The Ultra Cheap IEM Thread



Going Paul one step further.

The IEM–headphone conundrum is a red herring. Totally different experiences and situational/environment constraints make all the difference. Love them both unapologetically. It’s not red wine OR white wine. It’s all the wine. Listen and enjoy!


Haha. Since we’re comparing storage horror stories, I’ll just say that I used to use a C64 whose non-volatile storage was a cassette deck. It took 15 minutes or longer to load programs that are dwarfed by today’s desktop icons.


I agree with you Tony. I am not knocking overears as I have quite a few pairs of decent ones. It’s just that I use Iem’s much more. Which is a funny thing because with I’ll health being a problem I don’t get out a great deal. But I still like them.

Perhaps another reason for personally favouring one over the other is that I can’t afford to keep lots of gear around me so I have thinned out a lot of things lately and I am going to concentrate on my Iem’s. I will keep a few pairs of over ears as well as my Amp’s and Dac’s. This will in turn allow me to delve deeper into my love of Iem’s and invest in my end game Iem.


Right there with you. My first 48k Atari 800 had the same deal.


I kind of agree, and I kind of don’t. I get a tremendous amount of enjoyment out of my pad-swapped, eq’d LCD2C, but I also get quite a bit of enjoyment out of my KZ ZS7 IEMs. If I only owned the IEMs, I could enjoy them not just on the go or while working, but even for sitting down to some focused evening listening. It’s the old 80/20 thing. Decent IEM’s get me 80% of the way there (truly more like 90%), and if I wasn’t so deep into this hobby, the remaining 20% wouldn’t prevent me from enjoying the music.


I agree with you here…my problem is I always want the “better thing” I.E. what is considered the best or if something gets upgraded I want the upgrade…I’m slowly getting better about this trait but it is there, almost like a constant battle against myself lol.

But I could easily just live with the Andromeda. But having listened to my Clears/HD800 and others… I can’t reasonably only have IEMs (especially because my ears don’t agree with them for extended listening)


I had a dragon32 amongst other things. I too remember the tape decks. Worst of all though was spending hour upon hour inputting code for a game only to have missed a letter or line out. It took ages to get games running. Though moaning now it was immense fun though.


I’m definitely a SpinFit fan.

I’d been using the CP240 (double flange) ever since those came out, for any IEM they would fit on with good success. As a result of trying lots of other IEMs recently, I’d stocked up on the models that I didn’t already have (CP155 and CP500).

Putting the CP500 on the tia Fourté in place of the CP240 has both improved comfort and resulted in a noticeably more even tonality (more evenness between bass/treble levels) I can only attribute this to the slightly wider bore and closer placement of the bore to the tip’s exit point.

Looking down the bore of the CP240 (4.0mm) you can see it is slightly constricted vs. that on the tia Fourté (5.25mm), where as the 5.5mm bore on the CP500 seems to be about “just right” (I figured it’d be too big, but it isn’t).


Reading through this thread makes me really happy that Amazon doesn’t do same-day delivery for the most part in Canada as my wife would have left me for sure!

We had a FiiO FH1 return come in that I decided to give a spin. It’s packaging was super nice (no pictures right now), came with a solid carrying case as well as a bunch of different tips. The cable is very easy to use but doesn’t feel very solid when you’re trying to get them to stay around your ears. The IEMs fit pretty nicely as they are fairly small and I found it pretty easy to get a good seal for them.

As far as sound goes, the most noticeable thing as soon as you play a song is the bass. The bass overpowers pretty much everything and it took a while to get adjusted to the sound. Definitely not the most detailed IEMs but I could see those that like emphasized low-end really enjoying them.


Two new cheap IEMs in the house. They were staring at me on Gearbest:

Xiaomi QT202JY - Nice fit and finish for a $25 Chinese market 1more product. Clean and clear details. Very bright, a bit thin in the middle. V shaped with shallow one note bass. I like my TRN V80s better. Maybe I’ll give these to my wife.

TWS I9 - clones of Apple true wireless earbuds. They work totally well enough for noisy public environments, but a bit ragged in the details like cheap Bluetooth often is. Mid high focus…not a bass oriented device. Worth the $14 I paid.


Spiral Dots are actually what I have on my Andromeda…I have a set of the double flanged spinfits that I will have to try on my new IEMs! i really enjoy the Spiraldots though…:thinking:


Yes, sitting there with a copy of Creative Computing, and typing in Peeks and Pokes, or occasionally a bit of hex code along with basic. I recall they guy who wrote the first Pascal for Atari, you could actually correspond with him.


Seeing your 8-bit Atari references … it occurs to me that your “Eastern Front: 1941” references are to Chris Crawford’s game. One of my favorites. And unique, at the time for having all conflict being resolved simultaneously (something sadly lacking in many modern war-game titles).

Loved that game.

Enjoyed “SCRAM” as well …

Made my first fortune on the back of the Atari 8-bit, so lots of fond nostalgia there.


SCRAM was the first game I bought. On Cassette. Yes. I’m a huge Chris Crawford fan. I’m not a big war gamer, but his games were chess, not checkers. I loved the Atari 8 bit. 6502. Programming sprites. Learning Forth (Valforth). The Atari Program eXchange. Draper Pascal vs APX Pascal. There was a Modula 2 as well. Living every night reading UseNet. Ultima and Ultima II. Antic. Happy Drives. VisiCalc - in a cartridge!

“We’ll meet on edges, soon, " said I, proud 'neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now…” - Bob Dylan


We should chat in person! :wink:


And it was “Player/Missiles” not “Sprites”! :wink:

Same thing, but different terminology.

Was interesting to transition from Atari 8-bit work, to Commodore Amiga (I had a couple of Atari ST of course) and see how Jay Miner’s work translated there.


Quick Review of the NiceHCK EP10 EarPhone

Price: $17 on NiceHCK Ali Express Store (sometimes less!)

I paid $7.99 for it during the 11.11 Lucky surprise bag promotion. You didn’t know what you were going to get, but this is what everyone got and it’s quite a good little earphone for this price!


Extremely well built. Nice braided cable and a solid metal Apple EarPod looking earphone. It has replaceable tips which is nice. Fits most standard 4-5mm bore sized tips. The stock tips are quite bassy, and I swapped it out with some generic Jaybird X3 tips from Amazon. And I love the how it reduced the bass and made the sound more U-shaped than the original V-shape sound.


It is on the bassier side, but again, with some tip choices, you can minimize the bass. It has extremely good detail for this price. I am actually shocked how much detail it has. It follows a V/U-shaped sound signature that is similar to the KZ AS10, shown below. The mids are slightly recessed, but does spike upwards towards the upper mids and has another peak in the treble. This isn’t too bad in practice, and I found it quite harsh and muddy, at first, with stock tips. Whether it was through “burn-in” or just replacing tips, the peak is no longer a problem. I actually find the sound signature a warm, inviting and detailed signature. Due to the elevated bass, some tracks will still have some mid-bass bloat, but for the types of music I’ve been listening to lately, this isn’t typically a problem.

Soundstage is medium-ish.

NiceHCK EP10 vs KZ AS10

NiceHCK EP10 vs KZ ZSN and Tin Audio T2

Graphs were created using MiniDSP EARS and REW. Both graphs are Diffuse Field compensated.

(add-on from original post)

The KZ AS10 sounds more bloated less detailed than the EP10. I would take the EP10 over it. It also fits a lot better for me.

I still prefer the ZSN over the EP10, but the EP10 is so comfortable to wear, that it’s a toss-up. Different sound signatures obviously. The ZSN has a more balanced sound, as does the T2.


I loved the Ultima series they were so special. I played them all the way onto PC. Such memories.


I finally got the Focal Spark in. Same Day shipping became 4 days!

The Spark does seem to have a bit of a consumer v-shape sound but it’s done rather tastefully. I do agree that the bass decay is faster than what a typical consumer-grade sound headphone has and that’s good. The faster bass decay really does make it not bloat into the mids. I find these to not quite have the upper end Focal house sound but has similar characters of very clean, clear sound and fast attack (for its price-range). These seem like a great price at the $19.99-29.99 that sellers are selling it right now on Amazon US. I’m now curious how the Focal Sphear sounds. :slight_smile:

Might as well add to my Focal collection right?
In the past few months I’ve bought the Elex, Elegia, 2 pairs of Focal Birds, 1 Focal Sub Air, 1 Focal Powerbird, and now the Spark.


dang the BT version is $35: