"Budget" IEM Help

After a decent IEM. I don’t know much about them.

Budget around 600 AUD or 350 USD.

Needs a good bass extension and slam. For laying in bed and taking on holiday, nobody got time for boring there.

Side note: Have small ear and ear canals, so I would be using the smallest tips that Comply or Spinfit make. And anything with a large housing won’t suit too well.

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These Etymotics are in your budget and will fit in most any ear. Given their thin tubular shape they go in deep and block external sound extremely well – they may even penetrate clean through your brain to the other ear. Based on commentary from @Torq and others I bought a set for travel (see the other thread).

From my (mostly lower end) IEM experience, I’d avoid Noble’s universal products. They have thick and short ear shafts that are often challenging to use.

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I had the Etyomotic HF5 a good 8-10 years ago. They definately created a good seal against my brain.

Hows the bass on the ER4XR? The HF5 I had were fairly lean, detailed, but lean.

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The XR name designates “extended range”, and has a bass boost versus the prior lean profile.

My initial impression was that these are not too different from the common V profile of many BA IEMs, to include low cost Chinese IEMs. As I write this I’m listening to them in travel mode just after using my Focal Clears on a THX AAA 789. My IEM travel mode means plugged directly into an iPad with no special DAC/amp. I also use the factory foam tips instead of the cone-shaped flanged tips.

Selecting Billie Eilish and The XX for their bass-happy production, the biggest difference versus the Clear is a notable loss of resolution and clarity. The bass is certainly present and strong.

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Thanks for the reply mate.

Im not sure how I feel about how deep they go in. Maybe something not so deep would be better.

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They are fine with foam tips, but the cones are weird for me.

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@antdroid any thoughts regarding this challenge? As our resident IEM expert? :wink:

I would say the Etymotics series of iems is a great start. If you want the most bass from an Ety, the ER2XR has the most bass amount as well as best natural sound as it uses a dynamic driver. The BA series (ER3/ER4) are better for resolution and slightly more treble extension.

I think the ER2XR is closer to the majority of IEM flavors out there in terms of it’s sound signature, but still falls short of being considered V-shaped to me, but it does have good bass extension.

If the super resolution and deep fit is concerning, and you’re sticking to that budget, there’s a few other options I like:

  • Sony XBA-N3 – single dynamic driver. Very nice mid-range. It’s got a bit of a bass boost though, which I do not like, but very natural mid-range and laid back treble response.

  • Dunu DK2001 - A very well built slightly V-shaped IEM that comes with a very nice cable. I wrote a review of it recently on my site: https://www.antdroid.net/2020/03/dunu-dk2001-review.html

  • Moondrop Blessing 2 - I’m currently listening to this one now. Purchased it very recently. It’s got kind of a big bore diameter though and does affect me with smaller ear canal size. Otherwise, the tuning is really ideal for me. Gentle bass boost with a flat mid-range response and pinna gain that isn’t overly harsh and even treble response. This doesnt necessarily have a big amount of slam but does have good extension.

  • Moondrop Starfield - $109 with similar tuning to Blessing 2 but with only a single dynamic driver instead of DD + 4 BA, so a bit less resolution, but fit should be better.

I’ll have to think about this a little more. Perhaps @toranku or @darmanastartes or @Titienne can help me here.

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IEMphiles to the rescue!!! See I knew I asked the right person :wink:

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I haven’t heard too many different IEMs but I was recommended the iBasso IT03’s when asked about some nice bassy IEMs under 300. The IT03s were my first iem purchase above 50 usd, currently 200 usd. They are V-shaped, intimate, and have an excellent bass response imo. Probably my most used listening device I own, very comfortable fit, tons of included tips, but the wire is a bit janky and would recommend replacing personally. I’ve also heard some really positive things about the isn h40s which sound like they’d be similar to the it03s with wider sound stage.

In my opinion the following are very good in-ear headphones with good bass extension and slam:

  • RHA T20i: they’re ~€150, so lower than your budget, but they have great clarity, good bass depth and physicality and a good overall balance which can be altered using the filters included in the packaging;
  • Shozy Form 1.4: at about $200 they’re a very good option, with a good amount of detail and a U-shaped signature that’s really enjoyable;
  • Creative Aurvana Trio: seriously! These little-known IEMs are great, with a very well balanced signature that emphasised bass and treble but still has good midrange clarity (mids are not recessed). They’re not the best thing since sliced bread, but honestly they’re great for the asking price;
  • Moondrop KXXS: I haven’t listened to the Blessing 2 and the Starfield that @antdroid mentioned, but these should be similar in terms of tuning with (supposedly, as I have yet to try them) better technicalities than the Starfield. They’re ~$200.

Last but not least, the BLON BL-03 are also an inexpensive option you can try, they’re surely fun and they seem to tick all your boxes.
I will think about this some more and will update you if I come up with anything more!

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personally I don’t like the bass on the bl-03, which is actually what led me to the it03s. Plenty of people do, and sound is very subjective but to me the blons bass was a bit too loose which kinda detracted from the impact. To me the blons have a lot of bass quantity but are lacking in quality and with the budget of 350 I don’t think they stand up in regards to bass response to some of the more expensive options. Just my thoughts and I’m not the biggest fan of the blons but there are a ton of people that do love them.

Thanks bud.

The Dunu currently has caught my attention the most. Nice cable, small physical size too.

Edit: Happen to know the bore diameter? Trying to see what super small tips will fit.

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What is with the Ikko OH10- just wanted to throw them in
Too large housing?

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Not very familiar with the newer offerings in this range but I will recommend from what I have used/heard:

  1. Campfire Audio Comet ($200) - I think this is the king in the sub $300 range. Comfortable, small and extremely decent across all frequencies to me. This is a safe recommendation for the use cases you are looking for. John Darko has a nice short film of sorts about this on Youtube.

  2. Shuoer Tape ($129): Some people say this is a bit shouty but to me it is very interesting because they are using a single novel driver. I have not heard such transparency in an IEM that is in the reasonable price range. Great bass and nice sparkle up top.

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Oh I forgot to mention, the iBasso IT01S is a good budget IEM that people like. Headphones.com also carries it. :wink:

Another favorite, which is cheaper, is the VSonic GR07, but I havent heard this one yet, and you have to make sure you order the right one.

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I would recommend the Moondrop Starfield, which I reviewed here. If you like them you can safely try more expensive Harman-tuned IEMs.

The housings are decent sized but the fit is pretty shallow, so I think you’ll be okay comfort wise. I too have small ears. They have good bass extension but they might not have enough bass quantity for you.

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@antdroid

First, I just found a set of Brainwavz B2 in my Covid-Cleanout. Remember those bad boys! haha. Still work too. Been 10 years.

Secondly, in that same ballpark budget. Whats a good option, smallish housing, that are warm and have a good slam to to them. Like a MDR-Z1R in an IEM.


Do you want to try MOONDROP Blessing2?

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My only concern is them being too big for my ears, as they look like most now, bit custom-like shells.