Concise Multi-IEM Comparison (FINAL UPDATE March. 1st, 2013)
Feb 23, 2011 at 8:46 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1,242


IEM Reviewer Extraordinaire
May 11, 2004
Mid Johor, Malaysia
This thread is meant to be a simple comparison / reference, to make things easier for new comer to sort through dozens of IEM quickly in regard of finding the sound signature they are looking for. However, sound signature is not purely a translation of frequency response graph – and certainly not what this thread is about. To me (*at least in the context of this thread), sound signature is the perception of sonic energy distribution in the whole frequency range - the goal is to identify the "dominating" frequency range, the first patch of sound that will grab the lisner's attention.  Beware, the graphs below are meant to make it easier for you to visualize the distribution of sound as interpreted by me, but not actually related to any measured FR curve. They are not absolute fact, but mere impression – and you should treat them as so. The truth is, each IEM has its very own sound signature, and categorized them into a few large groups will not give a detail enough picture to each individual IEM. In many case, sound signature of a particular IEM can fall between the gray area of two categories and depends on the listener’s perception, be categorized in different ways -  the reader should beware as this is not a right or wrong question, but the different in personal perception. Then again, this thread is only meant to be the starting point of your research so you shouldn’t take it as it is. If you find the description of a particular IEM doesn’t meet your own listening experience, do trust your ears over mine. As always, do as much research on your own as you can. Play as much attention to the negative comments as you will do to the positive one.  

New to the Head-fi world and want to learn a little more about in ear monitor (IEM) / canalphone and portable music in general? Here are a few articles I wrote that might interest you. Note, they might not be the most correct things around, so take them as opinion, rather than fact:

Basic Guide to In-Ear-Canalphone
Which Way up? [Part 1 / Part 2]

To Amp, or Not to Amp?

Neutral vs. Natural: A Thought
Reading the Baseline
The Balancing Act

Various IEM's tips pictorial comparison
Some of you might notice the description of sound seems to have changed between the current thread and some of my older multiple IEM shootout threads - It is done so in purpose. The old threads were written individually over a time of three years or so, during which my own experience, taste, reviewing gears as well as perception of sound have all changed. In order to regain some unity among these old threads, I decided to revisit every single IEM I ever reviewed and gives them all a quick listening, reference them against my old review, then update or rewrite the sound description as I see fit so they can be more informative. Other than that, the overall ranking remains the same as before, except individual IEM is also rated in its own sound signature categor

Pro and Con are basically some of the more obvious thing(s) to note about an individual IEM.

"Link" next to individual IEM title points to individual reviews posted in the past. Note: Some of the reviews are quite old (by IEM's market standard), so takes that in account that what was great before might not be as great now, as market continues to move forward.

Main reviewing gears including Cube C30, Sansa Fuze (alone or line-out feeding iBasso T3D / Meier Audio Corda StepDance) and Dell XPS420 + Foobar2K (ASIO) + 3MOVE. Lesser important gears (review wise) are HifiMan HM801 / HM602. See my profile for a full list of gears.


( A = Analytical; Ba = Balanced; Bs = Bass; M = Mid; WS = Warm + Sweet)

Altec Lansing iM716 (A-14)
Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic (A-16)
Astello Radiance+ (M-37)
Astrotec AM90 (WS-29)
Atomic Floyd SuperDarts +Remote (Ba-02)
Audio Technica ATH-CKS70 (Bs-10)
Blue Ever Blue 866B (WS-49)
Blue Ever Blue 868B (WS-44)
Brainwavz alpha (WS-59)
Brainwavz B2 (A-05)
Brainwavz beta (Ba-24)
Brainwavz M1 (M-26)
Brainwavz M2 (M-18)
Brainwavz M3 (WS-32)
Brainwavz M4 (Ba-07)
Brainwavz M5 (WS-25)
BrookStone Clear Dual Drive Earbuds (M-12)
Creative Aurvana In-Ear2 (M-16)
Creative EP-630 (WS-60)
Cresyn C222E (M-40)
Cresyn C230E (WS-57)
Cresyn C260E (Ba-30)
CrossRoads MylarOne Bijou 3 (WS-55)
CrossRoads MylarOne Quattro (Bs-18)
CrossRoads MylarOne X3 (Ba-29)
CrossRoads Woody One (WS-36)
CrossRoads Woody Two (WS-37)
Cube F1 (Ba-27)
DUNU Ares (M-23)
DUNU Crater (WS-28)
DUNU Crius (M-24)
DUNU Hawkeye (Bs-11)
DUNU [size=11pt]Hephaes (WS-38)[/size]
DUNU I 3C-S (M-11)
DUNU Tai Chi (WS-20)
DUNU Trident (WS-45)
EarsQuake CRO (Ba-33)
EarsQuake FISH (Bs-29)
EarsQuake SHA (WS-51)
EOps noisezero Sport+ (Bs-04)
Etymotic ER4P (A-11)
Etymotic ER4S (A-04)
Etymotic ER6i (A-18)
Etymotic MC5 (A-13)
ECCI PG100 (Bs-22)
ECCI PR100 (WS-54)
ECCI PR200 (WS-46)
ECCI PR300 (Ba-18)
ECCI PR401 (Ba-09)
EXS X20 (A-09)
Final Audio Design Adagio V (Ba-12)
Fischer Audio Ceramique (WS-21)
Fischer Audio Consonance (Ba-06)
Fischer Audio DBA-02 (A-07)
Fischer Audio Enigma (Bs-16)
Fischer Audio Eterna (M-02)
Fischer Audio Eterna v2 (M-21)
Fischer Audio FA-977 Jazz (M-13)
Fischer Audio FA-999 (Bs-28)
Fischer Audio MightBug (WS-39)
Fischer Audio Omega (Ba-25)
Fischer Audio Omega v2 (Bs-20)
Fischer Audio Paradigm v.2 (M-34)
Fischer Audio Paradigm v.3 (WS-22)
Fischer Audio SBA-01 (M-20)
Fischer Audio SBA-03 (M-06)
Fischer Audio Silver Bullet (Ba-05)
Fischer Audio Tandem (M-07)
Future Sonics Atrio M5 rev.2 (Bs-07)
Future Sonics Atrio M5 (MG7) (Bs-02)
HifiMan RE0 (A-10)
HifiMan RE1 (WS-18)
HifiMan RE2 (A-17)
HifiMan RE-252 (A-03)
HifiMan RE-262 (WS-05)
HifiMan RE-272 (A-01)
HifiMan RE-400 (WS-08)
HifiMan RE-ZERO (Ba-04)
Hippo Boom (Bs-23)
Hippo Epic (WS-56)
Hippo Shroom (A-15)
Hippo Shroom-EB (Ba-15)
Hippo VB (Ba-16)
HiSound Audio (Golden) Crystal (A-06)
HiSound Audio Popo (WS-17)
HTC RC-E190 (Bs-26)
JAYS a-JAYS Two (Bs-27)
JAYS a-JAYS Three (Ba-28)
JAYS q-JAYS (Ba-11)
JAYS s-JAYS (M-31)
JAYS t-JAYS Two (WS-50)
j-phonic K2 SP (WS-02)
Kanon MD-52 (Bs-24)
Klipsch S4 (Bs-13)
LEAR LCM-5 (WS-01)
LEAR Le01 (WS-53)
Maike MK-EL5031 (M-42)
Maximo iMetal iM-390 (M-35)
Maximo iMetal iM-590 (Ba-17)
MEElectronics A151 (WS-30)
MEElectronics CC51 (WS-26)
MEElectronics CW31 (WS-41)
MEElectronics CX21 (Ba-19)
MEElectronics M2 (Ba-26)
MEElectronics M6 (Ba-22)
MEElectronics M9 (Ba-23)
MEElectronics M11 (M-29)
MEElectronics M16 (M-32)
MEElectronics M21 (Bs-17)
MEElectronics M31 (Bs-19)
MEElectronics R1 (Bs-21)
MEElectronics SP51 (WS-34)
Meizu EP-40 (Bs-09)
Miu-Audio MR2 Pro (Ba-14)
Monster Turbine Pro Copper Edition (WS-09)
NuForce NE-7M (Bs-15)
Ortofon e-Q5 (WS-07)
Ortofon e-Q7 (M-03)
Panasonic RP-HJE70 (Ba-13)
Panasonic RP-HJE450 (Ba-31)
Phiaton PS20 (Bs-08)
Phiaton PS210 (A-12)
Philips SHE9850 (M-28)
Phonak Audéo PFE 022 Perfect Bass (WS-16)
Phonak Audéo PFE 121 (A-08)
Radius HP-RLF11 (Bs-05)
Radius HP-TWF11R (Bs-03)
Radius HP-TWF21 (Bs-01)
RedGiant A00 Malleus (Bs-06)
RedGiant A03 Ossicle (WS-11)
RHA MA-350 (Bs-12)
Rock It Sounds R-10 (M-38)
Rock It Sounds R-11 (WS-58)
Rock It Sounds R-20 (M-19)
Rock It Sounds R-30 (M-17)
Rock It Sounds R-50 (A-02)
Samsung EHS64# (Ba-21)
Sennheiser CX300 (Ba-32)
Sherwood SE-777 (WS-31)
Shure E3c (M-33)
Shure SE215 (M-08)
Shure SE530 (M-01)
Sleek Audio SA6 (M-10)
SonoCore COA-803 (Bs-14)
SonoCore COA-805 Cindy (Ba-10)
Sony MDR-EX85SL (M-41)
Sony MDR-EX600 (WS-14)
Sony MDR-EX700SL (Ba-08)
Sony MH1C / Sony Ericssoon MH1 (WS-12)
Sony MH750 (WS-47)
Sony XBA-1 (M-09)
Sony XBA-4 (WS-10)
SoundMAGIC E10 (Ba-18)
SoundMAGIC E30 (WS-36)
SoundMAGIC EH11 (M-27)
SoundMAGIC PL-11 (Bs-25)
SoundMAGIC PL-20 (A-20)
SoundMAGIC PL-21 (WS-52)
SoundMAGIC PL-30 (A-19)
SoundMAGIC PL-50 (M-25)
Spider realvoice (WS-27)
Sunrise Xcited (Ba-03)
Sunrise SW-Xcape (M-04)
Sunrise Xcape v2 (WS-23)
Sunrise Xcape Impressive Edition (WS-13)
TDK BA100 (WS-19)
TDK BA200 (WS-04)
TDK EB950 (WS-15)
Ultimate Ears 100 (M-39)
Ultimate Ears 200 (M-36)
Ultimate Ears 10 Pro (Ba-01)
VSONIC GR02 Bass Edition (WS-40)
VSONIC GR06 (M-15)
VSONIC R02 Pro II (WS-42)
VSONIC R04 (M-22)
Westone UM2 (M-05)
Woodees IESW100B (WS-48)
Xears Powerball PB120 Black Edition (M-30)
Xears Resonance Black Edition (WS-33)
Xears Revolution Series XR120PRO II (M-14)
Xears Turbo Devices TD III PRO Blackwood (WS-24)

This thread will not longer be updated.
Feb 23, 2011 at 8:47 AM Post #2 of 1,242
An analytical sound signature usually refers to a neutral and detail sound. Neutral as bass to mid range is relatively flat, often gives a sense of thinness and coldness. Upper vocal, especially female, tends to get better highlighted than lower (male) vocal. Plenty of sparkles and crispiness; higher in resolution and separation but usually has medium to small soundstage.



1.    HifiMan RE272 (link)
Paired with the right balanced source / amp (or similar setup), RE272 sounds effortless with an impressive dynamic. It is analytical but not excessively bright, extremely refined and well layered, warm yet remains mostly neutral, extends from one end of the frequency to another end without sounding lacking or overly done in any particular area with deep textured bass and sparkly treble , and has an impressive soundstage that isn't common to the analytical sound signature. It is as close to a perfect equilibrium as I can imagine, if there is such a thing in the IEM world.
Pro: Technically almost flawless as an analytical IEM. Can be driven single-ended or balanced.
Con: Only sounds greatest in the right setup, which can cost much more than the IEM itself.

2.    Rock It Sound R-50 (link)
A midpoint between B2 and GR01. B2 is leaner on bass, fairly neutral while bright and sparkly. GR01 focuses more on a warmer and well textured bass and mid, but with a smoothed out treble. R-50 on the other hand has the same kind of brightness as B2, with a sense of warmth like GR01 in the bottom ends, granted it isn’t quite as well textured in comparison. Treble is well extended, crisp and sparkly. Mid is well textured and slightly upfront. Bass is well extended as well, with a good sense of body. However, R-50 is closer to ‘B2 with a warmer, better bodied bass’ rather than ‘GR01 with a sparkly high’. As far as overall sound quality goes, it is right about the same level as GR01. Even though it does offer better treble extension and a more upfront presentation than GR01, it doesn’t have the same textured and hard hitting bass to lower mid. This makes it more analytical sounding than warm+sweet sounding, but it is still a very good compromise between the two. Soundstage is quite good. The warmer tone adds back the layers missing in B2 while still retains the same excellent separation.
Pro: Price. Dual driver with a top-tier sound.
Con: Warranty terms.

3.    HifiMan RE252 (link)
Balanced, yet neither totally neutral nor colored. Very good treble and detail, rather dominate yet not very upfront mid and vocal, and decent while still remains mostly neutral and fast bass performance. Decent soundstage but lacks real depth. While not needed, pairing with a warm source or amp is recommended. Overall RE252 has a very clean sound, and it is really difficult to categorize it into any particular sound signature because it has a good treble but it is not the main focus. While mid is dominant, it is not forward or full enough. Bass is has decent impact but lack a good depth. All in all, RE252 is technically strong in most aspects but lacks a ‘soul’ that gives it a strong character.
Pro: Technically strong.
Con: Fit is not for everyone.

4.    Etymotic ER4S (link)
Analytical and fairly bright but not harsh, extremely resolving and fast while remains very neutral, flat and cold across the whole frequency range, often to be referred as sounding too clean or clinical. Lighter and felt more expended compared to 4P. Bass remains very tight, impactful while still lacks a good body – though not as obvious as in 4P due to the more neutral presentation. Instruments separation is great, very decent air and okay depth reproduction which means the soundstage is about average. While not the most extended IEM in the treble region, the micro detail retrieval is very staggering and quite possibly the best there is.
Pro: Extremely analytical. Great isolation.
Con: Amp or warm source to sound best. Old design. A little pricy at the moment.

5.    Brainwavz B2 (link)
Like DBA-02, B2’s overall sound signature is fairly balanced sounding with a brighter, more analytical presentation. Treble is very well extended to the top, detailed and full of sparkle, but might be a little too aggressive for non-analytical listener.  Mid has good texture, neither too forward nor recessed, but the upper mid is a little more forward which can sound slightly harsh on brighter music, especially on loud volume. Bass has good impact, body and speed. Neither quantitatively big nor bone rattling deep, but above average. A good seal for the bass to reveal itself and It responds well to EQ if more bass is needed. Soundstage is quite good, very airy. While it lacks the best layer, separation is among some of the best.
Pro: Price.
Con: None.

6.    HiSound (Golden) Crystal (link)
The sound signature, in short, can be described as the dynamic version of the Brainwavz B2. It is bright and analytical with a slightly aggressive presentation. Bass, though no abundance by any mean, has really good body and impact that are not often found in analytical IEM.  Mid is placed slightly away from the listener but not enough to really call recessed. Thought it lacks a sense of thickness, the overall detail of vocal is still very clean and decent. Treble is crisp, sparkly, well extended and full of micro detail. It can be slightly harsh on bright passage, but never quite as the more aggressive B2.  As a dynamic transducer based IEM, Crystal offers something different from B2. That is, it is more specious, textured and with a better bass reproduction while B2 offers better speed, resolution and fine sparkle. Those who find B2 to lack a bit of the lower end or just a bit too much on the higher end will likely find Crystal to be the perfect substitute as technically, the two are very much comparable with just a small touch of different in presentation.
Pro: Good cable.
Con: Odd naming between batches. Lack of chin slider.

7.    Fischer Audio DBA-02 (link)
The overall sound signature is fairly balanced sounding with a brighter, more analytical presentation. Treble is very well extended to the top, detailed and full of sparkle, but might be a little too aggressive for non-analytical listener.  Mid has good texture, neither too forward nor recessed, but the upper mid is a little more forward which can sound slightly harsh on brighter music. Bass has good impact, body and speed. Not quantitatively big, but above average. Soundstage is quite good, very airy.
Pro: Price.
Con: Availability.

8.    Phonak Audéo PFE 121 (link)
With grey filter, the sound is balanced, toward neutral yet analytical, clean and great in resolution. Treble is very well extended, highly detail, sparkly yet not overdone. Mid is decent with a slight forwardness but not to the level of being sweet. Bass has a good sense of speed, quality and low extension, but lean in quantity, body and depth. Soundstage is slightly above average with a good sense of airiness and instrument separation. The overall sound signature of PFE with black filter is smooth, warm and musical. Treble is still fairly well extended, but sparkles without the edge in a smoother fashion. Mid is well bodied, sweet with good texture. Bass is not big, but has good speed and impact with decent body and depth. Soundstage is average.
Pro: Price. Two sounds in one good package. Comfort. Two years warranty.
Con: Availability.

9.    EXS X20 (link)
The overall sound signature, in short, is the tamed down version of B2 / DBA-02 - lean, clean, neutral and bright sounding – but different from B2 (and DBA-02), X20 is less aggressive on treble presentation, has less body on the bass end and a smaller soundstage. Bass has decent speed, but rather light in quantity, especially on body and depth. Mid is slightly forwarded on the whole presentation, but only just. It is a tad sweeter compared to the more neutral B2. Treble extends to the top, well detailed and with a very good amount of sparkle. It is bright for sure, but not quite nearly as aggressive as B2. Soundstage is only average, nothing to write home about. Respond really well with bass EQ or bass boost amp like digiZoid ZO.
Pro: Smoother sounding then B2 with the same sound signature. Build quality.
Con: Availability

10.    HifiMan RE0 (link)
Neutral and very analytical, with a much fainted sense of warmness due to the rather smooth frequency response curve. Treble is extremely extended with ultra fine micro detail that rivals Etymotic ER4. Upper mid has a little more fullness than lower mid and gives a better female vocal, but still overall laid back in nature. Bass has good impact but lacks good depth and body. Not a very sensitive IEM but can be used unamped without any major SQ reduction. Pairing with a warm sounding amp or bass boosting amp is recommended. Comply T400 foam tips is also recommended as a good choice for adding warm to the overall sound.
Pro: Most analytical under $100.
Con: Sound best with warm amp.

11.    Etymotic ER4P (link)
Analytical, a little on the bright side but not harsh, resolving and fast with slightly upper mid ~ lower treble focus; fairly neutral while still retains a tiny sense of warm. Bass is very tight, impactful but lacks body and decay. Mid is slightly more forward than 4S but remains largely clean and dry. Treble is crisp and sparkly, but lean toward the edgy side on lower end and not quite as extending on the upper end. Similar to 4S clinical performance, but slightly less cold and not quite as analytical. While instruments separation is good, air and depth reproduction isn’t – thus soundstage is mediocre.
Pro: No amp needed. Transform to 4S with adapter.
Con: Old design. A little pricy at the moment.

12.    Phiaton PS210 (link)
Analytical, clean, very airy and specious with crisp treble while relatively lean in the mid and bass departments. Treble is well extended and very crisp with slightly graininess on the top yet full of detail. Mid is slightly recessed, but not by much. Bass extends decently low with good speed, but doesn't quite have the impact, body or depth. Soundstage is very wide because of the semi-open design. To smooth down the graininess and add warmth and forwardness to the mid and bass, Sony Hybrid eartips is recommended. For a relaxing sound, Comply T400 is a good choice. Also, sealing one of the small vents adds the much needed body, depth and texture to the mid and bass.
Pro: Build quality. Price. Design.
Con: Isolation.

13.    Etymotic MC5 (link)
Analytical, bright but a little harsh, neutral while slightly on the warm yet dry side. Treble, while decently extended, lacks the top end sparkle, crispiness, and more importantly, the capability to pick up micro detail even when compared to the fairly outdated 6 years old ER6i. Mid is clean, but lacks substance and fluidity. Bass has improved - not quite as tight, really has a sense of good texture and better body, though still far from quantitatively large. Transparency isn’t particularly high, while resolution and speed are average. Soundstage has  improved from ER6i with a more immersive feeling of space, though overall it is still below average, as most Ety do. In sum, it is a decent blend of ‘what is Ety’ and ‘what is not Ety’ - but not quite the next Etymotic big hit nor a representation of its analytical house sound.
Pro: Build quality. Isolation
Con: Dry and soulless. Not quite Ety sounding.

14.    Altec Lansing iM716 (discontinued)
Typical Etymotic sound, resolving and fast with slightly upper mid ~ lower treble focus; fairly neutral while still retains a tiny sense of warm. Has a switch to tune toward either an ER4P or ER4S sound, but not quite as efficient or as good as either. Soundstage is mediocre.
Pro: Two Etymotic sound in one. Price.
Con: Not quite as good as what it wants to be. Efficiency. Build quality.

15.    Hippo Shroom (link)
Between neutral and balanced, but more toward neutral and analytical. Treble is well extended with good sparkle and resolution, but can occasionally sound a little bit sibilant on brightest note. Mid is well presented. Vocal is clean and a bit upfront, but can sound a little lean at time. Bass has good speed and decent impact, but not excessive in quantity and rolls off more significantly on the lowest part of the sub-bass region. Soundstage is above average, airy and transparent with good decay.
Pro: Small.
Con: Basshead needs not apply.

16.    Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic (ADDIEM)
Cold, neutral, analytical side. Treble is by far its strength - crisp and sparkle though slightly sibilant. Bass lacks body and mid is too clinical if you use the stock eartips. Vocal is a bit further away but not too recessed. Foam tips sounds warmer and more natural, but at the cost of a bit crispiness. Even so, it still sounds much colder than ER6i. Soundstage is about average.
Pro: Great eBay price. Cleanable filter mesh. Cheapest dual drivers ever.
Con: Stock eartips. A lot of fake.

17.    HifiMan RE2 (link)
Analytical and flat. Light on bass and can used some bass boost. Mid is neutral, lacks a sense of fullness. Treble is light and clean, transparent and detail without being obviously bright. Very decent soundstage with good openness. A step up from ER6i with a warm amp or source.
Pro: None.
Con: Semi-open. Better with warm source or bass boost.

18.    Etymotic ER6i
Analytical, flat and neutral , typical of Etymotic house sound. Tight but decently impactful bass, neutral mid with a slight sense of warm, sparkly but not overly bright treble with good level of micro detail. Soundstage is below average.
Pro: None.
Con: Could use a better cable.

19.    SoundMAGIC PL-30
Neutral, clean and light with a lean bottom.  Bass is light, not quite have enough kick, body, depth or texture. Lower mid is also on the lean side while upper mid is slightly fuller and thus female vocal is better than male. Treble is decent but not particular analytical. Soundstage is decent and airy but nothing to write home about.
Pro: Accessories. Price.
Con: Bass knob has very little effect. Isolation

20.    SoundMAGIC PL-20
Neutral, clean, light and cold, resembles PL-30 but slightly less warmth in the mid. Bass is also light, but slightly more solid than PL-30. Mid is similar as well, but slightly leaner. Treble is slightly crispier than PL-30. Soundstage is average, not quite as airy or wide as PL-30.
Pro: Price.
Con: None.
Feb 23, 2011 at 8:47 AM Post #3 of 1,242
A balanced sound signature is a treble and bass enhanced sound. More bass to compensate for headphone’s lack of tactual bass while more treble to give detail. It can go from mild U shaped FR curve to a more extreme V shaped FR curve, where mid range is often interpreted as recessed. Usually has good soundstage.



1.    Ultimate Ear 10
Balance and airy, a slight harshness on treble but fixable by foam. Bass is hard hitting and fast, but doesn’t carry the fullness and decay. Mid is relatively recessed but not too far away. It retains a clean line but doesn’t present with sweetness. Treble is crispy and sparkly though can be a little edgy at time, especially with the stock silicone eartips. While detail, it is not the most analytical. Soundstage is wide and airy with excellent imaging. TF10 is a well tuned sound that resembles more toward full sized rather than giving the intimacy of an in-ear. A good all rounder that is well suited on most genres though doesn’t excel with any particular. Foam tips recommended.
Pro: Can be had cheaply.
Con: Fit is not for everyone.

2.    Atomic Floyd SuperDarts + Remote (link)
The overall sound signature is a close to extreme V-shaped balanced sound with big boomy bass and bright sparkly treble, not for the vocal lover. It is the mix of
bright and aggressive IEM (like Brainwavz B2, Fischer Audio DBA-02, or EXS X20) with a lot of bass. Treble is crisp, sparkly and extended, maybe a bit aggressive as well, but milder than X20 while still bright and analytical. Mid is a dip in the whole presentation, lacks warmness or sweetness for good vocal. Bass, though not quite as deep and textured as the best bass monster, is still commendable for overall good quantity and quality. It is slightly on the boomy side, but it remains clean and doesn’t flush out the mid. Soundstage is specious and very much opened. The only downside is that it doesn’t quite have the depth to match its width.
Pro: Build quality. Design. Unique sound. Two years warranty.
Con: Availability

3.    Sunrise ‘B’ (‘Xcited’?) (link)
Neutral to slight u-shaped, lively presentation. Bass shows very decent impact and body but not quantitatively large in any measure. Some of the deepest of sub-bass is missing but overall still enjoyable, just not near enough for basshead to be happy. Mid is sweet and textured but not upfront, giving a sense of space while not sounding recessed. Treble extends far but slightly edgy on the upper vocal / lower treble which can be sound slightly sibilant with bright music. The very top is slight smoothed out and lacks the extra crispiness though still a cut above the average. Soundstage is above average with good layers and air.
Pro: Compared well to RE-ZRO.
Con: None

4.    HifiMan RE-ZERO (link)
The overall sound signature is fairly balanced and lively, a little warm and slight brightness with a light emphasis on upper mid / vocal but retains a very good degree of treble clarity and bass performance.  Treble has good extension but roll off just a little earlier around and has a smoother, less sparkly FR curve. Not quite as analytical as RE252 (and less so compared to RE0), but the performance is still way above average and certainly can out do the majority of IEM in the market. Mid is where RE-ZERO’s strength lies, slightly upfront compared to the RE0 and RE252, especially on the upper mid -lower treble region. This gives RE-ZERO a sweeter, juicier vocal and a brighter sound, but not sibilant or too sweet, and thus it is probably the best for vocal and casual listening among the three. Bass is not big, but do have quality– decent impact, tight and quick, goes low but lacks a good body that will make a basshead smiles. However, quantitative wise RE-ZERO is still ahead of RE252 as it is warmer and fuller in the upper bass region and gives support to the more forwarded mid. Soundstage is about average on the RE-ZERO. The warmer, more mid centric sound signature of RE-ZERO isn’t particularly tuned to have a wide soundstage, though it isn’t a weakness either since too wide of a soundstage generally will subtract the intimacy of vocal.
Pro: Balanced input ready. Price/Performance ratio.
Con: TRRS-toTRS adapter can be considered cumbersome.

5.    Fischer Audio Silver Bullet (link)
Slightly warm with good airy and well detailed treble, better than average bass that is a bit low in speed and impact, though very decent quantity wise. Mid is very slightly recessed though vocal is not totally out of place. The presentation resembles that of TF10 with a strong V-shaped-like emphasis except Silver Bullet is more laid back with an immersive soundstage.
Pro: Price.
Con: Accessories. Weight.

6.    Fischer Audio Consonance (link)
Mildly U-shaped sounding with strong bottom end. Bass reaches down deep and quite abundant, though more on the 110Hz region making it not quite as boomy as one would think with that much bass. It also helps to maintain a better level of texture even though it is not particular fast or hard hitting. Mid, while slightly recessed in the whole presentation, is still quite warm and lush on its own, just not particularly sweet and upfront. Treble shows decent sparkles, not analytical by any means but still more than average with a decent sense of crispiness and micro detail. Soundstage is quite good, as expected from a U-shaped sound. It is airy and open with good separation, though the bass fullness does limit how far it can go. Consonance is one of the most versatile in the new line-up. While it is U-shaped sounding, the overall presentation is lively and fun with just the right balance between bass, mid, treble and soundstage. It is technically proficient and doesn’t seem to be lacking in any particular region. That is perhaps the great strength of Consonance.
Pro: Overall proficiency. Accessories. Price.
Con: Microphonics.

7.    Brainwavz M4 (link)
Deep V-shaped frequency response with lots of treble and bass and supposed to a bassy version of the bright sounding B2. While abundance and has decent depth, bass can be slightly boomy at time. However, it is not offensive and rather still quite enjoyable. Mid range, especially vocal, comes out clean and well detailed, but lacks a good sense of texture and warmness.  It is further away in the whole presentation and can get slightly overpowered by other frequencies, especially in bass heavy, fast music. Treble is decently extended and crisp, but not quite as bright, detail or aggressive as B2. A peak around 12 kHz makes it sounds slightly grainy on the upper vocal, but again, nothing offensive or sibilant. Soundstage is above average, largely thanks to the recessed mid that gives more space between the listener and the performer.
Pro: Much cheaper if order from Amazon.
Con: Mild driver flex.

8.    Sony MDR-EX700
Balance, too much harshness on treble not even T400 can fix, good bass, slightly recessed mid in comparison. Bass is snappy and impactful thanks to the big dynamic transducer. Mid is decent though slightly recessed compared to the overall frequency. Upper mid / lower treble is permanently sibilant and turns the presentation really dry and harsh. Soundstage is quite good.
Pro: Accessories. Current street price.
Con: Sibilance.

9.    ECCI PR401 (link)
Balanced with a slightly V-shaped like presentation and a faint sense of warmness. Bass is impactful, good in body, depth, texture, while has a decent decay and quantity (*with Sony Hybrid clone) - not larger than PR200 or PR300, but not too far away either – and definitely show a greater degree in control and refinement. Mid is more recessed than PR300, but also shows a better sense of distance and space while still retains a good amount of the warm and sweetness in the vocal, the improved decay in lower mid (compared to PR300) helps in giving a fuller sense of body and texture despite being less forwarded. Treble is similar to PR300: forwarded, full of detail and sparkles while ever so crispier and still sibilant free. Soundstage and image is quite good: airy, spacious and layered.
Pro: Price. Build quality.
Con: Flat cable.

10.    SonoCore COA-805 Cindy (link)
Warm to slightly full, fun, balanced with a strong bass to almost the level of being bass driven. Bass reaches down very deep, well in the 10Hz range in a gentle roll off fashion and reaches fullness beyond 150Hz. It is hard hitting with a good body, yet maintains decent speed not to feel dragging or muddy - though it can be even better if it is just a tad faster. While it is fuller on the mid bass, the overall texture is still well defined and not sounding overly boomy. Mid is relatively full and sweet but with a half step behind the bass. It takes away the intimacy of the voice but in exchange, gives a sense of space between the singer to the listener in a very mild U-shaped response. Treble extends far to 16kHz region, but the upper treble is noticeable smooth with minimum sparkle. The lower treble is however better, with enough highlight not to totally dull the female vocal. While the upper treble is smooth and tends to get masked by the bass, the overall micro detail is still decent and revealing. For those who prefer a bit more sparkle, treble EQ beyond 8kHz usually brings really good result without any ill effect. Though resolution and imaging aren’t the best, the overall soundstage is still better than average. The mild U-shaped response gives a strong sense of horizontal space, but the lack of air keeps it from being great.
Pro: Dual driver under $100.
Con: Build quality. Must use with amp.

11.    JAYS q-JAYS
Slightly warm, analytical but very slightly harsh on treble, excellent bass balance on quantity and quality. Treble is well extended, sparkly and crisp though slightly edgy with brighter note. Mid is decently full but not to the level of being sweet. Bass has a good balance between speed, impact and body, though it could use a bit more decay. For a warmer, better decay sound with a smoother treble, foam tips is recommended. Soundstage is decent.
Pro: Street price. Build quality. Accessories. Sleek. Small.
Con: Wax filter can be easily clogged with silicone eartips.

12.    Final Audio Design Adagio V (link)
Mild U-shaped sound that is bright, piecing and gainy. Though gently roll-off under 100Hz, bass still reaches down deep to almost 20Hz. Lower mid seems a little hollow and give the impression of a V-shaped sound, while upper mid, noticeably on the 6kHz to 7kHz region has a big spike that adds a lot of sibilance and graininess into the music. Treble extends well up to the top, decently detailed but nothing spectacular as most detail is constantly overshadowed by sibilance. Above average soundstage due to the laid back presentation, particularly on lower mid.
Pro: None.
Con: Extreme sibilance.

13.    Panasonic RP-HJE70 (Discontinued) (link)
Lively, energetic and warm sound that is balanced with a very slight V-shaped frequency response.  Treble extends very far, bright and edgy especially on high volume. Mid is a little more recessed in comparison, but not to a point where the sense of sweetness is totally lost. Bass goes big and very deep, full of texture and rumble yet remains controlled. It is a very good mix of quality and quantity that any basshead will love, and almost make Hippo VB’s bass sounds dull in comparison. Soundstage is decent, okay in depth but limited in width, which is nothing spectacular to speak of.
Pro: Street price. Sleek.
Con: Old design.

14.    Miu-Audio MR2 Pro (link)
Mild u-shaped with a fairly heavy bass. Bass is strong and impactful, but also good in speed and minimum in bleed. Though it might not have a long decay to give a full rumbling sensation or present all the bass texture, it makes it up by hitting hard and fast when needed. Mid is a half-step away, not to the point of being recessed. It still retains a good portion of detail and texture that works great with vocal though not very sweet. Probably not something that would be considered as the first choice for vocal listener but it is not shabby in its own right. Treble is well extended and sparkly. Micro detail is abundant thought there is a very small amount of graininess at the lower ends. Not harsh by any meaning, just could get a little busy with brighter music. Soundstage is actually very good, airy and spacious. Imaging isn’t very precise, but not something out of the ordinary at this price range.
Pro: Price.
Con: Generic design, lack of chin slider.

15.    Hippo Shroom-EB (link)
Balanced while analytical, more forward than the original Shroom. Treble is still well extended with good sparkle and resolution, though the occasional sibilant on the brightest note also remains. The mid is slightly full and well presented. Vocal is clean and upfront in just the right amount, adding a little sweetness without being too obviously colored. Bass has good speed, impact, as well as quantity - enough to make everybody happy but does not over-flood to another region. Soundstage is about average. To add more soundstage and reveal EB’s potential, UE style bi-flange is needed Squeeze them in till there is only 3~5mm of space between the opening of the bi-flanges and the front of the nozzle. This will transform the EB.
Pro: Small. Price.
Con: Must be used with UE bi-flange to sound best.

16.    Hippo VB (link)
Lively and on the warm side. On the triple dotted / small bass plate, bass has a decent impact but less in quantity and more toward neutrality. Mid and treble are drier and brighter. Soundstage is also noticeably narrower. On the two dotted / mid bass plate, bass has a very good body and depth, especially on the mid-bass region (and it does go down deep). Mid and treble have better resolution due to better airiness which also give a better soundstage. This by far is the best sounding bass plate and what I consider to be the basic of VB’s sound.  On the dot-less / big bass plate, bass is noticeably more boomy and much warmer, which in term floors over the detail and mud up the mid, treble and soundstage. On all the bass plate, treble does get sibilant from time to time on brighter music (except it is less noticeable in big bass plate due to the excessive warm muddiness). Sometime there can also have too many sparkles in the treble which will sounds too 'busy'. However, the sibilance is not to the level of annoyance as long as the volume is kept at a reasonable level.
Pro: Three sound in one package. Price.
Con: Large nozzle. Eartips.

17.    Maximo iM-590 (link)
Balanced, energetic while analytical. Bass is not strong but it has really good attack, control and presence, Upper mid / lower treble is a bit more forward, edgy and vocal can be a tiny bit harsh on bright recording. Treble is well presented and detail with an above average, airy soundstage.
Pro: Good combination and overall quality and quantity. Price.
Con: Fabric able tends to tangle.

18.    ECCI PR300 (link)
Fairly energetic, lean and clean, more V-shaped like presentation. Bass is quick, impactful, good in texture, well controlled, larger than that of PR200 though a bit short on decay. Mid is slightly recessed, setting the singer further away and gives a better sense of air. While still in good detail, it lacks the sweetness and intimacy of PR200. Treble is forwarded, full of detail and sparkles while able to keep sibilant away, which is a good thing. Soundstage and image is better than average thanks to better air and micro-detail, though lacks the capability of showing true depth.
Pro: Price. Build quality. Accessories.
Con: None.

19.    SoundMAGIC E10 (link)
Balanced with a mild U-shaped frequency response, forward but not rich, quick, energetic and dynamic with a fairly strong bass. Bass reaches down deep to sub-bass and hit with good impact, almost to a point of being bass dominant but lacks really good texture to be a monster of its own. Mid is only a tad recessed, still relatively sweet and clear but not a strong point in the overall presentation. Treble extends very well, not particular analytical but not lacking either. It has enough highlight to draw out the ‘sss’ in the vocal when called for, but not enough to sound bad with permanent sibilance. Soundstage is average due to the forwardness of presentation.
Pro: Price. Build Quality
Con: None.

20. MEElectronics CX21 (link)
Warm, neutral while leaning toward balanced. Bass is above neutral but not quantitatively abundant, begins to gently roll off after 100Hz. It does however have a decent speed and impact and allows its presence to be felt. Mid is slightly warm, but not particularly forward or recessed. It doesn’t get overshadowed by other frequency but at the same time lacks a sense of sweet and fullness to distinguish itself, and thus may comes out slightly on the dry side. Treble extends excellently, good sparkle and air but slightly peaky on the lower end. Not sibilant, just lacks a sense of refinement to make it really good. Soundstage is not a particular strong point for CX21 as it tends to sound more 2D than 3D.
Pro: Build quality.
Con: None.

21.    Samsung EHS64# (link)
Warm and lively with a very mild U-shaped sound. Big hitting bass, decent spaced mid that isn’t too sweet or forward, crisp treble that is just a tiny bit grainy. Decent soundstage. Not too bad sounding for a stock earphone free with smartphone.
Pro: None
Con: Could use a better cable.

22.    MEElectronics M6 (link)
Energetic while clean. Treble, though a little bright, is relatively smoother while still has a tiny amount of sibilance on the brightest music. Mid is slightly recessed in the presentation while bass has good impact and body, though lacks true depth. Even so, bass is still the dominating force of the overall sound. Soundstage is pretty good with decent airiness.
Pro: Build quality.
Con: Fit.

23.    MEElectronics M9 (link)
Resembles M6, but not as warm as M6 and with a more pronouns V-shaped frequency. Treble also has good extension but there is harshness (especially on bi-flange). Mid is slightly recessed in comparison. Bass is not as full as M6 but still has good body and decent depth. Soundstage is better than M6 with good sense of airiness and space..
Pro: Build quality. Street price.
Con: None.

24.    Brainwavz beta (discontinued) (link)
Warm side yet still well balanced without any obvious flaw. Bass has decent kick and body, but doesn’t go very deep. Mid is decent mix of clean and warm, not particularly sweet or full. Treble has decent extension but in a smooth and roll off fashion. Above average soundstage.
Pro: Cleanable nozzle mesh. Accessories. Price.
Con: None.

25.    Fischer Audio Omega (link)
Balanced without any major flaw. Decent treble and airiness though lacks any fine detail, Vocal is neither too close nor too far, bass is very solid and goes down deep with good slam and speed. Soundstage is better than average.
Pro: None.
Con: None.

26.    MEElectronics M2  (link)
Balanced with more emphasis on treble, resembles M6 but not quite as good. Treble has good extension but there is a bit of sibilance. Mid is slightly further away but not really recessed. Bass lacks real depth but still has good control and speed. Soundstage is about average.
Pro: Build quality.
Con: None.

27.    Cube F1 (link)
Balanced and biased slightly toward treble. Bass is decent in amount and impact. Not quite really bass heavy but still more than being totally lean. Mid is a little grainy and recessed, but not vastly. Treble is a little on the aggressive side to almost a little sibilant. Crispy and fairly sparkly. Soundstage is quite good and airy, with a decent sense of openness.
Pro: One of the best stock IEM ever heard.
Con Isolation. Build quality.

28.    JAYS a-JAYS Three (link)
Warm, fairly balanced though slightly biased toward upper bass / lower mid. Bass has good impact and very decent amount, not quite as much as a-JAYS Two but still a little bloated. Upper mid seems slightly recessed in comparison which gives a better sense of space while still maintains a decent amount of texture in vocal. Treble also extends fairly high and with decent amount of sparkle and detail, not enough to be called analytical and there are still some rough edges, though nothing out of the ordinary. Soundstage is a little above average. Good for most genre of music but don’t excel in any particular. An upgraded sound from the old Sennheiser CX300.
Pro: Sleek. Build quality.
Con: Flat cable.

29.    CrossRoads MylarOne X3 (discontinued)
Balanced and light. Bass has impact, but slight short on quantity. Mid is recessed, clean and a little cold with a small hint of roughness on the female vocal. Decent treble with a small amount of sparkle and not overly detail, but doesn’t seem to be too lacking either.
Pro: None.
Con: None.

30.    Cresyn C260E (link)
Balanced, light and specious. Treble is decently extended and refined, capable of showing micro detail to a good degree. Mid is neutral, decent but lack a sense of fullness. Bass has a decent volume, impact and control, though a little boominess remains. Soundstage is by far its strongest point, wide and open with a good sense of airiness.
Pro: Price. Build quality.
Con: Availbility.

31.    Panasonic RP-HJE450 (link)
Warm with a mild U shaped frequency response, resembles CX300 but with better control. Bass has decent quantity, but nothing close to being a bass monster or as bloated as CX300. Mid, especially upper mid tends to be just a half step behind the rest of the frequency, though still carries a fainted sense of sweetness in it. Treble is decently sparkly, but rough and lacks refinement – which can actually be said to the overall presentation: rough and lacks refinement. Soundstage is average, nothing to write home about.
Pro: Fit. Cable design.
Con: None.

32.    Sennheiser CX300 (discontinued)
Warm and energetic with an overall balanced sound. Bass has decent quantity, though slow and texture-less. Mid , though not really recessed, is a step backward. Still it is clean and carries a deent sense of warmth. Upper mid and lower treble are however quite edgy and sibilant, especially on female vocal. Upper treble is relatively smooth and doesn’t have a lot of detail.
Pro: None.
Con: A lot of fake.

33.    EarsQuake CRO (link)
Balanced with a slight V-shaped frequency response, but unrefined. Bass is a little boomy, slow and texture-less. Mid is a tad dry but still well placed. Treble has good sparkle and well detailed, but can be steely and sibilant, which is the biggest weakness of CRO by far. Soundstage is slight better than average, but unremarkable as it doesn’t show depth quite as well as it shows width. There are quite some resemblances between CRO and CX300 presentation, except CX300 is actually slightly better in most account.
Pro: Cheap.
Con: None.
Feb 23, 2011 at 8:48 AM Post #4 of 1,242
A bass oriented sound signature refers to a bass heavy sound with relatively recessed mid range and roll off treble. Give a very warm to even dark feeling because strong bass present. The more extreme variation is often referred as ‘bass monster’. Treble detail is often the weak spot. Tuned right, it can be great fun to listen.



1.    Radius HP-TWF21 (link)
Musical, warm and sweet with a great bass and a smooth top, still tonally laid back but fairly energetic and lush. Monster level bass with a little lower in impact compared to the original DDM but more body/decay for fuller and ever so slightly more textured sound, though a tad slower.  The same fullness penetrates to the mid but doesn’t bring it more forward in position than the original DDM, rather just ‘fill-in-the-blank’ with lusher tones in the same occupied space. Treble is where DDM2 improved the most over the original DDM, especially on extension. While still a step behinds the mid and bass, it is at least quantitatively enough to bring up some of the missing micro detail and not to appear quite as dark or lacking with string or brass instruments. Soundstage is above decent. While the overall resolution is improved to give better image, the fullness turns the originally open stage to more immersive stage, which is more of a trade off rather an improvement.
Pro: Dual Diaphragm Matrix. Technically better than TWF11. Ergonomics
Con: Price.

2.    Future Sonics Atrio M5 (MG7) (link)
Bass driver with a slight U-shaped frequency response. Bass is deep (to the sub-bass), strong, well textured and bodied. Not largest ever but has a great balance in both quantity and quality as a true bass monster.  Mid is a little recessed, especially compared to the bass - just a little blended and lacks a good touch of texture and thickness but not overly so. Treble improves from the old model in two folds: First, the quantity is improved as it extends more linearly to the top. Second, the overall presentation is more forward, resulting in more transparent and airy sound that better showcase the sparkles and micro-detail. While it is still nowhere near being analytical or sparkly, it is not longer darkish. Subsequently, the soundstage, perception of speed and overall imaging are also improved and much more decent than the old M5 rev2, though soundstage is still only average with better width than depth.
Pro: Great bass. Price.
Con: Fit can be awkward at first.


3.    Radius HP-TWF11R (link)
Musical, warm and sweet with a great bass and a smooth top. Perfectly suited for laid back, casual listening session. Bass that is both great in quantity and quality. Big but not excessively boomy, so well textured that it makes the bass sound very realistic, as if in live performance. The perfect balance of speed and decay makes for a great, highly enjoyable performance and the backbone of the DDM’s sound. Mid is the well placed: not in-your-face forward, but forward enough to show character. It gives enough detail and texture so not to get drowned by the bass. The mid+ bass combination gives a sound that is sweet, juicy and life-like. This makes it especially good for listening to vocal of the lower region. Treble is what defines the limitation. It has a good extension and resolution, but too smooth and sparkle-less on the top to give any excitement, like taking a backseat in the overall sound. Without a good amount of crispiness to highlight the micro detail, female vocal, string and cymbal sound just a bit dull. It is definitely not good for a diva or violin performance. Soundstage is fairly good. It could be better but crippled by a mediocre separation. The mid- + bass combination that gives the warm and lushness simply isn’t enough to place everything in the right position without a strong support from the treble. Overall, it is a highly fun sound to listen, but just a little short technical wise to be truly great.
Pro: Price. Dual Diaphragm Matrix, first of its kind in IEM.
Con: Fit.

4.    EOps noisezero Sport+ (link)
Bass dominance with relative smooth and slightly laid back mid and treble. Bass hits big and hard, but doesn’t carry excessive body or decay, meaning it hits in a fairly controlled and tight manner, comes fairly fast and leaves without any sense of drag. It isn’t the head-shaking type and, despite being classified as bass dominance, is still quality over quantity. Mid and treble are noticeably more laid back when compared to the bass, but they are not overly laid back to lose their own characters. Even though vocal doesn’t come as a particularly sweet, it is still well textured and clean. Treble rolls just a tiny bit off at the top which affects the overall airiness, but remains mostly crisp, especially on the upper female vocal. It is smooth, but not dull. Soundstage is actually fair, due to the combination of slightly laid back nature of mid and treble and the tight control of the bass. It is the kind of combination that gives good speed and impact without any aggressiveness in the presentation – very enjoyable and easy going, almost like the Radius DDM.
Pro: Well built. Good design
Con: Availability, Price.

5.    Radius HP-RLF11 (link)
Bass driven, warm and full to a little thick at the lower end smooth with a mild U-shaped at the upper end. Bass is abundant, deep, and of monster level, dominating the rest of the frequency. It might seems boomy on the mid-bass at first but it is actually mostly full swing at the sub-bass that gives it the chest pounding effect without totally smearing the detail. It will take a basshead to fully appreciate that much bass at such low notes. Mid is recessed, placing the vocal a little further away than usual. It gives a sense of space but still feels thick under influence of bass. Treble is crisp but lacks a good amount of top end sparkles. It really accentuates and adds detail to the overall presentation but fail to stand out on its own. Soundstage is immersive but just decent. It feels like you are just a few row of seats away from the singer, but the sub-woofer is preventing you from getting any closer. In many ways radHeadphone LIVE reminds me of how Sleek Audio SA6 sounds like in the upper mid and overall treble. With radHeadphone LIVE, it is just a lot more bass and not quite as forwarded enough on the lower to middle mid.
Pro: Rock music.
Con: … and rock music only.

6.    RedGiant A00 Malleus (link)
Warm, musical and bass dominance, but not bass driven.  Bass is the center of the presentation and often the first thing to ‘jump out of the picture’, but it is not a very aggressive type of bass. Rather, it is well bodied, rounded, and even a little smooth at time but not to the point of being slow. Mid sits much further away, smooth, relaxing and bland in a way. Treble has decent extension, but exhibits similar quality as the mid for being further away. Soundstage is very wide, probably due to the more laid back nature of the mid and treble. A00 reminds me most of DUNU Trident with the same sense of musicality and laid back nature in the presentation, except A00 has bigger soundstage, better texture with more bass quantity, plus a tiny bit more sparkly. Those who like Trident should find A00 a good upgrade for the same easy going flavor on presentation.
Pro: Build Quality, Price.
Con: Fit.

7.    Future Sonics Atrio M5 rev.2 (discontinued)
Fun and slightly warm, monstrous bass with great depth but very slightly lacks in speed, quite forgiving, smooth, lacks in fine upper treble detail and close to sparkle-less. Treble by far is the biggest weakness of Atrio. It is not so much the total lack of treble, but more of the absent of micro detail. Though on the upside, it is quite fatiguing-free. Mid is a step back from the bass, clean, lacks a sense of fullness but by no mean thin or dry. Bass is big, both in quality and quantity. It can do sub-bass like a sub-woofer in the ear. Soundstage is decent, could be better if not for the strong upfront bass. Overall it is a somewhat musical and lush presentation that is still good for general, more laid back listening and stage monitoring but won’t appeal to technical listener.
Pro: Build Quality. Accessories. Street price. Burn-in required.
Con: Basshead only.

8.    Phiaton PS20 (link)
Warm, musical, bassy and relatively smooth at the top. Bass reaches low with very good quantity and quality while does roll off gently below 60Hz and becomes slightly boomier on the upper region. Mid is sweet and upfront, but not overdone or overly thick. It is well textured and doesn’t get overpowered by the strong bass. Treble is a step behind the mid and bass. Not totally lacking but smooth overall, extends only up to about 15.5kHz and not quite reaching the standard 16kHz with enough presence. Soundstage is surprisingly decent. While not particularly wide, it is quite immersive and has a decent sense of space.
Pro: Build quality. Sleek. Street price.
Con: Isolation.

9.    Meizu EP-40 (link)
Bass heavy with a slightly cold to almost analytical mid to treble presentation, yet not quite a U-shaped frequency response. Bass is strong and deep with fairly good speed and texture, but also extends up to mid bass and can be intruding form time to time.  The mid to treble is however much more neutral, to almost analytical like and can be compared to Etymotic MC5 in the regard, just not quite as extended or dry. They do sound a little thin next to the strong bass response and can be overwhelmed in bass heavy music. The upper vocal, especially female, is edgy with bright music as well, but not permanently sibilant. Soundstage is above average but hindered by the sheer amount of bass so imaging is only okay.
Pro: Comfort.
Con: Build Quality

10.    Audio Technica ATH-CKS70 (discontined) (link)
Very warm and fairly musical toward the fun side, with a full sounding mid and bass. Treble is decent and smooth, but lacks sparkle and roll off a little early. Mid is warm, forward with a thick, slightly rough vocal. Bass is also warm, big, slow, impactful, ever present and full of resonance at the lower end. Soundstage is fairly wide but lacks a sense of airiness. The ever present of strong bass can be considered a weak point if you are not a very dedicated basshead.
Pro: Sleek.
Con: Basshead only. Isolation. Build quality could be better.

11.    DUNU Hawkeye (link)
Bass oriented, boomy, warm, forward and full. Though it is reaching down all the way to sub bass, the sheer amount of bass, especially mid-bass, simply shadow any quality that might be there and make for one of the more extreme case of basshead IEM. Mid is forward and full, a mid centric sound in itself if not for the ever more powerful bass response that takes the focus away. Treble is overly smooth and roll off early, lacking sparkle and crispiness. Soundstage isn’t particular great as instrument separation is hurt by the lack of micro-detail. All and all, Hawkeye sounds like a typical basshead IEM – big on the bottom and roll-off at the top.
Pro: Build Quality, Accessories.
Con: Overly bassy.

12.    RHA MA-350 (link)
Bass driven and warmish – think Klipsch S4, but slightly different in flavor. Bass hits hard and deep – rumble, good body and doesn’t feel dragging. Mid is forwarded, but get slightly overshadowed by the strong bass. However, it doesn’t lose its own character and still gives a decent sense of sweetness and intimacy. Treble extends quite far up but comes with a few shape peaks on the upper female vocal that cause graininess and sibilance. Not terrible enough to discourage a recommendation, but definitely not suitable for those who can’t tolerate brightness in their music. Soundstage is fair. Not particular opening or airy but not boxed-in either. It is more intimate than it is more transparent.
Pro: Simplicity in design. Technically proficient for a budget bass IEM.
Con: Hard to find. Sibilant.

13.    Klipsch S4 (link)
Warmish and bass driven. Bass is the strength of S4. It is deep and well bodied, quantitatively abundance but retains decent quality, just a tad slow on the attack. However, everything goes downhill from this point forward. Mid has a sense of warm in it, but lacks forwardness and resolution to almost the point of being thick and gluey on the back ground. While treble does extend to 16kHz, there are some uneven peaks on the upper vocal as well as around 12kHz that makes it rough, dry and lacks refined detail. Soundstage is surprisingly decent, perhaps more of a side effect from the slightly hollow out mid presentation.
Pro: Oval eartips. Mint tin-like case.
Con: Easily fatigue sound. Backward logo?

14.    SonoCore COA-803 (discontinued) (link)
Bass driven, warm to slightly thick with smooth upper end.  Bass is really big and a little boomy, though still maintains a decent level of texture to it. Slight slow at speed but overall decent in quality. Mid is warm and slightly veil due to a slight drop on the 1kHz to 2kHz region.  Treble extends decently but smooth and sparkle-less, lacks enough detail to offset the overly dominating bass. For the same reason, soundstage is below average. Will need some EQing to bring out the best sound.
Pro: One of the cheapest dynamic dual drivers.

15.    NuForce NE-7M
Warm side with big bass, resembles SoundMAGIC PL-11, but better on all count. Treble is decent and smooth, not quite enough sparkle and has some roughness in the lower end. Mid is slightly recessed but still retains a decent sense of warmness. Bass hits harder and very low - not quite the Atrio level but certainly better than most IEM in or near its price range. Soundstage is wide and spacious, which isn't something that common for a bass heavy IEM.
Pro: Price.
Con: None.

16.    Fischer Audio Enigma (link)
The overall sound signature is warm and full with a good treble and an excellent bass response. Vocal is slightly more laid back but not to a point of being recessed, still it is a little V-shaped sound except the bass is much more prominent than the other frequency. Soundstage is very good but the warmness does reduce the airiness a bit. It plays well with all type of music genres but really excels in none.
Pro: Decent offer for the price.
Con: None.

17.    MEElectronics M21 (link)
Warm and bass strong. Bass is strong, almost close to being boomy but still does lower end rumble quite well. While the quantity is large the quality is still decent, which makes it less offensive for a non-basshead. Most importantly the bass is still well behaved and doesn’t bleed into the mid. Mid is a tad warm and sweet, perhaps even a fainted sense of lush though it is also slightly further away compared to the bass and gives a sense of space and layer to the presentation. While being dominated by the mid and bass, treble holds up fairly well on its own but not enough to be a highlight on the overall presentation. Unlike the M16 however, it doesn’t feel like it is hiding anymore. Soundstage is decent and open, though not to a point of being transparent.
Pro: Build quality. Price. Accessories.
Con: None.

18.    CrossRoads MylarOne Quattro (discontinued) (link)
Warm, slightly laid back, probably because the upper mid~lower treble being not upfront enough. Treble extends very high but it is not the most detail sounding and should be adequate for none analytical listener. Bass (and mid to some extent) can be tuned by changing the bass select ports. Port #1 has the biggest bass but on the expense of resolution. Port #2 is the most balanced among the three, and is considered to the base of the sound.  Port #3 has the best detail but a bit bass shy and has the narrowest soundstage. Due to the slightly low sensitivity, the volume might need to be turned up a bit more, but amping isn't necessary at all. Finding the right match between bass select ports and eartips is important for getting the right sound, which basically is the essence of Quattro's customizable sound. Sounstage is pretty good though do vary with different bass port.
Pro: User tunable sound. Accessories.
Con: None.

19.    MEElectronics M31 (link)
Warm and bass driven, more forward than M21. Bass is strong and boomy, more suitable for basshead quantity wise and may become slightly offensive to the non-basshead. With the increase of quantity, the quality does suffer a little as some of the bass texture is lost in the amount of air movement. Mid is forward, full and sweet, perhaps slightly too sweet. Treble is by far the most sparkly and detail of the three new M models, but it is also a little rough in the lower treble / upper mid section and can be a bit edgy in loud music. Due to the warm and fullness, soundstage is not the strong point of M31, just a tad below average. Compared to M21 which is more polite in handling each frequency, M31 traded some of the quality for quantity which unavoidably makes itself more appealing to casual listener and basshead rather than technical listener.
Pro: Build quality. Accessories.
Con: None.

20.    Fischer Audio Omega v2 (link)
Warm and thick. A little veil on the top. Bass can go deep, but most of the energy is focus on mid-bass with a lot of slap, but not particularly fast. Mid is on the thick and smooth side. Sweet but slightly lack texture. Treble takes a step back with very little sparkle.
Pro: None.
Con: None.

21.    MEElectronics R1 (original) (link)
Warm, thick and veil. Treble is decent with a fainted sense of roughness. Mid is a bit distanced and has a sense of hollowness to it, bass is full but can get bloated on bass heavy music. Soundstage is below average due to the excess warmness. Note: this is the original R1, not the current retuned version.
Pro: Wood housing. Build quality.
Con: None.

22.    ECCI PG100 (link)
Bass dominance with a very mild U-shaped frequency response. Though being the dominant sound, bass is not excessive in quantity. While the bass does reach deep with  the speed and decay still decent enough not to feel muddy, more than often it is the mid-bass that take over the show, leaving a sense of thickness in the air that overshadows the rest of the frequency and slow down the music. Mid is a tad further away but not enough to be called recessed. It is warm, sweet and intimate while doesn’t appear to be too forward. Though at the same time, the thickness carried over from the bass is restricting the air, feeling like an overcrowded room instead of a more opened space. Treble is well extended to 16kH, a little more forward than the mid and has some sparkle, but not in abundance. It is capable of a decent level of micro detail, but also has a tiny amount of graininess that is typical to IEM of its level.  Soudnstage is below average due to the warmness and thickness. Overall, PG100 sounds like a slightly restricted PR100 - not quite as extended or opened, but still retaining the warmth of the house sound within the family.
Pro: Cheap. Comfort.
Con: Microphonics

23.    Hippo Boom (discontinued)
Warm, slightly dark and as the name suggested, with a boomy bass. Mid is slightly recessed but still carries a small sense of warm. Treble is smooth and rolls off, lacking crispness and sparkle. Soundstage is small due to the heavy bass.
Pro: Soft pouch.
Con: Basshead only.

24.    Kanon MD-52
Slightly warm, fun and energetic with a full mid and very decent bass response, quantity wise. Treble isn't bad either but lacks refine detail. Soundstage is average.
Pro: Dirt cheap.
Con: Very bad build quality.

25.    SoundMAGIC PL-11
Warm with a pretty big bass. Treble is actually decent but fine detail tends to get flooded by the bass. Mid performance is also decent with a good sense of warmness and doesn't suffer the bass flooding issue. Due to the lost of fine detail, soundstage isn't as wide as it could be, but overall acceptable.
Pro: Good for basshead with tight budget.
Con: None.

26.    HTC RC-E190 (link)
Very warm, decently big bass with a very smooth treble, similar performance to a-JAYS two. What it does better than a-JAYS two is better air and detail, but what it doesn’t compare as well is its blander mid range.
Pro: Build quality.
Con: Design.

27.    JAYS a-JAYS Two (link)
Very warm with big bass and smooth top. Bass reaches deep but bloated, though still within reason and has some control. Mid is full and has a decently sweet vocal. Treble does extend fairly high but in a smooth and sparkle-less fashion, though still a little grainy at the lower end. Soundstage is average. Good for vocal and pop songs in general but not suitable for instrument or classical. An upgraded sound from the old Creative EP-630.
Pro: Build quality. Warranty. Accessories.
Con: Flat cable. Price.

28.    Fischer Audio FA-999 (link)
Warm, very smooth and very full with a pretty good bass response going down to the 20Hz. Treble rolls off early at 16kHz and the air killing fullness makes it veil. Bass can be a bit boomy on bass heavy music.
Pro: None.
Con: None.

29.    EarsQuake FISH (link)
Warm, bass-driven sound. Bass is overly boomy and texture-less, mid is decent but tends to be overshadowed by the bass, treble is smooth, lacks sparkle and micro detail. Overall, it is no-good for music. However, FISH is actually intended to be used on portable gaming devices such as PSP and NDS where it does perform fairly well. The boomy bass compensates the general lack of bass on these gaming platforms and the smooth top compensates for the plasticy /steely sound. Soundstage is just decent enough to give an enjoyable experience on a movie or game, which are the only few things this IEM is good for. For music however, try others.
Pro: Good for portable gaming.
Con: Not for music.
Feb 23, 2011 at 8:49 AM Post #5 of 1,242
A mid centric sound signature refers to a mid range highlighted sound; typically more pronounced vocal. Not especially analytical and could have a roll off bass, but not always. The fullness in mid often reduces the sense of space and separation, thus this type of IEM generally doesn’t have the best of soundstage. However, it is often the easiest going of all sound signatures



1.    Shure SE530 (discontinued)
On the warm side with good, solid and full mid and bass, smooth on the upper frequency range and can even be a bit dark sounding especially when used with a warm source. The slightly roll off treble can be improved when amped, but the mild roughness remains on the upper vocal. Mid is decently upfront and full with a fairly sweet vocal. Bass has solid impact and decent body though could be just a tad shallow. It is a good all-arounder, but not particularly inspiriting / energetic
Pro: Well build, well packed, great accessories. Comfort.
Con: Care needed sometime. Hiss sensitive.

2.    Fischer Audio Eterna (original) (link)
Warm and upfront. Treble is there but not on the center stage. Midrange is full and vocal is sweet. Bass has a really good body, depth and decent speed though it still misses the deepest of sub-bass compared to that of real bass monster (i.e. Atrio). Airiness and soundstage are almost spot on for a pair of IEM, neither too far or near and yet retains clear separation and layers. Technically it doesn't have nearly the SQ (treble, mid, bass, soundstage) to compared to other top-tier IEM, but it does have a really fun and engaging sound .
Pro: Fun to listen. Comfort.
Con. Not for technical listener. Picky on music genres. Not for warm source.

3.    Ortofon e-Q7 (link)
Warm and mid focus, well suited for vocal lover. Treble is clean and smooth, though does roll off on the top end, but not more so than SE530 or UM2. Mid is full, focus and sweet, but not overpowering nor sibilant. Bass has good impact, body and extension, but no rumbling big bass. Soundstage is only average. In many ways e-Q7 sounds like the midway of SE530 and UM2, with better mid performance than SE530 as it is totally sibilance-free yet retains most of the mid goodness of SE530 (which still has a tiny bit of sibilance), while it is not quite warm as UM2 (which is probably too warm from a neutral prospective). While it might not has as good a soundstage as SE530 because it doesn’t separate each layer as cleanly, it is still better than UM2. It also has a more energetic presentation than the other two, making it a more engaging sound. It is a sound of dynamic transducer with speed and resolution closer to that of a BA.
Pro: Moving armature. Build Quality.
Con: Price. Fit.

4.    Sunrise SW-Xcape (discontinued) (link)
Neutral with slight warmness radiated from the central upper mid, with an almost analytical-like presentation. Bass is not large, but shows present and impact when needed. Mid is slightly full and gives a slightly sweet and well texture vocal. Treble is well extended and smooth while retains a decent amount of sparkle. Soundstage is about average. While nothing seems to stand out, the quantity of each elements are well balanced to make this IEM neither overly exciting nor too boring; In other words, it does no wrong. It has a good portion of everything and blend them well, but excels on none – Don't get it wrong: Being good not for one particular reason isn’t something that common in the IEM world, but that is what the Xcape is able to achieve.
Pro: Price.
Con: None.

5.    Westone UM2
Very warm and musical sounding, can be considered to be slightly dark. Almost warm and sweet like if not for the slightly dry presentation. Slightly stronger bass than SE530 (mostly because of more mid-bass), with a more forward, fuller mid but less treble detail. Though warm, there is a bit of highlight on the 6~8kHz region resulting in slight harshness, which actually prevents it from sounding too dark despites the fact that it sounds less detail than SE530 (especially on the upper treble). Because of the much forward mid, soundstage actually suffered a bit as the sense of airiness is greatly reduced. Depends on your listening preference, UM2 can be good or bad. It certainly isn't for those who are looking for balance, neutral, cold or analytical sound. However, If you like your music warm and full, UM2 could be the treat you are looking for. Best listen at low volume and it can serve as good stage monitor which is what it is originally intended for.
Pro: Comfort. Build quality.
Con: Price. Accessories.

6.    Fischer Audio SBA-03 (link)
Classic Shure sound that is warm and mid centric with a good vocal performance. Different from Tandem’s lushness, what SDA-03 offers are speed and resolution that you can expect from a balanced armature. While bass lacks good texture due to its neutral quantity, it has good impact and speed. It will never win a basshead IEM shootout, but the performance is still admirable among single BA except perhaps when compared to the new type of single BA used in Ortofon’s and Grado’s. Mid is full, warm, slightly sweet and definitely creamy. Upper mid / lower treble has just enough edge to keep thing interesting without sounding overly bright. Treble is well extended, smooth with a decent amount of micro detail and sparkle. Not sparkly per se, but with just enough crispiness not to dull string instruments – though analytical it is not. When compared to other IEM that shares a classic Shure’s sound, like Philips SHE9850, the difference for SBA-03 is the grander / lusher (*while not over-the-top) of the overall presentation. While it is still not quite as good as Shure’s own SE530, SBA-03 is certainly giving it a good run for its money. To get a conventional single BA sounding this close to a flagship triple drivers in the old days itself is already an accomplishment on its own, certainly worthy to be called the second flagship of FA’s current line-up.
Pro: None.
Con: None.

7.    Fischer Audio Tandem (link)
Warm, mid centric sound from its dual drivers. Bass is a bit more than average in quantity and decent in quality. It has decent speed and shown some impact, but it won’t please basshead especially since it begins to roll off gently under 100Hz. Mid is dominating but not aggressive, full and lush in a sense but not particularly sweet or upfront. It is very well layered yet doesn’t give the usual extra-separation that dual drivers tend to have. It has good balance between smoothness and texture, almost trying to make vocal sweet but without being obvious about it. It certainly doesn’t sound quite like dual drivers to the ears yet it handles layer better than most single driver ever could. Treble extends decently upward though missing most of the top end sparkle and crispiness, making the overall presentation smooth and not particularly good for instruments such as strings and brass. It also lacks really good air and thus soundstage, which could have been better because of the ability to handle layer, only sounds decent at the end. This is why Tandem sound curious to the ears. It is a dual driver that doesn’t sound quite like a dual driver, yet it does show trait of dual driver in places least expected. Overall, Tandem is still quite a good sounding IEM for vocal listener seeking for warmth and smoothness. But those who want to find dual driver wow factor from Tandem might be disappointed.
Pro: Dual driver. Accessories.
Con: Microphonics

8.    Shure SE215 (link)
Warm, slightly rich but not obviously full, with good dynamic and soundstage. Bass is well bodied and above decent in quantity. Not enough to call a basshead IEM but more than enough to show good presence / impression. The downsides are that it isn’t a particularly fast or the deepest of bass, nor has the best impact around. It is more about listening to the bass rather than feeling the bass. Mid is the strength of the whole sound. Vocal is well textured, a little warm and sweet but not overly thick, slightly upfront but not in-the-face, keeping in line with Shure vocal centric house sound but not to become overly mid dominance that could drown out the bass and treble as older Shure tends to be.  Treble is decently extended to almost 16kHz before rolling off and missing the very tip. Like the bass, it is not quantitatively abundance enough to stand up on its own but still enough presence not to feel lacking. There are some graininess on the upper vocal and around 12kHz~13kHz. Not something annoying or uncommon at this price range but it reduces the overall refinement of sound. Soundstage is actually quite good and it is yet another strengths of SE215. Not the widest or most separated, but still above average and particularly good for its sound signature.
Pro: Price. Isolation. Build Quality
Con: Cable –earpeice socket.

9.    Sony XBA-1 (link)
Mellowed and specious mid centric sound with slight roll-off at both ends. Calling it a mid centric sound might be a bit misleading without further explanation – XBA-1 isn’t very strongly mid dominant or forward at all (hence ‘mellowed’), just that the mid range is the strength of its overall presentation - good texture and detail, not particular sweet in tone but good in vocal. Treble is decently crisp and clean, but rolls just a tiny bit off on the very top of the spectrum, over the 16kHz region. Bass extends decently low, but slowly rolls off in the sub-bass region. It is decent in quantity, but nothing that will appeal to basshead. The ‘visual’ reference of the frequency response will be best described as generally flat in the mid but tapered off at both ends. Soundstage is actually quite good since the overall presentation is a bit on the more mellowed and laid back side, which give a lot of space. As far as the whole presentation goes, XBA-1 is the kind that does nothing wrong, but also nothing spectacularly well. As a single BA, the level of performance is still very admirable and definitely some of the best among sub-$100 single BA.
Pro: Price. Build quality.
Con: None.

10.    Sleek Audio SA6 (discontinued) (link)
Warm, mid centric with some of the best vocal but doesn’t lack bass or treble. Mid has a full body that is especially good with vocal. The treble (T++ port) reaches quite far and gives enough detail to show some sparkle but not to a point of fatiguing. Bass (on B+ port, pin hole mod) is accurate and fast, though not the best or biggest impact I heard and lack a good resolution on depth, it seems to well suit the full mid. The soundstage is better than most but not the best there is. All and all, it presents a very musical sound that can easily make most music more engaging. The sound signature is a combination of all the nice characteristics to be looked for in a pair of IEM. But it falls short of being the best is because, though really good sounding, still could be a bit congesting on busy passage and lacks the best resolution and the body of sound to be truly great. For a single BA IEM however, the performance is admirable.
Pro: User tunable sound. Modular design. Sleek.
Con: Build Quality.

11.    Dunu I 3C-S (link)
Mid centric with decent extensions on both ends. It is what I’ll generally refer as the Shure house sound - a mid that isn’t necessary very forwarded, yet is good in texture and detail that gives the vocal a sense of sweet and intimacy. Though well extends to the sub-bass region, bass is rolling off slowly after mid bass and therefore doesn’t give a lot of depth and body, but still carries some impact. Treble too roll off at the top end with a very gentle fashion, very smooth but missing some sparkles and air. As with most mid centric sounding IEM, soundstage isn’t a strength of I 3C-S, but it does have very good intimacy that gives vocal a sense of realism. Compare to Fischer Audio SBA-03 (or MEElec A161), which also has a mid centric sound, I 3C-S is less extended on both ends and more mid forward. Same can be said when compared to the mellower, but still mid centric Sony XBA-1 as well. To push the mid back for a more neutral presentation, DUNU included an impedance adapter to pair with I 3C-S. While the adapter does improve the overall accuracy, it still doesn’t add enough top sparkle back. As a single BA, I 3C-S has a admirable performance that is well above that of Siren BA, but not nearly on the top of what singe BA can be. It is well suited for vocal centric, easy going music such as Pop, but might not have the technicality for the more accuracy demanding instrumental or Classical.
Pro: Build Quality. Accessories.
Con: None.

12.    BrookStone Clear Dual Drive Earbuds (link)
Warm, mid centric and laid back. Bass reaches down deep and lacks quantity to stand up on its own. It still has the very good texture over the notes, but tends not to come in full force or linger long enough to feel like a bass monster like the DDM series. Mid is what stands out the most in the whole presentation - it is not very forward, but enough to show character in the voice yet retain distance from the listener. Treble is decently extended but smooth overall. Like DDM2, it is at quantitatively enough to show micro detail and not appear quite dark or lacking with string or brass instruments, but sparkly it is not. Soundstage is above decent. Unlike the DDM2 which has an immersive soundstage, BsCDD has a more open stage though the mid centric presentation lacks good imaging or separation. In short, while retaining some of the good character from the Radius DDM series, BsCDD lacks a good punch of its own to go beyond standard set by either of the DDM.
Pro: DDM system for cheap.
Con: Build Quality. Availability.

13.    Fischer Audio FA-977 Jazz (link)
Mostly neutral with slight warmness on the mid with decent detail and good soundstage, much like a tuned-down SW-Xcape but with a little more forwardness. Bass has decent impact and speed but quantitatively smaller than average and roll off gently under 100Hz. Mid is slightly sweet and lush with good texture on the vocal, placed just a little forward but still shows good sense of space. Treble extends well right to 16k with good sparkle and micro-detail. While it might not be classified as being analytical, it is above average. Soundstage is above average with a sense of openness, but better on width than it is on depth.
Pro: Wood housing.
Con: Big housing.

14.    Xears Revolution Series XR120PRO II (link)
Mid centric, sweet, just a little smooth and with good detail. Bass gently rolls off from 120Hz or so and reached down to 30Hz, tight and has a decent speed, but only close to / a little above neutral in quantity. Mid is really where XR120PRO II stands out, sweet and only a tad warm while still remain crisp, clean and good in texture. Treble is well extended - crisp, sparkly and compliments the mid well to give good micro detail, though doesn’t stand out on its own in the overall presentation. Like Resonance Black Edition, the XR120PRO II is not particular upfront in presentation. It pulls just a tad further away from the listener and yet it is not too distanced to lose the intimacy. It is that small space between the music and the listener that gives it a better than average soundstage and a fainted sense of smoothness without being obviously tamed down. In many ways, XR120PRO II sounds like a warmer, less upper extension version of HifiMan RE0.
Pro: J-cord.
Con: Not for small ear canal. Deep insertion. No packaging.

15.    VSONIC GR06 (link)
Very warm and mid centric sound, GR06’s strength is in presenting texture and an upfront vocal. In a way, it shares a large portion of its sound signature with GR04, but much more upfront in the vocal and thus makes it less versatile when it comes to genre compatibility. Though a strong mid centric sound, the bass is by no mean weak in anyway. It still hits deep and impactful, but just not in the center of the whole presentation. Mid is where GR06 shines, with a lot sweetness and texture. Treble actually extends slightly further than GR04, but also feels slightly more busy as well. While it is crisp, it is not as clear as it can be as it can be slightly grainy at time. Soundstage is, as expected, sub-par when compared to other warm sounding IEM of the same caliber, like MEElec A151 and Creative In-Ear2. But in exchange, GR06 offers more texture and detail to the mid.
Pro: Accessories.
Con: Lack of chin slider.

16.    Creative Aurvana In-Ear2 (link)
Warm and smooth with a relatively full body mid. The listed frequency response is surprisingly accurate. Treble does extend fairly well but micro detail tends to get overshadowed by the warmness and takes a backseat in the overall presentation. Mid is full and dominant with good texture, which is particularly good for vocal. Bass is decent, not quantitatively large but in good amount, depth, and impact while not being too fast – a little more dynamic transducer like instead of balanced armature like. Soundstage is typical not a strong point for IEM with a fuller mid, In-Ear2 however performs better than expected. While there still isn’t enough air (because of the lack in micro detail from treble), the IEM is able to show a good sense of depth as the warmness doesn’t seem to mud up the overall resolution – perhaps this is the benefit of having an open-back design.
Pro: Sleek. Build quality. Accessories.
Con: Isolation.

17.    Rock It Sounds R-30 (link)
Warm, mid-centric with a similar but thicker, fuller and more upfront presentation when compared to R-20. Treble is decently extended but lacks good sparkle. Mid is full, sweet and rather thick, though smoother on the upper region due to the fullness. Bass has decent speed and impact, and also a little thick on the body. Soundstage is decent, would have been better if not somewhat limited by the thickness of the presentation. R-30 can be said to be a fuller sounding R-20, but the fundamental of the sound quality hasn’t been changed by much. At most, it is just a tiny step-up.
Pro: Ear sleeves for comfort.
Cons: Size. A bit expensive over R-20.

18.    Brainwavz M2 (link)
Warm and musical, but still maintains good degree of balance. While the treble is decently extended, it is in a smooth fashion and not quite as sparkly as I would like. Mid is fairly sweet with a slightly forward vocal, which works out really well but not overdone to the level of being mid centric. Bass is very snappy, impactful, dynamic and well bodied. It appears and scales out well when needed but doesn’t intrude into the mid. It serves as an accentuation rather than a distraction. Soundstage shows decent air and depth but lacks in width.
Pro: Price. Build quality. Replacement warranty.
Con: Easily loosen strain relief.

19.    Rock It Sounds R-20 (link)
Knowles Siren based single balanced armature and for the most parts it sounds very similar to SBA-01 - warm and musical with a full sounding mid, especially in the upper region. Treble is well extended though not quite as refine and lacks good sparkle. Mid is decently full with a sweet vocal, but a little harsh on the upper region when in loud volume. Bass is quite deep with a good speed and impact but not vest in body. Soundstage is about average. Given the similarity between sensitivity and impedance, it is likely R-20 and SBA-01 have the same Siren driver, the only noticeable difference in sound is that R-20 is a tiny bit more upfront. But it isn’t different enough to notice without very close A/Bing.
Pro: Same as SBA-01 but cheaper.
Con: Out performed by newer Siren.

20.    Fischer Audio SBA-01 (link)
Slightly warm and musical with a full sounding mid, especially in the upper region. Treble is well extended though not quite as refine and lacks good sparkle. Mid is decently full with a sweet vocal, but a little harsh on the upper region when in loud volume. Bass is quite deep with a good speed and impact but not vest in body. Soundstage is about average.
Pro: Small.
Con: Isolation

21.    Fischer Audio Eterna v2 (link)
Warm and musical, but smoother and less fun. Technically the v2 shows more control than v1. Treble rolls off early, lacks sparkle and detail. Mid is full to almost wet. Bass has decent impact and full bodied, dominating the overall sound though doesn’t bleed too much into other frequency. Soundstage is about average and lacks a real sense of air. Basically the new Eterna sounds like a warmer, smoother version of v1. While it is still technically not an accurate sounding IEM, the tuning definitely makes Eterna a different beast in my ears, trained. While the V1 has been rated highly for the fun sound (but not for it technically ability), the similar yet more polite v2 doesn’t quite seem to do the trick. Technically better or not, a preference is a preference.
Pro: Comfort.
Con: Not quite an upgrade over the original Eterna.

22.    VSONIC R04 (link)
Very warm, quite musical, mid-centric with a good vocal performance. Treble extends far enough, but has some unwanted peaks on the lower end and roll off too early at the upper end, giving the feeling of veil with a little rough edge. Mid is full, forward, sweet and well textured. Bass is slightly above neutral with decent impact, not quantitatively large in any sense but fairly good in quality and helps to accentuate the mid. Soundstage is only average but with better resolution than R02 Pro II.
Pro: Build quality. User adjustable nozzle angle.
Con: Availbility.

23.    DUNU Ares (link)
Warm, full, slightly lower mid centric with a good vocal. Bass extends low but in a roll-off fashion. Slightly slow in speed, not the big bass type but still fairly decent in body and texture. Mid is where the strength is. Well placed, slightly forward and sweet but not overly so. Lush, textured and detailed, especially good in slow vocal. Treble also extends decently far, but too in a roll-off fashion, just a tad too smooth and can use more sparkles. Soundstage is above average and surprisingly good for the warmish sound signature.
Pro: Build quality, Accessories. Sleek.
Con: Monster-like design.

24.    DUNU Crius (link)
Slightly warm, clean, a little bass light and slightly upper mid centric. If anything, Crius is the clean version of Ares, better at detail but loses some of the lushness. Bass is neutral and rolls off completely at the lower end. Mid is still where the strength is. A little sweet, but not as forwarded. It exchanges some of the texture and lushness for a better sense of space. While not abundantly more than Ares, treble gets better presented due to the reduction of mid and bass. Top end still slightly roll-off, but more sparkle and better micro detail. Soundstage loses some of the intimacy from Ares but gains better in transparency and imaging, still a slight win overall.
Pro: Build quality, Accessories. Sleek.
Con: Monster-like design.

25.    SoundMAGIC PL-50 (link)
Warm, smooth and easy going in general. Bass is neither big nor shy; Treble is neither bright nor too dull; Mid is full and dominant with a rather sweet vocal, which work fairly well in most genre of music. Soundstage is about average and better when used with silicone eartips.
Pro: Cheapest BA around. Accessories.
Con: Housing can use a stronger glue.

26.    Brainwavz M1 (link)
Warm, smooth, musical while a little laidback. Treble is decently extended but doesn’t have a lot of sparkle, smoother than that of M2. Mid is full, dominating and vocal is quite sweet. Bass has good body and decent impact though just a tad slow and mellow out the general sound impression. Above average soundstage but limited by its inabilities to present good airiness and form a detail image.
Pro: Price. Build quality. Accessories.
Con: Strain relief.

27.    SoundMAGIC EH11 (link)
Warm, smooth, upper mid centric yet slightly laid back at low volume and sounds more lively when the volume is turned up. The amount of bass is about neutral. While it can render some deep note, the quantity is not enough to impress unless on a fairly loud volume. Mid is the strength of the IEM.  Not particularly forward, but it does have a sense of thickness and warm to give texture and sweetness. Treble, like bass, is hiding behind the mid. It has the extension but not the presence to fully showcase micro detail. Soundstage is better than average due to vents on both sides of the transducer, but the mid centric sound limits the overall width.
Pro: Ear clip. Sporty.
Con: Might not be best for small ears.

28.    Philips SHE9850 (discontinued) (link)
Warm and decently full, musical but not to a point of fun sounding, a bit steely with music . Vocal is sweet and so is the mid (resembles classic Shure house sound). Treble changes a lot with the eartips used. Pairing with silicone eartips can sound a bit dull as treble roll off too early. Pairing with foam tips gives more treble at the price of a bit harshness, but it is still not a very detail sounding IEM. SHE9850 is definitely tuned with foam tips usage in mind and good with a pair of Shure olive, though Comply T100 does sound a bit smoother and less harsh. One point worth noting is the bass response. It is very good (both in quality and quantity) for a single BA transducer with accuracy, body and impact. Soundstage is decent but nothing to write home about.
Pro: Street price. Sleek. Accessories.
Con: Could use an even better cable.

29.    MEElectronics M11 (discontinued) (link)
Warm to slightly dark, smooth and laid back. Treble extents quite far but in much smoother, sparkle-less fashion. Mid is slightly recessed but not too far away. Bass has a fairly good body but not as impactful as M6 or M9 nor quantitatively large. Soundstage is decent with a fainted sense of airiness.
Pro: Price. Build quality.
Con: None.

30.    Xears Powerball PB120 Black Edition (link)
Mid centric, slow, dark, thick and veil. While the bass and treble do roll off a little at both ends, the actual problem lies in the presentation. It is distanced and laid back, making music sounds like they are blanketed, without any sense of energy and excitement. The mid, though stick out the most, is suffered from the same veil as the rest of the frequency. Because of the thickness, soundstage is below average due to the lack of air.
Pro: Cheaper on eBay.
Con: Long strain relief. No packaging.

31.    JAYS s-JAYS (discontinued)  (link)
Warm, mid centric, laid back and very smooth . Unamped, the sound can feel a bit veil. Everything sounds further back on both sides but lacks a sense of depth. Amped or with a slightly bright and powerful source, the detail and vocal can be brought back to the front and it opens up the soundstage, especially on the depth. Treble rolls off a bit early, so not very detail sounding. Bass is strong, but slightly lacking in clarity and speed - yet it is still very good for a single balanced armature transducer. In a sense, s-JAYS carries a little taste of dynamic transducer in its sound signature. Though it may be too smooth and laid back for some, it is a very fatigue free and relaxing IEM.
Pro: Street price. Sleek. Accessories. Build quality. Warranty.
Con: None.

32.    MEElectronics M16 (link)
Slightly on the mid centric side with a warmish tone. Bass and treble both have decent extension but do roll off gently at both ends and give way to the mid. Treble still shows some sense of sparkle and detail but mainly a half-step behind. Mid is slightly full, decently textured but not being overly sweet. Bass lacks a good attack and depth, but has a body just enough for the supporting role. Soundstage is a tad below average, but not enough to really complain about.
Pro: Build Quality, Price, Accessories.
Con: None.

33.    Shure E3c (discontinued)
Warm with a mildly mid centric sound, classily Shure. Bass and treble are decent though gently roll off at both end. Mid has a sense of warm and fullness in it but maintains a decent level of cleanness. Soundstage is a little below average but not terribly bad. Now it is known as SCL3.
Pro: Build quality.
Con: None.

34.    Fischer Audio Paradigm v.2 (link)
Slightly warm and decently dynamic.  Decent treble but not particularly analytical or lacking. Bass response goes down to 20Hz but not large in quantity, The strength of Paradigm v.2 lies in its clear vocal and mid range, yet remains fairly neutral without too much coloration. Soundstage is about average.
Pro: Price.
Cone: None.

35.    Maximo iM-390 (link)
Warm, fairly energetic, and musical, but doesn't have a lot of detail. Roll off at the upper treble while some roughness on the lower treble. Mid is full but not overly sweet, decent at vocal. Bass has good impact but slightly slow. Not quantitatively large though has a decent body. Decent soundstage but nothing to write home about.
Pro: Warranty. Build quality. Accessories.
Con: None.

36.    Ultimate Ears 200 (link)
Mid focus and easy going. Compared to UE100, it is just a tad more forwarded in the mid while better extended at both ends. Bass extends just as deep as UE100, but comes with proper impact and speed. It takes away some of the decay and body of UE100, but in return gives it a tighter control and better texture. As with UE100, Mid is, again, warm and on the fuller side, more upfront but not to a level of being sweet or in-the-face. It does however trade away some of the space between the listener and the music. Treble is well extended and shows sparkle, giving back the much needed crispiness and micro detail that are missing in the UE100. Soundstage is a tad below average due to the forwardness of the overall presentation - That is also where the biggest difference between UE100 and UE200 lie. It is the extra little things on UE200 that restores some of the liveliness back to the music while still maintaining the same easy going style. That alone should worth the extra $10 going from UE100 to UE200.
Pro: Build quality. Warranty. Isolation.
Con: None.

37.    Astello Radiance+
Warm, musical, mellow and smooth with a fairly full mid and bass, though it does roll off at the lower end. Treble and detail are there but not on the center stage. A relaxing sound signature that tends not to have any real fault with most music genre nor does it excels with any. Soundstage is pretty good due to the nature of its double-opened design.
Pro: Build quality.
Con: Availability. Isolation.

38.    Rock it Sounds R-10 (link)
Warm, laid back and somewhat mid centric. Bass begins to roll off after mid bass and disappear completely around 30Hz. Similar fashion of roll off can be observed on the treble region right above 12kHz, causing the lack of sparkle and air. Mid, while is the center of the presentation, is laid back, distanced and doesn’t have a lot of texture or detail to offer. With the lack of detail and air, soundstage is below average. As the lowest end of Rock It Sounds line-up, the R10 doesn’t carry any surprise. It is priced at $20 and for the most part, the sound quality is in line with other IEM that priced similarly.
Pro: Accessories.
Con: None.

39.    Ultimate Ears 100 (link)
Mid focus and easy going. Bass extends deep to the 20Hz and is just north of being neutral with a decent decay, but doesn’t feel particular fast with the lack if a good kick. It has more body than impact, behaves politely in all time. Mid is warm on the fuller side but not particularly sweet or very upfront, neither full of texture nor totally lacking, but well spaced to leave just enough air without losing intimacy. Treble extends to 16kHz but in a smooth and gentle way. It lacks sparkle and in a way, lacks good micro detail, making string instruments feel like losing their crispiness. Soundstage is about decent. UE100 is a very easy going IEM with no particular weakness in its sound. But on the other hand, there is really nothing particular good in the presentation as well. Being the lowest end of the UE line-up however, it is probably well suited for the average consumer with no particular requirement in sound.
Pro: Isolation. Warranty.
Con: Build quality.

40.    Cresyn C222E (link)
Similar to C230E – Still warm, but less full, not quite as dynamic and more mid centric, sweet vocal, decent extension on both ends though also roll off smoothly, has enough detail not to sound dark or feel severe lack of treble. Soundstage is average. Overall an easy going sound aims more toward general consumer
Pro: None.
Con: Availbility.

41.    Sony MDR-EX85SL
Warm, fairly energetic and on the full side, fairly mid centric. Bass has decent impact but only above average quantity wise and tends to be a bit muddy and boomy. Mid is full with a good sense of sweetness while not overly intimate. Treble is smooth and lacks sparkle or crispiness. An easy going sound.
Pro: None.
Con: Price. A lot of fake.

42.    Maike MK-EL5031 (link)
Mid centric with a roll off treble. The bass reaches low but lacks body to back it up. Mid is the most forwarded of the whole presentation yet it is grainy and unrefined. Treble is too grainy at the lower end but roll off at the top, missing out on a lot of sparkle and micro-detail. Soundstage is only decent; still it is better than most IEM of the same price range. Overall the Maike is exactly what you can expect from a $6 IEM with a mainstream tuning. It is not offensive in anyway, but it doesn’t surprise much as well.
Pro: None.
Con: None.
Feb 23, 2011 at 8:49 AM Post #6 of 1,242
Warm + Sweet
A warm and sweet sound signature is a cross between a bass oriented and a mid centric sound. Bass strong but not overwhelming while vocal is still relatively forward, though not particular detail in the treble. It is a sound that is generally recognized for being-nothing-wrong, but at the same time doesn’t have any particular strength.



1.    LEAR LCM-5 (link)
Warm, rich, well extended to both ends, and somewhere between stage-monitor-like and being musical with a smooth top. Bass is a bit more than neutral, but far from bass monster quantitatively. It reaches down to sub-bass, well bodied and textured with a good amount of impact, and has a really good decay as well, almost like a good dynamic transducer. Mid is the center of the presentation as it is sweet, detailed, rich but not overly forward. It isn’t really a mid-centric sound as it is still in-line with bass as far as forwardness is concerned, but it is the liquidity in its presentation that draws the listener’s attention naturally and makes for a beautiful vocal that can even compared to mid-centric IEM. Treble is well extended as well, crisp and sparkly but it is half-a-step behind mid and bass. This gives it a sense of smoothness but not being veil in anyway. Micro detail is still all there, but they are not the focus. Soundstage is well above average but not the widest ever – more enveloping than it is open-ended, but with well rendered layers. Image and position suffer slightly due to the richness, but it is part of the appeal of having a warm sound and I don’t consider it a downside that much. With the Monitor Sound Tuned Adapter, LCM-5 takes on a different a different personality that is more neutral and reference flat in frequency response, almost like Etymotic ER4S with a richer body. The transformation with and without MSTA is somewhat similar to ER4S and ER4P, except it is more pronounced and doesn’t drop in SQ. Bass still extends down deeply, but along with the mid they both take a back seat to upper vocal and treble. The focus has shifted from the more stage-monitor-like to a more reference-analytical-monitor-like presentation. However, there is still a small amount of fullness left in the mid and bass so it isn’t particularly sterile or cold like an Etymotic. But the similarity in brightness and hyper-detailed presentation are an unmistakably sign that MSTA is meant to tune LCM-5 to be as accurate as possible. Besides being more accurate on the frequency response curve, one area of noticeable improvement is the soundstage. The original warmer, richer sound tends to cloud the image just a tiny bit by limiting how far the soundstage can expend. With the MSTA, the soundstage regains its open-ended definition.
Pro: Top-tier sound. Build quality.
Con: Cable might look underwhelmed at first.

2.    j-phonic K2 SP (link)
Neutral to slight warm, with an excellent end-to-end extension and tonal balance. While gently roll off at the sub-bass region, bass is still deep, impactful, well bodied, decayed and textured with quantity matching and the quality better of TF10’s dual woofer. Mid is also well textured, slightly sweet and upfront, keeping in pace with the bass while not overly done. Vocal shows just a fainted sense of intimacy but in just the right distance not to be in-the-face / too close. Treble is also in line with the rest of the frequency with an almost impeccable quantity and quality. Detail and sparkle is in the right amount not to make the IEM sounding bright or dark, overly analytical or feel the lack there of.  Soundstage is above average, but not extremely wide. If there is a weakness that I was forced to accuse K2 SP for, it will be that it doesn’t render soundstage as great as the rest of its sound. It is still quite good, but it is in a small venue instead of a large theater.
Pro: Sleek, Build quality, Accessories, SQ.
Con: Price.

3.    VSONIC GR01 (link)
The other flagship from VSONIC. Warm and sweet sound, much like UE700. Treble extends just a hair better than UE700 and doesn’t feel lacking air. Very well behaved without any emphasis on brightness, aggressiveness or graininess while keeping a delicate balance between the warm+sweet house-sound and offering great amount of detail. However, analytical listener who are used to brightness probably won’t find it enough. Mid is clean and detail, slightly on the warm side but neither particularly upfront nor recessed. If anything, it has better texture and fullness than that of DBA-02 or B2, and even slightly ahead of UE700. Bass reaches down quite deep with decent quality but a little short on quantity. It comes slightly short in impact when compared to UE700 and needless to say, far less in amount and depth than that of GR07. Though the amount of bass isn’t much more than DBA-02/B2, it does have better texture and decay that gives it a more solid body. Soundstage is quite good. Not as wide as GR07 but has a better resolution and layer. Overall, the amounts of bass, mid and treble are in good balance and give GR01 a warm and slightly sweet sound signature that is tilting toward being neutral in presentation. It doesn’t quite have the kind of fun and dynamic sound that is found on lower end VSONIC. However, it is much refined – tight, detail, accurate, and very well controlled with a right mix of technicality and musicality, showing how careful tuning can push the limitation of the TWFK drivers. While GR01 does sound better than most TWFK based IEM, it doesn’t surpass GR07 by much – more polite and more balance technically, GR01 represents another highly tuned IEM that can be compared face to face to GR07 without coming short. Where GR07 excels in texture, bass and soundstage, GR01 excels in detail, control and linearity in frequency response.
Pro: Best sounding TWFK dual driver yet. Accessories.
Con: Slightly longish body. More expensive compared to other TWFK. Mcrophonics.

4.    TDK BA200 (link)
Warm and sweet like the rest of the TDK’s IEM family but comes in more of a stage monitor tuning that resembles the Westone UM series. Like any good monitor, bass comes in a fairly neutral flavor. While it is tight, it still runs deep, impactful and good in texture. More importantly, it does come out when it is called for and never feel lacking in anyway except for a basshead. Mid is sweet, but not overly full or particular upfront. It is well distanced, showing space between the singer and the listener while still warm and have a decent sense of intimacy and texture. Treble is well extended but in a smooth way. Delicacy and detail are kept in place by having just enough sparkles and crispiness. Overall, neither one particular element stands out on its own where the whole presentation is rich but not lush and make for both a good stage monitor as well as day-to-day IEM
Pro: Top-tier sound for a dual driver price. Build quality. Accessories. Not picky on source.
Con: Slightly big Y-splitter. Availability.


5.    HifiMan RE262 (link)
Warm, full, silky smooth yet articulated, full of texture and detail. Musical and sufficiently technical. Bass runs deep to the 10Hz region and doesn’t have any strange bump anywhere. The quantity is not large by definition, but comes with good texture, body and decay. Able to showcases the quality and present of bass, while does not overwhelm other frequency range. Mid range is the sweet spot of the whole sound. It is dominant but not overly forward; it is sweet but not overly full; it is textured, good in timbre and well spaced, which in term makes the vocal sounds effortlessly real, as if in live. Treble is crispy and decently extended. Not quite as detail as RE0 or ER4S, but it is not lacking compared to most other non analytical IEM. It is half-step behind the mid but still able to function as a good supporting role to the overall presentation. Most importantly, though overly smooth and sibilant-free, it remains edgy enough so it won’t sound dark. Soundstage is very well done - not endlessly huge, but it is very spacious, immersive, well placed and fairly 3D, which is something rare in a mid dominating sound. At first, RE262 might appear to be an IEM that only do well in vocal, but it is surprising adaptive. Granted that it might be a bit too thick for very fast music, it is quite well for Classical and most instrumental music as well, especially since separation and placement are really good on the wide soundstage. [UPDATE] The final release of RE262 will have TRRS plug with various adapters.
Pro: One of the best dynamic IEM around.
Con: Amp to sound best.

6.    VSONIC GR07 (link)
Warm, remains fairly musical while keeping a good end-to-end extension in a fairly natural fashion. While there is still a very small hint of edginess in the lower region, treble is crisp and extended, accentuates the overall presentation by adding detail but does not stand out by itself. Mid is on the fuller side but not obviously forwarded or as sweet as R04 (from the same company). Instead, it focuses on presenting layers and texture, plus a good sense of space, separation and resolution. Bass is close to being neutral but it has very good impact and depth, especially since sub-bass is fairly well rendered. It complements the mid well but at the same time is able to hold up on its own. Soundstage is excellent - though better on the lateral with good separation than on portraying depth, thus not the best there is. GR07 is not a ‘wow’ type of IEM in first listen. Its strength lies within the control and refinement on presenting micro detail over the whole frequency range, while at the same time trying to be as natural as possible without stressing the listener. This allows for fatigue-free long listening session in low volume while not losing any focus – an excellent quality for stage monitoring, though could be considered as not being exciting enough or even boring.
Pro: Price. Good build quality.
Con: Availability.

7.    Ortofon e-Q5 (link)
Warm, sweat and smooth with a good sense of balance and detail, less mid focus compared to e-Q7. Bass loses a bit of impact and quantity from e-Q7, but gain better depth and slightly more texture. Mid is still sweet with good body but not quite as forward as e-Q7. While still a dominating factor in the overall sound, it allows the other frequency to play a bigger role. Treble no longer has the slight roll off at the top like e-Q7 but extends at a very smooth yet detail way, sparkly while not bright in any sense. Soundstage is also improved greatly over e-Q7. While it might not be a lot wider, it is airier, more transparent with better depth and layers. The moving armature transducer perfectly marries the technical side of an armature driver with the warm, lushness of dynamic driver.
Pro: Moving armature. Build Quality. One of the best sounding single armature IEM.
Con: Price. Fit.

8.    HifiMan RE400 (link)
Warm, calm, a sense of neutrality almost like a stage monitor while still has a good degree of musicality in its presentation. Bass runs deep down to the 20Hz region, well bodied and comes with good low end rumbling. It is however quantitatively only a bit more than neutral. Mid is sweet, detailed and textured. It is thick but not overly so, almost can be called a mid-centric sound if not for the well complimented bass. Treble extends high, but mostly in a gentle fashion so all the sparkles tend to be just half-a-step behind the rest of the frequency. Analytical listener need not apply, especially if you are a fan of RE272 or RE0. RE262’s fan on the other hand might find RE400 to be closer to their heart, but it doesn’t quite have the same euphonic feeling. Soundstage is above average but not excessively wide as the whole presentation is neither upfront nor very far away, rather it is immersive and surrounding like sitting in the third role of a small theatre.
Pro: Price. Best built in HifiMan yet. All-arounder sound.
Con: None.

9.    Monster Turbine Pro Copper (link)
Warm, sweet, full and smooth. Bass is hard hitting, deep, well textured but also well rounded and not overly aggressive. While not a bass monster in nature, it has the quantity that can easily put smile on a basshead and the texture, speed, and proper decay not to sound muddy. Mid is forwarded, but not overly full. It is sweet but not in-your-face, keeping just enough distance not to become mid-centric, yet gives a sense of intimacy in vocal.  The mid and bass complement each other very well and do not overpower one another at anytime, making it the backbone of the Copper’s sound. Treble is well extended, but lacks just a tiny bit of extra sparkle on the top to fully showcase the crispiness of string or brass instruments on its own. As a whole however, the treble still acts well to accentuate the mid and bass presentation without appear to be lacking. Soundstage is only decent, as expected on a full sounding IEM and there is nothing to be faulted for.
Pro: Sleek. Accessories. Life warranty and one time free replacement.
Con: Eartips sizes, Driver flex.

10.    Sony XBA-4 (link)
Mellowed mid with a strong bass and better extended treble – warm, decently sweet, full bodied yet still good in soundstage. Bass reaches down to 20Hz easily, but deep end rumble isn’t very obvious due to the equally strong mid-bass region that gives more body than roar. Mid, as said, carries the same mellow’ish presentation that has good texture and detail but not particularly upfront. Treble extends all the way up and offer good sparkles and crispiness, mainly as a supporting role in the whole presentation rather than standing out as an element on its own. It can however sound a little metallic when the volume is turned too high. The good news is that it doesn’t have any sibilance issue at all, making it the first top-end Sony since EX700 that isn’t plagued by over-brightness and actually sounds rather smooth. Soundstage, like XBA-1, benefits from the same mellowed and laid back tuning and actually is pretty good as well. As a quad BA, XBA-4 technically isn’t quite as strong as other quad like the Westone 4 (which is almost US$300 more expensive). However, XBA-4 offers a very unique tuning of its own - reminiscence of a closed-back circumaural that is smooth, relaxing, and often musical – hours and hours of listening can easily go by without any stress on the listener, and that’s the strength of XBA-4.
Pro: Quad drivers. Build quality. First sibilance-less top Sony.
Con: Low impedance.

11.    RedGiant A03 Ossicle (link)
On the stock single flange, A03 is relatively neutral in FR curve with a slightly brighter upper vocal while the bass is a little short on decay, and thus a lack of body and texture on the lower end. On the big-flanges, the emphasis is on bass quality and quantity, but at the cost of an overly smoothed out treble. With the single flange from Atomic Floyd (which isn’t sold separately but only comes with AF’s IEM), it achieves the best compromise between bass body and treble detail. But even with different eartips, A03 is still a warm and specious sounding IEM, though more specious on the bi-flanges than on the single flange. It has the same musicality as A00, but technically much tighter. The only real weakness of the whole presentation is in the mid. While the main vocal region over 1kHz is decently forwarded, it does sound a little thin and lacking texture at the same time. The smoking gun seems to be pointing at a slight dip in the lower mid region, around the 450-500Hz area to be precise. A 2-3dB of boosting in this area is all it takes to add back the texture and makes vocal beautiful again. Overall, A03 is one of the better sounding dual dynamic in the market and rival that of Radius DDM2 with a more balanced presentation. However, it does take a bit more effort to get the ideal sound out of it.
Pro: Build Quality, Price, Accessories.
Con: Fit.

12.    Sony MH1C / Sony Ericsson MH1 (link)
Warm and sweet, and well balanced in all frequencies. Bass extends down to 10Hz and hits with really good quantity and quality. Not the fastest or biggest impact around, but nothing to be ashamed of even among bass monster. Mid is sweet and right in the butter zone to give the right balance of intimacy and texture while still maintains a good sense of layer and space. Treble extends up to the very top, but it is more about smoothness than it is brightness. While analytical listeners might not find the sparkle or crispiness to be enough for their taste, it still however compliments the mid and bass impeccably and doesn’t feel lacking in anyway. Soundstage is rather good. By no mean the best of the best or endlessly large, it does portrait width and depth in a very 3D, well layered and resolving manner within its own confine. An excellent multi-genre all-arounder.
Pro: Price. Build quality. Even better value than EX600.
Con: Flat over-the-neck asymmetrical cable design.

13.    Sunrise Xcape Impressive Edition (link)
Warm, sweet, full and smooth. Bass is full, punchy, well bodied though misses some of the really deep note. It is a good balance between quantity and quality and should be quite satisfiable except for the most serious of bass addict. Mid is a little on the lush side and more rounded but slightly less textured compared to the original Xcape. It takes away a little of the technicality but adds back some intimacy and richness to the mix. Treble, while still decent, takes a step back on the whole presentation. It has the same sparkle, but in smaller scale and doesn’t sound quite as crisp as the original Xcape. While not totally lacking in micro detail, it is not quite analytical. The overall sound has shifted from the original Xcape’s upper-mid-lower-treble’s detail to more of a lower-mid-upper-bass’s texture. Soundstage is above average. It might not have the same dark background as the original Xcape, the overall positioning and imaging are improved and feel less 2D.
Pro:  Better sounding than the previous Xcape v2.
Con:  Nope.

14.    Sony MDR-EX600 (link)
Warm, laid back and specious. Bass extends the rather deep to the sub-bass region with good texture, but quantitatively only above neutral and not large by any mean. Similar observation can be said on the mid as well – good detail and texture but not particularly upfront or sweet. This gives a presentation that is well controlled and fairly neutral, but at the same time more laid back and specious. However, upper mid  (especially female vocal) is grainy, but not edgy or sibilant. Treble rolls off a bit too early on the top, missing some of the top-end sparkle beyond 15kHz. Despite these nuisances, the IEM still maintains a good balance in frequency response. The mid-to-bass performance is what winning the show. While upper-mid to treble isn’t exactly bad per se, those who pay attention mostly to female vocal or crispiness in violin and cymbal might not find the EX600 best of choice. On the good side – the lacking of isolation (which grants better openness) plus the overall laidback presentation gives the IEM a really good soundstage, even though the transparency is slightly hindered by the lack of air beyond 15kHz.
Pro: One of the best valued dynamic IEM Sony ever made.  Accessories.
Con: Availability in the West. Fit. Isolation.

15.    TDK EB950 (link)
Warm and sweet sounding with a fairly strong lower end response. Bass can be slightly boomy at time but not aggressive. It can almost be classified as being bass dominated if not for the equally dominating mid range. Together they complement each other and present a sound that is fun and energetic. Treble, while not lacking, is a step behind the mid and bass. The light amount of sparkles adds detail to the overall sound but not an element of its own. While analytical listener would probably find it to be insufficient, casual listener will likely to enjoy the blend that is forwarded, dynamic, musical and fatigue free. Soundstage is about average, neither good nor particular bad in any aspects. Overall, EB950 is a high energy and easy-going IEM to listen to and best suited for casual listeners who are looking more for enjoyment rather than technical accuracy. As such, it is probably most suitable for more mainstream music as well. While it might not be the most accurate sounding IEM in the sub$100 market, it still compares really well to other popular choices in the same bucket such as HifiMan RE0 and Shure SE215.
Pro: Price/performance ratio.
Con: None.

16.    Phonak Audéo PFE 022 Perfect Bass (link)
Very warm, smooth, musical and even a little dark. Almost a classic bass oriented sound if not for a decent mid. Treble extends fairly well, but very smooth. Sparkles and crispiness still present, though taking a big step back behinds the mid and bass.  Mid has full body but not overly done, giving sweetness to the vocal while still maintain a decent sense of layers.  Bass has good quantity and quality – it reaches very low, almost big enough for bass head, yet still well textured and fairly impactful, though just a tad slow for balanced armature (but perfectly fine when compared to most dynamic based IEM). Soundstage is a little below average, no doubt a trade off for the added warmness. Compared to the original PFE with black filter (which is more musical, bassier of the two original filters), the big difference is on the bass region. It has a much more textured and bigger bass to support the vocal. But there are downsides as well – compared to the open sounding grey filter and the musical while still fairly balanced sounding black filter, the perfect bass  green filter sounds more compressed, losing a bit of resolution and dynamic range at the same time. Another more minor downside it requires just little more volume compared to the original PFE as the new green filter adds a little more acoustic impedance to the IEM and lower the sensitivity a bit (though it is not listed on spec). Still, if you were to consider the Perfect Bass series as an independent product of its own at its targeted price range, the overall performance is very admirable.
Pro: Price. Upgradeable to original PFE. Comfort. Two years warranty.
Con: Availability. Accessories compared to the original PFE.

17.    HiSound Audio Popo (link)
It is hard to define how ‘woody’ sounds like by words, but there is always a sense of lushness caused by reverberation of the wooden IEM housing that are pleasing to the ears, though it might not be the most accurate sounding. Like many woody IEM, Battleflag (Popo) carries the lushness of the wood into its warm and sweet sound signature. While it is quantitatively above average, bass can often be boomy but shallow in depth. However, it is not boomy enough to be offensive and in fact, quite enjoyable for casual listening. Though it is classified as being sweet sounding, the mid isn’t particularly forward. It has enough warm and thickness to keep pace with bass and give it some sweetness, but back away enough to reserve a sense of space between the signer and the listener. Treble has good extension but missing some of the top end sparkle – not something very noticeable unless you are looking for it. It is decently crisp but overall smooth and tends to trail behind the mid and bass. Soundstage is pretty good, airy, specious but more immersive than it is transparent. Technically, Battleflag is not strong in any particular area. But as a whole, the sum is larger than its parts. It is rich, it is lush, and most importantly, it is fun and relaxing to listen to.
Pro: Price. It sounds much better than its name.
Con: Name. Lack of chin slider. Very mild driver flex.

18.    HifiMan RE1 (link)
Slightly dark by itself but very smooth, musical and forgiving, must be amped well with a fast and detail amp or a clean, digital sounding source to reveal its potential. Treble, when amped well, is smooth but still decently revealing with a small hint of sparkle. Mid is a bit of the lush size, full but not thick, sweet but not veil. Bass is not big by quantity, but flow with the mid with a good body. Soundstage is natural and wide. Overall a very relaxing, laid back presentation.
Pro: Lush and euphonic.
Con: Amping needed. Quite source dependant. Isolation.

19.    TDK BA100 (link)
Warm and sweet sound, but almost on the opposite end on presentation in comparison to the lively EB950. Technically perhaps slightly more accurate than EB950, BA100 lacks a sense of dynamic and musicality. Bass is slightly higher in amount than being neutral, neither particular deep nor impactful. It is however well in line with the mid, in a fairly unremarkable way no less. With the treble mostly smoothed out and lacking of good sparkle and crispiness, the overall sound is on the thick and slow side, blurring out some of the lower end texture. The whole presentation is overly compensated to a point where smooth becomes BA100’s only flaw, as the life and edge of the music are sucked out from the sound itself and all it left is a sense of veil, almost like listening to an old Shure model. Due to the lack of air, soundstage is only below average. At this point, you might start asking whether BA100 is really that bad? No. It is still technically better than a lot of lower end single balanced armature IEM. However, it definitely comes short when compared to other good IEM within its MSRP of $200. The good news is that the street price is so low these days (as low as $50 on Amazon), it still makes for very a decent choice.
Pro: Low street price. Build quality. Accessories.
Con: Scary MSRP. Earpieces are on the large size.

20.    Dunu Tai Chi (link)
Being a tunable IEM, it has two faces: with the bass port sealed, it is has a warm yet fairly neutral presentation; with the bass port opened, the bass starts to steal the show. Beside the different of bass, lower treble / upper mid can be tuned by using either the included Sony Hybrid clone (less) or the grey eartips (more). Since the difference isn’t nearly as significant as the bass port, the grey eartips is simply a no-brainer for giving just a tad more micro-detail. Upper treble is mostly unaffected by eartips and has good extension and sparkle. It isn’t exactly analytical but doesn’t feel lacking either. Mid on the other hand stays relatively clear regardless of what bass port or eartips configuration are used. It isn’t particularly forwarded, but stays in line with the rest of the frequency response and therefore doesn’t sound recessed. Soundstage is above average with good instrument separation. As the flagship, Tai Chi is not only the best sounding IEM DUNU ever made, it is probably the best balanced sounding IEM in the whole line-up as well. It plays with almost every genre of music, even though it might not excel in any particular. On the other hand, this maybe Tai Chi only weakness as well Already an excellent all-arounder, what Tai Chi needs is one edge that set itself above and beyond other IEM around the same price range.
Pro: Build Quality. Accessories. User Tunable Sound.
Con: Tiny damper.

21.    Fischer Audio Ceramique (link)
Warm and sweet, not nearly as crisp but grander overall. Bass reaches down deep and a little boomy around the 250Hz region. While it is quantitatively above average, it is neither particularly fast nor hard hitting, but good in presenting body and depth which let the slight bass bleed acceptable. Mid is warm, sweet and on the full side. Like CC51, it is distanced but not recessed and has a better sense of space and layer. Treble is well extended but a step behind the mid and bass. While it might not be as crisp as CC51, the amount of detail and sparkle are still enough not to feel lacking. As like treble in CC51, it acts more as an accentuation rather than an element of its own, though milder in presentation and gives a smooth and cozy impression. Soundstage is rather good even with the slightly boomy bass as the overall presentation feels grander than that of CC51 yet still remains intimate. Despite suffering from issues on build and design, Ceramique is still able to hold up on its own in sound quality. The warm and cozy sound signature is particular good for a laid back, relax listening session.
Pro: Ceramic housing
Con: Weight. Poor cable design. No left /right mark. One size fit all eartips. Not for small ears.

22.    Fischer Audio Paradigm v.3 (link)
Warm, sweet, full and smooth. Bass is not large but has good depth, body and decent hit when called for. Mid, like X-IE, is lush and well rounded but more upfront. Not the best textured vocal but it is smooth, full and intimate. Treble has good sparkle and detail but a half step back behind the mid, lacks the up most crispiness. Soundstage is decent. Not quite as airy as X-IE due to the more forwarded mid, but it becomes more enveloping. While Paradigm v.3 also has a kind of relaxing sound as Ceramique, the main difference is that Paradigm v.3 is more neutral in presentation and thus ever slightly more laid back that the fuller / lusher sounding Ceramique. While both will make great choice for fatigue-free listening, Paradigm v.3 perhaps is better for care-free / background listening.
Pro: Microphonics.
Con: Housing can be slightly large.

23.    Sunrise Xcape v2 (link)
Warm and smooth with a sense of thickness. Bass is quick and impactful with a very decent quantity, but lacks just a tad of depth on the lower end. Mid is slightly further away but not being recessed, full and resonating which gives a sense of thickness and makes the mid sounding a tad lazy and veil. Though extends decently, treble is overly smooth and lacks sparkles, steering the overall presentation slightly toward being dark. Soundstage is decent but limited by the thick mid and smooth treble, where air is lacking.
Pro: Improved build quality.
Con: Not quite as good sound as the original Xcape.

24.    Xears Turbo Devices TD III PRO Blackwood (discontinued) (link)
Warm and sweet like Resonance, but cleaner, better extended, more dynamic and livelier. Bass reaches down deep to the 10Hz region with good quantity and quality. Unlike Resonance, which is more mid-bass than anything else, TD III PRO shows proper rumble and decent texture. Not a bass monster per se, but enough to put smile on your average bass seeker. Mid is warm, sweet and full of texture, good in vocal but not overly so to sound like mid dominance. Treble is well extended to 16kHz, just shy of XR120PRO II but still the second best in this review. It is crisp and sparkly, just doesn’t sound quite as clean and detail as XR120PRO II and has a tiny bit of edginess in it. If we were to consider the overall presentation however, the treble on TD III PRO is better balanced with the rest of the frequency. Soundstage is better than average and matching that of XR120PRO II. While XR120PRO II offers a more open and specious feeling, TD II PRO is more immersive with better layering and distance. The strength of TD III PRO is in its presentation - lively, rich and fun to listen, easily one of the best sounding IEM with wooden housing. This model has been discontinued and replaced by the TD III Pro v2 which has fabric sleeve cable and improved build quality.
Pro: eBay price. Wooden housing.
Con: High MSRP. Build quality.

25.    Brainwavz M5 (link)
Sound signature wise, M5 is warm and sweet with good extension on both ends, like a mid forward version of the M4. Bass is big and well extended to 20Hz, but the boominess on the upper bass somehow shadows the lower end texture and body, making the overall bass notes sound shallower than it actually is, sounding more fun and punchy rather than deep and rumbling. Mid, though more forwarded when compared to the M4, isn’t nearly as colored or in-your-face-sweet as the older M series (M1, M2 and M3). It is quantitatively more neutral in comparison, but still comes with really good detail and texture to stand firm to the bass rather than get flooded. Treble is where M5 shows the most resemblance to M4. It is well extended, crisp, detailed but not edgy. The only part it doesn’t measure up quite as good is in the overall clarity and micro-detail retrieval. Still, it is a very major step-up over the older M series in these areas. Soundstage is fair, decently wide and airy but nothing spectacular.
Pro: Built quality. Price. Accessories.
Con: None.

26.    MEElectronics CC51 (link)
Warm and sweet with a slightly crispy treble, perhaps a blend of all the good parts from CX21 and CX31. Bass is decent in both quality and quantity, with a balance of speed, impact, decay and body. If any, it can be slightly boomy at the 250Hz region, but nothing offensive. Mid is warm, sweet and slightly on the full side. Slight distanced but not recessed. It has a good sense of space in the presentation thus doesn’t become overly thick because of the fullness. Treble is a tiny step behind in the whole presentation but still provides a very good amount of sparkle and crispiness. It helps to accentuate rather than try to dominate, giving detail but in a gentler fashion.  Soundstage is also intimate and decent, though more in height than in width or depth.
Pro: Sleek. Ceramic housing. Build quality.
Con: Not for small ear canal.

27.    Spider realvoice (link)
Very warm, sweet, relaxing yet not laid back and with a smooth upper end. Bass hits hard and has a full body. It can get slightly boomy at time which results in texture lost, but overall it remains in relatively good control and doesn’t become muddy. Mid is the strength of the overall presentation, pairing well with the bass but not overly done. It is warm to almost lush, sweet, intimate, well textured but not excessively up-front. It feels like the singer is right there with you, but not singing into your face or become overly vocal dominance that drowns out the small detail. Treble has sparkle, but small in amount and takes a step back in the overall presentation. It rolls off just a bit too early at 15kHz, but the lower end of the treble is able to maintain just enough micro detail not to feel overly smooth or totally lacking. However, the lack of upper extension translates to the damping of transparency and air. Because of that, soundstage is a little below average, which is not something uncommon for a very vocal centric sound. Coloration is really the key with realvoice. While there are other IEM in the same price range that are technically better or even a few that also do vocal quite well, the realvoice is really able to standout on its own by offering a distinct vocal that is relaxing, warm-and-fuzzy to a point of almost euphonic. It is the kind of IEM that wants you to listen to the music instead of listen to the IEM – and realvoice is doing a good job at that.
Pro: Build quality. Sleek. Vocal.
Con: Might not be best for non-vocal music.

28.    DUNU Crater (link)
Warm and sweet, neither forwarded nor laidback but with a slightly excessive feeling of weightiness due to mid-bass. Bass runs deep with good control and decent impact, but the upper region around 500Hz to 1kHz is a few dB too high – not as much on creating boominess but it muddies up the lower vocal noticeably. Mid isn’t forward in nature but it is clean, and somewhat bland. Treble extends well, but overly smooth after 12kHz so it lacks a sense of air. The lower treble region is also slightly grainy. Soundstage is decent, but nothing to write home about. For all its weaknesses, the IEM doesn’t have much of any major flaw. It compared well to many sub-$100 IEM like GR06 and Siren based single BA IEM such as the Sherwood SE-777 or MEElec A151. With a little EQ to reduce mid-bass and boost the upper treble, it can even edge out on most of them.
Pro: Build Quality. Accessories.
Con: None.

29.    Astrotec AM90 (link)
Very similar to both A151 and SE-777, but with better soundstage. Very warm and fairly musical, with a full sounding mid and bass. Treble is clean, very well extended but smooth, capable of showing a good degree of fine detail yet it is not the highlight of the sound. Mid is warm and full, slightly forward with a sweet vocal. Bass is also warm and bigger than average body, but slightly slower than expected and do not have a very strong impact, not quite a bass monster and roll off at near 20Hz yet a very good performance (both quality and quantity wise) as far as BA based IEM is concerned. The main different between AM90 to SE-777 or A151 is soundstage, which is noticeably wider than the later two. Though the soundstage has been improved, overall it is still relatively minor. While I do prefer AM90 a bit more, it is still more or less on the same level as SE-777 and A151 as far as technical ability goes.
Pro: One of the best sounding Siren IEM. Build Quality. Accessories.
Con: None

30.    MEElectronics A151 (link)
Very similar to SE-777 in overall sound - Very warm and fairly musical, with a full sounding mid and bass. Treble is clean, very well extended but smooth, capable of showing a good degree of fine detail yet it is not the highlight of the sound. Mid is warm and full, slightly forward with a sweet vocal. Bass is also warm and bigger than average body, but slightly slower than expected and do not have a very strong impact, not quite a bass monster and roll off at near 20Hz yet a very good performance (both quality and quantity wise) as far as BA based IEM is concerned. Soundstage is average due to the slightly forward mid, but there is still a good sense of airiness in it.
Pro: One of the best sounding Siren based IEM there is. Build Quality. Sleek.
Con: None

31.    Sherwood SE-777 (discontinued) (link)
Very warm and fairly musical, with a full sounding mid and bass. Treble is clean, very well extended but smooth, capable of showing a good degree of fine detail yet it is not the highlight of the sound. Mid is warm and full, slightly forward with a sweet vocal. Bass is also warm and bigger than average body, but slightly slower than expected and do not have a very strong impact, not quite a bass monster and roll off at near 20Hz yet a very good performance (both quality and quantity wise) as far as BA based IEM is concerned. Soundstage is average due to the slightly forward mid, but there is still a good sense of airiness in it.
Pro: Build quality. Price.  Accessories.
Con: Eartips. Not for small outer ears.

32.    Brainwavz M3 (link)
Warm and musical, silky smoother in a more laid back manner with an emphasis on a more spacious presentation. Bass loses a little of its transient and attack from the M2, but increases in body and decay, giving a fuller and thicker impression but without being overly slow and muddy. Mid is full and sweet, yet seems to be slightly further away than M2. Treble is smooth and slightly roll off at the top. Too few sparkle and micro detail and gives a slightly darkish impression. Soundstage is decently big but also intimate at the same time. Switching from M2 to M3 feels like going from a big quiet open theater where the singer is right in front of you to a small venue or an old jazz bar where the singer is a couple of feet away. It is the same kind of warmish intimacy that surrounds the listener which is comfortable and relaxing.
Pro: Build quality. Replacement warranty.
Con: Not a major upgrade from M2.

33.    Xears Resonance Black Edition (link)
Warm and a little sweet, smooth and a little roll off at both ends. Bass has more than decent quantity, even has some happy (*not excessive) mid-bass hump but fairly well controlled. Though it doesn’t go very deep, the overall speed and decent decay make the hump rather enjoyable and not to appear boomy. Mid is overall smooth but has a fainted sense of warm and sweetness. It lacks good texture for vocal or forwardness but keeps just enough detail not to get totally overshadowed by the bass. Treble rolls off a little early just pass 15.5kHz, with enough sparkle to show some micro detail, but still smooth and far from being analytical. Soundstage is decent as the whole presentation isn’t particular upfront and the treble is just enough to keep a sense of air. Resonance is warm and sweet while close to being bass dominance. It is also musical and relaxing, making it a good IEM for laid back, late night casual listening without too much bothering into the technical aspect of the music.
Pro: None.
Con: No packaging.


34.    MEElectronics SP51 (link)
Warm and sweet with tunable bass. Bass, regardless of which bass tuning port, is able to show good quantity with very decent quality. The different bass tuning plate might make it slightly boomier or tighter, but it is still carries enough punch and texture not to be disliked. Mid has a sense of full and warmness in it. It is sweet but not overly done, forward but not in-the-face. Treble is decent and smooth with a fainted sense of sparkle, but half step behinds the mid and bass. Even with the silver port where the treble is most emphasized, it is still not enough to be a dominating factor in the overall presentation. Soundstage is decent and immersive, but not particular wide because of the warmness.
Pro: Tunable sound. Build quality. Accessories. Price.
Con: Driver flex

35.    SoundMAGIC E30 (link)
Neutral, slightly laid back, smooth yet retains a high degree of clarity and end-to-end reach. Bass reaches down almost as deep and decent in quantity. Not large by any means, but definitely much more than PL30 could have ever offered. Mid is not particular forwarded or recessed but feel like half step away, in the same room but not in-the-face. Treble is almost on the same pace as bass and mid in overall tonal balance, just a tad behinds but still retains good presence not to feel lacking. Soundstage is quite good. Not the best in positioning but still better than most in its price range. E30 resembles a little bit of GR07 – not quite as bright or as out reaching from end-to-end, but certainly has the same flavor of tuning toward a neutral, monitor-like presentation but with a tiny bit of added warm. This is not to say E30 can compete on or close to GR07 level just yet – it still doesn’t have quite as good a resolution. But for $40, the overall tonal balance of E30 is hard to beat.
Pro: Price. Build Quality.
Con: Could use a bi-flange.

36.    CrossRoads Woody One (link)
Very warm with big deep bass, full, upfront mid and a smooth upper end. Bass is big, deep, and slightly wet with a moderate attacking speed. Not really very refined but does retain enough control to not sound too boomy or muddy. Mid is full and upfront which tend to sound best with male vocal but not as well on female vocal. Upper mid and especially the treble sound pretty smooth without a lot of upper end sparkle and detail. No sibilance to speak of. Soundstage is slightly better than average and not as good as Woody Two.
Pro: Unique wood lushness. Wooden case.
Con: Large housing.

37.    CrossRoads Woody Two (link)
On the warm side yet still well balanced without any obvious flaw. Bass goes pretty deep but not as much as Woody One nor has its pronounced rumbling quantity. However, it does have a better sense of control in speed and attack. Mid is well balanced with a more upfront upper vocal (which is what makes female vocal sweet to listen). Treble is well extended with good highlight and sparkle which give great detail close to the point of being analytical. Soundstage is quite good and have a sense of airiness. Sibilance is minimum at worst and only very brief during the brightest passage.
Pro: Unique wood lushness. Wooden case.
Con: Large housing.

38.    DUNU Hephaes (link)
Warm and sweet as well, more forward and energetic than Trident but not overly so. Bass, like Trident, reaches down to the sub-bass level as well, but in smaller quantity and showing a much better balance and control. Mid is warm, more forward than Trident but not particularly full or sweet. It exchanges the fluidity of Trident and for better detail retrieval and texture, though also creates an annoying peak around 6kHz that makes the vocal sounds just a little grainy and edgy. The treble, like Trident, is smooth, well extended and in hiding. It can really use more sparkle and forwardness for micro detail. Soundstage is a little better than Trident, but overall still remains mostly average. Though it has better width, it just lacks air to breathe the sense of space into the music. All in all, Hephaes is technically a step up from Ares and Crius, and most certainly from Trident – but with a price. It is noticeably more edgy and restless, forgoing the easy going nature of the rest of the DUNU line-up and feels more like overreaching at times. But with a little damping in the 6kHz region in the EQ and treble boost for above 12kHz, Hephaes will shine.
Pro: Build quality, Accessories, Sleek.
Con: Price.

39.    Fischer Audio Mighty Bug (link)
Warm, full, rich and smooth sounding. Bass is just a tad on the boomy side with good quantity and decent quality. While it reaches down really deep, most of the time it is the upper bass that is a little over dominating and lose out some of the texture. The same fullness also extends upward to the mid, which gives a rich tone to the vocal though fortunately, not at the cost of making vocal muddy. Treble extends decently to near 16kHz, shows sparkles but smooth overall and lack a sense of crispiness. Soundstage is only average. The fullness on the bass and low mid and the lacking of air on the treble limit the feeling of space, though not bad enough to make it sounds 2D. Might Bug is pretty much a smooth and fun sounding IEM that pairs well with colder sounding source like iPod, tailored more toward the younger generation.
Pro: Tiny.
Con: Not for big ear canal.

40.    VSONIC GR02 Bass Edition (link)
Somewhat misleading name that would trick a person to think that it is the old GR02 with more bass.  While it is true that the IEM does have more bass than the regular GR02, the improvement in bass is in offering more body and texture. The overall depth and impact are rather similar between the two. Abundant in bass? Yes, but not bass monster just yet. The biggest improvement comes in a more upfront mid and a well extended treble, giving it the same GR99’s sound signature that is warm and fairly equal in all frequencies. The improvements from GR99 to GR02 Bass Edition are better dynamic, richer tone and overall better detail. Nothing night and day, but still noticeable in direct comparison. This makes it almost as good sounding as GR04 even though it lacks a single big wow factor.  Soundstage is decent as well, just nothing special to write home about. Like GR99, the versatility of the sound and lack of any particular weakness are GR02 Bass Edition’s greatest strength.
Pro: Price. Accessories.
Con: None.

41.    MEElectronics CW31 (link)
Smooth, musical with a warm and sweet sound. Bass extends slightly further than CX21 but features a slower speed and softer impact. It is however better on the decay and body. Mid is about the same as CX21, neither too forward nor too far away. The difference is in the slight sweet and lushness that makes CW31 a tad better at portraying a singer. Treble is smooth and rolls off gently. Sparkle takes a back seat but not overly lacking. Soundstage is slightly intimate and decent, though nothing to write home about.
Pro: Wooden housing. Build quality.
Con: None.

42.    VSONIC R02 Pro II (link)
Warm, smooth, fairly musical with a better than average soundstage. Treble has decent extension, but in a fairly smooth fashion and lacks the top sparkle to show off fine detail or give better resolution. Mid is slightly full, but not enough to show texture or being sweet. Bass has good impact and body, though not at the deepest end. Soundstage is good from side to side (width), but not airy enough to show true depth. It might not have the best of anything, but the overall blend doesn't have any major flaw as well. In other words, R02 Pro II has a rather 'popular' sound signature.
Pro: Price. Build quality.
Con: Isolation.

43.    VSONIC GR99 (link)
In comparison to R02 Pro II, the new GR99 is almost just as good – less warm and tighter in bass, more balance in overall presentation and better extended in treble. In short, it has a good portion of everything but not excessive in any.  It still has the VSONIC’s warm and sweet house-sound, just less colored while still maintains a smooth and easy-going nature. Soundstage is quite decent, neither particular wide nor feel the lack of. Less fun sounding than R02 Pro II while technically more accurate, the great strength of GR99 is perhaps its lack of real weakness. For under $30 and a performance that ties R02 Pro II and DUNU Trident, you can hardly ask for more.
Pro: Price. Accessories.
Con: Microphonics.

44.    Blue Ever Blue 868B Silver (link)
Warm and sweet with an added layer of forwardness and thickness to the 866B that makes it more aggressive and upfront. Fuller mid, intimate vocal and crisp treble with the side effect of borderline sibilant in lower treble and overly thick bass note, which begins to interfere with the rest of the presentation. The fullness also reduces the sense of air and thus lowering the soundstage to about average. While overall performance going from 866B to 868B is positive, it pretty much is three steps forward and two steps back and thus not quite a significant upgrade as one might want it to be. More suitable to those who are really into full forward sound that has a strong rumbling bass. When EQ’ed however, there are still a lot of potential left by simply lowering the sub-bass level for 3~6dB.
Pro: None.
Con: Price. Build quality. Packaging.

45.    DUNU Trident (link)
Warm, sweet, laidback, smooth, easy going and musical. It is the kind of sound that draws the listener to the music instead to the IEM itself. Bass is hard hitting with a big body. It reaches down to sub-bass level easier but can get just a little overwhelming when it comes to bass heavy music as it lacks a very fine control and top speed. But overall the quality is still very good and should put smile for those who like a good dose of bass in the mix. Mid is warm and a little lush, but not particularly forward. It reserves some space between the singer and the listener, but pulls just a too far little away and loses some of the intimacy and texture in the vocal. While it is not as good as rendering vocal as Ares or Crius, the overall presentation is more relaxing and suitable for casual listening. Treble is well extended but smooth. Sparkle is small and micro detail, while not absent totally, is a step behind everything else. Soundstage is only about average. The laidback nature of the whole presentation gives a feeling of warm and intimacy without sounding too boxed in, making it a great choice for fatigue free, non crucial listening where music is to be enjoyed, not analyzed.
Pro: Price. Build quality. Sleek.
Con: None.

46.    ECCI PR200 (link)
Warm, but with a decent sense of balance and excitement. Bass extends deep but in a roll off fashion, but gone is the slight boominess in PR100, smaller in quantity but shows better control in comparison and maintains the same overall impact and texture. Mid is also presented very similar to PR100, slightly forward, decently bodied but not overly sweet, still gives a slightly mid centric impression but better in detail, separation and layering. Similarly, treble extends well in a roll off fashion though more forwarded, showing off micro-detail and sparkles which in term inject just the right amount of liveliness to the sound to give it a better balance in presentation without any major flaw. Soundstage is decent, with nothing to write home about.
Pro: Price. Accessories. Build quality
Con: None.

47.    Sony MH750 (link)
Same tuning as MH1, sharing an almost identical FR curve that is warm and sweet, though MH750 does sound a tiny bit darker. The overall refinement, air, soundstage, layer, position and resolution are however not as good on the MH750. A step down of the same sound basically. Soundstage is a little below average. Like EHS64#, not too shabby as free stock earphone for smartphone.
Pro: None.
Con: Cable could be better.

48.    Woodees IESW100B (link)
Warm side, slightly lush on the bass and mid region but still quantitatively balanced. Treble is above average but the slight harshness on 5kHz region can be a bit problematic on bright music.
Pro: Wooded housing.
Con: Need attention to small detail in build quality.

49.    Blue Ever Blue 866B Red (link)
Slightly warm and sweet yet remains fairly neutral with no particular emphasis on a certain frequency or the lack thereof.  In fact, the end to end extension is rather good for IEM in such price bucket. Bass reaches deep and slightly on the thick side, quantitatively not monstrous but overall larger-than-average. Occasionally it can become slightly too thick (which reduces the texture and resolution) on bass heavy music, but it is still enjoyable and not too offensive. Mid is warm and slightly full, but not overly sweet or forwarded. Vocal is very decently textured while still retains a sense of space between the singer and the listener. Treble, especially lower treble and upper mid, is clean and clear, giving a rather good highlight over female vocal without sounding sibilant. Upper treble is however slightly rolled off. There is still some sparkle, but really lacks a sense of crispiness. Soundstage is quite good with a clearly defined sense of air, separation and image. It might not have the best soundstage in the sub$100 category but combines with the evenness of its sound signature, it is remarkably good for slow and relaxing music like vocal jazz.
Pro: Soundstage, Technical proficiency.
Con: Build quality. Packaging.

50.    JAYS t-JAYS Two (link)
Warm to slightly dark, lower mid centric, smooth and just a little laid back. Bass has good impact, decay, and quantity with decent control, though just a tad slow and doesn’t go quite deep enough. Mid is well bodied and render a sweet, but not too sweet of a vocal that is good in texture. Treble has sparkle but in much smoother fashion, rolls off just a little at the top end and misses some of the highest note, but nothing terrible. Soundstage is a little above average. Good for most vocal based music, rock and pop in general but still performs instrument and classical in decent manner. A decent choice over the now discontinued s-JAYS.
Pro: Sleek. Build Quality. Accessories. Warranty
Con: None.

51.    EarsQuake SHA (link)
Overall balanced, but more low mid forward. Bass is show very good impact, body and even a little bit of low end rumbling. There is still some hollow boominess left in the bass, but not very noticeable unless in high volume. Mid is a tad forward and has a decent sense of fullness, but lacks texture to make it really good. Treble has good sparkle and detail, smoother than the other two though still a little unrefined and does not quite have the top end extension. Still the presentation gives a good sense of airiness and space. Soundstage is decent at showing depth, but not quite as good on width.
Pro: Price.
Con: None.

52.    SoundMAGIC PL21 (link)
Warm to slight dark, musical, smooth, and has a small emphasis on the mid. Bass extends very deep, does rumbling sub-bass better than any IEM of its class while retaining very good control. Quantitatively not a bass monster but it does show a good bass impact and body. Mid is full, a little forward and vocal is sweet, no sibilance to speak of. Treble has a decent extension but lacks sparkle to show fine detail. Soundstage is about average.
Pro: Price. Build quality. Accessories.
Con: None

53.    LEAR Le01 (discontinued) (link)
Warm and smooth. Treble rolls off a bit on the top and doesn’t give a particular detail sound, though not totally lacking. Mid is slightly warm and has a small hint of sweetness, slightly distanced but not really recessed in any sense. Bass has a decent quantity though not very deep. Sound better with bi-flanges. Overall a done-nothing-wrong sound.
Pro: None.
Con: Strain relief.

54.    ECCI PR100 (link)
Warm, smooth and easy going to even a little laid back. Bass extends to quite deep in a roll off fashion, but neither too abundance nor short in quantity.  It is however good in quality with decent texture and just a tiny but of boominess to give a sense of fullness, but not overdone in anyway. Mid is slightly forward, decently bodied but not overly sweet, just enough to show off detail and gives a mid centric impression without flooding the rest of the spectrum. Treble too extends well but in a roll off fashion, taking a step back from the mid and bass, resulting in micro-detail being really micro, but not totally lacking. Soundstage is a bit below average due to the warm mid.
Pro: Build quality. Accessories.
Con: None.

55.    CrossRoads MylarOne Bijou 3 (discontinued)
Warm and fun sounding. Bass is a little slow, but decently bodied. Mid is a little away but not particularly recessed and still carries a sense of war, especially since lower midrange hump around 200Hz ~ 250Hz. Lower treble has sparkle, but rough in nature and doesn’t really able to reveal detail. Soundstage is only average
Pro: None.
Con: Require a lot of burn-in.

56.    Hippo Epic
Warm, mid and bass centric, and not very detail, except Epic is more mid forward, grainier and less refined on the vocal and treble region, plus it is less punchy on the bass department and lesser in soudnstage. Overall, it is a more balanced sounding than Boom, but not quite as smooth sounding. Due to the slight mid forwardness, soundstage isn't particularly wide.
Pro: None.
Con: None.

57.    Cresyn C230E (link)
Warm, full, a little mid centric, sweet vocal, decent bass quantity wise and has enough detail not to sound dark or feel severe lack of treble. Soundstage is average. Overall an easy going sound aims more toward general consumer.
Pro: Price.
Con: Availability.

58.    Rock It Sounds R-11 (link)
Similar warm and laid back sound as R10, but less mid-centric in comparison. Treble still rolls off at the top end and so sparkle and air are both missing. Bass however extends a little better than R10 with sub-bass better rendered, even though quantitatively it is still less than neutral. Mid shares the same laid back, distanced fashion as R10, lacking detail and texture. However, there are lesser ‘disconnect’ between the mid and bass, so it is overall closer to more of a warm+sweet sound rather than a mid centric sound. Soundstage is below average as well. While R11 is priced just a little higher than R10 and spots a more neutral’ish presentation, the overall sound quality is still right around the same ballpark. It is more of a different in sound signature than in actual quality.
Pro: Accessories.
Con: None.

59.    Brainwavz alpha (discontinued) (link)
Slightly dark with a very mid and bass centric, fun and more personal sound. Big bass, heavy mid, and not very detail on the treble but still have a tiny bit of sparkle. Mid is slightly congested, but the bass has good resolution and texture. Vocal is pretty forward and dominant. Upper treble rolls off early. No sibilance to speak of. Soundstage is small due to the lack of fine detail and airiness. An easy going sound.
Pro: Not half bad for the price.
Con: None.

60.    Creative EP-630
Very warm to dark and on the thick side. Bass is above average quantity wise and a decent impact and decay, but slow, lacks texture, and sound muddy overall. Mid is on the sweeter side, though not particular detail in any way. Upper mid / Lower treble is steely and rough while upper treble is overly smooth and lacking detail.
Pro: None.
Con: Price. A lot of fake.
Feb 23, 2011 at 8:50 AM Post #7 of 1,242
The List

Model (* = discontinued)
Estimated Price
SQ (#/5)
Value (#/5)
LEAR LCM-5 (link) $910 5 --
HifiMan RE-272* (link) $250 4.95 4.75
j-phonic K2 SP (link) $400 4.9 4.8
VSONIC GR01 (link) $185 4.85 4.85
Rock It Sounds R-50 (link) $120 4.85 4.9
TDK BA200 (link) $250 4.85 4.9
HifiMan RE-262* (link)
Ultimate Ears’ 10 Pro*
VSONIC GR07 (link)
Fischer Audio Eterna* (link)
Ortofon e-Q5 (link)
HifiMan RE400 (link) $99 4.75 5
Monster Turbine Pro Copper (link) $210 4.7 4.7
Sony XBA-4 (link) $350 4.7 4.55
Atomic Floyd SuperDarts +Remote (link) $315 4.7 4.65
HifiMan RE-252* (link)
[size=11.0pt]RedGiant A03 Ossicle[/size] (link) $150 4.7 4.5
Radius HP-TWF21 (link) $250 4.7 4.65
Shure SE530*
Sony MH1C / Sony Ericsson MH1 (link) $80 4.65 4.95
Etymotic ER4S (link)
Ortofon e-Q7* (link)
Brainwavz B2 (link) $170 4.63 5
HiSound Audio (Golden) Crystal (link) $199 4.63 4.8
Fischer Audio DBA-02* (link)
Sunrise Xcape Impressive Edition (link) $80 4.63 4.85
Phonak Audéo PFE 121 (link)
Future Sonics Atrio M5 (MG7) (link) $150 4.6 4.8
Sony MDR-EX600 (link) $200 4.6 4.75
TDK EB950 (link) $85 4.6 4.85
EXS X20 (link) $175 4.6 4.85
Sunrise 'B' ('Xcited') (link) $70 4.6 4.85
HifiMan RE-ZERO (link)
Head-Direct RE0 (link)
Sunrise SW-Xcape* (link)
Radius HP-TWF11R (link)
Etymotic ER4P (link)
Westone UM2
Phonak Audéo PFE 022 Perfect Bass (link)
Fischer Audio SBA-03 (link) $120 4.5 4.75
Fischer Audio Tandem (link) $120 4.5 4.8
Shure SE215 (link) $99 4.5 4.8
HiSound Audio Popo (link) $59 4.5 4.8
Fischer Audio Silver Bullet* (link)
HifiMan RE1 (amp’ed) (link)
Sony XBA-1 (link) $80 4.4 4.8
EOps noisezero Sport+ (link) $130 4.4 4.6
TDK BA100 (link) $70 4.4 4.65
Fischer Audio Consonance (link) $64 4.4 4.85
DUNU Tai Chi (link) $133 4.35 4.7
Radius HP-RLF11 (link) $80 4.35 4.65
Sleek Audio SA6* (link)
DUNU I 3C-S (link) $110 4.3 4.65
BrookStone Clear Dual Drive Earbuds (link) $60 4.3 4.8
Fischer Audio Ceramique (link) $57 4.3 4.65
Fischer Audio Paradigm v.3 (link) $58 4.25 4.8
Sunrise Xcape v2 (link) $80 4.25 4.75
[size=11.0pt]Xears Turbo Devices TD III PRO Blackwood[/size]* (link) $115 4.2 4.5
Brainwavz M4 (link) $70 4.2 4.75
[size=11.0pt]RedGiant A00 Malleus[/size] (link) $60 4.2 4.65
Sony MDR-EX700SL*
Brainwavz M5 (link) $45 4.1 4.9
Future Sonics Atrio M5 rev.2*
Phiaton PS210 (link)
Phiaton PS20 (link) $79 4.1 4.8
ECCI PR401 (link)
Fischer Audio FA-977 Jazz (link) $55 4.1 4.8
MEElectronics CC51* (link) $80 4.05 4.8
SonoCore COA-805 Cindy (link) $75 4.05 4.65
Spider realvoice (link) $90 4.05 4.8
DUNU Crater (link) $80 4 4.6
Astrotec AM90 (link) $52 4 4.85
[size=11.0pt]Xears Revolution Series XR120PRO II[/size] (link) $57 4 4.8
Final Audio Design Adagio V (link) $150 4 3.9
Panasonic RP-HJE70* (link)
VSONIC GR06 (link) $65 4 4.75
MEElectronics A151 (link) $75 4 4.85
Sherwood SE-777 (link)
Brainwavz M3 (link)
Creative Aurvana In-Ear2 (link)
Miu-Audio MR2 Pro (link) $50 4 4.7
Hippo Shroom-EB* (link)
[size=11pt]Xears Resonance Black Edition* [/size](link) $50 3.95 4.75
Hippo VB (link)
MEElectronics SP51 (link) $60 3.8 4.7
SoundMAGIC E30 (link) $40 3.75 4.85
Rock It Sounds R-30 (link) $70 3.75 4.3
CrossRoads Woody One* (link)
CrossRoads Woody Two* (link)
Brainwavz M2 (link)
[size=11.0pt]DUNU Hephaes (link)[/size] $97 3.7 4.65
Fischer Audio Mighty Bug (link) $41 3.7 4.7
Rock It Sounds R-20 (link) $40 3.7 4.75
Fischer Audio SBA-01 (link)
Etymotic MC5 (link)
Fischer Audio Eterna v2* (link)
VSONIC R04* (link)
VSONIC GR02 Bass Edition (link) $35 3.65 4.9
Meizu EP-40 (link) $42 3.6 4.5
Audio Technica ATH-CKS70* (link)
DUNU Hawkeye (link) $70 3.5 4.55
Altec Lansing iM716*
Maximo iMetal iM-590 (link)
Hippo Shroom* (link)
DUNU Ares (link) $75 3.4 4.7
DUNU Crius (link) $60 3.4 4.75
SoundMAGIC PL-50 (link)
ECCI PR300* (link)
SoundMAGIC E10 (link) $35 3.4 4.75
Brainwavz M1 (link)
SoundMAGIC EH11 (link) $50 3.4 4.7
MEElectronics CW31 (link) $50 3.4 4.75
Blue Ever Blue 868B Silver (link) $80 3.4 4
MEElectronics CX21 (link) $45 3.35 4.75
VSONIC R02 Pro II* (link)
VSONIC GR99* (link) $25 3.35 4.85
DUNU Trident (link) $40 3.35 4.85
ECCI PR200* (link)
Samsung EHS64# (link) $6 3.35 4.5
Sony MH750 (link) $15 3.35 4.4
RHA MA-350 (link) $48 3.3 4.5
Klipsch S4 (link) $79 3.3 3.9
Woodees IESW100B (link)
SonoCore COA-803* (link) N/A 3.3 --
NuForce NE-7M*
Fischer Audio Enigma* (link)
Philips SHE9850* (link)
Blue Ever Blue 866B Red (link) $50 3.25 4.55
Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic
4.7 ~ 3.7
HifiMan RE2* (link)
MEElectronics M6 (link)
MEElectronics M21 (link) $35 3.2 4.7
JAYS t-JAYS Two (link)
MEElectronics M11*
[size=11.0pt]Xears Powerball PB120 Black Edition[/size]* (link) $34 3.2 4.6
CrossRoads MylarOne Quattro* (link)
MEElectronics M31 (link) $45 3.15 4.6
JAYS s-JAYS* (link)
MEElectronics M9 (link)
MEElectronics M16 (link) $25 3 4.6
Shure E3c*
Etymotic ER6i
Fischer Audio Paradigm v.2 (link)
EarsQuake SHA (link)
Brainwavz beta (link)
Fischer Audio Omega v2 (link)
MEElectronics R1* (link)
Fischer Audio Omega (link)
SoundMAGIC PL21 (link)
MEElectronics M2 (link)
LEAR Le01* (link)
Cube F1* (link)
JAYS a-JAYS Three (link)
ECCI PR100 (link)
CrossRoads MylarOne X3*
Maximo iMetal iM-390 (link)
ECCI PG100 (link) $18 2.5 4.5
Cresyn C260E (link)
Hippo Boom
CrossRoads MylarOne Bijou 3*
SoundMAGIC PL-30
Kanon MD-52
Ultimate Ears 200 (link) $30 2.45 4.2
Hippo Epic*
Cresyn C230E (link)
Astello Radiance+
4.2 ~ 4.0
Rock It Sounds R-11 (link) $25 2.4 4.6
Rock It Sounds R-10 (link) $20 2.4 4.4
SoundMAGIC PL-11
Ultimate Ears 100 (link) $20 2.4 3.2
Cresyn C222E (link)
HTC RC-E190 (link) $21 2.4 3.8
JAYS a-JAYS Two (link)
Fischer Audio FA-999 (link)
SoundMAGIC PL-20
Brainwavz alpha* (link)
Panasonic RP-HJE450 (link) $27 2.3 3
Sennheiser CX300*
EarsQuake CRO (link)
Creative EP-630
EarsQuake FISH (link)
Maike MK-EL5031 (link) $6 1.3 3
*Value of 4.85 and above is designated Sonic Diamond as my personal recommendation for an outstanding price/performance ratio.
How each IEM is judged: SQ rating comes mostly out of comparison with other IEM in the list - this gives an IEM a rough position in the list. Fine adjustment depends on the 'completeness' of the sound - what kind of sound signature and function (if available) a particular IEM is trying to achieve, i.e. stage monitor will not be judged in the same fashion as mass market / consumer orientated product. Some weaknesses often weight more than others. i.e light bass is better than muddy bass, overly smooth is better than harsh. In general, not offensive weakness is less damaging. Value rating is based on all aspect of the IEM, including SQ, design, build quality, general fit, availability, customer support, warranty terms street price, etc.
Feb 23, 2011 at 8:50 AM Post #8 of 1,242
General Recommendation for...
  • Max isolation: Etymotic (any), Shure (upper SE series with olive), Westone (with Comply)
  • Least Isolation: Phiaton PS210 / PS20; Sony MDR-EX600
  • Those who haven't figured out what they really want: Mid or Warm + Sweet sound are good places to start.
  • The riskiest choice for first-timer: Analytical sound.
Feb 23, 2011 at 10:08 AM Post #9 of 1,242
ClieOS, this is an excellent approach at IEM reviews, and will be a great compliment to |joker|'s huge, detailed reviews.  I'm sure you will received lots of thanks for the work you put into this guide!
Feb 23, 2011 at 10:41 AM Post #11 of 1,242
excellent review. absolutely love the breakdown by sound signature. thats an awesome way to split it up. this comparison made me even more pumped about my red e-q5's that are on their way to me now.. looks like it could be the sound sig i'm yearning for after all..
Feb 23, 2011 at 11:04 AM Post #12 of 1,242
I am loving this breakdown. Your descriptions of each sound signature, with the breakdowns and cross referenced with |joker|'s thread makes for an amazingly powerful resource for anyone who understands what their sound signature preferences are.
Having only sampled some generic Sony IEM's, RE-ZERO's, Monster Turbine's and Brainwavz ProAlpha's, I thought my preference was 'analytical' but it seems that I am more 'balanced' (preferred the RE-ZERO's to the others by a fair way).
If I'm going back to Universals, I know that I can count on both you and |joker| to steer me in the absolute perfect direction.
EDIT: With such an extensive list of IEM's, I would suggest using an index system similar to |joker|'s to help people 'f'ind an individual pair of monitors quicker and easier. Not sure if you've already got that in mind, as you're still building this masterpiece :)
Feb 23, 2011 at 11:55 AM Post #13 of 1,242
This is awesome. I think with the hundreds (thousands?) of IEMs out there this is a great way to help those who have a bit of experience narrow down the field. Love how you described each signature concisely, too. 
Feb 23, 2011 at 12:21 PM Post #14 of 1,242
As a relative newcomer it's great help for those starting out that there are such helpful guides made here by those who wish to impart their knowledge onto others.
Very nicely detailed and in a novel new way where other's have looked at physical traits whilst the more intangible attributes are left unmentioned until now.
Thanks Clieos, |Joker| and the many others who have helped.
Feb 23, 2011 at 1:10 PM Post #15 of 1,242
Hi clieos,
Excellent post.have read your old posts and followed your blog.think using sound signature to split the iems is great. I must say that it surprised me that you rate the m2 as mid sounding iem instead of bass oriented. same with the m9.I found those heavy on bass. Makes me curious to the bass iem.

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