Today, we’ll be taking a look at the best in-ear monitors available.
If you have any experience playing live on stage, you’ve probably gone through moments where you couldn’t hear what you were playing, much less what your bandmates were doing.
These moments are less than ideal, but a good pair of in-ear monitors (IEM for short) can help enormously in conditions like these.
Not only do they enable you to have more control over your mix, play to a click, but they also protect your hearing while providing high-quality monitoring.
IEM can also be used for studio recording or rehearsals as well, as over-ear headphones can oftentimes provide some discomfort.
Do I need in-ear monitors?
Before deciding to invest in a pair of IEM, you might want to take stock of what it is you’re actually looking for.
If you often find yourself playing larger venues where audience noise gets in the way of hearing yourself, or at venues where the monitoring systems in place aren’t the best – it might be worth considering in-ear monitors.
It’s also important, however, to see whether or not such venues will be able to accommodate the monitors you do find.
These are the best in-ear monitors you can buy:
- Audio-Technica ATH-E70
- Shure SE846 Gen 2
- Simgot EK3
- Shure SE215 Pro
- Sennheiser IE 100 Pro
- Mackie MP-220
- Dunu Studio SA6
- Westone Audio Pro X20
The Audio-Technica ATH-E70 are a really great midrange option when it comes to the best in-ear monitors. They provide top-notch sound quality and a massive soundstage making them ideal for both stage and studio performances.
Sound is produced by three drivers which provide extremely accurate and balanced sound. These monitors also come with a variety of tips and a detachable cable.
Shure SE846 Gen 2
Height of luxury
The Shure SE846 are a bit pricier, but for under $1000, their performance is rather deserving of the cost. Audiophiles tend to gravitate to these monitors and it’s not hard to figure out why, they sound amazing.
Featuring four drivers and a frequency response of 15 Hz – 20 kHz, the SE846 sound accurate and clear. They’re also particularly great at rejecting noise, which is ideal for musicians playing at more chaotic shows and environments.
The Simgot EK3 are a solid midrange pair of monitors that deliver great sound quality and isolation. They also come with four tuning models to help change the tone of sound, which can help performers depending on the style of music they’re playing and their needs.
With a frequency response of 20 Hz – 40 kHz, the Simgot EK3s boast sonic accuracy and flexibility. These are a great choice for drummers, guitarists, bassists, and vocalists alike.
Shure SE215 Pro
These are one of the most well-known sets of in-ear monitors around. Not only are they super-affordable but they perform well. They’re clear and fairly bass-driven, thanks to one high-definition driver.
The SE215 Pro also come with a slew of different fitting tips so you can find the best match for your ears, as well as a replaceable cable if yours ever breaks or gets lost.
Sennheiser IE 100 Pro
Not only are the Sennheiser IE 100 Pro supremely affordable, but they offer great sound reproduction and comfort. Even at loud levels these monitors show almost zero harmonic distortion.
Those of you with smaller ears might also get more enjoyment out of these thanks to the size of the driver. If you’re looking for a pair of monitors under $100, the IE 100 Pro are a great choice to consider.
Great budget monitors
The Mackie MP-220 are a great budget pair of in-ear monitors. These monitors employ two separate drivers: one for high frequencies, and one to handle the lows. This design helps improve the sound quality greatly, and the sound reproduction is incredibly transparent and clean.
The MP-220 also come with an array of different sized tips, so you can find the best fit for you. This also provides a great deal of isolation.
Dunu Studio SA6
Superb sound quality
The Dunu SA6 are an incredibly dynamic pair of in-ear monitors. All regions of the frequency range are well-tuned and very detailed-sounding.
The high end is a bit more forward than you may find on other sets, but we find this to be a positive aspect. It’s superbly balanced and amongst the best you can find for $500 or less.
If you’re looking for a set that’s a bit heavier on the bass, you may want to look elsewhere. However, the SA6 are still some of the best in-ear monitors around.
Westone Audio Pro X20
Great for performers
The Westone Audio UM Pro 20 is a solid set of in-ear monitors that hit most of the checkpoints as far as comfort and design goes. However, we found that the sound presentation here can be fairly divisive.
They offer a warm yet neutral sound signature, but at the cost of musicality. These are mostly geared towards performance rather than casual listening. Overall, it depends on what you’re looking to get out of them.
To wrap things up, finding the best pair of in-ear monitors depends largely on your budget. While not all monitors are created equal, there are plenty of worthwhile choices from under $100 to the $1000 range. The most important thing is that they allow you to hear yourself accurately, and that they fit.