Best IEM for 200$? (DM6, CP, IT01s, etc.)
Jun 8, 2019 at 1:42 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18

FatheredCleric

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I would like to know what is the best IEM for 200$: I have seen this video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIO1JD5O1Bc ) that is a sound test of various IEM and listening to it I really liked the iBasso a lot (not the best bass but really clear mid and high), also the DM6 is doing good.

I was thinking to buy the Crystal Pearls from Fearless Audio but I'm not sure, also listening to the video, the Fearless S5T performs badly to me, I don't know if it is a mix/recording problem, if someone that got the crystal pearl can check if it has the same sound signature as the s5t, I will be really happy!

I listen 98% of the time to Orchestral/Soundtrack/Neo- Classical music (Yoko Kanno, Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda, Ryūichi Sakamoto), what matter most to me is the wide soundstage and imaging, then clear mids but also a good amount of low frequency bass that I need for presence of big drums. For the vocal presence I don't care since I listen to really few tracks with a main voice. I don't want too bright highs if possible.

So what I consider are these, but of course you can tell me others IEM below 200$:
- Fearless Audio Crystal Pearls: 137 EUR (on Music Sanctuary) ----> I like design, presentation and shape of the shell, but not sure about sound signature
- BGVP DM6: 175 EUR ----> The sound seem like a v-shape but I can be wrong, it is sounds cool but don't know if it is good for what I listen to
- iBasso IT01s: 175 EUR ----> I like the clear sound (from the video), but it lacks the bass a bit and I don't like the cable also I don't know if it is too bright on the highs

What I really would like to buy is the Fearless, but I would like to listen to your opinions
if I forgot some information let me know, thank you!
 
Jun 12, 2019 at 4:02 AM Post #2 of 18

PaganDL

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Hi @FatheredCleric,

Unfortunately, the only one I can help you on is the iBasso IT 01s as that is the only one I own from your 3 choices but I do have the Fearless S6 Pro so I have an idea for Fearless Audio's sound.
They are definitely very bright & as I am sensitive to highs, I was concerned myself until I found good eartips will actually help reduce the highs to a listenable level.
So unless you want to take a chance & tip roll till you find tips which may work for you, Fearless Audio is tricky to recommend.
Not to mention, their bass response is more nautral & may be lean sounding if you are into big bass.

It is helpful I listen to the same music as you do as well as other genres, especially anything with balanced or slight emphasis in bass so I can tell you how the IT 01s fares from my own subjective & personal experience.

There is definitely no issue with orchestral &/or classical bass, Neo or otherwise.
I often listen to Taiko & Chinese Drums, so there is really no problem with big drum sound.
Problem with most if not all recorded sound demos, (anything not live) is more often than not, it can be tricky to record lower frequency for two reasons.

The first reason, as microphones are not speakers or more accurately subwoofers, there is so good way to record lower frequency sound waves as these tend to require a certain amount of air pressure to be resonant or at least audible, if not felt. It is possible but as most if not nearly all microphones have such capability to record low frequency on their own, it tends to get cut or at least significantly reduced.

The second reason, has more to do with source capability, how well said source transmits that lower frequency as well as the actual recording quality, not to mention what you as the listener, can actually precieve as well.
So more than likely, what you may have heard is probably a mix/recording problem.

Don't go by the looks where the IT 01s cable is concerned, as quality wise, the cable is definitely up there, especially compared to most cables in the same price range or higher.

As a final note, I would suggest looking at Penon Audio as well for potential price comparison as well as free shipping.
iBasso is better to buy direct from as aside from exceptional customer service, priority in resolving any potential issues (unlikely) will definitely be quicker to solve.

Hope this all makes sense, feel free to ask me more if necessary.

Hope you have a great day !
 
Jun 12, 2019 at 5:49 AM Post #4 of 18

Redcarmoose

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57419EFA-689C-4689-988B-D3DC9A1798A1.jpeg


F675F24D-F7D2-4309-9777-FC3F37D2535D.jpeg
Magaosi K5 above. Magaosi K5 not shown with included cable.

If you can............try to work out a way to listen first. It’s very hard to go by just what people say in reviews. Also keep in mind there is a fairly broad difference created by your playback equipment in-front of the IEMs. Another suggestion would be the Magaosi K5 IEM, though be careful to get model 2.0 with the improved cable. When the Magaosi first came out it had a really bad cable included.

Still it really depends what sound you personally end up liking...the K5 has more expanded and detailed midrange than the DM6, but overall the DM6 is my favorite due to the low end it provides. Sorry don’t have experience with the other IEMs you question.

BGVP DM6 below.
0AEC1736-E9C6-45C4-BF3F-887667A4C728.jpeg


8C9977C5-CF64-4568-8F27-B8BE53CD9F49.jpeg


92C5D613-3011-4050-A277-44E7449362B1.jpeg
 
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Jun 12, 2019 at 10:25 AM Post #5 of 18

surfgeorge

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Just a general remark about the sound test by video - as interesting as it seems to be, I found it to sound COMPLETELY different from the real IEM.

There's a video on youtube comparing the iBasso IT01s and the the Moondrop Kanas Pro.
I listened to that when I got my KPE (Kanas Pro) and there was simply no useful evaluation possible from listenig to the recording.

With regards to your choice - I listened to the IT01s for a short time at a store and yes, it is quite bright.
If a semi-open IEM is an option I'd add the EX800ST from Sony to the list, or the Sony XBA-N3, but they are a bit above your budget.

On another note, I am always interested in what @Redcarmoose has to say since he has really good equipment as reference.
(I need to check that Magaosi :) )
 
Jun 12, 2019 at 10:35 AM Post #6 of 18

Redcarmoose

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80A71EF9-9E1E-4B7F-899C-A0900CBD6D42.jpeg
Just a general remark about the sound test by video - as interesting as it seems to be, I found it to sound COMPLETELY different from the real IEM.

There's a video on youtube comparing the iBasso IT01s and the the Moondrop Kanas Pro.
I listened to that when I got my KPE (Kanas Pro) and there was simply no useful evaluation possible from listenig to the recording.

With regards to your choice - I listened to the IT01s for a short time at a store and yes, it is quite bright.
If a semi-open IEM is an option I'd add the EX800ST from Sony to the list, or the Sony XBA-N3, but they are a bit above your budget.

On another note, I am always interested in what @Redcarmoose has to say since he has really good equipment as reference.
(I need to check that Magaosi :) )

The Magaosi K5 and the Sony N3 would be considered almost polar opposite in my perception. But the N3 is a great included IEM choice to his search. Who knows as there are prices I have seen close to the price requirements? I have seen the N3 with the 3.5mm cable way less than the model with the 4.4mm balanced cable.

I have the N3 and find it smoother in comparison to the DM6. Still what the Magaosi K5 does is pull back the lower bass and includes more midrange activity and harmonic complexity. I also have the K5 but it’s really not my cup of tea. Really the DM6 beats out the K5 and N3 for listening time. Through the DM6 is slightly grainy? Still I guess I just like it?

Most of the time stuff we like can be liked in-spite of the flaws.

https://www.amazon.com/SONY-XBA-N3AP-Stereo-In-ear-Headphones/dp/B01MF4HU0Z


You know the N3 is a great idea here. There is a politeness about it that would go great with his suggested music genre. IMO
 
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Jun 12, 2019 at 10:52 AM Post #7 of 18

FatheredCleric

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Thank you for both the replies!

Living in Italy there isn't any audio store that let try those chi-fi IEMs (and IEM in general), if I need to go to another country just to try these IEMs, it is better to save up money to buy better earphones. So what I can do is just try to imagine what the sound will be using reviews sound demo on Youtube (I know that they are not accurate).

I'm seeing the Magaosi K5 and it seem quite interesting, DM6 also is interesting I don't think I will buy the Kanas. However I have to specify I am not an "audiophile" for IEMs, what I mean is that I usually want to bet everything on the sound using over-ear headphones (I am using HD650 at home), but for IEMs I am looking also for others thing and I know that is not great to say but I care about appearance, cable quality and lenght, confort is very important since my left ear is different from the right one (I have like a bump on the right one), so it should be a little squashed in the middle of the earphone, it should always stay in place into my ear and I don't have to push them every 5 minutes. Then of course about the sound but I don't matter to much since I will use them just 20 minutes a day when I'm out.

I don't want semi open headphone, but thank you anyways surfgeorge :)

Anyways I will think about your IEMs advice that are very helpful :D
 
Jun 13, 2019 at 12:38 AM Post #8 of 18

PointyFox

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My favorites around $200 are the DM6 and qdc Neptune. The Neptune is a bit more comfortable to me. The sound is very similar.
 
Jun 13, 2019 at 4:18 AM Post #9 of 18

surfgeorge

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I listen 98% of the time to Orchestral/Soundtrack/Neo- Classical music (Yoko Kanno, Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda, Ryūichi Sakamoto), what matter most to me is the wide soundstage and imaging, then clear mids but also a good amount of low frequency bass that I need for presence of big drums. For the vocal presence I don't care since I listen to really few tracks with a main voice. I don't want too bright highs if possible.

So what I consider are these, but of course you can tell me others IEM below 200$:
- Fearless Audio Crystal Pearls: 137 EUR (on Music Sanctuary) ----> I like design, presentation and shape of the shell, but not sure about sound signature
- BGVP DM6: 175 EUR ----> The sound seem like a v-shape but I can be wrong, it is sounds cool but don't know if it is good for what I listen to
- iBasso IT01s: 175 EUR ----> I like the clear sound (from the video), but it lacks the bass a bit and I don't like the cable also I don't know if it is too bright on the highs

I was thinking more about your requirements and it sounds like generally speaking a Harman tuned IEM you are describing. Sub bass and clear mids, not too bright treble.
Personally I really like my modded JVC FD02 for this, but it's a bit above your budget and needs a good cable and some tape mods to meet your target and the it is still on the clearer/brighter side on the upper mids, but with silky smooth treble and good and punchy bass and sub-bass. Soundstage and imagig are good but not as good as the top tier, and depend a lot on the cable. The stock cable is crap. One thing going for it is that you could start with the IEM at €230 (from Amazon Japan) + the €3 Micropore tape, and add a cable later.
Detailed infos starting here: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/jvc-ha-fd01-class-s-solidege.868414/page-13#post-14870966

I think the Sony XBA-N3 would be a safe bet, with weighty and good bass and clean but smooth and non-aggressive higher frequencies, very comfortable too.
@Redcarmoose can maybe say something about imaging and soundstage

The BGVP DM6 looks interesting from the frequency response and looks beautiful, again Redcarmoose can give the details.
I am actually curious what he can say about the intense 6-8kHz region. Purely based on the frequency response I'd be concerned about it.
 
Jun 13, 2019 at 4:52 AM Post #10 of 18

Redcarmoose

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Thank you for both the replies!

Living in Italy there isn't any audio store that let try those chi-fi IEMs (and IEM in general), if I need to go to another country just to try these IEMs, it is better to save up money to buy better earphones. So what I can do is just try to imagine what the sound will be using reviews sound demo on Youtube (I know that they are not accurate).

I'm seeing the Magaosi K5 and it seem quite interesting, DM6 also is interesting I don't think I will buy the Kanas. However I have to specify I am not an "audiophile" for IEMs, what I mean is that I usually want to bet everything on the sound using over-ear headphones (I am using HD650 at home), but for IEMs I am looking also for others thing and I know that is not great to say but I care about appearance, cable quality and lenght, confort is very important since my left ear is different from the right one (I have like a bump on the right one), so it should be a little squashed in the middle of the earphone, it should always stay in place into my ear and I don't have to push them every 5 minutes. Then of course about the sound but I don't matter to much since I will use them just 20 minutes a day when I'm out.

I don't want semi open headphone, but thank you anyways surfgeorge :)

Anyways I will think about your IEMs advice that are very helpful :D

My favorites around $200 are the DM6 and qdc Neptune. The Neptune is a bit more comfortable to me. The sound is very similar.

I was thinking more about your requirements and it sounds like generally speaking a Harman tuned IEM you are describing. Sub bass and clear mids, not too bright treble.
Personally I really like my modded JVC FD02 for this, but it's a bit above your budget and needs a good cable and some tape mods to meet your target and the it is still on the clearer/brighter side on the upper mids, but with silky smooth treble and good and punchy bass and sub-bass. Soundstage and imagig are good but not as good as the top tier, and depend a lot on the cable. The stock cable is crap. One thing going for it is that you could start with the IEM at €230 (from Amazon Japan) + the €3 Micropore tape, and add a cable later.
Detailed infos starting here: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/jvc-ha-fd01-class-s-solidege.868414/page-13#post-14870966

I think the Sony XBA-N3 would be a safe bet, with weighty and good bass and clean but smooth and non-aggressive higher frequencies, very comfortable too.
@Redcarmoose can maybe say something about imaging and soundstage

The BGVP DM6 looks interesting from the frequency response and looks beautiful, again Redcarmoose can give the details.
I am actually curious what he can say about the intense 6-8kHz region. Purely based on the frequency response I'd be concerned about it.

It’s been along time since I heard the HD650, Maybe 9 years ago? Though just be warned the Magaosi K5 is missing in bass. That may be a good reason that they are not more popular here? But to tell you the truth I listen to the DM6 way way more than the N3. The DM6 just has more going on with the music I listen to. But the N3 is probably smoother and more together, it’s just not as exciting? Also the DM6 has basically the opposite issue that people have with the N3. The N3 being polite but still super bass driven, where there are reports of some people feeling the small spike in DM6 treble response? Though the treble never bothers me with the DM6. The great thing is both the DM6 and N3 are easy to fit.

Still if someone buys from Amazon.com they can try stuff out and return it if the sound isn’t right? I’ve never done that but I know people do. I’m not saying it’s something to make a habit of but in an extreme situation where you do all you can to make the right purchase....and still something is not right with the sound...........

The other variable is if a phone or DAP is being used. Also if the DM6 is finally purchased.,...I feel they smooth out after 40 hours of burn-in. The crazy part is even folks who emotionally don’t believe in burn-in have reported changes after 40 hours.

And finally the ultimate thing here is tips.

What ever IEM is eventually purchased.....tips hold the key to getting a preferred sound in the end. Many times having the correct tip has been the difference between success and total failure!

Of course there is always the sound acclimation period too. What happens is we simply get used to a sound. It’s not that there is anything wrong with a new purchase at times. It’s just that we have mentally adapted to a sound and know how the music works. Any deviation from that sound we are used to can come off as wrong......even if it was an improvement!

Imaging and soundstage is “OK” with the N3. It’s not the biggest soundstage but very cohesive. The N3 is very much a sleeper, being that once you first put it in your ears... it’s nothing special. It’s how it slowly starts to convince the listener.....that’s remarkable. I don’t know if it was physiological or physical burn-in but the N3 was better after 2 days of use.

Crinicle puts it higher than anything we have mentioned so far, on his list.
https://crinacle.com/ranking-list/
 
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Jun 13, 2019 at 5:23 AM Post #11 of 18

FatheredCleric

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Redcarmoose The Sony N3 seem really interesting and many people speak positively about them, but I can see it is 299$, I think I will surely consider them for a next IEM after the one I have to buy, but thank you!

surfgeorge I think you are right, I would like to find a Harman tuned IEM and I know that for "below 200$" it is difficult, but anyways I saw your recommendation about the JVC FD02 and looking at your description it looks promising but also a little above 200, so considering them for my next IEM.

Just to say something, I have to say that this will be my second IEM I ever had (because I've always listened music at home). The first one (and what I'm using right now) is KZ ED16 that is really cheap (around 25 EUR), I don't like it overall so I wanted to buy a new one. I'm 21yr old so I would like to start by buying IEM with low prices and gradually increasing with the price over the years. Surely this speech I made was of no use but it is only to talk about my experience with IEMs. (sorry for my bad english)
So in the end, what I consider now it is: Magaosi K5, DM6, iBasso, Crystal Pearl were interesting but since not many people talk about them and you don't even consider them I think they are not worth it. Maybe I could go with DM6, if I don't change my mind I will buy them this Saturady.

Thank you again for your detailed advices :)
 
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Jun 13, 2019 at 5:24 AM Post #12 of 18

aisalen

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I highly recommend N3. I like more than my IT03. But as Redcarmoose said above, without the proper tips and seal you may think that it is not good. I like it even more than my desktop setup.
 
Jun 13, 2019 at 5:40 AM Post #13 of 18

Redcarmoose

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The point is maybe you could find the Sony N3 for less than $299?
 
Jun 13, 2019 at 10:58 AM Post #14 of 18

Redcarmoose

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Redcarmoose The Sony N3 seem really interesting and many people speak positively about them, but I can see it is 299$, I think I will surely consider them for a next IEM after the one I have to buy, but thank you!

surfgeorge I think you are right, I would like to find a Harman tuned IEM and I know that for "below 200$" it is difficult, but anyways I saw your recommendation about the JVC FD02 and looking at your description it looks promising but also a little above 200, so considering them for my next IEM.

Just to say something, I have to say that this will be my second IEM I ever had (because I've always listened music at home). The first one (and what I'm using right now) is KZ ED16 that is really cheap (around 25 EUR), I don't like it overall so I wanted to buy a new one. I'm 21yr old so I would like to start by buying IEM with low prices and gradually increasing with the price over the years. Surely this speech I made was of no use but it is only to talk about my experience with IEMs. (sorry for my bad english)
So in the end, what I consider now it is: Magaosi K5, DM6, iBasso, Crystal Pearl were interesting but since not many people talk about them and you don't even consider them I think they are not worth it. Maybe I could go with DM6, if I don't change my mind I will buy them this Saturady.

Thank you again for your detailed advices :)

Probably one reason you don’t hear much about the Crystal Pearl is they are the newest IEM mentioned here.

Also consider one negative aspect is for some the DM6 does not hold tips on well. Depending on what tips you use or how you have them positioned on the DM6 the tips can create a precarious situation in public with not having the tips stay on the IEM as you remove them from your ears......potentially loosing the tips in public. Folks have done different things to remedy this like putting tape on the edge of the nozzle to make a holding ring. But if you look close there is no ring to hold the tips from sliding off, like some IEM nozzles have.
 
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Jun 13, 2019 at 11:58 AM Post #15 of 18

FatheredCleric

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The point is maybe you could find the Sony N3 for less than $299?
I can't seem to find them right now at lower price (just 270), I will consider them for the future.
About the DM6 I will try to remove them slowly from the ear, if they are that bad I guess I will try to sell them and then consider purchase Magaosi K5 as a second option :)
 

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