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 IEMs out there that we can’t list them all, but here are our favorites for now.
Venture Electronic Monk
One of the most talked about products this last year and probably one of the most bough 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 op cable and color options. Every music lover should at least buy one Monk in his life. $5. Incredible
Knowledge Zenith ATR
Just like the Monk, the KZ ATR is one of thise $5 gems. This one however is a real inear and not an earbud. Great sound for the price, you have to hear it for yourself but it will blow you away for this little money. Great bass, lovely treble and rich mids, the KZ ATR does it all. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money but get great sound for the price, then I can only fully recommend getting the KZ ATR.
FiiO F1 and F3
These new earphones speak for themselves. Just get them and listen, you will be impressed by the sound quality. What are you going to lose anyway? $40 dollars? That’s basically nothing in today’s market and Berkhan really believes you can’t get better than this for the price. FiiO F1 and F3 have the portability and durability for an active lifestyle, good comfort and more importantly, great sound.
Shozy & AAW Hibiki
I certainly don’t think you can find many IEMs that can sound better for 60$, and in my case, I haven’t heard a better monitor for this money. It looks great, sounds great and very comfortable at the same time. The fit is also very nice once you get used to it. I recommend the Hibiki for mid lovers or buyers who look for a balanced, natural monitor on a budget.
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 neighborhood, and I wouldn’t want to be without the E3000 when I want Dvorak to play me to sleep.
1MORE Triple Driver
For the asking price of only 99$ the Triple Driver by 1More is a complete steal. It is punching above its price point sonically and the included packaging could be the one of a unit much more expensive. Sound wise the Triple convinces with good natural bass and heaps of details with an above average sound stage and outstanding imaging. The build quality is impeccable and if it had a removable cable, it would be more than perfect. Does the Triple Driver go on our recommended list? I’d be stupid not to. It certainly will make it hard for a lot of incoming future products to get on there. I applaud 1More for their outstanding work!
This is truly an exceptional IEM from iBasso and I simply can’t criticize any aspect here. The only thing I could say is the slightly thinner tonality and that’s it. There’s nothing else I can bring up for this price level. Packaging is also impressive, and even though I haven’t seen it myself, I can tell from the photos that it’s nicely packed. Most importantly, they ship it with a great and durable cable and you just can’t ask for more than that. What the IT01 gives you is one of the best performances you can find for 100$. Great energy, good bass, crisp mids and treble with a perfect resolution for the price. I definitely recommend it.
The ER4-series IEMs already were in our Buyers Guide for universal inear 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 the ER4-series yet. And it will make you wonder about the price/quality relationship of a whole lot of other brands.
LZ Hifi LZ-A4
Simply put, LZ-A4 is the BOMB. The sound is kind of out of your head thanks to the great sound stage and speaker feeling, with a non-aggressive smooth sound with a tremendous bass. The mids and highs are maybe not quite as impressive as the bass, but still very coherent and high level for the cost. It combines these with nearly unlimited options for altering the sound, a good build quality and accessory package. And this was the first time that I (Berkhan) liked an IEM with filtering options. I think every audiophile should give this IEM a try to see the amazing performance.
Oriveti New Primacy
New Primacy’s 3D layering, soundstage, and new, more extended high frequency extension are worthwhile, iterative improvements. The new, stereo-wide bass is the bee’s knees. What’s not is its insertion and same-old MMCX neck angles. Still, it is a damn fine earphone. It is built well. It looks great. Oriveti brand their stuff great. New Primacy is worthwhile, but not altogether New, not altogether a fix to the original. If you’re in the market for a new earphone, the Oriveti New Primacy, like Primacy before it, remains a recommended buy. It comes in at the same price as the original, which makes the decision easy. But if you are a happy Primacy owner – and you should be – stay happy with what you have.
Earsonics ES-2 and ES-3
Our French friends have made a nice push to the mid-fi IEM market with these. The ES-2 was the obvious surprise with that veiled and dark sound but if you match it with a reference DAP with a brighter sound I think you will get a great musical result. If you’re treble sensitive like me, you can go for it. ES-3 on the other hand, sits together with the best price/performance IEM’s according to me. With its speedy and funny approach to music it will make the ES fans fully satisfied. The sound is also very dynamic and articulate and I personally think it’s a junior S-EM9 for less than one-third of the price.
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 is 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 😉
Forsteni is the IEM that was released after the already legendary Oriolus V2. With one less BA driver, it could be seen as a baby Oriolus but it’s not just that. It’s such a great mid-range monitor that gives a little flatter and brighter sound compared to original Oriolus and it fits much much better with a smaller body. You can even prefer the Forsteni over Oriolus if you like a little more open and closer sound with articulated treble.
To quote Nathan:”The GR10 is almost perfect”. It’s got a sound that stands toe-to-toe with much more expensive earphones, but it’s far more comfortable and costs far less. If only it isolated a bit better, it would completely dominate all of my out-and-about listening. But even with those mild digs, it is one of the best earphones out there, at any price. The Grado sound is something you have to experience. It defines its retail space. It is addictive. And even though my long-term experience squeezes in just two earphones, it is proved every time I come back to the GR10 after reviewing and enjoying larger, much more expensive earphones.
Maybe it’s not an all-around IEM, but with the right source and right recording, Savanna is a true reference monitor. I recommend this pretty IEM to everyone who doesn’t want to throw over 500$ at an IEM and to who seek a reference like-tuning with high quality mids. In the right circumstances, this one can even compete with IEM’s in much higher price classes.
Audeze has created a revolutionary new range of IEMs with their iSine-series. While the look and feel of the iSines might not be for everyone (I love it), it’s hard not to notice the really great sound quality of these inears. While the iSine10 is a good entry level IEM, the iSine20 really is the one that performs best. The excellent sounding iSine20 isn’t only best of both but it also sounds better than a lot of the universal IEMs in the same price range. I would suggest saving up for the gorgeous iSine20 as it (look and) sound-wise is impressive. It’s so good in fact that I’m giving it a spot in our recommended universal IEM list, and that means a lot. Well done Sankar and the Audeze team.
Sage offers a lot of the delicious things from the current Noble flagships. Its superior instrumental separation and imaging together with the balanced yet fun signature are Sage’s key strengths. Noble’s entry level placed universal IEM sure punches way above its price and has outdone many more expensive models I have heard. For its incredible sound quality and price position it is highly recommended.
It’s good to see a high performing IEM with a price below 1000$. I give UM a lot of credit to try to change things in the business and I hope more manufacturers will consider this as well. I would like to invite other brands to put up these type of IEMs with acceptable prices and better value for the hard earned money we audiophiles spend. There is fantastic bass presentation from top to bottom in terms of quality, true sounding mids with good resolution and good tonal accuracy and great extending treble. An open and airy IEM, Martian is a brilliant piece of work and I recommend it for open/brighter sound lovers.
Unique Melody ME1
Unique Melody have made a really great sounding planar magnetic IEM that is really strong on a technical level. With its focus on the upper mids and vocals this might not be the perfect inear for everyone, but it is a really strong IEM. For only $759 you get an audiophile level universal monitor that actually deserves a flagship status. It simply sounds this good and as such, it goes to our recommended list!.
The Hyla CE-5 is an exceptional IEM. The effort and the R&D behind it, and the new ideas from the engineers, and particularly the limited number of builds make it so special. It’s apparent that they tuned it to appeal to Japanese crowd somehow, but there’s no reason not to like it in terms of high end sound. I always loved Japanese products, and especially loved their IEMs I’ve listened to up to this point. Hyla CE-5 is not an exception for me, and I liked it very much. But it’s also clear that it wouldn’t appeal to every kind of people. Its fun nature, strong bass, recessive mid bass body is not for everyone. Yet, it no doubt is a high end IEM in terms of technical prowess, and that is not easy to find, especially at this time with crazy prices. It’s the best IEM I’ve experienced under the 1000$ range in terms of technical skills.
It’s a sensational monitor. I recommend it if you’re after a different and engaging sound, and if you want to have something very rare in your collection.
Beyerdynamic Xelento Remote & AK
Nathan has a hard time deciding which one of these he likes best but he insisted both would be added to the recommended universal line-up. The latest TK8iE mkii is one of the best-sounding, most dynamic earphones I’ve ever had in my ears. And it is even more comfortable than it is good sounding. Its over-engineered accessories are completely forgivable in light of its incredible sound and fit. It’s a concession to which I give full, unbridled consent.Deciding between Xelento and the AKT8iE is difficult. When my music queue is long on non-rap male vocals, and when my album list is full of live audiences, I prefer the AKT8iE. Despite the mild disconnect between bass and lower mids, Xelento pulls as my reference heart strings
AK & JH Angie
This, Berkhan thinks, is the best designed IEM in terms of color mix and shape. The tall and wide sound stage, or heart-touching mids are just another part of the story, as well as the relaxed and soft approach to music. Angie is the most smooth and romantic IEM that I’ve experienced. You only find that every once in a while.
The Andromeda is brilliant according to Nathan. More engaging than Jupiter, but still erring chalkily rather than wetly emotional. There is so much space in Andromeda’s mids and high mids. So much. If you’re into rock, singer/song writer, heavy metal, and even uplifting or vocal trance, Andromeda is brilliantly adaptable. Its mids you can’t get over. No way. So if you love mids and still dig sparkly highs, and can do with a comparatively laid back bass, Andromeda is your ticket. It is as solid as it is finely machined. Campfire Audio are on the top of the maker game.
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 boos 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 switched 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.
Crazy. Crazy expensive but crazy good, that’s what this IEM is. The oBravo EAMT-1A is a unique sounding universal that wowed me from the start and believe me, after 7 years of doing personal audio reviews, that isn’t something that’s easy to do. All I can say is that this simply is the best sounding universal inear monitor that ever was in the HFN headquarters. It does leak sound out and noise in, so this isn’t the kind of IEM to use on the way to work (if you want to carry around an IEM of that price class on the train that is). Crazily good.
Only 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: