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Old 05-06-2006, 11:18 AM
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Default A List of Good IEMs (In Ear Monitors), Canal Phones, In-Ear Phones

This list hasn't been updated in a long time and has very much outlived its usefulness. Nowadays it's close to impossible to maintain such a list, since not only new IEM models but whole new companies seem to emerge on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, I will keep this thread stickied for the time being, since it provides a lot of information and useful discussion.
- Feb. 17th, 2010


IEMs (In Ear Monitors), like most of you certainly know, are not your usual earbuds. They go into your ear canal, have silicone or foam tips, usually in different sizes to match your ear canal. They provide much better bass and isolation from outside noise.

IEMs are generally considered a very good type of earphone for mobile music players, due to their superior sound quality and noise attenuation.

High-End models like the Ultimate Ears or ACS have custom molded ear pieces (requires a visit to an audiologist). They generally have two to four balanced armature drivers per earplug, providing, among other advantages, better bass/mid/treble separation.

$20 - $100:$100 - $200:$200 - $500:$500 - open end:Prices are MSRP, you should get many of these phones cheaper than listed. Feel free to add to this list, in case I forgot to mention some other good IEMs here.

Note: Sony, Bose, Skullcandy, Griffin and Koss IEM products have been omitted on purpose, due to their inferior quality and/or inflated price policy.
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Last edited by EnzoTen; 03-04-2007 at 07:38 AM.
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2006, 11:41 AM
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Awesome, thank you! I plan to hit Wal Mart, BestBuy, and Circuit City in just a while and I'll look for any of these and report back on sound quality if I land any one of them. (And thanks for omitting Sony. I was a loyal user for 20 years. Never again.)
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Old 05-08-2006, 07:38 PM
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Hey all.

I own a pair of Shure E2c's. I quite like them, but they are much more "flat" sounding than I had imagined. Many reviews indicate a bassy sound, but I find they are quite nuetral. Isolation is great, I use the black super-soft flex sleeves (the clear ones hurt and I don't feel like using disposable foam ones). Not the most vibrant sounding iem's but pretty good. A little eq livens it up, but the soundstage is still a little "small".

Many reviewers say the er6i's are too clinical and sterile sounding, but I have not tried them myself so cannot comment.

There are a few people on iLounge who rave about the Panasonic hje70's. I would love to try them out since they seem like they would suit me, but spending another $100 on headphones is not in the cards yet. I will post if I get a set.

I also have some sony mdr-ex70s, pretty lousy sound, but have lasted a surprisingly long time and the short cable, behind-the-neck design is perfect for armband mp3 players. Not that great for normal use though.

The earphones that come with the Sansa e100 series (only) are quite good too, similar to other mid-low end iem's.

I'd love to hear about people's experience's with the Panasonics!


Mike
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Old 05-09-2006, 12:32 PM
GhostToast GhostToast is offline
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i am looking for alternative headphone solutions myself...yes the phones included with the sansa e200 series are a little painful as they don't quite fit in the outer canal region.

however, i have seen/heard so many things about the dangers of those IEMs - even at low volumes - that i must say i'm a little nervous to get something like that. the biggest draw towards them is that they are more discreet. i am in an office and feel a little bit like a dork wandering around with my big cans on or even my over the ear phillips.

the sound quality is fair on my current equipment, but it is a consideration anyway. anyone have any words pro/con about the IEMs and their bad rap?
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Old 05-09-2006, 01:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GhostToast
however, i have seen/heard so many things about the dangers of those IEMs - even at low volumes - that i must say i'm a little nervous to get something like that.

the sound quality is fair on my current equipment, but it is a consideration anyway. anyone have any words pro/con about the IEMs and their bad rap?
The opposite about 'IEM-danger' has been proven, too - that they damage your ears less than earbuds or open-type headphones. It's perfectly logical: since they isolate your ears very well from outside noises you can listen to music at much lower volume than with earphones that don't block any ambient noise.
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Old 05-09-2006, 02:24 PM
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I've already tried the Sennheiser CX 300. They are great for watching film, but a bit to bassy for music. Which earbuds would you suggest me? I've heard the Sony ones are even more bass centered, but the Creative are less bassy. Price limit 50$
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Old 05-09-2006, 02:31 PM
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www.headphonereviews.org
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Old 05-09-2006, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aflo
I've already tried the Sennheiser CX 300. They are great for watching film, but a bit to bassy for music. Which earbuds would you suggest me? I've heard the Sony ones are even more bass centered, but the Creative are less bassy. Price limit 50$
Well, with the Sennheisers you could always EQ the bass down to your liking... The Sony EX51/71 are just bloated and boomy in the bass frequencies, with disappointing mids and tinnitus-inducing highs. Go for the Creative/Sharp if you like, but I'm certain the Sennheiser are over all more musical and better sounding.

There's also the Audio Technica ATH-CK5 in that price range, the ancestors of the ATH-CK7, they also might be of interest to you...
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  #9  
Old 05-10-2006, 08:15 PM
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If you're looking at cheap, I have some RadioShack in-ear earphones. I've had a couple over the years, and I was actually rather amazed at the quality for their cheap $20 price (I think it's easier to produce higher quality audio since they don't have to produce as much of anything due to being in-ear like that.) They make them a bit more cheaply than they used to though. The pouches still last for years, and actually the foam stuff seems to last longer even, but, it doesn't squeeze and expand quite like it used to for quite as good of a fit as the old ones.

IMO they have very clear sound. Bass and treble. Especially the bass. When I first got them, I kept checking to make sure my speakers weren't on (had a sub even back then -- albiet a cheap 2.1 system.) Also, they handle going up to some pretty high (as in damaging your ears) volume without the bass interfering with the treble enough for me to notice or any of that annoying cropping occuring that you get when you play things too loud. They still do it, but, you have to turn the volume up loud enough to damage your hearing if you listen more than a few moments. Understand, I'm not one of those people who only hears bass, I'm just impressed with the way bass works on these (in fact, they probably all do bass really well just due to their nature.) IMO the mid and high ranges come through very clearly and I can catch little details to a song I miss with normal speakers.

For $20 that you can just drive down to a local RadioShack it's a pretty decent deal. If you're an audiophile, you'll want to go with a more quality brand like Seinheiser, but, if you're not, these are very very convenient and cheap with amazing quality for the price level. (I especially love how I can just carry the pouch in my pocket wherever I go.) Just bear in mind that I'm not talking to the audiophiles here, but, the people like myself who don't really care so long as it sounds nice and clear with decent bass and without that annoying cropping at low sound levels.

Only cons, the newer ones, as I mentioned, are of a slightly lower quality than the old ones (I think around 3 years ago.) Also, as was mentioned with all in-ear earphones, privacy. It's an up that you don't have to listen to outside noises (like a lawnmower) and that people don't hear what you are listening to, but, it's also annoying when someone is talking to you and you aren't even aware of it because you can't hear them at all.

Last edited by Nazo; 05-10-2006 at 08:53 PM.
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  #10  
Old 05-13-2006, 01:16 AM
Krelyan Krelyan is offline
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Anyone know where to find MD33 and EP630's for sale?
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  #11  
Old 05-14-2006, 12:37 AM
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i got the jvc HA-FX55's for $35au. they are fairly cheap considering most of the other IEM's such as the panasonics and the sony eX-71's are around $50+. they sound quality is a big jumped from my old MX450's. the audio technicas's are more exp. my friend said it wasnt worth the extra $$ for those.
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  #12  
Old 05-14-2006, 04:01 PM
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So how do they feel?

I find regular earbuds painful, and I can't get them to stay on (or in). Are IEMs better that way?
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Old 05-14-2006, 05:33 PM
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I don't even notice my Ultimate Ears when I'm wearing them... and they don't fall out because they sit deep in the ear canal and additionally have a memorywire that goes up and behind the ear to secure the IEM.

I also have experience with Etymotic ER6i, Sennheiser CX300 and Sony EX51/71... they're all pretty secure to wear, compared to normal earbuds (and sound much better, except the Sony's...).

Here's what the memorywire looks like:

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Old 05-15-2006, 01:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicOnly
So how do they feel?

I find regular earbuds painful, and I can't get them to stay on (or in). Are IEMs better that way?
mine are comfortable.. the thing is.. you need to use the size that fits you perfectly.. mine came with 3 sizes. large , medium and small. the small ones are too small and dont isolate any noise.. where as the mediums are fairly comfortable and i cant really feel them. where as if i use the Large caps it is loud and blocks out a lot of noise.. but they are very uncomfortable.

and yes i do notice that regular earbuds are annoying and keep falling out. they are very very uncomfortable.. basically if you go ot IEMs you cant go back.
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  #15  
Old 05-16-2006, 11:58 PM
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Headphonereviews.org certainly makes the Creative Labs EP 630 sound impressive for the price. But can that isolation figure (106dB) be right? It's so far off other phones it looks like it must be a typo. Also the number just seems to big (given the limited amount I remember about the dB scale). How do they calculate/measure isolation, anyway? My normal environment doesn't have 106dB to be kept out of my ears.
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Old 05-17-2006, 05:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicOnly
But can that isolation figure (106dB) be right? It's so far off other phones it looks like it must be a typo.
106dB(/mW) seems to be the sensitivity of the phones. It definitely is a typo. Isolation might be somewhere between 10 and 20 dB, I assume.

Headphonereviews.org shouldn't be taken too seriously in general - everybody can write and make up stuff on that site. For more serious information the discussions on head-fi.org are a lot better information.

I mean, some moron wrote this review on headphonereviews.org about the EP-630:
Quote:
The Creative ep 630 sounds much clearer than the UE super.fi 5 eb and even equal to the UE super.fi 5 pro.
For this price it´s incredibly!!!
ROFL! 'Nuff said.
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Old 05-17-2006, 08:03 PM
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Head-fi members were reccommending the Altec Lansing iM716's. Do a search at the forum and check for yourself.

I dove in and ordered a pair (even though they only come in iPod white -- yuck), so I'll let you know how they sound.

Apparently, they're really good bang-for buck. I think I read on head-fi that there's a special deal on these at Amazon.com
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  #18  
Old 05-18-2006, 05:25 AM
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They're rebranded Etymotics...
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Old 05-18-2006, 09:21 AM
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Yeah, but Ety's seem to have a good reputation themselves! I hope these live up to the hype.

Whowever recommended www.head-fi.org is the bomb! What a great site. If you're looking for headphones/IEM's do research on that site. Sometimes the hardcores describe sound in really wierd ways...
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Old 05-18-2006, 09:28 AM
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Yes, indeed - Etymotics are very fine. A friend of mine has the ER6i, I tested them thoroughly... great value for the price.
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