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crinacle's IEM Ranking List (222 Entries) [21/10/18 UPDATE]

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  1. crinacle
    Subscribe to my subreddit /r/InEarFidelity for more casual updates. This thread is more for serious and "official" audiophile matters while the subreddit is more for streaming my consciousness without worrying too much.

    Article list

    Reviews


    Grades
    S: Must try. Experience what the best has to offer.
    A: While not at the top of the summit, Grade-A IEMs are still very respectable performers that would still be considered as some of the best by many.
    B: Can essentially be described as "very good".
    C: Good. Not great, not bad... good.
    D: Unmemorable but not horrible. "Meh".
    E: Bad. Still listenable, but not pleasantly.
    F: The failures. If I only had to use these, I'd rather not listen to music at all.​

    "You're the measurements guy! You measure more than you listen! I'm not going to listen to you!"
    Great, I'm not telling you to. My work on measurements is separate from my reviewing work. It takes me 2 minutes to measure an IEM, you honestly think I don't have time to listen to it as well?

    ↓↓↓ READ THIS: Notes and disclaimers ↓↓↓
    • The IEMs are ranked purely by sonic performance. Fit, isolation, durability, build quality etc. are ignored unless they interfere with the sound itself.
      • The IEMs are not ranked in terms of price-to-performance value. They are ranked according to what I think is "objectively" the best.
    • The IEMs in each tier are sorted alphabetically.
    • Most of the IEMs in this list are determined based off (universal) demo units from shops.
      • Customs tried will be specified as "custom". A "Third party custom" is someone else's customs that I forcefit into my ears. Any other use of the term "unit" will be universal.
    • The positions are not set in stone. I'm only human; I may miss out on certain details or traits that may only be apparent with repeated listening. Expect changes.
    • Prices are at MSRP in USD. Prices not directly available in USD are based off the exchange rate during the time of writing.
    • A (non-complete) list of IEMs that I've tried can be found on my measurements database.
      • If you can tell, a lot of IEMs on the database (that I've tried) are not in this list. This is could be due to lack of interest or lack of enough ear time to make a proper decision on tier placement.
    • Yes, this is the opinion of one person on the internet. Please do not get too offended if your favourite IEM isn't graded as highly as you'd like. (vice versa applies)
    • This list is meant to be used as a reference point. I highly recommend against blind-buying and suggest to have a listen to the IEMs yourself. By all means, use this to shortlist what you should try in the future but don't take it as gospel.
    Use CTRL+F to find your desired IEM.




    Tier S
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    64 Audio A/U18 Tzar18BAA rather simple and "mainstream" tuning refined to an extremely high level.Warm V-shapeMusic Sanctuary demo unit$3,000
    Audeze LCD-i4 (Cipher)PlanarLow distortion, high resolution, excellent dynamics and expectedly open soundstage.Harman-neutralStereo SG demo unit$2,500
    Empire Ears Zeus-XR ADEL14BADetail and resolution monster with the typical staging benefits of ADELBright neutralMusic Sanctuary demo unit$2,730
    Jomo Flamenco11BAOne of, if not the most detailed IEMs availableVariableMusic Sanctuary demo unit$2,200
    qdc Gemini8BAReference tuning with good tonality and top-level resolution. Well-implemented bass boost.Neutral with bass boostMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,800
    Shure KSE1200ElectrostaticEasily at the top in terms of resolution and detailDF-neutral with bass boostA2A Melbourne demo unit$2,000
    Vision Ears VE88BACoherency through the roof with a tuning that little would hateWarm neutralE1 demo unit$2,700
    Tier S-
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    64 Audio Tia Trio2BA 1DDA more correct sounding version of the Fourte with slight cutbacks in staging and sheer resolution.WarmE1 demo unit$2,300
    64 Audio A/U12t12BAAmazing bass (for a BA), top-tier resolution and detail-oriented signature.Mild U-shapeMusic Sanctuary demo unit$2,000
    Campfire Andromeda5BAHighly coherent, easy-to-love tuning and spacious headstageWarm with upper treble sparkleZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,100
    Hidition Viento-Reference4BARare combination of reference tuning and natural tonalityHarman-neutralNull Audio demo unit$1,300
    Hyla CE-51Piezo 2BA 1DDProbably the best bass response I've ever heard. Thin-ish midrange that sounds unnatural on certain instruments. U-shaped (W-shaped?)Zeppelin & Co demo unit$915
    InEar Prophile-88BAVery "studio" like sound, heavy priority on technicalitiesNeutralMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,600
    Jomo Samba8BALively and engaging with big clarity and detail, perhaps too much for someV-shapedMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,500
    Sony MDR-EX1000DDOutstanding imaging and detail retrieval though can be intense to listen to.Bright DF-neutralThird party unitDiscontinued
    Ultimate Ears UE18+ Pro Gen 26BASomewhat reference tuning with emphasis on tonal accuracy and naturalnessWarm neutralPersonal unitReplaced by Gen 3
    Unique Melody Legacy12BABeautifully tuned yet highly technically proficientNeutral with bass boostStereo SG demo unit$1,650







    Tier A+
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    64 Audio Tia Fourte3BA 1DDUnique sound; immensely wide staging with great clarity and bass responseW-shapedE1 demo unit$3,600
    AAW W9008BA 1DDNatural bass, outstanding imaging with slightly honky timbre.Warm neutralPersonal unit$1,500
    A&K T8iEDDHard-to-dislike tuning with excellent clarity and resolutionNeutral with bass boostZeppelin & Co demo unitReplaced by Xelento
    Audeze iSine 20 (Cipher)PlanarDSP corrects the glaring tonality issues and brings out the iSine driver's full potential.Harman-neutralStereo SG demo unit$600
    Beyerdynamic XelentoDDLike the T8iE, with a little more trebleV-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,000
    Empire Ears Legend X5BA 2DDHigh resolution hybrid flawed only by lack of control in the bass regions.V-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$2,300
    Kumitate KL-Sirius4BAExcellent technical ability, well tuned with a dash of Japanese flavour.NeutralThird party custom$815
    Noble K10 Encore10BAReference oriented sound focused on technicalitiesNeutralStereo SG demo unit$1,850
    PEARS SH33BAGreat detail pickup and solid all-rounder, perhaps a little strident.NeutralThird party unit$1,100
    Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor (UERM)3BAThe benchmark of an era, dead-flat with an upper treble boostNeutralPersonal customReplaced by UERR
    StereoPravda SB77BATechnically proficient but marred by a sharp timbre. Interesting concept.Bright DF-neutralZeppelin & Co demo unit$2,500
    Tier A
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    64 Audio N88BA 1DDWell controlled sub-bass focus, rich and smooth yet relatively neutral in tone.Neutral with bass boostPersonal custom$1,700
    64 Audio A1010BA64's take on reference. Good clarity and resolutionNeutralMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,800
    64 Audio A1212BAVery smooth, very warm, heavy and decadent almost to its detrimentWarm with laid back trebleMusic Sanctuary demo unit$2,000
    AAW W5004BA 1DDEnergetic mids and highly natural bassWarm with upper midrange boostJaben SG demo unit$1,100
    Audeze LCDi4PlanarLow distortion, high resolution and excellent clarity marred by poor tuning which destroys timbre."Balanced"Stereo SG demo unit$2,500
    Campfire VegaDDPowerful bass, equally powerful trebleV-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,300
    Dita DreamDDExcellent resolution and detail let down by its metallic tonality and thin midrangeV-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,800
    Dita FidelityDDThe more technical and less natural sounding of the Dita twins.V-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,300
    Empire Ears Phantom5BAHeavy, rich and decadent, great for male vocals and bassy instruments.WarmZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,800
    Empire Ears Vantage1BA 2DDA Legend-X-mini, essentially. Nice alternative on a budget.V-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,400
    Empire Ears Nemesis3BA 2DDA lot more treble compared to the Vantage.V-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,600
    FitEar MH3344BAPerfect for female vocals, but otherwise quite colouredWarmThird party custom$1,900
    FitEar TG3344BALike the MH334 with quite a bit less trebleDarkPersonal unit$1,400
    Hidition NT66BAIf Etymotic made a multi-BA IEM, this would be the closest to that dreamDF-neutralNull Audio demo unit$1,050
    Ice Lab Zen 1212BAIt's an all-rounder. Nothing much to sayV-shapedTreoo demo unit$1,500
    InEar SD55BAExcels in timbre reprodcution and has an overall pleasant signature.Warm V-shapeMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,100
    JH Roxanne12BARich and smooth, perfect for male vocalsWarmA2A Melbourne demo unit$1,745
    JH Audio JH13v2 Performance Series8BAGood all rounder, slightly warmer and more coherent than the custom versionV-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,000
    Jomo 6R6BAJomo's take on reference. Good technical abilityNeutralMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,050
    Jomo Quatre3BA 1DDNicely tuned hybrid that serves as a good all-rounder.V-shapedEuphoria Audio demo unit$1,500
    Kumitate KL-Lakh6BAEngaging, intimate sound that works well for chill genresWarmJaben SG demo unit$1,700
    Lime Ears Aether5BAExcellent clarity and tone but marred slightly by slightly lackluster resolutionNeutral with bass boostMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,350
    NCM Bella8BA 1DDPowerful bass combined with clean sounding mids, though perhaps a tad aggressive at times.U-shapedReview unit$1,050
    Noble K1010BAVery safe tuning, almost to the point of boredom. Does nothing wrong but nothing right eitherNeutral with bass boostStereo SG demo unitReplaced by K10 Encore
    Noble Katana9BALike the K10, except with less bassNeutral with laid back trebleStereo SG demo unit$1,850
    Oriolus MK23BA 1DDLively yet non-fatiguing hybrid experienceWarmZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,100
    Rhapsodio GalaxyDDLively and engaging but avoiding fatigue still. Rare comboV-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,450
    Rhapsodio Solar10BAGood bass, good treble, good midrange... an all-rounder, essentiallyMild V-shapeZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,550
    Rhines Stage 77BARather coloured signature that works amazing on certain instruments but not so much on othersWarm with laid back trebleMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,900
    Sony MDR-EX800ST/MDR7550DDA more forgiving, warmer version of the EX1000.Bright DF-neutralThird party unit$350
    Sony Justear XJE-MH2 "Club Sound"1BA 1DDNice, pleasant signature that is reminiscent of a more textured HS1551.Warm DF-neutralThird party custom$2,150
    Soranik Ion5BAClearly inspired by the 334, follows the same strengths in female vocalsWarmMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,100
    Stealthsonics U9 JDM8BA 1DDDoes away with the timbre issues of the standard U9.Neutral with bass boostShowfloor demo unit$1,100
    Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered (UERR)3BAWarm with good tonality. Good all-rounder albeit definitely not a reference signature.Neutral with laid-back trebleMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,000
    Ultimate Ears UE18+ Pro Gen 36BAPerceived more neutrally compared to the Gen 2; less emotional, more boring."Balanced"Music Sanctuary demo unit$1,500
    Unique Melody Maestro V212BAIt's... there. Hard to find words for this one"Balanced"Stereo SG demo unit$2,000
    Westone ES606BAGreat timbre and well-tuned, held back by its resolutionNeutral with laid-back trebleA2A Melbourne demo unit$1,300
    Westone W808BANicely balanced, intimate and slightly dry. Perhaps the least Westone-sounding Westone.Warm neutralA2A Melbourne demo unit$1,500
    Tier A-
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    64 Audio A88BABass monster. Bass, bass and more bassBassyMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,400
    Empire Ears Spartan-IV ADEL4BAGood clarity, good staging, good resolution"Balanced"Music Sanctuary demo unit$930
    Empire Ears EVR3BAA nicely tuned flat-ish signature with good technical ability all around.NeutralZeppelin & Co demo unit$800
    Etymotic ER4XRBAA more mainstream tuning of the ER4S/SR with slightly boosted bass.DF-neutralZeppelin & Co demo unit$350
    FitEar Parterre2BA?Intimate, smooth and laidback soundWarmJaben SG demo unit$1,200
    Hidition NT6 Pro6BAA V-shaped version of the NT6. The change in tuning kills the technical ability slightlyNeutral with bass boostNull Audio demo unit$1,100
    Lime Ears Model X4BATechnically capable IEM that goes from decently neutral to warm and smooth in a pinch.Neutral/WarmMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,000
    Massdrop Plus3BAReference-targeted sound with excellent clarity and detail, with a slightly more fun tuning.DF-neutral with bass boostReview unit$300
    Moondrop Blessing4BA 1DDBalanced and a general all-rounder.Harman-neutralReview unit$400
    NocturnaL Atlantis4BAReference signature with immense clarity and energy.NeutralTreoo demo unit$600
    Soranik SK33BAJack of all trades kind of neutral sound. Excellent detail retrieval and does little wrong.NeutralReview unit?






    Tier B+
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    Acoustune HS1551DDWhat is essentially supercharged GR07 with better tonality and smooth sound.Warm V-shapeZeppelin & Co demo unit$600
    Etymotic ER4PTBANeutral with good detail and resolution. "The Benchmark"NeutralPersonal unit$300
    Campfire Jupiter4BAGreat clarity and staging though with odd upper midrange."Balanced"Connect IT demo unit$800
    Custom Art FIBAE33BAA clarity-focused IEM. Weak in staging, perhaps too thin on the note weight but ultimately does its kind of sound without hiccups.Mid-centricReview unit$625
    Dita FealtyDDThe more natural sounding and less technical of the Dita twins.Mild V-shapeZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,300
    Earsonics EM1010BAOddly low dynamics makes this sound rather dead and lifeless.Neutral with bass boostMusic Sanctuary demo unit$2,300
    FitEar F/A111BAA laid-back take on reference with Suyama's FitEar colouration mixed inWarm neutralJaben SG demo unit$780
    FitEar Private 3333BAVery exciting and sharp signature. Almost seems like it's made for higher-pitched vocals.BrightJaben SG demo unit$1,500
    HUM Pristine Reference2BAGood detail pickup and generally inoffensive. Much better than the universal.WarmThird party custom$1,400
    iBasso IT043BA 1DDA nice improvement over the IT03 though midrange hollowness still exists.U-shapedE1 demo unit$500
    Sennheiser IE800DDGood bass with shimmery treble. Decent tonality.Mild V-shapeJaben SG demo unit$800
    Ultimate Ears UE6 Pro1BA 2DDA capable hybrid with little weaknesses."Balanced"Music Sanctuary demo unit$700
    Unique Melody Martian2BA 2DDWell-tuned hybrid with excellent bass response and smooth midrange.Neutral with bass boostStereo SG demo unit$700
    VSonic GR09DDSmooth and laid-back while hitting the right timbreWarmLMUE demo unit?
    Tier B
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    AAW W3503BAWarm, smooth and easy to listen to.WarmStereo SG demo unitDiscontinued
    Acoustune HS1501DDA more textured, bassier and more energetic version of the HS1551.Warm V-shapeZeppelin & Co demo unit$500
    ACS Encore3BAGood all-rounder. No slouch in the technicalities.NeutralJaben SG demo unit$1,130
    AKG N50054BA 1DDAmazing bass control only let down by plastic timbre.Neutral with bass boostZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,000
    ARC PolluxBAWell-tuned neutral single-BA IEM.NeutralMusic Sanctuary demo unit$300
    Audio Technica ATH-E703BAClean and clear sound with a slight warm tilt without losing treble sparkle.Neutral with bass boostJaben Melbourne demo unit$400
    Aurisonics ASG-2.02BA 1DDDecent hybrid with good balance throughout the spectrum. Potential for monstrous bass.Mild V-shape, bassyPersonal unitDiscontinued
    Campfire AtlasDDBass isn't as clean as the Vega and ultimately worse off on a technical level.BassyZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,300
    Campfire Dorado2BA 1DDExtremely coherent albeit slightly congested. Great for intimacy lovers.WarmZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,000
    Campfire Polaris1BA 1DDPseudo-Japanese tuning focusing on female vocals and very lively signature. Good cohesion.V-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$600
    Custom Art Harmony 8.28BASmooth and easy signature. No fatigue whatsoever. The definition of a lounging IEM.WarmPersonal unit$1,300
    Dita BrassDDVery nice tonal characteristics with good bass, though nothing special technically.Warm V-shapeZeppelin & Co demo unit$1000?
    Dunu DK-30013BA 1DDWell-tuned and coherent. Does little wrong and very easy to like.Mild V-shapeLMUE demo unit$500
    Empire Ears ESR3BASharp and fatiguing.Bright V-shapeZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,000
    Empire Ears Bravado1BA 1DDA basic hybrid sound with big bass and energetic treble.V-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$700
    Fidue A91 "Sirius"4BA 1DDUniquely tuned hybrid. Not very powerful DD bass with Diffuse-Field midrange.Mid-centricLMUE demo unit$900
    FLC8S2BA 1DDVery good technicalities with a well-tuned signature. Filters change the sound a lot.VariablePersonal unit$350
    Hifiman RE2000DDLively sound with great technicalities with substandard timbre and tonality.Mild V-shapeA2A Melbourne demo unit$2,000
    Hyla Nerva X10BALow dynamics, rolled off and nothing that it really excels in.DarkZeppelin & Co demo unit$2,730
    Jomo Jomo4v24BASomewhat "reference-style" V-shaped with reduced upper treble. Very good clarity and detail.Mild V-shapeMusic Sanctuary demo unit$750
    Kumitate KL-REF Type-S3BA 2DDWell tuned but unfortunately suffers from very odd timbre.Neutral (with bass boost)Third party unit$1,350
    Periodic Audio BeDDMeaty with decent sparkle in the treble, whilst remaining clear and clean.Mild V-shapeReview unit$300
    Oriolus Forsteni2BA 1DDGreat sparkle, deep-reaching DD bass and high clarity. Spacious staging.U-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$375
    qdc Anole V33BAThe bassier of the Anole brothers. Better timbre but worse technicalities.VariableMusic Sanctuary demo unit$600
    qdc Anole V66BAThe more mid-centric of the Anole brothers. Better technicalities but worse timbre.VariableMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,100
    Rhapsodio Earth?Powerful, deep bass with somewhat neutral mids and treble.Neutral with bass boostZeppelin & Co demo unitUnavailable?
    Rhapsodio Zombie8BA 1DDNot the cleanest bass and with coherency issues that shouldn't exist for an IEM of its asking price.BassyReview unit$1,800
    Shure SE8464BADeep reaching bass but with an odd tonality in the rest of the spectrum.Neutral with bass boostZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,000
    Sony XBA-Z52BA 1DDAll-rounder. Somewhat neutral both in FR and tonality."Balanced"Showfloor demo unit$700
    Stealthsonics U98BA 1DDAn otherwise capable hybrid caught out by nasally and odd midrange.NeutralShowfloor demo unit$1,100
    Ultimate Ears UE7 Pro3BAGood clarity and detail with boosted, warm bass and controlled treble.Neutral with bass boostZeppelin & Co demo unit$850
    Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10 "TF10"3BADecent tonality and timbre. Not as detailed as the new kids on the block but has the fundamentals down.WarmPersonal unitDiscontinued
    Unique Melody MacBeth1BA 1DDExtremely clear but may be too thin for some.U-shapedThird party unit~$600
    VSonic GR07XDDJack of all trades. Has all the fundamentals down to a T.NeutralPersonal unit$200
    Tier B-
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    AAW AXH4BA 1DDWell balanced hybrid with an extreme treble spike.Neutral-brightJaben Melbourne demo unit$440
    AAW A3H Pro V22BA 1DDCapable hybrid with well controlled bass and treble rolloff.WarmPersonal custom$370
    Audeze iSine 10PlanarLow distortion, high resolution and excellent clarity marred by poor tuning which destroys timbre."Balanced"Stereo SG demo unit$400
    Audeze iSine 20PlanarLow distortion, high resolution and excellent clarity marred by poor tuning which destroys timbre."Balanced"Stereo SG demo unit$600
    Audio Technica ATH-IM022BAWell-balanced, excellent tuning and good technical ability.Warm neutralThird party unitReplaced by LS200
    HUM Pristine Reference2BAVery coloured, early treble roll-off. Calling this "reference" is a joke.DarkMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,300
    InEar Stagediver SD22BAWell-balanced, excellent tuning and good technical ability. Similar to IM02.Warm neutralMusic Sanctuary demo unit$450
    Oriveti New Primacy2BA 1DDRather balanced, almost neutral hybrid. All rounder.Warm neutralJaben Melbourne demo unit$300
    Rose BR5 Mk25BANot a bad IEM, though BA timbre comes in strong with this one. Not the most technical but it does the job when called for it.NeutralThird party unit$305
    TFZ King ProDDPowerful yet controlled bass response, good snap in the treble, doesn't sacrifice too much in the midrange.V-shapedThird party unit$170
    Ultimate Ears UE11 Pro4BAQuite a bit of low-end emphasis. Overly-congested and smeared transients.BassyMusic Sanctuary demo unit$1,150
    Ultimate Ears Live6BA 1DDSoft, muddy, low resolution and lacks any sort of definition.WarmMusic Sanctuary demo unit$2,200
    VSonic GR07 Classic/BassDDWell-balanced, well-tuned, good technicalities. The $100 benchmark since ever.Mild V-shapeLMUE demo unit$100
    Warbler PreludeBARolled off on both ends with a very typical single-BA sound.DarkThird party custom$1,100







    Tier C+
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    Alpha&Delta D6DDWell balanced V-shaped response. Good detail and doesn't sound odd in any place.V-shapedReview unit$95
    Audio Technica ATH-LS2002BASomewhat Diffuse-Field neutral with its own quirks. Good technical ability.Mid centricStereo SG demo unit$250
    Campfire CometBARolled-off at the top end, warm and bassy single-BA sound reminiscent of Final's offerings.WarmZeppelin & Co demo unit$200
    Campfire Lyra IIDDCampfire's take on a V-shaped dynamic sound. Wouldn't call it exceptional.V-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$700
    Custom Art Music Two2BAEnergetic sound yet not intense due to treble roll-off. Interesting sound.Upper midrange emphasisedMusic Sanctuary demo unitReplaced by FIBAE 2
    Final Audio Design Heaven IIBAGood detail, good clarity, great for the price.Neutral-brightA2A Melbourne demo unit$90
    FiiO F92BA 1DDGood technicalities, average timbre, perhaps a little excessive on the highs.V-shapedReview unit$100
    iBasso IT032BA 1DDExcellent bass and clarity. Hollow midrange and somewhat metallic treble.U-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$260
    Periodic Audio MgDDNot the most clear or detailed but a very clean sound with good timbre.WarmReview unit$100
    Ultimate Ears UE4 Pro2BAVery flat, very clear. Unfortunately harsh and somewhat shrill in its presentation.Bright neutralAV One demo unit$400
    Symphonium Audio Aurora2BASolid tuning, though average in technicalities.Warm neutralMusic Sanctuary demo unit$220
    Tier C
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    AAW W100DDBassV-shapedJaben SG demo unitDiscontinued
    Acoustune HS1503DDShrill, odd timbre and way too intense for normal listening.V-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$400
    Advanced Evo XDDA well-balanced Bluetooth IEM. A very nice surprise.NeutralZeppelin & Co demo unit$60
    AKG N401BA 1DDA rather typical hybrid all things considered. Nothing special especially for the asking price.Warm (varying)Zeppelin & Co demo unit$400
    Campfire Nova2BASomewhat dead-sounding with no shimmer or sparkle in the upper registers.Neutral with laid-back trebleConnect IT demo unit$500
    Custom Art Music OneBADecently balanced. Energetic midrange. Lacking in upper octave air.Neutral with laid-back trebleMusic Sanctuary demo unitReplaced by FIBAE 1
    Earsonics SM33BANon-fatiguing, relaxing listen. "Normal".WarmAV One demo unitReplaced by SM64
    FiiO F5DDTypical chifi V-shaped sound, nothing much to report on.V-shapedE1 demo unit$65
    Focal SphearDDGood timbre, good bass and well-balanced tuning.Mild V-shapeZeppelin & Co demo unit$150
    Fostex TE1001BA 1DDA little boring and dead in dynamics. Not fun but not really reference either. Average.Warm neutralZeppelin & Co demo unit$1,800
    iBasso IT01DDNothing really stands out as "excellent" to me, but it does a lot of things well and little wrong.V-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$110
    JH Billie Jean2BAFollows the JH house sound but otherwise nothing special.V-shapedAV One demo unit$350
    JH x A&K Michelle3BAStill sounds typically "JH" with a slightly V tuning, with slower transients and a non-fatiguing signature.WarmZeppelin & Co demo unit$500
    JVC HA-FW01DDVery heavy and very dark sounding IEM whose signature marrs technical ability slightly.DarkZeppelin & Co demo unit$380
    Kinera Idun2BA 1DDNot a bad hybrid, considering Kinera's track record.V-shapedThird party unit$140
    Lear LCM-BD4.24BA 2DDHarsh, overly-textured and extremely fatiguing. Excellent technical ability completely shut down by tuning and timbre mismatch.Bright, V-shapedTreoo demo unit$1,030
    Massdrop x NuForce EDC33BAWell tuned, though not the most technical nor the most natural sounding.NeutralReview unit$100
    MEE Pinnacle P1DDUpper midrange emphasis with soft, warm bass. Nice for mainstream listening.Warm V-shapeZeppelin & Co demo unit$200
    Shure SE5353BATonally dead. One-note bass. No treble worth mentioning.Mid-centricStereo SG demo unit$500
    Simgot EN700DDGood clarity and energetic signature.Mid-centricZeppelin & Co demo unit$100
    Stealthsonics U21BA 1DDSharp, emphasised treble and boosted bass, sounds more mainstream than audiophile.V-shapedShowfloor demo unit$250
    Super Audio "Supermeme" 2BA+2DD2BA 2DDA decently tuned V-shaped hybrid with energetic upper midrange. May be intense for some.V-shapedPersonal unit$150
    TFZ 5SDDWarm and somewhat slow in transients. Good timbre, average tuning.V-shapedLMUE demo unit$80
    TFZ KingDDBetter tuned than the 5S with a little extra treble which improves clarity and overall staging.V-shapedLMUE demo unit$100
    Zero Audio Carbo Tenore ZH-DX200-CTDDA well-balanced V-shaped signature that maintains solid midrange and excellent clarity.V-shapedPersonal unit$40
    Tier C-
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    AAW Nebula Two1BA 1DDExcellent clarity and wide staging due to semi-open design. DD bass manages to shine through.U-shapedNull Audio demo unit$150
    1More Quad Driver3BA 1DDOkay-ish technical ability in a mainstream tuning. Can get congested."Balanced"Jaben Melbourne demo unit$200
    FiiO F3DDWell-balanced U-shaped sound that's rather atypical of a chifi dynamic IEM.U-shapedE1 demo unit$25
    Fostex TE-02WPDDBalanced and clear. Very good value.Neutral-brightA2A Melbourne demo unitDiscontinued
    Heygears AnoraBAVery good tuning, well-balanced signature.Neutral with laid-back trebleLMUE demo unit$80
    Oriveti BasicDDLots of sub-bass rumble with an energetic midrange. Roll-off for non-fatigue.BassyJaben Melbourne demo unit$100
    Stealthsonics U44BAAn odd character, simultaneously bassy and thin at the same time.WarmShowfloor demo unit$500
    Symphonium Audio MirageBATypical single-BA sound that doesn't offer anything special.DarkMusic Sanctuary demo unit$150
    Vive XE800DDA mini GR07. Need I say more?Mild V-shapeThird party unit$30







    Tier D+
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    1More Triple Driver2BA 1DDGood clarity with unfortunately thin midrange. Flat bass, not in a good way.V-shapedStereo SG demo unit$100
    AAW W3002BA 1DDThin and brittle midrange that easily gets harsh.Bright neutralJaben SG demo unit$660
    Advanced M5-5D4BA 1DDAn otherwise capable hybrid unfortunately let down by its ridiculous treble spike.Bright neutralZeppelin & Co demo unit$650
    Hifiman RE1000DDA mediocre take on V-shaped. Intense yet with no upper treble to speak of.V-shapedA2A Melbourne demo unit$1,000
    Ultimate Ears UE5 Pro2BADead dynamics, overly warm and congested.WarmJaben SG demo unit$600
    Rose Mini22BAIt's somewhat natural in timbre but lacks a lot of technical proficiency.WarmThird party unit$110
    Tier D
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    AAW A1DDDSounds like a V-shaped dynamic. As anticlimactic as it sounds.V-shapedJaben SG demo unit$180
    Advanced GT3DDSharp, shrill and overall unpleasant.V-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$200
    Advanced M5-1DDDTypical chifi DD sound. Nothing special.V-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$400
    Earsonics SM64v23BAWeirdly incoherent and disjointed. Good warmth, though.WarmAV One demo unit$500
    Eternal Melody EM-22BAIt just sounds "meh" to be. Nothing much to say.V-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$290
    Jomo PLB3BABloated, congested and oh-so-slow.DarkMusic Sanctuary demo unit$510
    Jomo HakaBAMushy, blobby and low resolution.DarkEuphoria Audio demo unit$365
    Rhapsodio ClipperDDLots and lots of bass. Slams you in the face with bass.Extreme BassZeppelin & Co demo unit$55
    Sennheiser IE80SDDWarm, bassy, congested and lacking in dynamics. Oddly sharp yet lacking in sparkleV-shapedZeppelin & Co demo unit$350
    Shure SE215DDSounds like a typical dynamic IEM. Slightly bloated bass and narrow staging.V-shapedJaben Melbourne demo unit$100
    TFZ 3SDDIt's okay. It's a Chinese dynamic IEM, nothing special.V-shapedLMUE demo unit$65
    Unique Melody ME1PlanarSoft transients, low definition and odd timbre makes this the worst planar I've listened to.WarmStereo SG demo unit$760
    Tier D-
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    KZ ZS3DDSomething you would expect from a free earphone. It's okay.DarkThird party unit$15
    KZ ZST1BA 1DDDecent bass. Odd timbre. Odd tuning.V-shapedThird party unit$30
    RHA CL750DDEar-piercing treble makes it hard to listen to.BrightAV One demo unit$100
    TFZ 1SDDA little bloated at times and definitely congested.V-shapedLMUE demo unit$40
    AAW A2H-Pro V21BA 1DDGood coherency but sub-par tuning and sluggishy slow.DarkJaben SG demo unit$220







    Tier E
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    AAW A2H Pro V11BA 1DDDead, bloated, congested. Feels like I have to strain to hear even surface-level detailing.DarkJaben SG demo unitReplaced by A2H Pro V2
    AAW M404BAVery shrill and thin, completely destroying timbre. Just sounds awful."Balanced"Jaben SG demo unit$660
    Audiofly AF1603BANot just dead but almost completely devoid of treble. Double whammy.DarkJaben Melbourne demo unit$430
    Kinera H32BA 1DDCompletely off timbre, extremely recessed midrange and sharp, painful treble.Extreme V-shapePersonal unit$100
    Nuforce HEM42BADead as a doornail. Missing bits and pieces in its tuning.WarmJaben SG demo unit$330
    Nuforce HEM63BARefer to HEM4WarmJaben SG demo unit$450
    RHA CL1DDSo much treble to the point where nothing sounds correct.BrightAV One demo unit$280
    Sensaphonics 2MAX2BAOdd timbre. Technical ability isn't even that great.Bright neutralJaben Melbourne demo unit$850
    Sensaphonics 3MAX3BAIt's a slight improvement over the 2MAX but not by much.WarmJaben Melbourne demo unit$1,050
    Shozy HibikiDDSharp, shrill tonality. Average everything else.BrightPersonal unit$60







    Tier F
    ModelSetupCommentsSignatureBased onPrice
    AAW Nebula OneDDExtremely bloated. Like wading through a tar pit.WarmJaben SG demo unit$100
    AAW QDDJust a wall of bass with sluggishly slow transients. Extremely congested.DarkNull Audio demo unit$220
    Oppo MH130DDThe horribleness of this can only be experienced in real-life.Complete failureThird party unit$14
    Earsonics S-EM66BADisjointed staging and screwy tuning. Like listening to an earphone that finished a dive underwater.WarmAV One demo unit$1,000
    Sensaphonics 2X-S2BASharp and shrill yet surprisingly dead. Like shoving blunted icepicks into your ears.Bright neutralJaben Melbourne demo unit$750





    Changelogs
    27/10/17 (Officially out of Work-In-Progress status!)
    29/10/17
    04/11/17
    08/11/17
    11/05/18
    25/05/18
    17/08/18
    31/08/18
    10/10/18
    21/10/18
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  2. WaffleIron
    SHE3595 is god tier and you know it.
     
  3. crinacle
    -For future use-

    ... nevermind
     
  4. saltyrabbit314
    Could you elaborate on how you rank them?
     
  5. Mimouille
  6. Ahmad313
    Sorry for a stupid question ,
    What do you mean by + and - , for example S+,S- and A+, A-,
    The - sign you use for negative or what ,???
     
  7. crinacle
    Slight reshuffle, still WIP. Currently playing with the idea of tables and have formatted the S tier accordingly; please take a look and provide feedback.

    It's based on (a) overall detail retrieval, (b) tone/"naturalness", (c) transients and (d) tuning. Tuning in a more objective sense like unwarranted peaks and dips that affect the overall flow of the sound.

    I've gotten concerns that certain IEMs seem to not belong in a certain tier, even though they may just simply be at the bottom rungs of the tier itself. So I decided to go with a positive-negative grading system to segment the tiers just a little more.
     
    Ahmad313 likes this.
  8. Ahmad313
    I've gotten concerns that certain IEMs seem to not belong in a certain tier, even though they may just simply be at the bottom rungs of the tier itself. So I decided to go with a positive-negative grading system to segment the tiers just a little more.[/QUOTE]
    Thanks friend , now i can understand your list correctly ,
     
  9. Arysyn
    Crinacle,

    Your iem comparison posts are great and quite helpful. I'm very appreciative you've decided to do this, and hope your continued research keeps growing this list and your excellent audio frequency response graphs on the other thread you've created.

    However, I didn't get a response to a question I asked over at the other thread with the graphs regarding the Grado GR10e, which I thought at one point there was a graph for both that and the GR8e. If you have both graphs, could you have both of them posted, as that would be helpful. Although there is a possibility I could be mistaken thinking they both were there at one point, as I'm thinking the one for the GR8e went missing.
     
  10. crinacle
    Hi, sorry for missing your question.

    I just checked my files and no, I didn't make a graph of the GR08 before. I'll try to get it in on my next trip to the shop though.
     
    Arysyn likes this.
  11. silverbox
    S tier is so expensive. Can't afford :frowning2:
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
    Pakalini and alphanumerix1 like this.
  12. Arysyn
    Thank you for informing me. I may have seen the two Grado graphs somewhere else, but I can't really remember right now. Although, your graphs were very helpful to me in showing that there is a general tendency for Dynamic Drivers I've seen from graphs here and on InnerFidelity, to be either too bass-heavy for me, and/or V-Shaped. Balanced Armatures, while having a closer sound signature to my preference, sounds too artificial to me, which is a shame they just do not have that emotional sound capability of Dynamics.

    What I'm really looking for is a Dynamic Driver iem that is tuned more like a Balanced Armature , but still has an emotional warmth to to vocals, rather than the artificial sound Balanced Armatures sound like to me. On a few threads here on Head-Fi, I've posted a graph I had designed for me to show what my ideal sound signature frequency response is. I'll add it to my post here too.

    Essentially, I want a below neutral sub-bass becoming neutral through the low bass, mid bass, and high bass points, then upwards 5db through the low mids to the mid-mids, which are neutral, until beginning another 5db climb through the upper mids to the treble. There in the treble, I want a flat treble that is 10db above the bass, and 5db above the mid-mids.

    Sound wise, vocals more forward than bass, but more treble detail than vocals. I want the vocals to sound front and center, but just back enough for a wide stage presence to where the vocals aren't intimate, but present enough to get an equal sense between vocals and stage, or perhaps a slight bit more stage than vocals, depending on detail retrieval. Yet, the vocals have to be more present than the bass.

    I'd say that another good way to describe what I want is like an opera house or orchestral staging, but not like a huge concert venue, as the vocals would have to be far enough back to get the entire width of the stage in terms of presence equivalence.I'd prefer a sound where on the stage, the instrumentalists positioned equal distance left to right on the stage closest to those in the front row, with the vocalist in the center, but a slight bit back from the instrumentalists, exception being the bassist near the back with the drummer, with me seated within the first ten rows. That probably would be far enough to get a wide soundstage, without the vocals being recessed, especially with the bass and drums in the back giving the presence to the instruments and vocals.

    iemearphone-audio-frequency-response.png
     
  13. crinacle
    Just finished formatting the tiers into table formats. Cells will be filled in over the next few days, and then I can take off the [WIP] tag for real.

    That is a very specific sound signature and I don't think a lot exists with that particular FR (there's the Canalworks CW-L05QD2 but it's full BA) especially with a dynamic driver. If the measurements are to be trusted, perhaps the Hifiman RE800 or the RHA CL1 can suit your needs. Never heard them before though.
     
    Arysyn likes this.
  14. goodvibes
    The massdrop hifiman re-00 sounds a bit like that if you leave it stock. Nor that exaggerated but ascending from bass to treble.
     
    hakuzen and Arysyn like this.
  15. Arysyn
    Wow! You are right!

    I just searched for it on Google and saw some graphs for it on a Head-Fi competitor site I won't name nor link to, because of possible conflict with Head-Fi policy. However, it is very close to my preference. Any idea how I might be able to get these though, since they are an older model?
     
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