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Best sub-$50 IEM headphones?, At least anything certifiably better than Sharp HPMD33S/Creative EP630
moozooh
post Apr 12 2014, 18:08
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Hi there.

A while ago, something like ten to twelve years maybe (man, I've been here for some time...), the Sharp HP-MD33-S were considered to be some of the most balanced IEMs under 50$. They were later cloned a number of times as far as I'm aware, one of the allegedly confirmed clones were the Creative EP630.

Personally I've owned both models over these ten years, and they have served me well. But if there's perhaps anything better in this price category, I would be willing to give it a shot. By better I mean with flatter frequency response, crisper highs, wider stereo image, better outside noise insulation, and the like.

I'll be using them with a rockboxed and hardmodded iriver H320 and very high quality lossy and/or lossless music. Non-IEM phones won't be considered at the time; I have plenty of spare overhead phones.

I'll appreciate any advice, but it would be even better if you could link to some kind of comparison tests or something to that extent.

(I've also owned the way more expensive Shure E3c, and found them rather horrible for DAP purposes, regardless of the their poorly thought-out construction that makes the bud come off in the ear canal all the damn time.)



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markanini
post Apr 12 2014, 18:14
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Sony MH1.
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JJZolx
post Apr 12 2014, 18:15
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http://www.head-fi.org/t/478568

Not sure if this one is current:
http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15243
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moozooh
post Apr 13 2014, 11:01
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Thanks for the links! Much appreciated.

Man, quite a few to choose from. ohmy.gif Haven't even realized there were armature-based IEMs in that price range. Thankfully the HF reviewer guy is generous and precise in his subjective descriptions; numbers alone don't even nearly tell the whole picture when it comes to budget acoustic hardware.


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Martel
post Apr 14 2014, 09:15
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http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....howtopic=103634


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mrconner
post Apr 15 2014, 21:46
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Accessories: How useful and complete the bundled set of accessories is. Depends on the quantity and quality of the accessories, as well as on how well-suited they are for the earphone they come with.
Build Quality: Depends choice of materials, assembly quality, structural design, and overall feel. Also includes any observations on the durability of the earphones while in my care.
Isolation: Amount of passive reduction in ambient noise provided by the IEM. All IEMs isolate external noise by virtue of sealed ear coupling, but some are better than others. The better-isolating IEMs are capable of providing is upwards of 30db of attenuation, an 8-fold reduction in ambient noise volume (enough to reduce the volume of a vacuum cleaner to a whisper).
Microphonics: Susceptibility to cable noise (a.k.a. microphonics), a common malady affecting in-ear earphones. Mitigating factors such as the inclusion of a shirt clip or cable cinch and the ease of wearing the IEMs over-the-ear are taken into account.
Comfort: How easy the earphone is over long stretches of time. Typically tip- and ear-dependent, but general trends still apply.
Sound: Possibly the most subjective of the categories, the sound rating is an evaluation of the relative merits of the audio performance, scaled to the best earphone I have heard.
Value: How all of the earphone’s flaws and merits compare to the competition at and above its price point.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/478568/multi-iem-...94#post_6492046 $15-$30

http://www.head-fi.org/t/478568/multi-iem-...94#post_6492048 $30-$60

Main page $0-$1500 comparison.....http://www.head-fi.org/t/478568/multi-iem-review-314-iems-compared-olasonic-flat-4-nami-added-04-13-14-p-894
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Mach-X
post Apr 16 2014, 05:24
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The best buy rocket fish house brand iems are surprisingly good for 3.99. Nice neutral sound you can't get in this price range. RF-EB2014 is the model. They go deep in the ear, are all day comfortable, and don t have the "pinched" smiley sound or bloated bass most in this price range exhibit. They come in different colors so at this price you can grab a bunch to match your dap or outfit. They have replaced my much more expensive sennheiser cx300ii because of their neutrality. Your other best option seem to be the monoprice 8320, highly regarded with massive 14.2mm drivers, about $7 from monoprice, I have a pair on order right now just cause I'm curious to hear them. Will update when I get them.
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moozooh
post Apr 16 2014, 12:47
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Well, this time I'm willing to pay $40-50 for qualities that can't be met at lower price points; otherwise I would just get another pair of trusted Creative EP630 for about $12 (still remember the time when they cost about $40!).

Meanwhile, based on the options I'm presented with, I'll likely be going with VSonic VC02. They have pretty much everything I want: clear and neutrally-balanced sound, wide soundstage, L-shaped plug and slim housing for deep insertion that I prefer.


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Martel
post Apr 16 2014, 13:29
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Please, after you make the purchase (no matter what you buy in the end), could you come back and let us (me) know if it met your expectations?
Thanks.


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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Apr 17 2014, 14:07
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QUOTE (moozooh @ Apr 12 2014, 13:08) *
Hi there.

A while ago, something like ten to twelve years maybe (man, I've been here for some time...), the Sharp HP-MD33-S were considered to be some of the most balanced IEMs under 50$. They were later cloned a number of times as far as I'm aware, one of the allegedly confirmed clones were the Creative EP630.

Personally I've owned both models over these ten years, and they have served me well. But if there's perhaps anything better in this price category, I would be willing to give it a shot. By better I mean with flatter frequency response, crisper highs, wider stereo image, better outside noise insulation, and the like.

I'll be using them with a rockboxed and hardmodded iriver H320 and very high quality lossy and/or lossless music. Non-IEM phones won't be considered at the time; I have plenty of spare overhead phones.

I'll appreciate any advice, but it would be even better if you could link to some kind of comparison tests or something to that extent.

(I've also owned the way more expensive Shure E3c, and found them rather horrible for DAP purposes, regardless of the their poorly thought-out construction that makes the bud come off in the ear canal all the damn time.)


I'm really happy with these:

Sony XBA-C10

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-XBA-C10-Balance...e/dp/B00B2G2V8K



http://en.goldenears.net/22319


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Mach-X
post Apr 17 2014, 14:48
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QUOTE (moozooh @ Apr 16 2014, 06:47) *
Well, this time I'm willing to pay $40-50 for qualities that can't be met at lower price points; otherwise I would just get another pair of trusted Creative EP630 for about $12 (still remember the time when they cost about $40!).

Just because you can spend $50 doesnt mean you get better quality. If you've already decided, then why are you asking here for advice?
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moozooh
post Apr 17 2014, 17:35
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QUOTE (Martel @ Apr 16 2014, 16:29) *
Please, after you make the purchase (no matter what you buy in the end), could you come back and let us (me) know if it met your expectations?
Thanks.

Sure! I can't do hardware tests, but I'll do my best in describing how they sound like in contrast with my other IEM phones—if they're still alive, that is; I couldn't find my last pair of EP630 upon moving, and my right Shure E3c phone is broken. I can test both on my DAP and my sound card (it's got reference-class hardware and a decent headphone amp).

Btw, in the end I was deciding between VSonic VC02 and SoundMAGIC E30, both of which seemed to enjoy overwhelmingly positive feedback from headphone testers and enthusiasts and playing on the same field with $60-100 phones. Ended up with VSonics due to their housing shape and size (I have small ear canals, but don't mind deep insertion), their assortment of tips, and—surprisingly important—the right plug. I've had the headphone-out port come off on my players a couple times due to straight jacks acting as levers in my jeans pocket and slowly prying it off over time every time a lateral force was applied. Since then I'd decided never to use a straight jack phones on my DAPs.

(Oh, and they're also penis-shaped. Can't become any better now, can it.)

QUOTE (Mach-X @ Apr 17 2014, 17:48) *
Just because you can spend $50 doesnt mean you get better quality. If you've already decided, then why are you asking here for advice?


This is a fair point, and I have no doubts an outstanding underpriced $7/$12 model can sound on par with typical/overpriced $50 models—the EP630 are one such example as it stands. But don't get me wrong either, I was asking for advice on the best sub-$50 headphones, where it's pretty much a given that such models would also be underpriced to an extent. A $7 model can't even theoretically be the best of such a wide price range due to the difference in materials, amount of time, and engineering effort put into meeting the higher standards. One needs to be terminally stupid to price the best sub-$50 phones on the market at 7$ or anything close to that. Hope you understand my point.

So, given that, I'm actually following your logic to a degree: ideally I would want a pair for $40-50 that would have the same quality as typical $90-120 models, and I'm well aware that there have always been such options. The problem is that with so many options out there to choose from I needed to at least narrow them down to 3-4 outstanding models one of which I could actually decide upon. And so far people here have been very helpful! Even though I've already ordered the pair I decided upon (the VSonics), I'm sure any further advice would still be useful for people asking the same question at some point down the line.

This post has been edited by moozooh: Apr 17 2014, 17:36


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Mach-X
post Apr 18 2014, 03:47
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I apologize if my post sounded a little "crabby", its just that far too often people equate sound quality with price. Beats for example. In my experience, the sennheiser cx300. I have no idea why people love them. They cost around $50 but deliver a gross v shaped sound and distorted treble to boot. The 3.99 rocketfish I use are nice and linear and pleasant sounding without eq. The monoprice I mentioned are very highly recommended in some circles and have a monstrous 14.2mm driver, which has me very curious to hear them. Iems in general to me all have the same flaws and I am hesitant to spend big dollars to get that same pinched, peaky sound. The rocketfish have surprised me, however, and I hope your purchase works out for you. As a side note, everything monoprice sells is dirt cheap but performs same as more expensive stuff.

http://www.head-fi.org/products/monoprice-8320-iem/reviews

This post has been edited by Mach-X: Apr 18 2014, 03:50
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castleofargh
post Oct 2 2014, 00:34
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take note that joker is great in his analysis of IEMs, but he does personnaly like somehow bright signatures. so don't heasitate to go just a little warmer than what he suggests. else I usually agree with what he says on products I've owned and think he's the IEM master.


do you use EQ or are you kind of "against it"? because that migh widen your choices.

mh1 with some proper EQ can sound really great, by default they have loads of bass/sub. the cable is a flat stuff that you have to wear down, I HATE that cable! there is someone recabling but I find it expensive compared to the price of the IEM itself.

I also was very pleased with the xba-c10 and liked them a good deal more than the xba-1. rather neutralish in signature, but not extending far in the trebles so it sounds a little warm and lush. very non fatiguing sound yet not muddy. the xba-1 did sound even more neutral, but bright, and easily harsh with high impedance sources.
I cut the V little plastic part off of the xba-c10 to use them over the ear, they are super small, super light, a pleasure. (if you cut the V part, then wearing them cable down becomes messy so I advise to think about it before taking the axe out happy.gif).
now my little warning for that lovely cheap IEM, the cable is the crappiest crap you can think of, so if you plan on moving a lot with them, maybe something sturdier might be a good idea.



for isolation, a etymotic MC5 is around 50$ (or whatever reference depending on mic, remote ...). it doesn't sound great TBH, but again with some EQ and if like the xba, you don't care too much for high freqs, then it can be a good deal . I never found the one for my needs so I'm polygamous when it comes to IEMs. always one ETY for isolation in bus/planes/trains/places with babies. and always another that is usually vented so that I can enjoy some massive abuse of bass and sub bass happy.gif.
if you feel adventurous, there are loads of cheap chinese products and depending on your needs some might be a very good deal.

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