In-Ear Earphone Review List

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.

[wpdatatable id=27]

Color coding:
Blue = denotes custom-fit earphones (CIEMs)
Red = denotes discontinued models (select “Show discontinued products” checkbox on left to display)

i column denotes Headset functionality:
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)

Rating Breakdown
All ratings are scaled to how the particular IEM peforms compared to the best set I’ve heard to date in a particular category.

Accessories: Depends on both quantity and quality of the accessories, as well as on how well-suited they are for the earphone.
Build Quality: Based on choice of materials, assembly quality, physical design, and overall feel. Also includes any observations on the durability of the earphones while in my care.
Isolation: Amount of reduction in ambient noise provided by the IEM. All IEMs isolate external noise by virtue of sealed ear coupling, some more than others. The most isolating IEMs are capable of providing is upwards of 30db of attenuation, an 8-fold reduction in ambient noise volume (enough to reduce the volume of a vacuum cleaner to a whisper).
Microphonics: Susceptibility to cable noise, a common malady affecting in-ear earphones. See here for more info. 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.
Comfort: How comfortable the earphone is over long stretches of time. Typically tip- and ear-dependent, but general trends still apply.

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

1,180 Comments

  1. 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!

      • 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.

        • 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!

          • 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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.

          • 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!

            • 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.

              • 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.

  4. 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!

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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.

  5. 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….

    • 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

    • 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.

  8. 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

    • 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.

      • 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

        • 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.

          • 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.

              • 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.

                • 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!

  9. 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

  10. 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.

      • 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.

  11. 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.

    • 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.

  12. Shellbearnoon on

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

  13. 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$

    • 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.

      • 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

        • 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.

  14. 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.

      • 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.

  15. 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.

    • 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.

  16. 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!

    • 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.

  17. 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.)

    • 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.

  18. 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

    • 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.

  19. 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?

    • 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.

  20. 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.

    • 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?

        • 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?

          • 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.

  21. 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?

    • 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.

  22. 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

    • 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.

  23. 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

    • 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

      • 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?

        • The difficulty of finding a true GR07/GR07 BE upgrade has been discussed at length on the GR07 review page here: https://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: https://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.

          • 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…

            • 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.

              • 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.

                • 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!

                  • 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.

  24. 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)

    • 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.

      • 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?

        • 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.

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

                • 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?

                  • 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.

                    • 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.

                    • 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.

  25. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

  26. 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!

    • 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 🙂

      • 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.

        • 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 🙂

    • ThatGuyOverThere on

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

  27. 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.

    • 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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?

          • 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.

            • 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.

    • 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.

  30. 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

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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)

          • 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!

            • 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.

              • 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!

                • 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.

  31. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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?

        • 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.

  32. 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?

  33. 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

    • 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.

  34. 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

    • 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

      • 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

        • 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.

  35. 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!

    • 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.

      • 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?

        • 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?

            • 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.

      • 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

        • 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.

  36. 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

    • 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.

          • 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.

              • 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.

                • 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

                  • 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.

  37. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

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

    • 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.

  39. 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! 😀

    • 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.

  40. 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.

    • 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.

        • 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.

  41. 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?

  42. 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!

    • 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.

      • 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.

  43. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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?

        • 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.

          • 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

            • 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.

  44. 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!

    • 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.

  45. 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?

    • 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: https://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/dunu-titan-1/

  46. 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.

    • 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.

        • 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.

Leave A Reply