The under $500 world

I really like the Comet ( it took awhile for me to like it though). I wear them upside down with the cable going over the ear I found that to be the best fit for me and it allowed for the IEMs to get a good seal without slowly falling out. I also use the MEE BTX1 bluetooth cable that I use with them in the gym. For $200 they are a really good value for build quality. I think you can probably find IEMs that will do things better than these for the price, but I can’t speak on that due to lack of experience with IEMs… I have beatsx, cheap skullcandy bluetooth gym buds, and in the past I’ve exclusively used the Bose sports (still the most comfortable buds/IEMs I’ve used). I also recently was lucky enough to get a good deal on the Campfire Audio Andromedas, and I still use the Comets even though I have the Andromedas ( I do use the Andromedas more, they are similar to my favorite headphones HD800/HD700, but you can change the sound signature with cables and tips, due to it being such a sensitive IEM).

TLDR: Comets are a great buy, give them time (I think either I got used to them or they burned in because I like them way more now then when I first started listening to them).

HiFiMAN He-400’s which has been discontinued for $300. In many ways they are superior. The newer 400’s don’t sound as good and HiFiMAN changed the input jack from their “old” connection to the 3.5mm jack which are notorious for coming lose over time. I should know as my amp has the same setup and I’ve had to send both amp and DAC in for replacement jacks every 2 years. Not good if you plan for the new 400’s to last for years. Knowing this I’d seriously audition the Sennheier HD-650’S.


We are going to have agree to disagree.

I’m curious about the CB-1. Has anyone else tried these?

I guess not. They are like $63. Just buy them and tell us what you think. I’m still enjoying mine. :slight_smile:

I have the Revonext QT2 and I couldn’t recommend them more for the price. They outperform many competitors up to the $300 range with great bass and mids for all your electronica needs. I use them almost exclusively with the blutooth cable that you can also find on amazon.

If you would like a higher end IEM setup, I recomend the Campfire Orion (my review can be found here). These are a great set of IEM’s which would work very well for electronica and have an optional bluetooth cable which @darthpool had commented on as well. They use the same connectors as the Comets.

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The Under $500 World. For me, I’ll go with the Sennheiser HD 700 headphones. The Sennheiser HD 700 over-the-ear headphones sound have no harshness or aggression in their sound. The soundstage these headphones deliver is more open and spacious than most audiophile headphones.

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@jonno, are you looking for in ear, on ear, or over ear wearing formats? Open or closed backs are decisions for on or over ear. Also, are you driving them from a smart phone or a dedicated system? Finally, if a smart phone, will you be using a portable DAC/Amp?

Bose and Sony both make good over ear noise canceling headphones. The newest models are just over $300 but last years versions are right at $299 US. These ‘phones have all the electronics built in but some complain that is not true hi fi. I personally enjoy my Sony MDR-1000x’s for casual listening and when traveling for what that’s worth. YMMV

You might want to consider the whole package when setting your budget. I’ve been trying to get a “perfect” poor man rig together, but it’s a long journey.

There are a LOT of under $500 options, an sadly the HD 650 and Vali 2 aren’t at the top of my lists

Vali 2 is a good choice for your first tube amp but I think if your a common man maybe Tubes aren’t your first choice.

For headphones there are a few good options,

The Hifiman HE 4XX $149 but only available at a limited time
The HD 600 at around $199 [second hand not new apparently]
The DT 880 also at around $199
The AKG K702 at around $199 [You can get closer to $125 ish second hand]

An for an amplifier I think solid State is a good place to start and at $99 the JDS Labs ATOM is the most recent amp I’ve heard that has really left a lasting impression on me.

There are others of course, an finally for a DAC there are again many many options, but I can say that I quite enjoy my EL Dac/ATOM/ K702 combo. The JDS Lab team has some of the best customer service around and their build quality is top notch. Plus I’m more of a Black finish kinda guy my self.

Your price new for something like that is $550 plus shipping, but B Stock and sales else where can easily get your under $500 for what I think is a very solid starting system.

Still though there are DOZENS of options, another is a full on Silver Ensemble with the very well received Schiit Modi 3, the Vali 2 and a DT 880. Again the Vali 2 is an excellent tube amp to start with and I think the DT 880 would be an excellent partner for it if your wanting to start your Audio Journey with tubes!


I’m going to be a huge fanboy here with my suggestion…

ZMF Classics, Schiit Modi 3 & Magni 3. $500 on the dot (not including shipping).


Ooh I imagine that is a nice sounding combo, I’ve yet to hear the ZMF Classics yet >.>

I wanted to buy the Tin Audio T2 for my girlfriend over christmas but ended up getting the Brainwavz B400 instead after trying it at my local shop. Needless to say I was absolutely floored with the performance. Here’s my review and comparison with the CA Andromeda (unfair I know):


Very nice review @Resolve. I really enjoyed watching it and I like you’re whole review style. :grin:. I too am an Andromeda owner and BIG iem fan. I have tried lots of mainstream iem’s as well as owning/own quiet a few. Along with the Andromeda’s I really love my Shure 846’s, I know that these have fallen out of favour as of late but man, if you can get a good deal, as I did then they’re great.

Anyway to my point. A few days ago I took delivery of the Massdrop T2 Pro’s. First impressions are that they seem a well made quite small iem with good sound. Thing is once I had listened to them a couple of hours I thought why have I bought these? Against the Shure’s and the Andromeda’s they pale into insignificance. This may is probably to be expected given the gap in quality and of course price. And I am not saying expensive always means better. But my point is that whilst the T2 Pro’s are great for the price once you’ve been spoilt with such great iem’s such as the Andromeda’s and Shure’s (IMHO) it’s hard to take a step down.

I aren’t sure what my point is myself but suffice to say it’s a first world problem, but I feel blessed to own such great gear to enhance my music playback.:grinning:.


It’s a great gift for someone, or one to use while doing activities that may risk damage to your nicer headphones. :slight_smile:

Yea, its hard to go back to some of my cheapies, but I find that I throw on earbuds when I want to quickly listen to something on Youtube on my iPad or whatever.


They’re definitely very good value and I am going to keep them. Gave them more listening time too. I may lend them my 15 year old done, but he destroys everything, so I don’t know. Happy New Year Andrew.

I like to watch Massdrop for the Bluebox specials. Often a good gift, and almost always a good buy.

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I agree. I just purchased five of the Monk earbuds for stocking stuffers for Christmas next year. They sound pretty nice for $5. I think they are good for a pocket set to use while waiting for my wife while she’s trying on clothes. :blush:

Funny, I did something similar. Sadly they’re too big for my ears.

May I recommend you try out the $6-10 Yincrow X6 or the RW-9? :slight_smile: They are way better than the Monks. I also find the Monk Lite 120ohm to sound better as well.

I just pulled the trigger on what appears to be a new Massdrop item. Koss KDE250 earphones. I got em because the are

a) Different
b) Priced Right $59 marked down from $249 list. I saw them on Amazon for $201.

I think Koss might have discontinued them. On their site, a search for KDE250 shows special free shipping though Dec. 31 2018.

And that’s all.