen to mostly vocals and acoustics covers. I appreciate how the im02 can deliver songs with vocals as clean as they can be. Most of the iems on the market I came across are too bassy for my taste and impede into the vocals that I value alot of the im02. I read some of the recommendations in your comments about the aurisonics rockets being one of the similar neutral signature. Hence I went to try it out but sadly the mids felt too forward and feels claustrophobic. It isn’t as easy to drive from my smartphone compared to the im02.

  18. Ahhhh I have always wanted to try the rockets, it’s such a shame that fender just scrapped them when they bought aurisonics :(.

    In your opinion, for a slightly colored IEM, Can the DN-2000 be beat under 300? Would you say the lack of removeable cables gives them a disadvantage in the current market?

    Also, I’d give my left nut to get my hands on a pair of dunu dk-4001 as everything I’ve read about them is just amazing but DUNU priced them a little too high for an IEM for me :(.

    One last thing, what advantages would a hybrid IEM such as the dn2000 have over a single dynamic like the P1?

  19. Both have comparable bass depth, clarity, and soundstaging but MA750 is definitely easier to find tips for, so I think you’ll be happy with it. They both have pros and cons, but are both excellent earphones for warm, enhanced-bass sound with very reasonable “Hi-Fi” qualities.

    Yamaha has been phasing out the EPH-100 in favor of the EPH-M100 and EPH-M200 for quite some time but the market has been resisting – the feedback for the new sets hasn’t been as good while the old ones are still plenty very well-liked. I haven’t tried the new models myself.

  20. I think Yamaha phased out the EPH-100 in favor of the newer EPH-M100 and EPH-M200, but the feedback on these hasn’t been as good as the older model. Plus the form factor is more conventional – one of the reasons the EPH-100 is so easy to recommend is that unique highly-isolating form factor.

    Anyway, chances are the EPH-100 will keep getting harder to find. Hopefully the MA750 still has a few years left before it gets replaced.

  21. The P1 is a better buy for a reference IEM, the DN-2000 is a better buy for a v-shaped/consumer IEM. Not sure which I prefer to be honest – probably depends on my mood. DN-2000 has been a staple of my recommendations for much longer so I’d probably lean towards that if I had to pick one to live with.

    My favorite daily currently is the Aurisonics Rockets, which retail for around $250, but it’s getting hard to find these. Seems to be a pattern with some of my favorite “value for money” IEMs – first the TWFK sets (ATH-CK10, Fischer DBA-02, VSonic VC1000), then the TDK BA200, then the Rockets. Yamaha EPH-100s are probably going to disappear next…

  22. Scratch that, I’d placed an order with RHA and asked them to cancel but they’re too quick and have shipped already. Guess I’m going with RHA!

  23. Hi Joker,

    Which out of the RHA-MA750 and Yamaha EPH-100 would you recommend for clear sound, nice soundstage and a really deep-feeling bass? My music tastes range from R&B, hip-hop, rock, metal, folk …. quite a mix really.

    I’m generally not a fan of over-ear so slightly edging towards the Yamaha but I think I read earlier that it’s easier to use third party tips (I’ve ordered some Spinfits) on the RHA compared to the Yamaha?

    I also noticed that Amazon UK advises that there’s a newer version of the EPH-100, the EPHM200. Do you have any experience with this?

  24. Thanks Joker. Only reason I brought up Comply was it appears to be a recommended aftermarket fix for more/better isolation. If the isolation is sufficient on the stock EPH-100 tips, then I’m happy to go with them.

    Here in Singapore, the EPH-100 seems to be a bit hard to find, so having a second option with the MA750 is nice.

  25. In this current market, would you still rate the dn2000 as a better buy? For you which is you favorite between the two?

    Also, what would you say is your favorite go to daily driver IEM in the under 300 USD category?

  26. I use Aurisonics Rockets myself but they’ve gotten difficult to find so I can’t recommend them at this point.

    1MORE probably isn’t sufficiently isolating. EPH-100 is great when it comes to isolation, about on-par with SE215, but not sure if Comply tips fit it well. MA750 is kind of a compromise between the two – shallower fit a-la 1MORE but isolation is better than the 1MORE, and it also natively fits Comply tips (I believe some are even included). I think either EPH-100 or MA750 should be good, depending on price/availability, but if you really want to use Complys MA750 is the way to go.

  27. Isolation on the P1 is fine, I think it’s a little better than DN-2000 (but then again I’m not using foam tips on my DUNU). Sound-wise P1 is a little flatter, biggest concession to the DN-2000 is probably in deep bass. This is a strength of the DN-2000, which has very linear bass extension despite only moderate bass quantity, and not a strong point of the P1, which rolls off a bit. Otherwise P1 is good – it’s one of the few IEMs that can put up a fight with DN-2000 in soundstage, has similar midrange quality (good) and comparable treble as well (both can be a little splashy but generally good).

  28. I’d probably go with a mild v-shape or a balanced sound to maintain versatility with different rock subgenres, but ultimately it varies by listener – one person may prefer a v-shaped sound with a particular music selection, while another may prefer a balanced sound for the same tracks.

    Generally speaking I rarely have a set recommendation for a specific genre or genres, but there are versatile IEMs that you can’t really go wrong with – for example the VSonic GR07 (or GR07 bass edition), which have been a staple of the Hi-Fi scene for 5+ years now.

  29. The Yamahas and RHAs both have good bass in every sense (quantity and quality). You might miss some of the overboost of the CX300 at first, but with those two you’ll be fine in the long run.

    From what I understand the M6 PRO has less bass / a flatter sound than the regular M6 model, so I wouldn’t recommend that if you’re concerned about bass, and the AM90 will have no bass at all compared to a CX300.

    PFE012 is a little tough because I think it’s a great value at $40-50. Still doesn’t have as much bass as an MA750/EPH-100 but it’s a really good earphone. Especially if you can pick up some gray filters for later in case you ever decide to turn it into a 112 – then you’ll also have a great “reference” earphone in your collection.

    But great deals aside, I’d lean towards the MA750 or EPH-100. MA750 probably wins out here because of 3-year warranty, native over-ear design, and foam tips being included. It’s a warm and somewhat mellow earphone, not something with a huge “wow” factor but very easy to listen to and the underlying sound quality grows on you. Not sure if you’d describe the Fidelio X2 the same way (it’s been a while since I’ve tried a full-size Philips headphone), but if yes then the MA750 should be pretty safe.

  30. It depends on the degree/severity of the “v” that you’re after. For example the FLC Technology FLC8 offers a very compelling “mild” v-shape signature with noticeable sound quality gains even coming from a DN-1000, but again its sound is flatter than the DN-1000 (or Sennheiser Momentum) so it may not be right for you.

    For something that has a true v-shape in a higher-price range, I guess the Sennheiser IE800 is probably as good as I’ve tried, though it is a little more balanced than the DN-1000. I reviewed it here: (it’s gotten less expensive since). Admittedly I haven’t tried the newest generation of JVC FX-series IEMs, and those have been quite good in the past for v-shaped sound. In fact, there’s a bunch of ultra high-end IEMs I haven’t tried, so the answer to your question is yes, but probably outside of my scope as you go to $750 and beyond.

    There are also some earphones that go too far for me – for example the Unique Melody 3X is in my opinion compromised by how severe its midrange recession is, but I’m sure there are some who enjoy its intense v-shaped sound profile.

  31. Forgot to mention that I’m currently using Shure SE215. They are breaking down hence I’m looking for a replacement.

  32. Hi Joker

    What would you recommend for movie/Netflix watching in fairly noisy environments like trains? Isolation would be fairly important to me. I have tried Ety’s but they are just too uncomfortable for me. I’m deciding between the RHA MA750, Yamaha EPH 100 and 1More Triple Drive. I’m also open to getting some Comply tips to help with isolation.

  33. Cant edit my comment, but I also have found someone selling some Phonak PFE 012s which i think could fit for me based on your review, seems a pretty good deal for $50AUD also.

    So tossing between the RHA MA750 and Yamaha EPH-100; but also considering Astrotec AM90s, MEElectronics M6 Pros and Phonak PFE 012s as a cheaper alternative.

  34. Hi Joker,

    Would you say the MEE Pinnacle P1 is a good replacement for my broken DUNU DN-2000?

    Or what would you recommend around 200 USD that would have the same isolation as the dn-2000?

  35. Hi Joker,

    First of all, thank you very much for the listing. It really helps to choose a good headset.

    I wanted to consult the following: which earphone would you recommend to listen to rock, grunge, punk, indie, etc?

    Thanks so much for your help!

  36. Hey Joker,

    First of all 11/10 site, much more informative, consistent, and easy to navigate compared to headfi and reddit.

    I’ve been using a pair of sennheiser cx300iis for a while now but I lost the tips. Figured its more cost effective for me to get new IEMs than replace the tips.

    Those are the only IEMs I’ve owned so I don’t have much to compare to. However I love my Philips Fidelio X2 headphones, which have a massive soundstage and are probably on the warm side but also have a bump towards the sub bass.

    I listen to electronic, trip-hop, IDM, downtempo and ambient music genres. I want to feel the bass, but not have it overpower the small details in the more ambient stuff. Most the electronic and ambient stuff i listen to is Sub bass heavy.

    Side note: I’ve been itching to try foam tips, and the over-ear style.

    I’ve been considering both the RHA MA750 and the Yamaha EPH-100. They’re in my price range and close to what i would enjoy I think.

    Only concerns are I might miss the bass i got from my senns if i get the RHA, and the Yams seem poor on the comfort side. and I don’t want to fork out $130 AUD for such uncertainty.

    An Audio store that i buy from has the Astrotec AM90, and MEElectronics M6 Pro on sale for $50AUD.
    Whats our opinion of these IEMs considering the information I attempted to give?

    Thanks and sorry for the terrible articulation, pretty new to the wonders of the audio world.

  37. Thank you!

    I just put on the Piston 3 again and the bass is great, but the mids are higher than I expected, and the highs are average. I may have been a bit harsh on them. My apologies!

    Will buy a Sennheiser soon off your link soon! By the way, what would you recommend above DUNU 1000 besides DUNU 2000? $500 IEM, $750 IEM, $1000 IEM for V shaped? Is there an IEM that would wow me after DUNU 1000?

  38. Sounds like a deeper V-shape is what you’re after, and the Momentum is definitely better than the 1MORE Triple and Piston 3 in that regard, but still sounds a little different from the DN-1000, which has slightly “meatier” bass but also thinner/sharper treble (thanks to the hybrid driver system). I think it’s probably a worthwhile tradeoff for the lower price and much lighter/more comfortable earpieces.

    I will also say that the deepest v-shape earphones I’ve tried recently have been the Popclik String. These are not Hi-Fi by any means but they’ve dropped to $6.99 on Amazon recently so if you’re in the US they might be worth picking up as a beater/backup set: . I should probably replace the SHE3580 in the guide above with these, as long as the price holds at $15 or less.

  39. Hey Joker,

    I loved reading this article. My first audiophile earbuds were the Yuin PK3, and I still use them today. I listen to electronic, classic, trance, pop and in general songs with a V shape. Thanks to your recommendation, I bought the DUNU 1000 many years ago. All I can say is that I absolutely loved them. They were super clear and playing electronic music with the rock EQ on PowerAmp for Android was a dream, and so was on my Ultrabook. The only con was that they were quite heavy and couldn’t wear them for a long time. Because of this, and that they starting showing wear, I have decided to get a new pair of IEMs.

    I want to say that the Xiaomi Piston 3 were a great price so I ordered it when you had it on here. But when I used them, they were not even close to a V shape and my music sounded awful. My PK3 and iPhone earbuds sounded way better. I tried breaking them in and played with the EQ but nothing. So for the past year I’ve been sticking with my PK3. Kind of funny that PK3 is a $30 earbud keeps me happy after listening to $200 IEM, eh?

    Recently I see that you updated with the 1MORE triple driver. The price looks good, but I am afraid that my V shape may differ from your V shape because of our different views of the Pistons 3. Regardless, I am looking for a new IEM like the Dunu 1000 but lighter, and don’t mind if it has a mic. Do you have any other recommendations either than the 1MORE? The Sennheiser Momentum? Once I buy I probably won’t be able to return it.

    Keep up the good work.

  40. Out of what I’ve heard, the SBH80 is by far my favorite wireless IEM for audio quality. I haven’t tried the Jaybird X3 but the X2 is pretty mediocre. So are the Jabra Rox, JLAB Epics, Plantronics Backbeat Fits, and all of the other “sports” ones I’ve tried. Some are better than others, but they are just not tuned for fidelity.

    I tried some true wireless ones as well – the Airpods, the Samsung Gear Iconx, the Bragi Dash, and some cheap ones off Amazon. The Airpods and Gear Iconx sound quite decent, a step above the sports sets I mentioned above, but again neither sounds better than the SBH80.

    I suspect you’d need a set from a company with a Hi-Fi focus to beat the Sony. The Klipsch X12 wireless looks interesting, but is very pricy. The other option is an MMCX Bluetooth adapter + a set of detachable-cable (MMCX) Hi-Fi earphones. I have a feeling most of the cheap MMCX adapters don’t sound very good, though, and ones from reputable manufacturers like Westone are $150 just for the adapter. Keeping an eye out for future developments in this space.

  41. With your requirements it seems like MA750 is the best choice. I would personally be fine using them as my daily drivers, their great strength is that they don’t really do anything wrong. Should run you about $120-$130.

  42. Hey Joker!

    I was checking out your IEM list, but it seems to be wired only. Maybe you can help me out with this question, though. I have been using the Sony SBH80 for a few years now, and as far as I am concerned, this is my ‘golden standard’ for an in-ear Bluetooth headset: a $99 headset that offers the sound quality of a $149 model.

    I wanted to ‘upgrade’ to a model with newer Bluetooth version and longer battery life, so I went for the Apple BeatsX. I received them today, and I’m appalled by the sound quality, which is unbalanced with horrible mids/highs. I’ve quickly tried the Bose QuietControl 20s, but dislike the huge neckband (also looks uncomfortable on the Sennheiser Momentums) and didn’t hear a big improvement over the sound of the SBH80.

    Do you have any recommendation for in-ear Bluetooth models around the $150 price mark? I haven’t been able to find the Jaybird X2 or X3 models yet, the custom equalizer functionality sounds good, but at the same time — great controls can’t fix a shitty headphone.

  43. The description towards the end of that post is actually quite similar to what i am getting from mine. Except even better – soundstage, imaging and separation are very impressive, and the bass response is truly something else. Watching movies is extremely immersive. However, they are quite unforgiving to bad mastering.

  44. I did notice that the 1more does not have anywhere near the level of treble extension of the dn-2000 though. So if I’m gonna for something isolating, in that price range you would go ma750? I could probably go up to 150 if it was worth it

  45. Haven’t tried that version, but it would need to be more than just a slight improvement on the regular SE215 to beat the MA750.

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