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Concise IEM Comparison

This thread is meant to be a simple comparison / reference, to make things easier for new comer to sort through dozens of IEM quickly in regard of finding the sound signature they are looking for. However, sound signature is not purely a translation of frequency response graph – and certainly not what this thread is about. To me (*at least in the context of this thread), sound signature is the perception of sonic energy distribution in the whole frequency range - the goal is to identify the "dominating" frequency range, the first patch of sound that will grab the lisner's attention.  Beware, the graphs below are meant to make it easier for you to visualize the distribution of sound as interpreted by me, but not actually related to any measured FR curve. They are not absolute fact, but mere impression – and you should treat them as so. The truth is, each IEM has its very own sound signature, and categorized them into a few large groups will not give a detail enough picture to each individual IEM. In many case, sound signature of a particular IEM can fall between the gray area of two categories and depends on the listener’s perception, be categorized in different ways -  the reader should beware as this is not a right or wrong question, but the different in personal perception. Then again, this thread is only meant to be the starting point of your research so you shouldn’t take it as it is. If you find the description of a particular IEM doesn’t meet your own listening experience, do trust your ears over mine. As always, do as much research on your own as you can. Play as much attention to the negative comments as you will do to the positive one.

Some of you might notice the description of sound seems to have changed between the current thread and some of my older multiple IEM shootout threads - It is done so in purpose. The old threads were written individually over a time of three years or so, during which my own experience, taste, reviewing gears as well as perception of sound have all changed. In order to regain some unity among these old threads, I decided to revisit every single IEM I ever reviewed and gives them all a quick listening, reference them against my old review, then update or rewrite the sound description as I see fit so they can be more informative. Other than that, the overall ranking remains the same as before, except individual IEM is also rated in its own sound signature category.

Pro and Con are basically some of the more obvious thing(s) to note about an individual IEM.

"Link" next to individual IEM title points to individual reviews posted on Note: Some of the reviews are quite old (by IEM's market standard), so takes that in account that what was great before might not be as great now, as market continues to move forward.

Main reviewing gears including Cube C30, Sansa Fuze (alone or line-out feeding iBasso T3D / Meier Audio Corda StepDance) and Dell XPS420 + Foobar2K (ASIO) + 3MOVE. Lesser important gears (review wise) are HifiMan HM801 / HM602.

( A = Analytical; Ba = Balanced; Bs = Bass; M = Mid; WS = Warm + Sweet)

  • Altec Lansing iM716 (A-09)
  • Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic (A-11)
  • Astello Radiance+ (M-20)
  • Audio Technica ATH-CKS70 (Bs-03)
  • Brainwavz alpha (WS-21)
  • Brainwavz beta (Ba-14)
  • Brainwavz M1 (M-13)
  • Brainwavz M2 (M-08)
  • Brainwavz M3 (WS-07)
  • Creative Aurvana In-Ear2 (M-07)
  • Creative EP-630 (WS-22)
  • Cresyn C222E (M-21)
  • Cresyn C230E (WS-20)
  • Cresyn C260E (Ba-20)
  • CrossRoads MylarOne Bijou 3 (WS-18)
  • CrossRoads MylarOne Quattro (Bs-07)
  • CrossRoads MylarOne X3 (Ba-19)
  • CrossRoads Woody One (WS-08)
  • CrossRoads Woody Two (WS-09)
  • Cube F1 (Ba-17)
  • EarsQuake CRO (Ba-22)
  • EarsQuake FISH (Bs-15)
  • EarsQuake SHA (WS-14)
  • Etymotic ER4P (A-06)
  • Etymotic ER4S (A-02)
  • Etymotic ER6i (A-13)
  • Etymotic MC5 (A-08)
  • ECCI PR100 (WS-17)
  • ECCI PR200 (WS-11)
  • ECCI PR300 (Ba-11)
  • ECCI PR401 (Ba-05)
  • Fischer Audio DBA-02 (A-03)
  • Fischer Audio Enigma (Bs-06)
  • Fischer Audio Eterna (M-02)
  • Fischer Audio Eterna v2 (M-10)
  • Fischer Audio FA-999 (Bs-14)
  • Fischer Audio Omega (Ba-15)
  • Fischer Audio Omega v2 (Bs-08)
  • Fischer Audio Paradigm v.2 (M-18)
  • Fischer Audio SBA-01 (M-09)
  • Fischer Audio Silver Bullet (Ba-03)
  • Future Sonics Atrio M5 rev.2 (Bs-02)
  • HifiMan RE0 (A-05)
  • HifiMan RE1 (WS-05)
  • HifiMan RE2 (A-12)
  • HifiMan RE-252 (A-01)
  • HifiMan RE-262 (WS-01)
  • HifiMan RE-ZERO (Ba-02)
  • Hippo Boom (Bs-10)
  • Hippo Epic (WS-19)
  • Hippo Shroom (A-10)
  • Hippo Shroom-EB (Ba-08)
  • Hippo VB (Ba-09)
  • JAYS a-JAYS Two (Bs-13)
  • JAYS a-JAYS Three (Ba-18)
  • JAYS q-JAYS (Ba-06)
  • JAYS s-JAYS (M-16)
  • JAYS t-JAYS Two (WS-13)
  • Kanon MD-52 (Bs-11)
  • Klipsch S4 (Bs-04)
  • LEAR Le01 (WS-16)
  • Maximo iMetal iM-390 (M-19)
  • Maximo iMetal iM-590 (Ba-10)
  • MEElectronics M2 (Ba-16)
  • MEElectronics M6 (Ba-12)
  • MEElectronics M9 (Ba-13)
  • MEElectronics M11 (M-15)
  • MEElectronics R1 (Bs-09)
  • NuForce NE-7M (Bs-05)
  • Ortofon e-Q5 (WS-03)
  • Ortofon e-Q7 (M-03)
  • Panasonic RP-HJE70 (Ba-07)
  • Phiaton PS210 (A-07)
  • Philips SHE9850 (M-14)
  • Phonak Audéo PFE 022 Perfect Bass (WS-04)
  • Phonak Audéo PFE 121 (A-04)
  • Radius HP-TWF11R (Bs-01)
  • Sennheiser CX300 (Ba-21)
  • Sherwood SE-777 (WS-06)
  • Shure E3c (M-17)
  • Shure SE530 (M-01)
  • Sleek Audio SA6 (M-06)
  • Sunrise SW-Xcape (M-04)
  • Sony MDR-EX85SL (M-22)
  • Sony MDR-EX700SL (Ba-04)
  • SoundMAGIC PL-11 (Bs-12)
  • SoundMAGIC PL-20 (A-15)
  • SoundMAGIC PL-21 (WS-15)
  • SoundMAGIC PL-30 (A-14)
  • SoundMAGIC PL-50 (M-12)
  • Ultimate Ears 10 Pro (Ba-01)
  • VSONIC GR07 (WS-02)
  • VSONIC R02 Pro II (WS-10)
  • VSONIC R04 (M-11)
  • Westone UM2 (M-05)
  • Woodees IESW100B (WS-12)

An analytical sound signature usually refers to a neutral and detail sound. Neutral as bass to mid range is relatively flat, often gives a sense of thinness and coldness. Upper vocal, especially female, tends to get better highlighted than lower (male) vocal. Plenty of sparkles and crispiness; higher in resolution and separation but usually has medium to small soundstage.

1.    HifiMan RE252 (link)
Balanced, yet neither totally neutral nor colored. Very good treble and detail, rather dominate yet not very upfront mid and vocal, and decent while still remains mostly neutral and fast bass performance. Decent soundstage but lacks real depth. While not needed, pairing with a warm source or amp is recommended. Overall RE252 has a very clean sound, and it is really difficult to categorize it into any particular sound signature because it has a good treble but it is not the main focus. While mid is dominant, it is not forward or full enough. Bass is has decent impact but lack a good depth. All in all, RE252 is technically strong in most aspects but lacks a ‘soul’ that gives it a strong character.
Pro: Technically strong.
Con: Fit is not for everyone.

2.    Etymotic ER4S (link)
Analytical and fairly bright but not harsh, extremely resolving and fast while remains very neutral, flat and cold across the whole frequency range, often to be referred as sounding too clean or clinical. Lighter and felt more expended compared to 4P. Bass remains very tight, impactful while still lacks a good body – though not as obvious as in 4P due to the more neutral presentation. Instruments separation is great, very decent air and okay depth reproduction which means the soundstage is about average. While not the most extended IEM in the treble region, the micro detail retrieval is very staggering and quite possibly the best there is.
Pro: Extremely analytical. Great isolation.
Con: Amp or warm source to sound best. Old design. A little pricy at the moment.

3.    Fischer Audio DBA-02 (link)
The overall sound signature is fairly balanced sounding with a brighter, more analytical presentation. Treble is very well extended to the top, detailed and full of sparkle, but might be a little too aggressive for non-analytical listener.  Mid has good texture, neither too forward nor recessed, but the upper mid is a little more forward which can sound slightly harsh on brighter music. Bass has good impact, body and speed. Not quantitatively big, but above average. Soundstage is quite good, very airy.
Pro: Price.
Con: Availability.

4.    Phonak Audéo PFE 121 (link)
With grey filter, the sound is balanced, toward neutral yet analytical, clean and great in resolution. Treble is very well extended, highly detail, sparkly yet not overdone. Mid is decent with a slight forwardness but not to the level of being sweet. Bass has a good sense of speed, quality and low extension, but lean in quantity, body and depth. Soundstage is slightly above average with a good sense of airiness and instrument separation. The overall sound signature of PFE with black filter is smooth, warm and musical. Treble is still fairly well extended, but sparkles without the edge in a smoother fashion. Mid is well bodied, sweet with good texture. Bass is not big, but has good speed and impact with decent body and depth. Soundstage is average.
Pro: Price. Two sounds in one good package. Comfort. Two years warranty.
Con: Availability.

5.    HifiMan RE0 (link)
Neutral and very analytical, with a much fainted sense of warmness due to the rather smooth frequency response curve. Treble is extremely extended with ultra fine micro detail that rivals Etymotic ER4. Upper mid has a little more fullness than lower mid and gives a better female vocal, but still overall laid back in nature. Bass has good impact but lacks good depth and body. Not a very sensitive IEM but can be used unamped without any major SQ reduction. Pairing with a warm sounding amp or bass boosting amp is recommended. Comply T400 foam tips is also recommended as a good choice for adding warm to the overall sound.
Pro: Most analytical under $100.
Con: Sound best with warm amp.

6.    Etymotic ER4P (link)
Analytical, a little on the bright side but not harsh, resolving and fast with slightly upper mid ~ lower treble focus; fairly neutral while still retains a tiny sense of warm. Bass is very tight, impactful but lacks body and decay. Mid is slightly more forward than 4S but remains largely clean and dry. Treble is crisp and sparkly, but lean toward the edgy side on lower end and not quite as extending on the upper end. Similar to 4S clinical performance, but slightly less cold and not quite as analytical. While instruments separation is good, air and depth reproduction isn’t – thus soundstage is mediocre.
Pro: No amp needed. Transform to 4S with adapter.
Con: Old design. A little pricy at the moment.

7.    Phiaton PS210 (link)
Analytical, clean, very airy and specious with crisp treble while relatively lean in the mid and bass departments. Treble is well extended and very crisp with slightly graininess on the top yet full of detail. Mid is slightly recessed, but not by much. Bass extends decently low with good speed, but doesn't quite have the impact, body or depth. Soundstage is very wide because of the semi-open design. To smooth down the graininess and add warmth and forwardness to the mid and bass, Sony Hybrid eartips is recommended. For a relaxing sound, Comply T400 is a good choice. Also, sealing one of the small vents adds the much needed body, depth and texture to the mid and bass.
Pro: Build quality. Price. Design.
Con: Isolation.

8.    Etymotic MC5 (link)
Analytical, bright but a little harsh, neutral while slightly on the warm yet dry side. Treble, while decently extended, lacks the top end sparkle, crispiness, and more importantly, the capability to pick up micro detail even when compared to the fairly outdated 6 years old ER6i. Mid is clean, but lacks substance and fluidity. Bass has improved - not quite as tight, really has a sense of good texture and better body, though still far from quantitatively large. Transparency isn’t particularly high, while resolution and speed are average. Soundstage has  improved from ER6i with a more immersive feeling of space, though overall it is still below average, as most Ety do. In sum, it is a decent blend of ‘what is Ety’ and ‘what is not Ety’ - but not quite the next Etymotic big hit nor a representation of its analytical house sound.
Pro: Build quality. Isolation
Con: Dry and soulless. Not quite Ety sounding.

9.    Altec Lansing iM716 (discontinued)
Typical Etymotic sound, resolving and fast with slightly upper mid ~ lower treble focus; fairly neutral while still retains a tiny sense of warm. Has a switch to tune toward either an ER4P or ER4S sound, but not quite as efficient or as good as either. Soundstage is mediocre.
Pro: Two Etymotic sound in one. Price.
Con: Not quite as good as what it wants to be. Efficiency. Build quality.

10.    Hippo Shroom (link)
Between neutral and balanced, but more toward neutral and analytical. Treble is well extended with good sparkle and resolution, but can occasionally sound a little bit sibilant on brightest note. Mid is well presented. Vocal is clean and a bit upfront, but can sound a little lean at time. Bass has good speed and decent impact, but not excessive in quantity and rolls off more significantly on the lowest part of the sub-bass region. Soundstage is above average, airy and transparent with good decay.
Pro: Small.
Con: Basshead needs not apply.

11.    Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic (ADDIEM)
Cold, neutral, analytical side. Treble is by far its strength - crisp and sparkle though slightly sibilant. Bass lacks body and mid is too clinical if you use the stock eartips. Vocal is a bit further away but not too recessed. Foam tips sounds warmer and more natural, but at the cost of a bit crispiness. Even so, it still sounds much colder than ER6i. Soundstage is about average.
Pro: Great eBay price. Cleanable filter mesh. Cheapest dual drivers ever.
Con: Stock eartips. A lot of fake.

12.    HifiMan RE2 (link)
Analytical and flat. Light on bass and can used some bass boost. Mid is neutral, lacks a sense of fullness. Treble is light and clean, transparent and detail without being obviously bright. Very decent soundstage with good openness. A step up from ER6i with a warm amp or source.
Pro: None.
Con: Semi-open. Better with warm source or bass boost.

13.    Etymotic ER6i
Analytical, flat and neutral , typical of Etymotic house sound. Tight but decently impactful bass, neutral mid with a slight sense of warm, sparkly but not overly bright treble with good level of micro detail. Soundstage is below average.
Pro: None.
Con: Could use a better cable.

14.    SoundMAGIC PL-30
Neutral, clean and light with a lean bottom.  Bass is light, not quite have enough kick, body, depth or texture. Lower mid is also on the lean side while upper mid is slightly fuller and thus female vocal is better than male. Treble is decent but not particular analytical. Soundstage is decent and airy but nothing to write home about.
Pro: Accessories. Price.
Con: Bass knob has very little effect. Isolation

15.    SoundMAGIC PL-20
Neutral, clean, light and cold, resembles PL-30 but slightly less warmth in the mid. Bass is also light, but slightly more solid than PL-30. Mid is similar as well, but slightly leaner. Treble is slightly crispier than PL-30. Soundstage is average, not quite as airy or wide as PL-30.
Pro: Price.
Con: None.


A balanced sound signature is a treble and bass enhanced sound. More bass to compensate for headphone’s lack of tactual bass while more treble to give detail. It can go from mild U shaped FR curve to a more extreme V shaped FR curve, where mid range is often interpreted as recessed. Usually has good soundstage.

1.    Ultimate Ear 10
Balance and airy, a slight harshness on treble but fixable by foam. Bass is hard hitting and fast, but doesn’t carry the fullness and decay. Mid is relatively recessed but not too far away. It retains a clean line but doesn’t present with sweetness. Treble is crispy and sparkly though can be a little edgy at time, especially with the stock silicone eartips. While detail, it is not the most analytical. Soundstage is wide and airy with excellent imaging. TF10 is a well tuned sound that resembles more toward full sized rather than giving the intimacy of an in-ear. A good all rounder that is well suited on most genres though doesn’t excel with any particular. Foam tips recommended.
Pro: Can be had cheaply.
Con: Fit is not for everyone.

2.    HifiMan RE-ZERO (link)
The overall sound signature is fairly balanced and lively, a little warm and slight brightness with a light emphasis on upper mid / vocal but retains a very good degree of treble clarity and bass performance.  Treble has good extension but roll off just a little earlier around and has a smoother, less sparkly FR curve. Not quite as analytical as RE252 (and less so compared to RE0), but the performance is still way above average and certainly can out do the majority of IEM in the market. Mid is where RE-ZERO’s strength lies, slightly upfront compared to the RE0 and RE252, especially on the upper mid -lower treble region. This gives RE-ZERO a sweeter, juicier vocal and a brighter sound, but not sibilant or too sweet, and thus it is probably the best for vocal and casual listening among the three. Bass is not big, but do have quality– decent impact, tight and quick, goes low but lacks a good body that will make a basshead smiles. However, quantitative wise RE-ZERO is still ahead of RE252 as it is warmer and fuller in the upper bass region and gives support to the more forwarded mid. Soundstage is about average on the RE-ZERO. The warmer, more mid centric sound signature of RE-ZERO isn’t particularly tuned to have a wide soundstage, though it isn’t a weakness either since too wide of a soundstage generally will subtract the intimacy of vocal.
Pro: Balanced input ready. Price/Performance ratio.
Con: TRRS-toTRS adapter can be considered cumbersome.

3.    Fischer Audio Silver Bullet (link)
Slightly warm with good airy and well detailed treble, better than average bass that is a bit low in speed and impact, though very decent quantity wise. Mid is very slightly recessed though vocal is not totally out of place. The presentation resembles that of TF10 with a strong V-shaped-like emphasis except Silver Bullet is more laid back with an immersive soundstage.
Pro: Price.
Con: Accessories. Weight.

4.    Sony MDR-EX700
Balance, too much harshness on treble not even T400 can fix, good bass, slightly recessed mid in comparison. Bass is snappy and impactful thanks to the big dynamic transducer. Mid is decent though slightly recessed compared to the overall frequency. Upper mid / lower treble is permanently sibilant and turns the presentation really dry and harsh. Soundstage is quite good.
Pro: Accessories. Current street price.
Con: Sibilance.

5.    ECCI PR401 (link)
Balanced with a slightly V-shaped like presentation and a faint sense of warmness. Bass is impactful, good in body, depth, texture, while has a decent decay and quantity (*with Sony Hybrid clone) - not larger than PR200 or PR300, but not too far away either – and definitely show a greater degree in control and refinement. Mid is more recessed than PR300, but also shows a better sense of distance and space while still retains a good amount of the warm and sweetness in the vocal, the improved decay in lower mid (compared to PR300) helps in giving a fuller sense of body and texture despite being less forwarded. Treble is similar to PR300: forwarded, full of detail and sparkles while ever so crispier and still sibilant free. Soundstage and image is quite good: airy, spacious and layered.
Pro: Price. Build quality.
Con: Flat cable.

6.    JAYS q-JAYS
Slightly warm, analytical but very slightly harsh on treble, excellent bass balance on quantity and quality. Treble is well extended, sparkly and crisp though slightly edgy with brighter note. Mid is decently full but not to the level of being sweet. Bass has a good balance between speed, impact and body, though it could use a bit more decay. For a warmer, better decay sound with a smoother treble, foam tips is recommended. Soundstage is decent.
Pro: Street price. Build quality. Accessories. Sleek. Small.
Con: Wax filter can be easily clogged with silicone eartips.

7.    Panasonic RP-HJE70 (Discontinued) (link)
Lively, energetic and warm sound that is balanced with a very slight V-shaped frequency response.  Treble extends very far, bright and edgy especially on high volume. Mid is a little more recessed in comparison, but not to a point where the sense of sweetness is totally lost. Bass goes big and very deep, full of texture and rumble yet remains controlled. It is a very good mix of quality and quantity that any basshead will love, and almost make Hippo VB’s bass sounds dull in comparison. Soundstage is decent, okay in depth but limited in width, which is nothing spectacular to speak of.
Pro: Street price. Sleek.
Con: Old design.

8.    Hippo Shroom-EB (link)
Balanced while analytical, more forward than the original Shroom. Treble is still well extended with good sparkle and resolution, though the occasional sibilant on the brightest note also remains. The mid is slightly full and well presented. Vocal is clean and upfront in just the right amount, adding a little sweetness without being too obviously colored. Bass has good speed, impact, as well as quantity - enough to make everybody happy but does not over-flood to another region. Soundstage is about average. To add more soundstage and reveal EB’s potential, UE style bi-flange is needed Squeeze them in till there is only 3~5mm of space between the opening of the bi-flanges and the front of the nozzle. This will transform the EB.
Pro: Small. Price.
Con: Must be used with UE bi-flange to sound best.

9.    Hippo VB (link)
Lively and on the warm side. On the triple dotted / small bass plate, bass has a decent impact but less in quantity and more toward neutrality. Mid and treble are drier and brighter. Soundstage is also noticeably narrower. On the two dotted / mid bass plate, bass has a very good body and depth, especially on the mid-bass region (and it does go down deep). Mid and treble have better resolution due to better airiness which also give a better soundstage. This by far is the best sounding bass plate and what I consider to be the basic of VB’s sound.  On the dot-less / big bass plate, bass is noticeably more boomy and much warmer, which in term floors over the detail and mud up the mid, treble and soundstage. On all the bass plate, treble does get sibilant from time to time on brighter music (except it is less noticeable in big bass plate due to the excessive warm muddiness). Sometime there can also have too many sparkles in the treble which will sounds too 'busy'. However, the sibilance is not to the level of annoyance as long as the volume is kept at a reasonable level.
Pro: Three sound in one package. Price.
Con: Large nozzle. Eartips.

10.    Maximo iM-590 (link)
Balanced, energetic while analytical. Bass is not strong but it has really good attack, control and presence, Upper mid / lower treble is a bit more forward, edgy and vocal can be a tiny bit harsh on bright recording. Treble is well presented and detail with an above average, airy soundstage.
Pro: Good combination and overall quality and quantity. Price.
Con: Fabric able tends to tangle.

11.    ECCI PR300 (link)
Fairly energetic, lean and clean, more V-shaped like presentation. Bass is quick, impactful, good in texture, well controlled, larger than that of PR200 though a bit short on decay. Mid is slightly recessed, setting the singer further away and gives a better sense of air. While still in good detail, it lacks the sweetness and intimacy of PR200. Treble is forwarded, full of detail and sparkles while able to keep sibilant away, which is a good thing. Soundstage and image is better than average thanks to better air and micro-detail, though lacks the capability of showing true depth.
Pro: Price. Build quality. Accessories.
Con: None.

12.    MEElectronics M6 (link)
Energetic while clean. Treble, though a little bright, is relatively smoother while still has a tiny amount of sibilance on the brightest music. Mid is slightly recessed in the presentation while bass has good impact and body, though lacks true depth. Even so, bass is still the dominating force of the overall sound. Soundstage is pretty good with decent airiness.
Pro: Build quality.
Con: Fit.

13.    MEElectronics M9 (link)
Resembles M6, but not as warm as M6 and with a more pronouns V-shaped frequency. Treble also has good extension but there is harshness (especially on bi-flange). Mid is slightly recessed in comparison. Bass is not as full as M6 but still has good body and decent depth. Soundstage is better than M6 with good sense of airiness and space..
Pro: Build quality. Street price.
Con: None.

14.    Brainwavz beta (discontinued) (link)
Warm side yet still well balanced without any obvious flaw. Bass has decent kick and body, but doesn’t go very deep. Mid is decent mix of clean and warm, not particularly sweet or full. Treble has decent extension but in a smooth and roll off fashion. Above average soundstage.
Pro: Cleanable nozzle mesh. Accessories. Price.
Con: None.

15.    Fischer Audio Omega (link)
Balanced without any major flaw. Decent treble and airiness though lacks any fine detail, Vocal is neither too close nor too far, bass is very solid and goes down deep with good slam and speed. Soundstage is better than average.
Pro: None.
Con: None.

16.    MEElectronics M2  (link)
Balanced with more emphasis on treble, resembles M6 but not quite as good. Treble has good extension but there is a bit of sibilance. Mid is slightly further away but not really recessed. Bass lacks real depth but still has good control and speed. Soundstage is about average.
Pro: Build quality.
Con: None.

17.    Cube F1 (link)
Balanced and biased slightly toward treble. Bass is decent in amount and impact. Not quite really bass heavy but still more than being totally lean. Mid is a little grainy and recessed, but not vastly. Treble is a little on the aggressive side to almost a little sibilant. Crispy and fairly sparkly. Soundstage is quite good and airy, with a decent sense of openness.
Pro: One of the best stock IEM ever heard.
Con Isolation. Build quality.

18.    JAYS a-JAYS Three (link)
Warm, fairly balanced though slightly biased toward upper bass / lower mid. Bass has good impact and very decent amount, not quite as much as a-JAYS Two but still a little bloated. Upper mid seems slightly recessed in comparison which gives a better sense of space while still maintains a decent amount of texture in vocal. Treble also extends fairly high and with decent amount of sparkle and detail, not enough to be called analytical and there are still some rough edges, though nothing out of the ordinary. Soundstage is a little above average. Good for most genre of music but don’t excel in any particular. An upgraded sound from the old Sennheiser CX300.
Pro: Sleek. Build quality.
Con: Flat cable.

19.    CrossRoads MylarOne X3 (discontinued)
Balanced and light. Bass has impact, but slight short on quantity. Mid is recessed, clean and a little cold with a small hint of roughness on the female vocal. Decent treble with a small amount of sparkle and not overly detail, but doesn’t seem to be too lacking either.
Pro: None.
Con: None.

20.    Cresyn C260E (link)
Balanced, light and specious. Treble is decently extended and refined, capable of showing micro detail to a good degree. Mid is neutral, decent but lack a sense of fullness. Bass has a decent volume, impact and control, though a little boominess remains. Soundstage is by far its strongest point, wide and open with a good sense of airiness.
Pro: Price. Build quality.
Con: Availbility.

21.    Sennheiser CX300 (discontinued)
Warm and energetic with an overall balanced sound. Bass has decent quantity, though slow and texture-less. Mid , though not really recessed, is a step backward. Still it is clean and carries a deent sense of warmth. Upper mid and lower treble are however quite edgy and sibilant, especially on female vocal. Upper treble is relatively smooth and doesn’t have a lot of detail.
Pro: None.
Con: A lot of fake.

22.    EarsQuake CRO (link)
Balanced with a slight V-shaped frequency response, but unrefined. Bass is a little boomy, slow and texture-less. Mid is a tad dry but still well placed. Treble has good sparkle and well detailed, but can be steely and sibilant, which is the biggest weakness of CRO by far. Soundstage is slight better than average, but unremarkable as it doesn’t show depth quite as well as it shows width. There are quite some resemblances between CRO and CX300 presentation, except CX300 is actually slightly better in most account.
Pro: Cheap.
Con: None.


A bass oriented sound signature refers to a bass heavy sound with relatively recessed mid range and roll off treble. Give a very warm to even dark feeling because strong bass present. The more extreme variation is often referred as ‘bass monster’. Treble detail is often the weak spot. Tuned right, it can be great fun to listen.

1.    Radius HP-TWF11R (link)
Musical, warm and sweet with a great bass and a smooth top. Perfectly suited for laid back, casual listening session. Bass that is both great in quantity and quality. Big but not excessively boomy, so well textured that it makes the bass sound very realistic, as if in live performance. The perfect balance of speed and decay makes for a great, highly enjoyable performance and the backbone of the DDM’s sound. Mid is the well placed: not in-your-face forward, but forward enough to show character. It gives enough detail and texture so not to get drowned by the bass. The mid+ bass combination gives a sound that is sweet, juicy and life-like. This makes it especially good for listening to vocal of the lower region. Treble is what defines the limitation. It has a good extension and resolution, but too smooth and sparkle-less on the top to give any excitement, like taking a backseat in the overall sound. Without a good amount of crispiness to highlight the micro detail, female vocal, string and cymbal sound just a bit dull. It is definitely not good for a diva or violin performance. Soundstage is fairly good. It could be better but crippled by a mediocre separation. The mid- + bass combination that gives the warm and lushness simply isn’t enough to place everything in the right position without a strong support from the treble. Overall, it is a highly fun sound to listen, but just a little short technical wise to be truly great.
Pro: Price. Dual Diaphragm Matrix, first of its kind in IEM.
Con: Fit.

2.    Future Sonics Atrio M5 rev.2 (discontinued)
Fun and slightly warm, monstrous bass with great depth but very slightly lacks in speed, quite forgiving, smooth, lacks in fine upper treble detail and close to sparkle-less. Treble by far is the biggest weakness of Atrio. It is not so much the total lack of treble, but more of the absent of micro detail. Though on the upside, it is quite fatiguing-free. Mid is a step back from the bass, clean, lacks a sense of fullness but by no mean thin or dry. Bass is big, both in quality and quantity. It can do sub-bass like a sub-woofer in the ear. Soundstage is decent, could be better if not for the strong upfront bass. Overall it is a somewhat musical and lush presentation that is still good for general, more laid back listening and stage monitoring but won’t appeal to technical listener.
Pro: Build Quality. Accessories. Street price. Burn-in required.
Con: Basshead only.

3.    Audio Technica ATH-CKS70 (link)
Very warm and fairly musical toward the fun side, with a full sounding mid and bass. Treble is decent and smooth, but lacks sparkle and roll off a little early. Mid is warm, forward with a thick, slightly rough vocal. Bass is also warm, big, slow, impactful, ever present and full of resonance at the lower end. Soundstage is fairly wide but lacks a sense of airiness. The ever present of strong bass can be considered a weak point if you are not a very dedicated basshead.
Pro: Sleek.
Con: Basshead only. Isolation. Build quality could be better.

4.    Klipsch S4 (link)
Warmish and bass driven. Bass is the strength of S4. It is deep and well bodied, quantitatively abundance but retains decent quality, just a tad slow on the attack. However, everything goes downhill from this point forward. Mid has a sense of warm in it, but lacks forwardness and resolution to almost the point of being thick and gluey on the back ground. While treble does extend to 16kHz, there are some uneven peaks on the upper vocal as well as around 12kHz that makes it rough, dry and lacks refined detail. Soundstage is surprisingly decent, perhaps more of a side effect from the slightly hollow out mid presentation.
Pro: Oval eartips. Mint tin-like case.
Con: Easily fatigue sound. Backward logo?

5.    NuForce NE-7M
Warm side with big bass, resembles SoundMAGIC PL-11, but better on all count. Treble is decent and smooth, not quite enough sparkle and has some roughness in the lower end. Mid is slightly recessed but still retains a decent sense of warmness. Bass hits harder and very low - not quite the Atrio level but certainly better than most IEM in or near its price range. Soundstage is wide and spacious, which isn't something that common for a bass heavy IEM.
Pro: Price.
Con: None.

6.    Fischer Audio Enigma (link)
The overall sound signature is warm and full with a good treble and an excellent bass response. Vocal is slightly more laid back but not to a point of being recessed, still it is a little V-shaped sound except the bass is much more prominent than the other frequency. Soundstage is very good but the warmness does reduce the airiness a bit. It plays well with all type of music genres but really excels in none.
Pro: Decent offer for the price.
Con: None.

7.    CrossRoads MylarOne Quattro (discontinued) (link)
Warm, slightly laid back, probably because the upper mid~lower treble being not upfront enough. Treble extends very high but it is not the most detail sounding and should be adequate for none analytical listener. Bass (and mid to some extent) can be tuned by changing the bass select ports. Port #1 has the biggest bass but on the expense of resolution. Port #2 is the most balanced among the three, and is considered to the base of the sound.  Port #3 has the best detail but a bit bass shy and has the narrowest soundstage. Due to the slightly low sensitivity, the volume might need to be turned up a bit more, but amping isn't necessary at all. Finding the right match between bass select ports and eartips is important for getting the right sound, which basically is the essence of Quattro's customizable sound. Sounstage is pretty good though do vary with different bass port.
Pro: User tunable sound. Accessories.
Con: None.

8.    Fischer Audio Omega v2 (link)
Warm and thick. A little veil on the top. Bass can go deep, but most of the energy is focus on mid-bass with a lot of slap, but not particularly fast. Mid is on the thick and smooth side. Sweet but slightly lack texture. Treble takes a step back with very little sparkle.
Pro: None.
Con: None.

9.    MEElectronics R1 (original) (link)
Warm, thick and veil. Treble is decent with a fainted sense of roughness. Mid is a bit distanced and has a sense of hollowness to it, bass is full but can get bloated on bass heavy music. Soundstage is below average due to the excess warmness. Note: this is the original R1, not the current retuned version.
Pro: Wood housing. Build quality.
Con: None.

10.    Hippo Boom (discontinued)
Warm, slightly dark and as the name suggested, with a boomy bass. Mid is slightly recessed but still carries a small sense of warm. Treble is smooth and rolls off, lacking crispness and sparkle. Soundstage is small due to the heavy bass.
Pro: Soft pouch.
Con: Basshead only.

11.    Kanon MD-52
Slightly warm, fun and energetic with a full mid and very decent bass response, quantity wise. Treble isn't bad either but lacks refine detail. Soundstage is average.
Pro: Dirt cheap.
Con: Very bad build quality.

12.    SoundMAGIC PL-11
Warm with a pretty big bass. Treble is actually decent but fine detail tends to get flooded by the bass. Mid performance is also decent with a good sense of warmness and doesn't suffer the bass flooding issue. Due to the lost of fine detail, soundstage isn't as wide as it could be, but overall acceptable.
Pro: Good for basshead with tight budget.
Con: None.

13.    JAYS a-JAYS Two (link)
Very warm with big bass and smooth top. Bass reaches deep but bloated, though still within reason and has some control. Mid is full and has a decently sweet vocal. Treble does extend fairly high but in a smooth and sparkle-less fashion, though still a little grainy at the lower end. Soundstage is average. Good for vocal and pop songs in general but not suitable for instrument or classical. An upgraded sound from the old Creative EP-630.
Pro: Build quality. Warranty. Accessories.
Con: Flat cable. Price.

14.    Fischer Audio FA-999 (link)
Warm, very smooth and very full with a pretty good bass response going down to the 20Hz. Treble rolls off early at 16kHz and the air killing fullness makes it veil. Bass can be a bit boomy on bass heavy music.
Pro: None.
Con: None.

15.    EarsQuake FISH (link)
Warm, bass-driven sound. Bass is overly boomy and texture-less, mid is decent but tends to be overshadowed by the bass, treble is smooth, lacks sparkle and micro detail. Overall, it is no-good for music. However, FISH is actually intended to be used on portable gaming devices such as PSP and NDS where it does perform fairly well. The boomy bass compensates the general lack of bass on these gaming platforms and the smooth top compensates for the plasticy /steely sound. Soundstage is just decent enough to give an enjoyable experience on a movie or game, which are the only few things this IEM is good for. For music however, try others.
Pro: Good for portable gaming.
Con: Not for music.


A mid centric sound signature refers to a mid range highlighted sound; typically more pronounced vocal. Not especially analytical and could have a roll off bass, but not always. The fullness in mid often reduces the sense of space and separation, thus this type of IEM generally doesn’t have the best of soundstage. However, it is often the easiest going of all sound signatures

1.    Shure SE530 (discontinued)
On the warm side with good, solid and full mid and bass, smooth on the upper frequency range and can even be a bit dark sounding especially when used with a warm source. The slightly roll off treble can be improved when amped, but the mild roughness remains on the upper vocal. Mid is decently upfront and full with a fairly sweet vocal. Bass has solid impact and decent body though could be just a tad shallow. It is a good all-arounder, but not particularly inspiriting / energetic
Pro: Well build, well packed, great accessories. Comfort.
Con: Care needed sometime. Hiss sensitive.

2.    Fischer Audio Eterna (original) (link)
Warm and upfront. Treble is there but not on the center stage. Midrange is full and vocal is sweet. Bass has a really good body, depth and decent speed though it still misses the deepest of sub-bass compared to that of real bass monster (i.e. Atrio). Airiness and soundstage are almost spot on for a pair of IEM, neither too far or near and yet retains clear separation and layers. Technically it doesn't have nearly the SQ (treble, mid, bass, soundstage) to compared to other top-tier IEM, but it does have a really fun and engaging sound .
Pro: Fun to listen. Comfort.
Con. Not for technical listener. Picky on music genres. Not for warm source.

3.    Ortofon e-Q7 (link)
Warm and mid focus, well suited for vocal lover. Treble is clean and smooth, though does roll off on the top end, but not more so than SE530 or UM2. Mid is full, focus and sweet, but not overpowering nor sibilant. Bass has good impact, body and extension, but no rumbling big bass. Soundstage is only average. In many ways e-Q7 sounds like the midway of SE530 and UM2, with better mid performance than SE530 as it is totally sibilance-free yet retains most of the mid goodness of SE530 (which still has a tiny bit of sibilance), while it is not quite warm as UM2 (which is probably too warm from a neutral prospective). While it might not has as good a soundstage as SE530 because it doesn’t separate each layer as cleanly, it is still better than UM2. It also has a more energetic presentation than the other two, making it a more engaging sound. It is a sound of dynamic transducer with speed and resolution closer to that of a BA.
Pro: Moving armature. Build Quality.
Con: Price. Fit.

4.    Sunrise SW-Xcape (discontinued) (link)
Neutral with slight warmness radiated from the central upper mid, with an almost analytical-like presentation. Bass is not large, but shows present and impact when needed. Mid is slightly full and gives a slightly sweet and well texture vocal. Treble is well extended and smooth while retains a decent amount of sparkle. Soundstage is about average. While nothing seems to stand out, the quantity of each elements are well balanced to make this IEM neither overly exciting nor too boring; In other words, it does no wrong. It has a good portion of everything and blend them well, but excels on none – Don't get it wrong: Being good not for one particular reason isn’t something that common in the IEM world, but that is what the Xcape is able to achieve.
Pro: Price.
Con: None.

5.    Westone UM2
Very warm and musical sounding, can be considered to be slightly dark. Almost warm and sweet like if not for the slightly dry presentation. Slightly stronger bass than SE530 (mostly because of more mid-bass), with a more forward, fuller mid but less treble detail. Though warm, there is a bit of highlight on the 6~8kHz region resulting in slight harshness, which actually prevents it from sounding too dark despites the fact that it sounds less detail than SE530 (especially on the upper treble). Because of the much forward mid, soundstage actually suffered a bit as the sense of airiness is greatly reduced. Depends on your listening preference, UM2 can be good or bad. It certainly isn't for those who are looking for balance, neutral, cold or analytical sound. However, If you like your music warm and full, UM2 could be the treat you are looking for. Best listen at low volume and it can serve as good stage monitor which is what it is originally intended for.
Pro: Comfort. Build quality.
Con: Price. Accessories.

6.    Sleek Audio SA6 (discontinued) (link)
Warm, mid centric with some of the best vocal but doesn’t lack bass or treble. Mid has a full body that is especially good with vocal. The treble (T++ port) reaches quite far and gives enough detail to show some sparkle but not to a point of fatiguing. Bass (on B+ port, pin hole mod) is accurate and fast, though not the best or biggest impact I heard and lack a good resolution on depth, it seems to well suit the full mid. The soundstage is better than most but not the best there is. All and all, it presents a very musical sound that can easily make most music more engaging. The sound signature is a combination of all the nice characteristics to be looked for in a pair of IEM. But it falls short of being the best is because, though really good sounding, still could be a bit congesting on busy passage and lacks the best resolution and the body of sound to be truly great. For a single BA IEM however, the performance is admirable.
Pro: User tunable sound. Modular design. Sleek.
Con: Build Quality.

7.    Creative Aurvana In-Ear2 (link)
Warm and smooth with a relatively full body mid. The listed frequency response is surprisingly accurate. Treble does extend fairly well but micro detail tends to get overshadowed by the warmness and takes a backseat in the overall presentation. Mid is full and dominant with good texture, which is particularly good for vocal. Bass is decent, not quantitatively large but in good amount, depth, and impact while not being too fast – a little more dynamic transducer like instead of balanced armature like. Soundstage is typical not a strong point for IEM with a fuller mid, In-Ear2 however performs better than expected. While there still isn’t enough air (because of the lack in micro detail from treble), the IEM is able to show a good sense of depth as the warmness doesn’t seem to mud up the overall resolution – perhaps this is the benefit of having an open-back design.
Pro: Sleek. Build quality. Accessories.
Con: Isolation.

8.    Brainwavz M2 (link)
Warm and musical, but still maintains good degree of balance. While the treble is decently extended, it is in a smooth fashion and not quite as sparkly as I would like. Mid is fairly sweet with a slightly forward vocal, which works out really well but not overdone to the level of being mid centric. Bass is very snappy, impactful, dynamic and well bodied. It appears and scales out well when needed but doesn’t intrude into the mid. It serves as an accentuation rather than a distraction. Soundstage shows decent air and depth but lacks in width.
Pro: Price. Build quality. Replacement warranty.
Con: Easily loosen strain relief.

9.    Fischer Audio SBA-01 (link)
Slightly warm and musical with a full sounding mid, especially in the upper region. Treble is well extended though not quite as refine and lacks good sparkle. Mid is decently full with a sweet vocal, but a little harsh on the upper region when in loud volume. Bass is quite deep with a good speed and impact but not vest in body. Soundstage is about average.
Pro: Small.
Con: Isolation

10.    Fischer Audio Eterna v2 (link)
Warm and musical, but smoother and less fun. Technically the v2 shows more control than v1. Treble rolls off early, lacks sparkle and detail. Mid is full to almost wet. Bass has decent impact and full bodied, dominating the overall sound though doesn’t bleed too much into other frequency. Soundstage is about average and lacks a real sense of air. Basically the new Eterna sounds like a warmer, smoother version of v1. While it is still technically not an accurate sounding IEM, the tuning definitely makes Eterna a different beast in my ears, trained. While the V1 has been rated highly for the fun sound (but not for it technically ability), the similar yet more polite v2 doesn’t quite seem to do the trick. Technically better or not, a preference is a preference.
Pro: Comfort.
Con: Not quite an upgrade over the original Eterna.

11.    VSONIC R04 (link)
Very warm, quite musical, mid-centric with a good vocal performance. Treble extends far enough, but has some unwanted peaks on the lower end and roll off too early at the upper end, giving the feeling of veil with a little rough edge. Mid is full, forward, sweet and well textured. Bass is slightly above neutral with decent impact, not quantitatively large in any sense but fairly good in quality and helps to accentuate the mid. Soundstage is only average but with better resolution than R02 Pro II.
Pro: Build quality. User adjustable nozzle angle.
Con: Availbility.

12.    SoundMAGIC PL-50 (link)
Warm, smooth and easy going in general. Bass is neither big nor shy; Treble is neither bright nor too dull; Mid is full and dominant with a rather sweet vocal, which work fairly well in most genre of music. Soundstage is about average and better when used with silicone eartips.
Pro: Cheapest BA around. Accessories.
Con: Housing can use a stronger glue.

13.    Brainwavz M1 (link)
Warm, smooth, musical while a little laidback. Treble is decently extended but doesn’t have a lot of sparkle, smoother than that of M2. Mid is full, dominating and vocal is quite sweet. Bass has good body and decent impact though just a tad slow and mellow out the general sound impression. Above average soundstage but limited by its inabilities to present good airiness and form a detail image.
Pro: Price. Build quality. Accessories.
Con: Strain relief.

14.    Philips SHE9850 (discontinued) (link)
Warm and decently full, musical but not to a point of fun sounding, a bit steely with music . Vocal is sweet and so is the mid (resembles classic Shure house sound). Treble changes a lot with the eartips used. Pairing with silicone eartips can sound a bit dull as treble roll off too early. Pairing with foam tips gives more treble at the price of a bit harshness, but it is still not a very detail sounding IEM. SHE9850 is definitely tuned with foam tips usage in mind and good with a pair of Shure olive, though Comply T100 does sound a bit smoother and less harsh. One point worth noting is the bass response. It is very good (both in quality and quantity) for a single BA transducer with accuracy, body and impact. Soundstage is decent but nothing to write home about.
Pro: Street price. Sleek. Accessories.
Con: Could use an even better cable.

15.    MEElectronics M11 (discontinued) (link)
Warm to slightly dark, smooth and laid back. Treble extents quite far but in much smoother, sparkle-less fashion. Mid is slightly recessed but not too far away. Bass has a fairly good body but not as impactful as M6 or M9 nor quantitatively large. Soundstage is decent with a fainted sense of airiness.
Pro: Price. Build quality.
Con: None.

16.    JAYS s-JAYS (discontinued)  (link)
Warm, mid centric, laid back and very smooth . Unamped, the sound can feel a bit veil. Everything sounds further back on both sides but lacks a sense of depth. Amped or with a slightly bright and powerful source, the detail and vocal can be brought back to the front and it opens up the soundstage, especially on the depth. Treble rolls off a bit early, so not very detail sounding. Bass is strong, but slightly lacking in clarity and speed - yet it is still very good for a single balanced armature transducer. In a sense, s-JAYS carries a little taste of dynamic transducer in its sound signature. Though it may be too smooth and laid back for some, it is a very fatigue free and relaxing IEM.
Pro: Street price. Sleek. Accessories. Build quality. Warranty.
Con: None.

17.    Shure E3c (discontinued)
Warm with a mildly mid centric sound, classily Shure. Bass and treble are decent though gently roll off at both end. Mid has a sense of warm and fullness in it but maintains a decent level of cleanness. Soundstage is a little below average but not terribly bad. Now it is known as SCL3.
Pro: Build quality.
Con: None.

18.    Fischer Audio Paradigm v.2 (link)
Slightly warm and decently dynamic.  Decent treble but not particularly analytical or lacking. Bass response goes down to 20Hz but not large in quantity, The strength of Paradigm v.2 lies in its clear vocal and mid range, yet remains fairly neutral without too much coloration. Soundstage is about average.
Pro: Price.
Cone: None.

19.    Maximo iM-390 (link)
Warm, fairly energetic, and musical, but doesn't have a lot of detail. Roll off at the upper treble while some roughness on the lower treble. Mid is full but not overly sweet, decent at vocal. Bass has good impact but slightly slow. Not quantitatively large though has a decent body. Decent soundstage but nothing to write home about.
Pro: Warranty. Build quality. Accessories.
Con: None.

20.    Astello Radiance+
Warm, musical, mellow and smooth with a fairly full mid and bass, though it does roll off at the lower end. Treble and detail are there but not on the center stage. A relaxing sound signature that tends not to have any real fault with most music genre nor does it excels with any. Soundstage is pretty good due to the nature of its double-opened design.
Pro: Build quality.
Con: Availability. Isolation.

21.    Cresyn C222E (link)
Similar to C230E – Still warm, but less full, not quite as dynamic and more mid centric, sweet vocal, decent extension on both ends though also roll off smoothly, has enough detail not to sound dark or feel severe lack of treble. Soundstage is average. Overall an easy going sound aims more toward general consumer
Pro: None.
Con: Availbility.

22.    Sony MDR-EX85SL
Warm, fairly energetic and on the full side, fairly mid centric. Bass has decent impact but only above average quantity wise and tends to be a bit muddy and boomy. Mid is full with a good sense of sweetness while not overly intimate. Treble is smooth and lacks sparkle or crispiness. An easy going sound.
Pro: None.
Con: Price. A lot of fake.


Warm + Sweet
A warm and sweet sound signature is a cross between a bass oriented and a mid centric sound. Bass strong but not overwhelming while vocal is still relatively forward, though not particular detail in the treble. It is a sound that is generally recognized for being-nothing-wrong, but at the same time doesn’t have any particular strength.

1.    HifiMan RE262 (link)
Warm, full, silky smooth yet articulated, full of texture and detail. Musical and sufficiently technical. Bass runs deep to the 10Hz region and doesn’t have any strange bump anywhere. The quantity is not large by definition, but comes with good texture, body and decay. Able to showcases the quality and present of bass, while does not overwhelm other frequency range. Mid range is the sweet spot of the whole sound. It is dominant but not overly forward; it is sweet but not overly full; it is textured, good in timbre and well spaced, which in term makes the vocal sounds effortlessly real, as if in live. Treble is crispy and decently extended. Not quite as detail as RE0 or ER4S, but it is not lacking compared to most other non analytical IEM. It is half-step behind the mid but still able to function as a good supporting role to the overall presentation. Most importantly, though overly smooth and sibilant-free, it remains edgy enough so it won’t sound dark. Soundstage is very well done - not endlessly huge, but it is very spacious, immersive, well placed and fairly 3D, which is something rare in a mid dominating sound. At first, RE262 might appear to be an IEM that only do well in vocal, but it is surprising adaptive. Granted that it might be a bit too thick for very fast music, it is quite well for Classical and most instrumental music as well, especially since separation and placement are really good on the wide soundstage.
Pro: One of the best dynamic IEM around.
Con: Availability. Decent but not the best build in the same price range. Amp to sound best.

2.    VSONIC GR07 (link)
Warm, remains fairly musical while keeping a good end-to-end extension in a fairly natural fashion. While there is still a very small hint of edginess in the lower region, treble is crisp and extended, accentuates the overall presentation by adding detail but does not stand out by itself. Mid is on the fuller side but not obviously forwarded or as sweet as R04 (from the same company). Instead, it focuses on presenting layers and texture, plus a good sense of space, separation and resolution. Bass is close to being neutral but it has very good impact and depth, especially since sub-bass is fairly well rendered. It complements the mid well but at the same time is able to hold up on its own. Soundstage is excellent - though better on the lateral with good separation than on portraying depth, thus not the best there is. GR07 is not a ‘wow’ type of IEM in first listen. Its strength lies within the control and refinement on presenting micro detail over the whole frequency range, while at the same time trying to be as natural as possible without stressing the listener. This allows for fatigue-free long listening session in low volume while not losing any focus – an excellent quality for stage monitoring, though could be considered as not being exciting enough or even boring.
Pro: Price. Good build quality.
Con: Availability.

3.    Ortofon e-Q5 (link)
Warm, sweat and smooth with a good sense of balance and detail, less mid focus compared to e-Q7. Bass loses a bit of impact and quantity from e-Q7, but gain better depth and slightly more texture. Mid is still sweet with good body but not quite as forward as e-Q7. While still a dominating factor in the overall sound, it allows the other frequency to play a bigger role. Treble no longer has the slight roll off at the top like e-Q7 but extends at a very smooth yet detail way, sparkly while not bright in any sense. Soundstage is also improved greatly over e-Q7. While it might not be a lot wider, it is airier, more transparent with better depth and layers. The moving armature transducer perfectly marries the technical side of an armature driver with the warm, lushness of dynamic driver.
Pro: Moving armature. Build Quality. One of the best sounding single armature IEM.
Con: Price. Fit.

4.    Phonak Audéo PFE 022 Perfect Bass (link)
Very warm, smooth, musical and even a little dark. Almost a classic bass oriented sound if not for a decent mid. Treble extends fairly well, but very smooth. Sparkles and crispiness still present, though taking a big step back behinds the mid and bass.  Mid has full body but not overly done, giving sweetness to the vocal while still maintain a decent sense of layers.  Bass has good quantity and quality – it reaches very low, almost big enough for bass head, yet still well textured and fairly impactful, though just a tad slow for balanced armature (but perfectly fine when compared to most dynamic based IEM). Soundstage is a little below average, no doubt a trade off for the added warmness. Compared to the original PFE with black filter (which is more musical, bassier of the two original filters), the big difference is on the bass region. It has a much more textured and bigger bass to support the vocal. But there are downsides as well – compared to the open sounding grey filter and the musical while still fairly balanced sounding black filter, the perfect bass  green filter sounds more compressed, losing a bit of resolution and dynamic range at the same time. Another more minor downside it requires just little more volume compared to the original PFE as the new green filter adds a little more acoustic impedance to the IEM and lower the sensitivity a bit (though it is not listed on spec). Still, if you were to consider the Perfect Bass series as an independent product of its own at its targeted price range, the overall performance is very admirable.
Pro: Price. Upgradeable to original PFE. Comfort. Two years warranty.
Con: Availability. Accessories compared to the original PFE.

5.    HifiMan RE1 (link)
Slightly dark by itself but very smooth, musical and forgiving, must be amped well with a fast and detail amp or a clean, digital sounding source to reveal its potential. Treble, when amped well, is smooth but still decently revealing with a small hint of sparkle. Mid is a bit of the lush size, full but not thick, sweet but not veil. Bass is not big by quantity, but flow with the mid with a good body. Soundstage is natural and wide. Overall a very relaxing, laid back presentation.
Pro: Lush and euphonic.
Con: Amping needed. Quite source dependant. Isolation.

6.    Sherwood SE-777 (link)
Very warm and fairly musical, with a full sounding mid and bass. Treble is clean, very well extended but smooth, capable of showing a good degree of fine detail yet it is not the highlight of the sound. Mid is warm and full, slightly forward with a sweet vocal. Bass is also warm and bigger than average body, but slightly slower than expected and do not have a very strong impact, not quite a bass monster and roll off at near 20Hz yet a very good performance (both quality and quantity wise) as far as BA based IEM is concerned. Soundstage is average due to the slightly forward mid, but there is still a good sense of airiness in it.
Pro: Build quality. Price.  Accessories.
Con: Eartips. Not for small outer ears.

7.    Brainwavz M3 (link)
Warm and musical, silky smoother in a more laid back manner with an emphasis on a more spacious presentation. Bass loses a little of its transient and attack from the M2, but increases in body and decay, giving a fuller and thicker impression but without being overly slow and muddy. Mid is full and sweet, yet seems to be slightly further away than M2. Treble is smooth and slightly roll off at the top. Too few sparkle and micro detail and gives a slightly darkish impression. Soundstage is decently big but also intimate at the same time. Switching from M2 to M3 feels like going from a big quiet open theater where the singer is right in front of you to a small venue or an old jazz bar where the singer is a couple of feet away. It is the same kind of warmish intimacy that surrounds the listener which is comfortable and relaxing.
Pro: Build quality. Replacement warranty.
Con: Not a major upgrade from M2.

8.    CrossRoads Woody One (link)
Very warm with big deep bass, full, upfront mid and a smooth upper end. Bass is big, deep, and slightly wet with a moderate attacking speed. Not really very refined but does retain enough control to not sound too boomy or muddy. Mid is full and upfront which tend to sound best with male vocal but not as well on female vocal. Upper mid and especially the treble sound pretty smooth without a lot of upper end sparkle and detail. No sibilance to speak of. Soundstage is slightly better than average and not as good as Woody Two.
Pro: Unique wood lushness. Wooden case.
Con: Large housing.

9.    CrossRoads Woody Two (link)
On the warm side yet still well balanced without any obvious flaw. Bass goes pretty deep but not as much as Woody One nor has its pronounced rumbling quantity. However, it does have a better sense of control in speed and attack. Mid is well balanced with a more upfront upper vocal (which is what makes female vocal sweet to listen). Treble is well extended with good highlight and sparkle which give great detail close to the point of being analytical. Soundstage is quite good and have a sense of airiness. Sibilance is minimum at worst and only very brief during the brightest passage.
Pro: Unique wood lushness. Wooden case.
Con: Large housing.

10.    VSONIC R02 Pro II (link)
Warm, smooth, fairly musical with a better than average soundstage. Treble has decent extension, but in a fairly smooth fashion and lacks the top sparkle to show off fine detail or give better resolution. Mid is slightly full, but not enough to show texture or being sweet. Bass has good impact and body, though not at the deepest end. Soundstage is good from side to side (width), but not airy enough to show true depth. It might not have the best of anything, but the overall blend doesn't have any major flaw as well. In other words, R02 Pro II has a rather 'popular' sound signature.
Pro: Price. Build quality.
Con: Isolation.

11.    ECCI PR200 (link)
Warm, but with a decent sense of balance and excitement. Bass extends deep but in a roll off fashion, but gone is the slight boominess in PR100, smaller in quantity but shows better control in comparison and maintains the same overall impact and texture. Mid is also presented very similar to PR100, slightly forward, decently bodied but not overly sweet, still gives a slightly mid centric impression but better in detail, separation and layering. Similarly, treble extends well in a roll off fashion though more forwarded, showing off micro-detail and sparkles which in term inject just the right amount of liveliness to the sound to give it a better balance in presentation without any major flaw. Soundstage is decent, with nothing to write home about.
Pro: Price. Accessories. Build quality
Con: None.

12.    Woodees IESW100B (link)
Warm side, slightly lush on the bass and mid region but still quantitatively balanced. Treble is above average but the slight harshness on 5kHz region can be a bit problematic on bright music.
Pro: Wooded housing.
Con: Need attention to small detail in build quality.

13.    JAYS t-JAYS Two (link)
Warm to slightly dark, lower mid centric, smooth and just a little laid back. Bass has good impact, decay, and quantity with decent control, though just a tad slow and doesn’t go quite deep enough. Mid is well bodied and render a sweet, but not too sweet of a vocal that is good in texture. Treble has sparkle but in much smoother fashion, rolls off just a little at the top end and misses some of the highest note, but nothing terrible. Soundstage is a little above average. Good for most vocal based music, rock and pop in general but still performs instrument and classical in decent manner. A decent choice over the now discontinued s-JAYS.
Pro: Sleek. Build Quality. Accessories. Warranty
Con: None.

14.    EarsQuake SHA (link)
Overall balanced, but more low mid forward. Bass is show very good impact, body and even a little bit of low end rumbling. There is still some hollow boominess left in the bass, but not very noticeable unless in high volume. Mid is a tad forward and has a decent sense of fullness, but lacks texture to make it really good. Treble has good sparkle and detail, smoother than the other two though still a little unrefined and does not quite have the top end extension. Still the presentation gives a good sense of airiness and space. Soundstage is decent at showing depth, but not quite as good on width.
Pro: Price.
Con: None.

15.    SoundMAGIC PL21 (link)
Warm to slight dark, musical, smooth, and has a small emphasis on the mid. Bass extends very deep, does rumbling sub-bass better than any IEM of its class while retaining very good control. Quantitatively not a bass monster but it does show a good bass impact and body. Mid is full, a little forward and vocal is sweet, no sibilance to speak of. Treble has a decent extension but lacks sparkle to show fine detail. Soundstage is about average.
Pro: Price. Build quality. Accessories.
Con: None

16.    LEAR Le01 (discontinued) (link)
Warm and smooth. Treble rolls off a bit on the top and doesn’t give a particular detail sound, though not totally lacking. Mid is slightly warm and has a small hint of sweetness, slightly distanced but not really recessed in any sense. Bass has a decent quantity though not very deep. Sound better with bi-flanges. Overall a done-nothing-wrong sound.
Pro: None.
Con: Strain relief.

17.    ECCI PR100 (link)
Warm, smooth and easy going to even a little laid back. Bass extends to quite deep in a roll off fashion, but neither too abundance nor short in quantity.  It is however good in quality with decent texture and just a tiny but of boominess to give a sense of fullness, but not overdone in anyway. Mid is slightly forward, decently bodied but not overly sweet, just enough to show off detail and gives a mid centric impression without flooding the rest of the spectrum. Treble too extends well but in a roll off fashion, taking a step back from the mid and bass, resulting in micro-detail being really micro, but not totally lacking. Soundstage is a bit below average due to the warm mid.
Pro: Build quality. Accessories.
Con: None.

18.    CrossRoads MylarOne Bijou 3 (discontinued)
Warm and fun sounding. Bass is a little slow, but decently bodied. Mid is a little away but not particularly recessed and still carries a sense of war, especially since lower midrange hump around 200Hz ~ 250Hz. Lower treble has sparkle, but rough in nature and doesn’t really able to reveal detail. Soundstage is only average
Pro: None.
Con: Require a lot of burn-in.

19.    Hippo Epic
Warm, mid and bass centric, and not very detail, except Epic is more mid forward, grainier and less refined on the vocal and treble region, plus it is less punchy on the bass department and lesser in soudnstage. Overall, it is a more balanced sounding than Boom, but not quite as smooth sounding. Due to the slight mid forwardness, soundstage isn't particularly wide.
Pro: None.
Con: None.

20.    Cresyn C230E (link)
Warm, full, a little mid centric, sweet vocal, decent bass quantity wise and has enough detail not to sound dark or feel severe lack of treble. Soundstage is average. Overall an easy going sound aims more toward general consumer.
Pro: Price.
Con: Availability.

21.    Brainwavz alpha (discontinued) (link)
Slightly dark with a very mid and bass centric, fun and more personal sound. Big bass, heavy mid, and not very detail on the treble but still have a tiny bit of sparkle. Mid is slightly congested, but the bass has good resolution and texture. Vocal is pretty forward and dominant. Upper treble rolls off early. No sibilance to speak of. Soundstage is small due to the lack of fine detail and airiness. An easy going sound.
Pro: Not half bad for the price.
Con: None.

22.    Creative EP-630
Very warm to dark and on the thick side. Bass is above average quantity wise and a decent impact and decay, but slow, lacks texture, and sound muddy overall. Mid is on the sweeter side, though not particular detail in any way. Upper mid / Lower treble is steely and rough while upper treble is overly smooth and lacking detail.
Pro: None.
Con: Price. A lot of fake.


General Recommendation for...
  1. Max isolation: Etymotic (any)
  2. Least Isolation: Phiaton PS210 / PS20
  3. Those who haven't figured out what they really want: Mid or Warm + Sweet sound are good places to start.
  4. The riskiest choice for first-timer: Analytical sound.
Update: 1st March 2011.

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Important: All postings are my own personal opinion only and should not be treated as absolute truth. I do get things wrong just like everyone else. Always do your own research!

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