Best iem 2020 reddit

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Do you know the difference between earbuds and IEMs? Here’s the short answer.

Earbuds and IEMs are rather similar in that they’re both small, portable audio devices that are inserted directly into the ear. The biggest difference between the two is that IEMs are inserted into the ear canal, while earbuds rest on the outer ear.

This isn’t the only difference between these devices, but most of the other major differences stem from this one.

The difference between IEMs and earbuds is blurred and rather confusing. It’s much more nebulous than the difference between headphones and headsets.

Related:Headphones vs Headsets vs Earphones vs Earbuds – What Is the Difference?

At first glance, it’s easy to mistake IEMs and earbuds for the same thing. After all, both are compact and portable audio listening devices that are placed into the ear.

But herein lies the biggest difference – as their name suggests, IEMs (in-ear monitors) are placed directly into the ear canal whereas earbuds simply rest on the outer ear.

This difference may seem minute at first, but it carries a lot of implications, which we will list right now.

Earbuds vs IEM

Noise Isolation

Earbuds typically use an all-plastic construction. They are made with a one-size-(hopefully)-fits-all design. In a way, they function just like speakers that are positioned right next to your ears. In terms of noise isolation, these two factors – all-plastic design and outer ear fit – don’t fare particularly well.

Conversely, because IEMs are fitted directly inside the ear canal, they can offer a much higher degree of noise isolation. IEMs also use detachable (and replacable) ear tips that come in allshapes and sizes. Some feature a two or three-pronged design to reach further inside the ear canal and offer even superior noise isolation.

Now there is some fine print involved here – namely, you can kiss the great noise isolation goodbye if you aren’t able to form a proper seal inside your ears. To do this, it’s imperative that you find the right ear tip. If you need help figuring out which ear tips are the right for you, please refer to this article where we break down the pros and cons of several ear tip shapes and materials.

In any case, once you find the right fit, another benefit of IEMs will become apparent to you – the volume. IEMs can sound louder without necessarily exposing your ears to more decibels.


The closer the source of the sound (or the driver, in this case) is to your ear, the easier it is to damage your hearing.

This won’t happen if you don’t listen to music at excessively loud volumes, but the thing is, the reason we often raise the volume has nothing to do with the music itself. More often than not, we are forced to raise the volume to drown out the ambient noise.

IEMs basically function as earplugs once you form a proper seal, which immensely reduces ambient noise. Earbuds, as we’ve discussed, sit on the outer ear and don’t seal off the ear canal, therefore letting a lot of ambient noise in.

So if you’re using earbuds in a noisy environment, there’s no other option than to raise the volume. Even then, chances are you won’t be able to eliminate all the unwanted background noise.

Related:Headphone Volume – Are Your Headphones Safe or Too Loud?

On the other hand, you can listen to IEMs at a lower volume but hear the music better because the ambient noise doesn’t pose as high a hurdle for youto overcome. That’s why IEMs have become an indispensable part of every gym-goers toolkit. They stay in your ear and let you hear your music while blocking out whatever music is playing in the background.

This goes both ways. Sometimes you want to stay aware of your surroundings, like when you’re out jogging and you want to hear the traffic. In this case, earbuds often come out on top, although there are high-end IEMs out there that feature ambient modes which let you stay aware of your surroundings.

Sound Quality


Another reason you might raise the volume is that you’re having a hard time hearing all the details in the music. Perhaps you simply need to crank the volume up to eleven in order to appreciate the bass line on a certain track. Once again, the problem here isn’t the volume – the problem is the sound quality of the device you’re using.

A device with a better sound quality will allow you to hear everything you want and need to hear at significantly lower volumes.

What does this have to do with the distinction between earbuds and IEMs?

Well, everything, as it turns out.

The reason why many people don’t know the difference between these two types of devices is because they assume that earbuds are just low-quality IEMs. And this assumption isn’t entirely unwarranted.

Earbuds, as defined in this article, are typically devices you get for free with portable electronics (smartphones, MP3/4 players, etc.). They can be bought separately, but even then, your options are limited to low-budget solutions. You may be able to find some exceptions to this rule, but be aware that they are just that – exceptions.

Consequently, earbuds simply don’t offer high audio quality. How can they, when most models cost less than $20? Because of this, listeners will often try to make up for the lack of sound quality by raising the volume, which can be quite dangerous.

Meanwhile, IEMs can go for hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. Don’t get us wrong, you can still buy plenty of IEMs that don’t cost more or sound better than your typical pair of earbuds, but IEMs are available in all price ranges and can cater to all target demographics – from casual listeners on a budget to audiophiles with cash burning a hole in their pockets.

Driver Composition

In Ear Monitor Earphones

Earbuds often only feature a single dynamic driver.

In turn, IEMs can have several drivers each. A dynamic driver is usually there to handle the bass, but the mids and highs often get their own balanced armature drivers, sometimes several of them.

Related:Headphone Drivers – The Ultimate Guide

It is not unheard of for IEMs to boast an upwards of 5 drivers. As you can imagine, the clarity and precision that these five drivers can achieve will always outshine the single driver found in most earbuds.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t IEMs out there that feature only a single driver. As we’ve already mentioned, IEMs cover the full breadth of the price range, from budget picks to high-end, audiophile-grade and even professional models.

This is why we don’t like to use the driver composition or sound quality as the main factor that determines what constitutes an earbud or an IEM (as some other sources do, but more on that later).


Now here’s the tricky thing.

The common consensus is that earbuds are the more consistently comfortable option of the two because they follow the already mentioned one-size-fits-all approach. In theory, this makes sense, but since earbuds are often all-plastic, it can be a kind of hit or miss.

The models that feature rubberized ear wings or other types of fitting mechanisms can certainly help with this. But most of the earbuds you get for free with other devices are anything but comfortable.

Alternatively, IEMs can be incredibly comfortable, but this too, like the noise isolation, will be predicated upon using the right eat tip and forming a proper seal. High-quality IEMs come with plenty of ear tips for you to choose from, and you can always order aftermarket solutions or have them custom fitted.

Related:How To Pick The Best IEM Earbud Tips

But this gets us close to the “apples and oranges” territory, where we’re comparing high-end IEMs that come with all these options with low-budget earbuds (because they’re effectively the only kind of earbuds) and that’s just not right.

Ultimately, we all have different and unique ear canals. Some people will simply find IEMs unbearable to use, regardless of the ear tips or the quality of the device. That’s why it’s best to test these things yourself.

Other Definitions

Astro Gaming A03 In Ear Monitors

As we’ve said at the beginning of this article, the difference between IEMs and earbuds is hard to pinpoint. So how come we’ve basically summed up the main difference in a single sentence?

Well, here’s the thing: Not everyone agrees with this definition.

Some argue that the difference is in sound quality or the number of drivers. Others argue that IEMs are only professional-grade equipment used by musicians. Many professional-grade IEMs feature replaceable cables so that you don’t have to throw away your expensive device if only the cable gets damaged. Speaking of musicians, the IEMs they use are often custom-fitted to the contours of their ears to provide the best level of comfort. These IEMs are sometimes referred to as custom IEMs or CIEMs.

It is true that audio engineers and musicians only use IEMs while performing or in the studio, but it might be simpler to classify those as CIEMs, as CIEMs and regular IEMs need only differ in terms of audio quality (and perhaps the custom-fitted ear tips). And just as it is rather subjective to draw the line where mid-range products end and high-end products begin, so is it difficult to say where IEMs end and CIEMs begin.

As we’ve explained, none of these definitions are foolproof as they don’t account for the existence of a bunch of low-quality IEMs and the few high-quality earbuds out there and high-end IEMs that simply don’t feature detachable cables or similar features.

We like to stick to the distinction we’ve outlined for one simple reason: It’s the most user-friendly distinction!

How the device sits in your ears is arguably the most important distinction you need to be aware of when making your purchase as this will dictate how the device handles all the other factors like noise isolation, sound quality, comfort, etc.

What’s more, you should be aware that manufacturers will often use “earbuds” as an umbrella term that covers IEMs as well. After all, if something has replaceable ear tips, it’s an IEM; earbuds do not have ear tips because they aren’t inserted into the ear canal.

Samsung Galaxy Buds vs Apple Airpods Pro

But Samsung has the Galaxy Buds (not the Galaxy IEMs). The Airpods Pro are the highly sought-after true wireless earbuds (no one uses the term true wireless IEMs).

So be aware that, while it is good to understand what types of audio devices there are, not everyone uses the same labels, and sometimes even the manufacturers themselves will not bother with such labels at all.

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James Hudson
James Hudson

James is a self-proclaimed audiophile and tech geek. With his CS degree, 5 years of experience as a software developer and 2 years of experience testing audio devices, James is more than fit to be trusted in this field.


ranking list

S★qdc 8SL/Gemini/Anole VX
(Anole VX)Mild V-shapeReference tuning with good tonality and top-level resolution. Similar tunings across top tier models.SS+8/10BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit-2431S★★Sony IER-Z1RMild V-shapeExtended yet natural treble, realistic sub-bass focus and spacious imaging capabilities.SS1BA 2DDPersonal unit-3633S★Vision Ears VE8Warm neutralExtremely coherent signature with a pleasing tuning and high technicalities.SS8BAE1 demo unit2633S★64 Audio A/U12tNeutral with bass boostAmazing bass (for a BA), top-tier resolution and detail-oriented signature.SS12BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit0633S-★64 Audio Tia TrioNeutral with bass boostA more correct sounding version of the Fourte with slight cutbacks in staging and sheer resolution.SS-2BA 1DDE1 demo unit11037S-Elysian Annihilator (DIO)Bright V-shapeHighly resolving with amazing bass and treble extension. May be a little intense for some.S-S2EST 4BA 1DDShowfloor demo unit1073S-★★ThieAudio MonarchNeutral with bass boostA clean-sounding monitor with a bass boost near-exclusively in the sub-frequencies.S-S2EST 6BA 1DDReview unit1073S-Vision Ears ErlkonigVariableGood tonality, high resolution and an overall decent all-rounder.S-S13BAThird party unit21073S-Empire Ears OdinMild V-shapeA Legend X with the bass properly controlled and the resolution one step higher.S-S-4EST 5BA 2DDZeppelin & Co demo unit1477S-★Sony IER-M9Warm neutralNeutral tonality, highly coherent and decent detail pickup. The all-rounder of the IER lineup.S-S-5BAShowfloor demo unit21477S-★★Hidition Viento
(B-mode, custom)VariableBest-in-class tuning and tonal balance with near-perfect coherency. Recommended as a custom-fit.S+A+4BAZeppelin & Co demo unit-314113A+★qdc 8SSNeutralThe neutral "studio monitor" of qdc's 8-series of IEMs, lacking a bit in overall extension.A+S8BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit16133A+Jomo SambaDiscont.V-shapedLively and engaging with big clarity and detail, perhaps too much for someA+S8BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit-416133A+64 Audio NioVariableA decent bassy set with the m15/m20 modules, but really shines with the mX modules.SA+8BA 1DDReview unit16313A+Unique Melody MEST Mk2Neutral with bass boostPretty much the same as the Mk1, though with extra sub-bass presence.A+S-1BC 2EST 4BA 1DDThird party unit20137A+★Campfire Andromeda ()Warm neutralBasically an Andromeda without the treble spike and slightly boosted midrange.A+S-5BAThird party unit20137A+★Unique Melody MESTNeutral with bass boostA smooth, relaxing listen (in custom form) backed up with good technicalities. A+S-1BC 2EST 4BA 1DDReview custom20137A+64 Audio A/U18 TzarWarm neutralA rather simple and "mainstream" tuning refined to an extremely high level.A+S-18BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit120137A+Jomo FlamencoWarm neutralTuned to be more pleasing and tonally accurate compared to the old Flamenco at the cost of sheer detail.A+S-11BAShowfloor demo unit-420137A+Softears RS10Harman-neutralA little shouty and intense but very resolving and well-defined. A somewhat refined Moondrop S8.A+S-10BAShowfloor demo unit20137A+InEar Prophile-8NeutralVery "studio" like sound, heavy priority on technicalities if a little dead-sounding.S-A+8BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit-120713A+★★Moondrop S8Harman-neutralMore faithful to the Harman target compared to the A8, with a smoother bass response.S-A+8BAOardio demo unit20713A+★Kumitate KL-SiriusNeutralExcellent technical ability, well tuned with a dash of Japanese flavour.S-A+4BAThird party custom-420713A+★★ThieAudio ClairvoyanceNeutral with bass boostInoffensive, pleasant tuning specialising in extremely balanced tonality and bass control.SA2EST 5BA 1DDReview unit24321A+qdc 8SHMild V-shapeTonally, a slightly wonkier variation of the top-tier qdc IEMs.AS8BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit24213A+★★★Moondrop Blessing 2
DF-neutralVery well tuned from bass to treble, perhaps lacking in the last octaves of extension.SA4BA 1DDReview unit24321A+Ultimate Ears UE18+ Pro Gen 2Discont.Warm neutralSomewhat reference tuning with emphasis on tonal accuracy and naturalnessSA6BAPersonal unit324321A+qdc Anole V14VariableRather bassy even in stock form; fun and engaging, though at the expense of sheer technical performance.A+A+4EST 10BAJaben SG demo unit261313A+Empire Ears Legend X SEV-shapedA more upper-mid-forward variation of the original Legend X, which could come off as slightly more mid-recessed.A+A+5BA 2DDBKK Audio demo unit261313A+★Hidition NT6DF-neutralIf Etymotic made a multi-BA IEM, this would be the closest to that dreamA+A+6BANull Audio demo unit-1261313A+★PEARS SH3NeutralGreat detail pickup and solid all-rounder, perhaps a little strident.A+A+3BAThird party unit-4261313A+Empire Ears Legend XV-shapedHigh resolution hybrid flawed only by lack of control in the bass regions.A+A+5BA 2DDZeppelin & Co demo unit1261313A+Jomo Trinity SSV-shapedHighly detailed, well separated imaging though severely lacking in treble extension.A+A+2EST 4BA 1DDShowfloor demo unit-3261313A+Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor (UERM)Discont.NeutralThe benchmark of an era, dead-flat with an upper treble boostA+A+3BAPersonal custom-3261313A★Campfire Andromeda (S)Warm U-shapeHighly coherent, easy-to-love tuning and spacious headstageAS-5BAZeppelin & Co demo unit228217AMofasest M14Discont.Neutral with bass boostEssentially a more tonally "correct" version of the ThieAudio VS-A14BAThird party unit28721A★Empire Ears ESR Mk2Warm neutralPossibly the most pleasant-sounding of the Empire Ears lineup with decent detailing to boot.S-A2EST 3BAZeppelin & Co demo unit28721A★★Kiwi Ears OrchestraMild V-shapeVery well-tuned reference-y signature with a mild bass and treble emphasis for added energy.A+A8BAReview unit341321A★★ThieAudio OracleNeutral with bass boostFunctionally similar to the Clairvoyance with slight cutbacks in overall clarity and resolution.SA-2EST 2BA 1DDReview unit34331AHidition VioletNeutral with bass boostStrong sub-bass presence, slightly cut-back upper mids. A fun IEM through and through.AA+11BAZeppelin & Co demo unit342113AElysian Hades V2VariableUpper-mid forward signature with intense upper treble response.AA+6BAShowfloor demo unit342113AElysian Terminator V2V-shapedA more intense, upper-mid forward Terminator V1 with the same level of technical ability.AA+8BAShowfloor demo unit342113AHidition NT8NeutralColoured neutral kind of sound that works better with Asian genres.AA+8BAZeppelin & Co demo unit0342113AStereoPravada SB7Bright DF-neutralTechnically proficient but marred by a sharp timbre. Interesting concept.A-S7BAZeppelin & Co demo unit-534313AKumitate KL-FocusU-shapedSelectable bass response with the rest of the FR following a more "Japanese reference" tuning.A+A5BATreoo demo unit341321A★★Fearless S8ZWarm neutralSolid all-rounder with a safe, pleasing tuning.A+A8BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit341321A★Hidition WaltzHarman-neutralNeutral-fun signature that works both as a reference monitor and a rock-out IEM.A+A3BAZeppelin & Co demo unit0341321A★qdc 4SSNeutralHigh clarity, high resolution reference-type monitor with spot-on tone.A+A4BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit0341321ATansio Mirai TSMR "Zodiac"NeutralVery clean, monitor/reference-style sound.A+A12BAReview unit341321A★Softears RSVNeutral with bass boostVery well-balanced tonality with surprisingly good timbre, though slightly lacking definition.SA-5BAReview unit34331AVision Ears ElysiumMild V-shapeFirst decent implementation of Sonion's EST tweeters.A-S-2EST 1BA 1DDE1 demo unit38317ASony MDR-EXDiscont.Bright DF-neutralOutstanding imaging and detail retrieval though can be intense to listen to.A-S-DDThird party unit-338317A★★DUNU SA6
Neutral with bass boostTonality reminiscent of the Anole VX, though not up to the same level of technicalities.S-A-6BAReview unit38731A★★Sony IER-M7Warm neutralBalanced across the board, though doesn't seem to excel in any particular area.S-A-4BAShowfloor demo unit238731AVision Ears VE7Warm neutralFairly inoffensive tuning with solid technicalities.AA7BAE1 demo unit422121A★★Fearless S8F/S8ProV-shapedTonally pleasing V-shaped signature on a solid technical foundation.AA8BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit-3422121A★Lime Ears Model XVariableTechnically capable IEM that goes from decently neutral to warm and smooth in a pinch.AA4BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit0422121A★Moondrop A8Harman-neutralAn odd but surprisingly decent take on the Harman signature, with added midbass compared to the S8.AA8BAOardio demo unit422121A★Massdrop x Noble K10Neutral with bass boostVery safe tuning, almost to the point of boredom. Does nothing wrong but nothing right either.AA10BAStereo SG demo unit0422121A★qdc 5SHV-shapedFun, lively signature that retains high levels of performance.AA5BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit0422121A★Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered (UERR)Neutral with laid-back trebleWarm with good tonality. Good all-rounder albeit definitely not a reference signature.AA3BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit1422121A★ThieAudio Voyager 14 (V14)NeutralEvokes a qdc-ish house sound, though stumbles in both tuning refinement and technicalities.AA14BAThird party unit422121AFitEar MHSRWarm neutralA MH with more treble extension and more opened imaging.AA4BAThird party unit3422121AFiR M3Warm neutralInteresting tubeless technology, though the imaging improvements are minimal.AA2BA 1DDShowfloor demo unit422121AFiR M4Warm neutralToo similar to the M3 to be worth the price markup.AA3BA 1DDShowfloor demo unit422121AJH RoxanneWarmRich and smooth, perfect for male vocalsAA12BAA2A Melbourne demo unit4422121AJomo Trinity BrassWarmThe warmer of the Trinity models, sacrificing technical ability for a more pleasing and smoother tone.AA2EST 4BA 1DDShowfloor demo unit2422121ALime Ears AetherNeutral with bass boostExcellent clarity and tone but marred slightly by slightly lackluster resolutionAA5BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit1422121AMoondrop SolisWarm DF-neutralA good implementation of the EST drivers with Moondrop's signature tuning specialties.AA4BA 2ESTReview unit422121ANoble K10 EncoreNeutralReference oriented sound focused on technicalities.AA10BAStereo SG demo unit-1422121ANoble KatanaNeutral with laid-back trebleLike the K10, except with less bass.AA9BAStereo SG demo unit-1422121AOriolus MK2V-shapedLively yet non-fatiguing hybrid experience.AA3BA 1DDZeppelin & Co demo unit-2422121AStealthsonics U9 JDMNeutral with bass boostDoes away with the timbre issues of the standard U9.AA8BA 1DDShowfloor demo unit0422121AWestone ES60Neutral with laid-back trebleGreat timbre and well-tuned, held back by its resolutionAA6BAA2A Melbourne demo unit2422121A-Sony MDR-EXST/MDRBright neutralA more forgiving, warmer version of the EXA-A+DDThird party unit-2443113A-Softears TuriiMild V-shapeResolving and fairly well-tuned dynamic-driver IEM.A-A+DDShowfloor demo unit443113A-JVC HA-FWDF-neutralIntense and shouty DF-style signature with solid resolution.B+S-DDStereo SG demo unit50437A-★★Drop + JVC HA-FDX1NeutralHighly technical sound with a clean, well-tuned neutral signature.AA-DDReview unit522131A-★Etymotic ER4XRDF-neutralA more mainstream tuning of the ER4S/SR with slightly boosted bass.AA-BAZeppelin & Co demo unit-4522131A-★Moondrop BlessingHarman-neutralAll rounder that comes the closest to the Harman Target.AA-4BA 1DDReview unit-4522131A-★NocturnaL AtlantisNeutralReference signature with immense clarity and energy.AA-4BATreoo demo unit-3522131A-Elysian PoseidonNeutral with bass boostGood, inoffensive midrange tone and bass tuning, marred by the lack of low-level detailing.AA-6BA 1DDShowfloor demo unit522131A-FiR M5WarmWarmer than the M3 and M4 with lower resolution.AA-1EST 3BA 1DDShowfloor demo unit522131A-InEar SD5Warm V-shapeExcels in timbre reproduction and has an overall pleasant signature.AA-5BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit2522131A-Sony Justear XJE-MH2 "Club"Warm DF-neutralNice, pleasant signature that is reminiscent of a more textured HSAA-1BA 1DDThird party custom1522131A-Hidition NT6 ProNeutral with bass boostA V-shaped version of the NT6. The change in tuning kills the technical ability slightlyA-A6BANull Audio demo unit1523121A-Unique Melody Mason V3+Bright neutralDecent resolution, nothing really special otherwise.A-A16BAMunkong Gadget demo unit523121A-★ThieAudio ExcaliburV-shapedProbably the weakest of the ThieAudioA-A2EST 2BA 1DDReview unit523121A-HYLA SardaU-shapedStandard "HYLA" house sound, doesn't do much different from the CE-5 and TE-5B.B+A+1Piezo 2BA 1DDZeppelin & Co demo unit564313A-★HYLA CE-5U-shapedProbably the best bass response I've ever heard. Thin-ish midrange that sounds unnatural on certain instruments.B+A+1Piezo 2BA 1DDZeppelin & Co demo unit-4564313A-HYLA TE-5BU-shapedSimilar to the CE-5 though ever-so-slightly thinner in the midrange.B+A+1Piezo 2BA 1DDZeppelin & Co demo unit-4564313A-Shure KSEBright U-shapeEasily at the top in terms of resolution and definition, but comes with a big treble spike and slightly odd mids.BS+ElectrostaticA2A Melbourne demo unit-558571A-Dita DreamV-shapedExcellent resolution and detail let down by its metallic tonality and thin midrangeBSDDZeppelin & Co demo unit-360573A-Acoustune HSTiDiscont.U-shapedSub-bass focused emphasis balanced out by midtreble peaks.A-A-DDZeppelin & Co demo unit623131A-See Audio NeoNeutral with bass boostWell-balanced tonality with good resolution; emphasised bass with good control.A-A-10BAOardio demo unit623131A-★Acoustune HSV-shapedWell textured and energetic with a sub-bass focus.A-A-DDZeppelin & Co demo unit-2623131A-qdc DmagicNeutralProbably the best triple-DD IEM out there by virtue of not being a hot mess tonally.A-A-3DDMusic Sanctuary demo unit623131B+★★★Etymotic ER2SE/ER2XR
DF-neutralSlightly less detailed than the ER4, but without the usual BA timbre.AB+DDZeppelin & Co demo unit642143B+★Fearless S6ProDF-neutralTechnical tuning with very forward detailing.AB+6BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit-3642143B+★Massdrop PlusWarm DF-neutralReference-targeted sound with excellent clarity and detail, with a slightly more fun tuning.AB+3BAReview unit3642143B+★Tanchjim OxygenHarman-neutralOne of the best-tuned DDs tuned somewhat to Harman. Defined and detailed.AB+DDReview unit642143B+FitEar MHWarmPerfect for female vocals, but otherwise quite colouredAB+4BAThird party custom3642143B+Soranik IonWarmClearly inspired by the , follows the same strengths in female vocalsAB+5BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit3642143B+64 Audio A18SWarmWarning: the demo unit does not sound like the custom. Demos are sub-bass focused while customs are warm.BS-18BAThird party custom64577B+64 Audio N8BassySub-bass focus, rich and smooth yet relatively neutral in tone.B+A8BA 1DDPersonal custom4644321B+Elysian TerminatorDiscont.Warm V-shapeWell rounded smooth signature that doesn't offend.B+A8BAShowfloor demo unit3644321B+Oriolus MellianusMild V-shapeThin and sterile signature that isn't the most natural, but still technically proficient.B+A10BAThird party unit-4644321B+Unique Melody Maestro V2"Balanced"It's there. An IEM that exists. Hard to find words for this one.B+A12BAStereo SG demo unit-3644321B+Sennheiser IEU-shapedWell-resolving DD IEM with excellent treble control, though with somewhat weak mid-high harmonics.BA+DDReview loaner705713B+★Prisma AzulNeutralA well-balanced neutral monitor bottlenecked by sheer resolution and narrow imaging performance.A+B2BAReview unit701357B+Moondrop IlluminationWarm neutralWell-tuned with natural timbre, ultimately marred by subpar detail retrieval and definition.A+BDDReview unit701357B+★★AKG NHarman-neutralDoes away with the timbral issues of the Buds+ and sets itself as a superior.A+BDDPersonal unit701357B+Gaudio NairNeutralWell-tuned neutral monitor bottlenecked by timbre and resolution.A+B3BAReview unit701357B+★★Samsung Galaxy Buds ProWarm HarmanMore lower mids than your average Harman-tuned IEM, but works in its favour by being more pleasant.A+B2DDReview unit701357B+A&K T8iEDiscont.Neutral with bass boostHard-to-dislike tuning with excellent clarity and resolution.BA+DDZeppelin & Co demo unit0705713B+Beyerdynamic XelentoV-shapedLike the T8iE, with a little more treble and upper mids.BA+DDZeppelin & Co demo unit0705713B+Noble KhanU-shapedClean yet lean, solid low-end rumble but treble get splashy. Technical but lacking naturalness.BA+1Piezo 4BA 1DDThird party unit-5705713B+★★Etymotic ER3SE/ER3XRWarm neutralAn ER4 with a bit less treble and upper extension.A-B+BAZeppelin & Co demo unit743143B+Custom Art FIBAE 7NeutralNeutral tuning with a more relaxed top end. Probably the best-tuned Custom Art.A-B+7BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit743143B+64 Audio A6tWarmVery warm and intimate presentation, though overall tonal balance is somewhat preserved.A-B+6BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit743143B+Ultimate Ears UE4 ProWarm neutralPretty much a mini-UE7.A-B+2BAAV One demo unit743143B+Ultimate Ears UE7 ProWarm neutralGood clarity and detail with boosted, warm bass and controlled treble.A-B+3BAZeppelin & Co demo unit743143B+★Acoustune HSWarm V-shapeWarm and smooth tonality with a pleasing tuning not many would hate.A-B+DDZeppelin & Co demo unit3743143B+★DUNU DK ProWarm neutralWell-tuned and coherent. Does little wrong and very easy to like.A-B+3BA 1DDReview unit743143B+★Etymotic ER4PTWarm neutralSlightly rolled off treble with good detail and resolution, though imaging is too two-dimensional.A-B+BAPersonal unit-3743143B+Custom Art Harmony WarmSmooth and easy signature. No fatigue whatsoever. The definition of a lounging IEM.A-B+8BAPersonal unit5743143B+FitEar TGDarkLike the MH with quite a bit less trebleA-B+4BAPersonal unit4743143B+HUM ReferenceDF-neutralBasically sounds like a shallow-fit ER4S.A-B+BAZeppelin & Co demo unit-4743143B+Jomo QuatreV-shapedNicely tuned hybrid that serves as a good all-rounder.A-B+3BA 1DDEuphoria Audio demo unit1743143B+Unique Melody MartianNeutral with bass boostWell-tuned hybrid with excellent bass response and smooth midrange.A-B+2BA 2DDStereo SG demo unit2743143B+JQ Hua JiangNeutral with bass boostSomewhat subdued and "safe" tuning with decent resolving ability.A-B+2EST 6BA 1DDThird party unit743143B+Elysian Artemis V2NeutralA detailed, somewhat neutral-sounding IEM that should fit most people's tastes.B+A-3BAShowfloor demo unit744331B+Audeze EuclidMild V-shapeCertainly far better tuned than its predecessors with the same excellent technicalities.B-SPlanarReview unit76733B+64 Audio tia FourteW-shapedUnique sound; high clarity and bass response with immensely wide staging, held back by a wonky tonality.B-S3BA 1DDE1 demo unit-376733B+★Sony XBA-N3Neutral with bass boostExceptional tonal balance only limited by its slightly smoothed over definitionAB1BA 1DDConnectIT demo unit3782157B+FAudio MinorMild V-shapeWell-balanced tonality and tuning, held back by middling technicalities.ABDDThird party unit782157B+Vision Ears VEWarm neutralAlmost VE8-like in tonality, but lacks its technical abilities.AB3BAE1 demo unit782157B+Empire Ears HeroU-shapedWell-controlled bass emphasis with a less-well-controlled treble emphasis makes this hard to appreciate.BA3BA 1DDZeppelin & Co demo unit785721B+Campfire Solaris (SE)"Balanced"Coherent and well balanced hybrid though with slight midrange hollowness.BA3BA 1DDE1 demo unit0785721B+NCM BellaU-shapedPowerful bass combined with clean sounding mids, though perhaps a tad aggressive at times.BA8BA 1DDReview unit-1785721B+★Libratone Track Air PlusNeutral with bass boostDeep and focused sub-bass response with a surprisingly balanced midrange tonality.A+B-2DDReview unit861373B+HYLA TE-5TBright U-shapeVery Japanese-sounding with a massive upper harmonic focus, too much for many genres.B-A+1Piezo 2BA 1DDZeppelin & Co demo unit-5867313B+★★Unique Melody 2HT “Terminator”U-shapedTonality almost reminds me of a HYLA hybrid. Well tuned with strong technical performance.B+B+1BA 1DDThird party unit864343B+★iBasso AM05NeutralWell-balanced tonality, slightly tilted towards brightness. Probably the best iBasso IEM yet.B+B+5BAZeppelin & Co demo unit864343B+★Acoustune HSV-shapedA less warm, slightly brighter version of the coveted HSB+B+DDZeppelin & Co demo unit864343B+Tanchjim DarlingWarm DF-neutralA tad shouty but with excellent imaging performance.B+B+2BA 1DD864343B+★iBasso IT04U-shapedA nice improvement over the IT03 though midrange hollowness still exists.B+B+3BA 1DDE1 demo unit-1864343B+AAW ASHWarm neutralSmooth tonal balance with decent technicalities.B+B+6BA 1DDZeppelin & Co demo unit3864343B+Empire Ears EVRNeutralA nicely tuned flat-ish signature with good technical ability all around.B+B+3BAZeppelin & Co demo unit-4864343B+Empire Ears VantageV-shapedA Legend-X-mini, essentially. Nice alternative on a "budget".B+B+1BA 2DDZeppelin & Co demo unit3864343B+Softears CerberusDark neutralLacking definition in the treble, otherwise a decently balanced tribrid IEM.B+B+2EST 4BA 1DDShowfloor demo unit864343BAya SirenNeutralVery neutral, very well-tuned, though not very snappy in the treble.A-B2EST 4BAReview unit883157B★★Moondrop KXXSHarman-neutralWell-tuned single DD with proper timbre and decent technicalities.A-BDDReview unit883157B★★Moondrop StarfieldHarman-neutralA cheaper KXXS.A-BDDReview unit883157B★★Samsung Galaxy BudsHarman-neutralA surprisingly well-tuned TWS with the technical chops to boot.A-BDDPersonal unit883157B★Sony WFXM3Neutral with bass boostProper tonality, solid technicalities yet with a consumer-friendly signature.A-BDDConnectIT demo unit883157BDita FealtyMild V-shapeThe more natural sounding and less technical of the Dita twins.A-BDDZeppelin & Co demo unit883157BKinera NannaMild V-shapeSurprisingly well-extended for an EST implementation; somewhat blunted notes overall.A-B2EST 1BA 1DDE1 demo unit883157B★JVC HA-FD01Bright V-shapeUpper-mid forward signature can get a little shouty, but a decently technical DD still.BA-DDStereo SG demo unit885731B★JVC HA-FD02Bright V-shapeUpper-mid forward signature can get a little shouty, but a decently technical DD still.BA-DDStereo SG demo unit885731BSee Audio KaguyaU-shapedSomewhat mid-scooped, decent bass and treble extension though with underwhelming resolving ability.BA-4EST 4BAOardio demo unit885731BiBasso IT07U-shapedMore similar to its predecessor the IT04, with more bass and less treble.BA-6BA 1DDZeppelin & Co demo unit885731BEmpire Ears Valkyrie Mk2V-shapedNot too dissimilar to its predecessor.BA-1EST 1BA 1DDZeppelin & Co demo unit885731BAAW CanaryV-shapedPoor implementation of the EST driver. Decent in tonality and timbre, but that's about it.BA-2EST 4BA 2DDMusic Sanctuary demo unit885731BAcoustune HSV-shapedMetallic and shrill timbre makes this hard to enjoy.BA-DDZeppelin & Co demo unit885731BDita FidelityV-shapedThe more technical and less natural sounding of the Dita twins.BA-DDZeppelin & Co demo unit-4885731BEmpire Ears ValkyrieV-shapedLots of sub-bass with extremely thin mids. Adequate technicalities.BA-1EST 1BA 1DDZeppelin & Co demo unit885731BUltimate Ears UE18+ Pro Gen 3"Balanced"Perceived more neutrally compared to the Gen 2; less emotional, more boring.BA-6BAMusic Sanctuary demo unit0885731BKumitate KL-CoronaNeutralWell-tuned with somewhat disappointing technical performance.AB-3BATreoo demo unit942173BUnique Melody Merlin V2Warm neutralVery tasteful and coherent tuning, if lacking in sheer resolution.AB-4BA 1DDStereo SG demo unit942173B64 Audio tia Fourte NoirW-shapedA bassier and warmer Fourte though also strangely sharper and less technical.B-A3BA 1DDE1 demo unit0947321BCampfire Solaris ()Bright V-shapeSimilar (but not identical) upper midrange problems to the original, with added sibilance.B-A4BA 1DDThird party unit947321BFinal Audio ABright V-shapeTechnically strong but going too far with the treble emphasis.B-ADDZeppelin & Co demo unit947321BCampfire AraBright neutralVery resolving set of IEMs, triggers the "uncanny valley" effect with its tuning.C+S7BAThird party unit94913BDUNU LunaMid-centricNeeds more work on the tuning front.C+S-DDReview unit98917B★★See Audio Yume
Neutral with bass boostExcellent tuning with impeccable bass control, though with mushy transients and lacking detail.S-C+2BA 1DDOardio demo unit98791BDUNU EST NeutralGood tonality, though the treble extension is its big Achille's Heel.B+B2EST 1BA 1DDReview unit4357BAcoustune HSCuV-shapedDeep V-shape signature with some odd treble spikes; very Acoustune.BB+DDZeppelin & Co demo unit5743BAcoustune HSV-shapedDeep V-shape signature with some odd treble spikes; very Acoustune.BB+DDZeppelin & Co demo unit5743BAcoustune HSV-shapedDeep V-shape signature with some odd treble spikes; very Acoustune.BB+DDZeppelin & Co demo unit5743BUnique Melody MavenV-shapedDecently resolving, decent tonality; not bad, not amazing.BB+11BAStereo SG demo unit5743BAroma Witch Girl W12Warm V-shapeWarm response balanced out by a sparkly treble emphasis; good technicalities, if a little narrow-sounding.BB+12BAAV One demo unit5743B★AAW AXH ()Bright neutralSharp treble though not to the point of being piercing. Decent rendition of the bright-neutral signature.BB+4BA 1DDMusic Sanctuary demo unit-35743BAcoustune HSWarm V-shapeA more textured, bassier and more energetic version of the HSBB+DDZeppelin & Co demo unit5743
  1. Ml350 2012 review
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The BEST KZ earphones

Best KZ Earphones

If you want to know which are the best KZ earphones on the market, you came to the right place.

Our team has reviewed every single modern model from KZ and has selected the best of the best KZ earphones on the market.

KZ has been evolving into a well-known brand for their bang for buck performance and premium specs.

On the other hand, the brand has released such a large amount of models that can be overwhelming when trying to choose the right one.

To help you in the process of choosing one, our Editors have created the following chart with the best KZ earphones.

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Guide and advice:

If you are visiting this page on a mobile device or a device with a small screen size, you might need to scroll/swipe right on the table to see all the products listed.

You can find all the scores, of each model that our team has reviewed so far, on our Scores Comparison page.

Each model has been chosen according to features that adapt better to specific categories, their performance or other pertinent reasons.

We recommend to read the full review of each model to get a deeper insight of each product&#;s performance.

Discount coupon codes might be available for one or more models listed in the chart.

To look up for the discount coupons you can visit our Coupons pages for each shop &#; Aliexpress Coupons, Amazon Coupons

Best KZ Earphones

Scroll the chart to the right to see all entries

Other Best KZ Earphones charts:

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the best KZ earphone overall

Full review

Selecting a best bang for buck KZ earphone is no easy task, as the brand mainly aims to a &#;bang for buck market&#;

Nonetheless, the KZ ZS10 PRO might be the best KZ earphone overall and the best KZ bang for buck model to date.

The nice aesthetics, small size, premium penta driver configuration and metal reinforced back plate add up to the value for money offered by the KZ ZS10 PRO.


It is important to highlight that the KZ ZS10 PRO differentiates from most of KZ earphones with a less bloated bass and more dynamic sound signature &#; if you want a classically bass-intense KZ earphone you should look at our Best KZ earphones for bass.

Why the KZ BA10 is not even a runner-up? The KZ BA10 offers a great bang for buck regarding sound and build but with it&#;s large size and sharp angles, can make it uncomfortable to many users.

Other KZ earphones released nearby the KZ ZS10 PRO:

  • KZ AS12 &#; latest 6 balanced armature model
  • KZ AS16 &#; 8 balanced armature drivers per side
  • KZ ZSN PRO &#; a dual driver from the &#;PRO&#; family

Buy NowAliexpress Buy NowAmazon


  • CCA C16 &#; also 16 drivers like the KZ AS16, with nearly the same housings, bit worse aesthetics but better tuning
  • CCA A10 &#; 5 balanced armature drivers per side

See all the Best Bang for Buck KZ earphones, here


the best bang for buck KZ earphone (with a tight budget)

Full review

The KZ ZSN offers a lot for just some bucks with it&#;s dual hybrid drivers, removable cables and metal back plate.

The model can fulfill most listener&#;s sound demands while remaining aesthetically appealing, rugged and comfortable.


Far from reaching the $50 price tag, the KZ ZSN is a hard contender to beat in the bang for buck territory.

Other KZ earphones with similar price and driver configuration:

Buy NowAliexpress Buy NowAmazon


See all the Best KZ earphones under $20, here


the most technically advanced KZ earphone

Now succeeded by the KZ AST, though the AST has a ridiculously greedy prize and a shamefully poor performance with less than mediocre sound.

Full review

KZ unleashed an ambitious earphone with the KZ AS16, being the very first model from the brand to hold 16 drivers in total (that is where the model name comes from), though the real quantity of drivers is 8 per side with a total of 16 if you sum the drivers in both earpieces.

To date, the KZ AS16 is the brand&#;s earphone with the most advanced tech specs &#; belonging to the line of all-balanced armature drivers.

Nonetheless, the KZ AS16 is not be the best sounding KZ earphone to date.


It is worth considering that, to hold all these drivers, the unit is larger than many other earphones from KZ.

Other KZ earphones from this line:

  • KZ AS12 &#; 6 balanced armature drivers per side
  • KZ AS10 &#; 5 balanced armature drivers per side
  • KZ AS06 &#; 3 balanced armature drivers per side

Buy NowAliexpress Buy NowAmazon


  • KZ BA10 &#; 5 balanced armature drivers per side and metal build
  • CCA C16 &#; also 16 drivers like the KZ AS16, with nearly the same housings, bit worse aesthetics but better tuning
  • CCA A10 &#; 5 balanced armature drivers per side

See all the Best KZ earphones under $50, here


the most rugged KZ earphone

Full review

The KZ ZS7 is a penta driver model with 4 balanced armature drivers and a single dynamic driver and a rugged all-metal build.

The brand has experimented with this kind of build with some of their models but, KZ&#;s catalog usually offers more earphones made of plastic than those of metal.


Other KZ earphones from the ZS line:

Buy Aliexpress Buy Amazon


See all the Best KZ earphones for Bass, here


the best cheapest KZ earphone

Full review

The KZ ZST PRO is a classic earphones from the brand with a dual, hybrid configuration made of a dynamic driver and a balanced armature driver.

This was the second version of the KZ ZST models; both being the earphones that set a new bar in the bang for buck market and which jump started KZ to it&#;s fame as a viable super budget brand with great performance.


Despite the low price, the KZ ZST PRO still holds a worthy title as one of the best cheapest KZ earphones.

Other KZ earphones from the PRO line:

Buy Amazon Buy Aliexpress


See all the Best KZ earphones for Bassheads, here

All Best KZ Earphones charts:

Best basshead KZ earphones

Best Basshead KZ Earphones

Posted: July 10,

Best Basshead KZ Earphones Bassy is not enough for you, you want your head to rumble and your eardrums to shake with sub-bass, then you want is the Best Basshead KZ earphones. After reviewing every KZ earphone on the market,[&#;]

Best Smallest KZ Earphones

Posted: July 10,

Best Smallest KZ earphones If you were wondering which are the best smallest KZ earphones on the market that can still offer worthy sound quality, our editors have done the work for you Recommended for you: Aliexpress Coupons Amazon Coupons[&#;]

Best KZ earphones under $50

Best KZ Earphones under $50

Posted: July 10,

Best KZ Earphones under $50 When getting in this price range, people looking for a superior KZ earphone will be glad to see that there are many options available as the Best KZ Earphones under $50 but not every KZ[&#;]

Best KZ earphones under $20

Best KZ Earphones under $20

Posted: July 10,

Best KZ Earphones under $20 KZ has many earphones with a very cheap price tag but not every model is truly worthy. If you are looking to know which are the Best KZ earphones under $20, you reached the best[&#;]

Best KZ earphones for working out

Best KZ Earphones for Working Out

Posted: July 10,

Best KZ Earphones for Working Out Despite truly being only one best KZ earphone for working out with the correct features and technical specifications for this use, there are other models that can be, also, well-adapted as the best KZ[&#;]

Best KZ earphones for sleeping

Best KZ earphones for Sleeping

Posted: July 10,

Best KZ Earphones for Sleeping KZ earphones are designed as music listening earphones and not as sleeping earbuds, yet there are some models that can efficiently adapt for this use. Recommended for you: Aliexpress Coupons Amazon Coupons Gearbest Coupons Best[&#;]

Best KZ earphones for gaming

Best KZ Earphones for Gaming

Posted: July 10,

Best KZ Earphones for Gaming Our team has selected the models that can provide that most competent response for gamers as to be named the best KZ earphones for gaming. Without doubt, earphones will not be the best-adapted kind of[&#;]

Best Bang for Buck KZ earphones

Best Bang for Buck KZ Earphones

Posted: July 10,

Best Bang for Buck KZ Earphones KZ offers endless number of affordable earphones but here are the list of the best bang for buck KZ earphones. If you are on a tight budget or simply love getting the most out[&#;]

The BEST KZ earphones

Best KZ Earphones

Posted: July 10,

Best KZ Earphones If you want to know which are the best KZ earphones on the market, you came to the right place. Our team has reviewed every single modern model from KZ and has selected the best of the[&#;]

Best KZ earphones for bass

Best KZ Earphones for Bass

Posted: July 9,

Best KZ Earphones for Bass You enjoy music with energetic bass and want the best KZ earphone for bass? We have tested and reviewed every KZ earphone to date and have selected all the Best KZ earphones for Bass that[&#;]

Best Headphones & Earphones Charts:

Read each KZ earphone review:


Headphones Scores Compared

Top Headphones Charts

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We hope you enjoyed this article. All the earphones reviews, earbuds reviews, headsets reviews, in-ear monitors reviews (iem), in-ear headphones reviews are made as objective and thorough as possible to provide our readers a way to choose the best earphones, earbuds, iem, in-ear monitors, headsets and in-ear headphones. By providing exhaustive information we allow our readers to even fine-tune their choices to select among the best budget earphones, best earphones for sports, best basshead earphones, best fun sounding earphones, most balanced earphones, least fatiguing earphones, most comfortable earphones, best looking earphones or even for the best cheap earphones to buy.  Our resources offer: In-Depth Earphones Reviews, Earphones Scores Compared, an Earphones Size Comparison Tool, a sound frequency cheat-sheet, an Earphones Amplification Comparison Table, a brief audio glossary with the most frequent audio terms and audio definitions, and our Earphones Top Charts (covering the Top 10 Basshead Earphones, Best Bang for Buck Earphones, Top Sports Earphones, Best KZ earphones, Best bang for buck KZ earphones, Best basshead KZ earphones, Best KZ earphones for bass, Best KZ earphones for gaming, Best KZ earphones for sleeping, Best KZ earphones for working out, Best KZ earphones under $20, Best KZ earphones under $50, Best smallest KZ earphones, Top Balanced Earphones, Top Fun Sound Earphones, top smooth sounding earphones), Best Xiaomi Headphones, Best Xiaomi Earphones for Bass, Best Xiaomi Headphones under $50, Best Xiaomi Headphones under $20, The Best Xiaomi Wireless Headphones, Best Bang for Buck Xiaomi Headphones, Best Deals and Coupons – Aliexpress – Gearbest – Banggood, Black Friday Coupons and Deals, Aliexpress Anniversary Sale Coupons and Deals, Cyber Monday Coupons and Discounts, Black Friday Coupons Aliexpress, Gearbest, Banggood, Amazon Coupons Discounts Deals Promo Codes Sales, ALIEXPRESS Coupons and Promo Codes – Exclusive Discounts

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