In Ears Headphone Recommendations - Headfonia Headphone Reviews

In Ears Headphone Recommendations


The list is sorted based on price, starting from the lowest to the most expensive. The categorizing is meant to be a rough guideline, for more detailed sound impressions please refer to the reviews.

  • HiFi: Warm sound signature with full midrange and bass.
  • Rockin’: Aggressive forward and lively sound with fast pace, good for Rock and similar music.
  • Monitoring: Precise sound lets you hear the recordings in an uncolored manner.
  • Custom Molded: Requires you to send in your ears’ impressions which you can get from an audiologist. Expensive and demands extra effort for ordering, but offers an exceptional sound quality in return.

Sennheiser CX300-II – HiFi
Sennheiser’s entry level IEM is one of the best value in IEMs. Sparkly treble, good laid back sound and good bass body. You’ll be surprised by how much quality you get for merely $30. A must try.
$33.24 (CX300) | Beware when buying the CX300 since they are fairly popular with counterfeiters. Make sure that the product page you’re buying from is marked “Ships from and sold by, which is a Sennheiser authorized reseller. 

Shure SE215 – HiFi
The SE215 is one of the best buys in the IEM market today. Great sound and solid build quality. This is the IEM that I use day to day. It comes in translucent black shell or a clear shell. From experience, we tend to stay away from the clear shell version as it doesn’t age as well as the black (the cable would turn greenish over time, due to oxidation).
$94.99 (Black) |  $99.00 (Clear) | (no review available)

Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10 – Rockin’
An old triple-driver balanced armature IEM that’s been a crowd favorite for a few years now, even after the other newer models have come and go. Highly recommended for Rock fans.
$164.29.00 from | $300 IEM Shootout

Etymotics ER4P, ER4S – Monitoring
This is the IEM for those of you who wants to hear the smallest details in the recording. There are newer IEMs with more drivers, but nothing quite like the Etymotics ER4. The ER4P version is relatively easy to drive from a portable player, while the higher impedance ER4S offer an even more precise sound, but requires a headphone amplifier. An alternative is the HF5 model that offers almost identical sound to the ER4P for much less.
$279.99 (ER4P) | $149.00 (HF5) | Detail Experts

JHAudio JH5 – Custom Molded
The entry level custom molded IEM from JHAudio is quite pricey at $399, and requires you to go to an audiologist to get an impression of your ears’ profile, which you then need to send in to JHAudio so they can mold your JH5 exactly to fit your ears. This results not only in a best-in-class noise isolation, but also a sound quality that’s noticeably better than the flagship universal-fit IEMs in the market. If you’re feeling rich, go for the top of the line JH16 model which comes with a total of 16 drivers (8 per side, 4 drivers for bass frequencies alone).
$399.00 (JH5) | $1149.00 (JH16) | Triple JH Comparison

Sony EX1000 – HiFi
Taking the approach of single dynamic driver design, the EX1000 from Sony offers the kind of sound you don’t get with multiple driver balanced armature IEMs, even the JH16. The sound is not going to be as complete as the JH16, but single drivers give a coherent and sweet sound that is hard to rival with multi drivers. The frequency balance of the Sony is best left for Jazz, female vocals, and audiophile recordings. The pace is moderate and the bass is just okay, so these are not rock IEMs.
$499.99 from | Japanese Flagship Sony MDR EX1000


Only list the most popular products are listed here. If you feel it to be too limited, feel free to browse the reviews on the Headphones Category:



  • Hep Dude

    Mike – You need to be aware that many fakes of Sennheiser IEMs are being
    sold, especially CX-300 and CX-500.   Sennheiser has a list of
    authorized retailers at:

    Amazon is on that list, but Sennheiser warns that Amazon marketplace
    sellers are NOT:

    “ is indeed a dealer…but do not purchase Sennheiser from
    their 3rd party marketplace unless from J&R or Tiger Direct as they
    are also authorized dealers.”

    The Amazon comments on those IEMs are filled with reports of fakes being
    sold even with “Fulfillment by Amazon” (evidently they have a pallet of
    fakes sent directly to the Amazon Warehouse and let Amazon handle
    everything).  A1 Accessories does that, and comments reports those are
    fakes, and Sennheiser lists them on their Non-Authorized sellers page:

    The CX-500 is officially discontinued, and out of stock everywhere –
    except for ridiculously low prices from nonauthorized dealers – and have
    the most reports of fakes (probably all CX-500s are now fakes).

    In contrast, the CX-300II is available as:

    ” Ships from and sold by ”

    and you really need to advise your readers to look for that, since you
    are using Amazon links.  Just shopping on the Amazon site does not
    protect your readers – as Sennheiser themselves state.

    • Thanks for the information. This sure makes things complicated. I may just take them off the list. 

  • Anonymous

    You can check out more info on the Shure SE215 IEH’s at

  • Hep Dude

     Mike – I ordered the CX-300 II from your link, and I made sure that it was “Ships from and sold by ” and that was all that was necessary to get a genuine product.   Currently $30.28, it is an excellent value – simply much better sound quality than the HD-202 II that are the same price, although I understand that is apples and oranges.  Nevertheless, timbre and details are significantly better (and the fit is surprisingly good).  Probably best headphone under $50 currently.
    So, my personal recommendation is that you remove the discontinued CX-500 entirely, and change the red typeface to advise readers to choose the “Ships from and sold by” choice only – which is also the Sennheiser rep’s recommendation.
    I previously disliked IEMs, but I may try the SE215 since it is so widely applauded.

    • Thanks for helping me out with these issues, Hep Dude. 

    • For the same price, usually it’s easier to get things to sound right on an IEM which is what you’re witnessing between the HD202 and CX300. 

      The CX300 is good, just underrated. The CX500 is actually even better, too bad they discontinued it. 

  • Ryan Adiputra

    hello mike, you should try the Phonak PFE012 for the sub $150 recommendation 🙂 , it is pretty nice 🙂 .

    • Thanks Ryan,
      I’ve tried it many times. 😉

      • Enoch Wong

        How is the musicality of it? How does it compare to high end iems? I got one, and the treble is very very good.

        • It’s okay. It’s not a bad IEM.

  • A83

    Have you had any experience with the Beyerdynamic MMX 101iE?

    • Wow, sorry not with that one.

  • Jeff Kong

    Hi Headfonia,
    I’m just curious about the HF5 which you have linked under the etymotic ER4; seeing as you haven’t really written much if anything at all on it. Would you mind giving me a short brief on it?

    • Hi Jeff,
      Last time I had both HF5 and ER4P, I think the sound is mostly the same.

      • Jeff Kong

        Ah, I see. thank you Mike.

  • Hi,

    Which IEM would you recommend for Pop, Rock & Alternative? I have a budget of 450USD.

  • reckoncile

    I recently heard the CX300 II. I very much like the sound signature, it has the bass punch exactly where I want it and in appropriate quantity, and not too much rumble (which gives me headaches). I’d also would’ve liked the bit more treble. I was wondering if the IE8/IE80 would be a logical upgrade, if I wanted the same/similar sound signature with more texture and detail?

  • Excuse me have anybody tried the monster turbine before and how it compare to shure 215 cause the price is about the same.

    • Monster turbine is far more bassy, recessed midrange and the treble is sharper.

      • Ok thnks mike for the reply. If i want to get iem that allows me to hear audiophile song and r & b song which do you suggest and my budget is about 200 dollar max

        • Ugh not easy

          • Is the shure 215 good for audiophile? Also what do you think is the closet iem that can get close for the req above and if it cost more than 200 still ok just than it is still below 400us.
            Thanks for any info you can provide mike.

            • The Shure 215 has a very accurate midrange, especially for a budget product. It is definitely good for an audiophile. Also it is US$99 not US$200.

              • Thanks for the info ken. Also i am planning to buy hifiman 601 for the player cause now the iphone i am using the sound is very sharp and little detail come out of it.

                • The Hifiman should be good.

                  • Now i am using iphone 5 with hippo cri cri as amp and i borrowed my friend turbine. My own iem is ajays 2.

            • Some recommendations for audiophile recordings:

              Sony EX1000
              T-Peos H-100

              • Dear mike how about fisher tandem. I was looking at jaben indonesia couple of days ago and they give me a demo for a couple of iem.

                • I’ve yet to audition them, and sorry

                  Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

  • Marcilio

    Between the SE215 and The X10, wich one is better for pop/rock music? I like it a little warmer and bassier

  • Navneet Sinha

    Hey guys, Urgent help needed. Plz help me decide inbetween:
    1.SoundMagic PL11
    2.Panasonic RP-HJE355E
    3.Audio Technica CKL202
    4.Philips SHE9700
    5.Philips SHE6000
    6.Philips SHE9550
    7.Sony MDR-EX220LP

    Help me decide amongst them. I’ve used SoundMagic pl21 and es18 before. Loved both of them. Want to try something new. i wanted Audio technica cor150, but its not available in India. If any other at the same price, let me know. Thanks 🙂

  • HZE

    Any impression for ASG-2? Thanks.

    • BRIEF listening session impression:

      I thought that the ASG-2 is supposed to be the universal model of the AS-2 custom. Since I was the distributor for Aurisonics, we had an AS-2 universal fit which was supposedly the closest thing to an ASG-2. It has a smooth dynamic driver bass and a relaxed though extended balanced armature treble. I think the tonal balance was very good, well balanced. I didn’t have any complain with it except that it’s probably not dark enough for me.
      That was the AS-2 universal demo.

      The ASG-2, the official ASG-2 sounded very different as if with a different driver. It sounded like an ASG-1 tuned with more treble, less dark, more upfront mid.
      That was just a brief listening session though.

  • Alberto Martinez

    Hi all, I need your help for best option of IEM, if possible with noise sealing.
    I only listen to rock (’70, Eric Clapton style) and jazz guitar, in a 65/35 rock/jazz time, thru Spotify in extreme quality downolads; half of the time I connect the android or PC to an old FiiO E7 DAC AMP.
    In the wired configuration, which one?

    In the wireless (bluetooth) configuration wich one? In this category is there one with mic to make mobile phone calls with enough quality?
    Thanks in advance,

    • L.


      • Alberto Martinez

        Note: when I wrote noise sealing I was referring to noise isolating as well.
        A max of 150€, but preferly less than 100€

    • I’d still take the UE TF10

      And if you want something more refined, the Heir 4ai

  • Shilelis

    Hey. I’m thinking about new IEM, about Hifiman re-400 because of good reviews. What do you think? And what is alternative to it?


    • I haven’t heard the RE-400 to be honest.

  • Tronco

    Hi all,
    I have been using the Shure SE215 for over half a year now and I love them! Isolation is very good and I absolultely love the sound.
    I have been using them mostly at work and at the gym but I am thinking to get something cheaper for the gym. I want the SE215 to last and I don’t think sweaty ears will help at that.
    The Sennheiser CX300-II might be a candidate given the price. What do you think?
    Any other suggestions?


    • L.

      You’re right. Also good is the Ficher Audio Eterna Rev 1 or 2

      • Tronco

        Thanks, I got the CX-300 and they truly are excellent value! I prefer the SE215 but these are perfect for the gym or sports.

    • Irfan Fazdane

      Ive had them for about 2 years now, and I can say that they are pretty mediocre for gym use. They fit amazingly, though sweat would easily make the ear tips fall out of your ear. I wanted to ask you if the shure se215s are worth it!

  • Laurent F.

    You should consider the Shure SE846, it’s an universal with an CIEM sound, and 3 IEMs in one with the sound filters

    • L.

      Are you talking to us about doing a SE846 review?

      • Laurent F.

        I meant the Shure to be one of the recommended, but if making a review first is the condition for being in the Recommendations, then of course 🙂
        I don’t own any CIEM but from the head-fi appreciation thread I understand that it can compete with a lot of them.

        • L.

          oh , I get it. We’re working on updating the quides together with Dale

      • 2jono

        Yes please , more IEM reviews .. Thats what we need )

        • L.

          We have some customs coming up but this isn’t the place for IEM reviews in general

          • 2jono

            But if you did IEMs , this would be the place )

            • L.

              This already is THE place 😉

              • 2jono

                It sure is THE place , with such quality company !
                But with so many IEMs hitting the market ,
                We missing out on them .. with all the good company and all 🙂

        • Hey, lots of great IEM reviews coming up. Got awesome stuff coming from very esoteric manufacturers as well as more consumer kind, too. I think you’re in for some reading/dreaming fun. I know I am. I have fallen so deeply in love with two IEMs for review that I purchased them.

          • 2jono

            Phew , you have my interest after such contagious IEM enthusiasm ,
            and lots of reviews @ that )
            What a prospect and thanks for heads up , already following !

          • L.

            Dont push it with the iems dude 😀

    • SE846 will be reviewed soon. Hot on the plate.

  • Venci

    So are these recommendations still current ? I am mainly looking at shure 215.

    • L.

      That still is a good one!

  • Tofan Yatnakriana H

    Is there any new recommendation for rock music since tf10 is hardly to find in the fair price and its 2014 😛

    • We’re working on updating that section. What’s your budget?

      • Tofan Yatnakriana H

        I think between 200-300 usd, i really love the hd25 sounds, hopefully there is an IEM that pretty similar with hd25 sounds.

  • Suzana

    Hi all! I’ve been using CX 300 II for over two years now and I’m thinking about getting a Shure SE215. The sound quality really is better compared to CX 300? I also wanted to know if SE215 is confortable like sennheiser’s 🙂

    • Irfan Fazdane

      I’m in the same boat right now! I’ve had the cx 300 II for about 2 years and my second pair just broke. I’m looking into the shure se215s as well but Im still on the fence

  • Tronco

    Hi guys,
    I just sold my car and I can’t find a reason not to invest part of that money in head gear 🙂 I’m thinking of getting my first pair of custom IEMs. I have the Sennheiser CX 300II, Shure SE215 and SE535. I listen mainly to radio, rock music and electronic.
    Which custom IEMs would you recommend? I am looking for something that is a step up from the IEMs I already own, but not much more than 500 Euro. My car wasn’t worth much after all. 🙂
    I was looking at the CosmicEars CE4P/CE5P because I like the idea of the Pre-Fit service.
    Any recommendations or thoughts would be appreciated.