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Best IEMs for < £200?

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
Hi there

I realise I'm new at head-fi, but I've lurked them for quite a long time, and I really do value your opinion when it comes to IEMs.

Basically, I've had Sennheiser CX-95s, Etymotic ER-6i - tested Q-Jays, Shure SE310s - and my final pair were the Ultimate Ears 700. The problem with my final pair, was that the cable was poor and it finally broke a few days ago. I'd go back to them, but I really don't want the same problem to arise, so I want to look for others.

I'm a pretty serious audiophile, with my setup at home being pretty good, but not until now have I had the budget to really hit the top end IEMs. I currently have Zune HD, all my tracks are either 320KBPS CBR or V0 and I listen to a massive variety of music - Ranging from The Album Leaf to The National. I like punchy bass, but not too much of it, so it's not something I look for in earphones. The UE700s had just enough punch in the songs to give it a nice balanced sound.

I cannot for the life of me decide what to get... I've considered many... Here are some:
Shure SE530s
Audio Technica CK10s
Phonak Audeo PFE
Westone UM2s
Ortofon EQ7

The problem is that they all have their pros and cons, and I cannot make up my mind. My ears are relatively small, and not exactly perfect for any normal fit - I use Comply Eartips with my UE700s - and I want very good sound isolation, sturdy cable and a balanced sound.

I'm willing to go above £200 if someone really gives me a good reason to.

Also, no earphones that require an Amp to sound good, this needs to be for portable music.

Thank you very much
post #2 of 44
Heard the CK10s, Owned the PFE, heard the SE530s. You need to chuck out the Westone UM2s from the list, they are old and there are many better things - namely the Westone 2, which I recently purchased (£180). They have a very clean, detailed, slightly warm sound, and are the most balanced IEM I've heard to date.

The Westone 2 is far more natural and balanced sounding than the PFE, Sennheiser IE8s, and the SE530s, it better low end compared to the CK10s (although from memory the CK10s were slightly more detailed). Comfort, build quality, and isolation wise they are excellent.

I would recommend them as the best all-round IEM sub £200 in the UK, from what I've heard of other IEMs (I haven't yet heard the Ortofons). I will do a full review soon, when time permits, but there is plenty of info in the Westone 2 impressions thread.
post #3 of 44
You can get virtually any IEM for less than £200, in mint condition or even new.

That includes (from my experience of buying or seeing available) Shure SE530, UE TripleFi 10, Klipsch X10, Sennhsier IE8 etc.

I would definitely recommend TripleFi 10 for sound quality and signature, but not fit. Ortofon EQ-7 is available right now for $275 from someone in the For Sale section - including worldwide shipping.

You might want to buy, use and resell - I know it's near-impossible to try different IEMs in the UK.

I saw Westone 3 on eBay for £220 last week - if it was UM3x I would have bought them.

For about £250, you could get two of the IEMs in your list.
post #4 of 44
I'm planning on an upgrade myself from beyer/etymotic with a similar budget in mind. At the moment I am considering either MTPC or E-Q7, leaning towards the orto's. I have read a few comments that they don't suit small ears but they seem like the best option for me.
post #5 of 44
Iheadphones got the Ortafon EQ-7 for £199 at the moment, they are defiantly my favorite IEMs right now!
post #6 of 44
I'm pretty much in this same situation. I listen to a huge range of music and the price range is the same.

So far I've gone from looking at the Phonak PFEs, to the 10s or IE8s. Everything I read on the IE8s just says the bass is superb and they're on par with the 10s other wise.

Tricky to decide, I wish I could pop along somewhere and listen to some, but it's a pain to find anywhere.
post #7 of 44
@zimmer x ,

the ortos are nice ,but some what off an aquired taste , and there bass is decent ,but not great., klipsch custom 3 and tf10 are both supurb iems and have fantastic punchy articulate bass ,and very detailed midrange and treble.
post #8 of 44
^^^^ You can't sell a ellow headfier those lovely se420's for cheap

That is meant to be a joke.I smile every time I see them in your sig!
post #9 of 44
he he search, ill sell them to you cheap buddy, go on you know you want them ,lol
post #10 of 44
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the fantastic replies guys.

A few things to note: I do realise that with a budget of £200, I can pretty much get any IEM on the market, but that is not my real intention - I want to get the best value to performance IEM for a decent price. I know that I don't need to go for the most expensive (the SE530s aren't the best IEMs and would be a total bitch in my ears) so I want suggestions which don't just encompass every single option

@ syn_fx - Thanks for your input, my only real worry about the Westone 2 is the size of it... Going from the UE700s to that could be a bit of a problem, as my ears really are picky as hell when it comes to earphones (I can't wear normal iPod stuff or anything like that, they just fall out instantly or hurt like hell). Do you think they'd fit well?

That really is my ultimate worry, is the fit - With the UE700s, I couldn't really go wrong as they were so small I didn't really need to worry about the sizes of my ear, especially with the Comply tips. I've heard the Westones can be a bit iffy when it comes to a good seal.

The Ortofon look fantastic but they do look really really big. It looks like it could be a problem... But I have no idea...
post #11 of 44
The Westones are very small! I've had no problem getting a good fit or seal, and they are the most comfortable IEMs I've ever worn (more comfortable than the Phonak PFEs). Looking at the impressions thread, only one person complained he couldn't get a good fit, and it seemed it was due to the specific curvature of his ear. Everyone else seems to find the fit very good.

Of course, that says nothing about how it will fit you specifically, but the chances are it will be excellent. Do you have particularly unusual ears?
post #12 of 44
You may look into IEMs which stay in outer ear like IE8, IE7, FX700, TF10Pro but MTP MD, UM3x, SM3 are small enough to stay in the ear and they sound amazing.
post #13 of 44
Thread Starter 
It seems people are very positive about both the Westone 3s and UM3xs, and they do both look like fantastic earphones... My only worry is this: do they handle themselves well without an amp? I really don't want to be adding an amp to my Zune to enjoy music.
I've never been a huge fan of over ear...but these look good.
How's the cable strength?
post #14 of 44
I like the Ortos muchly times lots.
post #15 of 44
Originally Posted by ZimmerX View Post
It seems people are very positive about both the Westone 3s and UM3xs, and they do both look like fantastic earphones... My only worry is this: do they handle themselves well without an amp? I really don't want to be adding an amp to my Zune to enjoy music.
I've never been a huge fan of over ear...but these look good.
How's the cable strength?
westone 3 is one off the easist iems i have to drive , it does not need amping
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