Here is my IEM list:
The following is my ranking of the IEMs I’ve listened to and/or reviewed recently this year:
1. Unique Melody ME.1 Custom IEM - $1100
This happens to be most expensive of the items on the list. Is it worth it? For me it is. The ME1 had some sonic issues that weren’t awful but did require some EQ to fix. Taking the gamble to convert them to CIEMs really paid off. The sonic issues are no longer a concern, and the IEM sounds very well balanced and feature all the great features of planar drivers in a open-back IEM design. This is as close to an open-back headphone as I’ve tried.
2. BGVP DMG - $139
I have not tried the BGVP DM6 yet. The HYPE train for it is reaching legendary status in the headphone communities. But I have listened to its cheaper brother, the DMG. This one has a slight V-shaped signature that is fun, exciting, and well-tuned that it is also technically saavy. The biggest feature is probably it’s biggest flaw – the screw-on filters do subtle changes, however they do come off very easily.
3. Tenhz P4 Pro - $120
TenHz rebranded recently and then released the Pro model of their P4. The P4 Pro has an extremely lightweight and comfortable shell that I can wear for hours upon end. It also seals in very well and isolates well. The signature is near flat-neutral which is unique for this price range.
4. Audeze iSine - $199 - $599
Audeze released the iSine a while back but I finally got a chance to own one earlier this year. I ended up selling it once I got the UM ME1 but I still think I rank the iSine over the universal ME1 only because of the price to performance ratio. The iSine isn’t technically better but it’s still quite good, with the right EQ applied. If you have an iOS device, get the Cipher version as it already fixes the issues with the iSine’s sonic limitations. If you can get past the weird look and get it to fit well, it’s extremely comfortable, but be prepared to struggle through fitment trials. The LX and the iSine 10 versions are identical outside of appearance.
5. KZ ZSN - $20-25
The ZSN hasn’t been reviewed by me yet, and it’s a newcomer to the significant and large Knowledge Zenith lineup. It also happens to be incredibly cheap. It’s worth the $20 for the metal/acrylic housing and the good cable it comes with. But then you factor in that the cable is detachable, and the sound signature is extremely pleasant to my ears, and unlike anything KZ has put out so far, and you hit a jackpot for budget IEMs! While it lacks some detail of more expensive IEMs, this thing has a wonderful sound profile that will be great for all genres.
6. Campfire Orion - $350
The Orion is a pleasant-sounding IEM in the Campfire lineup, and happens to be one of their lowest priced offerings. Some people call it the baby Andromedas, for its sound and its shared housing. This review is coming up from me, but as a preview, I find these very enjoyable to listen with a good linear bass response, and very coherent mid-range. It does lack extended treble response in the upper registers, but I really have nothing to complain about. This is a great all-arounder.
7. Tin Audio T2 Pro - $59
Tin Audio released the T2 out of nowhere and it featured a very well-balanced neutral headphone that was also very cheap. The only thing I felt like was missing was the lack of upper treble extension and air. The T2 Pro came out a couple months ago and boosted the upper treble and made the already great T2 an even better headphone. Some folks may not like the additional treble, but for me, I really enjoyed it. It really helps bring clarity and air out.
8. TRN V80 - $39
The V80 is one of the best budget IEMs out right now. It has a very likeable sound signature which has a warm but very clean sound signature that has great mids and good treble extension. The build quality on it is impeccable and is made of solid metal and the fit is very good. Occasionally, the upper mids and lower treble sound slightly incoherent, but overall this is a very good IEM for all genres.
9. Audio Technica LS200iS - $349
I have only had limited time on this one but I am finding this to be a great IEM that has a similar sound to the Orion but slightly warmer, like the V80. It’s also got very good detail and mid-forward sound to it. The biggest flaw is the cable is pretty medicore at best, and uses a cable connector that isn’t very popular. The IEM looks wonderful in ample lighting though, and is incredibly light.
10. Unique Melody ME.1 Universal - $759 (on sale $599 at musictek)
The ME1 was already discussed above as my favorite IEM I own. The universal one is pretty unique in that it is a true IEM planar headphone and the first of its kind that doesn’t require special hooks like the iSine do. They look like miniature Audeze LCDs in your ear. The shoutiness in the 1KHz area does affect listenability of the IEM if volume is elevated, and the generally darker sound, similar to the iSine does make this one sound a lot better with EQ.
11. Tin Audio T2 - $49
The T2 is an extremely popular IEM and doesn’t need a lot more description. It’s really an easy recommendation-buy for anyone who has $40-49 to spend. There are a few IEMs above these now on this list but one unique characteristic that this has that no other IEM above have is that these can be worn with cable down, as well as cable up.
12. Final Audio E2000 - $45
The Final Audio E2000 was one of my favorite budget IEMs up until the latest crop of Chinese companies came out with their recent models. This Japanese company has put out obscure gems over the past couple years and the E2000 is one of their cheapest, yet best value you can find. It features a balanced pleasant sound signature with great isolation and lightweight. No interchangeable cables though.
13. KZ AS10 - $69
The KZ AS10 is one of the flagship models from Knowledge Zenith. It features 5 balanced armatures per side and has a warm and detailed sound signature thanks to the multi-BA setup. The AS10 is on the large side, so fit can be challenging, and overall looks leaves something to be desired. But if you want a detailed relaxing IEM with good bass response, this is a good choice.
14. Final Audio E3000 - $55
Similar look and sound to the E2000 but with a bigger boost in the mid-bass. This gives the E3000 a warmer and punchier sound that will appeal to a greater audience than the slightly less E2000, which will favor a leaner and cleaner sound.
15. Campfire Comet - $199
The Comet is the lowest priced Campfire IEM that features a stunning stainless steel body and a wonderful package of accessories. The sound signature is pleasant and enjoyable but doesn’t wow you in any way shape or form. It’s a safe IEM that works with many genres but does lack extension and dynamics.
16. KZ ZSA - $25
The ZSA is the tamer, cheaper and smaller version of the famous or infamous KZ ZS6. It has a significant V-shape sound that is exciting but does cause some bloat occasionally. Unlike the ZS6, the ZSA doesn’t have as much issues with treble sharpness and sibilance.
17. 1More Quad Driver - $129-199
The Quad is 1More’s highest priced IEM and features 4 drivers per side. It has good detail and a rich sound, however I found it a little too emphasized in the mid-bass to be enjoyable for my personal tastes. Many people will enjoy this warmer, punchier sound though. The IEM does also lack detachable cables, and the stock cable is only just average. The build and looks is quite nice and can be worn up or down.
18. KZ ZS6 - $45
The ZS6 is a polarizing IEM that some people love or hate. I find it to have the utmost potential but falls flat for a single fatal flaw. It has a wonderful build that is a carbon clone of the Campfire Andromeda, and it has plenty of detail, and good sounding bass. The mids are recessed but it’s not awful. The treble and upper mids is where these fall flat. It’s just too boosted and too sharp and I find it sibilant in almost every track I listen to that has female vocals.
19. TRN V20 - $20
I haven’t spent a lot of time with these but they have a decent warm sound but really lack any details. The build is odd, with a rubber coating on them but have detachable cables. These are really geared towards the gym or jogs.
20. Shozy x AAW Hibiki Mk2 - $75
The Hibiki Mk2 was quite disappointing to me. It had attractive looks, and decent fit, but the soundstage was just too narrow and caused everything to be congested. The heavy mid-focus and mid-boosted sound really pushed everything at you creating a disaster when playing a song with multiple instruments or singers at once. Other than that, this IEM would have been a great choice.
21. KZ BA10 - $79
The BA10 fails on many levels for me personally. First it sounded bad. It had a weird dark tone to it but because the mids dropped off and the treble remained elevated, the IEM produced very sharp peaks that bothered me a lot. Finally, not only was I experiencing sonic pain, I was experiencing significant physical sharp pains from the large, heavy, metallic sharp square body of these odd looking monsters. The sharp corners dug into my ears and were painful within minutes of placement.
22. Hifiman Bolt - $10
Finally, the cheapest IEM on this list is also the worst buy of the year. That’s really sad. The Massdrop special from Hifiman was a complete disaster. Right off the bat, the packaging was awful, and the cable was a flat, jangled mess to use. Then after placement, you’ll experience significant, loud, driver flex. The worst ever. The included tips are all bad. Finally, the sound signature is heavy, heavy bass focused. It’s like putting on an old gen Beats by Dre headphone in a crappy, though still better build. These just don’t have anything going for them. Not even worth the $10 I paid. I couldn’t even give these away because people turned them down after listening to them. Nuff said?