best in ear monitors
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4 Best in ear monitors & why we like them

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Let’s look at the best in-ear monitors and why we like them.

We’ll break down what qualities IEMs should have that are important to the experience.

Our best IEM picks

  1. LINSOUL TINHIFI T3 PLUS – Best budget IEMs under 100
  2. FIIO FH3 – Best IEMs under 200
  3. FIIO FH7S – Best IEMs under 500
  4. SHURE SE846 – Best IEMs under 1000

Skip to our reviews. ↓

best in ear monitors

What to look for in a pair of in-ear monitors

Sound profile:

Also known as tuning, the sound output is determined by several technical configurations like drivers, crossover design and material quality.

Drivers are the primary factor here which determines the frequency response, sound signature, imaging and resolution. Different IEMs have various of driver numbers and combinations of dynamic vs balanced drivers. The sound will be down to preference. Some prefer bassy frequency whilst others will prefer mid-range clarity as their priority.

Noise isolation:

Loud stage environments can be chaotic places with noise coming from the crowd, the acoustics or other distractions. You need your IEMs to have noise isolation features so that the sound you hear is focused. It will also save your ears in the long term by being able to listen at lower volumes than the rest of the venue.

Comfort & durability:

Comfort and durability are essential during extended wear. IEMs come with various earbud options and designs for different ear shapes and sizes. IEMs that come with multiple ear tips are preferable in this respect.

EIM materials such as aluminium or stainless steel can enhance durability, You want a robust structure that can withstand daily wear and tear.
The design and materials of the cable wires are equally important in determining the IEMs’ longevity. Cables will bend, twist, and constantly move during use. Reinforced cables made from the right materials help prevent tears and mean a longer lifespan.

1. Best budget IEMs under 100:
Linsoul TINHIFI T3 Plus

Price when reviewed:
From $70

Linsoul TINHIFI T3 Plus IEMs

We like:

Well-balanced sound profile
Clear highs and mids with controlled bass
Detachable cables
Comfortable over long period

We do not like:

Lacking inline controls
Noise isolation feels budget
Don’t buy if you need your bass

It’s evident why the T3s get nod from the budget-seeking crowd. The sound profile is balanced and detailed. Clear mids, decent highs, and a controlled bass make for a more than satisfying experience. The audio definitely punches above the price point.

The metal housing feels durable, and the inclusion of detachable cables adds the reassurance of longevity. Its designed for comfort and includes various ear tip options to make sure of it. Extended listening sessions (3+ hours) were had with no discomfort.

Microphonics can be noticeable depending on the context. The noise isolation could be better, and the absence of inline controls might be a deal-breaker for some.

While the T3s offer a solid performance, expectations should be managed. They won’t blow your mind, but they will provide reliable and reasonably impressive audio. A sensible choice for those looking for quality on a budget. Keep reading for our pricier recommendations for IEMs under 200.

Features:

  • Detachable MMCX cable
  • 10mm carbon nanotube dynamic driver
  • Dual magnetic circuit design
  • Ergonomic metal housing
  • Gold-plated MMCX connectors

Specifications:

  • Driver Type: Dynamic
  • Driver Size: 10mm
  • Connector: MMCX
  • Housing Material: Metal
  • Cable Type: Detachable
  • Magnetic Circuit: Dual
  • Plug Type: 3.5mm TRS
  • Sensitivity: 105±3dB @1kHz 0.179V
  • Impedance: 32Ω±15%
  • Frequency Response: 10-20kH

Where to buy?
Check price on Amazon

2. Best IEMs under 200: Fiio FH3

Price when reviewed:
From $110

FIIO FH3 IEMs

We like:

Exceptional sound
Impressive 3-driver system
Durable metal housing
Sounded awesome across multiple genres

We do not like:

No inline controls

Let’s start with the sound.

The FH3’s balanced sound profile is great for specific live performers. Its hybrid driver setup delivers clear mids and crisp highs. A well-defined representation of vocals and instrumentals. The punchy bass, while not overpowering, ensures a solid low-end presence for these IEMs.

With stainless steel housing, the FH3s are built to withstand live performances. Crucial for performers who frequently need gear that can handle the demands of touring.

The MMCX connectors add practicality. During live performances where gear might need quick replacements, the MMCX connectors make it easy. You can simply swap out cables in seconds.

Comfortable and fit for extended use. The various ear tips included with the FH3 allow artists to find the most suitable fit for their ears, minimizing discomfort.

While not absolute, the FH3 provides great isolation. External noise and stage monitoring can be a challenge, isolation can help performers focus on their own mix without being affected by external sounds.

The FH3’s simple design and sound make them work for different genres and performance styles. Whether you’re a vocalist, instrumentalist, or part of a band, these IEMs deliver well for the price tag.

A drawback would be the lack of inline controls. Some performers will need quick volume adjustments or track changes during live shows.

Features:

  • Hybrid driver configuration (1 dynamic driver + 2 Knowles BA drivers)
  • Detachable MMCX cable
  • Stainless steel metal housing
  • Adjustable sound nozzles (3 sound signatures)
  • 0.78mm 2-pin connectors

Specifications:

  • Driver Type: Hybrid (1 dynamic driver + 2 Knowles BA drivers)
  • Connector: MMCX
  • Housing Material: Stainless Steel
  • Cable Type: Detachable
  • Nozzle Adjustment: Yes (3 sound nozzles)
  • Connector Type: 0.78mm 2-pin
  • Sensitivity: 114dB@1mW
  • Impedance: 24Ω@1KH
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz ~ 40kHz
  • Weight: 7.3g single unit

Where to buy?
Check price here

3. Best IEMs under 500: FiiO FH7S

Price when reviewed:
From $399

FiiO FH7S in ear monitors

We like:

Rich sounding dynamic drivers
Clear mids and highs with a bass that drives impact
Solid stainless steel housing
Changeable filters for sound tune

Easily detachable cables

We do not like:

Packed with so much stuff makes it heavy

The real deal!

The sound profile is clear and balanced. Detailed mids and highs that feel premium in the ears. The bass is well-felt but doesn’t override the rest of the frequency range. Solid audio that listens well at the price point.

Build-wise the sturdy stainless steel housing feels indestructible. The MMCX connectors and detachable cables are a welcome but expected feature.

We didn’t find comfort to be a problem but this is subjective. They include different ear tips for preference.

The only drawback of these IEMs is the absence of controls. These could be a big sticking point if you’re inclined to them as a necessity.

Features:

  • Quad High-Definition MicroDrivers
  • Three-way System Configuration (Low, Mid, High Frequency Drivers)
  • Groundbreaking Low-Pass Filter Design
  • Adjustable Sound Signature with Changeable Nozzle Inserts
  • Detachable Cable with MMCX Connectors
  • Sound Isolating Design with Comfortable Sleeves

Specifications:

  • Driver Type: Quad Balanced Armature MicroDrivers
  • Three-way System Configuration: Yes
  • Low-Pass Filter Design: Yes
  • Adjustable Sound Signature: Yes (Changeable nozzle inserts)
  • Connector: MMCX
  • Cable Type: Detachable
  • Sound Isolation: Yes
  • Sensitivity: 114 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 9 Ω
  • Frequency Range: 15Hz – 20kHz
  • Weight: 27.6g

Where to buy?
Check price on Amazon

4. Best IEMs under 1000: Shure SE846

Price when reviewed:
From $899

Shure SE846 2 in ear monitors

We like:

Its quad-driver config delivers truly exceptional sound
Premium construction will last a long time
Replace/upgrade detachable cables easily
Solid stainless steel housing
Adjustable freq response through interchangeable nozzles

We do not like:

A relatively heavy piece of kit!
The noise isolation standard was not at the expected premium level

A perennial favourite, especially for its bass response and overall sound quality.

Our premium pick for the best IEMs under 1000 is the Shure SE846s.

Flawless and defined sound profile. Their 4-driver setup gives each frequency range its place to thrive. 2 drivers power the bass range, 1 for the mids and 1 for the highs. Crystal-clear highs, rich and detailed mids, and a bass response that’s not just present but truly felt. It’s a sonic experience that doesn’t disappoint.

Their USP is customizable sound signatures. Their included nozzles allow users to tweak the frequency response to their liking. Some might find the difference in sound subtle rather than bold.

Their isolation technology claims to block up to 37db of noise. We found that this claim might be questioned depending on your environment. It’s designed to feed the cables over the ear instead of loose and is thoughtful for those moving around at chaotic speeds.

These are going to be excellent purchases for live performers, audiophiles and gamers.

Features:

  • 13.3-inch Retina display
  • Apple M1 chip
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Force Touch trackpad

Specifications:

  • RAM: Configurable to 16GB unified memory when purchasing from Apple
  • Storage: Configurable options up to 2TB SSD when purchasing from Apple
  • Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Operating System: macOS Big Sur (upgradable to macOS Monterey)
  • Battery: Built-in 49.9-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.0
  • FaceTime HD camera
  • Three-microphone array with directional beamforming
  • Stereo speakers with wide stereo sound
  • Touch ID
  • Two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports
  • Support for external 6K display
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard with ambient light sensor
  • Force Touch trackpad
  • Dimensions: Height 0.16–0.63 inches, Width 11.97 inches, Depth 8.36 inches
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds

Where to buy?
Check price on Amazon

Why do you need in-ear monitors?

In-ear monitors are primarily used in a live performance environment.

When musicians are performing live, it can be incredibly loud and difficult to hear their instruments. This is because the stage can be a chaotic place with loud monitors only adding to the messy sound the musicians have to rely on.

In-ear monitors offer a few solutions at once.

Custom sound mix

Different musicians might want to hear a custom sound mix relative to what they need to hear. For example, a bassist might want to hear more drums than the keyboard. Whereas the keyboard player might want more vocals than drums. Each musician can choose their mix of instruments based on what they need to perform.

Noise isolation

Loud stage environments can be chaotic places with noise coming from the crowd, the acoustics or other distractions. Most IEMs come with noise isolation features so that the sound you hear is focused. It will also save your ears in the long term by being able to listen at lower volumes than the rest of the venue.

Prevents risk of feedback

That horrible high-pitched electronic sound at a live venue where something sounds wrong. Feedback is caused when the output sound is loud enough to be picked up by inputs like microphones. This creates a sound loop which generates the feedback sound.

IEMs take away the sound from the stage monitors, positioned towards the musicians. So there is less sound directed at the microphones which then decreases the risk of feedback.

Gives you freedom to move

Relying on stage monitors will restrict your movement range due to needing to hear the front of the monitor.

IEMs give you the sound you need straight to your ears. There is no need to be stationary. They allow you to move freely and perform as erratically as you would want to.

Do I need wired or wireless IEMs?

Wired in-ear monitors excel in live performances where stability and precision are paramount. Users like their reliability, low latency, and cost-effectiveness. Wired IEMs cater to those who prioritize a detailed and accurate sound profile. Wired monitors are better in situations where signal is crucial, like performing live or recording sessions.

On the flip side, wireless IEMs shine in mobility and flexibility scenarios. Performers can move freely on stage, fostering dynamic and engaging performances. The easy setup of wireless monitors suits fast-paced events. Like music festivals where rapid changeovers between acts are common. The adaptability of wireless IEMs makes them suitable for diverse performance settings. From large venues to intimate gigs, musicians like the freedom to connect with their audience personally.

Written by Sammy

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