USB-C IEMs with Good Isolation

So I’m fairly sold on getting a Pixel 2/XL now that my current phone is beginning to wear down. The Oneplus 6 (and 6T) are also still in the running, kinda, but camera samples off the Google kids remain vastly better to my eye, especially when pixel-peeping; I’ve no proper camera of my own but enjoy taking photos nonetheless, so image quality is a big deal for me.

The only problem now is that neither of the Google kids nor the 6T have a 3.5mm jack. I personally take exception to this particular trend in smartphone design (ALL THE DAMN DONGLES!!), but since I do most of my proper listening at home on my bedside rig I figure I can live with something not technically brilliant for when I’m out and about.

I’ve got smaller ears than most: I can just barely fit Andros in my ears and trying to wear the InEar ProPhile 8 was a laughable endeavour. No, lube didn’t help. For this reason I tend to go for smaller, bullet-type IEMs like the ADV M4 or the Ortofon E-Q5. Those of you familiar will know that these are v-shaped, and while I can’t say I dislike the signature (see: my headphones + my being primarily a low-volume listener) I’d rather go with something more polite in the treble to reduce fatigue. That’d be a warm/dark signature, ideally warm.

Mostly, I just want something that isolates well without having to resort to Complys (they degrade pretty quickly, I’ve got somewhat acidic skin); I spend a lot of time around traffic and it can get uncomfortably loud at times, which sometimes triggers my tinnitus. It gets pretty annoying.

Budget is $100 to start, but I can go up to $200 or thereabouts if need be if the SQ/build quality justifies the extra expense. These will just be daily beaters/makeshift earplugs though, so I don’t want to drop too much money into this when I’m still planning on getting a turntable sooner or later, haha. Oh, and removable cables would be a nice bonus; considering my having fairly acidic skin and living in a tropical country cables tend to crap out after a few months of use.

Lastly, yes I know I can use the USB-C>3,5mm dongle that comes with either phone, but I won’t. Screw dongles.

So I just came across these. Lovely /s:

Samsung Galaxy S9 or the LGV40 still have standard audio Jack’s, and both take excellent photos

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Hmm, those are kinda on the radar too but I’m stubborn about keeping close to stock Android for security patch purposes. I could always flash a custom ROM I suppose :))

Camera samples still seem to favour the Pixel just the tiniest bit. Huh.

I am a big fan of the Radsone ES100. It’s a bluetooth and USB amp with a lot of tricks. SQ is very good too and has plenty of power in balanced mode to drive lower sensitivity headphones.

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Hrm, hadn’t considered this. LDAC is supposed to be a massive step up from traditional BT connections in SQ, which kinda eliminates concerns over SQ. Bit more battery draw but it does mean I get to pair whichever IEMs I want with it, so that’s a bonus.

Might look into that. Thanks! Was kinda hoping for something that would plug straight into the phone (fewer things to carry around), but I guess USB-C IEMs just aren’t there yet, haha.

I have the Pixel2 XL and Samsung Galaxy S9, both are really good phones. I use the Razer USB c dongle DAC with the Pixel and it does a great job.

Went thru in quick order Note 1 & 2 & pixel 1 before arriving at LG v30. Pixel + $200 DAC was a huge improvement but storage limit and where’s -my-dongle? very annoying. LG sound superior in all respects. I’m a photog with attitude toward phone photos. LG pics near in quality and indistinguishable for everyday snaps and social media. 128gb stores plenty Tidal downloads


I’ll admit I should be considering the V30 as well, this being a headphone forum and all, but I admit bias in favour of stock Android. It’s just nicer to look at than most UX overlays like TouchWiz (or whatever Samsung’s calling it now) and Oxygen, plus consistent updates security and otherwise is a good bargain.

As I mentioned though I seldom do very much actual listening on the go, so anathema as this position may be for audio circles I’m fairly certain I don’t mind mediocre SQ, so long as it’s not outright horrible. This will be my primary camera as I’m too cheap to invest in yet another pricey hobby, so I want to get about as good as possible from a mobile, and comparing shots off the V30 and Pixel is pretty much entirely in the Pixel’s favour.

Honestly, it’s just a bit discouraging. I’m hopeful that manufactuers will eventually produce decent USB-C compliant IEMs that don’t cost an organ given recent trends in phone design, but I’d really rather phone companies just brought the damn jack back. I’d even be happy with 4.4mm.

Quick update, got a Galaxy S9+. 3.5mm jack ftw, and the Gear VR headset has proven ridiculously fun so far even with free apps alone.

… Oh boy, this is another bad habit waiting to happen.