Let's Cut Through the Chaff: my Top 5 IEMs around $50, and beyond!
Updated: Feb 8, 2021
Hi everyone! Welcome back to the Neighborhood. It’s Your Friendly Neighborhood Reviewer with InToit Reviews, coming at you today with a very necessary video. There’s been a lot of stuff coming out recently, and unfortunately for the consumer… most of it has not been very good. So, at the request of the Neighborhood, I’ve decided to weigh in on my Top 5 IEMs at $50 dollars or under for this video, and I’ll also be throwing in an honorable mention for bassheads, and some recommendations of where to go from there.
So, let’s get InToit!
So, starting with No.5, there’s the KBEAR Lark. The Lark has a solid build, and a great sound profile. It comes with a tremendous accessory package in the box, including a very nice case. And, the price of this thing is blows my mind, because its only $30 dollars. My major critique here would be that the treble does fall off rather starkly at 9K, but this is still more treble than I’ve been getting out of a lot of sets this days. Cough, Cough, like the Blon BL-01; which would never make this list…
At No. 4, we’ll move onto the Tin HIFI T2 Plus; which at the time of this review is on Amazon for $59.99 but commonly can be found for $10 dollars less. The T2 Plus is your defacto, harmon-tuned, recommendation on the list. Its multi-timbred and warmer on the bottom-end, and brighter on the top-end. It’s also the only recommendation on the list with an MMCX connector. I didn’t love the fit of this set for me with the stock cable, but the stock cable is nice for other IEMs for me, and switching the T4 cable to this set, fixed most of the comfort and fit issues for me with this set. Compared to something like the Blon BL-03; which also won’t make this list, the T2 Plus has better extension at both ends, enhanced resolution and clarity, and is less encumbered by mid-bass bleed. So, the T2 Plus will get the nod over that set here.
In the middle of the pack, we have the Moondrop S.S.R. at $39.99. This is the HD600 of IEMs, and it probably has the best stage on the list. This is a diffuse-field tuning, and a solid recommendation with great imaging and very good articulation. The knock here is that its not the most resolving set, and there is some mild grain in the overall presentation- much like the HD600, so if you can accept that set, you can accept this one. Other’s have also trashed the bass of this set, and accused it of being shouty in the mids, but luckily RHA Dual Density Ear Tips exist. Switching to these tips perfectly mellows any shout, and improves the bass performance. What others also fail to mention about the bass of the S.S.R. is that it for what it lacks in bass quantity it makes up for it with its bass quality. There is a superb amount of bass detail here, even if it isn’t thrust in your face, and if I was picking a monitoring IEM from this list it would be this one- if I was a bass player or otherwise.
Next up, at No. 2 on the list, we have the Jade Audio EA1, which has recently dropped back down to $29.99; which is an excellent value for this set. In fact, in making this list, I struggled if the EA1 would be my No.1 recommendation or not, because, out of the top 5 recommendations here, it is the most technical and most precise amongst the group. Uniquely, the EA1 use a beryllium-plated diaphragm driver, just like its more expensive cousin, the FiiO FD1, but between the two the EA1 gets my pick every time. The EA1 has great separation, is the most resolving on the list, and stellar vocal presentation. Like the S.S.R., the EA1 comes across as mid-forward, but is less prone to shout. Nevertheless, I also recommend RHA Dual Density Ear Tips for this set to smooth things out most auspiciously, as the tips that come in the box here, aren’t the most favorable for this set. The staging has great depth and dimensionality to it, but it is rather limited in its width. Like its driver, the bass on the EA1 is also pretty unique. It is tight and controlled, but with good punch and decent impact. Most if its energy comes from its mid and upper bass regions, but it also has good sub-bass extension and rumble; but it doesn’t show itself on all tracks. Instead, it reserves these frequencies for when they are really called for, and when the present themselves they fill the listener with joy. So, this is a great technical set, but it won’t be for those that want a traditional V-shaped, IEM presentation, or bassheads that demand bass in their face, all the time.
And, last, but not least, at No.1, we have the Jade Audio EA3 coming in at $39.99. It isn’t as technical as the EA1, but it is more musical in its presentation overall, and for those that want a little more, consistent, low-end representation, the EA3 will definitely fit the bill. Unlike the EA1, which comes with roughly the same package as the EA3, in the case of the EA3, the provided tips produce really good sonics for the EA3. I prefer the grey tips with the red bore, and with these tips, the EA3 produces silky smooth, honey-toned sonics with great bass and treble extensions, and decent mids representation amongst the backdrop of both an accurate and balanced stage with good peripheral detailing for the price range. It may not be as detailed or resolving as the EA1, but I find its overall presentation slightly more satisfying, and I can listen to it for hours without fatigue. It does have a possible peak at 8K, so be aware of this, but honestly, I don’t really hear it, and I think that this peak, which can be seen on graphs, is mostly an artifact of the measurement rigs that are commonly used to measure IEMs by a number of reviewers. Even if the peak is there to a certain extent, I find that it may contribute to the detailing of this set, and I never perceive it to be sharp, piercing, or strident to my ears; but your mileage here could vary, as I know it has for some. In any case, the EA3 does come with a good enough accessory package to get one started, and so, unlike most of the other IEMs on this list, it isn’t absolutely necessary to run out and buy alternative cables, tips, or other accessories in order to have the best experience with this set. In my opinion, your good with everything that comes in the box here with the EA3, the cable is nice, the case is good enough, and the provided tips are a good match for this earphone. So, if you’re looking to make a one-time purchase, and then forget it, this would be my recommended set for you.
As an honorable mention, I’m going to throw in the KBEAR KS2 for my bassheads out there, before we move on. This set is generally $25 dollars, but routinely has a coupon, or goes on lightening deal on Amazon. I’ve seen it for as little as $17, or slightly less, in some cases. The thing about this set is that it is a massive V-shape, but has great bass texture, tone, and detail at the price-point. If I’m going to listen to a rap only play list, I’ll throw on this set for some excitement, as it works well with the genre and digs deep in both quantity and quality at its price. So, if bass wow-factor is your thing, the KBEAR KS2 might have that jaw-dropping, juicy booty bass for you.
But, where can one go from here? Other recommendations of the channel (as of the date of this video) include, but are not limited to the Shozy Form 1.1 at $75 dollars, the Tin HIFI T4 at $99 dollars, the TFZ No.3 at $109 dollars, the Final Audio A4000 at $160, the Shozy Rouge at $179 dollars, and the Ikko OH10 at $199. Beyond the $200 price range, I’d check out the Tanchjim Oxygen and the Final Audio B3. But be aware, that in the case of many of these sets, they may require tip adjustments or other considerations, so make sure to check out those videos for more specifics as they are out, or will come out shortly. Speaking of which, I just got an A4000 and a B3 in for review thanks to a partnership with Final Audio for the channel.
I’m also on the hunt for a number of other IEMs to be sent into the channel, such as the Tanchjim Hana, FiiO FH3, ThieAudio Legacy 4, and Legacy 5. So, if your favorite IEM didn’t make the cut here, it might be because I haven’t heard it yet. So, consider sending it into the channel for review, or reach out to the manufacture of that product and urge them to send it in if you’d like me to take a look at it. I can be reached via the email listed in the about section of this channel or on the blog at www.intoitreviews.com. And before you go, make sure to like this video if you enjoyed its content, subscribe to the channel to become part of the Neighborhood, and consider becoming a Patreon for the low, low price of $1.50. By becoming a Patreon, you show your support for the channel, and after 1.1K subscribers you will get early access to written blog reviews for the channel. And, with that, I’m out… for now.
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