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Simple Man's IEM Ranking List with Measurements. 70+ 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.

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

    About my personal taste and preference:
    1. I generally prefer Dynamic drivers as they sound more natural and realistic to me.
    2. 90% of my playlist comprises of Blues and Jazz music in equal proportion. 75% of the music were recorded between 1965 and 1975. I do use remastered versions when available.
    3. I don't have a sound signature preference/bias. If done right, i will love any tuning.

    About the list:
    The list is sorted by sound rating. There is no objective rule to the rating. It is purely based on how much i think they deserve based on my experience. The ranking is prone to change when i learn something new.

    Ear-Time - Shows frequency of use for general listening.
    0 - indicates that the IEM is not in my possession anymore.
    1 - (min.) denotes IEMs that i pick up, mostly, only for comparisons
    5 - (max.) these are IEMs i'm using on a daily basis.

    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.

    - Dynamic; BA - Balanced Armature Driver; n - number of drivers

    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.

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

    That's it. Enjoy the list, and Don't forget music!

    Simple Man's Ranking list
    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.4Sennheiser IE500 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 ER4XR measurements
    6Ultrasone IQ1D1BA5209.3Immersive and exciting tuning. Treble slightly sharp. Big, but quick bass, vocals slightly recessed. Excellent soundstage depth and positioning1Ultrasone IQ measurements
    7Etymotic ER2SE1D1309.2Neutral and natural. Excels in timbre, with great detail retrieval without sounding thin3Etymotic ER2SE measurements
    8ATH CKR100iS2D400 (x?)9.2Favourite. Great tuning, perfect bass, with forward upper-mids.2ATH 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 IQ Pro measurements
    11Donguri Syou Kurenai1D250 (x)9.2Exciting tuning, with upper mids boost. Typical Donguri tuning with bigger bass.2Donguri Syou Kurenai measurements
    12Yamaha EPH-2001D130 - 2009.1Clean sounding with great timbre. Excellent isolation and instrument separation. Daily driver, with IE500 Pro.5Yamaha EPH-200 measurements
    13Ortofon E-Q51BA120 (x)9.1Balanced, great timbre, details. Slightly bright1Ortofon E-Q5 measurements
    14Final E50001D2709.1Bedside IEM. Dark sounding, thick and smooth tonality, with good detail extraction in the treble. Works best at low volume2Final E5000 measurements
    15Final E40001D1509.1Lush sounding with smooth tonality. Amazing vocals2Final E4000 measurements
    16Zero Audio Doppio2BA120 (x)9.1Balanced, great details extraction and exciting treble1ZA Doppio measurements
    17TTR Surround Chonmage 31D1609.1Natural bass with sub-bass roll-off. Great clarity and vocals. Brighter sounding, can get shouty at high volume2Chonmage 3 measurements
    18Olasonic FLAT4 Nami2D270 (x)9.1Made for treble heads. Great details. Hits sibilance easily. Extremely wide soundstage.1Olasonic FLAT4 Nami measurements
    19Akoustyx R-2202BA1999.1Neutral, great detail extraction, exciting treble1Akoustyx R220 measurements
    20Sennheiser IE 400 Pro1D3509.1Like IE500 pro with more mid-bass and upper-mids. Relatively brighter sound2Sennheiser IE400 Pro measurements
    21FAD Heaven IV1BA1209.0Balanced, very natural sounding - towards lush. Like E-Q5, less bright2final Heaven IV measurements
    22Donguri Raku1D1209.0Boosted lower treble. Bright and airy sound1Donguri Raku measurements
    23Co-Donguri Shizuku1D349.0Boosted upper-mids, airy, rings like a bell. Tuned close to Donguri Keyaki Ti-Plus.2Co-Donguri measurements
    24Co-Donguri Brass1D349.0Same as Shizuku, with slightly drier mids and tighter sound2Co-Donguri Brass measurements
    25Acoustune HS10041D200 (x)9.0Sounds like EX800ST, with bigger bass. Great soundstage, reverberating bass.2Acoustune HS1004 measurements
    26JVC FX7501D180 (x)9.0Warm and natural sound. Better treble body than FX1100, slightly lesser detail and space0N/A
    27JVC FX11001D2709.0Big bass.Warm and natural sound. Great timbre. Good treble details sounding slightly thin0N/A
    28ATH E402D998.9Tuned like CKR100, more coloured, with wider soundstage. Rough with micro-definition, lacking refinement. Finicky fit1ATH E40 measurements
    29Sennheiser IE 40 Pro1D998.9Balanced sound, with great treble extension.1Sennheiser IE40 Pro measurements
    30FAD Piano Forte II1D358.9Best vocals, lacking sub-bass, good clarity1FAD Piano Forte II
    31Ultrasone Pyco1D1508.9Intimate sound with tight bass and great treble. Good positioning0N/A
    32JVC FXT902D78 (x)8.8My gateway drug. V shaped. Great bass, and treble clarity.1JVC FXT90 measurements
    33Acoustic Research E101D1BA120 (or lesser)8.8Exciting tuning, big meaty bass juxtaposed with BA clartiy in upper-mids and highs. Coherence is lacking1AR E10 measurements
    34ATH E703BA4008.8Great details, dark tonality, slightly muffled female vocals, hits sibilance readily.1ATH E70 measurements
    35Massdrop Plus3BA2998.8Great details. Plastic timbre. Typical BA sound1Massdrop Plus measurements
    36Final E20001D408.8Smooth sound, with good amount of air1Final E2000 measurements
    37Final E30001D508.8Smooth thicker sound, with lesser air1Final E3000 measurements
    38iSound MUIX IX30001D358.6Balanced sound with great tonality. Full sounding.1MUIX IX3000 measurements
    39iBasso IT01s1D1798.5Balanced, full sounding, somewhat warm IEM with decent soundstage1iBasso IT01s measurements
    40Sonicast Dirac + MK21D518.5Good sub-bass impact, sucked out lower mids, good treble. Bright sounding1Sonicast Dirac + MK2
    41Akoustyx R-1151BA1208.3Linear bass, intimate sound, great male vocals, honky female vocals, laidback treble1Akoustyx R-115 measurements
    42FAD Adagio III1D508.3Thumping, rumbling bass and shimmery treble. Very V shaped, and very exciting sound0N/A
    43Zero Audio Carbo Tenore1D458.2Balanced sound, great allrounder0N/A
    44Final Adagio V1D80+8.2Treble head. Possibly the fastest dynamic driver, with extreme detail retrieval. Botched by rowdy, unbearable treble. Very bright0N/A
    45MEE Pinnacle PX1D1008.1Balanced, pushed back vocals, peaky treble, thin sounding1MEE Pinnacle PX measurements
    46LG Quadbeat 31DStock8.1Big bass impact, full sound, well balanced.1LG Quadbeat 3
    47Carot One Titta1D508.0Balanced sound, very clean and open sounding0N/A
    48Moondrop Nocturne1BA908.0Decent sound with good BA clarity. Nothing stands out0N/A
    49Moondrop Crescent 1D308.0Balanced sound. Slightly recessed mids. Decent all around, good detail extraction for the price1Moondrop Crescent measurements
    50ATH CKM5001D508.0Open sounding, very good IEM with great bass and treble (from memory)0N/A
    51Flare Audio R2A1D100 (x)7.9Big bass, warm sounding IEM. Great male vocals. Peaky and thin treble1Flare Audio R2A measurements
    52ATH LS501D507.8Decent detail retrieval and separation. Forward mids. Slight lack of clarity+definition. Very good all-rounder1ATH LS50 measurements
    53Panasonic HJE4501D257.8Balanced sound tilted towards V, good allrounder.0N/A
    54Zero Audio Carbo Basso1D557.7Bassy tenore. Exciting sound0N/A
    55Xiaomi Hybrid Pro 21D1BA207.7Meaty impactful bass, with great detail retrieval. Upper mids can get a bit hot. Tuned for the masses0Xiaomi Hybrid Pro 2 measurements
    56Fender Puresonic Wired1D457.6Big bass, good vocals. Slightly muddied mids, shimmery treble. Tuned for the masses1Fender Puresonic Wired measurements
    57Advanced M41D357.6Balanced sound, very good clarity for the price1Advanced M4 measurements
    58Soundmagic E10C1D507.6V shaped. Tuned for the masses. 1Soundmagic E10C measurements
    59Advanced Model 31D707.5Big bass, slightly muddied mids, shimmery treble. Tuned for the masses0Advanced Model 3 measurements
    60Zero Audio Duoza2D807.5Bass-head. Gets muddy. Laidback mids. Exciting treble1ZA Duoza measurements
    61Rock Zircon1D107.5very V-shaped with thundering bass. Still displays good clarity in the mids with bright highs. Better than Duoza0Rock Zircon measurements
    62AKG Y23U1D507.5Commerical tuning with decent clarity and big bass0N/A
    63JVC FR65S1D70 (x)7.5Quick punchy bass, great clarity. W shaped. 0N/A
    64Aoslens In-Ear Stereo Earphones1D157.3Good V-shaped IEM, with good bass and clarity0N/A
    65Soundmagic E18S1D107.2Decent V shaped IEM, tuned for the masses0N/A
    66Xiaomi Piston 21D257.2Muddy bass, mids, airy treble. Decent clartiy0N/A
    67Boat Basshead 1001D5N/ADid not try. Colleague wanted these measured- a popular budget earphone from India.0Boat Basshead 100 measurements
    68LZ-A2S1D1BA507.0Fun sound, with muddied mids and exciting, boosted treble - typical chinese tuning0N/A
    69TRN V201D1BA156.8Typical chinese fair, with boosted treble and muddy bass0N/A
    70JVC FR45S1DD50 (x)6.8Bright sound, lacking warmth. Good detail retrieval. Possibly lack of sub-bass0N/A
    71HCK 5 BA Wood grain5BA1205.0Crappy tonality, muddy all around0N/A
    72Friday - Piano Forte fake Chinese1D404.5Boosted mid-bass and mids, lacking treble. Crappy sound0N/A

    BONUS: Over Ears
    S.NoHeadphoneDriverPrice (USD)Sound ratingNotesEar-time
    AGrado GW1001D2509.75 (Wired)A 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: Jan 24, 2020 at 3:17 AM
  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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