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BEST In-Ear Monitors under $400 for bicycling (no wind noise, no microphonics)

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Did a search for comments for best IEM for bicycling and came up with sporadic comments mostly. I'm absolutely *not* interested in over/on-the ear headphones. Strictly IEMs only.

 

What would the hardcore bikers suggest?

 

Ideally, for me, the combination would be as follows:

 

  1. Adjustable outside noise attenuation, perhaps with replaceable tips or adjustments, so that I can tone down traffic noise, but still hear it
  2. Minimal wind noise, even in very windy environments, and with noise blocking (see 1) not set to it's highest
  3. A very sturdy, replaceable cable (it does get stuck and gets pulled accidentally) with no self-noise / cord-induced noise
  4. Very good sound quality, of course
  5. Very good wearing comfort (for me this excluded all the silicone based tree shaped tips)
  6. Universal fit (no need for custom molds)
  7. Waterproof when worn, even in heavy rain
  8. Easy to drive from non-zero ohm output impedance portable source (no separate amp)
  9. Don't stick too far out from inside ears

 

For me, hopefully under $400 USD (can also be under 400€, as prices can differ so much across the pond).

 

I know getting anywhere close to the ideal can be tricky, but I'm interested in hearing what the hardcore bicyclers here have found the best.

 

And yes, I know about dangers of blocking all traffic noise around me, would not do it and am not planning to wear these when juggling between cars in downtown traffic :)

 

IEM's that I've tried and my experiences:

 

  • Etymotic ER-4P : not the best wearing comfort, best seal for me gives too high attenuation (lose too much traffit), still lots of wind noise, stick out too much
  • Westone W3 : better wearing comfort, really like the sound, a hassle to insert, hard to adjust attenuation without losing seal, even more wind noise, don't stick out too much imho
  • Sennheiser mm 70i : can't really get proper seal at all (tried all the tips), horrible in wind, not waterproof at all, can hear traffic sounds way too loud

 

So, the search continues.

 

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 15

UM3x, Westone 4, RE272, CK10, CK100 and IE8 (highely recommended,no microphonics but noise isolation is average).

post #3 of 15

I cycle about 20 miles a day, so I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this thread.  

 

I personally use Westones (W2) on my bicycle, but they aren't perfect.  For me the wind noise is a bit high and the cable can get caught/wrapped around things easily due to it being so light.  I picked up a pair of CK10's today and they fix both of those issues for me, and I'm really not worried about their durability.  This was my first ride with them though, so we'll see what I think after a few more weeks.

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

I skimmed the bikeforums.net discussions on the subject, but they weren't really that much more helpful than the random posts here on older threads:

 

- Sennheiser CX300 (same limitations here as with mm 70i)

- Etymotic ER6 (same limitations as ER4)

- Skullcandy (ehhhh!)

 

There were some interesting ideas though:

 

- Sony MDRNC-22 (active noise cancellation, needs batteries of course, but as we know active is decent for wind, but doesn't block out random traffic noise, cheap, cable not replaceable, don't stick out too much, probably not very waterproof)

- Audio-Technica has similar phones (ATH ANC23), have no idea how they compare, but they do seem to stick out much more (i.e. more wind noise).

 

Also, a bit off-topic, but found these interesting:

 

I wonder also if these kind of air guides would help with the wind noise (were recommended at Bikeforums):

 

 - Slipstreamx http://www.slipstreamz.com/

 - Slipstreamz http://www.macfriends.com/theslip.aspx

 - Windfoil (could also probably work as ear warmers during winter, at least on the latitudes where I commute): http://buschmantechnologies.com/

 - Or just basic ear warmers: http://www.180s.com/pages/catalog_view.aspx?g=1,3&y=7&i=188&c=1

 - or Earbags, esp the Hearing aid model that has more room for IEMs (or hearing aid): http://www.earbags.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.browse&category_id=14&Itemid=45&lang=en

 

The good idea with these products is that reducing the wind noise allows one to play at softer volumes and not have the traffic noises (the important ones) be masked completely by either the wind noise or one's music pumping at full volume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #5 of 15

have you considered customs?

 1964, alien ears and fidelity are all making custom IEM's under $400. Correctly fitting customs would give you the comfort, low profile, and isolation you're looking for.

post #6 of 15
Get the jh5. $399. Sounds very very good. smily_headphones1.gif
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbrunskill View Post

have you considered customs?

 

Thanks, I know about customs. However, as per what I wrote above (quote: "Universal fit (no need for customs"), I'm not really interested in them for this application. Customs molds and custom IEMs have their pros and cons. For this purpose, the cons for me outweight the pros.

 

 

 

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by halcyon View Post

I skimmed the bikeforums.net discussions on the subject, but they weren't really that much more helpful than the random posts here on older threads:

 

- Sennheiser CX300 (same limitations here as with mm 70i)

- Etymotic ER6 (same limitations as ER4)

- Skullcandy (ehhhh!)

 

There were some interesting ideas though:

 

- Sony MDRNC-22 (active noise cancellation, needs batteries of course, but as we know active is decent for wind, but doesn't block out random traffic noise, cheap, cable not replaceable, don't stick out too much, probably not very waterproof)

- Audio-Technica has similar phones (ATH ANC23), have no idea how they compare, but they do seem to stick out much more (i.e. more wind noise).

 

Also, a bit off-topic, but found these interesting:

 

I wonder also if these kind of air guides would help with the wind noise (were recommended at Bikeforums):

 

 - Slipstreamx http://www.slipstreamz.com/

 - Slipstreamz http://www.macfriends.com/theslip.aspx

 - Windfoil (could also probably work as ear warmers during winter, at least on the latitudes where I commute): http://buschmantechnologies.com/

 - Or just basic ear warmers: http://www.180s.com/pages/catalog_view.aspx?g=1,3&y=7&i=188&c=1

 - or Earbags, esp the Hearing aid model that has more room for IEMs (or hearing aid): http://www.earbags.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.browse&category_id=14&Itemid=45&lang=en

 

The good idea with these products is that reducing the wind noise allows one to play at softer volumes and not have the traffic noises (the important ones) be masked completely by either the wind noise or one's music pumping at full volume.


 

I dunno about the slipstreamz, they honestly don't look like they would work very well to me.  The windfoil or basic ear warmers might work really well though; I'll give some ear warmers a shot when it gets a bit cooler around here.  That said, there's no way I'm going to wear them all the time when it's hot as hell out.

 

I read a few review on amazon for the Sony MDRNC-22, and found this in one of them:

 

Quote:
Walking was definitely the worst experience. If it's windy, even just a little, the microphones (which are external) will capture the sound of the wind blowing on them and the circuitry will try to cancel that. Because this sound is not actually heard by you, only by the mics, this will create more windy sound instead. This is a very unpleasant artifact. The only solution: turn noise canceling off.


With the Audio-Technica ones I found a few things relating to wind noise too:

 

 

Quote:
I've been happy with these earbuds on airplanes. They do block out the noise pretty effectively, and the sound is OK.

But .... When I tried to use them while riding my motorcycle, I stumbled over an unpublished "feature" (confirmed by the manufacturer).

Beyond a certain point, the noise canceling feature quits entirely, then comes back on when the external noise is lower.

I was wearing a full-face helmet with the vents closed, which should have cut down on the amount of noise the device needed to counter.

It was the wind noise (not the engine noise) that caused the buds to cut out. For me, it was speeds over 50 mph, or even lower speeds with a cross-wind. It's especially annoying because the unit is cutting in and out at normal speeds. I had hoped to have better protection than simple ear plugs, and ended up with worse.

I don't normally bike anywhere near 50 mph, but that still makes me question how well it would work.  Saw this conflicting review as well though:

 

Quote:
I use the unit primarily for noise cancelation while riding my motorcycle. It does an excellent job of canceling a great deal of surrounding engine, exhaust, and wind noise. Most of the time I use the unit as-is and sometimes I connect it to my iPod while riding. Excellent product.

 

So who knows.  It doesn't look particularly promising to me, but might be worth a shot.  Hopefully somebody with some first hand experience will chime in.


Edited by NimbleRabit - 9/2/11 at 8:03am
post #9 of 15

I bike about 3,000 miles a year listening to earphones.  Here's been my experiences:

 

For this year, I've been using Senn MX680 with a Clip+/DigiZoid for source.  This has been one of the best combos I've come across.  While wind noise is still an issue, all other aspects are great.  They are suppose to be  waterproof.  The cord is short and strong.  They fit well in my ears.  The sound is good.  I velcroed the source units on the back of my helmet and run the cord down my neck and to the two earbuds.

 

For the prior two years, I used Yuin PK2.  They held up well.  The longer cord was a problem to store.  Sound wise I thought the Senn's were somewhat better and also had a better fit.

 

Before that, I used either Koss Porta Pros or Senn PX100, until the earbud technology caught up in quality.

 

Side note, if you live in a cold climate, the Grado street style or behind the head headphones double as great earmuffs.

 

Personally, I've tried my isolating IEM's, such as the ER6, and it just creeps me out not being able to hear much of anything.  I feel better with being able to hear more ambient sounds.

 

Loss of bass was a problem for years, even if I used amps, such as the iBasso T3/4.  The DigiZoid has solved that problem admirably.  I find that I can get a quality sound without having the to turn the volume up as much.  Plus it is very light.

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

I solved my biking in-ear problems with these:

 

http://www.earbags.com/

 

Bough the more spacious hearing aid model and the wind noise is almost totally eliminated, but the traffic noise is only muffled to the extent that the in-ears block it.

 

Very good solution during local cold fall/winter. Have to figure out something else for the spring/summer.

 

post #11 of 15

Wow, you need something that expensive for cycling. I bike too but I thought the MX680 does its job well

 

post #12 of 15

Wow, you need something that expensive for cycling. I bike too but I thought the MX680 does its job well

 

post #13 of 15

I bike all the time with my GR07 and wind noise isn't a problem with it.  It seems to fit all of your criteria...

post #14 of 15

Have you checked out Westone's cylcing phones? Don't know anything about them but saw them advertised.

post #15 of 15
I wouldn't spend a lot on expensive iem's just for cycling. No matter how well they block noise you won't be able to appreciate high quality sound (at safe listening levels) while biking. Find a robust iem that doesn't have microphonics and can use Shure olives. I find those tips to be very good at wind/noise isolation.
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