A Guide to Some Great Sounding In-Ear Monitors $100 - $250

Sony MDR-EX600 ($130)
The MSRP price of EX600 is a bit on the high side, but the street/online price isn’t. Spotting the third place in the current Sony’s EX series, the EX600 has the sound quality to match its status. Warm, crisp, full and deep with a good soundstage, the only downside of EX600 is not in its sound, but on its isolation/fit. The new over-the-ear design trades fit and isolation for replaceable cable and sound quality. It might not fit everyone’s ears, but there is no denying the good sound/price ratio.
InnerFidelity Review
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Head-fi Thread

JVC HA-FXT90 ($150)

By using two micro dynamic transducers of different diaphragm materials, JVC is able to create a dual dynamic wonder without the need of crossover circuit. The mid centric sounding IEM not only has very textured vocal, but also punchy bass and crisp treble as well. The immersive soundstage and dynamic presentation makes this a very engaging listen, though it might not be the best choice for instrumental and classical music.
Manufacturer Product Page
Head-fi Thread

VSONIC GR07 ($180)
VSONIC GR07 Developed and tuned for almost 3 years before release, this flagship from VSONIC is meant to be a reference level sounding IEM that is every bit as good sounding as its competitors, especially on stage in low volume. While not being a WOW sounding type of IEM, its technical ability makes it one of the best sounding in its price class and certainly among dynamic transducer based IEM. The latest reversion now comes with much more accessories which add icing on the cake.
Manufacturer Homepage
Head-fi Thread

Inks's picture

Any ideas on upcoming retailers in the us for the TDKs? I'm going to assume there's going to be some since the IEMs appear on their US site.

The BA200 looks nice, I saw it's frequency response measured and it looked well compensated and overall pretty flat, similar to an LCD-2.

ClieOS's picture

As far as I know, TDK is going to release BA200 in the US, though somehow the Asian markets get their stock first. Buy.com will be a good place to look for TDK as I know they already carry most of TDK headphones line-up and likely will have the BA200 in stock once it reaches US.

droilfade's picture

Why aren't the Spider Realvoice IEMs not featured in this article? You have time and again said that they are one of the best sounding IEMs. Nive review though....thoroughly enjoyed it :)

EDIT: I just saw that this was not written by you, Tyll. My bad!

ClieOS's picture

Just to clarify, I did consider putting Spider Realvoice in the recommendation list under $50~$100 range. But there are only three slots in the same price range and Realvoice is up for some very stiff competitions. At the end, the choice to not put Realvoice in the list is because (1) it has already been recommended by Tyll on his holidays gift list and (2) I want to recommend something that are more easy-going and universal for both audiophiles and non-audiophile alike. Realvoice is a bit too mid centric, even though it is still a very good sounding IEM.

wandraaa's picture

how about brainwavz b2? Does it good enough to be in the list? :)

ClieOS's picture

B2 is a great IEM for the price, but the reason for not including it (and this applies to many other great sounding IEM as well) in the recommendation list has less to do with their performance, but the sound signature they have. They are simply too many good IEM to list down and the goal is to recommend IEM that can be accepted as really good sounding regardless of personal preference. That is, to compile a list of recommendation so that anyone, regardless of personal preference and being audiophile or not, can still enjoy the sound - thus why the much brighter and analytical sounding B2 is not included.

John Grandberg's picture
Isn't it amazing how much more you get for your money these days, compared to a few years back? I remember when $100 for the UE Super Fi 3 was considered a pretty good deal...
ulogin's picture

Good work!

I also wonder how are the BA100 of TDK. I heard that they are rather heavy in base.

Alondite's picture

I absolutely love my GR07s. Thanks again for the recommendation ClieOS.

Lunatique's picture

Tyll - Have you tested the Westone 4? Westone never supplies any frequency response graph for their products, and since they're not nearly as popular as other brands, it's almost impossible to find any independently measured frequency response graphs for them.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I have a request in with Westone and expect gear in the near future. Keep an eye out, I'll announce measurements in the monthly updates.
ClieOS's picture

@ John
Indeed. I can hardly keep up with the IEM market these days.

@ ulogin
Warm, smooth and mid centric is my impression of BA100. I won't say it is particularly heavy in bass, but it is certainly not lacking.

@ Alondite
Ah, I love my GR07 as well.

nunh's picture


Would love to see an article rating active / athletic in-ear monitors that still sound excellent.

Such as in-ears that can endure jogging, mountain biking, working out - outdoors activities, water-proof etc.

Thank you!

ClieOS's picture

I will be interested to see if any company makes worthy IEM for active lifestyle as well. But as far as I know, the most popular offerings, such as those from Sennheiser, Audio-Technica and H2O just ain't that great as far as SQ is concerned.

belmont's picture

I'm surprised the Sunrise Xcape Impressive Edition isn't included.

I will admit to be surprised by your 'blurb' on the HA-FXT90, since my initial impressions of it was that it was quite similar to the TWF11's.

ClieOS's picture

X-IE is great sounding, but the recent batch seems to have build issue (*it has been resolved after the article was posted, as I was told by Sunrise). The choice to put FXT90 over TWF11 is because TWF11 doesn't isolate at all (though it does give it a great soundstage like an open 'phone) and the fit is not for everyone. In comparison, FXT90 can still give a similar fun presentation without any fit issue.

belmont's picture

Luckily I didn't have any issue with the TWF11 (I did get a couple of 'faulty' sets with the X-IE's overheating driver issue though, before getting one that worked well [edit: I think I should clarify I got them RMA'd instead of buying more copies...]), but as to the FXT90 vs TWF11 I was talking more about the treble since the TWF11 is famously smooth, and not say, crisp. (Essentially FXT90 was basically an easier fitting TWF11 for me with almost the same sound.)

I took a look at the TDK-BA200, and WOW, what a honker of a Y splitter. So needlessly huge... I think it's larger than the monitor housing itself. Looking forward to your full review though!

theOS_the_one's picture

Hi everybody!

Once again i am gonna ask for your help .smiley

I want to buy a pair of in ear headphones and i can't decide myself.indecision

I have made the next selection:


Panasonic RP-HJE900

MEElectronics A151

Audéo PFE 012 

My favorite genres of music are: Chill out, Tech house, Deep house, Progressive, Minimal and sometimes Classic

And i will drive them with an iphone4s and Creative USB Sound Blaster X-Fi HD

Thank you very much!

theOS_the_one's picture


theOS_the_one's picture

Lets cut the Panasonic RP-HJE900 from the list and add Shure SE215 and Beyerdynamic DTX 101

Gracesheng's picture

know some of these models and love them. good choice

BryanL's picture

It's a good list of earbuds you have here !
What do you think of the Yamaha EPH-100SL ?
They are priced in the $80 range and the sound produced is really good (for that price of course).


Jim123's picture

thanks for this article

Can yo do an article about rating active / athletic in-ear

Such as in-ears that are made for outdoor activities likejogging, mountain biking, hiking, working out, etc.

amp323's picture

Hello, I'm looking for IEMs with a neutral sound under 100 bucks. Any recommendations?