Custom In-Ear Earphone/Monitors Recommendations
February 9, 2015 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm in the market for a pair of good in-ear earphones. There are lots of options and it's a little overwhelming.

I'm looking for nice in-ear monitors that will produce clear, accurate sound. I'm in the audiology field and I appreciate good sound quality and have a pretty good ear, but I don't consider myself part of the whole 'audiophile' thing either.

I'm having custom earmolds made for them (by Starkey). They can pretty much make an earmold for any major brand earphone.

I'll be using them a lot - commuting, working, etc. I'm looking to switch from my not-great-for-travel Sennheiser supraaurals.

I'd love to keep the cost under $200. I had been looking at the Etymotic ER4 because it's a classic model and I have a lot of faith in Etymotic products, but the $300 price tag seems a little steep for me right now. Is the HF5 a good option perhaps?

I don't have a lot of experience in particular with in-ear earphones, so any recommendations are very welcome. Thanks everyone!
posted by Lutoslawski to Technology (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I really like my Etymotic HF3 (which is the same as the HF5, but with the Apple Play/Pause/Volume/Mic dongle on the cord). I am a professional musician (but not an audiophile) and I've found them to have good audio quality and a nice seal (so, pretty good sound elimination from the environment). Someone who is more of an audio-tech-person might have a better answer, but this is my $0.02. Unfortunately I can't speak to the durability of the HF3 because I keep losing/breaking mine from my own stupidity... but I keep buying new pairs! Good luck with your search.
posted by Zephyrial at 1:07 PM on February 9, 2015

The Wirecutter has a bunch of headphone and earphone reviews.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:25 PM on February 9, 2015

I liked my ety mc3 and couldn't hear much difference between those and the hf3 when trying them out in the store. My only reservation is that the build quality was so-so; in three years I've had four pairs break or be faulty - don't know if the more expensive ones are of better quality, but it's a concern now that I've switched to droid and need new IEMs.
posted by monocultured at 1:41 PM on February 9, 2015

I'd love to keep the cost under $200

I don't know if the new ultimate ears are what the old ones were, but i was and continue to be totally blown away by the performance of my Super.Fi 5's. I also have shure E4c's(which are VERY good) and i've test driven other models of shures, etc.

Unfortunately, as far as i can tell, they have utterly and completely abandoned the market under $400 for headphoens which just... what. These seem like the logical successors to what i have, but i don't understand why they cost so much more.

There is, from what i've observed, a gap now. There's plenty of good(balanced armature even!) IEMs in the like, 50-120 range. Then there's good ones over $300. UE used to fill the space in between with stuff that should probably cost more. Now you either shell out for the real shures/etymotics or you get something cheap. That sucks.

$300 for the etymotics is probably the cheapest thing that's going to be Worth It. All i could find for $200 was the shure se315(which is what they directed people looking to purchase the e4c towards), but i haven't auditioned it and i don't know if the performance is up to par. The MSRP was $249 though, and it only recently went on sale for less. That might be the cheapest way in the gate to real, quality IEMs.
posted by emptythought at 3:19 PM on February 9, 2015

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