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Please help me choose IEMs under ~$150 -- eclectic musical tastes but mostly metal

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Recently I posted another topic asking if I should get something like a FiiO E07K for my Mac laptop to improve on the integrated DAC, but people said I should upgrade my headphones first as the integrated DAC isn't so bad.

My headphones are Sennheiser CX200s. I like them but obviously they're entry-level.

I also have Sony MDR-EX90s lying around and I've actually not used them in a long time, I hooked them up yesterday and absolutely hated them, the sound is muddy and just bleh.

I also have 600-ohm DT990s on my desktop setup, just to give you an idea of what I like.


The kind of metal I listen to is mostly the extreme kind -- death/black/doom etc. (lately: Watain, Gorguts, Rimfrost, Nekrogoblikon, In Vain, Arckanum, Battle Dagorath, Gehenna, Farsot), but I also listen to more mainstream heavy metal (Accept, Metal Church, Metallica, Overkill, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin), and in a completely different sound register, I listen to proper techno (Detroit style, e.g. Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Dave Clarke, Carl Cox), tech house and ambient with powerful bass (think "Houses on the Hill" or "Ancient Campfire" by Biosphere).


I like a detailed but not overly analytical sound, overall balanced but with punchy yet not overwhelming bass. To give you an idea, I had Sennheiser HD 595 and Audio-Technica ATH-AD700 and while they sounded great, the bass was too weak for my taste. I really like the bass in my DT990s though.


I need IEMs that don't require an amp to sound good, as they'll be connected pretty much only to an iPhone 5, an iPod touch (5th gen), an iPad Air or a 2013 Retina MBP and I don't feel like carrying an extra device.

I also would like to avoid IEMs that require a good seal in order to sound good. I've had Etymotic ER-6i in the past (they're broken now) and didn't like the seal requirement. My current CX200 still sound good to me without a seal and I'd like to keep it that way.

I want good build quality and the longest possible warranty (some of the ones listed below have 2 years, which sounds good to me) - I take care of my headphones but sometimes the wire gets tangled in something or I move my arm in such a way that I rip one side out, which scares me to death every time :p


If I can get them on Amazon, even better.


I've been looking at various IEMs and already dismissed some for various reasons.


Here are the ones I'm currently considering:

Shure SE215
Klipsch X7i
Audio-Technica ATH-IM70
Thinksound ms01
Audiofly AF56 / AF78

I'm also considering the HiFiMAN RE-400 but have been reading about build quality issues so I'm a bit iffy about it.


The following were dismissed:

Spider Realvoice - build quality issues

Sony XBA-3iP - 90-day warranty is bad
Sony XBA-H1 - 90-day warranty is bad

KEF M200 - don't like a thing (other than a wire) going over my ear

No Etymotics -- I was burned years ago when my $150 ER-6i's right side decided to stop working even though I babied the damn things


I realize the Audio-Technica ATH-IM70 are very new but I read the impressions here and am all but convinced that they are right for me (I wish they weren't red but I can live with that). Trouble is I can't seem to find them anywhere except eBay or Amazon Marketplace for $140-150 and that seems expensive since they're supposed to be ~¥11,000.


Anyway, throw options at me, thanks for reading!

post #2 of 9

Honestly I'm not going to be of much help with which IEMs to get since I've just joined this forum & posted the same question being a complete noob in the world of audiophillia.


However, if the IM70s are what you're leaning towards but price in the US is an issue, then check out this site as its possibly where I'm getting my IM04s from if I do decide to go that route & all AT stuff seems to be significantly cheaper on there than ebay/amazon & the like - http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/detailview.html?KEY=NEOACS-27943

Edited by lamnidae - 12/28/13 at 1:55pm
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

That's a very cool link, thanks. Even shipping is super affordable -- I was looking at their shipping options before I even looked at the prices, saw FedEx Int'l Priority and EMS, thinking that's gonna be $50+, but no, it's a measly 1700 yen for FedEx -- you can't even get domestic overnight that cheaply in the US!

That puts me in a mind to consider the ATH-IM01 as well, but I can't find any reviews of it yet.

So is this website known to be reliable?

Will I need to worry about import duty? I hate to get an international package with my goodies and then two weeks later get a bill from the carrier :mad:

post #4 of 9

No worries mate. I actually was made aware of the site from perusing various threads in this forum over the last couple of weeks - & it seems those who have ordered from them have had no issues whatsoever so I would trust that you won't have any either.  Definitely a legit company & site though.


Honestly have no idea on whether there will be duties for you to pay as I don't reside in the US myself & don't know what the import policy is like over there - but assuming since it's not really classifiable as a high value item until you get into the IM03/IM04/$500ish range - I'd imagine they would be minimal, if any at all. You could always add a note in your online payment to request them to mark it at a lower value if you're really concerned about that - I do it all the time admittedly for high end guitars & stuff without ever having had any problems.


But I would say make sure you go with EMS or the other options as FedEx always have a completely BS 'service charge' tagged on regardless of whether there are customs duties or not.


Have a similar problem though with the lack of IM04 reviews at the moment - but at least these threads provide some decent info so far:


- http://www.head-fi.org/t/685321/audio-technicas-new-multidriver-iems-the-ath-im-series

- http://www.head-fi.org/t/692770/audio-technica-ath-im70-a-bold-new-direction

Edited by lamnidae - 12/28/13 at 2:13pm
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Since my last post I did read through those two threads and found that a lot of people here are ordering from CDJapan so I take it that it is a reliable site. Google shows it's been around for ages, too.
I'm not going to ask them to make false statement on the CN22 postal customs form, that's fraud, but I'll just swallow the pill if there is a charge smily_headphones1.gif
I was already thinking of using EMS over FedEx since I won't need the headphones THAT fast, but good to know on the stupid storage charge!
post #6 of 9

Check out the Westone 3's. They are $160 on amazon. I think that they are worth going over budget slightly. The bass on these is great for metal.

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

I appreciate the recommendation. Those do look interesting indeed!

post #8 of 9

I own the SE215s so they automatically get a +1 from me. They have known issues with the cable connection to the actual housings but Shure has such a great customer service reputation I wouldn't be too concerned. Another option would be Beyerdynamic's MMX 101 ie. I haven't heard them personally but reviews seem to favor a good bass response without being "basshead" IEMs, per se. I got a pair for a friend who wanted an upgrade from her stock Apple buds. Granted, she isn't into audio/headphones as much I am but she loves them much more than her Apple buds or an old pair of Beats IEMs she used to own. Both pairs I mentioned are on Amazon and under $150 (SE215 for $115 and MMX for $87, currently). Happy hunting!

post #9 of 9



You should consider Yamaha EPH-100



Best Luck!

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