IEMs with $200 Budget
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TheEmpyre

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Recommendation thread - I'll keep it short and thank you so much in advance for helping me choose a good pair of IEMs!
 
Currently using: Klipsch S4A (android version)
 
What I am looking for:
 
1.  Something comfortable that can sit in my ear for long periods of time without hurting!
2. I enjoy the sound of instruments in music.  I listen to mostly Heavy Metal and then some Electronic/Dub-step-ish music but I appreciate the clarity of sound more so than having it totally ruined by too much bass
3. I do not enjoy emphasized bass, I think it ruins the sound of vocals and instruments but I do like at least some level of bass to make a complete listening experience.
 
4. Overall, I really like hearing the sounds of the guitars and vocals in my music, and then having good clarity of sound when listening to electronic music.  Comfort is a plus, but looking to upgrade my listening experience.
 
I have had HeadFiMan RE-400's recommended to me already, I have checked them out and they seem excellent for the price, but I am looking for additional recommendations from people who know so much more than I do so I can have some purchasing options.
 
Thanks so much everyone for your help!
 
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Kouzelna

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Hey Empyre,
 
I couldn't recommend the Etymotic ER-4 any more, as it basically matches exactly what you asked for.
 
I also listen primarily to metal, especially melodic metal such as Arkona, Serenity, Dalriada (Hungary, not Ireland), Avantasia, etc. etc.  And also to Vocal Trance, having a huge collection of both.
 
The Etymotics:
 
1.  Are a gold standard for clarity, detail and neutrality.  There is no purer sounding headphone in my experience.
 
2.  Are famously (notoriously to some) light on bass.  However, they respond extremely well to being amped, giving a deeper bass sound (though never heavy), yet they are designed to be run from either a standard MP3 Player / Phone (ER-4P mode), or with resistance cable from a regular stereo/amp (ER-4S mode).  I use a BSG CMoy on the go, and my Glow Amp One at home, or just run straight from my HTC One.
 
3.  Are the very best IEMs for blocking all external noise.  I couldn't hear a tank invasion with them on, if it was happening literally outside my window.  Perfect for all types of traveling, study, kids on sugar, etc.
 
4.  Are extremely comfortable for hours at a time, once you get through the first week or so of getting used to having them jammed deep into your ear canals.  They come with various sizes of both rubber (triple-flanged) and foam earpads.
 
5.  Are unbeatable for both quality and support.  I've had mine now for 10 years, and twice Etymotic has completely refurbished them for me, free.  They have a standard 5-year warranty, and even after that runs out, they keep each system separately numbered and check your transducers (I think they're called?) against their own individually recorded graph, just to make sure they're in tip-top shape.  I've had mine replaced twice, and the price outside of warranty is $120.  (They didn't charge me though, very sweet of them).  They even recabled my units in modern sheathing free of charge, as an added bonus.
 
Needless to say, they rock.  They are a little out of your price range: $300.  But you should be able to get closer to your price used.  Or, if you can swing a little more for the last, best IEMs you will ever own, you'll be glad you did.
 
Good luck.
 
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TheEmpyre

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Hey Empyre,
 
I couldn't recommend the Etymotic ER-4 any more, as it basically matches exactly what you asked for.
 
I also listen primarily to metal, especially melodic metal such as Arkona, Serenity, Dalriada (Hungary, not Ireland), Avantasia, etc. etc.  And also to Vocal Trance, having a huge collection of both.
 
The Etymotics:
 
1.  Are a gold standard for clarity, detail and neutrality.  There is no purer sounding headphone in my experience.
 
2.  Are famously (notoriously to some) light on bass.  However, they respond extremely well to being amped, giving a deeper bass sound (though never heavy), yet they are designed to be run from either a standard MP3 Player / Phone (ER-4P mode), or with resistance cable from a regular stereo/amp (ER-4S mode).  I use a BSG CMoy on the go, and my Glow Amp One at home, or just run straight from my HTC One.
 
3.  Are the very best IEMs for blocking all external noise.  I couldn't hear a tank invasion with them on, if it was happening literally outside my window.  Perfect for all types of traveling, study, kids on sugar, etc.
 
4.  Are extremely comfortable for hours at a time, once you get through the first week or so of getting used to having them jammed deep into your ear canals.  They come with various sizes of both rubber (triple-flanged) and foam earpads.
 
5.  Are unbeatable for both quality and support.  I've had mine now for 10 years, and twice Etymotic has completely refurbished them for me, free.  They have a standard 5-year warranty, and even after that runs out, they keep each system separately numbered and check your transducers (I think they're called?) against their own individually recorded graph, just to make sure they're in tip-top shape.  I've had mine replaced twice, and the price outside of warranty is $120.  (They didn't charge me though, very sweet of them).  They even recabled my units in modern sheathing free of charge, as an added bonus.
 
Needless to say, they rock.  They are a little out of your price range: $300.  But you should be able to get closer to your price used.  Or, if you can swing a little more for the last, best IEMs you will ever own, you'll be glad you did.
 
Good luck.

I will certainly keep your recommendation in mind, they sound like an excellent choice for me especially given our similar music taste. The price just might be a little too much. Is there a less expensive product you might recommend?

Sent from my HTC One_M8
 
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Kouzelna

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Absolutely.  You won't believe me, but my second choice for you, as it is for me, is the Panasonic RPTCM125K. 
 
I found out about them when LifeHacker compared 150 sets of headphones under $30, and using a panel of various field experts, every single person chose those as the best overall headphones of the entire bunch.
 
And the price?  $10.50 on Amazon.
 
Don't be discouraged: I ran through a whole slew of headphones in the sub-$200 range, including all manner of famous brands and models, and nothing beat these.  Amazing, hard to believe, yet true.  I've shared countless pair with friends and they've just about every one of them ditched their other headphones as well, and chosen these.  They also include a mic for using with your phone, if that's important.  They come with 3 sizes of ear pads, so you can choose the one that fits your ear best, keeping them snugly inserted and giving you the best sound.
 
The only other headphones I have now are of course my Etymotics, and my AKG Q701.  No, the Panasonics don't compare with either, of course.  But for the price, they sound amazingly clear, bright and balanced, do awesome with everything from metal, to trance, to spoken word, and are rock-solid durable.  And if something happens to them... I'll buy another pair!  In the meantime, I use them for all portable needs, bringing out my Etymotics only on longer trips, or taking them to the gym where I have to block out the annoying gym music.
 
For that price you have nothing to lose, I'd say, so give them a shot.  :D
 
They work awesome with my HTC and PowerAmp app.
 
 
 
(Sent from my HTC One M7, heh heh)
 
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TheEmpyre

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Wow, that sounds pretty awesome indeed haha, I might get those alongside a larger purchase just for the gym and other trips where accidents are likely :D .  I think I might just work on Saving up the extra $100 for those Etymotics, I've been looking up more reviews and read a lot of great stuff about Etymotics just as a company...What about their lower models like the hf5?  Do you know if those fit my listening style?
 
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Noobmachine

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Perhaps you might want to look into some Chinese IEMs? They're an absolute beast in the sub $200 division of IEMs, destroying most of their western counterparts in sound quality.

Check out some IEMs such as the Zero Audio Carbo Tenores, Xiaomi Pistons, Soundmagic E10 and my personal choice the Vsonic GR07.

I know it may seem disconcerting at first to opt to buy what most would deem an "inferior" Chinese good, as compared to the commonly highly regarded western IEMs such as Etys or Westone, but trust me (as one who has sampled a fair number of IEMs of many different makes) these are quality products with excellent sound.
 
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TheEmpyre

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Thanks @NoobMachine I looked into them on amazon for price range and noticed they were all pretty inexpensive and in my price range which is great. How do the Vsonic GR07 perform in the Mids and highs? Seems to be that's what I'm looking for here
 
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Noobmachine

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The whole sound signature of the GR07 is flat (mostly) save a slight mid bass hump. The mids are flat, and have decent body, not very lush though, more analytical than musical to my ears. The treble is sparkly and not lacking, but might not be as extended as some my like (like myself).
 
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TheEmpyre

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After doing a little bit more reading, I was wondering if anyone could provide any input on the differences between the Etymotics ER-4 versues the Etymotic hf5?  My main question is really whether or not I would even be able to tell the difference between them?  I really haven't been spoiled with headphones ever, I haven't owned any quality headphones so I am thinking either will be a huge upgrade for me.  Currently using Klipsch image S4's.
 
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Sattelight

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I haven't heard anything else in the price range so take my opinion with a grain of salt but I absolutely love the RE-400. They sound great with heavy metal, especially melodic death metal and the clarity is stunning. They're mostly neutral but they are a bit warm sounding. To me it sounds about linear with slightly rolled off treble but that's compared to the only other HP's I have which are the q701s. They are more "fun" than my Q's and the sound never causes me fatigue like the Q701's do.
 
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TheEmpyre

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I haven't heard anything else in the price range so take my opinion with a grain of salt but I absolutely love the RE-400. They sound great with heavy metal, especially melodic death metal and the clarity is stunning. They're mostly neutral but they are a bit warm sounding. To me it sounds about linear with slightly rolled off treble but that's compared to the only other HP's I have which are the q701s. They are more "fun" than my Q's and the sound never causes me fatigue like the Q701's do.
Ahh! You're the second person to recommend the RE-400's.  And I listen to Melodic Death Metal and Trance/Electronic mostly but definitely not a bass-head.  I'm torn between Etymotics and these RE-400's now....It's such a tough decision...I am thinking at this point that the Etymotics ER-4 are out of my price range unfortunately.  Gonna read up a lot on the 400's v the hf5s.  Thanks a lot for the recommendation.
 
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Sattelight

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  Ahh! You're the second person to recommend the RE-400's.  And I listen to Melodic Death Metal and Trance/Electronic mostly but definitely not a bass-head.  I'm torn between Etymotics and these RE-400's now....It's such a tough decision...I am thinking at this point that the Etymotics ER-4 are out of my price range unfortunately.  Gonna read up a lot on the 400's v the hf5s.  Thanks a lot for the recommendation.
I want to reiterate that I don't have any similar priced IEMs to compare it to so I wouldn't get them just because of my rec but these are pretty much universally praised. Joker has a very accurate description of their sound (to my ears) in this thread . I was in the same boat as you several months ago deciding between hf5 and RE-400. I was really torn about the decision but ended up going RE-400's. I haven't regretted it for a second but I may not know what I'm missing with the hf5's. I'll let you know that I have heard some reports of suspect build quality with these (from amazon reviewers) but I have had no such problems myself. The cable bothered me at first but now it's not a problem at all. The only real problem I have with these it that the cable cinch is basically useless as it won't grip the cables at all. That may or may not matter to you. Good luck to you
 
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TheEmpyre

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Thanks to everyone who helped suggest a few different headphones.  I ended up going with the Etymotic hf5's.  They should be arriving tomorrow!  I will definitely let you all know how it goes - I'm excited to give them a try!  First 'audiophile' headphones!  Getting acquainted with this community has opened me up to a world of headphones I never knew existed!  Excited to look around these forums daily!
 

 
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Kouzelna

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Hey TheEmpyre, just wondering what your take on the HF5 was.  I talked with Etymotic on their other offerings before, and they stressed that if I was used to the ER-4 then their lesser models would seem pale in comparison.  I've been thrilled with those Panasonics I mentioned, for bopping around town, watching movies at home, etc.  The Etys I use for longer trips and for all important sound isolation needs, and at home switching off with my AKGs.
 
BTW, in case I didn't mention it above I also listen primarily to melodic metal / death metal, and Vocal Trance.  Interspersed with pop or rock n' roll sometimes, and audio books.
 
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