Long story short...I've owned a LOT of headphones and IEM's, like a lot. The most expensive being the JH16 Pro FP and the Senn HD800. I was really into the headphone game a few years ago (like pre-2017) before ultimately settling on the MusicMaker Shockwave 3's as just my personal undisputed champion. Sure, others here and there did this or that better but over all, for some Chinese Hifi costing all of $250 these 5-driver hybrids were the cream of the crop for me and I've kept them for the past 2 years and haven't really tried THAT many other headphones/IEM's as I use too. I've tried others, don't get me wrong, but nothing I decided to keep and most importantly nothing really NEW and high-end. All my high-end stuff was pretty much, again, 2017 and before. So recently I discovered the CCA C16's, a 8 armature per side Chi-fi special for $86 on Aliexpress. Reviews seemed pretty glowing and 8 drivers...for less than $100? Eh, why not? So I got them today and, Jesus Christ, they blow the Shockwave 3's away in, like, every category. Bass is better, larger, faster...mids are way more natural and forward...highs are less artificial and more coherent. So it got me thinking...if for me a $250 IEM was beating out much more expensive ones I had owned but now a ****ing sub-$100 IEM beat that out I have to ask...has audiophile level headphones become a cheaper hobby? Is high-end stuff just now overpriced because "Made in Germany/Switzerland or Name-Brand"? I mean, I remember just a few years ago $100 would get you a decent pair of cans or IEM's...nothing to write home about and CERTAINLY not audiophile level but alright for some consumer grade **** and the more expensive stuff DEFINITELY was noticeable. So now that you can get a $100 pair of IEM's that hands down beat a $250 pair of IEM's that those beat IEM's costing 2-4x as much where does that leave us now in this game? I'm not tripping either, these C16's are honestly ridiculous and I'm having a hard time understanding how this works for this price. So is audiophile just simply no longer a rich mans game OR has the high-end that I haven't experienced for a few years seriously gotten THAT much better that the low end is now at high-end levels of years past?