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Thread Starter 

Hello, I've been a lurker here for some time now. Just a little background on me: I've been playing classical piano and percussion/concert band for a while now (10+ years piano and percussion ~8 years). I don't want to splurge and spend too much money while in college on a budget. However, I do want to enjoy great sound quality. I can't decide if I want to spend ~$100 on either an IEM or full-size headphones. I'm leaning more towards an IEM as my campus is large and I'm often walking to class outside while listening to music (it's pretty hot where I'm from).


Another option I was considering was splitting my $100 budget and getting both an IEM and full-size headphone if possible. I have very little experience with good personal audio products. I purchased the Monoprice 8320 (9227 to be exact) and some Comply T-400's at the beginning of last year to start me off. I enjoy them, however, I'm still not getting a great seal and want to upgrade to something more ergonomic and less prone to tangles. Very recently I was able to try on a friend's pair of Shure 535’s and they blew me away by the clarity and seal I could get with a high quality IEM.


I've probably spent 15+ hours just looking through these forums and various other reviewing websites for recommendations. I'm still quite indecisive on what to get. There’s so many choices! 


My criteria for IEMs:

  • Comfortable, some effort to make the chord anti-tangle (fed-up with Monoprice’s cloth cable)
  • Has a mic if over $20, unless the sound quality of the IEM is good enough that it's worth the price.
  • Good seal. Campus/Apartment will most likely be quite noisy and I’d like to have a good seal or isolation.
  • Good soundstage, or at least above average soundstage.
  • Looking for a fairly flat sound, with maybe a slight emphasis on the bass. I don’t want to compromise on the mids/treble though. I listen to all kinds of music, from bass-heavy electronica to treble-oriented piano solos.


  1. -Steelseries Flux In-Ear ($50) - I heard my comply tips will not fit on these and decided I could find something better
  2. -Soundmagic E10 ($35) - read that there's no mic, and for $35 I might as well get a better pair with a microphone attached
  3. -Beyerdynamic MMX 101/102 iE (~$100+) - the mic options are a little over my budget, however these look really nice (are they worth it? 101 vs 102?)
  4. -Shure 215 ($100) – adding a mic puts this over my budget, but from the reviews it looks nice (could I do better with a no-mic option?)
  5. -VSonic VSD1S ($50) – I’ve read these are pretty nice, but again has no mic
  6. -Philips S1 Fidelio (~$100) – Reviews have been alright. It’s on the high-end of my budget and looks a bit too feminine for my taste.
  7. -Velodyne vPulse ($63) – These are looking pretty nice on second glance (price drop too?), not sure how isolating they are though.
  8. -Etymotic Research HF5 ($100) – I heard these not that comfortable and no attached mic


Criteria for headphones:

  • Good soundstage without compromising the bass
  • Closed or semi-open. I’ll have a roommates in my apartment (also splitting bedrooms) and don’t want to disturb everyone.
  • Comfortable, preferably ones that won’t cause me to sweat a lot. I love in a very humid and hot climate so these headphones will probably be used inside only.


Full-Size Headphones:

  1. -Superlux HD 681 ($30) – these might be on sale right now, but I’m not sure how good they are compared to the IEMs
  2. -Monoprice 8323 ($25) – Cheap like my current IEMs but appear to be uncomfortable.
  3. -NVX XPT100/Jaycar ($80) – These look like the kind of headphones I’d enjoy using, but would leave me with little money for a decent IEM (unless I go over budget).
  4. -ATH M50 ($100) – I’ve heard these are bass-y/neutral and a good starting point for full-size headphones. On the expensive end, though.


Any recommendations?