Best Custom IEMs
These are the best Custom IEM ‘s on the market, the very best CIEM. The list is sorted based on price, starting from the lowest to the most expensive. This is an ever-evolving list. There are so many good-sounding CIEMs out there that we can’t list them all, but here are our favorites for now.
Shozy ELSA [Added 03/04/2022]
I pretty much liked the new Shozy Elsa and it especially impressed me with its coherency and consistent tonality. In today’s market, you have full of hybrids and tribrids everywhere, whilst Shozy came up with a conventional C/IEM which may sound boring at first. But they certainly nailed the tuning with those 5 BA drivers, and Elsa sounds just like how a serious audiophile monitor should do.
I don’t know if this performance has something to do with the unit being a custom variant, but I’m sure the universal one sounds very capable too.
Craft Ears Craft Six [Added 06/07/2021]
Just like with their Craft Four, Craft Ears has managed to deliver an overall very well-performing monitor. You get a good mix between musicality and technical performance, which is something almost everyone likes. The Craft Six keywords for me are clarity, precision, note extension, and balance (coherence).
With the Craft Six, you simply get a high-quality sound with a musical delivery. The Craft Six is getting the very most out of its drivers with a technically strong performance and a smooth musical tuning as a result. Great sound, a good price, and an overall excellent performer. That’s what the Craft Six is offering, and it easily deserves a spot in our Buying Guide
Shozy & AAW Pola 39 (Added 18/12/2019)
Hybrids with Electrostatic drivers are hot right now but not everyone gets it right. Shozy and AAW however did, and how!
Pola 39 gives you a fresh, very clean, and energetic sound without ever becoming harsh or analytical. Shozy’s Pola 39 is the ideal marriage between technicalities and musicality and I fully recommend it to everyone who appreciates technicalities but still wants to enjoy their tunes to the fullest.
$1,050USD from Shozy$1,050USD from Shozy
Do note that the universal original POLA still holds a spot on our recommended universal IEM list
Are you searching for a sound that is exactly like your studio monitors in a custom in-ear? Look no further, this is one of your answers in this industry. You can add a little more color into the mix with a nice copper cable as well. This is not a monitor for those who seek a luscious sound with big bass and vivid mids. You have to have the experience and ear training to appreciate what this monitor marvelously puts on the table. In my audiophile journey, the IEMs that caused me a “wow” are no more than the fingers of one hand. Well, this one has already managed to be on my very special list of very special IEMs, and that should tell something.
JH Audio JH13V2 PRO
Everyone likes, dislikes, and prefers different things when listening to music, but for me – in the context of pure enjoyment – this is one of the best, if not THE best custom monitors in my 30+ collection. As a result, it comes as no surprise that this monitor goes straight to Headfonia’s best (custom) IEM list and it, without doubt, is a recommended buy if you’re in the market for a top-quality monitor that will make you fall in love with all of your music again.
Ultimate Ears 18+PRO
The new UE 18+PRO comes with the new True Tone drivers, the Linum SuperBax cable, and a new IPX connector. On top of that, it also sounds heavenly and it has the best hard case ever. If you take into account the fact that it only has six drivers, then there’s no other choice than to put the UE18+PRO on our recommended CIEM list. Yes, it’s that good and special, even for $1499.
Unique Melody MEST MKII [Added 12/10/2021]
What a great monitor Unique Melody has built with the MEST. If you like a musical sound with good speed, clarity, precision, and detail, you will love the Unique Melody MEST.
MEST delivers great bass, lovely mid-range timbre, and energetic treble and it mixes that up with a wide and deep sound stage. The bone conduction driver gives the MEST something extra which we haven’t experienced before and I am sure many other brands will follow UM’s example. For me, the MEST, in custom form, is an almost perfect all-around monitor which punches way above its price point. We don’t give scores here on HFN but if I would this monitor would get an easy 9 out of 10.
Audio has made quite an impact on my listening experiences. The A12t has won me over with a few short sessions and has made it quick on my shortlist of top monitors. With its thunderous bass, smooth and emotional mids, and superb TIA extension the A12t convinces me on all fronts. Together with the high resolution, big sound stage, and great transparency the A12t puts a wide smile on my face when listening to my favorite albums. I fully recommend the A12t to anyone who’s looking for a powerful and smooth monitor that excels on technicalities and can be hooked up to virtually any source with its linear impedance behavior. It certainly sets the bar high for its competition to take the crown as CIEM of the year. Exciting times ahead.
Softears Cerberus (23/09/2021)
The custom Cerberus has a more definitive and extending treble. Even more than that, the bass has better impact and the mid-range is more consistent. The CIEM version is truly a complete warm-sounding flagship with an excellent and very special sound that you can’t find often.
For the sound quality alone, Softears Cerberus is a fantastic flagship IEM in terms of tuning. Once you listen to the Cerberus and witness that refinement from a top-tier source, it’s not easy to go back to other IEMs. I put aside a lot of my IEMs to listen to the Cerberus. It’s far from being a bang for buck product, but to the people who know what they’re looking for, and have good ears, it will prove itself every single time.
Vision Ears VE8
The VE8 is Vision Ears latest development and it only just has been released. I without doubt can say this is one of the very best 8-driver monitors in my collection. The VE8 delivers a very balanced sound where bass, mids, and treble have the same body and perfectly flows into each other. The VE8 strongest point is its clarity, precision, and extension. Could this be the very best treble I’ve ever heard from a CIEM? While the VE8 is expensive it really is very good. If you don’t have the money budget for one I advise you not to listen to it, cause you’ll be hooked even after listening to half a song already.
Advanced AcousticWerkes Canary
The Canary does make a lot of things right, maybe it doesn’t lead the hoard in any particular segment, but it presents an excellent tuning balance and for me is one of the top CIEMs in my collection. Canary doesn’t seem to step a foot wrong but rather plays it safe. It doesn’t risk anything to go beyond its abilities, which makes it a nice enjoyable ride.
qdc Anole VX
qdc has created a flagship monitor that definitely plays in the big leagues and rivals some of the global players. The Anole VX to me stands head-to-head with some of the industry’s finest IEMs and deserves every spotlight it can get. qdc shows us, that in spite of the recent trend of multi-driver, multi-tech hybrid flagship monitors, an all BA design can still be very competitive.
The switch system of the Anole VX makes it a very versatile monitor. I can see many people being taken care of with it. People that enjoy a good neutral-ish sound, others that want more bass, vocal lovers, and treble heads. They all can find what they are looking for in qdc’s Anole VX. My personal favorite is the standard setting, as I just love the balanced sound with superb body and soul.
For a long time, qdc has been a hidden gem to the Western world, but now they have entered our scene, and they are here to stay.
64 Audio A18t
The A18t is to be the most resolving and balanced sounding monitor out there, with the absolute best treble ever paired with the most impressive sound stage of all. Bass that goes deep and is dynamically liquid and realistic. Thick and life-like mids on top of that. Within 30 seconds you can change the signature of it from powerful bass to the richest treble by going from the M20 to the M15 module. These and many more reasons made the A18 Tzar go directly to my short-list for Custom In-Ear Monitor of the year (2017)!
Unique Melody Mason V3+
What an exceptional monitor the Unique Melody Mason V3+ is. I was expecting a lot as I already love the Maestro V1 and the V3, but the Mason V3+ is the best so far.
The Mason V3+ plays well with all the sources I used it with and it certainly is one of the very best CIEMs on the market at this point. A top quality monitor with these high-end qualities doesn’t come cheap, but what you get in return is one of the very best IEMs out there
Vision Ears Elysium
The Vision Ears Elysium is a great hybrid monitor and an absolute joy to listen to. No, “great” doesn’t really do it enough justice, it’s more than that. It’s an exceptionally good monitor with all the qualities and the top-level performance to be named a candidate for the Best CIEM of the year award. Competition for this award is tough however and there are a few other really good contenders who are also competing for the award. It’ll be a close call for sure. For those who like nit-picking, the hybrid Elysium with its limited amount of drivers is not 100% perfect, but it at the same time doesn’t really matter as the overall performance is impressive, the sound quality is very high and the enjoyment factor goes through the roof. In short: the Elysium is yet another great creation by Marcel, Amin, and Oliver, one that for sure wins several awards worldwide. The Elysium doesn’t come cheap but you in return get an excellent sounding, musical, and very enjoyable monitor, with a great set of accessories. An end-game monitor for sure.
Unique Melody The Multiverse Mentor [Added 29/08/2023]
The Unique Melody Multiverse Mentor is one of the very best custom high-end monitors in my collection. The overall technical excellence is jaw dropping, and especially the sound stage, positioning, resolution, layering and extension are exemplary.
While the Multiverse Mentor will sound good with anything, I do recommend to match is with a clear, fast, energetic and highly precise source. Only then will you get the full potential of this extraordinary IEM. At the same time I don’t recommend to use bass heavy sources as the bass presentation might become a bit overpowering. Especially if you’re not a fan of an always heavier bass tuning. The Multiverse Mentor is expensive, but you in return get a complete package, excellent build quality and one of the best monitors ever designed. If you’re looking for a very high-end and top-performing monitor, the MM has to be the first one on your list. If your budget doesn’t reach all the way to the MM, I recommend looking at the far more reachable MEST series as they offer very good quality for money.