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Best IEM <$150

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I was wondering if you guys can help me decide on which IEM's to get, as an upgrade for my Klipsch S4i. I'm looking for the best bang for the buck IEM's with the following preferences (ranked in order of ones I most value to least):

1. Comfort - I have narrow ear canals and I want to wear these without knowing they're there, and if possible no ear fatigue for long listening periods. I also want them to be as light as possible.

2. Isolation - I will use these in subway commutes and long plane rides, I want to hear as less outside noise as possible.

3. Sound Quality - I listen mostly to electronic music and sometimes rock, and want to emphasize on having a good bass quality and quantity. Mids and treble are important but less so than bass. Good speed will be nice too. For these IEM's usage, I tend to focus less on neutrality and transparency.

4. Durability / Build Quality - I will do a lot of travel with these, and will likely yank out the headphone from my ears a few times. I don't want headphones that are so delicate that the cable will be disconnected from the earpiece if I do so. At the same time, I don't want excessive durability with unnecessary added weight. I do want them as light as possible.

Looking at this thread so far I've came up with only:

1. Klipsch X10 ($110 @ ebay)
2. Westone 3 ($160 @ amazon)
3. VSonic GR07 Bass Edition ($130 @ lendmeurears)
4. RHA MA750i ($130 @ amazon)

that matches my preferences. I prefer to stay under $150 unless there's something that's significantly better for the price.

Edited by Solarium - 12/27/13 at 11:44pm
post #2 of 12
I would go for the w3 but that's just me. They have great comfort isolation and sound quality.....they are imo good for durability too
post #3 of 12


post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

The W3 looks good as far as sound quality goes, but what do you guys think about the isolation and comfort?


Also the VSonic GR07 Bass Edition is currently on sale at for $130 with no tax and free shipping. Anyone can comment on their comfort and isolation?


BTW, I'm using the Klipisch X10 as the "standard" for comfort and isolation in this line up. Looks like I can find the X10 for ~$110 on ebay as well now.

Edited by Solarium - 12/27/13 at 9:06pm
post #5 of 12

+1 for the W3 given your requirements. They isolate extremely well (of course as with most isolation issues, it depends on what tips you're using), they're quite comfortable and fit nicely inside bowl of the ear, they certainly will meet your SQ preferences, and i've never seen a cable better than the braided Westone.

post #6 of 12
I personally really enjoyed Phonak Audeo's series, which are on a pretty intense sale atm because Phonak is going into hearing aids only... :P Maybe also consider Shures SE215 LTD.
post #7 of 12

I owned X10 and W3 (recently bought W3).

W3 is a few classes above X10 in terms of sound, comfort, isolation, quality.

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

Removed the Yamaha EPH-100 due to likely not fitting my narrow ear canals. Added the RHA MA750i from some great reviews and recs.


For those with W3, what are some of the things you don't like about it?

post #9 of 12

The over-ear is a little bit of work compared to some that just stick in like the EPH-100. Something to get used to.


Question for you: Do you prefer the vali or magni better? Looking to replace my e10 with my dt 990-250 with modi and vali or magni, maybe upgrade to hd 650 or he-400 in a while.

post #10 of 12
Originally Posted by Solarium View Post

Removed the Yamaha EPH-100 due to likely not fitting my narrow ear canals. Added the RHA MA750i from some great reviews and recs.


For those with W3, what are some of the things you don't like about it?

It has a touch more bass than I'd like but I prefer an almost neutral presentation anyway. Definitely wouldn't classify it as overly bassy or muddy.

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by tehsprayer View Post

The over-ear is a little bit of work compared to some that just stick in like the EPH-100. Something to get used to.


Question for you: Do you prefer the vali or magni better? Looking to replace my e10 with my dt 990-250 with modi and vali or magni, maybe upgrade to hd 650 or he-400 in a while.

So it's like my S4 which I wear over the ear anyway?


They "muddy" bass kind of puts me off about the W3. Is the bass more muddy than that of the X10?


It sounds like the GR07 BE really fits my sound requirements and comfort, it's just the isolation that is iffy. Can someone comment on how much less isolation it has vs W3 or X10? Is it more than S4?


BTW, I tried the Magni with the 598 before returning it and upgrading to the 650. With the 598 it worked superbly, in fact I really miss the soundstage and upper-mid and treble clarity of the 598. I originally got the Vali to pair with the 598, which I heard works even better than the Magni, but I returned the 598 before I got the Vali. I've tried both the Magni and the Vali with the 650. It's really hard to say which I like better. The Vali has definitely a unique tube-like sound signature with the wetness and decay you can't find on a solid state amp, so songs from coldplay and norah jones are absolutely stunning. However, the magni seems to excel with speed and faster pace songs, and I seem to hear the separation better than the Vali, which makes songs almost seem like 1 flowing stream of water. I will be connection my TiHD output with a splitter to both when I come back from my vacation, and test them out more extensively. Currently though, I plan to return the Magni, since I bought it under Amazon prime and they have a much better return policy than ordering directly from Schiit.

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
After testing out the Westone 3, GR07-BE, MA750, and X10, I can safely conclude that the Westone 3 are my favorite. I bought the Comply P-series tips, which tremendously improve the comfort, isolation and SQ. It's much less sibilant, and I feel the bass more controlled. I think the GR07-BE's are more neutral, but also more boring sounding, as the Westone 3 are explosively addicting. I in love with the V-signature sound and the bass and treble emphasis, but at no point I feel that they are too much or the bass muddies or bleeds into the mids. It sounds beautifully with my EDM music, and I can safely say that they are the best IEM's I've tried. Pricing them at $160 just make them likely the best IEM's under $200. I absolutely recommend getting the Comply P-series tips to accompany the W3 though.


I chose the following headphones are reading Joker's reviews on IEM's extensively ( Those reviews are a very good place to get started, although you should really pick up top 3-5 IEM's and buy them from a place that has good return policies to try for yourself before making a final decision.


1. Klipsch X10 ($110 @ ebay) - I originally picked this expecting that it'll be the most comfortable and isolating IEM's for me. I also hear it has excellent bass. I was almost sure that I would pick this IEM.

2. Westone 3 ($160 @ amazon) - I picked this out only because it was on sale. I didn't include it originally until it was recommended to me by this thread.

3. VSonic GR07 Bass Edition ($130 @ lendmeurears) - The GR07 has extensive hype surrounding it, and since the Bass Edition offers the bass that I wanted it felt like a winner. I purchased this expecting that it has the best quality sound.

4. RHA MA750i ($130 @ amazon) - It's relatively a new comer and there weren't many reviews about it yet when I purchased. However, its price and the inclusion of a volume control, and its description of the sound made it very appealing.


My comparison:

Comfort: W3 > GR07-BE > X10 > MA750

- Before getting the W3, I thought the tubby housing and the short tips of the W3 would give me problems, but the comply P-series tips entirely remedy that issue. The longer black foam tips that come with the W3 are also great at isolating, but I felt that it pressed against my ears too much making it uncomfortable and would expand too quickly giving you less time to adjust the tips inside your ears. The GR07 have great tips as well, and are adjustable. However, I feel that because they are adjustable, you cannot reposition them very easily because they bend too easily and you have less control which direction you want to to drive them into your ears. I also bought the Comply T-400 tips for the GR07, but in the end didn't bother to try them because I like the sound signature of the W3 so much more. The X10 is a hit or miss for me, sometimes I can stick them far inside my ear canal without much trouble, other times it causes me great pain as I feel that it will blow my ear drums out by the amount of pressure I need to exert. The MA750 is just terrible, the cold hard metal is very uncomfortable to my ears and the build is makes it very heavy and crude. I can't imagine going out into New England winter weather having a piece of metal stuck to my ears, it'll give me frost bites. The cord becomes more rigid near the headpiece, making it a earlobe guide, but making it difficult to adjust the ear piece. The entire ear piece feels bulky and heavy and I didn't bother testing out much on the MA750 after finding how uncomfortable it is.


Isolation: W3 > GR07-BE > X10 > MA750

- I tested this by inserting each headphone with the best possible fit, then rubbing my fingers next to my ears to see which IEM decreases the sound most. This is more objective and straight forward. The W3 wins by a pretty good margin vs the GR07, I couldn't hear my fingers rub against each other at all. I expected the X10 to win this because it can potentially insert the furthest, but the gel tips just didn't fit me well and even when very far insertion I can still my fingers rubbing against each other pretty well. Out of my many attempts to get the X10 fit, there has only been 1 time I got the isolation to be perfect, and it was very good, better than the GR07 but nontheless the same as the W3 just not as consistent. The MA750 is ranked last because I couldn't even insert it into my ears at all.


Built: W3 > GR07-BE > MA750 > X10

- The W3 feels, looks, and sound the most expensive out of the bunch, which is actually true since it was $499 when it was first released. The cord is very good and light and does not rub against any material easily. The headpiece has a very good black polish and feels like an expensive product. The L-shaped plug is very durable and compact and well designed. It plugs into my iphone 5 through my case easily and the wires folds under the L-shape very conveniently. The GR07 also feels like a great product, especially at its price $130. The candycane colored cord is very nice and plush. I have no complaints about it. The MA750 feels bulky and heavy, it wasn't my cup of tea but some may prefer it because it looks like it's going to last. The metallic plug and volume control however looks very poorly built and cheap, and does not have the quality like the ear piece. The X10, especially with the part where the cord goes into the ear piece, required a lot of adjusting holding onto that portion. I don't doubt the piece will dislodge from the earpiece within a year of me doing that. However it is very very small, so small though you'll have a hard time inserting it into your ears and adjusting it.


Accessories: W3 > GR07-BE > MA750 > X10

- The W3 came with the highest quality case, the highest quality of tips, a very nice wax cleaner, even the box smells nice and new and the packaging feels and look like an expensive product. The GR07 packaging is actually very nice for the price, there's plenty of tips but not enough foam tips which is what I prefer. It only came with 1 pair, and the quality of the foam isn't very good as it starts to flake off after my testing sessions. It comes with a little pouch, which feels very cheap. The packaging is also kind of cheap looking. The MA750 comes with a huge case, which you will never be able to carry around portably. I'm not sure why they decided on that, it almost feels like they're trying too hard to make it look expensive. It comes with the standard tips on a metal card where the tips are held on the top and bottom by cutouts on the card. Again I feel they're trying too hard to make it look fancy as that actually makes it more difficult to take out and reinsert the tips into the card instead of having a pod-like platform where you just take the tips out. The X10 has the fewest number of tips, the packaging is terrible as it forces to rip it apart to open it, and the tips I have on the earpiece looks yellowish already even though the packaging was never opened. The case that comes with the X10 is nice though, and has a nice little magnetic buckle to open/close it, but I would rather have better quality tips.


Sound: W3 > GR07-BE > X10 > MA750

- Here is the most subjective part of the comparison. I tend to listen to electric dance music (EDM) and did not realize that I like a V-sound signature (heavy on bass and treble) until I listened to the W3. My goals of having a IEM isn't to analyse music, it's to have a fun time listening to it while I am on the move, whether I'm in the subway, driving, walking, on long plane rides, something to keep my entertained. I guess the W3 is what really opened my eyes in IEM's and taught me a lot what I like and dislike. The W3 definitely have a unique sound and may not cater to everyone like the GR07's more neutral and balanced sound. The W3 feels like crack, it gives me an explosively addicting experience, almost hallucinogenic as I could almost see colors swirling around if I close my eyes. The highs are sparkly, lows are booming but controlled, and mids very dry and speedy. I feel like it's almost built for EDM type music, or any type of fast paced music with tons of beats. The soundstage is a lot better than what I expected and I do not feel claustrophobic at any time. It is the most sensitive IEM of the bunch, and requires the lowest volume setting on my iphone and headphone amp. I have to set my Magni amp to the 7-8 o'clock position even with my windows volume turned to 50%. Listening to music is an orgasmic experience on these. The GR07-BE are actually my favorite until I was able to find the proper tips for the W3. They sound very neutral, with the exception of an increased bass level. They definitely do not color the sound as much as the W3's do, but I tend to like the color and find the GR07's boring to listen to, as though they are too proper and are the good little kids at school who conform to the rules and don't make any trouble. Sure they all A's and go to nice colleges, but they don't get laid as much as the bad boys and pranksters. It sounds the best with my classical music and feels like I can listen to them for 10 hours at a time and my ears will never get fatigued. The X10 sounds like the lesser twin of the W3, it tends to have the V shaped sound but the bass is too muddy and the highs not as clear. The bass bled into the mids a lot too and made it too dirty. It basically sound a more cleaned up version of my old S4, but in no way can touch the W3's SQ. For the MA750, from what I've heard with the tips outside of my ears, because I wasn't able to insert them at all and frankly was too lazy to try out different tips because I was very unsatisfied with the build, they sounded decent. I'm sure there's plenty of reviews by now with the MA750's and you can read them if you're interested. I had high hopes for them because of the price and the included volume control, but gave them up after finding them a bad match for me. You may have better luck but just make sure you'll try them out first before making an unreturnable purchase. Luckily they are sold by and you'll have no problem returning them if you are not satisfied.

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