These are the best Universal IEMs on the market right now. 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 universal IEMs out there that we can’t list them all, but here are our favourite and recommended universal IEMs for now.
Venture Electronics Monk
One of the most talked-about products this last year and probably one of the most bought earbuds in the world, ever. The VE Monk is popular, not only for its $5 price but also because of its extremely good sound. You would never expect an earbud to sound this good for this little money. It’s not the very best earbud (that might be the ZEN) but for this price, nothing will beat it. Over the last few months, Lee from VE has been adding a lot of cable and colour options. Every music lover should at least buy one Monk in his life. $5. Incredible
Moondrop Chu [Added 11/05/2023]
The Moondrop Chu was a lovely surprise and is now my top recommendation for anyone seeking the perfect expendable/first IEM: light, easy to wear, and sturdy. But, to that, you can add two nice features: excellent sound and a $19 MRSP. In fact, for this price, I found them even more appealing than the FiiO JD3, my previous choice in this range.
Sure, it won’t replace your mid-to-high-end IEM, but that was never the goal. The idea here is to offer a proper alternative to your entry-level earbuds, with true audiophile rendering. And, for me, Moondrop succeeded brilliantly, and this is an IEM that I could confidently advise a newcomer to get, with no afterthoughts. The Moondrop Chu is now featured on our our Best Universal IEM list.
Kudos to Moondrop!
Final Audio E2000 / E3000
The most comfortable and versatile of the lot are the Final Audio E2000 and E3000. And of the two, I find the E2000, the cheaper model, to be the most well-rounded. Final Audio really did a great job with both of these models. I have said this time and time again, but I love seeing cheap gear step up and deliver great performance. I wouldn’t want to be without the E2000 for general listening, and taking leisurely strolls around the neighbourhood, and I wouldn’t want to be without the E3000 when I want Dvorak to play me to sleep.
Hidizs MS3 [Added 25/07/2023]
The Hidizs MS3 IEMs are a standout offering in the current audio market. The well-tuned hybrid configuration delivers a balanced and engaging sound signature, with a bass that is punchy and energetic, and a midrange that is articulate and clean. The use of different filters allows for sound customization, catering to various music genres and users.
The MS3’s high frequencies impress, providing sparkle and clarity without harshness. The soundstage is impressively wide and detailed, and the resolution is excellent for this price range.
The MS3’s design is unique and ergonomic, providing a comfortable fit for long listening sessions. The build quality is stellar with its CNC aluminum shells and anodized finish. Overall, the Hidizs MS3 offers exceptional performance and value, making them a standout choice in their price bracket, hence, we are giving it our recommendation award.
Kinera Idun Golden [Added 06/03/2022]
The Kinera Idun Golden is one of the highest-quality releases from the Kinera brand lately. It’s a fantastic performer for the money, with an audiophile approach to sound. I enjoyed this IEM very much with its precise, on-point tuning. This is one of the smoothest and well-balanced hybrid IEMs that you can find in the entry-level market today.
It’s one of those rare incidents where I found a high-level IEM tuning in an entry-level IEM.
The ER4-series IEMs already were in our Buyers Guide for universal in-ear monitors, and I have added this ER3-series to that list. The ER3 IEMs really are the ER4’s little brother and they share the exact same characteristics, yet they perform at a lower level, which is only normal with the price difference between them. For only $179 you get a set of wonderfully tuned, neutral, very impressive IEMs. If you like a little bit more bass, the XR-versions for sure is the one to go for. All in all, I am convinced these will seriously impress you if you haven’t heard about the ER4-series yet. And it will make you wonder about the price/quality relationship of a whole lot of other brands.
AFUL Performer 5 [Added 12/01/2023]
The AFUL Performer 5 is one of the most surprising IEMs I’ve listened to recently. The neutrality, balance and resolution are the most impressive parts, and I think it performs better than what the price suggests.
I would say that the P5 is a great “performer” and it impressed me since I opened its package and put it in my ear. This is a highly competitive market, especially in this price range, but the Performer 5 is definitely a great choice.
Sennheiser IE 300 [Added 08/02/2021]
Sennheiser stands for quality in both build quality as well as sound, and it’s no different this time. The IE 300 is a very affordable IEM that not only looks nice, but it’s also very well built, very comfortable and great sounding. The IE 300 has a more U-shaped sound signature but to me, the graph looks more extreme than it really is. The bass is impressive and addictive, the mid-timbre is to die for and the treble is energetic. It’s just an easy end-engaging IEM to listen to, no matter the music you throw at it.
The Sennheiser IE 300 for $299 delivers great value for money and it’s impressive to see what tonality and sound quality Sennheiser managed to get out of a single driver.
What a nice and pleasant surprise and experience listening to the Etymotic ER4 series has been. My ears and brain very quickly got used to the sublime level of clarity and cleanness and going back to other IEMs was quite the challenge. The ER4’s precision and speed are remarkable and it clearly shows Etymotic has all the experience to make this happen. The Etymotic ER4-XR and SR both sound incredibly good and looking at their price, they’re an absolute steal. I absolutely recommend everyone to get one of these at least once to experience the Etymotic sound signature. You can’t call yourself an audiophile if you haven’t.
AFUL Performer 8 [Added 10/08/2023]
After the Performer 5, AFUL Audio once again impresses with the new Performer 8. It’s a great choice for any audiophile out there. If you’re relatively new to this hobby, you can get either model depending on your budget and experience a true balanced/coherent sound.
In this particular price range, the market is very competitive. However, the Performer 8 stands out as an excellent option. I am impressed by the resolution, balance, and cohesiveness. It performs better than its price would suggest.
Yanyin Canon II [Added 22/08/2023]
To conclude, the Yanyin Canon II Hybrid In-Ear Monitors demonstrate Yanyin’s commitment to delivering excellent audio performance at a competitive price. With its warm-neutral signature, the Canon II excels in bass reproduction, offers a balanced and articulate midrange, and presents highs that cater to both treble enthusiasts and those sensitive to higher frequencies. Its technical prowess, from PRaT to instrument separation and imaging, sets it apart from its rivals in its price bracket. For those seeking a harmonious blend of detail and warmth in the sub $400 range, the Canon II is undoubtedly a front-runner and we think that it is only fair to award it with our recommendation.
The FiiO FH7S is a great alternative to the FH9 flagship. For 179$ less, you get the same bass performance, good tonality, a great soundstage for the price, and a great set of accessories with hard-to-beat packaging for the money. I appreciate the effort and the technology FiiO is putting forward. The only thing missing here is the note size in the mid-range. Other than that, it’s a high-performing IEM.
Final Audio B3
The B3 in my opinion is the best value and the best IEM among the New Final Audio B Series. It stays loyal to technical guidelines and presents a very honest sound which impressed me from start to finish. It’s very coherent in its own flat presentation, with a great soundstage and imaging performance.
The B1 is the most suitable IEM for me in this lineup, but due to a few reasons, I couldn’t justify its price tag against the B3. It surely has a better bass response and instrument timbre, but its somewhat thin and light treble presentation forms an inconsistent sound overall. I liked it pretty much, but I can’t deny the tuning success of the B3 model, which offers a much better value.
Unique Melody Mini MEST [Added 13/10/2020]
The Mini MEST is just as special as the MEST in this regard: it performs incredibly well for the price it is selling for and it easily beats many monitors in its price class with its engaging tuning and bone conduction experience.
For only $599 you get one heck of a universal hybrid monitor. I’m not the biggest fan of universal fit IEMs, but this one is so good that I have to give it our Recommended Buy award. To the Best Buy list, it goes!
Fiio FH9 [Added 19/12/2021]
The FiiO FH9 is the best FiiO IEM I’ve reviewed in terms of sound performance. It’s a testimony to the effort and ambition of the FiiO team. As a first-hand witness of their progress over the years, I appreciate the effort and the technology they’re putting forward. The only thing missing here is the note size in the mid-range. Other than that, it’s a high performing IEM.
I recommend using the treble filters and SpinFit tips with the FH9. You’ll have a spacious and highly resolving presentation with excellent definition and transparency, as well as balance and bass texture. I guess FiiO could’ve just left the IEM with the treble filters and released it as it is.
Yanyin Moonlight [Added 20/09/2022]
The Moonlight is a musical and detailed tribrid IEM that managed to impress me with its technical prowess and resolving delivery. I would like to congratulate Yanyin on its successful product line-up. The material quality and the grade of craftsmanship are impressive and Yanyin entered my radar nice and quick.
If you are after a tribrid that is capable, detailed, and musical at the same time, be sure to try the Moonlight as it might be the droid you are looking for.
Meze Audio Advar [Added 21/04/2022]
Meze created a winner in many aspects here. The musical, high-end stereo system type of sonic experience separates Advar from its competitors. Whatever you throw at it, it pulls it off with excellent technical performance, a definitive and resolving nature with a smooth and balanced sound. It’s just flowing, silky, and natural.
So if you ever look for a coherent, life-like, resolving and smooth IEM under $1000, don’t forget to include the Meze Audio Advar in your watchlist.
FIIO FX15 [Added 14/09/2023]
The FiiO FX15 might be the best FIIO IEM I’ve tested to this day. I also liked the FH7 and FH9 models, but this one is a step above in my opinion. The technical performance is on a level that we only see from flagship IEMs in the market. It can be improved for better sub-bass/mid-bass balance or the treble can be even more refined, so it’s not the end of the road of course, but the way it sounds is very, very good for the price.
The price tag of this particular IEM from FIIO may exceed your usual expectations, but this is due to the level of quality and effort that has been invested in its development. In my opinion, FIIO has accomplished an impressive feat in delivering a product of such ambition. The sound is notable for its great bass, soundstage, and treble response, all of which are offered at a competitive price point. Furthermore, it comes with a useful set of accessories and is packaged impressively.
Custom Art Hybrid 3 Pro [Added 18/09/2023]
The new Custom Art Hybrid 3 Pro is a neutral, reference-sounding monitor with an excellent mid-range with its dynamic mid-driver. It delivers a natural, flat presentation with a good low end, smooth mids, detailed but controlled treble. It has good dynamics and stereo image, and that combined with the right amount of body, naturalness and coherency makes it a down-to-earth, realistic and honest-sounding monitor.
With its reference qualities for the price, I think the Custom Art Hybrid 3 Pro deserves a recommendation. In the sub-1000$ price range, this is one of the best choices if you seek a flat-sounding IEM that doesn’t bring any frequency area forward.
Oriolus Szalayi [Added 10/05/2021]
The Oriolus MK2 stayed on our recommendations for a long time, until newer IEMs came out so we had to remove it from the list. The new Oriolus Szalayi, with its even more refined sound, brings back the Oriolus name to our list.
With a fresher design, a new planar magnetic driver, and an all-around sound performance, it reminds us that Oriolus will stick around for quite a while. And they should. I very much enjoyed this IEM and I bet you will too.
FiR Audio VxV [added:27/04/2021]
The FiR Audio VxV article has been one I have been looking forward to writing, simply because I have been enjoying this IEM so much. It just has that magical something that makes you want to listen to it more and more. The VxV sounds exciting and natural, yet also offers good quality.
The VxV was set in the market with an original marketing approach. Not only does it look great, but it also offers sublime comfort and it doesn’t break the bank at all. (certainly not at the DROP price). Tuning-wise the VxV is very easy to like. FiR Audio really succeeded in building a great and affordable all-around EDC IEM. It doesn’t matter what source you hook it up to and what music you play through it, your ears will always like the result. For me, the FirAudio VxV has a great price-quality ratio and as I really enjoy listening to it so much, I am awarding it with our Recommended Buy award.
Beyerdynamic Xelento Remote, Wireless & AK
The Beyerdynamic Xelento Wireless doesn’t come cheap but you get a beautiful, comfortable, well-built, and very good sounding IEM in return.
The Xelento wireless is small and the mini Tesla inside is doing miracles, delivering a real high-end sound. The wired version still sounds the best to me but the wireless version together with the MIY is getting very close.
The Xelento Wireless won our best wireless IEM of 2019 award a few weeks ago, and just like the regular and remote (+ AK) version, its’s featured on our best universal list. This is a Recommended Buy for sure.
$999 from Astell&Kern
Empire Ears ESR MKII [Added 25/02/2021]
The Empire Ears ESR MKII is just like those studio reference monitors. Those have a linear presentation, but you actually enjoy certain reference speaker models. The ESR MKII is exactly like that. It has a flat response, but you still find yourself enjoying it. And because it’s an extremely smooth and balanced IEM, you can listen to it all day without any fatigue. It just flows through. No distractions, and nothing overdone.
It’s one of the best tunings I’ve come across. And the price? Well, it’s not crazy expensive money in today’s IEM market, so I think it actually has great value. As a result, I recommend the Empire Ears ESR MKII as a great reference monitor. If you’re looking for a true-sounding IEM and had enough of the V-Shaped, fun-oriented gear, this might be your best bet at this point.
Meze Audio Rai Penta
The 5-driver Rai Penta isn’t only comfortable, it looks beautiful and sounds like a high-end IEM should sound. Rai Penta is detailed, precise, and transparent and with its neutral yet musical tuning the Rai Penta will win over many hearts. Making a correct-sounding hybrid is hard but Meze makes it seem oh so easy. For a high-end universal IEM costing over $/€1K the package, it comes in, as said, is a little basic and it’s mostly the lack of a balanced cable that saddens me. But sound-wise – if you’re a fan of the typical high-end reference/neutral tuning – you’ll get all you ever wanted.
64 Audio U4s [Added 30/03/2023]
Over the course of the last months I have played around with the U4s a lot. I have found myself reaching for it many times even when I had other higher end IEMs within my reach. The U4s’ energetic sound can absolutely grab you and keep you attracted. The U4s has become one of my daily drivers, especially when I’m at the office. It has also gotten to be my prime work-out and sports IEM. The bass of it keeps me on my toes and motivated to my fingertips. The fact that the U4s basically comes with four different signatures is an extremely big plus in my books. You want a more open sound with wider image? Go for the MX or M12. Need more bass? The M15 or M20 should be your choice. I love the versatility of 64 Audio’s universals and the options they give their customers with the Apex modules. To me it is an easy recommendation!
InEar ProPhile 8
Inear has the very best fitting universals on the market. Their latest unit is a reference-tuned monitor with a treble and bass boost switch. With its flat, neutral tuning it manages to show you all the details in the music without boosting anything at all. Clarity, precision, and speed are key. While the sound stage width is good, it could have been a little deeper with better layering. With its neutral and coherent tuning from bass to treble, the ProPhile 8 doesn’t sound dry or boring and it even – with the switch turned off –sounds musical and engaging. If you want a neutral-tuned universal IEM that almost is a custom and which sounds musical on top of that, you better start saving up for the ProPhile 8. I think Inear has managed to check off a lot of boxes with their latest creation and I am sure the sales numbers will prove it.
Sennheiser IE 900 [Added 10/05/2021]
I don’t think anyone expected Sennheiser to come with a new high-end IEM and a successor of the classic IE 800 but I am sure many will be pleased with this new audiophile unit.
The Sennheiser IE 900 truly is a high-end IEM. For a 1-driver model it comes with a higher price tag but you, however, do get a luxurious package with plenty of accessories in return. But that’s not all. With the IE 900, you also get a perfect fit an awesome design, and precise high-end sound in return. The Sennheiser IE 900 has a tuning in which energy, clarity, extension, and vocals play a key role. The IE 900 does respond nicely to different sources, tips, and cables and it as such allows you to finetune the sound to your liking.
If you’re on the lookout for a high-end, dynamically driven IEM with a high-quality sound, then the Sennheiser IE 900 should be on your list of IEMs to audition. It does have its specific tuning/sound, but if you’re into the high-end type of tuning, then you’ll be very pleased.
Effect Audio x Elysian Acoustic Labs GAEA [Added 10/12/2022]
The last time Effect Audio released an IEM, they went with their own design and tuning. The business decisions were questionable, and the unit, although sounding good with the MU sound module, had its ups and downs.
Now, they chose to partner with Elysian Acoustic Labs, which has great tuning experience and craft. The result is miles better than the Axiom, and once again Elysian proves itself to be a reliable audiophile brand for high-calibre IEMs.
The Effect Audio x Elysian Acoustic Labs Gaea is a great performer. In fact, I think it sounds better than what the price suggests. Are there many IEMs out there that can give this much resolution and technical performance for this price? I’m not sure, to be honest.
ThieAudio Prestige LTD [Added 26/08/2023]
After spending considerable time with the ThieAudio Prestige LTD, it’s clear that the improvements over the original Prestige are subtle but meaningful. ThieAudio has listened to its user base, fine-tuning aspects that make this version not just an upgrade but a refinement. Whether it’s the more controlled upper midrange or the slightly smoother treble, these changes contribute to a more mature and technically proficient sound signature. It’s a rare feat to improve upon something that was already excellent, and yet, ThieAudio has managed to do just that. The changes, while subtle, make a noticeable difference in the listening experience.
White these aren’t groundbreaking changes, but they do refine what was already a solid product. It’s evident that the goal here wasn’t to reinvent the wheel but to fine-tune it. And in that, ThieAudio has succeeded.
At $1,299 USD, the Prestige LTD is not a casual buy. However, in the flagship sphere, the price of the LTD is easily justifiable as it’s a solid product that makes its predecessor proud. The LTD will be replacing OG Prestige’s spot in our list of recommendations.
Kinera Baldr 2 [Added 21/10/2021]
The Kinera Baldr 2 is a fantastic flagship IEM and I think it has one of the best bass & treble performances for this price range. Especially the treble is simply extraordinary and if you like your sound airy and spacious, this is one of the IEMs that you should check out.
The impressive bass quality, sound stage, imaging, and fluid mid-reproduction are the other things that shine in this IEM. It earns a spot on our Best Universal IEMs page without a shadow of a doubt. Well, Kinera has come a long way for sure.
Elysian Acoustic Labs DIVA 2023 [Added 25/08/2023]
Elysian Acoustic Labs has become a very popular IEM maker in recent years, and after experiencing the DIVA 2023, I can see why. Its tuning is instantly likeable, its technical performance is good, and the overall experience is very enjoyable.
From a 6BA setup, Elysian extracted a great performance. The DIVA 2023 is a competitive performer in its own price range.
Noble Audio Kadence [Added 11/08/2022]
After all of the crazy hybrid IEMs that we come across in the market, Noble Audio launched an 8BA IEM, and that feels like a breath of fresh air. Just for a moment, forget about that heavy slamming bass and perfectly bright and crisp treble. Just enjoy a perfectly natural, coherent, well-balanced and highly resolving sound with excellent definition in all ranges.
The Kadence is a very audiophile-focused IEM, and I think a true audiophile would praise all of its abilities. It has every bit of quality you possibly would ask if you’re a lover of reference sound. Some people get bored of that, and some like it. And if you like that type of sound, this is one of the most balanced and cohesive monitors out there.
Vision Ears VE7 [Added 03/06/2021]
The Vision Ears VE7 has endgame technical performance, a fantastic treble response, incredible resolution, and transparency, all in a neutral and reference-like signature. If you like having your treble crisp, articulated and transparent, this is a no-brainer, if you have the budget of course. Speaking of it, I think the VE7 is well worth the price in the portable market at this time.
I expected nothing less from Amin and the team though. Vision Ears always delivers when it comes to sound, and fit. I think I can’t emphasize that aspect enough, because it amazingly has a custom-like fit to my ears with fantastic comfort. I think all in all this is an excellent IEM with a sound performance being nothing short of spectacular. Just like VE said, “pure clarity”. It can’t be described better.
Final A8000 [Added 12/01/2021]
The Final A8000 has all the trimmings of everything that you’d expect when stepping into ‘flagship’ territory: exotic looks and craftsmanship, thoughtful packaging and accessories, and a sound signature that arrests the listener and leaps out with a sense of excitement and shimmer. Lovers of detail, clarity, and speed will find the A8000 absolutely intoxicating. If this sounds like you, then it might be worthwhile asking yourself whether you could skip your next two or three headphone upgrades and go straight to your IEM ‘end-game’. If you can live with its looks and if it fits your ears comfortably, then the Final A8000 will continue to delight you long into the future.
Softears RS10 & Cerberus [Added 14/07/2021]
For the sound quality alone, these two are fantastic flagship IEMs in terms of tuning from Softears. I would not recommend them to the people who are tight on budget and who don’t have flagship-level sources. Because to extract these qualities fully, you would need a great source. For those people, I would simply say get the RSV and call it a day. It has a much better value overall than both.
But once you listen to the RS10 and the Cerberus from a top-tier source, it’s not easy to go back. I put aside a lot of my IEMs to listen to these two. The RS10 is in the office, and the Cerberus is at home. That’s all you need to know. These two are special. They’re not the most bang-for-buck products, actually far from that, but to the people who know what they’re looking for, and have good ears, these would prove themselves every single time.
64 Audio tia Trió
The Trió might be the perfect fit for those who want a seductive sound, that’s easy to love and enjoy during extended listening sessions. It’s a monitor that convinces me with excellent body and a mildly warm sound, a monitor that lets me forget about the rapid life in a big city.
If I were to pick a single universal monitor of all my inventory, I would go with the tiatm Trió as it features the sound closest to my listening preference. It has a great body, emotion and guarantees me a fatigue-free listen, where enjoyment is more in focus than technical excitement.
Noble Audio Kublai Khan [Added 30/06/2022]
Noble launched a great, technological marvel hybrid with the Kublai Khan, and they deserve praise for getting four different driver types together in a cohesive-sounding package. This is easily one of the best choices in the sub 3k$ range, with an immersive and highly technical sound with a hint of musicality, thus improving the original Khan.
Kublai Khan is one of those monitors that have ”it”, and Noble Audio once again makes its presence felt in this range of the market. So if you’re looking for a high-end IEM that has a very large staging and fantastic imaging, together with excellence in the high-frequency range, Kublai Khan is a winner.
Elysian Acoustic Labs Annihilator 2023 [Added 12/11/2023]
The Elysian Acoustic Labs Annihilator 2023 is one of the best in-ear monitors that you can buy today, without any doubt in my view. From the first moment you hear it, it hooks you up and you want to listen to more. The top-level technical performance can go against any IEM, and the vivid mid-range & treble are just a bonus to have an engaging, life-like, enjoyable experience. The treble performance probably is the most notable feature, which is simply excellent.
The Annihilator 2023 is a formidable performer in its own flagship price range, and it’s a strong recommendation from us if you have the budget to get a TOTL monitor that can give enjoyment and technical performance together.
Empire Ears Legend Evo [Added 28/09/2021]
I really admire Empire Ears for going the extra mile to get their monitors right. They don’t just throw in a bunch of off-the-shelves drivers and call it a day, no, they go to the drawing board and come up with their own technologies and driver designs. This is something I will always tip my hat to. With the Weapon X driver Empire Ears has once again proven that they are in the pursuit of extraordinary. A bone conduction driver built from the ground up isn’t something you just develop, it’s something you master over time and from what I can tell they have done an excellent job.
The Legend Evo has a natural sound, paired with incredible technical performance and a powerful and dynamic low end that will keep you bopping your head to the rhythm.
If you take a look at Empire Ears’ artist roster it makes abundant sense why they tune their monitors the way they do. These are high class audiophile monitors that set the bar for Hip Hop artists. God that bass!
Bass heads that don’t want to make compromises when it comes to technical performance listen up, this is the one to hear. 100% recommended!
FIR Audio Radon 6 [added 04/06/2023]
FIR Audio has created one of the best-sounding IEMs I have laid my ears upon. With its W-shaped signature, flexibility with the supplied Atom modules and immersive sound, it is giving me a hard time to ever put it out of my ears.
It’s hard not to recommend an IEM that hits my personal tuning preference so perfectly. The entire package you get gives you not just one monitor, but four different flavors of it. Which is just the ability to finetune it to your liking that some need. My favourite modules are the Red – for when I want a more dynamic bass and an airier midrange – and the Black, for when I want that extra mid-bass bump and added weight to the lower mids.
The Radon 6 is taking the lead as IEM of the year for me and therefore it receives my full recommendation.
Empire Ears Odin
The Odin might be the perfect candidate for those who thought the Legend X was too overpowering, or for those who liked Wraith’s midrange clarity but didn’t cope with its light bass. The Odin creates the best of both worlds but keeps things more civilized in the bass. Empire created a monitor that definitely will speak to many people. To me, it’s my favourite product in their lineup so far. The elephant in the room clearly is the price. 3,399 USD is not cheap. Not even close. But it gets you absolute top-level performance, all put together in proprietary hardware that was made from scratch.
The Legend X has always been touted as the bass heads’ dream IEM. Built around a similar driver configuration, the Odin is so much more. Yes, the bass is spectacular, but it is not as forward and attention-seeking as with the Legend X. Odin is more versatile than the LX, it is better suited for a wider range of different genres.
The Odin to me offers something unique. Something that makes me crave more time with it. Its full, dense, and powerful bass, coupled with an open and smooth midrange and a detailed and clear, yet inoffensive treble makes it jump right at the top of the shortlist for best universal IEM this year.
Lime Ears ANIMA [added 13/08/22]
Knowing Lime Ears and Emil, I was expecting the ANIMA to be good, but it isn’t just good, it is super impressive!
I in general am not the biggest fan of universal IEMs, but when a monitor like this comes along, I can only be happy about it. The ANIMA doesn’t come cheap, but you get an excellent high-end monitor in return that impresses over the full board. It’s a vibrant, detailed, extended, spacious and energetic IEM, with a very high technical level and a lovely musical presentation.
The Lime Ears ANIMA is a transparent IEM, so it is very important to get a good synergy with your choice of source. Next to that, it is also hyper-important to find the right tips for you. But get it right and you will be highly impressed with what the ANIMA can do. If you’re not on a budget and looking for a high-end universal IEM that is a great all-rounder, the ANIMA must be on your shortlist. It has impressed us enough for us to give it our Recommended Buy award, and the ANIMA is now featured on our Best Buy UIEM list!
Vision Ears Phönix [added 6/12/21]
My first thought when I listened to the Phönix on day one was, that it sounded like it was made to make music. It’s a damn near-perfect execution of a natural-sounding IEM. Personally, I haven’t heard any other monitor that made me want to keep listening on end like the Phönix. It’s such an addictive sound that simply makes me enjoy music to the extreme. The Phönix hits my personal preference so straight on the head I don’t know what else to say other than its pure excellence.
The elephant in the room clearly is the price. 3,500€/3,900$ is a lot of dough. If you can afford it and this hole in your wallet doesn’t hurt you, give the Phönix a serious consideration if you’re after a natural and pleasing sound. I personally can’t recommend it enough.
Noble Audio Viking Ragnar [added 28/05/2023]
A truly special IEM, the Noble Audio Viking Ragnar represents today’s pinnacle technical performance in the IEM market. If you want a highly technical, a bit analytical, and immensely resolving sound, the Viking Ragnar is hard to beat.
And when you look at the whole package, you get a great package and case, fantastic build quality and design, premium cable, and top-end technical sound. The price might become a bit easier to swallow in that case.
I recommend the Viking Ragnar to audiophiles who have deep pockets and want to experience the top-level technicalities in an IEM.
Only the most popular products are listed here. If you feel it to be too limited, feel free to browse the reviews in the Headphones Category: