Looking for the best universal IEMs? We’ve got you covered! This list is ordered from the lowest to the highest price (List updated 7th Nov, 2018).
This is a dynamic list, meaning it will change often as IEMs/earphones come and go. We can’t cover them all but here are some of our favourites.
Previously at the top of our list but recently dethroned by the KZ ZSN, the KZ (Knowledge Zenith) ZS4 fits my ears like a glove. V-shaped, energetic and brimming with clarity. The bass is punchy and the midrange is vibrant. KZ really nailed the treble here too. It’s not fatiguing like a lot of their other stuff but it’s crisp and lively.
The ZS4 is a hybrid model with 1BA+!DD driver and a sound that punches way above its price point. It’s well built, super comfortable and comes with the best of all KZ cables so far, even better than the one that comes with the much more expensive AS10. For less than $20 everybody should have at least one of these.
Alternatives: bboooll BOT1
This is our new favourite ultra-budget IEM, replacing the previous champ the KZ ZS4. The ZSN has a more forward midrange, more clarity and a sub-bass that literally puts a smile on my face.
This earphone is also super comfortable, really well built and comes with a great stock cable. It’s no wonder that the KZ ZSN is our new favourite budget IEM.
This relatively new brand has had a really strong start with some early winners like their RevoNext QT2. The RX8 has a near identical frequency response and sounds very similar to the QT2 (albeit with bigger bass) but at only half the price.
Yes, it is plastic compared to the QT2’s metal housings but the RX8 offers better comfort, noise isolation and a much better cable. At $26 this one is a steal.
Alternatives: DEAT HiFi Small
The QT2 is a great little IEM that punches above its price. With a really solid but well-controlled bass, clear midrange and energetic treble this is currently one of the top earphones around the $50 mark. It doesn’t have the greatest cable but the sound more than makes up for that.
BQEYZ K2 ($48 US)
This was the first IEM from BQEYZ that I tried and I knew right away that they were onto something good. The K2 is a really nicely built IEM that has an incredibly refined sound. It’s not as aggressive as the RevoNext QT2 but it’s warmer than the Tin Audio T2. It has above average noise isolation and comes with a nice cable too.
With its dual dynamic drivers, the V2 gets pretty much everything just right. It was a warm and balanced sound signature that is very organic and natural sounding. It has a punchy bass, a detailed, forward midrange and lively but non-fatiguing and airy treble.
If you’ve tried the Tin Audio T2 but just wanted a bit of extra bass and midrange body then the V2 is the perfect choice. Even though the V2 has a fuller sound it still has an expansive and stable soundstage.
The lightweight metal housings can be worn with the cable down or over your ears and are very comfortable either way. It has a good silver-plated cable too which is detachable so you can replace or upgrade it if desired.
$49 from AliExpress (Or $39 with our special discount. Details in the review).
Tin Audio T2/ ($49 US)
If you’ve done any research into budget Chi-Fi you will probably be familiar with the T2. This double dynamic driver IEM made a huge impact on its release for its neutrality, transparency, tonality, soundstage and build quality. Yes, I did just say all that in a single sentence. The T2 rocks!
Alternatives: Senfer DT8
Toneking 9 Tail
This is a really unique and special IEM. The 9 Tail has a warm signature with amazing resolution and dynamic range for a single dynamic driver earphone. It has a balanced sound that is extremely addictive; once you start listening you won’t want to take these out of your ears.
The design is quite unusual but it’s actually a really comfortable IEM to wear. It comes with a great cable too. This is one of my personal favourites.
This has become one of the people’s favourite’s and its no surprise why. With 6 drivers per side (2
It’s got a boosted low end, meaning there’s plenty of bass to go around. The midrange is ultra-resolving and the DMG is a master at instrument separation and picking up minute details. Its treble is crisp and airy but super smooth without any harshness or fatigue.
With an exceptional build quality and generous accessory bundle (including a best in class cable) the BGVP DMG offers outstanding value for money and performs well above its price point.
Hifi Boy OS V3
What a way to enter the crowded IEM market! the Hifi Boy OS V3 is a smashing earphone that excels in every way. It’s beautifully crafted, extremely comfortable to wear and it has above average noise isolation.
But it’s the sound that really sets this one apart. The OS V3 has a full-bodied but balanced sound. Its punchy bass, resolving nature and smooth yet detailed presentation are class leading in its price range. This one absolutely gets a place in this list!
This IEM has been one of my favourites since the first time I heard it. The DK-3001 is built like a tank and comes with 2 cables: 1x 3.5mm single ended and 1x 2.5mm TRRS balanced. This is good news because the black DUNU cables are still some of my favourites.
With a meaty bass, fantastic layering and separation and energetic but smooth treble this IEM sounds brilliant. It’s seems as though DUNU made the DK-3001 just for me because its sound fits my personal preference so well: enhanced bass, fantastic clarity and detail and lively, non-fatiguing treble. Superb!
Sennheiser IE 800 S
It’s hardly surprising to find something from the portable audio giant in our recommended list. The Sennheiser IE800 S is a stunning achievement in earphone technology. Its tiny earpieces are exquisitely crafted and very robust. The cable has an adapter system allowing you to switch easily between the 3 available plugs: 3.5mm SE, 2.5mm TRRS and 4.4mm TRRS.
It’s incredible what Sennheiser have done with this single dynamic driver. It delivers supreme coherency and a natural tonality that puts you right in the middle of the music. The IE 800 S remains one of my high-end reference IEMs and absolutely has to be part of this list for its masterful audio capability and triumph of engineering.