IEM Help ($100-350)

I'm finally ready to retire my Pioneer HDJ-2000's, and this time I'm looking for a set of IEMs.

My budget is up to $350, I'd like something a bit warmer than my current headphones. After nearly 5 years with them, that clinical sound is just not working for me anymore. I work in an office full of programmers, so I get to 'audition' a bunch of different headphones, and the ones that are closest to the sound profile I'm looking for are the VModa M-100. I'd like just a smidge more bass, but other than that, those headphones tick all the boxes. I'm looking for better Isolation, and no more sweaty ear cups. That's why I don't just go out and buy the VModas (or the M50x's) right now.

I've tried the following models:
Shure SE425s (NO, too flat),
Sennheiser HD280 Pro (Meh, nothing special, they're decent but didn't blow me away),
Allen and Heath XD2-53 (Somewhere between my headphones and the HD280s),
Audio Technica M50x (A VERY VERY slightly worse version of the VModas)
Bose QC15 (Actually not too bad, I was very surprised with these after all the crap I hear people talk. I just couldn't deal with the pressure feeling from the noise canceling)
VModa M-100 (Damn close to what I'm looking for).

To be honest, I'm thinking about going way under budget and getting the Shure SE215s. I've heard they're super nice even though they're a lower end product than most of the headphones I've listened to.

Others on the short list are the Sennheiser IE80s and the RHA T10i. Anything else I should be checking into?

Look into VSONIC VSD3S :) They are dirt cheap and have nice bass.
I had the Hifiman RE-400 for a while, but sold them, since I like the VSD3S better.

I fear you won't get around trying a few. The SE215 sound like V-Moda M-80s with a worse stage.
I had both, I liked them, but they died.

Might wanna look into getting ear molds done. Not too expensive, really nice seal and even better fit! SE-215 + molds come in at around 200 to 300$

What you are looking for is bass heavy. The M50x and VModas are both bass heavy. Bass heavy iems in that price range? I don't know off the top of my head. I would say to look into ciems. There are some around that price. Google the headphone list.

P.s. The HDJ2000 are NOT clinical. At all.

Hold of on buying for now and wait for the reviews of the new RBH beryllium coated driver over ear set to come out sometime in December. They will be going for $200 supposedly!

Gene DellaSala of Audioholics got to try a pair at CEDIA and he said it blew away his $1200 set of headphones. Of course opinions of individual people aren't the most reliable, but Gene is an electrical engineer who has worked on audio in telecommunications and has been dealing with audio and high end audio for years.

I trust his judgement, but I am also waiting for the other shoe to fall, since these headphones will supposedly be only $200. Luckily since he is an electrical engineer he does detailed technical reviews, so I am waiting for his complete review of these headphones.

Anyway beryllium is the best material for making sound drivers, and is usually found in top end speaker systems. It is second only to electrostatic drivers. Here is the video where he mentions them (they are talked about in the first few minutes):

@Logan @MayflowerElectronics

You guys might want to keep your eye on these as well. If they live up to the hype in reviews, you guys definitely will want to give a pair a try.

I am actually curious to see if this is just some PR-bs or actually a development in the audio business. I hope the latter, I fear the first.
They just look like another cheapo BRAINWAVZ HM5 iteration. Don't get me wrong, the HM5 is awesome; I just dislike the way they look and that my ears get extremely hot under them.

Edit: Also, sweaty ears.

I would fear the first, but Gene is one of the biggest voices against snake oil and gimmicks in the industry, and he has the back ground to test to make sure the science is sound. Also he has got to test a llllllot of products in his day, so his initial impressions being so positive are pretty exciting.

He should also cover comfort in his review, so if they do get hot he should mention that.

p.s. His review will be at, and usually a video on youtube will accompany it.

Not saying this is the case, but just because it's made out of a good material doesn't mean it will sound good. It's the engineering and design that makes it sound good as well. I'll read more than one persons review and look at the frequency response before looking at a pair.


But definitely worth holding off on buying another pair of headphones for a couple of months, and keeping an eye on these though. ;)

Thanks for the input guys. I'm glad someone brought up RBH. From what I can tell the EP3 might be what I'm looking for. I couldn't find a negative review on them, and the response curve on audioholics kinda sold it.

They're $80 off, have a good return policy (which is nice for buying something without an in person audtion), and have a microphone (so i can use these instead of my iphone ear buds on my laptop for video conferencing as well). All that put together was too good to pass up.

I'm really looking for IEMs, so while I appreciate the Over the Ear recommendations by one of the above posters, I'd rather stick with an In Ear this time. If I go over the ear, I'll probably just pick up a pair of m50x's.

Yeah sorry I was a bit confused. You said IEM, but I saw some over ear units in your list. Else I would have mentioned those.

Keep in mind that the EP3 work kind of like the yellow foam ear plugs. Might be what you are looking for, but it is unusual, so best to point that out. Reviewers say that they are far more comfortable than having the plastic buds against the skin in your ear though.

I've been a competitive shooter for years, so I'm use to that foam earplug feeling, so it's all good.

The over the ear models I listed above were ones that I auditioned from coworkers, and i mentioned them just as a point of reference for what sound profile I was looking for.

I use the SE 215s and I've had them for the past 3 years or so.... I love them

Again, look into getting ear molds and SE-215. They are bassy, have a nice punch, and with molds will seal pearfectly. Without molds, they still are fantastic, but the foam tips are rather large IMO.

The EP3's just got in, and I'm listening to Hollental (logan's new album) with them right now. I spent most of the day listening to this album with my HDJ-2000's, and they've been fantastic. I wish they had a bit more low end punch, but the mid ranges are fantastic, and the highs are MUCH more clear than they are on the HDJ-2000s.

If it wasn't obvious the bass is NOT pronounced on these IEMs, but it's still miles better then my HDJ-2000s. It doesn't kick you in the teeth at all it's just present without being overstated. I definitely wish there was more bass, but for $100 I'm definitely not returning these. They do a much better job than my HDJ-2000s at reproducing the low range of audio, there's just no "wow" in the low end.

I feel like these were very much meant to appeal to a trained listener looking for things they've never heard in a track, and much less for someone who just likes to relax after work and veg out to some electronica and metal. That being said, the isolation is great. I'm listening to Hollental right now with these plugged into my M-Audio AV40s, and I can't hear the click of my Razer Blackwidow at all. Even when the music stops the sound is very far away like being in a gun range with no one shooting. The tips that come with these headphones are fantastic.

Ultimately, I'd say the EP3s are a very good set of in-ear headphones. I'd like a little bit more bass, but the rest of the frequencies are fantastic and the isolation is also quite good. Of the over the ear headphones I sampled, these are probably closest to the HD 280 Pros, and considering they're the same price (as I paid, the EP3s MSRP is actually $70 higher), I'd say that's pretty good. They're not exactly what I was hoping for, but outside of just buying the SE215's just to see what they're like, I don't see me spending much more cash in the in-ear market. These are fantastic, and from what i understand, saying there're very close to a similarly priced over-the-ear headphone is pretty high praise.

If you like that sennheiser sound signature, and you want some IEMs, I'd defintiely tell you to give these a go. They do exactly what you'd expect from a $100 pair of headphones and you get better isolation with the comply tips.

Happy listening everyone!

It is strange that you would say they don't have much bass, since the frequency response curve shows the low end as quite higher than the rest of the range. Try them out on a few different devices (preferably have an amplifier thrown into the mix) and see if you get different results. Could be something weird on the hardware end.

If you want more bass, you could try a program such as Foobar 2000 and EQ in a few db more of the frequencies you like.

The only EQ that made the bass stand out (of the defaults in windows 7) is powerful. I test using Tiesto and KSHMR - Secrets and Cosmic Gate and Orjan Nilsen - Fair Game just because the bass lines on those songs get crazy. It has a bump, don't get me wrong, it's just not as pronounced as the M50xs or the M-100s. They're just SUPER tight on the low end. It's not like they're bad, the bass just isn't as pronounced as I would have expected.

When I listened to these tracks on the aforementioned headphones it felt like I was in the middle of Ibiza with just how much the bass line resonated. These feel like I'm sitting at my desk enjoying a really good experience. They're much better than most of the things I've tested, and I'm happy to have in ears, I was just hoping in ears could match the performance of the over the ears I was pitting them against.

So I'm at the office on my linux laptop right now (MSI GS70 using a Tesoro Durandal keyboard to pass the audio through), and with a flat EQ the same tracks sound miles better than they did on my desktop (MSI X99 Krait Mobo with M-Audio AV40 amping the headphones) using the powerful EQ.

I honestly have no idea why this sounds better today than they did yesterday.

At 0:15 they are just thumping hard right now, where last night it was just like having a small logitech sealed sub under my desk. There was definitely bass, I could feel it, but it just wasn't full. I don't know the right audiophile words to describe it.

Day 2 is MUCH MUCH better than day 1.

I've been using the new Blue headphones for about a month now and I think they might fit your bass needs

Alright, well now I can finally figure out if I got exactly what I wanted. I now own a pair of M50x's (the headphones with the closest sound signature to what I wanted), so I decided to put the EP3s against the M50x's and see what I thought.


The way I did this was, I took my Behringer Xenyx 302, and plugged my M50x's into the monitor port, and then I plugged the EP3s into my M-Audio AV40s. I took the lineout from my computer and then split it to the Mixer and the Speakers so that the DAC in the Mixer would be taken out of the equation. After that I put in the right IEM in, and then put the headphones on over top of that, and then got the volume to match as close as I could. I'm also using the "Powerful" EQ for my Realtek card and using Comply Comfort 200 small ear tips rather than the included ones. The mediums were too uncomfortable for extended listening (but that's due to my ear canals, i think medium is the right choice to include).

Then I just put on all my favorite songs (Rock/EDM) and just switched back and forth.


Orjan Nilsen - So Long Radio (Aurosonic Overdrive Mix)
Orjan Nilsen & Cosmic Gate - Fair Game
Tiesto & KSHMR - Secrets
Armin & Andrew Rayel - Eiforya
Amaranthe - Digital World
Halestorm - Freak Like Me
Starset - My Demons
Bullet For My Valentine - Your Betrayal
Killswitch Engage - The End Of Heartache


The good news is, neither of them had any problem at a slightly higher than average volume. I probably could have pushed it further, but it probably would have been too uncomfortable, so as far as quality goes, they're on equal footing.

So the verdict on them is: I much prefer the sound of the M50x's for EDM specifically. They have a just a BIT more thump and I find myself getting into the music a lot more. But for Rock/Metal I actually like the sound of the EP3s more. They were definitely clearer in the mids, and having a slightly more subdued bass line in rock is preferable in my opinion.

You definitely can't go wrong with the EP3s. If you already like the M50x's, but want a pair of IEMs for going out for a jog or to the gym, they're going to be perfect. You might want a different pair of ear tips for running, but try it before you buy new ones. I can't say enough good things about them, and now my curiosity has been satisfied about whether I was missing anything by getting the EP3s before the M50x's. No I wasn't. Without side by side listening I probably wouldn't have even noticed the difference in bass reproduction.

I would have put other genres into the test, but I honestly don't know a whole lot of songs. I just decided to stick with tunes that I've hear 100+ times so that I could tell what difference the headphones were making.