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Simple Man's IEM Ranking List with Measurements. 65+ IEMs ranked!

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  1. iems0nly
    Hello fellow audio addicts!
    I've now come to a point where i have collected enough earphones to make my own ranking list.
    If you know me from any of my reviews you might already know what the ´tag "Simple Man" stands for.

    This is called Simple Man's IEM Ranking because of the following 2 simple points:
    The simple man does not use any high end DAC/Amps to drive the earphones. I drive them using my smartphone, which is HTC10. I plan to upgrade to LG G7 or G8 once this dies on me.
    The simple man does not use FLAC or lossless tracks, etc., to enjoy his music. I use mostly 320 Kbps mp3s.

    Since rankings are a subjective thing it would be appropriate to know me little better.
    1. I'm NOT an audiophile. Musicophile is a term that would aptly describe me.
    2. I'm a man in my mid 30s.
    3. 90% of my playlist is filled with Blues and Jazz music in equal proportion, and around 75% of the albums are from between 1965-1975.
    4. I generally prefer Dynamic drivers as they sound more natural and realistic to me.
    5. I don't have a sound signature preference/bias. If done right, i will love any tuning.
    6. I bought and paid for all of the IEMs listed here, except Ultrasone, Sennheiser and Akoustyx
    7. I've currently set my price limit at 750 USD. I'll try not to push this to 1K.
    8. If an IEM has more than 3 drivers i will not buy them. It's a pet peeve. I like to keep it simple.

    About the list:
    The list is sorted by sound rating. There is no objective rule to the rating. Eg: Higher rating does not mean more detail retrieval, or better bass quality, etc. It is purely based on how much i think they deserve based on my experience.

    Ear-Time
    I think it makes sense to note which IEM i reach for the most, given all these other options available within my reach. It can help to gauge my taste/preference. Any extra data is useful, IMO.
    0 - indicates that the IEM is not in my possession anymore. They are either returned or given away.
    1 - (min.) denotes IEMs that i pick up, mostly, only for comparisons
    5 - (max.) these are IEMs i'm using on a daily basis.

    As you can see more ear-time does not mean better sound.

    Price (shows only approximate values)
    (x) - denotes that they are discontinued or very very hard to get.
    (x?) - denotes can't buy with confidence, too many fakes in the market.

    Driver
    nD - Dynamic
    nBA - Balanced Armature Driver
    n - number of drivers

    The list is dynamic, and is prone to change when i learn something new. I will add a change log in the forum, so we can keep track.

    Measurements
    Dayton IMM-6 + PVC tube coupler + AudioTools
    Please note that this is not a standard measurement rig. The FRs are useful just to get an idea about where the peaks and valleys are in the curve. Please take these with a tsp of salt. I know that the curve is far from smooth but have decided not to obsess over this. Just iron that bassline in your mind, and you have a fairly accurate bass representation.

    Navigation
    Hyperlinks under IEM redirects to detailed head-fi review.
    Hyperlinks under Measurement redirects to measurement image hosted is postimg.

    Please feel free to comment and add your own opinions in the thread.
    That's it. Enjoy the list, and Don't forget music!

    S.NoIEMDriverPrice (USD)Sound ratingNotesEar-timeMeasurement
    1InEar Stagediver SD22BA4009.5Excellent detail retrieval and timbre. TOTL2Inear SD2 measurements
    2Ocharaku Keyaki Ti Plus1D5509.4Pet favourite. Not for everyone. Polarising tuning, with greatly boosted upper-mids, distinct separation and unique positioning2Ocharaku Keyaki Ti Plus measurements
    3Sennheiser IE 500 Pro1D5999.3Daily IEM. Great detail extraction, wide soundstage, reserved upper-mids, fatigue free tuning.5Sennheiser IE Pro Measurements
    4Sony MDR EX800ST1D250 (x)9.3Perfect tuning, great timbre, with very poor isolation1Sony EX800ST measurements
    5Etymotic ER4XR1BA3509.3Neutral, extreme detail extraction and separation. Thin sounding.2Etymotic measurements
    6Ultrasone IQ1D1BA5209.3Immersive and exciting tuning. Treble slightly sharp. Big, but quick bass, vocals slightly recessed. Excellent soundstage depth and positioning1Ultrasone measurements
    7Etymotic ER2SE1D1309.2Neutral and natural. Excels in timbre, with great detail retrieval without sounding thin3Etymotic measurements
    8ATH CKR100iS2D400 (x?)9.2Favourite. Great tuning, perfect bass, with forward upper-mids.3ATH CKR100iS measurements
    9Ultrasone Tio1BA3509.2Intimate-neutral sounding. Great clarity and lush presentation0N/A
    10Ultrasone IQ Pro1D1BA350 (x)9.2Like IQ with more reserved bass. Mids slightly pushed back. 2Ultrasone measurements
    11Donguri Syou Kurenai1D250 (x)9.2Exciting tuning, with upper mids boost. Typical Donguri tuning with bigger bass.2Donguri Syou Kurenai measurements
    12TTR Surround Chonmage 31D1609.1Neutral bass with upper mids boost. Great clarity and vocals. Brighter sounding, can get shouty at high volume2Chonmage 3 measurements
    13Final E50001D2709.1Bedside IEM. Dark sounding, thick and smooth tonality, with good detail extraction in the treble. Works best at low volume2Final E series measurements
    14Final E40001D1509.1Lush sounding with smooth tonality. Amazing vocals2Final E series measurements
    15Sennheiser IE 400 Pro1D3509.1Like IE500 pro with more mid-bass and upper-mids. Relatively brighter sound2Sennheiser IE Pro Measurements
    16Olasonic FLAT4 Nami2D270 (x)9.1Made for treble heads. Great details. Hits sibilance easily. Extremely wide soundstage.1Olasonic FLAT4 Nami measurements
    17Akoustyx R-2202BA1999.1Neutral, great detail extraction, exciting treble1Akoustyx R220 measurements
    18Zero Audio Doppio2BA120 (x)9.1Balanced, great details extraction and exciting treble1ZA Doppio measurements
    19Ortofon E-Q51BA120 (x)9.0Balanced, great timbre, like heaven IV but slightly bright1Ortofon E-Q5 measurements
    20FAD Heaven IV1BA1209.0Balanced, very natural sounding - towards lush. Like E-Q5, less bright2FAD Heaven IV measurements
    21Donguri Raku1D1209.0Boosted lower treble. Bright and airy sound1Donguri Raku measurements
    22Co-Donguri Shizuku1D349.0Boosted upper-mids, airy, rings like a bell. Tuned close to Donguri Keyaki Ti-Plus.2Co-Donguri measurements
    23Co-Donguri Brass1D349.0Same as Shizuku, with slightly drier mids and tighter sound2Co-Donguri measurements
    24Acoustune HS10041D2009.0Sounds like EX800ST, with bigger bass. Great soundstage, reverberating bass.2Acoustune HS1004 measurements
    25JVC FX11001D2709.1Big bass.Warm and natural sound. Great timbre. Good treble details sounding slightly thin0N/A
    26JVC FX7501D180 (x)9.0Warm and natural sound. Better treble body than FX1100, slightly lesser detail and space0N/A
    27ATH E703BA4009.0Great details, dark tonality, slightly muffled female vocals, hits sibilance readily.1ATH E70 measurements
    28Massdrop Plus3BA2998.9Great details. Plastic timbre. Typical BA sound1Massdrop Plus measurements
    29Acoustic Research E101D1BA120 (or lesser)8.9Exciting tuning, big meaty bass juxtaposed with BA clartiy in upper-mids and highs. Coherence is lacking1AR E10 measurements
    30ATH E402D998.9Tuned like CKR100, more coloured, with wider soundstage. Rough with micro-definition, lacking refinement. Finicky fit1ATH E40 measurements
    31Sennheiser IE 40 Pro1D998.9Balanced sound, with great treble extension.1Sennheiser IE Pro measurements
    32FAD Piano Forte II1D358.9Best vocals, lacking sub-bass, good clarity1FAD Piano Forte II
    33Ultrasone Pyco1D1508.9Intimate sound with tight bass and great treble. Good positioning0N/A
    34JVC FXT902D78 (x)8.8My gateway drug. V shaped. Great bass, and treble clarity.1JVC FXT90 measurements
    35Final E20001D408.8Smooth sound, with good amount of air1Final E series measurements
    36Final E30001D508.8Smooth thicker sound, with lesser air1Final E series measurements
    37iBasso IT01s1D1798.7Balanced, full sounding IEM with impressive soundstage1iBasso IT01s measurements
    38MUIX IX30001D358.6Balanced sound with great tonality. Full sounding.1MUIX IX3000
    Vs iBasso IT01s
    39Sonicast Dirac + MK21D518.4Good sub-bass impact, sucked out lower mids, good treble. Bright sounding1Sonicast Dirac + MK2
    Vs LG Quadbeat 3
    40Akoustyx R-1151BA1208.3Linear bass, intimate sound, great male vocals, honky female vocals, laidback treble1Akoustyx R-115 measurements
    41MEE Pinnacle PX1D1008.3Balanced, pushed back vocals, peaky treble, thin sounding1MEE Pinnacle PX measurements
    42FAD Adagio III1D508.3Thumping, rumbling bass and shimmery treble. Very V shaped, and very exciting sound0N/A
    43Carot One Titta1D508.3Balanced sound, very clean and open sounding0N/A
    44Zero Audio Carbo Tenore1D458.2Balanced sound, great allrounder0N/A
    45Moondrop Nocturne1BA908.1Decent sound with good BA clarity. Nothing stands out0N/A
    46LG Quadbeat 31DStock8.1Big bass impact, full sound, well balanced.1LG Quadbeat 3
    vs MUIX IX3000
    47Final Adagio V1D80+8.1Treble head. Possibly the fastest dynamic driver, with extreme detail retrieval. Botched by rowdy, unbearable treble. Very bright0N/A
    48Xiaomi Hybrid Pro 21D1BA208.0Meaty impactful bass, with great detail retrieval. Upper mids can get a bit hot. Tuned for the masses0Xiaomi Pro 2_L+R
    Xiaomi Pro 2 Avg
    Vs Rock Zircon
    49Advanced Model 31D708.0Big bass, slightly muddied mids, shimmery treble. Tuned for the masses0N/A
    50ATH CKM5001D508.0Open sounding, very good IEM with great bass and treble (from memory)0N/A
    51Zero Audio Carbo Basso1D558.0Bassy tenore. Exciting sound0N/A
    52Panasonic HJE4501D258.0Balanced sound, good allrounder.0N/A
    53Moondrop Crescent 1D307.9Balanced sound. Decent all around, OK sound1Moondrop Crescent
    54Advanced M41D357.8Balanced sound, very good clarity for the price1N/A
    55ATH LS501D507.8Decent detail retrieval and separation. Very coloured sound. Slight lack of clarity1ATH LS50
    56Soundmagic E10C1D507.8V shaped. Tuned for the masses. 1Soundmagic E10C
    57Flare Audio R2A1D100 (x)7.8Big bass, warm sounding IEM. Great male vocals. Peaky and thin treble1Flare Audio R2A
    58Rock Zircon1D107.6very V-shaped with thundering bass. Still displays good clarity in the mids with bright highs. Better than Duoza0Rock Zircon LR
    Rock Zircon Avg
    59Zero Audio Duoza2D100 (x)7.5Bass-head. Gets muddy. Laidback mids. Exciting treble1ZA Duoza
    Vs Xiaomi Pro 2
    60AKG Y23U1D507.5Commerical tuning with decent clarity and big bass0N/A
    61JVC FR65S1D70 (x)7.5Quick punchy bass, great clarity. W shaped. 0N/A
    62Aoslens In-Ear Stereo Earphones1D157.3Good V-shaped IEM, with good bass and clarity0N/A
    63Soundmagic E18S1D107.2Decent V shaped IEM, tuned for the masses0N/A
    64Xiaomi Piston 21D257.2Muddy bass, mids, airy treble. Decent clartiy0N/A
    65LZ-A2S1D1BA507.0Fun sound, with muddied mids and exciting, boosted treble - typical chinese tuning0N/A
    66TRN V201D1BA156.8Typical chinese fair, with boosted treble and muddy bass0N/A
    67JVC FR45S1DD50 (x)6.8Bright sound, lacking warmth. Good detail retrieval. Possibly lack of sub-bass0N/A
    68HCK 5 BA Wood grain5BA1205.0Crappy tonality, muddy all around0N/A
    69Friday - Piano Forte fake Chinese1D404.5Boosted mid-bass and mids, lacking treble. Crappy sound0N/A


    BONUS: Over Ears
    S.NoHeadphoneDriverPrice (USD)Sound ratingNotesEar-time
    AGrado GW100 2D2509.75A revelation. Wide open and extremely detailed. Soulful mids with smooth, warm bass. Lacks sub-bass impact for EDM5
    Bnura Nuraphone2D3999.4Great details, clarity, customisable bass quantity and rumble control2
    CGerman Maestro 8.35D1D2009.3Balanced sound - near perfect, slightly leans towards birght3
    DATH MSR7SE1D3009.3Balanced sound - with excellent separation, leans a little more towards bright3
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2019 at 4:10 AM
    pufftissue, buonassi, dairy and 2 others like this.
  2. slowpickr
    I just love ranking lists. Thanks for your efforts. The Sony Mdr-ex800st is my current favorite (tape modded since I listen mostly to electronic music).
     
  3. MrDelicious
    Good post.
     
  4. iems0nly
  5. baskingshark
    Nice review!

    Though I feel some IEMs scale better with a good DAC/AMP rather than from a simple phone, so might be worth a punt to invest in a cheap one. In fact some nice USB cable DAC/AMPs can be gotten for sub $30 USD, and I find they make the sound quality better than from my simple android phone (I personally use a HIDIZS/Tempotec sonata HD DAC/AMP at 25 USD).

    I also prefer the timbre and tonality of single DD IEMs as I listen to jazz like you, but I think multi BA/hybrids have their role in generally having better clarity and details/instrument separation than the single DD IEMs. Maybe purveryors of music genres that require more details will be more keen to use BA IEMs than DD ones?
     
    buonassi likes this.
  6. iems0nly
    @baskingshark Thanks for the feedback.
    I do have a dragonfly DAC, and i agree that they make a bit of a difference by driving them louder.
    But, using them for my daily listening is impractical and tedious. I know that even if i buy a good DAC/AMP they will be sleeping most of the time tucked away in my cupboard.

    So, for my practical use and purposes, i evaluate simply by using my phone (which is my daily music player) to drive the IEMs.

    About the BA angle, yes., i completely agree that a good, well-tuned, BA will trump any Dynamic driver in terms of sheer detail extraction and speed -this is why the top spot is taken by a dual BA IEM.
    For the music i listen to, and for my taste, i see that too much speed (like ER4XR) kind of takes away from the musical enjoyment, and i also notice that a certain lack of speed (like the relatively slower BA of SD2) aids in timbre by giving them a natural decay.

    That said, I do see why some may prefer BAs over Dynamics. I guess it comes down to what turns one on, musically :wink:
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
    buonassi and baskingshark like this.
  7. iems0nly
    Which IEM should I buy next ?
    I'm considering JVC FW03, JVC FW7, Rockets, or maybe Faudio Passion.
    Anyone looking at this thread can help me decide. Will place an order beginning of next month :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
  8. papa_mia
    Appreciate the efforts brother.
     
    iems0nly likes this.
  9. baskingshark
    I have no experience with those sets in your post but massdrop is currently selling the JVC HA FDX01 @$250usd, which has three tuning filters to change sound signature.

    It seems initial reviews are saying the timbre is the best part about it. I was sitting on the fence for very long but decided not to get it in the end as the FR looks like a subbass roll off and I'm a basshead unfortunately.
     
    buonassi likes this.
  10. iems0nly
    Thanks! I considered the FDX01 and also the FD02. But, i think i might not get them after all. I'll wait for more impressions on the massdrop model.
     
  11. iems0nly
    I will surely get FW7, very affordable. FW03 measurements are sweet. They also barely have any impressions online.
    I mostly tend to buy stuff with very minimum reviews/impressions - so as to have this double satisfaction of being of service to the community :wink:
     
  12. baskingshark
    @iems0nly since u like DDs, there's a super hypetrain model now in the CHIFI thread, the BLON BL-03, single driver DD. $28 USD.
    I'm waiting for my set but the initial reviews all like it for the timbre and tuning. And seems it is suitable for jazz and acoustic type genres. I thought why not for 28 bucks.
    But seems the nozzle is short so some of the headfiers use longer nozzle aftermarket tips like spinfits or they do some mods (check out the forums).
     
  13. iems0nly
    This piques my interest. Many thanks, i'll check it out.
     
  14. iems0nly
    ibasso IT01S will be my next single dynamic! Looking forward to checking them out :)
     
  15. iems0nly
    Been listening to the IT01-S the last few weeks. Fit is a little problematic. Using small eartips to get a relative good fit.
    They sound decent. To be honest i expected a little more from them. Still tip rolling to find the best tips.
    Will take another 2 weeks before placing them on the ranking list.
     
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