Best Single Driver IEM
Sep 19, 2014 at 11:39 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 89


New Head-Fier
Sep 13, 2014
What is the best single driver iem?
Can be either BA or Dynamic or Moving Armature. For me, it doesn't really matter, but I genuinely prefer the Bass and Treble response of a good dynamic driver, coupled with the detail and accuracy (but not too much) of a good BA driver. I do not have experience with MAs.
Some good iems that come to mind are Vsonic GR07 classic, bass, MKII, Grado GR10, JVC HA-FX woody series, Final Audio Design stuff etc.
My journey is like this. I have been using Audiotechnica lower end earphones for the best part of around 5 years, back then it was all about the music. Two years ago I obtained a Dunu Trident (~$50) which I believe to be one of the best iems for me to date, good bass response, sparkly treble, lush midrange, and an overall warm and smooth musical presentation that really puts the focus on the music and enjoyment, rather than the iem itself. Of course, now that I have tried higher end iems, I find the quality a bit lacking, but I still like the frequency response of the trident.
Having confidence in Dunu's build quality and sound tuning capabilities, I purchased the Dunu DN-2000 when it came out, and it introduced me to higher quality midrange and treble detail and clarity. Of course, coming from the trident the bass was nowhere near what I expected, so I tune the EQ to the rock setting on my music players. I would still prefer more sub-bass, but whatcha gonna do.
My audio journey has come a long way since then, going into amplifiers (iFi iCan v2, Fiio E12) into more IEMS (FAD Heaven II, Vsonic GR07BE and VSD3 etc), full sized cans (AKG K612) and DACs/DAPs (Fiio E10k, Colorfly C3). Welcome to Head-Fi, I am sorry about my own wallet.
The thing is, I dislike inconvenience. Having an amp or headphones is too bulky and messy for me. I miss the days when I just had a source (iphone) and an iem, and I could just forget about the gear and focus on the music. Of course some will say that an iphone will not do SQ justice, but that's an argument for another day. I am also fascinated by the idea of single driver IEMs (quality over quantity) as I personally believe in more driver coherence and that a less complex design is more durable.
So my question again, what is the best single driver iem? It is not a debate, there is no right or wrong answer. I just want to put some answers out there so I know what to try the next time I go to the store. Assume no budget constraints, bonus points for durability, low profile (maybe to sleep while wearing?), good presentation and soundstage width, depth and height, and of course sound quality.
Sep 19, 2014 at 11:47 PM Post #2 of 89
My own impressions:
Current portable rig Colorfly C3 on Rock EQ > Fiio E12 (bass boost on, 0db gain, crossfeed off) > Dunu DN-2000 which I believe gives me the closest to my preferred sound out of all my gear combinations. Fantastic balanced sounding combo, the sub-bass rolloff on the colorfly is compensated by the EQ and Fiio bass boost, lush but slightly recessed midrange which is good for rock music but enough for vocal centered stuff, and sparkly, extended treble.
(Friend's) Vsonic GR07 Bass - Very good bass response (I would have expected it to be insufficient for a slight basshead like me), slightly sibilant and harsh upper-mid and highs, can be tamed with foam tips. Mids and Highs are really nice, but I found them a bit too thin and fragile for my liking. But a very likeable set of iems that is reflected in its popularity.
(Store Impressions) JVC HA-FX850 - Lots of Bass. Really a lot of Bass. Too much Bass. And I believe that was even after 100+ hours of burn in, whereby the bass is supposed to tone down. It really takes too much emphasis that I was unable to concentrate on the mids and treble, which many say is top-tier quality. But they are pretty good from what I remember. Good soundstage, good timbre, but too much bass.
Would also help if anyone can give impressions on iems similar to the dunu trident but of a higher quality, or iems under $100-200 that are good for just bringing around (don't want too expensive a portable rig). Or something good for sleeping in like the Phonak Audeo PFE112, which I have tried before but did not leave a good impression due to shallow fit. It is also really expensive (close to $300) where I live.
Sep 30, 2015 at 1:21 PM Post #4 of 89
Custom Art's Music One's get a lot of respect from reviewer's and owner's alike. 
Oct 1, 2015 at 2:34 AM Post #6 of 89
In my opinion, a single "full-range" BA just doesn't cut it. It's unable to handle every frequency and almost always will you get a lack of low-end.
A single dynamic driver will be able to match SQ of multiple-BA IEMs.
Check out the AKG K3003 or Sennheiser IE800.
Oct 1, 2015 at 2:38 AM Post #7 of 89
that's a fact not an opinion, single BAs are not full-range no matter what. Closest it's been is by Final Audio, but even then it's lacking a bit. 
Oct 1, 2015 at 12:33 PM Post #10 of 89
  I will also vouch for the Custom Art Music One, Piotre is an awesome fella!

I agree, the Music One sounds very good.

Other single driver IEMs that come to mind that sound very good to my ears are the Sennheiser Momentum, Trinity Hyperion, and RHA S500i.  I would try to demo as many IEMs as you can so you can choose one that sounds the best to you that may also fit your budget, wants and needs.
Good luck, IceTea!
Oct 7, 2015 at 12:15 AM Post #11 of 89
My experience:
1. GR07 Classic (Single dynamic) - fantastic balance, good quality and quantity of bass, mids and treble, easy to drive. I'm not treble sensitive so YMMV.
2. Ortofon eQ-5 (Moving armature) - airy mids, crispy treble, wide and deep soundstage. Bass lacking, had to EQ/amp to spice it up.
3. HiFiMan RE-400 (Single dynamic) - the smoooooooth operator. Reference quality budget-fi. Again magical mids, but treble slightly rolled off and bass anaemic coming from the GR07.
4. FAD Heaven VI (Single BA) - very natural, warm and smooth sound. Bass is almost dynamic-like, coloured mids tailored for syrupy vocals, smooth treble that doesn't extend too far. It's just really smooth (3rd time I mentioned the word lol) and musical, but not very detailed as a result.
What I've read are really good, but not tried are the IE800 as mentioned, and Dita Answer/Truth (single dynamic).
Oct 7, 2015 at 2:14 AM Post #12 of 89
I second this, and add the ER4PT's when properly driven.
A lot of people have yet to experience a set of properly driven ETY's. They're pretty stellar :wink:
Oct 7, 2015 at 5:53 AM Post #15 of 89
I can't imagine how a single BA can naturally match a dynamic driver.

Match in what? I haven't heard a dynamic driver which can rival a good single BA. Mids - nope, treble - more or less, lows - quality issues, but ok for the people who value quantity

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