Audio A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

esanthosh

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A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

The seed for this thread was born long ago when I asked Faheem if he could post a condensed review of all IEMs with his personal rankings. Even if that idea has not come to fruition yet, we thought it would be nice to have an Index of sorts to all the reviews and impressions posted over time. In addition to this, we also plan to have our own subjective rankings of IEMs or Headphones or whatever we feel like.

Index of Ranking List and/or Review Links

  1. My Review Links and Ranking - This Post
  2. Faheem - Review Links and Ranking
  3. Brendon (BF1983) - Review Links and Ranking
  4. Mephistopheles - Ranking
  5. Benny Sachdev - Ranking
  6. Mukul - Ranking
  7. strategy - Ranking
  8. nizarp - Ranking
  9. hzant6681 - Ranking
  10. krisballa - Ranking
  11. santhoshr - Ranking
  12. fluX - Ranking
  13. hzant6681 -Ranking
  14. lepermessiah - Ranking
  15. Ritvik - Ranking
  16. Phan7om - Ranking
  17. Arjan Singh - Ranking
  18. sardar17 - Ranking
  19. itsvel06 - Ranking
  20. jared - Ranking
  21. abhi_jollyguy - Ranking

I will start with my own list of reviews and impressions:

Reviews on Head-fi - Ordered by date of review (most recent first):

  1. Hifiman RE-272 (24 Aug, 2011)
  2. Sunrise Audio XCited (Compared to RE0/ZERO) (07 Aug, 2011)
  3. Blue Ever Blue "Red" (22 Jun, 2011)
  4. VSonic GR07 (12 Jun, 2011)

Reviews of Sources and Amps - Ordered by date of review (most recent first):

  1. Hisoundaudio RoCoo-P (28 Mar, 2012)

Reviews of IEMs - Ordered by date of review (most recent first):
  1. Shure SE535-LTD-J (29 Dec, 2013)
  2. Shure SE-535CL (07 Aug, 2012)
  3. Yamaha EPH-100 (Comparison to EX-1000, FX700, FXT90, MG7, A161P, Tandem, TF10, FXD80) (14 Jul - 01 Aug, 2012)
  4. MEElectronics A151 (02 May, 2011)
  5. ECCI PR401 and comparisons to many IEMs (23 Apr, 2011)
  6. MEElectronics M31 (16 Apr, 2011)
  7. 9 IEM Comparison - Brainwavz (Pro Alpha, M1, M2, M3) and Xears (TM2, Bullet XB120, XT120, Turbo Devices TD100, TDII) (12 Feb, 2011) (Updated version with 11 IEMs can be found here)
  8. Head-Direct RE-262 (and comparison to SM3, DBA-02, FX700, e-Q5, Triple Fi 10, RE-252) (04 Feb, 2011)
  9. Hippo Epic-Sparkle (12 Nov, 2010)
  10. Head-Direct RE1 (09 Nov, 2010)
  11. Panasonic RP-HJE900 (26 Oct, 2010)
  12. Head-Direct RE-252 (17 Oct, 2010)

Initial Impressions of IEMs - Ordered by date of thread (most recent first):
  1. Radius HW-TWF21 / W n°2 Pro / DDM2 (25 Jun, 2011)
  2. Monster Turbine : Quick Review (14 Jun, 2011)
  3. VSonic GR07 (31 Mar, 2011)
  4. Audio Technica CK10 (15 Mar, 2011)
  5. JVC/Victor HA-FX700 (14 Jan, 2011)
  6. Ortofon e-Q5 (13 Jan, 2011)
  7. Earsonics SM3 (20 Dec, 2010)
  8. Fischer DBA-02 (27 Sep, 2010)
  9. Radius HW-TWF11KPro / DDM / W Pro (24 Aug, 2010)

Impressions from the Random IEM/Headphone Rants thread (most recent first)

warning: Not fully formed opinions, On the surface A:B comparisons or none at all. Take with a pinch of salt)
  1. Noble 4C: Diary of my first Custom IEM and Initial Impressions (01 Feb, 2014)
  2. Brief comparison of single BA IEMs: Phonak PFE 111 vs Etymotic HF2 vs MEElectronics A161P vs Sony XBA-1 (19 Aug, 2012)
  3. Brainwavz Pro Alpha vs SoundMagic E10M (17 Aug, 2012)
  4. Philips SHE3570 vs SoundMagic ES18 (17 Aug, 2012)
  5. Initial Impression: VSonic GR06 (06 Aug, 2012)
  6. Very initial impressions: JVC HA-FXD80, JVC HA-FXD70 (01 Aug, 2012)
  7. Brainwavz Old vs New: Pro Alpha vs M4 (28 Jul, 2012)
  8. Two Short comparisons: Brainwavz M4 vs SoundMagic E30, Dunu DN-18 Hawkeye vs SoundMagic E10M (27 Jul, 2012)
  9. The Three Loaners: Dunu DN-18, MEElectronics A161P, Final Audio Design FI-BA-SB (25 Jul, 2012)
  10. First impression of Brainwavz M4 (18 Jul, 2012)
  11. Short Comparison of Budget IEMs : SoundMagic ES18 vs SoundMagic E30 vs Brainwavz M1 vs MonoPrice 8320 (22 Jun, 2012)
  12. Sony XBA-1 and XBA-3 (31 May, 2012)
  13. Tekfusion TwinWoofers (05 May, 2012)
  14. MonoPrice 8320 / MEP-933 (04 May, 2012)
  15. SoundMagic E30 and Comparison to SoundMagic ES18 (01 May, 2012)
  16. SoundMagic ES18 (20 Apr, 2012)
  17. SoundMagic PL11 and SoundMagic E10 (16 Apr, 2012)
  18. Sony EX-1000 and JVC HA-FX700 (03 Apr 2012, 04 Dec 2011, 27 Jul 2011, 23 July 2011 Post #1 and #2)
  19. Fischer Audio DBA-02 MK-II (19 Feb, 2012)
  20. Brainwavz HM5 (31 Dec, 2011)
  21. Beyerdynamic DT880/600 (2005) (24 Dec, 2011)
  22. Yuin OK1 Ear Bud (On Rediscovering Ear Buds Thread) (05 Dec, 2011)
  23. Sennheiser HD600 (04 Nov, 2011)
  24. First Listen: Atrio MG7, Brookstone Clear Dual Driver, Etymotic HF2 (07 Sep, 2011)
  25. Etymotic MC5 #1 #2 (04 Aug, 2011)
  26. JVC HA-FXT90 Dual Dynamic Driver (18 Jul, 2011)
  27. RE-262 : A second try after 6 months (09 Jul, 2011)
  28. Fischer Audio Eterna: First Listen (20 Apr, 2011)
  29. VSonic GR07: First Listen - #1, #2 (25 Mar, 2011)
My Subjective Ranking (Last Updated: 15 March 2014)

Disclaimer: This list is purely based on my listening preferences. It ignores things like build quality, comfort, isolation and is solely based on my subjective opinion of sound quality. This is not entirely based on technical abilities either, though they do play a part. Since individual preferences differ, my ranking could be entirely unsuitable for somebody else. Just take this as one man's opinion. I'll maintain this list updated as far as possible. My Blog post includes a more verbose version of this list.

About my preferences: I think it's very important to know my musical taste and preferences before reading this list. I generally like a healthy mix of melody and heaviness. I like to experiment with different genres and generally like music that does not follow a set pattern or norm. I can't stand most of pop music. I can take too heavy music or too mellow music as long as they are in the right doses and not monotonous. Although not a complete list, this post should give an idea about the music I listen to.

Note:

  • * - indicates the IEM is under evaluation and can move up or down. The current position is just a placeholder.
  • I have also tried to group IEMs into Tiers based on how I consider their SQ. "___" indicate the separation between tiers, while "..." indicates sub-divisions within the same tier.
  • It is safe to assume that I consider the IEMs within the same tier as almost equals. Within that, sound signature preference would play a role in choosing the right IEM. The differences are much lesser within the sub-division of a tier. While I don't follow the point system for SQ, let's say for example if Tier-I averages between 9.26 - 10.00 / 10, Tier-II will be 8.75 - 9.25 / 10. Within Tier-I, the top sub-division IEMs would range from 9.76 - 10.00 / 10 and the next one would be from 9.26 - 9.75 / 10.00. These are just examples.
  • In the closing, there are two things I believe in - "Take all opinions with a pinch of salt" and "Let your own ears be the judge". So, remember them when reading this list

Ranking

-------- Favorites --------
  1. Noble 4C

    .......... Other Favorites ...........

  2. Custom Art Music Two
  3. Sony MDR-EX1000
  4. JVC Victor HA-FX700

    .......... Almost Favorites ...........

  5. Earsonics SM3 v1
  6. Audio Technica CK10
  7. Head-Direct RE-272

    -------- Almost Great -------

  8. Fischer Audio DBA-02 MKII
  9. Fischer Audio DBA-02
  10. Head-Direct RE-262
  11. Radius HW-TWF21 / W n2 Pro / DDM2
  12. Ortofon e-Q5
  13. VSonic GR07
  14. Shure SE535-LTD-J
  15. Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10

    -------- Excellent IEMs Level 1 -------

  16. Final Audio Design FI-BA-SB "Heaven S"
  17. Shure SE-535
  18. Phonak PFE 111 v0
  19. Hifiman RE-400 *
  20. Etymotic HF2
  21. MEElectronics A161P
  22. Yamaha EPH-100
  23. JVC HA-FXT90
  24. Futuresonics Atrio M5 (MG7)
  25. Radius HW-TWF11K Pro (or) DDM
  26. Head-Direct RE-252

    .......... Excellent IEMs Level 2 ...........

  27. Sony XBA-3
  28. Panasonic RP-HJE900 (Foam mod)
  29. Sunrise XCape V1
  30. Head-Direct RE-ZERO
  31. JVC HA-FXD70 *
  32. JVC HA-FXD80
  33. Sunrise XCited
  34. Head-Direct RE0
  35. Fischer Audio Tandem
  36. Sony XBA-1

    -------- Very Good IEMs Level 1 -------

  37. Fischer Audio Silver Bullet V2
  38. Xears TD100-II
  39. Steel Series Flux In-Ear *
  40. Sony MH1C *
  41. VSonic GR06
  42. ECCI PR401
  43. Hippo VB
  44. Fischer Audio Eterna V1
  45. Xears Experience XE200Pro
  46. Xears TDIII v1 / v2
  47. Monster Turbine
  48. Brookstone Clear Dual Driver
  49. Brainwavz M3
  50. MEElectronics CC51
  51. MEElectronics A151
  52. Xears TD100-I


    .......... Very Good IEMs Level 2 ...........

  53. Signature Acoustics C-12 LE *
  54. Brainwavz M4
  55. Playaz N1
  56. Head-Direct RE1
  57. MonoPrice 8320
  58. Brainwavz M2
  59. SoundMagic E30
  60. SoundMagic PL50
  61. Brainwavz M1
  62. SoundMagic E10M
  63. Dunu DN-18 "Hawkeye" v2
  64. Brainwavz Pro Alpha
  65. Etymotic MC5

    -------- Good IEMs -------

  66. Hippo Shroom EB
  67. Klipsch S4
  68. Microsonics Epic X
  69. Hippo Pearl (amplified)
  70. Crossroads Woody Two

    -------- Nearly Good IEMs -------

  71. Playaz N3
  72. Xears XT120Pro (Equalized)
  73. Xears Bullet XB120Pro
  74. NuForce NE-7m
  75. SoundMagic ES18
  76. Brainwavz Delta *
  77. Blue Ever Blue 866B "The Red"
  78. MEElectronics M6 (Some foam + Equalization Less Memory Wire)
  79. Head-Direct RE2
  80. Philips SHE3570

    -------- Casual Listening IEMs -------

  81. Tekfusion TwinWoofers
  82. MEElectronics M31
  83. Fischer Audio Daleth
  84. SoundMagic PL30
  85. SoundMagic PL11
  86. Brainwavz Alpha
  87. V-Moda Vibe

    -------- Other IEMs -------

  88. JVC HA-FX34 "Marshmallows" (Kramer Mod)
  89. Xears TM2Pro
  90. Hippo Epic-Sparkle (MEElectronics M9 Balanced Tips)
  91. Creative EP-630
 
Last edited:

FaH33m

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anubhav2345

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

Excellent Work !!

Though i keep a check on ur blog always :D

I wish it gets so big one day that one day it equals to the famous 150 IEM comparison / Review thread headfi has :D
 

GuruGulabKhatri

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

another good idea could be the IEM/Headphone Recommendation Thread (Like <500 , <1000 Etc)

The Countless "Suggest me an IEM" threads could be stopped
 

bennysachdev

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

+1, probably on the basis of Tier/Level/Ranking as well. Just a suggestion.
 

GuruGulabKhatri

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

Fah33m is so lazy these days...:p

how long do we have to wait for his post?
 

Brendon

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

^^ +1

How much we coaxed, threatened, cajoled, forced Faheem to make something like this ! :)
 

esanthosh

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

^^ Post links to your reviews and Impressions too! We know your likely rankings ;), but post them anyways!

Waiting for Faheem to update :)
 

Brendon

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

Well I haven't done too many reviews and my impressions are all over the place so can't link them. :p

Brainwavz M3

http://www.techenclave.com/audio-zone/brainwavz-m3-is-here-176936-9.html#post1705683

Soundmagic PL30

http://www.techenclave.com/reviews-and-previews/soundmagic-pl-30-review-133185.html

Hippo VB vs Crossroads Woodie vs Re1

http://www.techenclave.com/reviews-and-previews/hippo-vb-review-154517.html

Rankings in order of sound preference

1. Earsonics SM3

2. Audio Technica CK10

3. Head-direct RE262 (amped)

4. Head-direct RE1 (amped)

5. TF10

6. Phonak PFE

6. Microsonics Epic-X

7. Panasonic HJE-900 (awesome iems with possibly the best bass but recessed mids not to my tastes. Else ranked #3)

8. RE252

9. Brainwavz M3

10. Ortofon e-Q5

11. RE0 (mids too dry for my tastes else it would be ranked #6)

12. RE2

13. Nuforce Ne6
 

Mephistopheles

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

My rankings (Based on personal preference; YMMV):

1. HeadDirect RE262

2. Radius DDM

3. Brainwavz M3

4. UE TF10

5. HeadDirect RE0

6. Brainwavz ProAlpha

7. Brainwavz M2

8. Nuforce NE6

9. HeadDirect RE2

10. SoundMagic PL11

11. Creative EP630
 

Brendon

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

^^ Glad to know you like the RE262 as much as I do. :)
 

Vasishta.Sushant

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

RE0 at 20th position. Are you kidding me :O
 

Brendon

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

^^ For my type of music I just don't like their dry mids. :(

And my rankings are to be taken with a pinch of salt. I am heavily biased towards the RE1/Re262 !!! :p
 

FaH33m

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

GuruGulabKhatri said:
Fah33m is so lazy these days...:p

how long do we have to wait for his post?
Sorry to disappoint everyone .But Ive been really busy with college fest etc and playing around with some of the new gear I got ( not just audio related :p ).

I will try and update the list by weekend and also mostly come up with a few new reviews !
 

esanthosh

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

BF1983 said:
^^ For my type of music I just don't like their dry mids. :(

And my rankings are to be taken with a pinch of salt. I am heavily biased towards the RE1/Re262 !!! :p
No kidding :)

What about the other IEMs? Crossroads Woodie 2 and Microsonics Epic X?

I guess you can also add your headphone reviews and impressions under a group :)

And as far as "IEM recommendation by price", I think it's better to have a separate thread for that. Otherwise, this thread will become too long :p
 

titana

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

a very nice initiative..well appreciated :)
 

Mephistopheles

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

BF1983 said:
^^ Glad to know you like the RE262 as much as I do. :)
And till now I've been using them unamped, I wonder how much more they will improve when I use them with Sflo2
 

esanthosh

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

Added my own rankings. Now, hope Faheem adds an even longer list soon ;)
 

FaH33m

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

Add the links to the review. Will add the rankings soon and this also reminds me I have still a lot and lot of impressions/ reviews pending .
 

bennysachdev

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Re: A Compendium of Audio Zone Reviews and Rankings: IEMs, Headphones & Sources

DBA-02 at #2?? Really?

My pick.

1) Earsonic SM3(EQ on Electronic)
2) Westone W3
3) UE TF10 (recabled)
4) AT Ck10 (Comply tips)
5) Westone UM3x
6) UE TF10 (stock cable)
7) Ortofon EQ7
8) Re0
9) Re252
10) Radius ddm
11) Re1
12) Brainwavez M2